Archive - January 2014

All Is Calm: January, Part 2
Hot Sweet Pickles
A Month of Instagram: November 2013
Christmas is Over, time to plan
Craft Room Do Over
Epiphany 2014
Happy New Year!

All Is Calm: January, Part 2

All Is Calm:  Christmas Planning Year Round (with free printables)

I was only going to offer new Christmas Planning pages once a month, but in reading the comments from my first post, I realized that there were a few things that would be most helpful before January is over.

One theme from the comments was budgeting.  People want to budget better and budget earlier.  That’s such a great idea!  I created 2 pages that work together for Christmas budgeting.  First is a worksheet to write down items you need to purchase, the amount you want to budget, and the amount you actually end up spending.  I kept this form simple and generic (I’m going to keep saying that!) so that you can fill it in however you like.  If you want to write one line for “gifts”, you can.  If you need to be more specific and budget by name of recipient, you can do that, too.  Other things you might want to budget for include decorations, travel expenses, clothing, wrapping supplies, cards and postage, and craft supplies.

Christmas Planner Part 2

In this set, there is also a Gift Planner.  This is more of a brainstorming worksheet, where you can list every person you might want to give a gift to.  Family, friends, neighbors, kids’ coaches and teachers – list them all here.  Even if you don’t know future teachers’ names, you do know if you’ll need gifts and how many.  And if you do a gift or ornament exchange, make sure you write that down, too.  Even if you give a lot of baked goods, get that written down. This is all about getting information out of our heads and down onto paper!  Once you have a clearer idea of the gifts you need to purchase, make or bake, you can budget appropriately.  Oh, and don’t forget any charitable giving, like angel trees or Operation Christmas Child. (There will be additional gift planning pages coming.  Those will help you plan more specifically.

I also created a Holiday Spending Tracker.  If you’re super organized and start your Christmas buying early, you have a way to track that right now!

The Traditions worksheet is one for the whole family.  Write down every single thing you do to celebrate Christmas.  Advent calendar, daily advent readings, decorating the tree, lights on the house, caroling, baking, whatever…write it down.  Make sure all your family members get a chance to add to the list.  Then as a family, prioritze the list!  You’ll notice I added a line down the left of the page.  That’s the space for you to assign each item a priority level. The whole point of this worksheet is to see if there are things that can be dropped when the season gets stressful, or maybe even dropped altogether.  Once you’re finished, just stick it in your planner and let it percolate.  We’re going to come back to it later.

The last page is for those of us who write newsletters to send out with our Christmas cards.  It’s a Year in Review page that lists all the months with just a few lines underneath.  Again, how you use this is  up to you.  I’d recommend writing just one line per family member each month.  Record milestones, accomplishments or other noteworthy events. When it comes time to write your newsletter, get this worksheet out and write it up.

I also added the Notes page to this download.  As you’re working on these pages, you are likely to think of other things we haven’t talked about yet.  Write down all those ideas as you think of them so that they aren’t lost to the chaos of everyday life.

Click here for Christmas Planner Pages, Part 2.

My question for you today is, what is the most beloved Christmas tradition in your family?

Hot Sweet Pickles

Here is another recipe that you will absolutely thank me for.  Normally I am not a fan of sweet pickles, but these are different.  They are just a little bit sweet and have a bit of kick. The recipe comes from my friend Tami and she served them on top of a cracker spread with cream cheese.  It was a sweet, creamy, crunchy, hot explosion of yum! I would endeavor to restrain myself at her house and only eat a few at time.  Now that I have the recipe, I can sneak down for a late night snack with only the cats to judge me.  Not that I would do that.  But I could and…well, let me just share the recipe.

Hot Sweet Pickles

Hot Sweet Pickles


  • 1 gallon dill pickles
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 small bottle Tabasco sauce
  • 1 head of garlic, separated into cloves and cleaned


  1. Drain the pickles and discard the liquid. Slice pickles into 1/2 inch slices and return to jar.
  2. Add remaining ingredients.
  3. Put the lid back on the jar and shake the whole thing like crazy.
  4. Refrigerate. Shake the jar 1-2 times a day for one week.
  5. Eat plain or serve with crackers spread with cream cheese.

A Month of Instagram: November 2013

Yeah, I’m a little behind.


1.  Because nothing says “Birth of Christ” like a sparkly, light up pig.  In a Santa hat.
2.  20 years of service will tire a guy out.
3.  We’re getting close! (at the time)
4.  Two of my favorite men.
5. Starter kit!
6.  There was a ghost in my pork chop.
7.  Getting Five Guys after a long rehearsal.
8.  Out for a lunch date?  I found these two about a block from my house.
9.  Asleep standing up.
10.  Bliss
11.  What can I say? I love this girl!  (text says Follow Your Heart)
12. Just a few more days! (at the time).  (text says This Is the Year)
13.  Rainbow plates ready to serve pumpkin pie.

Christmas is Over, time to plan

We packed up the last of the Christmas decorations today (don’t judge), pushed the armchairs back into their normal places, and sighed wistfully at the now naked staircase. Yes, my friends, Christmas is over. So that means…it’s time to plan for next Christmas! I know, I’m crazy. But I’m a big fan of the All is Calm Christmas and that takes some planning. I made some rookie mistakes this year and found myself needing to have a little lie-down every so often, so I wouldn’t get too stressed.

Not that having your daughter star as Clara and Fritz and having your son make Eagle Scout isn’t stressful enough, but throw in some holidays and birthdays and…excuse me me while I go lie down for a moment.

Ok, I’m back.

So I’m going to try some thing new this year and I would like for you to come along for the ride. There’s likely to be free planner pages in it for you!

AllisCalm4I’m going to start planning for next Christmas right now and sort of spread the thoughts and plans out over the year. My goal is to reach December in such a state of calm and collectedness that all I have to do is flip on the fireplace (it’s gas) and sit down with a nice cup of eggnog and listen to Christmas carols. Of course, whether this happens or not remains to be seen, but it sounds good, right?

Here’s what we’re going to do today. We’re going to sit down and think back to the holiday season.  Then we’re going to write down the things that worked, the things that didn’t work and the things we wished we’d done better.

No beating yourself for not pulling off the Perfect Family Christmas, because that’s never going to happen anyway.

Look, here’s a lovely printable planner page to help you! Christmas in Review There’s 2 pages, the Christmas in Review page and a notes page.  Stick them in your home management binder or under C (for Christmas) or H (for holidays) in your A-Z file.  Or start a new Holiday Planner!  There will be more pages coming, including a cover/divider.


And here’s where I’m taking a risk. After you’ve filled out this worksheet, come back here and tell me what was the best thing that happened during your holiday season and what is one thing you wished you could have done better. Don’t leave me hanging with no comments, ok?  I’ll go first.

Craft Room Do Over

I was thrilled that we bought a house that would give me a craft room. I envisaged many days of crafting bliss in a neat and tidy room. All my supplies at my finger tips and a cat sleeping peacefully nearby.

Four and half years after moving in, the room looked like this.

Don’t just stand there at the door! Come in, come in.  On your left…more junk!


Don’t forget to look to your right and notice my nice work table.


Behind you is the closet and don’t miss the lovely pile in front of the window.

CraftRoomBefore4 CraftRoomBefore5

Pretty horrid, isn’t it.

The room was never more than a glorified storage room and everyone just kept adding to it.

I was so over it. I actually hated it. So I decided to overhaul it.

Step one, empty the whole room. Everything but the bakers rack and one drawer unit were removed. Then we painted it. By “we”, I mostly mean the husband. And by paint, I mean pink! It is my signature color, according to Pumpkin Girl, so why not?


It’s super hard to photograph because of the way the light comes into the room, so take my word for it – it’s a very lovely shade of pink.

I am very much enjoying my pink craft room and ignoring the fact that the entire contents of the room still need to be dealt with.

Epiphany 2014

three-king_1388657815Here we are at Epiphany already!  I hope your Christmas season was a good one.

We will be blessing our house once again this year.  We use the following simple blessing. We’ll probably do this on Sunday because we get too busy during the week, but the actual date of the Feast of the Epiphany is Monday, January 6.

Epiphany Blessing

All make the Sign of the Cross.

Head of Household: “Peace be to this house and to all who dwell here, in the name of the Lord.

All: Blessed be God forever.

Reader: In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things come to be through him, and without him nothing came to be….. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth. (John 1:1-3.14)

Above the entryway to your house, write with chalk:

20 + C + M + B + 14

(This is the initials of the three magi -Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar – with the numerals of the new year surrounding them. C, M, B can also be interpreted as the Latin phrase “Christus mansionem benedicat” which means “Christ bless this house”.)

All: Lord God of heaven and earth, you revealed your only begotten Son to every nation by the guidance of a star. Bless this house and all who inhabit it. May we be blessed with health, goodness of heart, gentleness and the keeping of your law. Fill us with the light of Christ, that our love for each other may go out to all. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Happy New Year!

Colourful 2014 in fiery sparklers

Happy New Year!  I’ve made some cosmetic changes to the blog over the last few months, but I haven’t mentioned them.  If you haven’t stopped by in person, come on over and take a look.

I changed the color scheme and my blog header, as well as my picture over there on the sidebar.

I made a nice little recipe index for all my quick and easy recipes.  There’s a link in my sidebar as well as tab on the top of the page.

My free planner pages are on their own page now, too.  The link is also in the sidebar, but for some reason, it doesn’t want to add itself to the tabs on the top.  Whatever.  I’m not going to go crazy trying to make it work.

Another new addition to my sidebar is a widget for my most popular posts.  It’ll change all by itself and it’s supposed to add little thumbnail pictures, but right now they are so tiny that it’s not too effective.  I’ll work on it later.

I’m going to keep up my two blog series – Pinterest Wins and Disneyland Tips.  I’m also going to start another series which will show you my craft room makeover – from crap room to craft room!

So a Happy New Year to all of you, and thank you for sticking with me all these years.

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