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Ready or not, here comes Christmas!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Have You Had Snow Recently? Will You See Snow Again Soon?

Ornaments on the Snow
I love snow -- just can't get enough of the sparkling white stuff! Since I work from home and my daughter is enrolled in an online school at home, snow doesn't throw off our schedule. It just enhances it. :)


A week ago we spent the week snowed in. It was a wonderful experience, and it gave us time to  do more cooking and to try a new recipe. We made red velvet cake balls, and I'm gleeful to report that they were awesome! They will be great for Valentine's Day, and they will be perfect for Christmas. 


Red Velvet Cake Balls - like candy!
Snow is in the forecast again. I didn't think to tell you earlier, but I'm telling you now. If you get snowed in with the power still on, you will have the perfect opportunity to try new recipes that you might enjoy during your Christmas festivities. As it so often happens, we can't find the time to experiment with new dishes and desserts in December. We may have found some promising recipes, but time ran out, and we stuck to our old faithfuls and tucked those promising recipes away for next year. Well, untuck them! Get to the store while the roads are still clear and collect your ingredients. Then when it snows and you're stuck at home, you can make the most of it and whip up some new foods. 


By the way, if you get snowed in and your Christmas decorations are still up, you might want to go ahead and pack those away. February is fast approaching. I know snow makes you want to lie on the couch, eating and watching movies and sporadically gazing out the window, but please do yourself a favor and accomplish a chore or two while you have the chance. You'll be glad you did.

Monday, January 10, 2011

January Head Start!

Leo the Cat at the Front Door
The Christmas decorations are mostly put away. For me, this is quite an accomplishment. In the past it's been closer to the end of the month, and occasionally into the first or second week of February before I've handled that time-consuming chore! Now I'm sitting up in anticipation of seeing the promised snowfall. I almost want to run get my Christmas lights and put them back up so I can take "Christmas" pictures in the snow! Have you ever done that? A few times in my life I've staged a Christmas photo in January. One was when we brought our first baby home from the hospital one January 3rd. He was born early in December with some health issues, and the agency didn't let us know that we had a foster baby waiting until after the holidays were over! Well, in my mind no child should miss his first Christmas, so I put a little elf cap on his head and sat his carseat in front of a fake fireplace decorated with poinsettias, and I took his picture as if it were still Christmas. 


Anyway, you know why I'm writing, don't you? Christmas clearance sales began the day after December 25 and have continued into January. Have you taken advantage of any? You can snag some sweet deals on cards, gift wrap, party supplies, decorations, and other Christmas items! Buy these things now and put them in your designated "Christmas corner." When the holidays roll around again, your money can go toward gifts and groceries rather than these other "essentials" that every Christmas-lover simply has to have!


I got two boxes of Christmas cards at 50% off -- the store was almost out of these, and I knew they wouldn't last until the 75% markdown. I went back to the store when the holiday clearance was reduced to 75% off, and I got two different boxes of cards -- cards that I had liked but had seen that they had plenty left during the 50% off sale. I'm all set on cards! 


I went to another store's sale and got a set of ornaments for my daughter, whose tree was sparsely decorated this year. She had graduated to a full-size tree and just didn't have enough ornaments to cover it, so next year she'll be all set. I also bought a good-quality snowflake stocking to replace my cheap one that started falling apart. The 75% off sales are the best time to buy stockings for the mantle! The expensive ones often don't sell out at full price, so you can get a quality product for little money. 


I bought holiday paper plates and napkins. I used some for a New Year's Day gathering with friends, and the rest I saved. They don't take up much space.


The last purchase I made was two books written with a Christmas setting. My mother loves to read, and I know she will enjoy receiving those books to read during her Christmas break. 


Not only am I now prepared with cards that I could send right after Thanksgiving (if I do things right), but I've also started shopping for gifts. I wouldn't buy perishable items this early, but there are some standard gifts that keep well. Books, candles, ornaments, mugs, photo albums, snow globes, etc. When you can find these at 75% off, and you haven't already spent yourself into the red, it's smart to get started on your gift stash. 


Just remember, it's not a bargain if you already spent your money. I wouldn't want you to get into debt with your holiday shopping if you don't have the spare cash for it. It's worth keeping in mind next time around, though. It's a great idea to save some money for the January sales, andit  gives you that much less to shop for come next November and December!


What have you done so far this month to get a head start on Christmas 2011?