Ever find yourself really wishing you had more time to get ready for Christmas... December just seems to SNEAK up on you? Well, maybe we can make a difference... together!

Monday, December 31, 2012

I bet you had NO IDEA......

I LOVE CHRISTMAS!
It really is no secret..
Christmas just holds a special place in my heart.... and if you remember... from this post.... I have had my "break-down" years.... FALL apart years.... FORGET IT years.... just plain and simple... BAH-HUM-BUG years....
Years that I just wanted to SLEEP through it - forget it - and just move on... I would literally get ILL whenever I heard a Christmas song... and if any one even MENTIONED the word CHRISTMAS...  I would have panic attacks just walking into a store and see Christmas decorations... if really FREAKED me out... I just did NOT enjoy even the slightest THOUGHT of Christmas.... HOW SAD! I had truly LOST the TRUE meaning of Christmas.... the SPIRIT of Christmas... All I could think about was HOW many gifts I needed to have for people that were EXPECTING gifts from us... How much money we DIDN'T have.... and how LITTLE (if anything at all) I could give to the people I really WANTED to give to! 

I'm so GLAD that I am NOT there anymore! 
I am OH SO GLAD that I finally took a break....
Paused in life...
And FOUND the TRUE meaning, REAL spirit, of Christmas again!

It's not about the gifts....
or the shopping...
or the decorating....
the parties....
the food....
or even friends....
OH, don't get me wrong....
Those "pleasures" are all GOOD and ADD to CHEER to the holiday season...

BUT

It just isn't what Christmas is really about!

Christmas is so much more.

Christmas to me means striving to become more like Christ... every day... in every action.... in everything that I do.  It means to be more giving, more kind, more generous, more patient, more tolerant, more accepting, to simply become more CHRIST like... in everything I do... and... it is something that I have been striving (and I'm sure I'm even failing at) to become through out the entire year, not just during December.

There are times that I have found Christmas enjoyable... times when I have not enjoyed it... times when I WISH for MORE time (because I don't get what I want done .. DONE!).... There have been years that I have gotten caught up in the "worldly" Christmas... and then there are the Christmas's that I have been truly touched... truly reminded of the true meaning of Christmas.  The excitement... the enjoyment... the calmness... the love... and honestly - those are the years that I have TRULY enjoyed Christmas...

For the past couple of years, I have really, I mean REALLY struggled to find enjoyment in the season, when we have been strained tremendously...both financially and in health.  We have struggled, as I'm sure many of you have as well.  As I look back... even just minutes after the "evidence" of Christmas morning are all scattered on the family room floor.... the evidence that the Jolly Ol' fellow made his stop at our house.... that I have been completely overcome with the "WHAT THE HECK WAS I STRESSING SO BADLY ABOUT" feeling came rushing to the surface... Have you ever felt like that?  I think I have put SO MUCH pressure on myself to have "THE PERFECT" Christmas morning.... that I have forgotten what it is truly about.  There are days when I just HATE being a perfectionist!  IT STINKS! because... nothing is EVER perfect! EVER!  I can find SOMETHING wrong in EVERYTHING that I do!  and in EVERYTHING that I say... WHY? oh why do I do that to myself... why?

But I have decided that I need to make CHRISTMAS become a part of my every day life.
Secretly - I listen to Christmas music for a few minutes every day - all year long.
Yeah - sometimes I get caught - but i don't care anymore.
It brings that "excitement" to my heart.
It helps me stay focused on "who" I am trying to become.
WHO I want to be every day - not just a day or two - or even 30 days out of the year.
I want to be more Christ like - every single day.
I really have a lot of work to get there - but I'm trying.

Yes - it has been a while... OK A LONG while since I posted on my blog - I'm sure that IF there is anyone that still follows my blog has pretty much decided - I've given up....
I haven't - I have wanted to update for so long - but... things have been a little CRAZY around here - and because of that craziness.... I NEARLY lost what I had been striving for all year...
the TRUE meaning of Christmas.

I started out with good intentions - you know - to get DONE before my dead line of Oct. 31...
BUT my husband, once again had different plans for us.
I did manage to get my "homemade" Christmas done for my the married kids... Not so sure that they were very impressed... but I did get bottled salsa, peaches, pickles, and tomatoes done...
Then I managed to get 48 containers of freezer jam - strawberry of course - completed... ordered the "honey" that they all said they would NEVER eat and it has become their FAVORITE!
And...that's where I ended... that's where life took a twist of events and I lost my momentum!

On October 4 we went in for what we "thought" was a routine doctor appointment for my Mister...
(the heart doctor) which turned into being referred to another doctor who only had an opening on the 9th - so we took it - which led to being in the hospital on the 11th at 10:00 am for an angiogram - and potential "angio-plasty" IF they thought they could fix things, but was most likely leading to open heart surgery on the 12th.... (which was our 29th anniversary I will add :)) ... and YEP!  Because we don't do things like everyone else, he ended up have quadruple bypass open heart surgery on the 12th.... we spent the next 4 days in TICU then the next 3 days on the med-surg floor... came home on the 18th about noonish or so only to discover that my washer was feeling neglected and decided it to needed some sort of open tub surgery - and exploded all over.... mind you with loads and loads of laundry to do - because we came home to a house filled with sick people....That was not on the plan... and there went all "Christmas Spirit" out the door!
Next, 8 weeks of no driving for my Mister... which meant that I was not only full time mom again - getting kids to school - but full time working mom clear across town... (a 3 hour daily commute)... it was a challenge - but we managed - and before I knew it - it was mid December... and I hadn't done NOTHING since September!  AGH!


So, you guessed it - Christmas Spirit was a bit deflated!  All my "good intentions" were washed out the door, everything I dreamed about doing during December - was not done!
Instead - everything I DIDN'T want to do during December was done..... including shopping! 
I spend Dec. 22, (which also was My Mister's birthday) shopping with all the other CRAZY people and hated....every....single....minute of it! 
I was such a SCROOGE!
I didn't want to be shopping this day! 
I didn't want to be out at all this day!
I wanted to spend the day just being with my Mister and kids! 
ENJOYING it! 
Not running around like a crazy, wild woman in the snow with the other 5 million people! 
I didn't! 
But there I was.... doing what I was NOT going to do!
I was so depressed. 
It was not fun at all.
I was stressed.
We had received "THE BIG" hospital bill earlier that week, and I just didn't want to open it...
the other 5 had already stressed me out... 
but for some reason, I opened it that morning .... 
and that just set me in a tail spin.
So while I was shopping all I could think about was how broke we were.... 
How were we EVER going to pay off these darn medical bills...
How my kids had nothing.
How disappointed they were going to be.
How disappointed "I" was.... 
Why oh why - did I do this to myself...  WHY!?!?!
Oh well.... it was what it was...
DEPRESSING.

The next few days were just frustrating.
I was a basket case.
I spent the next 3 days doing exactly what I SWORE I would never do again! 
CRUNCHING! 
I was up til 3 or 4 am and slept for a couple hours then back at it - 
and my house was a MESS - 
LIFE was a mess! 
I WAS A MESS! 

We had a very "meek" Christmas - and my kids don't really expect much - 
but more than what little gifts they had to open - 
it was the let down that we hadn't done the things I had wanted so badly to do.
Like - 
See the lights
Have our cookies, milk and movie night 
Make gingerbread houses
Do the 12 days of Christmas for a family or two 
Have our "baking" day 
Go to ZOO-Lights
Sledding 
I just felt deflated.
So much I "dreamed" of doing...
and I failed again! 
I let the family down again! 
And... I was missing my grand-babies! BADLY!

We did manage to do a little "candy making"
We did have our Family Night of "RACK'ed"
(Random Acts of Christmas Kindness)
We did have our Night in Bethlehem
But that was IT! 
My Favorite Things boxes were BORING this year! I was so drained, I couldn't even think about them... and I really think that was the BIGGEST let down for my kids... 
So... It has to happen next year - it just MUST! 

Not one gift was wrapped and under the tree - before 3 AM Christmas morning! 
Not MANY gifts were completed for that matter! 
This mom was POOPED! Plain old POOPED!

So guess what! 
There are 357 days until Christmas 
And guess what I have already done for next year! 
I've made a BETTER plan! 
And by DARN! I'm sticking to it! 
I hope you will all help me STICK TO IT! 

PLAN:
The 4th Saturday of every month is being dedicated to "HOMEMADE GIFTS" and PROJECTS!
My budget it already set 
My list of GIFTS for the kids is already made
My action plan for purchasing the items needed to make the gifts is written
AND.... my deadline is set AND I'm not telling anyone! 
Especially not my Mister! :)
All for good reasons..... 

I'm open for suggestions too - 
so if you have ANY ideas or suggestions that help you - 
PLEASE - share them! 
I'm so open! 

Here's to 2013! 
It's gonna rock.... right???? 
 Happy New Year Everyone!
Be SAFE!





Tuesday, July 24, 2012

It's time to pull out the CHRISTMAS calendar!

Do you realize that Christmas is just around the corner?
Have you noticed the "JOLLY-LITTLE-FELLA" over to the right???? YIKES!!!!!
Pull out that calendar people!  We've got some work to do!!!!!!

I have found that one thing for me is to have a holiday calendar available... only my calendar consists of the entire year!  :)  I know that we are about half way through the year - and then some - so hurry and grab a calendar and get ready to get organized and enjoy a STRESS FREE CHRISTMAS!!!!!

My holiday calendar is pretty much the most important part of my holiday planning.  It is really my BRAIN of the season!  (Because if you know me... you know my brain is no longer storing - it just has "auto-delete" anymore!)  There are a lot of software programs available to print out and customize your calendar and I would highly suggest using one if  that works for you, or an online calendar like Google or Outlook calendars, but I also keep a small one in my purse - just in case I'm out and about and need to add something when I get home.... 

One of my favorite sites.... 
(but be careful as well - it can be a bit overwhelming!)
 Just remember, baby steps..... is

Even though I personally love my computer calendars that I can print out - whatever type of calendar you have will work as long as there is space to add your events. Another tip is to use colored pencils and give different activities or people a particular color.
There are five main steps to making your Holiday Calendar. The first step is to write in all birthdays, anniversaries and other dates that are set in stone like when the kids get out of school, any birthdays and anniversaries. These are the dates that never ever change - if you know you always have a get-together at your in-laws the Saturday before Christmas put it down - chances are it is not going to change.


The second step is to evaluate where you are in your Christmas projects. Projects would include things like making handcrafted Christmas gifts, ornaments and other items that require before thought to get them done. You need to schedule time on your calendar to work on these plus mark the “due date” for these projects to be done. Do not forget things like wrapping gifts because that is a big project!  (I am really going to try REALLY super hard this year to wrap as I go.... meaning - I'm wrappin' the day it's purchased.... but don't forget to make your "gift list" and write it down where you have it - just in case you are like "me" and forget where you put them.... I just found a container of gifts a few weeks ago that I couldn't find for the life of me at Christmas last year! I thought I was DREAMING about the purchase of those items... My list is tucked away and just so I don't forget where I put the list - I told my hubby - and his list is located in the lid of that container ... ya gotta be sneaky still! :))


The third step in preparing your Holiday Calendar deals with your activities during the holiday season. Does your family always go to a certain special event every year no matter what? Well go ahead and call now and find out what the date and time is for this year (you might even want to ask them if it is already scheduled for next year too!). Most places have big events scheduled months in advance. Do not worry about seeming silly calling this early - just explain to them you are preparing your Holiday Calendar and they will most likely marvel at how much you have it all together!  TRUST ME! They will!!!!
online advent calendar
The fourth step to your Holiday Calendar is marking all your Christmas related items. Make yourself a list of all the things that need to be done during the holiday season and make sure they get a date on your calendar not only to work on it but also for completion. This includes things like decorating your tree, mail Christmas cards, mail Christmas packages, due date for the Angel Tree gifts, getting the kids Christmas clothes bought and pictures scheduled. All these little things creep up on you and will make the holidays seem much more stressful if you have not planned ahead.


The last step in preparing your Holiday Calendar is to look and see what dates are left and plan your parties and get-together’s. Wouldn't your friends be surprised if you called them in October and asked them to mark their calendars for a cookie exchange in December? Of course you will still have to send out formal invitations several weeks before the event (and do not forget to mark on your calendar the date to buy and send those invitations!)

By this time you will know if you will even have the energy during the holiday’s to plan a fun get-together or just accept invitations from others and sit back and relax! (just putting this together is making me feel exhausted... yet excited at the same time - is that possible??) 

Now that I have given you 5 steps to preparing your Holiday Calendar there is one thing you should not over look in order to help your stress during this holiday season - you must actually do what is on your calendar! (This is a lot HARDER than it seems!  Well, for me anyway.... I seem to write it down - and then it leaves my mind.... I have to keep it somewhere where I will look through it each day... that is why the "Outlook" calendar works really well for me - it pops up my reminders of crucial items.... )  Even by accomplishing one or two of your tasks on your calendar will help the stress of the holiday. 
One word of advise....For "ME", I am a big dreamer!  I envision things going smooth and simple and everything perfect - in my MARY-POPPINS world.... In the "reality" world... it just doesn't ALWAYS work that way.  This past December - I had fun things planned for nearly every night during the month - It was exhausting and overwhelming to think about how much I "wanted" to do and how much I "WANTED" everything to go perfect.... it quickly turned to frustration as it seemed that NOTHING was going according to "MY" plan.  I found about one week into the month that I was frustrated, angry, not enjoying the month at all because it wasn't working out like my MARY POPPINS mind had planned.   I then took the rest of the month and started "crossing things off".... that was DEEEE-PRESSSSSSING!!!!!! to say the least! I then found that I had upset my children as well - they were looking forward to the month "I" had planned.... So this year, I've decided to "stretch" it out a little.  We will start in November with a few different things each week rather than trying to "SQUEEZE" it all into one month - I hope it goes better - OH! And... unfortunately I have decided to take out a few things as well.  And it's ok!  I'm OK with it.  One thing that I think will help is rather than placing it on the calendar for my children to see, I'm going to get up each morning and place the "activity" in the "advent calendar" based upon the "outlooks" of the day - so if the weather is going to be CRUMBY then I know not to put Temple Square Lights on that day.... Or if I know that only the youngest will be home because the others are working, we will do something like a Christmas show or make a treat rather than "Night in Bethlehem" when it is something I want/need all the family together for.... I'm hoping that this will help with my "MARY POPPINS" magical month of plans.....
But, do what you think will work for you....
But one thing I would HIGHLY suggest for all....
 
Have a MERRY LITTLE CHRISTMAS filled with MEMORIES!
(Oh! I'm getting so excited!) 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

What I LOVE about Christmas!

I hope that you were able to find another small book of some sort - a journal, extra spiral notebook, anything will work.  Maybe I should have told you this up front... I do apologize.  I surely hope you were able to find one on such short notice.....

I have a problem with "lists"...(remember this LIST post...)  and I love tracking things... so having notebooks in every room is a must, every purse, bag and even in my car - is a MUST!  I don't leave home without some sort of "notebook" in tote!  I know... I'm a bit crazy! BUT they are my saving grace! :)   So, this is probably one of my most favorite "after Christmas" things I like to do and usually it is on New Years Eve, or New Years day, when I really just want to "chill!".... "RELAX!"   but since we are a little behind, there is no better time to start than the present - so humor me a little and play along - who knows!  You might just enjoy it too!  

I like to sit down and review

 "WHAT I LOVED ABOUT CHRISTMAS!" 

I start by writing the "questions" on the top of my page - then I go to town! 

(this makes me so excited!!) 

Question 1:  

What I LOVED about Christmas!  

Christmas is a special time of year and should be celebrated and not dreaded. We need to remember that Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Christ and we should be joyous during this time (and all year) and not let the world get us caught up in how we should celebrate this special time.  This is one of the times during the year we take time time to really remember and lift up all the important people and things in our life. The goal is to take a few minutes and write out all the things you love about Christmas.  Think about things you do, things you see, how you celebrate, activities you attend, people you spend time with, traditions in your family, songs you love to listen to, family you celebrate with, giving gifts, sending cards, foods you enjoy, and anything else you think make the holiday season special for you.  We want to make sure we enJOY the season by filling it with the things we love doing and mean the most to us.

Question #2

What I did not like about Christmas this year.

Every year there are things that we wish we had not done.  This does not only refer to that dreaded party but also to actions we did or did not do.  For example,  did you get your cards out later than you wanted or maybe you forgot to make the picture appointment early so all the good times were already taken?  
Take time to sit down and make a list of these dislikes, this will then become a punch list to help you restructure your holiday plans. You will refer back to this list as we work on planning the upcoming holiday season – the goal is to make sure we enJOY the season removing as many dislikes as we can.


Question #3

What I want to do this Christmas! 

It seems that our “to do” list for the holidays never seems complete and at times it can feel like it doesn’t even get shorter. Think about things last Christmas that you really wanted to do, but maybe you just ran out of time, or you thought about it a little too late in the season - whatever it was - it is important to try again! DO NOT just let it go without trying... :)  Make a list in your notebook of these items and then ranked them by importance. Because it IS important!

Question #4

Things that I HAVE to do this Christmas season.

Examples of this would include annual family get-togethers, church services, mailing Christmas cards, entertaining you do, decorating, Christmas pictures, etc. This list may be long – but that is o.k. as this list is what we will use when we get to the calendar section.


Question #5

Five things I want to do this Christmas that I did not do last Christmas 

Make a list of 5 things that you really want to try to do this Christmas.  Place the list in your Christmas Notebook. The items you list can be things you have never done before or things you have done but just did not get around to last Christmas.  Rank your list and then try to incorporate at least ONE item in your holiday season this year.  Your goal is 5, but if you do not reach this goal you have not failed – you already have ideas for next year!  Each Christmas will get easier and you will be more organized so do not fret!


Question #6

Activity Journaling Questions
Activities play an important part of most people's holiday celebrations.  In your Christmas Notebook journal take a few minutes and write about the following: 
  • Write down all the holiday activities you and your family did last year outside of your home – be sure to include church, school, community, and family activities.
  • What activities are a must do for our family every year?
  • Are there church related activities that I would really like to do this year that I have not done in the past?
  • Ask every member of your immediate family what their 3 favorite activities that you attend outside of the home are during the holiday season and write it in your notebook.  Incorporate at least one thing from everyone's list into your holiday planning.  Remember this is their Christmas too!  (This is really another of my FAVORITE things to do - I just LOVE finding out what my kids REALLY enjoyed and LOVED about Christmas as well.... I was quite surprised when this year my youngest (10 yr old) replied with, "I was happy that mom didn't sleep through Christmas this year."  Sure turned the lights on for me!) **I like to do this for a Family Home Evening activity, usually the first one of the year.  
  • What things from your childhood do you remember doing?  Is this something you could do today? 
  • Are there activities you would like to add to your holiday season?  Write them down – maybe when you work on scheduling you will have time for one or two new activities.. 

Coming up: Calendars and Activities/Traditions.... oh so excited!!!!! 
OH! Be sure to swing on over to visit DEBBIE at  Debbie-Dabble Christmas.... tell her I sent you over to visit with her!!!! She'll enjoy your visit as well!

***Note: Some of the ideas above, were taken from a homemade book that I received some 25 years ago - "How to have a Stress free Christmas", little did I know then, as a young newly married gal and a couple kids that it would come in so handy through the years. - I don't know WHO to give the credit to - or I surely would.... but I do THANK them for being so smart~even clear....back.....then....*** 

    Saturday, July 7, 2012

    Christmas in July

    (A little late in posting... we had some unexpected events that have emotionally wore me out.... but I'm back on track and ready to focus on Christmas in July!) 

     
    A Christmas Organizing Notebook (or books) serves as the foundation of your holiday organization year after year.  By creating a notebook, you will have EVERYTHING at your fingertips and you can continuously reference it for reminders and direction concerning you holiday plans. ( refer to min ALL THE TIME! - I keep the past years as well - amazing how much that helps me!!)  After the holidays have settled down, I LOVE going through my books and begin working on the pages for the next year - I keep a extra sheet or two in each section as well and make notes as to what went well, and what didn't go so swell, any new ideas and traditions that I'd like to add (or do away with) etc., and this give me excitement for the next year!
     See why I LOVE CHRISTMAS!!!!  All year long!!! 

    (Now remember, since most of us do not live exactly "identical" lives, well, I'm pretty sure no-one's lives are near "identical" your notebook will be uniqut to you and your family -  After all - it is about YOU and YOUR family - I just want to help you RELAX and ENJOY the holiday season... you know... Make Christmas Count - all year long! That's all.)

    Now down to business!
    You have your 3 ring binder, right?
    We are READY to roll!! 
    OHH!!! Are you SO excited??? 
    I SURE AM!!!! 

    The first thing that you may want to do is start our by setting up your "sections".  
    Here is what I have, but remember - YOUR book is for YOU and I know it will differ.... 
    (PLUS, I have 2 binders - I probably should have told you that...oops... I have one for "GIVING" and one for "ENTERTAINING and SUCH" - mostly because my GIVING book contains my Santa list and with a large family - it is a LOT of information...:)) 

    As you assemble your book(s), here are just a "few" ideas of things you may want to have on hand or nearby as you do so.... to save you some time in hunting or having to "stop" - we want to be productive and accomplish this task rather quickly so we can get to the "heart" of the fun! :)


    1 to 3 inch 3-ring binder (one or two of them)
    3 hole punch
    Index dividers for 3 ring binder
    Slash pocket folders or page protectors for keeping loose items in (example: recipe or craft ideas from magazines, receipts from gifts you purchase, etc.)
    Notebook paper
    Zippered pouch to hold pens, pencils and other loose items
    Calendar for the whole year (can be a store bought one, or printed from a computer program - I like to make my own... mostly because I like BIG squares to write in!)
    Pages designed with photo pockets on them (usually 4 to a page) where you can put recipe cards and/or address cards
    Colored Pencils (for marking on your calendar)
     
    Are you set now????  
    Here we go - Let's CREATE some fun!!! 
    (Oh! I'm getting so excited just thinking about it!) 
     
    In book one, I have dividers for:

    Calendar - this is the very first thing I put in - I mark it with all the "EVENTS" and when things need to ship out by as well - keeps me on my toes - since my "memory" seems to be overloaded and I can't remember anything anymore ..... 

    Greetings - or otherwise known as "Cards & Letters"  (this includes my address list etc)  I try to make it as current as possible, I also put a extra sheet protector in this section (or punch a manilla envelope) so I can slip the envelope with the return address on it to update my list for the next year - but as I send out my cards (and they are usually LATE I admit it) I have it right there... this way, I don't have to stop my production right then to update my list, but do it after the holidays when things slow down.
      
    Traditions - I also keep the calender from the previous years in here - this way I can go back and see if maybe it is time to bring back some traditions or maybe we need to try some new ones too!

    Menus - This is where I put my menu for the month, along with the recipes and grocery shopping list.

    Baking - This is for my HOLIDAY baking.... and CANDY making!  I keep the recipes and a grocery shopping list in here as well.

    Entertainment - This is a section that sometimes gets used... and sometimes just not.... I like to put "ideas" in this section for parties, games, decorations etc.  Someday I hope that we are "entertainment" people again.  I really love Christmas Parties and having fun with friends - just as much as I do with my family - but I suppose that there is just a season for everything....

    Decorating - This is where I keep a list of things that need to be replaced - so at the end of the previous Christmas, I make a list as I put things away of what needs replacing, or if I want to "add" to my decor - or just you know - notes- then when it comes time to "prepare" I know what I need - it is also helpful as a shopping guide to get things after Christmas when on clearance for the following year - It sure saves money!


    In book 2, (which is my most FAVORITE book!) consists of the FUN! 
    Family GIVING - this is a big section - I have dividers for each family member with a few sheet protectors and list papers - I make a list of the things that I would like to do for them, things that they like and things that they want - I make sure I note the budget for each person on the top - and then I start checking my list.... I LOVE this!  (I also have a section for "MY FAVORITE THINGS" gift - this is my FAVORITE part of Christmas! but we'll get to that later...) 
    Then I have a section for Neighbor gifts, Work gifts, Friend gifts and other... I keep several papers and sheet protectors in this section as well - I print ideas and then once I pick the idea - say for neighbor gifts - then I pull out what I need and on we go :)

    alt

    So - There you have it...
    Now, you either have some work to do - and quickly :)
    OR you are well on your way to a stress free Christmas!

    Either way - you will be making a difference and
    MAKING CHRISTMAS COUNT!

    See you on Monday!


    Oh - wait - there is a little "homework" assignment for Monday...
    Grab a extra notebook or a journal....
    This is going to be one of my OTHER Favorite things about Christmas!
    (In case you haven't noticed.... pretty much EVERYTHING about Christmas is my FAVORITE!)
    just sayin'....

    Coming up on Monday...

      What I LOVE about Christmas!


    And don't forget to visit DEBBIE over at Debbie-Dabble Christmas! She has some fun things happening for Christmas in July - and some other great sites to visit as well!

    Thursday, July 5, 2012

    On your MARK.... GET SET ....... GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I often wonder, just how many people are like myself...
    or rather how many would admit to being like me....

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE Christmas! I love just about EVERYTHING there is associated with Christmas.... except for one thing! And that ONE thing I honestly just despise  .. MR. MONEY!  Every year I say to myself... "MR. MONEY, you are NOT going to break my Christmas spirit!" And every year, I find myself sitting in my chair stressing out because of MR. MONEY!  It simply does not matter how much money I "budget"  for Christmas...it just NEVER is enough!
    But this past January, as we knew that our "life" was going to change and the uncertainty of not really knowing just how much it would be changed - I decided I had to set a budget with a PLAN!  It really wasn't rocket science or anything, but heaven only knows WHY I have not had that red light come on in the past! I always BUDGET ... I write it in my fancy-schmancy Christmas notebook that is tucked in my purse.... so what is the problem??? WELL - I'll tell you!  I only wrote down my budget - I didn't create a PLAN on how to REACH my budget! I know... I know.... ROCKET SCIENCE!  (I have always dis-liked science.)  So, this year - I put on my scientist cap and went to work: I devised a plan in January of just HOW to actually "HAVE" the money needed by the time my shopping would begin... (ok, I'll admit... I'm not quite there - but I am a lot closer than I was last year!... baby steps... that's what this is all about.... baby steps)
    So, do you find that when you want to work on your Christmas Organizing plans - that your time is taken up by finding all the other THINGS that need work on as well?  I do.  My list just NEVER ends.  No wonder Mr. Grinch and I are such good friends come December.....
     
     Through the past few years that I've "decided" I was going to "ENJOY" the season (which, I'm here to tell you - it doesn't happen in one year - at least for me it didn't...) I realized that the things I need to help me get and stay organized, well, they extend well beyond my Christmas Organizing book!

    I would find that I was surrounded by files, catalogs, idea books, projects, more books, ideas, ideas, and more ideas... and then lists, lists LISTS that I was "working" on for not just the holiday season - but for every day life. And I wanted them ALL done! RIGHT NOW!  I would "mentally note" that if they were not done, I simply could NOT enjoy the season!  (Can  you relate?? Am I all alone on this one??)  This is when the light FINALLY went on!  I figured it out! I needed to have 2 separate "organization" books.  One - for every day life and one for Christmas - or specifically for August - January.  I realized that I had to make a CUT OFF date for my "every-day" life.... and not let it interfere with my Christmas Plan.... otherwise, no-one and nothing gets the better side of me.... and that just isn't fair.  So, this year - we are trying it!

    Two books. 
    Two plans. 
    One WILL be put away Aug. 1 - and not come back until Mid January,
    so I can start planning for Feb.
    The other will become my MAIN focus from August - January.
    (May I add, well, I'm adding,  I have purchased a large 3 ring 3" binder that I put dividers in for each family member and sheet protectors in each section as well, so that when I'm browsing around and find something that I think would be PERFECT for a specific person, I have a place to put it... and guess what else I did - I labeled it BILLS down the binding edge and on the front. No-one wants to even PEAK in it! LOL!!!  I'm really sneaky!!! I have found that this is really handy especially when through the year they mention "something" I tuck it in the binder and then when I'm ready to get SERIOUS about it - I have "reminders" - because this brain is getting really USED and I'm still working on how to increase my memory from a 2GB to a 20GB - or something like that.... and it is really helpful for the next year when I can't remember if I already gave them "that".)  

    So, here is what we are going to do... (well, that is if you want to join me...) I was asked to participate in CHRISTMAS IN JULY - BLOG STYLE by DEBBIE - over at a debbie-dabblechristmas.blogspot.com - she is so on top of it! And of COURSE I said YES! I mean, I LOVE CHRISTMAS - have I told you that??? AND I'm getting VERY excited about it as well.... BUT, I'm rather behind because of the curve balls we have been dodging lately, BUT I decided that this was the perfect way to get me back on my toes, sharing with you (it's just something about being "accountable" to someone other than myself) - AND of course, I hope you will share with me - because I can use all the help I can get!!!!

    So, today I'm going to give you an assignment.... are you ready?

    Go purchase or dig through an old drawer or cupboard and find yourself 2 notebooks - big enough that you can write in them and understand what you have written (or am "I" the only one hat has that problem too? :)) - but at least one that will fit in your purse.... so, HURRY!  And I'll see you back here tomorrow night!
     
    Oh, and if you want - grab yourself a 3 ring binder and sheet protectors or manilla folders.

    On your MARK....

    GET SET!

    GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    HURRY!

    Wednesday, July 4, 2012

    Baby it's getting HOT in here.....

    I am finding it really HARD to get my Christmas Spirit on... when there are so many FIRES burning around us....
    Last Friday afternoon, one of our agents was looking out his office window and I heard him say "Well, looks like we have some mighty dirt devils funneling around the south end of the valley"....(I find him quite funny as every phone call he takes, he usually gives a "weather" update, so I never really have to wonder what is happening on the outside world, he keeps me informed as well :)), and he continues, "oh, and it looks like there is another fire on the Rose Canyon Mountain."   I rushed to his window (and yes! I had to look out. and YES I was getting rather nauseous..16 floors up! I tried REALLY hard not to think about it! I have avoided these windows for 6 months now!) but there it was some 40 miles away - a fire! 

     I watched for a few minutes and soon it was a HUGE fire!  I tried calling home. No answer.  5 times!  COME ON PEOPLE! ANSWER THE PHONE!.... agh! FINALLY someone called me back - and yes - there was fear in my children and my husband as well - as the fire "seemed" closer to them, than the fire we experienced nearly 2 years ago - and it was started lower in the valley this time, not along the mountain ridge as it was last time.  Needless to say - I FLEW out of work! 
     (I hope I put everything away.... oh well - too late if I didn't)




    These photos, just break my heart. 
    I can't EVEN imagine what I would do, if in their shoes.
    Cry.  Very hard I'm sure.

    OH. MY. HEART. 
    This makes my stomach hurt. 
    My heart ache.
    I just can't even fathom.
    We are safe.  Although nearly 900 homes were evacuated - most as a "pre-caution" in case the winds decide to pick up and change direction - overall 11 structures/cars were destroyed in all .... 350 acres burned thus far...SO SAD!  My heart just goes out to them.

    Then, 4 days later - another fire breaks out - just across the other side of the valley - and 500 MORE homes evacuated! MORE families displaced!  More homes in danger... it is becoming very hard to be excited for FIREWORKS! It's actually terrifying me... 



    (This is the Draper Temple, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Draper Ut.0
     (The fire is just on the other side of the mountain - but trying the sneak it's way over the ridge....)

    Fire. It has it's place. And it's time. Now, well it is just not the time, nor the place. I prefer it in a fireplace.... controlled..... when it is snowing outside and keeping me warm inside. Not now. Not in the HOT HEAT. Not out of control. NOT THREATENING people, homes, livestock, and wildlife. So sad. 
     This is when a FIRE is NOT welcome!  I'm sorry.
     Here is  a "small" aerial shot of "after" effect.
    Firefighters did an AMAZING job at containing the fire.
    Hard to imagine we only lost 4 homes with this OUT OF CONTROL fire.

    My heart goes out to all those that lost their homes, cars, livestock, fences.... 
    My prayers go out to all those involved.  
    INCLUDING the firefighters!

    They have been working NON-STOP for what seems like months. They are exhausted. They are tired. They are HOT! Their families are missing them. THEY are truly hero's who put their life on the line of duty every single minute.  I thank you and pray for you all! 
    Praying for...
     No wind. 
    Rest for the firefighters. 
    People to be SMART about FLAMES
    . And mostly praying for the safety of all involved.... 
    Families, emergency personnel, animals.... 
    and for GOD to bless the USA! 
    There is tragedy all around.... 
    Please, bless us all. Everyone. Everywhere. 

     Pictures from Herriman City, KSL News and friends.... 
    (I would post MY pictures - but someone, somewhere, somehow
     has borrowed, mis-placed or stolen my camera cord! GRR!)...

    Sunday, June 24, 2012

    Adjusting... isn't always easy....

    Let's just say...

    I HAVE NO IDEA WHERE THE PAST 5 MONTHS HAVE GONE!

    Could I please get them back??? Paaaallllleeeeeeeaaaaassssssseeeeee???

    So much has happened on one hand and yet on the other ... NOTHING!
    I'm such a slacker!  I'm so EXHAUSTED!  I'm so LAZY!  I'm just so..... well you decide....

    Just prior to Christmas - life took a change... a turn... a FLIP in the road... The world and life we have known for the past 12 years, the life that we have face different trials, challenges and growing pains, but yet we had come very accustomed to.. was about to change again... And I remember thinking 12 years ago when life took on this "curve" in the road, that I honestly didn't know how we would adjust to "this new" change.  But we did. We managed. We learned. We grew.... and we actually ENJOYED it... BUT NOW... life was about to change again... going down yet another turn that we have not been on thus far in life - and I was filled with fear yet excitement at the same time.  Is that possible to have fear and excitement in the same sentence??? let alone the same "feeling"?...

    Well, needless to say - I was forced to start looking for another job.  I have worked out of my home for the past 12 years - 2 different jobs - but still - both able to work from my home.  It has been very nice. My two youngest children have known nothing different, and the older three have "known" of mom working out of the home - but I honestly think that they too have become quite attached to the fact that mom has been home for the past 12 years... I know I have.  AND... my Mr. has too.

    As I look back on the past 12 years and the "fear - worry - stress" that I had then as we started on that NEW adventure - not knowing what would come of it or if it would even work out - has been such a HUGE blessing to our family.  Isn't it funny how you just never know what life is going to throw your direction, and although what we have been through the last 12 years was not ANYTHING that I thought I was going to be, I can now see that it happened for a reason and that things were the way they were, were that way for many reasons that if someone had told me and shown me that "this is what your next 12 years will hold for you, are you SURE you want to go down this road?" I'm pretty sure I would have stayed on the road that I was traveling.  But, there were stars in my eyes and it felt right so we made the change and I stepped out of the "corporate working world" to start and adventure of our own business.  Although it was fruitful for a couple years - things happened - economy took a plunge at the 9-11 mark and unfortunately marketing was one of the first things that corporations cut back on and that in turn affected our business.... a lot.  We managed to hang on for a couple years but it was soon apparent that we were sinking fast and it was time to make some changes again.  As we were digging our feet in trying to decide which direction to go, my Mr. (then 38 at the time) decided that it would be helpful (NOT!) to have a heart attack.... reflecting back to that day and the emotion, thoughts and stress that were laying in my hands  - I remember being a tad bit angry with him and I threatened him that if he left me with 5 children (ages 11 months to 17 yrs)  to raise ALONE he would be one VERY SORRY MAN!!! (I must have scared him, because he didn't leave me-LUCKY BOY!) :)  LUCKY ME!  LUCKY KIDS!  Well, we made it through that, and his being laid off  and out of work for 3 years,  closing our business, a daughter with Epstein Bar Syndrome,  me finding a new job, TEENAGERS, and I'm sure there were a few other "stresses" in there somewhere....  and then 3 years later, he was involved in a auto accident that left him with a broken neck and later severe head trauma/injury.... so, I have been very blessed to be able to work from home - where I have been here for him and the kids as they have needed.  I've been very blessed and feel VERY blessed.   Shortly after his accident we discovered that our then 11 year old daughter, had a tumor growing down her spine.  It wasn't small by any means - it went from the brain stem all the way down to the tip of her tail bone, and it was compressing at a rapid rate - causing her spine to curve because it had no-where else to grow to.  Within 2 weeks of learning about this she was in the hospital having brain surgery.  I, was fortunate to be able to work from the hospital and keep our family going financially while Mr. held the fort down with the help of the older children.   I know that the turn we took 12 years ago was indeed a "guided" blessing - even though at times I wondered "what in the world" I had done.  If I had stayed in the corporate world, we would have insurance, a secure job, I'm sure I would have moved up in the company.... BUT what I would not have had was the opportunity that I have had the past 12 years to be home with my family 24 hours a day - to be aware of their comings and goings, to see them grow DAILY.  I have been here when they come home from school and need "mom" to talk to - I have been here to comfort them when they have been sick.  I've been here to get them to doctor appointments, dance, singing, sporting events, school events, church events, bake cookies for them when they've had a bad day or when I have had a bad day - or just because I WANT to - I've been here!  I have been home to help with broken hearts, (you know... boy troubles :)... and even crushed hearts from hurtful girl talk...  Do you know just how scary it is to walk away from what you are use to for 12 years?

    I have been worried about them - about how they will feel about me - will they think that I've abandoned them? Will they know and understand just how hard this is on me as well?  I feel like I'm letting them down. I felt so torn.  My heart was breaking.... I didn't think that I would ever be able to make one step in the direction I was being forced to take. 

    I have had to step up and help be the financial supporter for our family - and I KNOW that this truly breaks my Mr's heart as well.  It is so hard to see him shed tears because he is so frustrated that he is not able to do what he has been taught his whole life to do... our roles have had to switch.  And honestly, I was so worried about loosing the "mother" role with my kids.   It took a lot of prayer and a HUGE leap of faith to step out of the comfort zone and find it in myself to be able to jump back into the corporate world again. 

    I applied for several jobs - jumping out on a limb with every "submit" key I would press.  The first interview I went out on was literally KILLING me inside - I just prayed that I would have strength to get through that first interview without bawling!  (It was really hard! I lost it when I got to the car... )  Needless to say - I went back on 3 more interviews and 2 phone interviews with this company - I THOUGHT this was really the job for me. But, they took so long in "making a decision" that I started to question what was really happening. (Plus it was a large cut in pay... that was a BIG concern for me).  I continued to apply for jobs daily  and it wasn't until several weeks later that I FINALLY started hearing back from some of them - I had 4 different interviews in one day - and BOY was that stressful.  In the end - it came down to the first job I had applied for and 4 others that I had been on at least 2 interviews for and 1 job that I REALLY wanted as a 9-1-1 dispatcher - all came through on the same day.... talk about decision time! Well, let me take that back a little, the 9-1-1 dispatcher I had passed 3 tests (that I will say were the most INTENSE tests I have EVER in my life done!) and I just needed to make it passed the final interview which there were 11 people that made it that far for 2 job positions.... and the interview wasn't until the following morning AFTER I was needing to make a decision on the other offers I had been given.  So, with a lot of prayer and talking with my Mr. I made a decision... probably the most "out of my comfort zone" decision I have EVER made!  There were so MANY CONS to this job - but the one PRO was "it just felt right".... CONS - 1) Down town - right smack dab down town....Down town SCARES me! 2) 16th floor - I HATE heights! (I did not want a WINDOW office.  In fact, I didn't want a window at all!)  3) 16th floor meant ELEVATORS (terrified of elevators!... more terrified that I would die in the stair well  because I'm so out of shape - so stairs was not a option to start off either! ) 4) required parking in a parking terrace.... you guessed it if you said TERRIFIED OF PARKING TERRACES! T E R R I F I E D!  5) a very LONG commute (like 1 hour in the morning and 2 hours to get home)  6) Business dress - (I work in my PJ pants! SWEAT PANTS! Heck I could work in my underwear if I wanted! (But I choose not too, but I could)).  7) I would have to do something with my hair - a pony tail just won't cut it any longer 8) GAS~  lots of gas money....

    But, I took this offer and I can just say that the last 5 months have been amazing.  Hard but amazing.  I love my job!  I feel like a lot of the people I work with - I have known for a very long time!  They are so good to me.  My family - well they deserve the BIGGEST squeeze!  They have had to step up and go out beyond what they thought that they would ever do too.  Although it has been difficult on all of us - I'm so very VERY thankful for their support.  Of course I would PREFER being home - being a mom and wife that is here for them 24 hours a day - but if this is the life we have to live for now - I'm very thankful that my MR is here and he is here for the kids - even though I KNOW he would prefer switching places with me - he is doing a great job stepping up to the plate of Mr. Mom. Yes, he struggles at times but the girls have been pretty good about taking care of him as well.  Some days are just simply hard. But, I have to keep telling myself - that we are strong. We will survive.  We will because WE ARE FAMILY!  

    The only thing I don't think they will be willing to ADJUST on is dad taking over the "Christmas" shenanigans! I'm pretty sure HE draws the line there as well.... SO! With that being said - I guess I better get a STEPPIN' IT UP!  Christmas is JUST AROUND THE CORNER!!! OH MY GOODNESS!!!!!

    How are you all doing in the CHRISTMAS department?

    I've just spent the last week - rethinking, remaking and rechecking my list...
    It is TIME to get my CHRISTMAS on!
    Who is in?
    Are you ready?
    It's gonna be here before we know it!

    Back on the saddle it is!
    After all... it's just
    4 months and 1 week away!!!

    OH MY ................ 

    Saturday, May 19, 2012

    Hobby Lobby Anyone?????

    First... 
    again...
    apologies...
    Can I just say life has been one whirl wind after another around here ~
     some days I'm not sure if I'm even standing upright! 
     I feel much like a revolving door lately ~ never really knowing when I'm suppose to step out for fear of getting stuck somewhere in between and getting "smooshed!"  But, I'm sure you ALL feel the same way... sometimes anyway... I hope... I'd hate to be all alone .... hmmmm... I'm going to tell myself that I'm not alone if that's OK.... 
    All I can say is ~  I'm sure glad I started thinking Christmas on Dec. 27! And yet,  I'm still very concerned that I'm not going to meet my deadline date... that clock just seems to keep on tickin'... even when I take the batteries out!

    And now back to my question.... 
    Today, Saturday morning was to start out REALLY early ~ especially for a Saturday!  (but honestly, between you and I, I would rather start early then spend the day "sleepin' it away - no matter HOW tired I THINK I am!) I set my alarm for 6 am ~ because I didn't want to forget to pick up my Bountiful Basket at 7:00 am - (This is a PLUG IN.....have you ever tried the Bountiful Basket Food Co-op?~Take a look at it here, and see if it is in your area ~ AMAZING! That is all I can say... AMAZING! SO, SO WORTH IT!) Anyway... after that I had several places I needed to run and makes some returns/exchanges, go grocery shopping, clean the house, pull weeds, mow the lawn, WASH my car...and all by 4:00 (should I be worried that I'm exhausted just typing it?... it's no wonder I didn't get it all accomplished - sheesh!)  Well, my youngest wanted to go with me to pick up the food basket so she made me promise I would wake her up early to go... so I did. It honestly took all of 10 minutes to pick up and get back home - can't do that at the store! SO EASY!  Anyway on our way home this was our conversation.... (now remember she is 9 years old - not 30!) "Mom do you think that we could go to Hobby Lobby today?"  "For what?"  "Oh, just to look around and you know, get some ideas... I think my room is ready for a makeover.  Do you know how long it's been since I've been there?  I think I need a Hobby Lobby run today... So, what do you think? Can we go mom?".... (long pause because I'm trying not to loose it in laughter as she is talking to me in her 30 year old voice, legs crossed on the seat in the car and of course she has the hand motions to go with it....) ..... and then she adds in her little "teasy-snide bribery voice".... "They might have Christmas decorations out...."  and she is smiling ear to ear!  OH MY HEART BEAT!!! I think I've created a MINI-ME!!!!  

    Well, needless to say,  after all the errands that HAD to be done were done - she was BORED and just wanted to come home! LOL.... I guess she isn't 100% converted! 

    I just thought I would check in and see how everyone is doing on their Christmas planning... project making and such.  If you haven't started - it isn't too late yet!  If you need a jump start or a "RE-LIGHT" - maybe this will help!  Coming up, very soon!  .... I'll be doing "CHRISTMAS IN JULY!" posts, so.... get a move on it ~ get your projects going and be sure to take pictures ~ I'll take entries July 1-15 and then spotlight them the 16th - 31st - this way we can ALL get some AMAZING ideas to help get us on the right track.... who knows ~ maybe even beat HOBBY LOBBY to the Christmas Decorations!  Wouldn't that be fun!!!  :)  (There will be lots of different categories too - decorations, cards, neighbor gifts, inexpensive gifts, gifts for him, gifts for her, family gifts, etc.... lots of ideas I'm hoping to gather! )..... 

    SO.... 

    On your MARKS....

    GET SET....

    GO!!!! 

    Get creative!!!!  
    Together ~ we'll make Christmas COUNT!  

    I'm getting SO SUPER excited!!!! Are YOU!?!?!

    Thursday, April 19, 2012

    This couldn't have been said any better!

    In an evening class at Stanford, the last lecture was on the mind-body connection - the relationship between stress and disease.  The speaker (head of psychiatry at Stanford) said, among a few other things, that one of the best things that a man could do for HIS health is to be married to a woman... whereas, for a woman, ONE of the best things she could do for her health was to nurture her relationships with her girlfriends,.  At first, everyone laughed, but he was VERY serious. 

    He continued with: "Women connect with each other differently and provide support systems that help each other to deal with stress and difficult life experiences.  Physically, this quality of "girlfriend time" helps women to create more serotonin - a neurotransmitter that helps combat depression and can create a general feeling of well-being.  Women share feelings whereas men often form relationships around activities.  Women share from their souls with sisters, mothers, and girl friends and evidently that is very GOOD for their health."  He continued to say that spending time with a friend is just as important to our general health as jogging or working out at a gym.

    There's a tendency to think that when we are "exercising" we are doing something good for our bodies, but when we are hanging out with friends, we are wasting our time and should be more productively engaged.  NOT TRUE!  In fact, he said that failure to create and maintain quality personal relationships with other humans is as dangerous to our physical health as smoking! 

    So, every time you hang out to schmooze with a gal pal, just pat yourself on the back and congratulate yourself for doing something good for your health!  We are indeed very VERY lucky!  So..... there ya go!  Let's CHEER to our friendship with our girlfriends! Evidently it's VERY good for our HEALTH!

    I'm so blessed to have WONDERFUL friends and sisters who have been there for me through out my life!  I KNOW that they have SAVED MY LIFE!!!!  I'm hoping to be VERY Healthy here pretty soon!!! I have so many great and wonderful friends, how could I not be!!! :)  (I surely hope I am as good a FRIEND in return!) 


    OH... and just a little CHRISTMAS update....  a few more gifts are done!!! YEAH!!!!! 

    How are you all doing???  I promise to get better at this....
     all in good time, my dears ... all in good time!


    Monday, March 12, 2012

    A couple of FAMILY fav's!

    As I'm starting to prepare my Christmas Menu, I thought I would share a couple of our new favorites that are FOR SURE going to be on our December meals.... 

    (Pictures will be coming... don't give up on me :)) 

    On Sunday I usually make a large dinner ... I don't mind. I quite like it actually.  For several reasons.  It usually means that my kids are coming home for dinner - and we will ALL be home... sit down together and enjoy family chat time.  I LOVE it! I know it is usually stated that Sunday is a day of rest - and well, most see it as a day to "rest" and not a order for preparing big meals... but for me, preparing a big Sunday dinner is just that - RELAXING. I enjoy it!  I simply do not have time during the week to do it - so I look forward to Sundays... for this and other reasons as well. 

    A few weeks ago, I came down with a WHOPPER migraine headache... It hit me while at church... I had to teach my class in the room with the lights off AND my sunglasses on.  It was a bad one! Hadn't had one like that in a long time! Somehow I managed to make it all through church and as soon as I walked in the house - straight to the bathroom to change my clothes... THEN I climbed right into bed... I was out. I needed it.... apparently. 

    While I was sleeping I remember running around in my dream looking for a recipe for "baked chicken".... BAKED CHICKEN???  what was I thinking.... WHY was I thinking about baked chicken. WEIRD.  I had the dream several different times... and when I FINALLY became conscious again... I was CRAVING baked chicken!  OH MY!  So, I headed straight to the computer - looked at baked chicken recipes and finally decided to take a chance on this one.... and guess what! It has now become a family favorite! We have had it 3 times since.... MMMM-MMMM GOOD!!! I challenge you to give it a try! :)


    Baked Chicken

    8 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
     (I use chicken tenders - worked better for my family and I used about 16 pieces)
    1 cup sour cream
    2 TBSP fresh lemon juice 
    (I had bottled and it worked just fine... I think...)
    2 tsp soy sauce
    2 tsp celery sale
    2 tsp garlic salt
    dash of pepper
    1 (6 oz) pkg of chicken seasoned stuffing mix - crushed into crumbs
    1/2 cup melted butter

    Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Lightly grease a baking dish 
    In a medium bowl, mix the sour cream, lemon juice, soy sauce, celery salt, garlic salt, and pepper. Dip each chicken breast in the sour cream mixture, then roll in the stuffing mix to coat. Arrange chicken in the prepared baking dish. Drizzle with the melted butter. 
    (***as a side note, I have done this a couple times, and the FROZEN chicken worked best for me - the sour cream mixture "stuck" to it better than on the thawed chicken... but you can try and see what works for you ;)***) 
    Bake 40 to 50 minutes in the preheated oven, until the chicken is no longer pink and the juices run clear. 
     M-M-M.... so good!  (And the leftovers are even better! :)) 

    Then... I also discovered this amazing roll recipe... I can't remember where I found it - so if it looks familiar to you, please let me know - I'd love to give credit where credit is due.... 
    Parker House Rolls 
    3/4 cup warm water 
    1 TBSP yeast
    3/4 cup scaled milk
    7 TBSP sugar
    3/4 tsp salt
    1/4 cup oil
    4-5 cups flour

    Place 3/4 cup warm water and 1 TBSP of the sugar in mixer bowl. Stir to dissolve the sugar.  Sprinkle the yeast on top of water/sugar mixture and set aside for a few minutes.  Once the yeast has become bubbly (or active) add the milk, remaining sugar, salt and oil to the yeast mixture and mix well.  Slowly add the flour, making sure that the dough remains "slightly" sticky.  Once all flour is added continue to mix for 7 minutes.  Then remove dough and place in a lightly oiled bowl and then place in a warm place and let rise for about 3 hours.

    Roll dough out to just under 1/2" thickness, cut with a cup the size you prefer.  Place a slab of butter towards one side and fold the other side over being sure to "pinch" the edges closed.  Place rolls on cookie sheet and set back in a warm place and let rise for 20-30 minutes.

    Heat oven to 425 degrees.  Bake rolls for 10-14 minutes.  And.... just try to not SNITCH one while they are hot.... I bet you can't stop yourself!  They are just divine! 

    Yep- pretty sure this is the new family favorite roll.... 
    And certain to be on my December meal plan! 
    How is your December meal planning coming along?