Classic Christmas Podcast: The Simple Joy of Holiday Baking Part 2

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Christmas & baking go together like hands in gloves. There are so many delicious things you can bake for your family or friends that it can be hard to know where to begin. Of course, time can be so short during the busy holiday season that it might be difficult to find the time to do any baking at all. You could always buy your Holiday goodies but that can be very expensive. What’s a Mother to do?

Jean Ann & Simple Joy to the rescue. This week, Jean Ann offers you tips, ideas & recipes to help simplify your Holiday baking. Continue your Holiday baking tradition or begin a new tradition in your family when you make Holiday baking a Simple Joy!

Classic Christmas Podcast: The Simple Joy of Holiday Baking Part 1

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Christmas & baking go together like hands in gloves. There are so many delicious things you can bake for your family or friends that it can be hard to know where to begin. Of course, time can be so short during the busy holiday season that it might be difficult to find the time to do any baking at all. You could always buy your Holiday goodies but that can be very expensive. What’s a Mother to do?

Jean Ann & Simple Joy to the rescue. This week, Jean Ann offers you tips, ideas & recipes to help simplify your Holiday baking. Continue your Holiday baking tradition or begin a new tradition in your family when you make Holiday baking a Simple Joy!

Christmas Countdown C -20

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Christmas Decorating

I know many of you have already decorated your home for Christmas however, these tips help you whether you have everything in place or everything still in boxes.

I always say “Work Smarter, Not Harder!” This means planning. Before you do any decorating, sit down & create a plan to determine what you want to do, where things are going to go & what you need to move to accomplish this. You want to have an idea where your tree is going to go & where you are going to put any furniture that the tree displaces, for example.

You should also go through your decorations to make certain nothing is damaged or needs replacing. Mr. D always tests his lights before he hangs a single strand. this ensures he doesn’t waste any time putting up a strand of lights that doesn’t work. While we are in rather balmy SoCal, many of you live in colder climates. You want to spend time INSIDE testing those lights & deciding where outdoor items are going to be placed before you head out into the cold.

You also want to check your decorations before you purchase anything new. I know how much fun it is to pick up bright & shiny new decorations each year but that expends a lot of money & can take up a lot of space, neither of which may be affordable to you & your family. Perhaps a few new items added to your existing decorations can help brighten up your Holiday home without spending too much.

Your home is more inviting & lovely this time of year. Take time to create a plan, inventory your decorations & test any electrical items & you will save time, money & patience in the long run. Ah, that’s a real simple joy!

37 Ideas to Trim Your Christmas Tree

37 Ideas to Trim Your Christmas Tree

I know all of you haven’t decorated for Christmas yet. Some families wait until it’s closer to Christmas before putting up their tree. For all of you who still need to trim your tree or perhaps you want to make a few changes to the tree that is already decorated, Country Living offers a wonderful selection of decorating ideas. I LOVE the simple, primitive look given to the tree & room in the photo.

It’s always a Simple Joy to add new touches to your Holiday Home. Enjoy!

Christmas Tree

Christmas Countdown C -21

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Baking

I LOVE to bake, especially at Christmas. At one time, I made myself a little crazy trying to get all my Christmas baking done. I baked dozens of cookies, giving them out to friends, whether they wanted them or not!

Now I am more relaxed about my baking. I still make dozens of cookies but most of them are for my family AND I have found easier ways to bake, like my fabulous cake mix cookies!

However, I do make some cookies from scratch & when I do, I make sure I keep my stress level low by following a few simple steps:

  1. Make a List: I make one list of the types of cookies I want to make. Then I make a list of the ingredients I need to create these cookies. Then I check the grocery ads to see who has the best prices on the things I need.
  2. Make a Check: Inventory your pantry to make sure you have the things you think you have! You might think you have plenty of sugar only to find out you already used that extra bag of sugar that was hidden in the back of the pantry;
  3. Make Certain: Be sure your seldom used ingredients are fresh. If you only use nutmeg for your Christmas baking, you may need to buy some fresh nutmeg. Same for things like baking soda & baking powder. Your baking may not turn out the way you hope if these two items are not fresh.
  4. Make a Trip: Head to the store to get what you need. Making one trip to get everything insures you have what you need when the baking mood strikes.

Holiday baking is a great family tradition. I learned to love baking when I would help my mom make cookies every year. And when I became a mom, I taught Katy my simple tips for great cookie making. A simple joy that is enjoyed generation to generation, year to year!

Christmas Countdown C-22

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What Would YOU Like to Do?

Every year, I think of things I would like to do for the Holiday season. Walk through Downtown Anaheim & look at the lights. Visit South Coast Plaza & admire the decorations. Take a trip to a large local nursery that decorates dozens of trees. And a few more fun things.

Then I get busy & I forget. Oh, well, there’s next year! Yes, but there is still THIS year! So I’m making one of my famous lists & creating a schedule so I am able to do the things I want to do this Christmas! None of them is elaborate. They are just simple local activities that take an afternoon or evening. And it takes coordinating with Mr. D. When we work together on these things, it works much better.

So, what are the things you would like to do this Christmas? Perhaps you want to have friends over to decorate the tree. Or maybe go caroling. Just simple things that bring so much joy & create memories that last a lifetime. Take time today to create a list of the things you want to do. Then schedule them & share with your family. You may have to push them a bit but you will create Christmas joy for everyone in your family!

Speedy Christmas Decorating

Speedy Christmas Decorating

Not everyone has the time to deck ALL the halls during Christmas. Not everyone has the space to deck all those hall either. Time, space & money can all be factors when trying to decide how much is too much. You want everything to look festive but there are limits. Or perhaps you are having a Holiday party & want to add a few more simple touches to your event that can be easily removed, or simply moved, when the party is over. What to do?

BHG to the rescue with these quick & easy ways to decorate for Christmas. I LOVE the vintage ornaments on the candlesticks. You can find all the candlesticks you want at the $ Store along with tubes of ornaments that can be used. I used these ornaments all over the house. They come in different sizes & colors. They are also easy to paint & glitter should you need them in colors that are different than the ones offered.

Avoid Christmas stress with simple ideas like these & put the JOY back into Christmas!

Speedy Decorating

Christmas Countdown C -23

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What REALLY Must Be Done?

When I was in the Navy, we were very busy in the weeks before Christmas. I was concerned I might not get everything done before the big day. This was not only causing me stress, it was also making me very sad. Katy, our daughter, was about 6 years old & I wanted her & Mr. D to have a great Christmas. How was I going to get everything done? Then I got an idea!

I sat down with a pice of paper & created 2 columns. One was labeled “Have to Do” the other was labeled “Want to Do.” Then I thought about all the things that needed to be done before Christmas morning. As I thought of a task, I asked myself, “Did it HAVE to be done or was it simply something I wanted to do?” I had to decide if Christmas would be ruined it the task didn’t get done. And I forced myself to be honest about it.

When I finished, there was only ONE thing on my Have to Do list. We need to shop for Katy so she would have presents on Christmas morning. We needed to make certain Santa had gifts to deliver to Katy. As much as I wanted to get all the other tasks done, none of them was a deal breaker. We might be disappointed if we didn’t put up a tree but Christmas wouldn’t be ruined. So, everything else went on my Want to Do list.

Then a strange thing happened. As soon as I took the pressure off myself, as soon as I told myself I didn’t HAVE to get all those things done, I was able to relax, slowing working my way through the tasks I simply wanted to get done. And do you know, by Christmas Eve, every single item on both lists was done!

Pressure & stress often cause us to freeze up. Determine what you absolutely HAVE to do by Christmas. Not the things others are forcing on you but tasks YOU determine are necessary. Then put everything else on your Want to list. Finish the Have-to’s first. Then slowly work your way through the Want-to’s. You may be surprised how much you get done when the pressure is off!