Tuesday, November 24, 2015

8 Ways to Bless Your Host on Thanksgiving

I love Thanksgiving.  I always have and I hope that I always will.  I used to never understand why people got stressed out about it.  It's just a meal, I used to think.  Yeah, yeah, how hard can it be?


Things change as I learn more and more about this whole "adulting" thing and gain a little more life experience.  It's hard enough for me to get a basic meal on my own kitchen table for my family of five, so I can only imagine how stressful it might be coordinating a meal for a large number of people.  Hosting the annual smorgasbord when the turkey usually takes up the entire oven is no simple task and those who can pull it off with their sanity intact deserve a metal, really!

Luckily, I've managed to get away with not hosting the meal, up to this point.  I guess it's one of the perks of owning a small home. ;-)  Since I have no experience from which to draw from as far as hosting, I thought I'd share from my normal vantage point as the guest and offer some ways that you can bless your Thanksgiving Day host.  {I'm talking to myself!}

1.  Bring something extra
As the guest, I would hope your host has already been willing to let you bring some items to help with the meal {delegation is fantastic!}.  Perhaps it's the rolls, candied yams, your famous congealed salad, or your grandma's pecan pie.  Either way, I think it's always nice to bring a little extra above and beyond what you were asked to bring.  Maybe throw in an extra 2 Liter drink or some Starbucks Holiday blend K-cups* to use during dessert.  

2.  Be punctual
If your host gives you a specific time, then be sure to arrive on time.  If you are bringing an important item to the meal, then you may even want to arrive a little earlier to ensure your items are set up and ready to go in time for your host's desired mealtime.  If the host is running a little behind, then that's fine {and is probably to be expected when coordinating lots of different items}, but you don't want to be the reason for any delay. 

3.  Bring something for them
It's always nice when someone thinks specifically of the host.  They may like a special dessert, drink, or side dish that you could bring specifically for them.  It doesn't have to be anything large or expensive, but even a small, thoughtful treat or gift would be a nice gesture.  

4.  Clear your dishes after the meal
The clean up after an enormous meal can be extremely daunting, when energy is fading and likely at its lowest.  Your host may not want you in the kitchen doing dishes so be sensitive to that {although offering is still a good idea}, but you can at the very least make sure you scrape your plate and bring your items to the sink or dishwasher.  As people are leaving the table, pick up any leftover dishes from others that may have forgotten to do the same.

5.  Offer to help wash and put away dishes
You may have to tow the line on this one because some hosts don't want people doing this.  They know where things go and which flat wear should and shouldn't be washed in the dishwasher.  I totally get that, but I think you should at least offer to help a couple of times.  Or maybe you could just pick up a dish towel and start setting them aside to dry without even asking?  Gauge your host and make your decision from there.  

6.  Keep an eye on the trashcans
Large gatherings produce a lot of garbage.  Keep an eye on the trashcans and take it upon yourself to empty them without being asked when you see they are getting full.  Your host will appreciate that more than you know.

7.  Label your dishes or bring disposable pans
This gesture will make it easier on your host when trying to figure out whose dishes go with whom.  You can find very affordable disposable pans at dollar stores, so you don't even have to worry about clean up.  It might even be helpful to bring some Ziploc bags* in case you'd like to leave any leftovers with your host.  They can keep some and not have to worry about finding a plastic container.

8.  Keep your eyes open for other ways to help
Sometimes you have the best of intentions, but caught up in good conversation or a good football game.  Just being aware of your surroundings and jumping in to help as needed is a real blessing.  Often, the host may not even know what instructions to give you, so just filling a need that you see on the spot is great!

I am the first to admit that there have been years in the past {think early 20's when I didn't have a clue} when I have been such a lazy guest in my host's home {Mom, I'm sorry!}.  Hopefully I didn't intend to be that way, but I probably got caught up in sitting around relaxing and watching as others worked around me.  Even if they are family, we should still aim to be helpful and appreciative for the effort gone to host such a large meal and event.     

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What did I miss?  Please share in the comments!

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Friday, November 20, 2015

Grandma's {Classic} Pecan Pie

It's almost Thanksgiving and that means it's time to get excited about all the yummy food.  I know that turkey is usually the main event, but if I'm honest, I like to go light on the poultry so that I can save a lot of room for dessert.

And when I say dessert, I usually always mean pie.

And when I say pie, I usually always mean pecan pie.

Since I've managed to get out of hosting the Thanksgiving meal {there are perks to having a small house}, I bring whatever items I'm asked.  And for the past few years, I've been asked to bring the pecan pie.  Talk about pressure.  Well, the recipe that I'm about to share was passed on to me from my grandmother.  It has some sentimental value for sure, but it's also a really big hit in our family.  I hope you'll like it as much as we do.

(1) 9 inch deep dish pie shell
3 large eggs
1 C. light brown sugar
1 C. light corn syrup
1-1/4 C. pecan halves
1 tsp. vanilla extract  



1.  Beat eggs and brown sugar until thick with a hand mixer*.

2.  Add corn syrup, 1 C. nuts, and vanilla.

3.  Pour into pie shell and sprinkle with extra pecans on top.

4.  Bake in oven at 350 degrees for 1 hour.  Check on the pie at around 45 minutes. If it is already browned well, you may need to cover it with foil while it continues baking.  

Note: My family likes a gooey pie, so keep that in mind with the baking time I have listed.  If you would prefer it be less runny, then continue baking until the middle seems to be set and is no longer jiggly.  If it does not appear set at the 1 hour mark, then cover the pie with foil and continue baking in 20 minute increments.            


Printable recipe HERE

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What is your favorite Thanksgiving Day dessert?

{Note:  This post contains affiliate links.  Thanks for supporting this site!} 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

2 Ways to Earn QUICK Cash for Christmas

It's hard to believe how quickly the Christmas season is approaching.  If you are like many, just the thought of Christmas can put you into panic mode.  Not only does the execution of Christmas sometimes seem overwhelming, but how you are going to pay for Christmas can be downright daunting.  If you haven't been saving year round, you may be stressing about how you will find the extra money in your budget.          

There are lots of creative and legitimate ways to make money, but when you need it fast, your options can sometimes be more limited.  To me, there's only 2 main options when trying to earn money really quickly: sell your stuff and/or sell your service.  And when I say really quickly, I'm talking 2-3 weeks.  Since Christmas is just over a month away, we don't have much time on our hands, so let's jump right in.

Sell your stuff
Considering that you will likely be accumulating a lot of stuff during Christmas, this is actually a great way to also purge your home before that massive rush of new items comes in.  Out with the old and in with the new, right?  Here are some items you might considering selling in order to bring in some cash for Christmas.   

- Clothes
- Electronics
- Movies
- Toys
- Books
- Scrap metal
- Your own handmade items

Most of those were probably not new ideas, but you may not have thought about scrap metal.  We have done that a couple of times and you may be surprised.  Depending on the type of metal you have, it might not make you much, but it's worth a shot.

Now that you have decided what to sell, it's time to think about how to sell it.  All the rules you usually follow about selling things may have to be thrown on the window this time.  Remember, the name of the game is getting extra cash in your hands, and fast.

1. Pick the right venue
While I think that eBay and other online outlets are a often great way to sell items, I'd forego those options in this case because of time and the fact that they are not guaranteed to sell quickly.  Remember, you need the money fast.  You might want to consider the options below instead this time around.  

Community yard sale
You may not make top dollar for your items, but this is a great way to get cash fast.  Join with a couple of families and you could really do well.

Consignment sale/store
If it's not too late in the season, selling your items at a consignment sale is a great option.  If you've missed the fall sales, perhaps there are some holiday consignment sales in your area where you could sell your items.  If that is not an option during this time frame, you can always sell your items to a consignment store.  You may not get as much as if you sold it yourself, but you have the cash in your hand, which is ultimately what you need.

Facebook yard sale groups/Craigslist              
This is a great way to utilize the power of the internet, while also keeping your transaction at the local level.  I would highly recommend meeting at a neutral location for your transactions to ensure safety.

2.  Price your items well
Don't try to get top dollar for your items.  Remember, you don't have much time and you aren't trying to get rich.  Set your prices very competitively from the start so you can get them sold right away.  If the items aren't moving, then consider dropping the price quickly {maybe a day or so} so you aren't waiting for too long.  Again, time is not your friend so be more aggressive than you normally would.

Sell a service to others
The options are endless when it comes to the services that people are seeking.  Again, since you are trying to save some cash quickly, I'd stick to services you can provide in person.  I have heard some good things about Fiverr, but I've never used them myself and who's to say someone will need your service in the time frame you need to help with your efforts to save quickly.  Here are some ideas that might work for you.

-Raking leaves or other yard work
-Cleaning out gutters or washing windows
-Small painting jobs
-Cleaning houses
-Pet sitting
-Gift wrapping
-Holiday prep help

Now that you've thought through some services that you might be able to provide, it's time to think about how you might get your name out there.

Social media is a great tool for marketing things like this.  Buy/sell groups on Facebook might be a great option to open it up to more people outside of your own followers.

You  might consider sending out a short email to your friends in your address book, so they can spread the word for you.  You certainly don't want to make them feel pressured, but perhaps they know someone who may need your service.  Does your church or social group have a classified section where you could advertise?

Just as with items you are trying to sell, make your rates very reasonable.  Certainly don't sell yourself or your service short, but don't view this as a business.  This is just a short term way to earn some extra cash quickly.

At the end of the day, try your best not to get overwhelmed by the cost associated with the Christmas season.  If money is tight and there isn't much money for gifts, then that's okay.  The beauty of the Christmas season really does lie in Christmas story itself and the memories shared with family and friends.

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What ways have you earned extra cash quickly? 

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