Bringing it all out of storage is not. Many trips up an down stairs, heavy boxes, few hands to help are usually the case BUT not when you call me in to help! That's what part of my work this week has been - helping clients bring out Christmas decor and for one client - then we re-organized the basement storage area. It'll be SO much easier putting everything away in January. Mind you that can be made easier too - if you book a session with me to help you put it all away :) I like doing the stairs and working hard with clients - saves me a trip to the gym and then I really earn my glass of wine at night! Cheers!
The two biggest tips I have for getting ready for big holidays meals are: delegate and pick some items for the menu that you can prep ahead. You know people in your family/friends being invites all have some dish they are known for so take advantage of that and ask them if they can bring that to the meal. If you have friends/family coming that aren't cooks - ask them to be in charge of bringing extra ice, the honey baked ham or even the Gladware containers for packing up leftovers for folks to take home.
The following is a great recipe you can prep early and have on hand for your meal - if you can manage to wait to eat them til then ;)
Pecan Pie Muffins:
1 c. packed light brown sugar
1/2 c. all purpose flour
1 c. chopped pecans
2/3 c. butter melted and cooled a bit
2 eggs lightly beaten
In a large bowl: combine brown sugar, flour and pecans then set aside. Combine butter and eggs and stir into sugar mix. Fill greased and floured (very important!) mini-muffin cups 2/3 way full. Bake 350 for 20-25 mins. Immediately flip onto wire rack to cool. Yields 2 dozen.
Here we are everyone - one month to Thanksgiving and Hanukkah and less than 2 months to Christmas. I'm not sure about your clocks and calendars but it seems like mine all of a sudden hit warp speed right about now. One minute carving pumpkins and handing out candy and next thing I know we have a family room littered with wrapping paper on Christmas morning. Over the next few weeks my posts here on the blog and and on Facebook will be focused on things to help you stay organizing, prepared and peaceful so you can enjoy the craziness of the weeks to come.
Each Monday as an alternative to our regular Crock Pot feature - I'll be featuring one of our family holiday favorite recipes. I have also posted here before about the idea of gathering your family favorites and making your own cookbook via Shutterfly or similar site. I did this several years ago and gave out as Christmas gifts to many people in my family. It's fun to have all your beloved recipes in one place along with pictures to relive the people and places that made them special in the first place.
Today's feature Stuffed Celery is one of my husband's family's most beloved recipes and 20 years ago when I first had it - I wasn't a huge cream cheese or olive lover but I thought this stuff was the bomb. This is great all year long but is always a holiday staple - make in a double batch as I promise your crew will love it too. The stuffing part can be made a couple of days in advance and then stuff celery right before serving. Also great with other veg or even a spread for crackers.
8oz light cream cheese softened
2 garlic cloves - chopped
1/2 c. toasted pecans
1/2 c. green olives with pimentos
4 or so shakes tabasco
1-2 T light mayo (for spread-ability)
Chop up the olives, garlic and pecans in food processor into small chunks. Add to bowl w/ softened cream cheese, mix with mayo to blend and add tabasco to taste. Chill at least 1 hour to let flavors meld and then stuff celery.
It really IS Christmas in July today - for me at least! I've been having several issues with my desktop computer and my access to my weebly website editor so I haven't been able to post in a MONTH! Thank Heavens today I sat down and dealt with computer support/tech support related to several things and at least I'm somewhat up and running again! So back to my blog post...
Christmas/Chanukah in July?? Seems crazy but this is the BEST time to work on a great idea for the holidays...It's hot outside so spend some downtime inside and make those phtobooks you've been meaning to get to - they make such super gifts but not if you are scrambled trying to make them in November. ALSO one of my favorite ideas and something I did several years back - Make a family cookbook using your favorite photobook site. You can scan in the old recipe cards with the beloved handwriting of someone you love, scan in old/new photos, and use the text box to write out the recipe if you need to for easier reading. I did one of these a few years ago and gave out to several family members. I kept one for myself and love having all my family's long treasured recipes in one place! Remember if you need help organizing your photos or making the books - I help with that too!
You can click on the pdf to see what my recipe books looks like :)
I'm enjoying time at the lake this summer to catch up on lots of magazines with healthy and some not so healthy recipes to try - which made me think...I'd love to hear from you all to find out how you organize your recipes...add a note to comments or email me via the website and share your helpful hints!
The kids finished up school last week and that means for most of us here in the South our kids are now home full time the next couple of months...I worked with a client last week to help prepare for the kid "invasion" and set up some systems to help with their items and projects over the summer. It's easy to tailor these ideas no matter where you are and what you have to work with...Big key is labeling for ownership and accountability :)
Sometimes the only thing that stands in your way of parting with something is that you are not exactly sure where to donate it to if it's not a "Goodwill Type Item"....Here's a list of local (N. Atlanta) places that would LOVE to have your items - check each site to see what their needs are/what they accept and pick-up/drop-off procedures. Please message me through the website (contact tab) if you have any others I should add to this list - I am always looking for great sources for clients to be able to donate their items!
Provides housing/assistance to families in need
Provides housing/assistance to families in need
Habitat for Humanity Store
Collects women's business/dress clothes for women re-entering workforce
The boys only have 8 more days left of school - I'm not sure where the year has gone but gone fast it has! Since October I've been doing the Crock Pot Mondays feature because 1) I love mine and trying new recipes and 2) I am convinced it's one of the best multi-tasking tools for anyone's home out there - let it cook dinner while you get to do other things:)
With that being said as we come up on high grilling season - I have to say I'm going to take a break from the Crock Pot Mondays and start back up in the fall...Mind you - I still use the crock pot all summer long. In the heat of the South the last thing I want to do is turn on an oven but ideally we do grill a good bit and I'll be trying to do that as much as possible.
I've been working on some great projects with great clients recently and blessed to say Life is Good!! I'll still be blogging this summer about organizing and other household ideas:) Check out the Before and After pics tab for some new projects. If you are in the Alpharetta GA area and need help - I'd love to help you start gaining! Go to the contact tab to get in touch via the website.
It's Earth Day later this month and although most of us don't associate Spring Cleaning with Earth day maybe we should. I had a big "aha!" moment yesterday while working at a client and going through clothes. (FYI: picture shown is grabbed from the web just to give you an idea of what happens if we don't take the time to clean out periodically!) We sorted, catalogued items for tax purposes and ended up bagging up 8 bags of clothes for donation. Donating those clothes is the best kind of recycling! My client has changed jobs/lost weight so now those clothes can be put to great use by someone else. Good for her, good for someone else and good for the Earth. Anytime we can re-use or re-purpose items it's recycling at it's best. Spring is a great time to do a proper closet cleanout and re-org since you can also change over for the seasons. It's also a great time to clean out and tidy lots of other areas of the house. This link has some good resources and lists for getting it done.
Need some "hands on help" for tackling the projects? Contact me :) Every session with me includes taking one load of items (as much as can fit in my SUV) to Goodwill on my way home and I provide the tax reciept to my client. Some people may get the sorting and bagging done on their own but with their busy schedules sometimes never get around to getting the items out of the house. I take care of that by loading the items for you to my car and getting them out of the house promptly!
I was sitting have my hair done a couple of weeks ago when Connie, my hairdresser and I got to talking about her grown sons. One had swam competively and she was telling me how she was having him go through boxes of old trophies and awards to determine which ones he wanted to keep. This made me think about some solutions for coping with letting certain awards go or a better way to keep all the items. If you are bogged down wth these items from your kids or even your own, two solutions I like are: 1) Make a picture book - Shutterfly and other companies have great templates where you could take pictures of the trophies and awards, document what, who and when in the text portion of book and that small book takes up a fraction of the space! Then your kids can still look and remember all the accomplishments without keeping every single item. The other idea is especially good if there is a name engraved on the trophy plate vs. a "generic" trophy 2) Take the trophy plate piece off each item and then mount onto foam board or pre-done frame backing and then hang your "trophy art" on a wall. Again, hanging one item that displays the important bits takes up far less space!
Jen Payne, CPA, Professional Organizer and mom to two boys: Brendan (17) and Ryan (15).