Monday, December 1, 2014

Christmas Countdown to an Organized Christmas - Day 35 - Catch-Up Weekend

Photo Courtesy of Clipart Heaven
Article Courtesy of Organized Christmas

It's coming, it's really coming ... it's here? Oh, NO! The Saturday after Thanksgiving can be a time of flagging motivation. How is it that, despite cooking for three solid days, the leftovers give out less than 48 hours after the Thanksgiving feast?

In spite of all the preparations, no one feels really prepared for the Christmas season to come--and after the Thanksgiving holiday, it's no longer possible to avoid the obvious. Here it comes!

It's natural enough when you think about it, but nobody expects to be a bit depressed at this point of the season. But for many of us, there's no "good enough" when it comes to the holiday season. No matter where we are, plans, prep or purchases, this is the week we feel the strain.

Have you made a Christmas planner, gotten organized for gifts and giving, and done more holiday prep than ever before--but still, you feel anxious?

Time to relax--with a catch-up weekend!

Here's the good news. First, you're not alone. Second, what you're feeling is normal. Third, it's going to go away. Judging from years of experience, lots of us enter a holiday slump right about now, but it's short-lived.

Think of it as being on a big, big toboggan at the top of the hill. The hill is the holiday season. This year, we've loaded all the things we're going to need onto the toboggan with us, and we're going to be thankful for all that work when we reach the bottom of the hill.

But right now? It's as if we're trembling on the brink, not really sure we're ready to careen our way to the bottom. "Have I done enough? Am I ready? Will everything go right?" runs through our mental Muzak.

Go ahead, shove off! It's the indecision that's causing the strain. Once we surrender to the season, start the ride down the hill, we'll settle back and enjoy it.

Ready? Reach for some holiday motivation. This weekend, do the things that jumpstart your holiday feeling. Play the special carols music. Bake the family cookie recipe. Take in a live performance at church.

Once you get rolling, you're going to enjoy the ride. Time to celebrate!

To Do Today

It's Catch-Up Weekend! Big cyber-sigh!

Whether it's gifts or decorating, cards or cooking, catch up on what needs doing to create an organized Christmas.

But be good to yourself! Lighten up the load and lighten your hearts, because we're almost there.

To Read Today

Putting up the Christmas tree spawns a snowfall of tiny parts: extra lights and fuses, ornament hooks and hangers. Even worse? These little items tend to go wandering. Never there when you need them, yet found all over the house during the first weeks of the New Year.

Keep these small necessities close at hand with a simple solution: an under-tree storage box. Wrapped like a holiday gift, it's a decorative way to corral Christmas tree clutter!

Christmas Clutter Cure: Under-Tree Storage Box

Christmas is a time of cheer ... and clutter! You'll find Christmas clutter lining each box and storage bin as you pull out holiday decorations.

An ornament box spills over with hanging hooks and zip ties. The tiny red-tipped light bulbs you need to make light strands blink. Special tools and assembly sheets for your "nevergreen" artificial tree. The dandy gun-shaped light tester, complete with instructions and replacement bulbs. Left to their own devices, they scatter around the house, never to be found when you need them--but popping up to haunt you right into the new year.

How to bring order to Christmas clutter? An under-tree storage box.

To keep Christmas clutter in line, it's as simple as a special wrapped box placed under the Christmas tree. When closed, it looks like just another gift. Inside, it holds everything you need to trim the tree, deck the halls and keep the lights shining bright.

Under Tree Storage Box

To make your under-tree storage box, choose a sturdy, smallish lidded box. Our 8-inch square box is right-sized for this purpose.

When wrapping the under-tree storage box, reach for heavy, durable gift wrap. Good-quality foil wrap, like these lovely patterns from Martha Stewart's Home Office Holiday Collection by Avery, will stand up to years of use.

(Transparency note: the folks from Staples were gracious enough to send me these samples to evaluate. You can find them only at Staples .... but hurry, before they're gone!)

Choose a pattern and color that have some legs, too. This year's trendy green-and-purple owl design will look dated in a few years, so stick with a classic color and pattern.

Wrap the box and box lid separately, and decorate with ribbon to resemble a wrapped gift.

Tucked away under the tree, it'll keep Christmas clutter under control and at your fingertips all season long. Better, you'll know where to find the ornament hooks next year!

Today's Recipe

banana bread recipe

There's a reason this Banana-Nut Bread recipe has been loved for generations: taste! Not to mention that it does a great job of repurposing ripe bananas!

Bake in small loaves for holiday giving, storing the Banana Nut Bread in the freezer until ready to use. To freeze, wrap each loaf in plastic wrap, then place wrapped loaves in a freezer food storage bag.

Banana Nut Bread will stay fresh in the freezer for 4 to 6 weeks.

Moist and flavorful, this traditional nut bread freezes well ... and kids (of all ages) love it! Try it toasted and spread with peanut butter!

To make banana nut bread for holiday gifts, use mini- or small sized loaf pans. After baking, cool loaves completely, then wrap in plastic food storage wrap. Wrap with a second layer of food wrap, then freeze baked loaves in freezer food storage bags.

Frozen loaves thaw quickly, making it easy to assemble gift baskets or quick hostess gifts for holiday parties.

1⁄3 cupsugar, granulated
1⁄3 cupbutter, unsalted
2 eggs
1 1⁄2 cupmashed ripe bananas (3 to 4 medium)
1⁄3 cupwater
1 2⁄3 cupflour, all-purpose
1 teaspoonbaking soda
1⁄2 teaspoonsalt
1⁄4 teaspoonbaking powder
1⁄2 cupwalnuts, chopped

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease bottom only of one large loaf pan or three small mini-loaf pans.

Cream sugar and softened butter in mixing bowl. Add eggs and beat on low until blended. Stir in bananas and water.

In another bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt and baking powder. Stir in remaining ingredients just until blended. Do not over-beat. Fold in nuts.

Pour batter into pan, and bake large loaf 55-70 minutes, smaller loaves 45 to 60 minutes. Bread is done when toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool in pan for five minutes. Remove from pan and cool completely before wrapping.

To freeze, wrap tightly with plastic wrap, then place in zipper food storage bags.

Freeze banana bread loaves for up to 6 weeks.

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