Monday, November 26, 2018

Mac N Cheese

I had a lovely Thanksgiving did you?  Very low key, all the usual food, my only sorrow being that for the first time since she got married my Pennsylvania daughter wasn't here because now she is my Oklahoma daughter and golly, why is she even further away?  It was a full weekend, and now I'm just trying to catch up on the laundry, housework and all the things that need to be done this week.

We also woke up to the beginning of a snowstorm.  It has been snowing nonstop since at least 5 a.m. and is supposed to keep going right through the early afternoon.  It hasn't reached the epic (Grab the milk! Grab the Bread! Grab the water!) proportions that the overexcited weather person was predicting but they always seem to predict snowmageddon and then we get a sprinkling that doesn't even slow us Michiganders down. We laugh in the face of snow. Ha!  And then most of us flee to Florida for the winter.

Not me. I'm no lily livered snowbird. I may hate the cold and the dark, but I will prevail.  I may kiss the budding earth in the Spring, but I have earned my joy by braving old man winter at his meanest.

So I was looking out at the swirling white this morning and was suddenly overcome with the urge to have some Mac and Cheese for lunch.  I almost never make it because, hello, it's super fattening. But as I said, I was overcome.  So I went on Pinterest to find a recipe and came across Fannie Farmers Classic baked Mac and Cheese.   I checked the pantry and found I had all the ingredients and I got to work.  Can someone tell me why a mac and cheese recipe would only use half a box of pasta?  I hate half a box of anything. It just seems to sit on the shelf making you wonder if it has gone stale. Nevertheless, I used the 8 ozs. as directed and it certainly made more than enough for the two of us.
I'm eating some right now, watching the snow swirl and putting off the housework that is calling my name.  It is decadent but I've been pretty good most of my life so I may be able to eat more mac and cheese right up until I slide into home plate in heaven in 30 or 40 years.  And if I don't last that long, at least I ate more mac and cheese, right?  ;) 

I hope you all had a great holiday, we are officially into the Christmas season now and no, I am not going to say how many days. That just tenses me up does it do that to you?  

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like...

Winter.  It's been snowing on and off this morning and the yard looks like this.

 Kind of pretty, but I still need to get the now frozen mums off the porch and change the wreath on the front door.  We did have a full 3 minutes of bright sunshine this morning and I was able to grab my camera in time to take some photos.  Still not the best, I think this old camera of mine is ready for a replacement, and I hear Santa has a new one in mind for me this year ;)  This is a sneak peek at the buffet in the living room, a runner, lighted garland and some candles and I stood back and loved how clean and uncluttered it looked.  Still festive, but less junk everywhere.
 One of the things I have been noticing since the kids have flown the nest is that my Christmas decorating has changed.  I'm decorating earlier, and my strategy is to put out the basics in greenery and lights so there is a little sparkle in these dark days but it doesn't scream Christmas yet. I am enjoying bringing one thing at a time up and not feeling the pressure to do it all at once.  I am also looking at a simpler Christmas this year.  I have tons of sparkly baubles that I have collected over the years and I know a good portion of them will stay on the storage shelf.
I plopped a few fairly neutral things on the kitchen shelves, they look wintery, sparkly, festive, and again, they give me a cleaner feel than the bright decorations I have used in the past.

Hind sight being 20/20 as they say, if I could give advice on decorating to anyone starting out, it would be the following:

1. Invest in the best basics you can afford, the faux green garlands (you won't be sweeping up dead needles for months), and lights. These are the things you will use for years and in many different ways. On mantles, tables, staircases, you name it.  I love the battery operated seed lights for places that are not close to an outlet and they often come with a remote so they can be set on a timer or turned on and off  with a point and click.

2. Beautiful ribbon is cheap and can be used for the tree, twined in swags of greenery or used for gifts. I have some ribbon that is years old, it gets used for a few weeks a year and then I just fold it back up and store it in a bin.

3. Shop those clearance sales at the end of the year!  I got a cute pillow last year at Kirklands for $5. Most of my ribbon has been purchased after Christmas at 90% off.  I have boxes of lights purchased for 59 cents at Home Depot after the holidays!  There are ridiculous low prices in these sales and every year I get a pleasant surprise as I open my storage bins and find the pretty things I forgot I purchased on sale.

4. Decorate with what you love, but once you have moved on purge! Things go out of style.  Tastes change.  Take it from someone who has 38 years worth of ornaments in her basement!  I no longer love some of them, but I'm fighting the sentimentality anxiety in getting rid of them.  You don't want to do that to yourself.  Save the things you really love. The sweet ornaments your kids make, the ones handed down from a grandparents tree, whatever you love.  The rest? Donate. Sell. Get them out of your house! Give yourself permission to make new traditions that put the excitement back in your decorating!

5. But remember that every piece is purchased with hours of your life.  That's a good one to remember for every purchase you make, but especially for decorative items that will go out of style and eventually end up at Salvation Army.  So many of us look to blogs and instagram for inspiration in our decorating, just remember that a lot of those style makers are paid to have a totally new look every year. They are the new age of advertising and it is their job to make you want what you see.  Christmas can be pricey enough with the food, parties, and gifts.  Add in the latest decorating theme and you can go broke with items you will be "inspired" to upgrade or replace next year.  I like to look at instagram to see how the style makers use what they have. In table settings, in moving items from one room to another, and yes to see what's new. But if something is a trend (black and white buffalo plaid this year) I turn away.  I don't want my decorating to look like everyone elses! Where is the fun in that?

6. Don't bother with allll the extras like holiday dish towels, hand towels for the bathroom and other small items unless you love finding them in the laundry a week after you have packed everything away. for as little use as they get, they look dated and used really fast and just add a lot of work and hassle switching them out.  If you don;t mind or love those little touches, go for it!  I just found they weren't worth it for me.

I would love to hear any advice you have for Christmas decorating too! What have you learned over the years? How has your style/taste changed?

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Christmas Peeking In

I used to be pretty adamant that Christmas decorating did not begin until after Thanksgiving.  It was always a rush to get it done on that busy weekend and always with the thought that I would only have a few weeks to enjoy it.  I have changed my ways.  I find that getting it done over time in November frees up my busy Thanksgiving weekend, takes the pressure off to haul everything up at once and best of all, allows me to enjoy the Christmas season without the pressure and mess. 
I would never try to talk anyone out of waiting, I believe we should do what works best for ourselves, so I'm not trying to convert anyone, just telling you what works for me.  This dark little corner library table needed some light, especially now that it gets dark at 5 p.m.!  So I brought up an assortment of trees and some twinkle lights and made it happen. 

The little wooden church was made by my husband's great (great great?) grandfather and it is a replica of the original free Methodist church that he helped build in the little town where my husband grew up, and which is still standing.  Over the years the church built a bigger building and I happened to be there for a big church clean out day. This little church had been in a storage room and was headed to the dumpster. I loved it so I asked for it, not knowing it's family history.  When my mother in law saw it she told me where it came from and I was so happy that I had saved it from being thrown away!

Are you gearing up for Christmas decorating or waiting until Thanksgiving is over?  We are doing some traveling this year around the holidays so I am even more inspired to get the decorating finished so it is in place for the season :)