Christmas Countdown C -1

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Avoid Holiday Let-down

Shaunna Privratsky

The last of the cookies are eaten, the decorations are sagging, and it is time to face the New Year. Whether your holidays were joyous, mediocre, or less than merry, most of us experience a letdown once the carols stop. Instead of singing the winter blues, try these easy steps to wrap up the holidays in style.

  1. Take out less trash. Instead of tossing the pretty wrapping paper, have the kids shred it as each present is opened. Save the colorful strips in a plastic bag for festive packing all through the year.
  1. Reuse bows, gift bags, sturdy boxes and ribbon. Every year, everyone at our house waits to see who gets the green fabric box with the purple satin ribbon. It’s been in use for ten holiday seasons.
  1. Be a savvy Santa. Shop the after Christmas sales for terrific bargains on next year’s gifts.
  1. Pick up discounted holiday themed paper goods. Napkins, paper towels, plates, table linens and tissue can be had for less than half price.
  1. Un-trim the tree when the guests are still around to help. Group items that go together and clearly label the boxes. For example: tree trimmings, kitchen decor, downstairs manger, sled collection. It’s a present to yourself next year when you dig out the decorations once again.
  1. Replace your old lights with the new, safer LED lights. They burn brighter on 80% less energy and are cool to the touch. Grab them on sale and you’ll be light years ahead of the game next year.
  1. Sweep in the New Year with a clean home. Enlist the help of your kids, who are probably home on Christmas break. After a few days with nothing to do, they will be happy to help.
  1. Recycle your tree. Most cities pick up your discarded tree and chip it into mulch for city parks. They also offer free mulch to city residents in the spring and fall. So even after you pick up the last needle from the carpet, your tree will get a second shot at beautifying the landscape.
  1. Take a look at your bottom line. If the holiday bills are pouring in, sit down and form a plan of action to pay them off as quickly as possible. To avoid the same debt cycle next year, start saving now. A little money put aside each month in a Christmas account will add up to easy holiday budgeting next year.
  1. Whittle your waistline. Whether you indulged a little too much in Grandma’s fudge or overdid it on the rich holiday fare, it is the perfect time to eat healthier and lose any extra pounds. Maintaining a healthy weight will save you money by keeping you out of the hospital or doctor’s office.
  1. Plan your summer vacation. It is not too early to start thinking ahead to sultry summer heat and tempting travel packages. By researching early, you could lock in ultra cheap deals on airfare, lodging and your dream destination. It will also give you something to look forward to in the dreary winter months.
  1. Refresh your home’s decor. Do a mini makeover in the guest bathroom by cashing in some of your gift cards. Add a splash of warm color to your neutral living room with pillows and cozy throws. Change out the outdated fluorescent fixture in the kitchen for a bright new look.
  1. Shovel someone else’s sidewalk. Maybe your next-door neighbor fell on the ice and broke her ankle. Or you notice that the Erickson’s down the block didn’t winter in Arizona this year and are having trouble keeping up with the snow. Helping out fosters good feelings. When you need a hand someday, your neighbors will be there.    
  1. Donate your holiday magazines. Christmas magazines typically have tons of craft and decorating projects, perfect for your child’s teacher. Or give them to a nearby nursing home. Arrange to regularly drop off your magazines in the New Year, to keep clutter at bay and let others enjoy them.
  1. Make a list of this year’s favorite holiday memories. Was it baking cookies with the kids?  Shopping the after Christmas sales with your son?  Wrestling the real tree into the van in –13 degrees below zero weather?  This will give you a head start on next year’s holiday season.

If what you are feeling goes beyond the holiday let-down blues, you may be suffering from a deeper form of depression.

 

Anyone who has ever experienced it knows how devastating a bout of depression can be. The symptoms range anywhere from intense feelings of sadness, hopelessness, despair, sleeplessness, fatigue, physical aches and pains, to suicidal thoughts and urges. It can last for days, weeks, months, or even years. The quality of life can degrade to the point of wondering if it is even worth it to go on.

 

There is hope. We no longer have to endure depression. There are many drugs available to help in the fight against depression. Visit with your doctor to determine if drugs are a good option for you.

 

Besides pills, there are some positive changes you can use to improve your outlook on life. These tiny steps can lead you out of the pit of despair and bring you back into the light. Best of all, they are completely free.

 

Live for today. We can’t change the past, so dwelling on mistakes or bad choices will only drag us down. Likewise, we can’t predict exactly what will happen in the future, so we shouldn’t waste time and energy worrying about “what ifs.” 

 

When you wake up each morning, think of one thing you are thankful for in that moment. It could be the beautiful sunrise, the sounds of your children waking up, the smell of coffee enticing you to the kitchen, or just the fact that you have a whole day to be the best you can be.

 

Every day, focus on at least one positive thing to look forward to. Maybe it is the day you meet your husband for lunch, or your favorite author’s new book is released. You can create special moments, too. Pick up a rare indulgence like a frothy milkshake or go in for a totally new haircut. When we train our minds to look for good things, we find them. 

 

Exercise your way to those happy endorphins. Even if you just walk around the block, do some sit-ups during commercial breaks or dedicate an hour to the gym, your spirits will rise and you will feel better about yourself. Make it a routine and think of it as your physical therapy.

 

If something is really bothering you, limit the amount of time you dwell on it to ten minutes a day. Writing down your fears and worries can release you from fretting about it. Remind yourself to put it aside after your time is up.

 

Music is a powerful mood lifter. Play anything you like; upbeat tempos, fast beats or easy sing-a-longs can lift you out of the doldrums and put the spring back in your step. Even playing a radio or CD player quietly throughout the day can make you feel happier.

 

Pets are a great way to lift your spirits. Playing, petting and cuddling will calm you down and make you more optimistic. Even just attending to your pet’s basic needs can give you a feeling of worthiness and take your focus off of your sadness.

 

Smile as you go about your day. When you look for ways to show kindness to others, you feel generous and your spirit is blessed. You just may be the person who helps someone else who is having a bad day.

 

Speaking of bad days; we all experience them. No one can be upbeat and positive all of the time. When a bad spell hits, keep yourself busy doing projects or specific tasks like reorganizing your desk or filing papers. Your feelings of accomplishment can balance out the negative and come up rosy.

 

Before you go to sleep at night, think of three positive things that happened that day. Let yourself be grateful for them. When we concentrate on gratitude, we appreciate what we have been given, instead of always looking at life like a glass half empty. Tomorrow is a clean slate. It is like the ultimate do-over: each day is a new beginning to how you want to live your life. The happiest people are not the ones with the most money, but the ones who are content with what they have.

 

Depression is brought on by many circumstances, most of which cannot be changed. Yet how we choose to react can mean the difference between despair and a more hopeful outlook. By actively participating in how we handle sadness, we can create a positive outlook on life and dig out of depression, once and for all.      

Keeping these hints in mind will make wrapping up the holidays a celebration instead of a letdown. Stay merry in the New Year by looking ahead and cherishing your priceless memories of a happy holiday season, from start to finish.

Shaunna Privratsky is a fulltime author. She lives in North Dakota with her family and is happily looking forward to a new year. Visit The Discount Diva at http://shaunna67.tripod.com/id21.html

Classic Christmas Podcast: The Simple Joy of the Week before Christmas Part 5

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Christmas is quickly approaching! This is not the time to panic. It’s time to check all your lists again, finish up any last minute tasks & prepare to enjoy the season with friends & family. the week before Christmas should be spent relaxing at home, enjoying the company of friends & sharing simple traditions with those you love.

In this final series for the Holiday season, Jean Ann offers advice, tips & activities for you & your family designed to help all of you put the JOY back into Christmas. Take time in the days before the 25th to celebrate without the stress. Celebrate with Simple Joy!

Merry Christmas!

Listen Now!

Christmas Countdown C -2

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Butter Rum Cake

  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3 cups sifted flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup buttermilk

Sauce:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon rum extract

Cream butter until light. Gradually beat in sugar, creaming until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla. Sift together dry ingredients; add to creamed mixture alternating with milk, beat thoroughly after each addition.

Turn into greased bundt pan. Bake in 350 oven for 70 minutes or until cake springs back when tested. Place cake in pan on rack to cook.  Pierce cake with fork. Pour hot sauce over cake. Cool thoroughly before removing cake from pan.

To prepare sauce: Heat sugar, butter and water in pan until butter melts, do not boil. Add rum extract.

Classic Christmas Podcast: The Simple Joy of the Week before Christmas Part 4

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Christmas is quickly approaching! This is not the time to panic. It’s time to check all your lists again, finish up any last minute tasks & prepare to enjoy the season with friends & family. the week before Christmas should be spent relaxing at home, enjoying the company of friends & sharing simple traditions with those you love.

In this final series for the Holiday season, Jean Ann offers advice, tips & activities for you & your family designed to help all of you put the JOY back into Christmas. Take time in the days before the 25th to celebrate without the stress. Celebrate with Simple Joy!

Merry Christmas!

Listen Now!

Christmas Countdown C -3

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Jean’s Beans Chili

I began making this dish for my friends who are vegetarians.  However, many of my meat loving guests also enjoy my special chili.  It is made with 4 kinds of beans and plenty of spices to make it thick and flavorful.

  • 1 large can chili beans
  • 1 large can pinto beans
  • 1 large can kidney beans
  • 1 large can black beans
  • 1 cup frozen chopped onions
  • 1 cup frozen chopped green pepper
  • 1 large can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 small can of tomatoes with chilies
  • 1 large can of tomato sauce
  • 1 box vegetable broth
  • garlic salt
  • chili powder
  • hot sauce
  • salt and pepper

 

Pour chili beans into large crock pot.  Drain and rinse other beans. Add to crock pot.  Mix.  Add onions and green peppers.  Add tomatoes and tomato sauce.  Season to taste.  Top pot with broth, making chili stirrable but not “soupy.”  Simmer on low 4-6 hours adding broth as needed.

Classic Christmas Podcast: The Simple Joy of the Week before Christmas Part 3

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Christmas is quickly approaching! This is not the time to panic. It’s time to check all your lists again, finish up any last minute tasks & prepare to enjoy the season with friends & family. the week before Christmas should be spent relaxing at home, enjoying the company of friends & sharing simple traditions with those you love.

In this final series for the Holiday season, Jean Ann offers advice, tips & activities for you & your family designed to help all of you put the JOY back into Christmas. Take time in the days before the 25th to celebrate without the stress. Celebrate with Simple Joy!

Merry Christmas!

Listen Now!

Christmas Countdown C -4

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Orange & Spice Doughnuts

  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 2 tablespoons shortening, softened
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons grated orange rind
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 3 1/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • sugar

Cream sugar and shortening. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until mixture is light and fluffy. Blend in orange rind, juice and pumpkin.

Sift together dry ingredients. Gradually add to pumpkin mixture, stirring until blended. cover and chill 2 hours.

Roll 1/3 of dough at a time to about 1/3 inch thickness on floured pastry cloth. Cut with floured doughnut cutter. Let stand 15 minutes.

Fry in deep hot fat, 375 degrees, until nicely browned on both sides, turning once. Drain on paper towels. Roll in sugar or frost as desired.

Classic Christmas Podcast: The Simple Joy of the Week before Christmas Part 2

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Christmas is quickly approaching! This is not the time to panic. It’s time to check all your lists again, finish up any last minute tasks & prepare to enjoy the season with friends & family. the week before Christmas should be spent relaxing at home, enjoying the company of friends & sharing simple traditions with those you love.

In this final series for the Holiday season, Jean Ann offers advice, tips & activities for you & your family designed to help all of you put the JOY back into Christmas. Take time in the days before the 25th to celebrate without the stress. Celebrate with Simple Joy!

Merry Christmas!

Listen Now!

Christmas Countdown C -5

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Party Pizzas

1 loaf party rye bread

1 jar pizza sauce

shredded mozzarella cheese

Pre-heat oven 350 degrees. Place rye bread on ungreased cookie sheet. Bread may be place close together. Drop spoonful of pizza sauce on each slice of bread and spread around bread. Sprinkle top of pizzas with cheese. Place in oven for 5-10 minutes until sauce bubbles and cheese melts. Serve immediately.

Classic Christmas Podcast: The Simple Joy of the Week before Christmas Part 1

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Christmas is quickly approaching! This is not the time to panic. It’s time to check all your lists again, finish up any last minute tasks & prepare to enjoy the season with friends & family. the week before Christmas should be spent relaxing at home, enjoying the company of friends & sharing simple traditions with those you love.

In this final series for the Holiday season, Jean Ann offers advice, tips & activities for you & your family designed to help all of you put the JOY back into Christmas. Take time in the days before the 25th to celebrate without the stress. Celebrate with Simple Joy!

Merry Christmas!

Listen Now!