When Can I Decorate For Christmas?

Everyone I know shares the same meme in the tenth month of the year: a beautiful scene of fall leaves with the Anne of Green Gables quote, “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”

Courtesy of Pixabay.com

And as much as I agree with the sentiment and think October is beautiful, at least in my neck of the woods where we do experience a true change of seasons, I otherwise hate October. (Don’t gasp, I’ll elaborate in a moment).

So today, on the first day of November, I’m facing a bit of a conundrum.

Christmas is my favorite. Twinkly lights are my favorite. But it is not yet Thanksgiving. And decorating for Christmas and removing all the orange and brown accents from my home feels wrong this early.

But I think I’ve found the answer.

I’m going to put up my Christmas tree and add Thanksgiving décor.

Since I typically have no less than four trees decorated for Christmas, as well as wreaths and tchotchkes all over the house, this isn’t an extreme solution, and just thinking about it has me excited for the coming holidays.

Technically, it doesn’t fit into my current goals of buying only what I need, ridding of what I already own that is no longer useful, and moving toward minimalism.

But look at this pumpkin pie ornament and tell me this isn’t a good idea.

We’ve always waited until the day after Thanksgiving to decorate for Christmas. If you celebrate, when do you decorate?


*Why do I hate October? This one in particular has been filled with illness and loss, but I just generally dislike the month. My husband is a football coach and I am a sports writer, and by October, we are worn out. I pick up both kids every day until football is over, and the trip to get just one child kills an hour of my day. My household projects, which had been progressing in late summer, are once again chaos. My kids love Halloween but it always coincides with either games or deadlines and as a homebody, trick-or-treating stresses me out. I guess I feel about October as most feel about February; it’s when I most notice the loss of summer and freedom and the thrill of a new school year has worn off.

Quick, Easy and Perfect Cashew Chicken

My husband comes from a family of excellent cooks. Every family gathering means a feast of just about every food imaginable, but one of my favorite occasions they host each year is Halloween. Matt’s grandparents throw a party, and his grandmother cooks up enough cashew chicken to feed a crowd. I asked for the recipe years ago and was surprised at how simple it really is. So without further ado, here is the perfect cashew chicken!

The first step is to find a cook.

Don’t hate him because he’s beautiful. Hate him because he loves the Pats.

The directions suggest marinating chicken breasts in soy sauce, but ain’t nobody got time for that. So Matt combines steps by adding soy sauce and salt and pepper to two eggs.

Whisk the mixture and add your chicken. We like to use chicken tenderloins cut into bites with kitchen shears. Add the chicken to a bag of flour and corn starch and any seasonings you may like – this time he just used salt and pepper, but he often will add garlic salt and paprika. Shake to coat.  (Shake and bake, baby).

While the oil heats, he likes to make the cashew sauce. Bring chicken bouillon, sugar,  oyster sauce, and water to a boil.

In a small bowl, mix corn starch with cold water. When smooth, add a bit to the cashew mixture. Cook until it reaches desired thickness.

Cool a bite of the sauce. Taste. Make frowny faces. Declare it good.

Fry the chicken with your preferred method. We are currently using vegetable oil, but I have also used shortening. He cooked these on high heat for about 7 minutes.

Side note: The Food Network taught us to buy one bunch of green onions and to place the bulbs in a jar of water. Voila, you’ll always have green onions growing, and so we do.

When the chicken is fried, serve with rice, green onions, and cashews.

Here’s the actual recipe:

Enjoy!


 

Prime Day

For the past several months, my husband and I have done our best to refrain from spending money. Instead, we’ve been doing our best to rid of unnecessary belongings and we’ve picked up some side work (but more on that later).

Enter Prime Day.

We are Amazon Prime subscribers. We have watched a few series through Amazon video streaming (Justified!) and enjoy Kindle services, and of course the two-day shipping. I have a long Amazon wish list, as do my children and my husband. But since I’m trying to save and not spend, I’ll stick to browsing for items I use regularly or that I’ve been waiting for a good deal to buy.

Here’s what I’m pondering:

Seagate External Hard Drives, because I have a Mac and a PC and only one hard drive, and that’s no bueno:

Papermate Inkjoy Gel Pens, because these are my jam and my kids won’t stop stealing mine: 

Prime Pantry Items. My introversion and love for a deal at my doorstep could really be satisfied if I take advantage of the $10 off a $60 pantry purchase. I love this Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day soap (although this link isn’t for Prime Pantry soap – it won’t let me share that for some reason – you should check out Prime Pantry if you haven’t).

Baby Cage, because my baby fell and bloodied his lip right next to me while I tried to write this. 

I think that’s all I’ll consider for today, although I would really like this item from my wish list, even though it’s not a prime deal today:

What have you bought or what will you buy on Prime Day?

*Update: I actually bought a desktop fan with USB port for my husband for work, a book for my nephew, and an American Girl mini Addy doll and book for my daughter for her birthday. Now I’ll try to abstain from Amazon purchasing for a while.

 

Disorder

I’m writing for the first time in a long while. Also, for the first time ever, I’m writing from my storm shelter alongside my husband and three kids. A tornado has been spotted on the ground in my county.

It appears as though we will make it through this unscathed, but the 1 am jaunt to the basement has highlighted for me a problem I already knew existed.

My house is a wreck. My brain is a wreck. Clutter has taken over in every facet, and I hate it.

As the emergency alerts sounded and we descended the stairs to the basement, we had to do so in single-file fashion because the stairs are lined with boxes of Christmas ornaments that haven’t found a home, piles of school papers, toys, and boxes of outgrown clothing.

I carried my sleeping son as my husband carried one daughter and led the other, and I didn’t really fear the storm. I feared we might not make it through all the junk to our shelter. And that’s pretty embarrassing.

I haven’t written because my brain has been in a similar state as my house. Thoughts of things I want to write swirl through my head but never make it out. Days pass and I accomplish little to nothing on my to-do list. Maybe that wouldn’t be the case if I could remember where I left the list.

It’s ironic that one of the blogs I frequent is called “The Art of Simple” and that I thoroughly appreciated Marie Kondo’s “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” I love their thoughts of only keeping the items that bring you joy, and spending your days intentionally. I just haven’t necessarily applied them to my own life.

I haven’t become an untidy mess intentionally. I am a work-from-home mom, and so boundaries between work and home life are constantly blurred. My office space is rarely used because it is instead a veritable death trap, surrounded by Legos and Shopkins. As of right now, my work is taking over part of the couch and most of the kitchen table. Often overlapping: a deadline on a project, a child to feed and put down for a nap, another who needs assistance in the bathroom, one who needs picked up from school, and laundry about to pass the point of being still acceptable to transfer to the dryer.

A year and a half ago, I was ready to clear out my large stash of baby gear and children’s clothes that were taking over my storage room when I learned I was pregnant. Now I’m almost afraid to rid of them. I keep every paper I’ve ever received but they rarely make it to the file cabinet. My dishes are always piling up because we have too many dishes. The laundry is overflowing because we have five people in the house, but mostly because we each have too many items to wear. I have taken millions of photos and have three (three!) full computers that I can’t even use and I have barely printed a photo of my kids in the past 6.5 years.

In short, our abundances have become burdens. This excess has become excessive.

I got a head start to ridding of what is ailing me this weekend, quickly filling three boxes of unneeded items that I then delivered to a local charity. I cleaned my daughter’s overflowing closet and finally took two sets of dishes I’ve always hated out of my cabinet. I recycled a box of my girls’ drawings (stealthily). I’ve sold a few items online. And I already feel just a bit lighter.

Self-help blogs and books are kind of a love-hate category for me, but writing this caused me to recall a post my friend recently shared in social media. If I were one to physically react to what I read, I would be nodding right now. Read it here:

https://thebalancedlifeonline.com/how-getting-rid-of-my-stuff-saved-my-motherhood/

She also shared this resource that I signed up for: http://alliecasazza.com/free-minimalism-guide-toolkit-download.

And of course, I’ll be using lists to guide me, such as this one: http://www.organisemyhouse.com/101-items-to-get-rid-of-without-regret/

So tell me, how do you launch your spring cleaning? (Or, if you’re like me, total household overhaul)!

-Amanda

Pantry Schmantry

When we built our house four years ago, a walk-in pantry was near the top of my wish list. In our former house, we had limited storage space coupled with poor organization. I was determined to have a better set-up in my new home.

But while we carved out the required space for our cupboard, we didn’t exactly have a great organization system.

So I hosted a Thirty-One party (and I’m hosting another! See the bottom of this post for the link).

The pantry is still a work in progress, but my favorite part is the embroidered Your Way Cubes I purchased from Thirty-One. I love being able to find whatever I need quickly and to easily identify what I’m running low on, and it looks so cute and neat! I also like that one side has a clear PVC panel in case I would rather see the cube’s contents.

Last night, I emptied the contents of the pantry – I tend to clean by destroying first – and enlisted my girls to help me out with the organization.

    

They grouped similar products and built towers with their finds, and when we were finished, they found the appropriate storage cube to house everything (except for all of those sauce packets).

I also have embroidered cubes in my laundry room, and I’m planning to add bins to my pantry collection to contain tea & coffee, bread, and my favorite, candy.

If you’d like to see more organization solutions by Thirty-One, or if you need a fun new bag, personalized canvas or pillow, check out my online party or book your own here:

https://www.mythirtyone.com/16726/shop/Party/EventDetail/9671480?verify=true

Happy shopping and organizing!

Amanda