Keeping Christmas Spirit

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Christmas should be a time of joy, happiness, and celebration but all too often it is a time of stress, financial burden, and chaos. Years ago I recognized that Christmas had become too stressful and I was losing my Christmas Spirit earlier and earlier every year. I decided to reevaluate what Christmas meant to me and how I wanted to spend this special time with my family. I wanted to avoid the commercialism of Christmas as much as possible and focus on building memories and traditions with my children. 

When I was little my favorite part of Christmas was gathering together at my grandparent’s house with the entire extended family. I will never forget the feelings of love and comfort that those gatherings brought me. Since my grandparents have both passed away we no longer gather together as we once did but I still make an effort every year to bring my family together for an annual Christmas Eve party. My kids enjoy these gatherings as much as I do and we always choose a fun theme for our party. This year we are hosting a pajama party which should be pretty silly. Our focus is less on gifts and more on time spent with family and this has made all the difference. 

This doesn’t mean we don’t partake in the giving part of Christmas because we absolutely do but we keep things simple and festive. The best gifts are the ones that are thoughtful and that is what we strive for and thoughtful doesn’t mean expensive. When it comes to gifts for the kids we keep the number of gifts to a minimum. They each get a big item from Santa and then a big item from mom and dad. We always include a few books, some art supplies, socks & underwear and a smaller item for them to unwrap. We usually get them one gift to share from us as well for instance last year they received a Karaoke machine and I think this year it will be a microscope. 

Keeping Christmas simple allows me to keep my Christmas Spirit all season long because I can focus on the things that matter. The memories that we build with our children will outlast any toy or doodad they might get under the tree. Christmas shouldn’t be a time of stress and chaos it should be a time to celebrate the birth of Christ and to celebrate the love and joy of family. 

 

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How do you keep the spirit of Christmas throughout the season?

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Happy Thanksgiving

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It’s almost midnight and I am finishing up with my meal prep for tomorrow. I try to get as many things knocked out the night before so I can enjoy the holiday with my family. My cranberry sauce is chilling in the fridge, hashbrown casserole is ready to go and the pumpkin pie is cooling off on the stovetop. I am exhausted and as soon as I tackle the mountain of dishes in my kitchen sink it will be lights out for me.

I just wanted to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving from my family to yours. There is so much to be thankful for but this year I am most thankful for my husband and my kids. I am thankful that I get to raise my kids with my husband and that we get to watch our three beautiful children grow into amazing individuals. Life is often bumpy but I know that as long as we have each other we can navigate whatever life throws our way. I am also incredibly thankful for my mom who is more than a mother she is my very best friend and she inspires me every day in so many ways.

May your Thanksgiving be filled with love, laughter, and great food!

Let me know in the comments what you are thankful for this year.

Bookstore Adventures

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So you may or may not have realized it yet but I am a major bibliophile (I know that sounds dirty but it just means that I love books and I hoard them). Next to my husband and kids my two greatest loves are coffee and books. When I find a place that combines both it just sends me over the top. Lately, I have been feeling pretty blue and I really needed a pick me up so I headed over to one of my favorite places in the whole world, Barnes & Noble. Barnes & Noble might just be a bookstore to some but for me, it is a sanctuary. There is just something so soothing about the smell of books and coffee and I can’t help but sniff the air whenever I walk into this store. I am sure I look a bit odd sniffing the air the way a dog might sniff the air but I don’t care it is my therapy.

As I walked around the store dreaming about moving into Barnes & Noble on a permanent basis I stumbled across their clearance section. I took a moment to peruse the items that had been placed under a sign that said “All items $2”.  I found two books for my personal library so I was already feeling like a winner when I stepped to the back of the clearance shelf and saw a variety of toy items that had been clearanced as well. I couldn’t believe it I found a YoKai watch, a collectors album for YoKai with coins, and a stack of YoKai collector cards. I did a happy dance right there in the middle of Barnes & Noble but then I collected myself realizing that this might be a mistake.

I gathered the items clutching them to me in case anyone else saw my deals and attempted an intercept and rushed to the checkout. I presented the items to the cashier explaining that they were on the clearance shelf but I wasn’t sure if they were supposed to be there. After a few quick motions with his scanner, the cashier confirmed that they were part of the sale. Not only were they on sale but they took an additional 20% off with my Educators discount.  I may or may not have embarrassed myself by doing another happy dance but I will never tell. The reason for my happiness was that my youngest son is obsessed with YoKai and really wanted a watch for Christmas. I just got him 2 of his Christmas gifts and a stocking stuffer for under $6. If I would have paid full price for each of these items I would have spent over $40 so I basically won the lotto.

I keep a tight budget for Christmas and I love finding great deals that allow me to stay on track financially. Whenever you are out and about check clearance shelves because you can find great gift ideas at crazy low prices. I have found toys discounted at bookstores, hardware stores, and even a few truck stops so the deals are out there if you look for them. I know Thanksgiving hasn’t happened yet and it is a tad early to be talking about Christmas shopping but I just had to share my bookstore adventure.

Have you started your Christmas shopping yet?

***This post is in no way sponsored by Barnes & Noble, in fact, they only know me as the crazy woman who sniffs the air as she walks around browsing books and sipping coffee in their midwest stores***

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

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Cranberry Sauce

I know that there are a lot of people out there who do not like the flavor of cranberry sauce but I am not one of them. Thanksgiving dinner in my house is not complete without the cranberry sauce. Not only do we enjoy it with the main meal but I like to keep it on hand for leftover turkey sandwiches. I like to spread a little cranberry sauce on my bread and then layer on lettuce, leftover turkey and a slice of Havarti cheese. It might sound a bit strange but the flavors really do compliment one another making this a gourmet sandwich. This is my recipe for homemade cranberry sauce and it is very simple and can be made for under $4.00. You’ll have plenty of cranberry sauce for your turkey dinner and enough to use on sandwiches throughout the week following Thanksgiving.

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Best Day Ever!

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If your kids are anything like mine you have heard them proclaim a fun or adventurous day as the “best day ever”. Today I was the one proclaiming today as the best day ever and it truly was. This morning we woke up early, bundled up with hats and gloves and headed to Downtown Toledo for their annual Holiday Parade. I have always wanted to attend a Thanksgiving parade and after 35 years I made that wish a reality. It was so much fun experiencing this first with my kids and after today I can feel the magic of the holidays zipping through me like electricity.

If you have never had the opportunity to attend a holiday parade I highly suggest you move it up on the list of things to do because it really is a wonderful experience. After enjoying the parade we moved over to one of our favorite restaurants for hot soup and sandwiches. We then decorated our front porch before moving inside to make holiday slime. Watching the kids bounce, squish and stretch their colorful slime was so much fun that I had to join in and make some for myself as well.

Sometimes you just have to let loose and have fun and nothing is more fun than being silly with your kids. As parents, we often plan fun adventures or activities for our kids but we let the planning take the fun out of it for ourselves. Try whenever possible to not just be an observer but an active participant because this is when the very best moments happen. Today I enjoyed myself and I truly felt like a kid again and sharing in the joy and laughter with my children made today the “best day ever”.

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Maple Dinner Rolls

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Hello everyone I am back to share another holiday recipe that would make a perfect accompaniment for this year’s Thanksgiving Dinner. One way you can keep your budget on track for Thanksgiving dinner is to make your rolls from scratch. I know that the grocery store offers a ton of ready to go options but it is definitely worth it to make your own. Not only will you save money but you will be rewarded with warm, fluffy rolls that will fill your home with the comforting scent of fresh baked bread. This recipe was tested by my kitchen elves and they gave this recipe two thumbs up so I hope your family will enjoy this as well.

Maple Dinner Rolls

Hashbrown Casserole Recipe

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With Thanksgiving around the corner, I wanted to share some of my favorite holiday recipes. This particular recipe is one of my favorites because not only does it taste great but it is also very affordable and so simple to make. Sometimes I will make this the night before Thanksgiving and reheat it in my slow cooker on Thanksgiving so I can free up oven space. I am not sure where the original recipe came from but everyone in my family makes a version of this recipe and I know that it is pretty popular throughout the Midwest. I can make an entire 13×9 casserole for under $7 using ingredients that are on sale or generic whenever possible. Tomorrow I will share another one of my favorite holiday recipes so I hope you will stop by to check that out.

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Let me know if your family has a Hashbrown Casserole that finds its way to the table every holiday!