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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

How Long Do You Leave Your Tree Up?

For us it's usually until January 1st.

I try and get the most out of all my decorating efforts by starting early (December 1st) and keeping them up as long as I can get away with it.

I also keep turning on the Christmas lights as well - I think the colourful beauty helps to stave off the anti-climactic "boxing day blues". Then by the beginning of January, I'm ready to pack it all up and start fresh with a new year.

What's your Christmas tree tradition?
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Sunday, December 28, 2008

I'm Back!!

Yikes, what a busy week!

Our Christmas was wonderful, as I hope yours was :-) The turkey turned out fine, and dinner was enjoyed by all.

At the moment we still have our tree, lights and decorations still up, as well as new toys stashed in corners of the living room, waiting to find permanent spots in the kids' rooms. And the leftover food... ahhhh!!! Let's just say I'm not letting any of it go to waste ;-)

Next on my agenda is to shop for next year's Christmas cards, and any marked down decorations or supplies that I think we might need. Now is definitely the time to shop for next year.

Next up: New Year's Eve!!! Have a good one, everyone!
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Sunday, December 21, 2008

How To Defrost And Cook A Turkey

I needed a refresher on turkey defrosting and cooking info, and naturally thought "ooh! Blog post!"


Refrigerator: the safest, and the longest, method. Here's an estimate:

8 to 12 pounds = 2 to 2.5 days
12 to 16 pounds = 2.5 to 4 days
16 to 20 pounds = 4 to 5 days
20 to 24 pounds = 5 to 6 days

Cold water:

Time: thirty minutes per pound.

This is the method that I usually use. Leave the bird in its original packaging, and be sure to check and change the water every half hour (to ensure that it stays cold and fresh).

I put the still-wrapped turkey in a couple of kitchen catchers and submerse it in a cooler in the bathtub. I like using the cooler because you can keep the bird submerged by closing the lid, and changing and refreshing the water is really easy (open the spout at the bottom to drain and slide the cooler under the tap to refill).


Here are some links to articles that have cooking time charts:

This is an estimate, of course, because ovens can vary as to the heat they produce. The safest thing to do is use a meat thermometer in the deepest part of the meat, to ensure that the turkey has reached an internal temperature of 170F (77C).

One more safety tip: NEVER pre-stuff a thawed turkey. You can make your stuffing in advance and store it in the fridge, but do not put it in the bird until right before it goes in the oven.

Happy eating!
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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Norad Tracks Santa

I had heard of this website last year but never looked it up. Here's the link:

On the video he goes for quite the ride!!! Makes me feel motion sickness just watching, lol.
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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Another Christmas Decorating Idea

I love this idea: save your kids' school Christmas art crafts and use them as decorations every year. What a great way to boost your child's self esteem while making your home festive :-)

I got this idea from an article by Michelle Jones at She has a lot of great tips on how to save money at Christmas.
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Gingerbread Train

This year we got a gingerbread train instead of a house.

Every year we get one of those kits - you know, with the bags of icing and pre-cut gingerbread, and the plastic base that you assemble it all on. They've always been the traditional house style, with the gingerbread cookie trees in the yard (you mean we're not supposed to eat those as we're building the house? ;-)

As much as I love Christmas tradition, the train was way easier to assemble. There are more parts, but because the pieces are smaller it's not as difficult to get them to stay in place (with the houses we never seemed to have enough icing, and we'd always have to prop the walls up with something as it dried). As I type this, we are halfway through - we assembled the train yesterday and left it to dry, and today we will decorate it.

I don't know how they get any of them to look like they do on the box. They must use a professional pastry chef with nifty tools or it's computer generated or something.

My goal this year is for us to eat it sooner (that should be soooo hard - wish us luck ;-) The reason has been in the past that after all the strife of assembling the darn things, I haven't wanted to damage them. Then by the time Christmas is over and you start picking at the trimmings, it's quite stale (and yet I proceed - I'd eat a shoe if it had icing on it).

This year, darn it - I don't care how pretty it is!! I'll take some pictures and then we'll dive right it!! lol

How soon, if ever, do you eat your gingerbread house?
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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Canadian Mailing Deadlines

I'm a last minute (oops ;-) Christmas mailer, and I always end up paying more for sending my parcels to family.

This year, however, I'm more on the ball because at least I've checked the Canada Post website for their mailing deadlines:

OK, so... according to that I have to mail parcels by TOMORROW. (Got it Jeanne? TOMORROW).

Hey, at least I know this year... it's a step in the right direction ;-)
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Monday, December 8, 2008

Here's A Fun Twist On An Advent Calendar

I heard the best idea for an advent calendar and thought I'd pass it on.

A friend of mine takes some of her kids' Halloween candy aside, and puts it in small decorated boxes or containers, one for each day of December. She uses a basket or large box to put them in, and on each day her kids open one small box each and have one piece of candy.

I love this idea simply because it is different, and somewhat crafty. It doesn't have to be a lot of work to set up - instead of using decorated boxes you could simply wrap each piece of candy with Christmas wrapping paper.

I think I'm going to try this next year (I'm too late this year ;-)
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Saturday, December 6, 2008

Gift Idea - Christmas Gift Baskets

A friend of mine had a home business making Christmas gift baskets that contained pre-mixed and packaged dry ingredients and recipes for baked goods.

This got me thinking about the possibilities for making my own Christmas gift baskets. The dollar store has a lot of baskets and craft supplies, like tissue and plastic wrap and bows... Then it would simply be a matter of deciding how to fill them.

There are the traditional gift basket themes:
  • Baked goods
  • Tea and coffee
  • Sweets
  • Toiletries

Then there could be customized themes to suit each person:

  • Craft supplies
  • Photos on disk, with an album and some frames
  • Gift certificates

The possibilities are endless!

If you're doing more than one basket with the same theme, you can buy your contents in bulk to save some money (it's kind of like making really fancy goodie bags ;-)

One thing is for sure - they would be as much fun to make as they would be to receive.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Chemical-Free Room Fragrance

Here's a quick and easy room fragrance idea I just tried myself: warming cinnamon. I got the idea from and I modified it slightly:

1) Put about 1/2 inch of water in a small pot.
2) Add cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla.
3) Simmer for about 2 minutes.

It creates a beautiful, Christmas baking fragrance that permeates the house. I then left the pot on the stove top with the burner off, so that I can use the mixture again later when the fragrance fades.

The net result is a festive, comforting aroma that is fast, easy, and chemical free!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

A Bit About Christmas Gifts

So I've chosen the photos to use for my kid's Photo Memory Game, and cropped them into square shapes. All I have to do now is decide what to print them on, and then cut them out.

Photo paper would look the nicest but wouldn't be as durable, whereas cardstock would hold up better to the kids' play but might not look as clear. I think I'll do some test prints and see.

Today I also did a bit of Christmas shopping, and was amazed at how good the selection is when you shop before December 24th ;-) Wow.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Here's A Fun Photo Gift Idea

When I think of photo gifts, they usually include calendars, mugs, t-shirts, and that sort of thing. I came across another idea at that I think is really neat, and that I may do:

Make a customized memory game using your own photos: print small (wallet sized) pictures, two of each, so that you have enough pairs to play the game (this is the game where you lay cards face down and players take turns flipping them over to try and find matches).

My kids would LOVE this - a memory game using pictures of themselves, our pets, our family and friends, just to name a few. I could even take a few pictures of their favourite toys to make it even more appealing to them.

That sounds almost as much fun for me to make as it would be for them to play, lol. I know what I'll be doing later while they're in school!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Easy Christmas Decorating Idea

Here's an easy Christmas decorating idea for inside the house. I've thought about doing this before but never tried it until today, and I'm glad I did - it looks fabulous!!

I selected festive wrapping paper and bows to match our decor, and wrapped some of the pictures that are on the wall so that they look like gifts.

You don't have to wrap the back, obviously, and it's a nice touch if all the paper and bows on all the pictures match.

Voila! You now have presents hanging on the wall. It's an easy and inexpensive way to create a dynamic holiday look.

TIP - don't wrap larger pictures unless you have large bows - I tried this myself and the effect is not as appealing.