Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Advent Calendars

I am a big fan of the advent calendar.  I love the idea of counting down until Christmas, building the excitement and enjoying the holiday season as long and as fully as you can.  Many begin on December 1 and count the days down to Christmas.  Some start on the Sunday following Thanksgiving. We can thank German Lutherans for this fabulous tradition!

You can find many ways to countdown to Christmas of a commercial nature. I found a Bissell's chocolate that has a tiny piece of chocolate each day, I found a Yankee Candle countdown which as a surprise scented tealight for each day, and the favorite was a Body Shop advent that had sample sized products behind each little door!

I created this advent calendar with one thing in mind: to do so in an inexpensive way and in a way that also included doing things for others.  My friend Evelyn, from Nemcsok Farms, did the graphic arts part.  Thank you Evelyn!  You can ask her to make things for you, too!

You can download a PDF here.  It is my gift to you, and you can share it however you wish!  

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Organize with Lists

Christmas has so many aspects that it is hard to keep a good system for organization.  One of the things that helps me a lot is a simple list.

Even lists can use some structure, though, and here are some lists that I use to keep me organized. Some of these lists are ongoing and need updating regularly, others are just for the season.  So let's get started and learn about lists!

1.  Gifts

Like most, I keep a master list subdivided by person for all my gifts.  I print it and keep it in a notebook to refer to in the future.  It has shown me how my spending patterns change over time.  There are many good ones on Pinterest if you don't want to create one yourself.

2.  Things to Buy

I keep a running list of things that I need to replenish from year to year.  For example, last year I noticed that my plaid tablecloth was on its last leg.  I added it to my list to replace for this year. I also always tend to forget paper products and make a last minute run to the store.  Over time I have learned all my tendencies to forget, procrastinate, etc.  This list helps!

3.  DIY

I keep a list of all the things I want to make for myself or for gifts for others.  I make this an electronic list, so I can keep URLs for those projects.  Do you remember tear files? I used to tear out things from magazines and keep them in a file for future use.  This is like a tear file, but electronic. Do you have some favorite DIY sites?  I truly like Mixed Kreations for simple repurposing and I love Random Acts of Crafts for their wonderful round ups!

4.  Christmas Cards

This list is the one that is getting more and more of a puzzle. I love love love sending Christmas cards, but it seems to be a dying craft.  My list, at it's largest, was over 300.  Now it is closer to 50. I am in a couple of Christmas Card exchanges which are a lot of fun!  I do use an electronic list for this but I handwrite my cards.  I generally get started around the first of November with a goal to send them out on December 1.  I love photo cards the most (next to Charlie Brown cards!) and each year it is fun to have our photo taken for the card. This year we are using a photo from our vacation.  My favorite card sites are Shutterfly and VistaPrint

5.  Menus

This is my favorite thing to work on!  All year I am trying different breakfast casseroles and brunch items to create the perfect Christmas breakfast.  It is a tradition that we love!  I love to peruse Pinterest to find ideas and I save them to my Christmas Breakfast Board.  Then in November I start to narrow down the list and finally, after much deliberation, choose what will be the Christmas Breakfast of the Year.  I make a grocery list and then set it aside until I need it.  I also plan menus for my Annual Cookie Exchange and Christmas Eve (we do an entire meal of nothing but appetizers!)

6.  Cleaning

Blech.  This is my least favorite list of all.  I have it down to a science now though, because I have been doing it for 40 years!  I basically take one room a week and do a deep cleaning.  I always put the living room the week before Thanksgiving, as we decorate our tree the weekend after Thanksgiving.  That means the room is clean and ready for decorations!  I leave the kitchen until the week after Thanksgiving.  Then it is all ready for Christmas baking and cooking!  Everything fabric gets washed, everything glass gets polished, floors get scrubbed and I knock down cobwebs and whatever else needs attention.  All the lighting gets cleaned as well.

7.  Christmas Cooking

I make cookies and candies to give to friends and family throughout the season.  I have started to make small batches and to give a variety plate instead of a large batch of one thing.  I host a Cookie Exchange in order to help with that process.  I make list of the tried and true recipes I want to make and then I have a list of those new items that I found that I want to try.  I have a number of Pinterest fails each year but then there are some that make the tried and true list!  I'll be sharing this list later on!

I hope my lists help you be a bit more organized over the holidays!  

I have a new way of tracking my lists.  Have you heard of Rocket Wave Notebooks?  I am in love with these!  I have added a little video to share about this wonderful invention.  I plan to buy these as gifts for all my nieces and nephews!

You can buy these through Amazon.  If you choose to purchase one, I would love it if you would use my link.  The cost is the same for you but I get a tiny commission.  It is a way that you can support this blog for future posts!  I would love to learn from you!  What lists are you writing for the holidays?

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The Christmas Haus

I love traveling the small towns in my state of Missouri.  This summer my husband and I took a trip to Kimmswick, a quaint town on the Mississippi River.  It was founded in 1859 by Theodore Kimm, a St. Louis businessman who originated from Brunswick, Germany.  The name of the town is a combination of the two names.  The town grew to have its own flour mill, brewery, brickyard, copper shop, wagon maker, and blacksmith shop.

The town has restored many of its homes to their 1850s charm and draws visitors each year to shop in its charming shops and The Blue Owl, a restaurant that was featured on Oprah, The Food Network, The Today Show and The Travel Channel!  They are famous for their Mile High Pie.  We had it and it was amazing!!!

My favorite spot, though, was The Christmas Haus, a Christmas shop on the edge of town.  Walking up to it is so exciting!  There is a large front porch with comfy chairs and a large Santa.  Continuing into the shop, you can go left or right.  I headed right.  Already there were several decorated trees waiting for me!  Many nativity sets and large Santas were displayed throughout.  The shop carries Byers Carolers and Baldwin Brass, too.  I also found this adorable Magical Elf Ornament, which is going to be a giveaway today for one lucky reader!

To enter this contest, simply leave a comment on the question below.  If you want to like my Facebook page, that would be awesome, but is not a requirement.  You can find the page here:  Christmas Tree Lane.

Isn't this sweet?  A lot like Elf on the Shelf, but little.  He's about 2 inches high.  I'll mail him anywhere in the US and Canada.

Do you enjoy Christmas shoppes, too?  When I am traveling, I like to be on the look out for a Christmas shop. It is my favorite place to get a souvenir!