Monday, December 15, 2008

Weekend Recap w/Cookie Exchange/Monday Gameplan/Best Tip of the Day!

Weekend Recap

Our weekend was wonderful! Friday I finished my list and began preparing for my cookie exchange party. Saturday morning my husband helped me clean-love his heart! Saturday night was our cookie exchange party!

We had around the same number of people as the year before. (this is my 3rd year hosting) We had 9 guests, which is a great number. I never want to have more than 15. When I hit 15 I will stop inviting new guests. The party lasted about the same amount of time, typically 3 1/2-4 hours. We love to talk! Everyone made 4 dozen cookies. Most cookie exchange parties ask you to bake 1 dozen per guest, this seems like alot to me and alot for my guests. Next year I will up it to 5 dozen, I upped it a dozen this year and it was great, but then I think I will keep it at that. There were prizes for best tasting, best looking, and most creative (a santa cookie platter). I also have a couple cheesy Christmas games so that everyone will win something (a christmas candle holder). If any of you want to throw a cookie exchange this next year or are already throwing one this year and you have questions please let me know! I have games, menu's, etc that I can send your way!

The party was great, even better than last year. Now we all have several dozen cookies ready for all of our holiday parties! A party that helps you be more organized-can it get better?

Sunday was our Cantata at church and they did a wonderful job, it really gets you in the Christmas mood!

Monday Gameplan

Great news! If you have followed along with my blog you should know that we are ready! I have nothing to buy, nothing to wrap, nothing to bake, and nothing to decorate! I am finished! So tonight, I will swing by Walgreens and get a movie from RedBox and enjoy my night off!

Everyday To Do's
  • 1 load of laundry
  • make dinner & pack our lunches

Seriously, I have hit my overall goal. I wanted to enjoy Christmas and not collapse on Christmas Eve. I think I have made it!

There are a couple gifts yet to arrive from online shopping so I will need to wrap those when they come. All of our stocking stuffers are ready to go. QuickTip: As you buy little stocking stuffers throughout the year keep them in a gift bag that is readily accesible. This way you can take stock of what you need and don't need. I have bought all of our gift exchange, office christmas parties, gifts and wrapped them labeled to "my husbands work" or to "my work". QuickTip:Everyone has parties where you have to buy a generic gift. Buy these on sale throughout the year and just wrap them with a tag saying what party they go to. This will keep you from having to run out and buy something last minute. My freezer is stuffed to the rim with cookies and candies. Our house is organized and clean. QuickTip: Baking a cookie or making a type of candy each night a week or two before Christmas will only take an hour out of your day, but it will save you from the everpresent crazy baking power day right before Christmas.

Saturday is our "Open House" Christmas Party for friends, family, and neighbors. I will keep you updated as to how this goes.

Best Tip of the Day!

I always check and usually the tips are things I already have done or don't need to do. But I found a tip that I have never thought of, but one that I think is genius!

Gifts are piling up beneath the tree, and Santa's ready to roll: time to prepare a Christmas morning basket!
The concept is simple: gather the tools and supplies you'll need to open Christmas gifts and put them in a basket, gift bag or gift box beneath the tree.
Include items like scissors, box cutter, notepad and pen (for recording "gifts received"), camera or videocam, trash bags, zipper food storage bags (for bundling small pieces so they're not lost) and extra batteries.
Add a Santa hat for a fun touch: she who wears the hat, passes out the presents!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Thursday Recap/Friday Gameplan/Recipe for Fabulous Make Ahead Dessert!

Thursday Recap

I knew I had alot to do yesterday, but I wasn't sure if I could get it all done. So here is what I finished.

  • 1 load of laundry
  • 1 load in dryer
  • ran a load of dishes
  • made dinner & lunch for Friday Quicktip: When making dinner go ahead and make enough for lunch the next day, box it up and have it ready to grab in the morning. Not only will this save time and money, but you will probably eat a little healthier too. Not to mention how happy your husband will be!
  • made apple pie for co-worker who just got out of the hospital (he gives me apples from his tree :)
  • put lights in my garland on the banister
  • went to dinner with some friends (what a fun fun time!)

I needed to finish the garland and clean house a bit. But, by the time I got home I did really good to get everything I got done, done. I went to bed at 11:00, 30 min later than usual, so I am a bit tired today.

Friday Gameplan

  • make peppermint bark (I am doing this at work because it takes forever to harden and I can put it in the fridge or freezer and get it done quickly) Quicktip: Make a few extra desserts that you can keep in your freezer, you never know when you will have to go to a last minute party, or a neighbor might all of a sudden give you a gift, having treats already made will keep you from stressing from the unexpected.
  • finish garland (I am hanging all of our cards form our banister garland)
  • make dinner (good news is that all I have to do is warm up leftovers! Hooray!)
  • wrap about 5 gifts (I had to pull some switcheroo's as a couple family members decided they were only giving gifts to children and a couple things arrived from online shopping)
  • visit co-worker and deliver pie
  • deliver open house/christmas party invitations to the neighbors
  • make candy cane cookies for my cookie exchange party on Saturday (I made some peanut butter heath cookies earlier this week just in case I didn't have time to get these done)

This can all easily be finished today! This just leaves a little cleaning and straightening up along
with a little appetizer making for Saturday before the party. I can't wait!

Chocolate Toffee Crunchies

When making these line your pans with parchment paper-this makes it easier to get them out of the pan when finished. I even laid mine in the freezer to cool off, I just carefully picked up the parchment paper-this enables you to get it out of the hot pan. I also stored these in the freezer after they were done and I tried one a couple days later-these are the perfect make ahead and freeze dessert.

I didn't use nuts, they are expensive and I wanted this to be a little cheaper. I topped them with granulated natural sugar and red sprinkles. The natural sugar is large granules and it has a yellow goldish color. They look really festive this way.
  • 2 cups vanilla wafer crumbs
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter (no substitutes), melted
  • 1/2 cup butter (no substitutes)
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
  1. Combine crumbs, brown sugar and butter. Press into an ungreased 13-in. x 9-in. x 2-in. baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned. In a saucepan, bring butter and brown sugar to a boil over medium heat; boil and stir for 1 minute. Pour evenly over crust. Bake at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes. Remove from oven; let stand for 2 minutes. Sprinkle with chocolate chips; let stand until chocolate is melted. Spread evenly over top; sprinkle with pecans. Cool completely before cutting.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Trim The Tree Thursday

Please visit the following blogs to view all the beautiful Christmas decor!
Cami @ Creating Myself

Terri @ Lakewood Manor

Megan @ Megan's Cookin

Kathy @ Mimi's Garden

Kathleen Ellis

Tam @ Gypsy Corner


Cinnamon Girl





Ellen B





Magnolia Memories









Red Sox Mom

These pics are of my dining room and my kitchen. Please ignore the mess in my kitchen, I made several things tonight to freeze for Christmas.

Enjoy all the pics!

Monday, December 8, 2008

A Friends Open House-Enjoy!

These are some pictures we took this weekend at a friends Open House. They have a beautiful home built in the early 1900's. They go over the top at Christmas and it is so beautiful! Enjoy all the pictures!