Saturday, November 17, 2012


This is one of my favorite things to do with holidays and my family always looks forward to see what I come up with. Now is the time to start at least thinking about it. Start getting ideas in your head of what you want your table to look like and if its something you can actually create. Really use your imagination. Here are some suggestions and ideas to get you started.
Make sure you add a spot in your Thanksgiving Planner for your Table Centerpieces. You can add pictures each year of your creation, jot down ideas and color schemes, and even cut out pictures of other centerpieces you see in magazines to use for future holidays!
To get started think of the colors scheme you would like to use. The next step is to decide if you would like a formal table or something a little more fun and relaxed. Do you want simple or extravegant? Will you make things or buy them?
The first part of your table will be your tablecloth. You don’t have to invest a ton of money if you don’t have it. But a good tablecloth may become an heirloom down the line.
Next is your dishes. If you have good china then use it. Don’t let it just sit in the china cabinet displayed. Its to eat off of, so use it. If you don’t have good china, its ok. You don’t have to match all of your plates. You can go very shabby chic with an array of pretty dishes you find at yard sales and thrift stores. But make the effort for real dishes, the holidays isn’t the time to use paper plates. Paper plates are fine for the hors devours and the dessert if you like, but let the star of the meal, the entree, shine on a pretty stage!
Cloth Napkins are a great way to add color and texture and flair to your table. Again, they don’t all have to match, but they should compliment the table. If you have 6 mauve napkins and 6 white ones, set them up as every other one to create balance and a pattern. Place them in a pretty fold on the plate or in the wine glasses to add a little height to your table. You can go here to see many different ways to fold napkins to make a creative and stunning statement!
Your guests will appreciate if they know where they will be sitting. It will also make your life a bit easier. Always place yourself closest to the kitchen! If your having a kiddie table be sure to place the parents of the kids closest to that table. The head of the table should be reserved for your husband on one end and I always seat my Father at the other end. Sitting at the end of the table for myself is not practical as I need to be closer to the kitchen. But traditionally you should take the other end opposite your husband.
The guests will know where they will be sitting because you will have adorable place cards for them to see. There is a number of ways to this. Some people like to put a small gift with the guests name on it as the place card. For Easter I filled colorful bags with candy and put everyones name on it. For Thanksgiving you can have your children go outside and get some colorful leaves. With a paintpen they can write the names of the guest on them and place them at their seats. On the kiddie table you can make Pilgrim hats with the kids names on them. You can also use small pinecones to insert a place card. If your feeling really creative spraypaint the pinecones. Gourds, small pumpkins or spraypainted apples can also be used this way. Just use a paintpen to write the guest name on them.
The Table Centerpiece. This is going to really set the tone of your table and your dinner. There are so many things you can use that you already have. One year I filled glass mixing bowls of various sizes with water and fresh cranberries. I then topped it with miniature spray red roses. I used the leftover cranberries I had, and my mixing bowls, and only had to buy the roses. Last year I spraypainted apples, artichokes, small pumpkins, branches and more with gold spraypaint.
Flowers are an easy and quick item to really brighten a table. Instead of just throwing them into a vase though, use a hallowed out pumpkin, or a short basket. Don’t have anything to tall that your guests can’t see each other across the table.
Candles are an important item, but remember to not use scented candles. You don’t want to compete with your food. Use candles in various heights to create a pretty glow around your table.
Use your imagination and your childrens help to create a pretty table that will be the perfect background for your holiday meal!


Don’t get yourself all stressed out from the holidays. Relax and enjoy the day. Remember to give Thanks, and to count your blessings. Even if its been a tough year for you, remember that there is always someone out there who has it tougher. Look to the future and pray for better days ahead.
You love your children but of course they too can cause us some stress. Put them to work to keep them busy and to help you out!! They can go outside and collect leaves for a centerpiece, or they can help fold napkins, or sweep, windex windows, anything to keep them occupied!

Remember that your children will feed off your emotions. So if your running around stressed out, tired, and cranky, your kids will be stressed out, tired, and cranky. All that will do is lead to more stress!
Be prepared. The more you can do ahead of time, the more you will enjoy the day. You will also have the time to deal with any little catastrophes that will no doubt occur that day. Last year my kitchen sink blew a pipe. Thankfully I was ahead of the game and it didn’t really effect me too much. Of course my poor husband wouldn’t agree with that, but the point is, I was ahead of the game and the time to fix the sink didn’t put me behind schedule.
Don't forget to clean as you go!!! Run and empty the dishwasher before guests get there. Fill the sink up with hot soapy water and wash as you go...don't let pots and pans and dishes pile up! Wipe down the counters, sweep the floor, put out fresh guest towels in the powder room, do a quick wipe and swipe in there also! When your guests arrive you and your home should be ready! You should be able to enjoy a glass of wine and appetizers with them.
Don't forget about yourself the day of Thanksgiving. Schedule the time to get yourself in order! You should have an outfit picked out ahead of time. Something cute, but comfy! Put your makeup on, do your hair, and put on a smile!! Greet your guests looking your best!
The holidays are about family and traditions, and celebrating the meaning of the day. Its nice to have a pretty table and a wonderful meal, but don’t get caught up in trying to be perfect. We aren’t Martha Stewart here. We are real women with real problems, and real kids, and real husbands and real budgets. Relax. It doesn’t have to be perfect.It doesn't have to be fancy and expensive. It won’t be perfect know matter how hard you try. Your mother in law will not notice the chip on the dinner plate. And if she does, so what? Who cares. Be proud of what you accomplish. Have fun and relax. Remember every time you baste the turkey, don’t forget to baste the cook with a bit of wine or champagne…she deserves it! Follow this simple advice and you will be a relaxed hostess, enjoying the fruits of your labor! So which picture will you be?? The stressed out crazy woman, or the hot and happy hostess?

hostess gift

For those of you who are going to a relative or friends home for dinner, you need to show up with more than just your appetite! Even if the hostess declined your offer to bring something, its proper etiquette to arrive with something that says thank you to your host. Here are a few quick ideas that will get you some extra leftovers to take home!
Instead of flowers, bring a plant. Flowers die. Your host will probably already have flowers that she bought or another guest brought over. A pretty plant that will last is something that she will remember you buy each time she waters it.
Wine. Wine is a very predictable hostess gift. Instead of a bottle of table wine, you could bring a dessert wine. Or perhaps a bottle of champagne to celebrate the day. Be sure to bring it over already chilled!
An Apron. I would love to get an apron as a gift! There are so many different styles to choose from. A hostess would love to wear an apron that you brought just for her! These aprons are hilarious and very well made. Embroidered with hysterical quotes, your sure to give the hostess a well needed chuckle! I have several of these aprons and everyone loves them!(if you can't read that, it says "be nice to me or I'll poison your food")
A serving bowl. If you are bringing a dish for the meal, bring it in a new pretty serving bowl that the hostess can keep afterwards.
Chocolates. What women doesn’t like chocolate. A small box of specialty chocolate will make her day! Be sure to wrap it pretty paper!
Tea and coffee basket. Fill a pretty basket up with some specialty coffees and teas. Add a couple of cute mugs or tea cups.
Candles are always an easy and nice hostess gift.
A holiday cd could be a great gift. It helps to know the hostess and her taste in music, but with a holiday cd, you probably won’t go wrong!
A book. How about a nice book that the hostess can curl up with after her busy day of entertaining.
A game. Wrap up a fun game that the whole family can play after dinner. Check out Amazon, there is a Thanksgiving Game there you can order.
Over at Oriental Trading Company there are numerous craft projects for the kids to keep them busy while the moms catch up and cook. I liked the Thanksgiving placemats that the kids can color.
Whatever you choose to bring, be sure to wrap in pretty paper. If your hostess has said that she doesn’t need anything, don’t bring food. While the thought is nice, she has her menu planned. She may already have what your bringing, or she may not have the room in her oven to heat it up. It may not go with the rest of the meal, or it might out do her food! Thats never a good thing! You don’t want the rest of the guests oohing and ahhing over your casserole and hers is left untouched! So unless your asked to bring a dish, stick to non food gifts. Just be sure to bring something.

Thanksgiving Menu And Guest List

Last week your challenge was to create a Thanksgiving Planner. I hope that you picked one up and started to decorate it. This week we will begin to fill it.
Create a Meal Planner and a Guest List. If your not too creative with the computer, you can go to this great site and download and print out some fabulous lists!
Make a Tab labeled GUEST LIST and insert the printout. This week begin to create your list of guests. Start calling and confirming who will be coming. On the list add a column for what the guest will bring. Have the list near you when you call. When they ask you what they can bring, don’t say “oh nothing, just bring yourself.” Tell them what you need. This is where you need to delegate.

If your Aunt Martha is a great baker, don’t delegate vegetables to her. Let her bake the pies! If cousin Suzie is a horrible cook, let her bring the wine! Don’t try and do it all yourself. Guests want to pitch in, so let them!
Stay organized and on top of things. Be sure to ask your guests if they have any special dietary needs. Having your guest list and menu set up will help to organize the rest of your holiday. You will be able to see if you need to borrow or rent tables and chairs, how much food you will need to cook, how big of a Turkey you need to order, and also to begin your shopping.
Now is the time to start picking up some non perishable items. This will help keep from getting hit financially all at once. A little here and a little there doesn’t hurt the wallet so much. Once you’ve created your menu, its time to start pulling out the recipes. Be sure to create a space in your Thanksgiving Planner to store all your tried and true recipes. Create an index card or list of all ingredients needed for each recipe, including dish to cook in and to serve in.
Don’t forget to also add the cooking time and temp. This will help to time your meal out perfectly. Once you’ve created the shopping list for the meal, be sure to also keep a copy of that in your planner. This will help eliminate that step in the coming years. You will need only to look at the list to see what your needs are.
So this weeks challenge:
  • Create your menu
  • Create your guest list
  • Call guests
  • Create your shopping list
You are now well on your way to creating a organized, and informative Thanksgiving planner to help you in the upcoming years, and to pass off to the next Thanksgiving Hostess in your family!
Next week we will plan our table setting and decorations!

How To Get Your Home Company Clean In Time For The Holidays! Don't stress the mess!

So your schedule this week was not on track. Maybe your dryer broke or your stove wasn’t working. Maybe you had sick kids or no power and were buried in snow. Whatever the reasons, now your behind schedule and the house is not “company clean”. Here is a quick to do list for getting your home ready for your guests.

  • Front Hallway: This is where your guests will get their first impression of your home. Wipe down the door of fingerprints. Clean the storm window. Sweep the hallway and run a damp mop over it. Vacuum area rugs.
  • Powder room:All of your guests will be in this room at least once. Make sure this room is spotless. Wipe down the sink, mirror, and outsides of toilet. Swish the toilet with some cleanser or vinegar and baking soda. If you haven’t had time to wash the rugs, give them a quick shake outside, sweep the floor and run a damp mop over it. Empty the garbage. Hang fresh towels, make sure there is plenty of hand-soap and toilet paper. Light a candle.
  • Family Room: Grab a laundry basket and throw everything that doesn’t belong there into it. Give the surfaces of all the tables a quick wipe down. Check the corners of the room for cobwebs. Windex the television and any glass surfaces. Run the vacuum. Light some candles.
  • Kitchen: Load the dishwasher. Wipe down the counters, the refrigerator, the stove and the microwave. Don’t forget to clean the inside of the microwave. Sweep and mop the floors. Shake out the rugs and put out clean dishcloths. Empty garbage.
  • Dining Room: Wipe down any surfaces like the front of the china cabinet and buffet. Check corners for cobwebs. Vacuum the rugs. Light candles.
Lighting candles invokes a warm and inviting space and if they are scented they will add to the warmth. Don’t use scented candles on your dinner table though, they will be too overwhelming and compete with your food.
Throw anything out of place into laundry baskets and put into a bedroom. Close the bedroom doors. Only concentrate on the areas that your guests will be congregating in.
Have fun, enjoy the holiday and remember the reason for the season. Put a smile on your face and be a gracious hostess and no one will notice if there is a fingerprint here and there or a stray dust bunny under the couch!


Time to get all your ducks (or is that turkeys) in a row. 10 Tips to save you from disaster the day of Thanksgiving!

One of the best tips I learned from my Mom is to have a “go to table”. This is a table filled with things you will need for the day. It is so much easier to direct the helpful guest to the table than have them rummaging through your cabinets. On this table you should have all your serving dishes with a post it note stateing what it will be used for. Also include your serving spoons. When Aunt Matilda asks what you want to serve the glazed carrots in, you’ll just direct her to the table and she can find it ready and labled. No guess work!
I also like to set up all of my dessert needs on the table. All of my coffee cups, sugar, creamer, dessert plates and pie server. All you will need to do is fill your creamer when its time for dessert, and transfer the dessert essentials to the dinner table.
I also keep all the “to go” containers stored here too. They are out of the way and still easily accesable for your guests.
You can use a card table, or a coffee table or even a couple of tv tables set together. Just throw a pretty table cloth over it.
Set your table now. Don’t wait until Thanksgiving Day. You can get it all set and decorated and throw a sheet on it. I used to laugh at Mother for having her table set a week before a holiday. I don’t laugh anymore. Now my kids laugh at me. It is a huge timesaver. It will also make you aware early enough if you don’t have enough dishes, glasses, or silverware.
Do as much as possible the day before. On Wednesday, I clean the turkey and make my stuffing. Please make sure you clean your turkey well! I also peel and chop all my potatoes and put them in the pan of water and put it in the refrigerator. On Thursday all I have to do is take the pot out of the fidge and put it on the stove to boil, then mash my potatoes. I won’t have to make a mess of peeling potatoes, I have better things to do that day! On Wednesday, sit down and figure out how long your turkey needs to cook, what else will need reheating or cooking and your whole time line.
Tip 4
I have been using oven bags to cook my Turkey. There is no mess(use a foil pan), the turkey is always juicey, and with no basting, and it takes half the cooking time than without a bag. My 24 pound turkey will take only 3.5-4 hours to cook, and I won’t have to baste it or turn it or do anything! And all the dripping are right in the bag for the gravy!
Take your turkey out of the freezer on Sunday.
To thaw in the refrigerator, place the bird on a tray and allow 24 hours thawing time for every 5 pounds (3 to 4 days). You can also thaw in cold water, allowing 30 minutes thawing time per pound. Be sure to change the water every 30 minutes.
Make sure your refrigerator is cleaned out and has plenty of room on Wednesday. If you lack refrigerator space think about filling up some coolers in the garage with ice and storing some things in there that you won’t be using on Thursday.
TIP 7 Serve buffet style. This will ensure that everyone gets their food warm. It will cause less stress and mess at the table. No handing down dishes and waiting. I set my buffet up on my kitchen table and all the guest form a line, get their food and sit down. We all have full plates at the same time and it is a much easier way to enjoy the dinner. Always put the gravy on the buffet table last. This will warm up the food that may have cooled a bit. If you have chaffing dishes use them. If you know someone who has them, ask to borrow. They are a great investment if you do a lot of entertaining.
TIP 8 Do have a seating arrangement. Think it through. If your having elderly guests, seat them comfortably. Try not to squeeze them in between seats. The end seats should be reserved for them. Think about the leftys in your family. They too should sit on a left end as not to keep bumping their neighbor! Mix the company up a bit. Don’t sit all the men on one end of the table and all the ladies at the other end. Do try and reserve a spot for yourself that is easy to get up and down. While traditionally you should sit on one end and your husband the other, I like to sit closest to the kitchen. I have my husband on one end and my great uncle or my father at the other end. Its a place of honor and I think my great uncle or my Dad deserves the spot!
TIP 9 Clean up as you go! Keep your sink full of hot sudsy water and wash whatever you can by hand. By the time your guest arrive be sure your dishwasher is empty.
TIP 10 Keep a smile on your face, and never let them see you sweat! When your feeling a little frazzled, take a deep breath, look around and count your blessings! Don’t get caught up in trying to be perfect or trying to impress your Mother in Law! Be yourself, have fun and enjoy the day! Most of all don’t forget to give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done!!<a href="//" data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-config="above"><img src="//" /></a>


This weekend is the time to get your game plan in order for Thanksgiving. Get your plan of action set and ready to go. Being prepared and organized for the holiday is half the battle.
This weekend take the time to sit down and prepare some lists. I have several lists going right now. Below is an example of what my lists entail.

Remember that separating your lists will help to keep you focused. If you write everything down on one list it will look impossible to do and cause you stress.
SHOPPING LIST: This is a list I am keeping on my refrigerator right now to jot down things I may have forgotten, and also for the fresh fruit and veggies that I need to get this week for Thanksgiving
CLEANING LIST: This looks a bit different than my normal cleaning list. I have to switch things around the week of the holiday. I obviously don’t want to clean my kitchen until Wednesday after my big prepping. Thursday will be a quick run through and of course the powder room needs to be wiped down and checked over with fresh towels on Thursday morning.
DAILY TO DO LIST: This will have the days of the week on it and what I need to do on each day. Example:
SUNDAY: Take bird out of freezer
MONDAY: grocery store for any last minute or forgotten items
TUESDAY: set table, label serving dishes
WEDNESDAY: Prep Food, defrost shrimp
Of course each day will have a bit more on it, but you get the idea. Keep the list Thanksgiving centered. Don't add things that are not Thanksgiving related to the list, it will only get confusing!
Last list I have going right now is my THURSDAY TIME LINE LIST. This is going to have the time of day and task I need to do. Example:
10am: Stuff Turkey, put stuffing in oven
11am: Put turkey in oven
12pm: Put soup on the stove
Place this list on your refrigerator and cross off as you go. Its also good to have your menu posted on the refrigerator. I’ve forgotten to put out the cranberry sauce before!

While I know it sounds overwhelming to have all these lists going, believe me when you see them posted neatly on the fridge, you will feel calm. You'll have your game plan set into action!
So be prepared and organized and your week and Thanksgiving day will turn out wonderful. Follow your lists and you won’t forget anything and you won’t be setting the table when your guests arrive or be in the shower while your Mother in law is in your kitchen “fixing” your food! You’ll be able to relax, have a cocktail and enjoy the holiday and your guests!<a href="//" data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-config="above"><img src="//" /></a>

Thursday, November 8, 2012


Yes its time to stop procrastinating and start taking action. Thanksgiving is just over two weeks away!

  • Write out your menu
  • Get out all the recipes you will need
  • Go through each recipe and write down what you will need. DO NOT ASSUME YOU HAVE SOMETHING! Double check!
  • Prepare your shopping list
  • Get your Turkey. You don’t want to wait until there are only 6 pound turkeys left.
  • Don’t forget to buy beverages. Wine, champagne, eggnog, cranberry juice and whatever else your serving. Make a list!
  • Don’t forget to add to your list plenty of aluminum foil and saran wrap. Paper holiday plates and napkins for dessert and appetizers. Good china for dinner! Other non food items to remember also like dish detergent, soap for the guest bathroom and tissues, plenty of paper toweling, and be sure to have some alka seltzer or tums on hand for the over eaters!
  • Also a good idea to grab some to go containers for your guests!
  • Do you have enough chairs? If not call up a guest to see if they can bring some folding chairs with them
  • Do you have enough dishes, glasses, silverware, serving spoons and serving dishes?
  • Get all your laundry done this week. You don’t want to be searching for potholders and dishcloths and guest towels next week.
  • Do you have a tablecloth? Does it need ironing? How about cloth napkins?
  • Do you have what your going to need for your centerpiece?
  • Ice!!
  • A cute apron for the special day?
And we haven’t even started cooking yet!!!! Do you see why we need to start now?In the next couple of weeks you will be busy polishing glasses, setting your table, prepping your food and getting the house company clean. Don't leave everything for the week of Thanksgiving. Get as much done in advance as possible and you will be the calm, cool hostess who will be able to enjoy the day!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Back To School Deals, Sales, and Savings!

Who doesn't love a deal? When shopping for back to school supplies, clothes, shoes, etc. it can get expensive quickly!!  I love love love Amazon for all kinds of shopping. They have so many deals and sales, and unique items also.  At Christmas time I do the majority of my shopping in my pj's with a cup of coffee through Amazon. No lines, crowds, or driving in circles looking for a parking spot for me!!
Today students are given a list of crazy items that are needed for each class. It may be certain size folders, or certain colors, specific calculators, or binders. Check out Amazon, you'll be surprised how fast you can get the dreaded back to school shopping done!!
See The Deals!   Shop Amazon - Back to School
K-12 ESSENTIALS  Shop Amazon - Back to School - K12 School Essentials