Thursday, November 1

The HOLIDAY SEASON Is Coming, Are You Ready?

Thanksgiving Day! {l-r} Me, my Elizabeth, Kristin my niece and Stephanie my sister. 

We have begun that wild ride. The slippery slope into the 2012 Holiday Season. You can either ride it with joy and ease or frustration and difficulty. I choose EASE my friends and with ease comes a very relaxed joyful holiday season. Planning ahead can help alleviate some of the stress that accompanies this very exciting but busy time of the year. Guaranteeing you stress free quality time with your family. Time to sit back and cherish those  memorable moments with your family and friends.....and shouldn't that be the very heart of our holiday season?

Elizabeth and friends at her annual Christmas Cookie Decorating Party/ Sleepover! TRADITION!

However you choose to celebrate, the kitchen always seems to be the main attraction for many holiday traditions. So let's start there. Here are a few time saving ideas you might like to try.

If you are baking or cooking for the holidays, start planning now. Grab your calendar, notebook, recipe files, cookbooks and any holiday related magazine, a good pen and a cup of tea. Now settle in for a few hours and begin making a list of exactly what you want to serve or bring to the events of the season, as well as any extra holiday baking you may be using for gifts.

 Mr.P in the kitchen with my sister, Steph. He is helping her debone our turkey for our Thanksgiving Buffet Dinner. He's so helpful...thank you sweetie-P!

Make sure to use a separate sheet of paper for EACH occasion. Pull your recipes out one by one, I print my recipes off so that I can staple them directly to each 'event' page. Next, make a grocery list of the items needed for each recipe. Check your pantry, marking off the ingredients you already have on hand. Now make yourself a master grocery list. Add to your master grocery list any extra items you think might be good to have on hand. 

Like ingredients for hot chocolate or 'smores, microwave popcorn, any sprinkles or pre-made icing for Christmas cookies, maybe even ingredients to make your favorite wassail. Buying the items early in the month of November will do 3 things for you. 1.You can be spontaneous with your kids. If you decided to settle in for a cold night in front of the fire with a movie, popcorn and hot're prepared. 2. If you buy the majority of your ingredients early in the month you will free up much needed money for Christmas shopping. YAY!  And 3. With your holiday pantry stocked, you can pop into the kitchen and bake a batch of cookies or loaf of bread whenever you have spare time AND all without having to run to the store. Yes my friends, that's stress free!! 

If you plan on giving Zucchini Bread to the neighbors for Christmas, bake it this week and freeze it now! You'll thank me later. Personally, I am baking pies for Thanksgiving Dinner. My freezer is stocked with pie plates filled with beautiful pie dough, just waiting for me. I made pie dough this past Monday, I knew my time would be stretched the week of Thanksgiving. How lovely it will be to pull out a homemade crust and be able to bake my pies quickly and stress free. Are you catching on yet? You can find my pie dough here.

CLEAN OUT YOUR FRIDGE AND FREEZER! I can not emphasis HOW important it is to clear out all of your expired refrigerator items and old moldy food...YUK! Not only will you need extra space for holiday cooking and baking but you also need to make sure your ingredients are fresh. You may need to add a few items to your 'holiday grocery list'.

Check your spice rack or cabinet for old spices that have lost their punch. If you are baking gingerbread you want it to taste like gingerbread, right? If you aren't sure about the potency of your baking powder and baking soda, I wrote about that last can find it here.

Check your oven to make sure it's at it's maximum potential. Turn it on and attach an inexpensive oven thermometer to one of the racks. When it is fully heated, check to see if the thermometer agrees with your setting. Checking it several times at different temps. You might also want to move the thermometer around in your oven to make sure it is heating evenly. DO THIS BEFORE YOU BURN  YOUR CHRISTMAS COOKIES! You'll be glad you did! 

Whatever your plans are for the 2012 Holiday Season, plan ahead, think ahead and by all means bake ahead you'll be glad ya did!

The youngest member of the family, David Suddreth age 4, has been making cookies with his mom, Heather my niece. SO CUTE!

The Domestic Curator

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