How to cope with holiday stress

Saturday, November 18, 2017

I've been eagerly looking forward to Thanksgiving this year. Everyone will be here, including our two sons and daughter-in-law who live out of state. My mom is flying in. And just found out our niece and her husband and our nephew will be here for dinner Thursday. Our son-in-law's parents graciously gave up having Thanksgiving with their son so that he and our daughter can be with us the whole day. 

I love my family, and time together now is rare and precious. We won't all be together at Christmas, so Thanksgiving will be a two-in-one holiday. We put the Christmas trees up early. I'm looking forward to a wonderful week.

But, as wonderful as it all is, holiday stress is inevitable. We want things to be perfect, and everyone to be happy, and that can be a lot of pressure to put on ourselves.

I'm talking to myself here.

So this is my five-step plan. Maybe these thoughts will help you, too.

Plan ahead.

Make a list of all the meals you will have for out-of-town guests and on Thanksgiving Day, get recipes out, and make up your shopping list. Get all your groceries in early so you're not stressed at the last minute, realizing you forgot to get the cranberries or the ingredients for your appetizers. 

Cook as much as you can ahead of time. Our family loves to play board games together, and I don't want to be shopping or cooking when I could be enjoying time with my loved ones.

I've got a lasagne in the freezer, as well as meat cooked up for chili and tacos. I made gravy for Thanksgiving Day from turkey wings, and that is in the freezer, too, along with pumpkin muffins. I cooked up all the sausage and sautéed onions and celery and froze that so that the stuffing will be easy to assemble the day of. I can make my cranberry sauce a couple days ahead and I will make rolls and assemble the sweet potato and vegetable casseroles the day before.

Our daughter and daughter-in-law are making pies, so yay, one less thing for me.

I've gotten enough food for an army laid away. My goal is to stay out of the stores from now until after Black Friday.

Adjust your expectations.

Holidays have to bear the weight of some pretty heavy expectations. We want a perfect Norman Rockwell holiday, with plenty of good food and everyone getting along. But, sometimes we end up with lumps in the gravy and arguments over politics. Life is messy and people are people. We all have our rough edges and we all bring our own share of stuff to the table, as it were.

Try to bear with yourself and with one another in love.  Acknowledge that not perfect is good enough. Trying to create an Instagram- and Pinterest-worthy holiday will make you, not to mention everyone else, crazy. If the gravy is lumpy, strain it and call it a day. If conflicts come, try to be a peacemaker if you can. If not, remember it's not your responsibility to make everyone happy. Leave the room and raid the chocolate stash. ;)

Ask for help.

If people offer to bring a dish or to help peel potatoes, let them. If they don't, ask them. Most people are happy to help out, and really don't want to see you making a martyr of yourself. You are not responsible to be chief cook and bottle washer for a crowd of people watching football.

If people are staying with you, don't feel you've got to make breakfast, lunch, and dinner for everyone all week long. I've planned every dinner for the week, but there's food enough here for people to make their own breakfasts and lunches. Of course, there's nothing like a leisurely breakfast together,  drinking coffee and talking over bacon and eggs and pancakes. We'll be doing this most mornings, but I'll be enlisting help. I just don't have unlimited energy.

Take a few breaks.

As an introvert who is now used to long stretches of alone time, being with people 24/7, no matter how much I love them, can be exhausting. I'll plan on taking our two grand-dogs for a walk or excusing myself for a little nap upstairs.

Don't forget to be thankful.

After all, it's Thanksgiving. Maybe that relative had too much to drink or the other one hogs all the conversation. Maybe the rhetoric around Donald Trump or climate change gets heated. (I'm thinking about putting up a sign that says, "no politics zone" in my dining room.)

We all have so much to be thankful for. I have a pretty long list myself, thank You, Lord. Keep your eyes on the bigger picture. And remember, "not perfect" can still be pretty awesome.

8 things I'm loving right now

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Here's a list of some things I'm loving right now, in no particular order.

One. The pillows on my couch have seen better days. They were flat and sad-looking. I decided to join the faux fur bandwagon, and pick up some soft and cozy faux-ness. Love these. Also got a faux throw; a couple more pillows are due to arrive soon on my doorstep, just in time for the whole family to enjoy napping with one after a big Thanksgiving meal.

Two. The old pillows were a sage green and plaid to match this valence. I wanted the valence down to let in more light, and to move to a more neutral palette in my family room. It was easy to do as most of the colors in the room came from the valence and the pillows. It's so calming now. And I love seeing the tree tops through these upper windows.

Was just starting to remove these valences when I remembered to stop and get a pic!

Three. Okay, I posted this pic on Instagram, and a few were puzzled by this trend of shelving books backwards. I was too at first. I mean, how ridiculous. How can you even know what book you're looking for?

But it was time to dust. I hadn't actually pulled the books off the shelves and dusted them for well over a year. I decided to turn a few around just to see what they looked like that way. Pretty soon I was turning most of them around. After all, I have them all sorted by category and alphabetized, so I can pretty much tell you where any book is anyway. 

And it's very soothing to look at in my new neutral room.

Next time I have a big dusting I might organize them according to color, just for fun.

Four. This is the first time I've seen this shortbread in the sheep shape. Adorable!

Five. Not only have my pillows needed an upgrade, but my bras as well. I'm embarrassed to say how old they are. It was time. I kept seeing the Third Love brand advertised on my Facebook feed. I was a little leery of ordering bras online. But they do take you through a questionnaire to determine your correct size, so I took a chance.

They fit perfectly, and they're so comfortable.

Six. Binge-watching Stranger Things on Netflix. 

Okay, yes, horror, supernatural, some really gruesome scenes. Not my typical series for watching. Hallmark Christmas movies are usually more my style. But we did get drawn into this series. I really liked the kids in it, but I kept thinking, where are their parents?!

Seven. On a slightly more elevated cultural level, the DSO.

A friend and I got tickets for a series of seven concerts this year at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. We just went to a performance of Romeo and Juliet. And heard an amazing pianist. Just lovely.

Eight. Subscription boxes.

I tried Blue Apron, the meal delivery service. Loved it. But really too expensive, and I felt guilty about all the packaging waste so I discontinued it. But I now have lots of great recipes from them that I can make on my own.

So now I'm trying some other subscription boxes, FabFitFun and ipsy. FabFitFun is a quarterly box of fitness gear and beauty products for $39.99 a quarter. In my first box I got a beautiful scarf, a belt, a gym bag, a jewelry organizer, some makeup and more. A couple items great for Christmas stocking stuffers.

ipsy is a makeup subscription service for $9.99/month. I got five items in my first shipment, all items I will use, and definitely worth more than $9.99. A little makeup bag I'll keep in my purse, some foundation, eyeshadow, eye pencil (love this), and something else I'm forgetting.

I will try both of these subscription services for a little while. Both allow you some choice as to what you receive and both can be cancelled any time.

And an extra bonus one. The thing I'm most loving right now, though, the thing I'm most thankful for, is that both of our sons and our daughter-in-law are coming for Thanksgiving. My mom is flying in from Colorado. With our daughter and her husband here, we will have everyone together. Since the boys can't be here for Christmas, we're putting up the tree before Thanksgiving so we can celebrate a two-in-one holiday together. Yay!

What about you? What are you loving right now?

{I never do sponsored posts; none of the brands mentioned here was sent to me for my review.}

The Enchanting Rose teacup and mug exchange reveal!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Welcome to the party! More than 200 coffee drinkin' and tea sippin' ladies swapped teacups and mugs and a whole lotta love for The Enchanting Rose's 11th exchange party.

Our daughter was bringing in the mail for us while we were out of town in October. She told me I had a package from Ontario waiting for me. I had a sneaking suspicion it was from our self-proclaimed "teaholic" friend Margie from Tea in the Valley. And I was right! Wow. She so spoiled me.

Look at all these fabulous goodies!

An elegant and lovely teacup. Trés chic.

She included a Jane Austen coloring book. Love Mr. Knightly. He's my favorite.

Preach it, Emma . . .

Real maple syrup from Canada.

Thank you Margie. You sure know how to make a girl feel like royalty.

This was the first time I did a mug exchange. This is from Chas of Chas' Crazy Creations. She also does DIY videos on Hometalk. I am in greater admiration of her after having done a few practice YouTube videos! It takes confidence and some courage for sure.

She shows you how to make easy and low-cost crafts. Right up my alley!

I love this mug with the raised autumn design.

Chas made this delightful little pumpkin and included a battery-operated light to go inside.

I sent a fall mug and package to Annie in Indiana.                            .

I sent a teacup to Tanya at Timeless Romantic Designs. I was excited when I learned she likes pink.

So many thanks to our lovely hostess Stephanie. None of us probably realize how many hours she puts into these exchanges to make them so enjoyable for everyone. Thank you, dear Stephanie.

Linking with The Enchanting Rose.
Made With Love By The Dutch Lady Designs