Less Stress for the Holiday Season

I love the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. Thanksgiving might be my favorite but only because we gather to share our love, our memories, and eat a delicious meal together. So for me, there is definitely less stress, and less to prepare for. The only expectation is the meal which I love cooking!

It is also the beginning of the Christmas season. The weeks leading up to the Christmas holiday, for me, are so very beautiful with all the decorations and lights. I love listening to the Christmas music; many songs awaken lovely memories from my childhood. I also love giving gifts, whether they are made by my own hands with love, or a carefully chosen store bought gift.

But then there are all those folks that I hear complaining about how commercialized Christmas has become. Or they are complaining about all the parties to go to and the food they must prepare to take to these parties. There are also complaints about buying gifts for people that they probably don’t want and they can’t afford to buy. And it breaks my heart to hear them say they can’t wait for Christmas to be over.

Christmas is no different than any other situation in life, YOU GET OUT OF IT EXACTLY WHAT YOU PUT IN IT! So if you go into it with disgust, dislike, and grumpiness…. That is exactly what you are going to get out of it!!

I totally understand how the holidays can also be difficult to get through because we may have lost a loved one, or we might be alone and have no one to celebrate with. Been in both of those situations, I know it is not pleasant and can be heartbreaking and depressing.

So hopefully I have come up with some ideas that might be able to help you get through the upcoming holidays with a little less stress. Maybe this will help you have a little more love in your heart. And maybe you will actually learn to at least like the holidays.

  1. Eat & drink smart and healthy! This is so hard to do with all the baked goodies and homemade candies BUT try to resist making a meal out of unhealthy treats!  Go ahead and have that small slice of pumpkin pie or cake, have one cookie, indulge in that one piece of fudge.  But only allow yourself one treat so choose wisely!  Snack on healthy things like veggies and fruit, nuts, a piece of cheese or some peanut butter for protein.  Drink lots of water, add lemon for a little taste and detox.  Do allow yourself a holiday cocktail, or two, but alternate with water.  Waking up tomorrow with a headache or being hungover will just add to your stress level.
  2. Meal plan! As mentioned above you want to eat healthy but still allow some treats, so plan your day’s menu/diet so that you are continually eating healthy.  Especially before you go to parties!!  Make sure you are planning your family meals according to your schedule, use a crock pot or casserole recipes for busy days and nights.  Make some casseroles, lasagna, anything that you can throw in your freezer.  Later in the week you will be thankful that all you need to do is pull out a casserole to thaw in the fridge while you are at work, and then pop it in the oven when you get home.
  3. Parties! I have heard a lot of people complain and basically whine about all the parties they need to go to!  Really?  Please be thankful that you have friends and family that want to share the holiday with you, no one is promised a tomorrow.  You do not always need to say yes to every party, it is okay to say no so that you can stay home and take care of you and your family or just to rest.  If you really don’t want to go, then don’t.  We all need some alone time, but we also need our friends and families too.  Think of the memories and fun times you might have, think of some friends and families that you can reconnect with.  Visit for as long as you want, eat healthy and drink healthy, be thankful for the friendships and have some fun!!
  4. Can you bring a covered dish? Yes, you can!  You do not need to go overboard and try to be a gourmet chef!  If you like to cook and prepare something fancy, great!  If you don’t, then just take something simple like cheese and crackers, veggies, or check out the appetizers in the frozen section of your grocery store.  There are some pretty good selections to choose from!  I love to cook but there are times when I just do not have the time to prepare something, so this works out well and they are delicious.
  5. Shopping and gift giving. This IS enough to stress everyone out!  You really need to be smart here, don’t just buy a gift for the sake of buying a gift.  If that is your reason for gift giving, just stop!  First, make a list of people that you want to give a gift, then think about them and what they like, jot down some ideas before you shop.  Also, set a dollar amount that you are willing to spend on each gift and stick with your budget.  Keep receipts, jot down names on the receipt/tags just in case you need to return something, and keep them all in an envelope.  I usually suggest not giving clothes but if you are confident in that choice, then go for it!  Also, keep an eye out for sales, use coupons.  If you do not like wrapping your gifts, then bag’em!  That is the easiest and the least stressful way to go.  Keep in mind that a simple gift from the heart is all you really need to give.
  6. Teach your kids about giving and receiving.  This is a challenge for most parents.  We don’t want our kids growing up to be materialistic and greedy; and we want to teach them about giving too.  Set boundaries for what they are asking for, have them organize and clean out what they already have, show them how fortunate they already are for what they have now.  Give your family members limits on what they can spend on your kids. If you have older kids and your budget allows, have your kids donate gifts to the needy, a shelter, or sponsor a family for Christmas. Have them volunteer at a food bank or as a family take a few bags to the food bank. Living in today’s world that is so materialist, I think this is something we all need to do.  Also, teach you kids the value of saying thank you as well as how to gracefully be thankful for a gift that they just unwrapped but don’t like!
  7. Stress-less kids? This is a time that kids are super excited!  Remember when you were a kid at Christmas?  They have a lot of stimuli from all the toy ads on TV, so it might be a good idea to limit their time in front of the TV.  Sit down and chat with them about their wants, desires, expectations and then chat about giving to the less fortunate.  Talk to them about your childhood memories and realize that you are creating and shaping theirs.  Involve them in decisions about new traditions.  Make sure they are eating healthy, drinking plenty of water, limit their treats and make sure they are getting enough rest and sleep.  This can also be a busy time in school with reports and projects needing to be completed before their holiday break so make sure they are getting enough time to complete their school work.  Get them outside for exercise and fresh air!  This is also a time for the little germ carriers to be sick, not fun for the holiday.
  8. Traditions! I love family traditions!  And I love creating new traditions!  Think back to when you were a child and the things that you used to do as a family, create those wonderful warm memories with your kids!! Slow down and enjoy the holiday season, celebrate it lovingly, and involve the kids!  Look online or on Pinterest for some new ideas.  Have fun!
  9. Physical and emotional health.  Make sure you are getting your exercise too!  Get those kids outside and play, walk, hike, whatever you can find to do.  Don’t forget about your gym membership, even if you only have 30 minutes to use the treadmill or lift a few weights, or if you’re lucky enough to have a pool to swim a few laps.  Every little bit helps.  Don’t forget about your mental and emotional health.  For as much enjoyment and beauty as some find in the holiday, there is also disappointment, sadness and loneliness.  Meditate, pray, go to church, talk to friends, talk to a professional if you need to.  There is no shame in that!  Try yoga, sit and read or just sit and look at the tree and drink in the beauty and silence of the room.
  10. Keep your life and the holiday in focus.  Easier said than done, I get it.  But try.  It’s so easy to compare your holiday life to others and be sad that you don’t have what someone else has.  Life isn’t fair, but this is your life and you only have one shot at it so stay focused.  You don’t have to have a lot of friends or a big bank account to enjoy the very beautiful and simple holiday.  Celebrate with the love of the family and friends that you are still blessed to have.  Don’t get caught up in the commercialism, that’s not what the holidays are about.  Remember, what you put into this holiday gig is what you are going to get out of it.

Live and love well my friends!

Girls Night for Christmas

I’m had a few girlfriends over for a Christmas get together.  So I needed to finish up with the final touches of decorating.

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My front porch is decorated simply with a crate of firewood and greenery.  It will welcome my friends and family, letting them know they are welcome in my home and will be surrounded with warmth and love.

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I set up a small nativity scene.  This has been in the family, it was my Dad’s and it may have been his parents.  I don’t have all the pieces, but I love it just the same!  My friends and I will know the true meaning of the season and our celebrating.

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I would love to find more pieces, if that’s even possible!  As you can see, I only have 2 Kings and they are ….. twins!

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I have my table set for a holiday meal.  My friends and I won’t be sitting here for our gathering, we will be all in the living room curled up with all my Christmas pillows.

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I’m providing the beverage, one of which is this specialty Christmas drink.  Found a recipe on Pinterest for a martini that I am sure the girls will love, the glasses are lined up and ready!

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When it is time to say good night, they will each be leaving with a small hand made gift.  These plates were so easy to make.  I was inspired by a pin I saw on Pinterest, found the plates at Target and the gold and silver leaf pens at Hobby Lobby.

  
Have a beautiful and wonderful Christmas week!

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Some of my Favorite Things

I haven’t posted much of anything lately.  I’ve been busy testing recipe creations but I’ve also been dealing with an upset tummy and a lack of appetite…a lot.  So that makes it a little challenging for someone that loves to cook and post recipes!  Any taste testers out there??

So I thought I’d mix it up a bit and post some of my favorite products that I like to use.

I’ll start with an Avon product, yes Avon.  I love Moisture Therapy lotion.  I use it everyday on my hands and body.

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I also have those dry heels that we ladies seem to have to deal with.  And I have to tell ya, since I started using Burts Bee’s Foot Lotion, I rarely have that problem!  Scouts Promise of Truth and Honor!!!  Of course there is coconut oil in there and we all know how beneficial that is!  I use the beeswax lip balm too.  I have several of them, all over the place… in my kitchen, my bathroom, my purse, pockets.  Love it!

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Next, my teeth!  My favorite toothbrush ever is the Spin Brush, its the best thing next to having a dental cleaning!  My teeth actually feel that clean. And I ONLY use Glide dental floss.  I have tried them all and thrown them all in the trash.  None can compare to Glide!

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Next on the list is my foundation.  I bounce back and forth from a liquid to a powder.  And the only liquid foundation allowed on my face is Maybelline Fit, and the compact for touch ups during the day.

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When I feel like a powder its Bare Minerals, as you can see by the practically empty jar.

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For my mascara, Its Loreal Voluminous. either the Full Definition or the Original.   I swear my lashes actually do look longer.  Even healthier!  I have a tube in my purse and one in my makeup case in the bathroom.  I don’t carry one in my purse for touch ups, its just that I am so anal about having to wear mascara that I figure if I ever get stuck somewhere and have to spend the night, I will at least have my mascara for the morning.  Sad isn’t it?

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My hair, the older I get the dried my hair gets. I use Frizz-Ease on wet and dry hair.  It does wonders!

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So there you have it, my favorite beauty products.  Just the basics, at my age and at this stage in my life these are pretty much all I need.

Live well my friends! XO

Chai Tea Frozen Yogurt

I love ice cream!  This is a healthy way to get my ice cream!  And if you love a good chai tea latte like I do, you will have to try this. 

I have to admit, while it was churning away, I did stick a spoon into the creaminess and try it….more than once.

32 oz of Vanilla yogurt (I used greek, LOVE it and the protein it provides)

A good pinch of each:   Cinnamon, Ground Ginger, and Cardamom

1-2 T sugar (start with 1 T, but honestly, it really doesn’t need it at all.  I just felt that it made the chai flavor stand out!)

3/4 cup of water with 2 chai tea bags already brewed and cooled

Mix it all together and then follow your ice cream maker instructions.

Standby with a spoon to taste test as it is freezing

Enjoy!

Who Doesn’t Like a Give-Away?? Come on over and enter to win!!

Want to win something that will help with your weight loss program?  Slimkicker via my blog, will be giving away this fantastic  kitchen scale .

To enter, leave a comment, just a sentence or two, with your suggestion on a fun, creative fitness or diet challenge.  The winner will be announced next week.

Check out Slimkicker.com, it is a wonderful site!   The site provides you with a way to track your calories and turn your weight loss and fitness goals into a level-up game with rewards.  You rack up points by tracking healthy calories, and completing challenges such as quitting soda for a week. You can upload a picture of a reward you would like, such as a cheat food (like one of my brownies), or an iPod that you have been wanting to buy, and they’ll remind you to reward yourself with that reward as you reach a certain number of points. 

There are challenges, forums and groups along with resources such as blogs, nutrition & fitness, calorie database, wellness,  and diet psychology.  And let’s not forget all the recipes and diets such as the  DukanDiet  and Weight Watchers.

REMEMBER TO LEAVE A COMMENT TO ENTER!!

Hope you have a fantastic day!

Riding Horses on the Battlefield in Gettysburg, PA

Wow it’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything!  Yes Debbie, I’m posting now!  And it’s about my experience touring the Battlefield at Gettysburg by horseback.

I haven’t been on a horse in probably 20 years, and that was a short ride in Mexico.  That is the extent of my horse riding.  As a little girl, like most little girls, I dreamed of owning horses.  I read any novel that pertained to horses.   In my youth, I used to walk or ride my bike to a nearby horse farm every weekend to feed them apples or just pet them!  I’d walk thru the stables and pretend they were mine.  Seriously, I begged my parents for a horse!  By the time I was a teenager, I could draw them too.  

So off to Gettysburg I go with two girlfriends.  One of which has experience with horses and has told me repeatedly I will be sore….yea yea yea I know, so I tuck some pain relievers in my purse.

We arrived early and had the pleasure of talking to the owner about her horses.  She has had horses since she was 8 years and has been doing tours for the past 30 years.  I am in awe!!!

She very cleverly matched all of us up with a horse.  Mine was a spirited little thing called “Pebbles” that the owner deemed a “Princess”.  What struck me as funny was there was a time in school where my friends called me Pebbles.  Pebbles also like to eat any grass vines or anything green that she got close too.  It was a chore to keep her on the trail!  Every time I went to snap a picture, she knew it, and wandered to the side of the trail.  I fell in love with her instantly!

I had to laugh at myself when the owner told me to bring Pebbles to stand beside her.  I said yea okay and how do I manage that!  I learned quickly but I still didn’t have the hang of it! 

The tour was fabulous, how many times have I stood somewhere along the roads around the battlefield and gazed out and imagined what the war would have been like.  Now here I was, on  a horse on the battlefield.

Our tour guide was very knowledgeable.  During one of her detailed events of the war, she began to tell us at approximately 1pm the cannon fire started; in the distance, reenactors were demonstrating cannon fire and at that exact moment the sound of a cannon echoed across the battlefield.  Got the horses attention too!

At our first stop for a history lesson, my knees and  legs were killing me.  Like really really get me off this thing killing me.  I silently signaled for the owner to come over, she adjusted the stirrups and I secretly thanked God for reminding me to take a pain reliever before we started the ride. 

By the time we got to the third stop for a history lesson, I was dying right there on that horse.  My backside hurt and my knees were screaming at me, all I wanted to do was get off the horse and stretch but I knew there would be no way for me to get back on without the step stool that the owner so kindly left us use when we started.  As bad as that sounds, I really LOVED being on Pebbles, it was so much fun!

So we make it back to the campground and I told the owner she would most likely need a very large shoehorn to pry my ass off the saddle because I was positive I was not going to able to swing my leg around!!!  But I did, with her instructions and me being oh so very careful.  A man near me asked for the shoehorn to be passed to him as well.  My lovely girlfriends managed to just hop on down all by themselves but the look on Ellen’s face pretty much summed up what I was already feeling, pain!   I didn’t realize I had butt-bones until then!!!!

So, did I enjoy myself and would I do it again??? You better believe I will!!!  I can’t wait!  But first there are some other things to do, like white water rafting 🙂

Things I Miss in my Life

I miss my…

Mom’s warm smile and loving personality

Dad’s mischievous nature and infectious laugh

Kids as babies

Brother, and everything about him

Nephew and his awesome hugs

 

I miss…

Living less than 10 minutes from the beach

The house I grew up in

Tucking my kids in bed at night and reading to them

Being tucked in by my Mom and Dad

Being able to eat anything and everything and NOT having to worry about fat, calories, cholesterol and weight gain

 

I miss my…

Grandfathers garage full of paint cans

Mammaw’s swing

Mom hamburg bar-b-q

Mom’s family speaking Pennsylvania Dutch

Youth

Grandmothers country farm cooking

 

I miss…

The book swap libraries at the marina’s I used to visit

Sleepovers at my both of my Grandmothers homes

Watching the sunset from the bow of a boat

Holding my Grandmothers hand

Rascal, my husky

 

I miss…

My Dad calming me down after I skinned my knee (but I don’t miss him ripping the band aid off)

Picking on my brother, in our adult years (it got wicked at times)

Having a garden and a patio

Having a tea party with my Dad

Having a back yard picnic with Mammaw

Recess

Naptime

My dolls

Playing a ridiculous card game called “Donkey” with my parents and aunt and uncle (laughed until I cried)

Going to the beach every summer with my family when I was a kid

 The innocence of my childhood and not having a care in the world