Hello and happy Friday!
I am excited that we are officially in December and committed to staying mindful of our commitments and stress levels this season. We have discussed our Christmas family priorities, I’ve freed myself from any schooling-related guilt, and we are kicking things off this weekend with some time with friends, a little festive fun, and some relaxing– and watching Georgia take on LSU in the SEC Championship of course! Go dawgs.
I started a Google Sheet a month or so ago to track gifts and it’s been really helpful. I have each person’s name and gift ideas. Once a gift has been purchased, I put a “*” next to it. Once it’s been received and wrapped, I put a “w” next to it. It sounds super simple and I’m sure there are more sophisticated ways to handle the task, but it’s been fantastically helpful for me and my scattered brain.
I also include who the gift is from, so I add gifts from grandparents, for example, to each child’s list. I’m not terribly concerned with everything being “even” gift-wise, but it’s nice to see a full picture of the amount and types of gifts being given/received. Since some gifts are more practical (a new vest, for example, which I think is fabulous), I also like to make sure each child has one toy/item that can immediately open and play with Christmas morning. I find tracking like this helps me maintain balance and control.
I come bearing hope to any new puppy parents out there questioning their sanity. I looked at Finley yesterday (now 14 months) and realized how much I enjoy her (I was going to say obsessed with her, but I think I overuse that word and need to cut back). Our first year with her was a doozie. Remembering the energy and chaos a puppy brings to a home was a shock that we had forgotten about. We poured into her training, learned about how to feed her, and got her on a routine. An now? I’m obsessed with her (ok, I had to use the word).
So if you are in the puppy haze, hang in there and stick to your guns! What has undoubtedly helped us the most is crate training, all of us (kids included) being trained on how to use the mini educator (game changer!!), morning sniffaris (a word I learned about it this book), consistency, and time. Now she’s my constant shadow, makes us laugh, and is a snuggly cuddler. I’m so happy we made the leap and got her last year.
Simple December Meals
While the holiday season sometimes conjures visions of elaborate tablescapes and decadent meals, the reality is that it’s the perfect time of year to ease up on those things because there are 575 billion commitments to attend to and things to remember. These are a few of my family’s favorite EASY dinners:
- Mom’s Homemade Spaghetti & Meat Sauce – Takes 10 minutes to assemble, and can simmer for 30 minutes up to several hours. Or switch it to a slow cooker and set to “keep warm.” It reheats and freezes beautifully, though you probably won’t have any leftover.
- Red Lentil & Carrot Curry – This one cooks up in less than 15 minutes and offers the benefit of warm, healing spices like turmeric. David and I love this straight up on rice, but the kids really like it served as a dip with naan bread. Easy.
- Easy Chicken Tortilla Soup – most of these ingredients come from a freezer bag or a can. Let the chicken breast cook in the soup, then shred. Goes great with some quick quesadillas and also freezes well. My souper cubes have been getting a real workout lately!
- Slow Cooker Beef Stew – Add meat, potatoes, onions, carrots, 1 packet, and 1 can. Boom. Your entire house smells incredible and warm, hearty meal is ready for you come suppertime.
- Slow Cooker Carnitas – A few more ingredients needed to set this one up, but an all day cook, followed by a quick crisping under broil in the oven, and these fall apart carnitas will be celebrated either over rice, in a wrap, or completely on their own. Throw some store-bought guac and pico on top. SO good.
Amazon Top 5 Sellers
Out of curiosity I checked the top 5 sellers for Amazon this week. Some surprised me (#2!) and some didn’t (#1). Take a look:
5. Mr. Willoughby’s Christmas Tree – One of our very favorite Christmas books! Christmas is here and Mr. Willowby’s tree has arrived. There’s just one big problem: The tree is too tall for his parlor! He cuts off the top so it will fit, and soon the top of that tree is passed along again and again to bring holiday cheer to all the animals in the forest.
4. The Wishing Spell – Probably because it’s on sale for only $5 right now! This is the first book in the series of The Land of Stories, a series the kids and I have listened to in it’s completion… twice. Alex and Conner Bailey’s world is about to change, in this fast-paced adventure that uniquely combines our modern day world with the enchanting realm of classic fairy tales.
3. Folding Travel Mirror – One of my favorite travel items, this mirror has LED lights, is chargeable, and has 3 different lighting modes. It folds up flat and fits easily into any overnight back. I recently bought another one to gift this Christmas.
2. The Weed Torch – Don’t tell David, but this is wrapped and under the tree waiting for him. I’m selfishly thrilled about this lawn tool that kills weed by scorching them- no toxic chemicals involved!
1. Real Wax LED Flameless Taper Candles – Like I said, no surprise here. I love them so much I bought them for my mom and bought another set with the holders last week to giveaway. They cozy up a space so much and the are completely controlled by a remote. I’ve been thrilled to hear from some of you that bought that that you love them just as much.
I saw this yesterday and it spoke to me. I wanted to pass it along to you as I send you a virtual hug and wish you a happy, joy-filled weekend.