Hope you had a Glorious Holiday

Although your lights aren’t off yet and your tree isn’t down, the poem is still appropriate to what I want to say.

The lights are off.

The tree is down.

Each ball and bauble

packed away.

Christmas is gone,

But . . .

beneath my bed

I keep one bell

with a silvered ring

to sing to me,

Christmas will come again.

          As sure as the sun rises, as birds cheep, and snails creep, Christmas will come again . . . in just 363 days.  I hope this blog has helped you save time and reduce stress.  I hope it’s brought you new ideas to enrich your holidays and tasty recipes that will become part of your Christmas repertoire.  Although this is my last posting, I promise you just like Christmas, I, too, will return next year with more new suggestions to brighten your holiday.

Until then, let’s all strive for a stress-free, love-filled YEAR . . .

Merry Christmas!

Shame on you! 

What are you doing checking your computer today? 

Better you should spend the time with friends and family, basking in their love and companionship. 

And me?  Mrs400I’m busy packing my sleigh with brooms and mops dust rags, soaps and scouring powder.  Ruby, Rudolph’s red-nosed sister, is already stamping her hooves in anticipation of tonight’s journey.  As it’s a long one and I get hungry, a snack would be most appreciated—perhaps some trail mix . . . some apples . . .

Counting Blessings

The day is almost here, but you’re calm, cool and very collected.  You’ve prepared some of your Christmas food in advance.  Your presents are wrapped and you have nothing to do, but look around you and think of all the blessings in your life.  Here are some things I am thankful for:

          The taste of shivery taste of snowflakes 

          My cat, Tinsel’s, rumbly purrrrrrr  cat's pur

          Sweet Marshmallows melting in hot chocolatemarshmallows melting in hot chocolate

          The aroma of fresh bread baking in the oven

The generous heart of my husband, Mr. Saint Nick, and MOST OF ALL, the twinkle in his eyes 

Santa Claus

What are the blessings in your life?  Now is the time to make a list and share it here or better yet with the people who matter most to you.

Just two days until Christmas, but there’s still time to buy the book about meChristmas_cover - Copy or Jane Kaczmarek, the amazing mom of Malcolm in the Middle, reads it on iTunes.  I hope you’ll include my story in all your future Christmas Celebrations. 

Now I must cut this short.  Mr. Saint Nick and I have lots of work ahead of us, but we both wish everyone a stress-free, love-filled Christmas . . .

 

Focus on Kids

We’re getting close to the big day.  Let’s spend it with our kids, grandchildren, neighbors, nieces and nephews.  Make a kid-friendly dinner like this Lasagna, filled with the colors of Christmas—green spinach, red tomato sauce and the star-white of cheese.  It’s so good, kids won’t even know they’re eating a leafy vegetable.  Serve it with crusty garlic bread and a salad.  Then while sitting around the table, play this game.  WHAT MIGHT ANIMALS WANT FOR CHRISTMAS?  The inspiration for this game came from a poem and while spiders aren’t often seen up here in the frigid North Pole, it’s still fun to imagine.

  Wolf-Spider1

  WHAT DOES SPIDER WANT FOR CHRISTMAS?

A shoe for every foot?  That’s eight.

A shiny silver dinner plate

for eating bugs?  Bright red lights

to decorate its web at night?

Using this poem as a starting point, ask the youngest at your table, to pick an animal—a rabbit perhaps?  An elephant?  A whale?  Then she poses the question, “What will ________ want for Christmas?” 

Others will suggest possible Christmas gifts for that animal.  When no one can think of anymore, it’s time for the next older person to suggest an animal and ask the question all over again.

I guarantee laughter at your table.

For desert, bring out a selection of those cookies you have in the freezer.  What could be easier?  What could be better?

Then after everyone, each like a helpful elf, has pitched in to clean up, bundle warmly and walk, or drive, around town to enjoy the bright holiday lights.

  christmas-lights-house

With everyone home for the weekend, it’s a perfect time to start making a Christmas-themed puzzle like this one.  santa puzzleYou can order it here.  Also you can draft your young helpers into making these holiday pinwheels, a favorite kid-friendly, kid-delicious appetizer.

Can you suggest other fun family activities? 

          Next post on December 23rd we’re going to pause from last-minute preparations and count our blessings

Until then, let’s all strive for a stress-free, love-filled Christmas . . .

Sing a Song of Christmas and Candy

    Zooey Deschanel said, “One thing I love about Christmas music is that it has a tradition of warmth.”

   Nothing like music to get you into the mood for the holidays, but while CDs titled JINGLE BELL ROCK or ROCK ‘N ROLL CHRISTMAS are just the thing for elves working in our factory, they will have you thumping to the beat more anxious than Santa trying to stuff his bag in his sleigh. Instead listen to music that echoes the relaxed, peaceful mood you want to be in.  Here are two suggestions for Christmas CDs for your listening pleasure.

One is NOEL by Josh Groban.  15-josh-groban-noel-album-coverHis voice is like Christmas Fudge, smooth and delicious.  Want to hear a sample.  Listen here.  And if you have one of those modern thingamajiggys you can only download the songs you like. 

While listening to Josh Groban’s Chocolate Fudge voice, why not make fudge to share with friends and family. 

 Another CD I love is CHRISTMAS HARP by Cindy Horstman.      christmas harpThe harp is the instrument of Christmas and what better time to listen to it than now.  You can hear excerpts here.

Settle down with a piece of peppermint bark, so easy a child can do it and let the notes sprinkle and twinkle around you. 

       Have any favorite Christmas music to share or any favorite candy, homemade or not? 

On our next post, December 20th we’ll suggest a holiday game for the whole family.

Until then, let’s all strive for a stress-free, love-filled Christmas . . .

Happy Holiday Reading

        Elves love nothing more after a long day making and wrapping toys to relax with a good book.  The special children in your life will enjoy the same thing.  Here are some of my holiday favorites.

11_%20toomey%20coverThe Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski and illustrated by P.J. Lynch is a touching story of a young boy and his mother who touch and warm the sad heart of a woodcarver.  It’s been made into a movie, but I can’t imagine anything better than this book.

three french hensThree French Hens By Margie Palatini and illustrated by Richard Egielski is a fun romp and required read for those families whose holidays include both Christmas and Hanukkah.     

 Christmas-Magic_bThe Christmas Magic is a new book, just out this year, by Lauren Thompson, pictures by Jon J Muth.  With lyrical prose, you get to see Santa Claus as he prepares for his big night.

nbc_lo‘Twas the Night Before the Night Before Christmas by Natasha Wing, illustrated by Mike Lester tells the story of a family whose preparations for the holiday all fail, but no matter for they discover the true meaning of Christmas.

       No Christmas is complete without a reading of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.  Skip any movie production and luxuriate in beautiful prose.  Although it’s longer than the others, read just one ghost visit a night and you’ll finish well before Christmas.

I can’t leave without giving a plug to the book about me. Christmas_cover - Copy‘Twas the Late Night of Christmas is a perfect gift for all your frazzled friends.  Order your copy here.

Keeping with this post’s theme, I’m participating in A Jolly Holly Blog Hop.  Enter to win books by different authors.  On the tenth day of Christmas or December 21st I’m giving away an autographed copy of my Christmas Book and

IMG_NEWTo enter sign up for my e-mail newsletter.  Already receive it?  No problem.  Just leave a comment here that you want to enter the drawing.

      You must have some books near and dear to you, you’d like to recommend to others. 

In between reading, I’m making prepare-ahead dishes for our Christmas feast.  You should be doing the same.  One day-one dish and you’ll be one super-relaxed hostess.  Here’s a fun Quesadilla appetizer the elves snarf up faster than you can say, “Happy holidays.”

On my next post, December 18th we’ll share some favorite Christmas Music.

Until then, let’s all strive for a stress-free, love-filled Christmas . . .

Cookies! Cookies! Cookies!

This weekend is the perfect time to buy and decorate your tree.  Include your family.  Just be sure your tree doesn’t lean like this. XmasTree500 If you guessed that’s from the book about me, ‘TWAS THE LATE NIGHT OF CHRISTMAS, Christmas_cover - Copy you’d be right. 

Stay calm when your helpers put the star in the middle of the tree and your favorite angel at the back.  Remember what’s important is NOT who has the most beautiful tree, but who has the happiest home.  After all, once the lights are turned on, every tree is beautiful. 

          Your helpers will be happy, too, if you set out a big plate of cookies.   025  Variety makes any platter look festive.  That’s why I’m sharing recipes for White Christmas Brownies, Sandwich Bar Cookies and Yummy Chocolate Snowballs.  If you want to go to the trouble of rolling out cookies, try these, perfected by Caroline Arnold.

          Do you have a favorite cookie recipe.  Please share.  I’m always looking for new ones to make for the elves.

          On our next post, December 16th I’ll recommend some favorite holiday books.

Until then, let’s all strive for a stress-free, love-filled Christmas . . .