Feed Your Soul

How To Simplify the Holidays

- Thursday, December 10, 2015

Simplify the holidays? Is it even possible? The short answer is yes. Here are five ways to help you relax this holiday season.

1.    Focus on the present. Instead of stressing about the holidays, worrying about the future and fretting about the past, find peace and joy by focusing on the present.

2.    Before the decorations go up in stores and around town, consider what is most important to you and create the holiday you want. Pressures from various sides of the family pull us in all directions off our centers. When you and your spouse or partner make clear decisions about how you want to spend your time and resources for a particular holiday, the holiday becomes much more enjoyable. If there’s an annual event no one enjoys, you don’t have to go. A simple RSVP with a polite no and thank you is perfectly acceptable.

3.    Sometimes less shopping means more. Getting elbowed in the mad rush at the stores can drain the joy right out of the holiday season.Studies show that people who are focused more on gifts feel less holiday cheer than those who spend more time with close friends and family. And despite your best efforts to get a loved one the perfect gift, a survey done by Consumer Reports showed that each year up to 49 million people get gifts they don’t want. Some turn around and sell these gifts on eBay while others post “bad gift” photos on Facebook and other social media. Find out what your loved one truly enjoys. Even if directly asking them what they want and giving the gift isn’t a surprise, at least you’ll know your loved one likes it.

4.    You don’t go in debt to make the holidays special. For big families, drawing names and having each person buy gifts for one person can help. Handmade items or coupons good for a night of dishes or a week of laundry are greatly appreciated.

5.    Family gatherings are the perfect time to play games. Anything from a treasure hunt to cards, charades or board games, all are a great way to connect with family members while engaging your body, imagination and mind.

Tips For a Holiday Cookie Swap

- Friday, December 04, 2015

Holiday baking can be simple and fun when you host a cookie swap. Invite co-workers and friends and have each person make enough of one kind of cookie to share. At your cookie swap sample cookies, then trade and package in eye-catching assortments so everyone leaves with new recipes and tasty gifts.

For a successful swap, use the following steps

  1. Send out invitations to 7 or 8 guests 3-4 weeks in advance. Invite guests three to four weeks in advance. Seven or eight people are ideal -- manageable, yet enough for a good variety of cookies.
  2. Ask each guest to bring a dozen cookies per guest, plus an extra dozen for the sampling. Have each person bring along copies of her recipe as well as some supplies for pretty packaging, such as cake/donut boxes and tissue paper.
  3. Create display cards to identify each cookie variety and the name of the contributor, i.e., “Hermits, from Laura Smith.”
  4. Set up a packaging station with cardboard boxes, sturdy paper plates, tags or sticky labels, ribbons, twine, baking papers, scissors, hole punches, tissue paper, cellophane, and other trimmings you prefer.

Show Love for Your Community by Shopping Small

- Saturday, November 28, 2015

What’s the best way you can show your love for your community? By shopping small. Started in 2010 by American Express, Small Business Saturday was a way to get more customers through the doors of small businesses.

When you shop at small businesses in your community you make great buys and find unique gifts at local shops and boutiques. The money you spend supports local businesses, schools and cleanup efforts. So this Saturday, shop small.


Storing Thanksgiving Leftovers

- Friday, November 27, 2015

Once the second and third helpings have been eaten and the table is cleared it’s time to store your Thanksgiving leftovers (if there are any!). Here are some tips.

Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for up to four days. You’ll want to reheat only what you'll be serving at one time rather than reheating the entire portion. While it is safe to heat it all and then re-store what you don't use, food continues to lose flavor and moisture the more it's reheated.


It’s tempting to keep the leftover sweet potatoes or green beans in the half-empty serving dish and simply covering it with plastic wrap, bit it’s better to store leftovers in a clean, smaller container or Ziploc bag. You’ll also have more room in your refrigerator. You’ll want your leftovers to be cooled as quickly as possible. Carve any remaining meat on the turkey and store in shallow containers or plastic bags. Place leftover food in several shallow containers instead of a large one and avoid stacking containers as this will trap heat in your refrigerator. The more surface area exposed to cold air, the faster your food will cool.

If you intend to freeze your leftovers, you’ll want to pack stuffing and mashed potatoes and any other sides into airtight freezer containers or plastic freezer bags. Wrap turkey in freezer paper or foil, press out all the air, then seal in plastic freezer bags. Soups and gravy expand slightly as they freeze, so you’ll want to leave some space at the top of the container. It's fine to keep leftovers in the refrigerator for a few days before deciding to freeze them, but the sooner they go in the freezer the better. Once your leftovers have cooled off, place them into the freezer, and avoid stacking the containers until they're frozen solid.

Master the Madness - 5 Tips for Black Friday

- Thursday, November 26, 2015

Let’s face it, mastering the madness on Black Friday means maximizing your savings, staying on budget and completing your shopping list all while keeping your cool. You can do this. All it takes is some planning and following these 5 simple tips.

1.    They say “a failure to plan is a plan for failure,” and boy is that true when it comes to Black Friday. Before you step foot in any store, you’ll want to make a list, set a Budget and plan your shopping route. Shop at the stores that carry that “hot product” first and if possible, list all the items needed from each store in order of the store layout. This will make your shopping trip less stressful.

2.    Just because you don’t see the item you’re looking for, doesn’t mean they’ve sold out. Be prepared to find your items in unexpected places in the store. When in doubt, ask a clerk. You never know, you might find electronics in the frozen foods section. There’s not telling why.

3.    Consider shopping online. While some avoid shopping online because of shipping costs, you’ll find that many companies offer free shipping on Black Friday. And another bonus, you avoid crowds and waiting in long lines.

4.    Divide and Conquer. Two are certainly better than one on Black Friday. Consider sending a friend or your spouse after an item on your list while you get another. When you work as a team you are better equipped to score everything on your list.

5.    Don’t forget the other secret weapons—coupons and offers available through retailer apps. Scour the ads on Thanksgiving for coupons to deepen your discounts even further. You can also find even more offers by downloading apps for your favorite retailers from the Google Play Store or the Apple Store.

Giving the Gift of Time on Thanksgiving

- Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thanksgiving is a day for giving thanks, a day to spend with family and cherished friends. With full stomachs after the big meal, it’s easy to find a spot on the couch and mindlessly watch football the rest of the day. But consider that the best portion of your life will be the small, nameless moments you spend smiling with someone who matters to you. One of the best gifts we can give to our family and friends is the gift of time. Here are 20 questions to make the time you spend together on Thanksgiving quality time.

1. Name one thing about someone in the room that you really appreciate.

2. What made you feel patriotic this year?

3. What do you value most about your life?

4. What do you appreciate about your friendship with the people in the room?

5. Name one person here who can make you laugh, even months later. Why?

6. What is the funniest thing you remember about a Thanksgiving past?

7. What unusual traditions, rituals or habits do you have around Thanksgiving?

8. Name one ancestor that you think about on Thanksgiving and tell us why.

9. Is there a family heirloom at the Thanksgiving table? What its story?

10. What is your favorite part about Thanksgiving Day?

11. What random act of kindness did you preform or that was done to you this year that makes you feel grateful?

12. What do you appreciate about the change of seasons?

13. Name five things that make you happy about today.

14. What does it mean to you to give thanks?

15. How has the celebration of Thanksgiving today changed from when you were little?

16. What is one compliment that you have never paid to someone in the room?

17. What is one thing that you would like to accomplish in the next year?

18. If you could share Thanksgiving dinner today with one person in history who would it be? Why? (Note: it can be a relative)

19. What is one wish you have for the next generation as they begin to establish their own Thanksgiving traditions?

20. What are you really thankful for this year? (Now that we made you think through 19 other questions, we stuck this back in.)

Timeline for Success - Thanksgiving Day Checklist

- Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Tomorrow is the big day. Here is what’s left to do.

Thanksgiving Day

·         Set out all serving pieces on a counter or buffet table

·         Fill condiment dishes, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate, lay serving spoons on top

·         Delegate tasks such as pouring drinks, answering the door, hanging up coats, and tending the fire to family members

·         Remove turkey from refrigerator for 1-2 hours and add stuffing to bird or place in a casserole dish and bake separately

·         Preheat oven, then place turkey inside and baste every half hour or per recipe instructions

·         Remove stuffing from bird and let stand for 20 minutes before slicing

·         Brew coffee

·         Reheat food in microwave if all burners are occupied

·         Make gravy and last-minute vegetables

·         Heat rolls or bread

·         Set out condiments

·         Carve turkey and pour drinks

·         Enjoy dinner and then indulge in dessert

Slow Cooker Creamed Corn

- Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Prep Time 10 minutes

Cook Time 3 hours, 15 minutes

Total Time 3 hours, 25 minutes


Yield 6 servings

With just 5 ingredients, this slow cooker creamed corn recipe is rich, creamy and easy to make from scratch right in your crockpot.


•3 (15.25-ounces) cans whole kernel corn, drained

•1 cup milk

•1 tablespoon sugar

•1/4 teaspoon pepper

•8 ounces cream cheese, cubed

•1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into thin slices


•Place corn into a slow cooker, then stir in milk, sugar and pepper until well combined. Top with butter and cream cheese. Cover and cook on high heat for 2-3 hours.

•Uncover and stir until butter and cream cheese are well combined. Cover and cook on high heat for an additional 15 minutes.

•Serve immediately.

Thanksgiving Timeline for Success - Four Days Ahead

- Monday, November 23, 2015

Only four days left until the big day. Here is a to do list for the next three days.

Four Days Ahead:

·         Defrost turkey in your refrigerator

·         Make your own ice cubes and store in freezer bags

·         Time to organize and clean the house

·         Put up wreaths, candles and other decorations

·         Touch base with guests to find out what space they need for the dishes they are bringing and if they need any serving pieces or utensils

·         Organize plastic containers, bags, wraps, etc. for leftovers

Two Days Ahead:

·         Refrigerate beverages

·         Buy flowers/have centerpiece delivered

·         Shop for perishable food items

·         Clean vegetables and refrigerate

·         Set out bread if you are making homemade stuffing

·         Fill butter dishes and salt and pepper shakers

·         Make the cranberry sauce

·         Finish light housecleaning

·         Lay a fire in your fireplace for you to light later

·         Put up your decorations

One Day Ahead:

·         Peel potatoes and store in a pot of cold water in the refrigerator

·         Do all the meal prep you can—chopping, peeling or toasting, baking pies, etc.

·         Supply bathrooms with extra paper goods and hand towels

·         Make stuffing

·         Spot clean rooms you’ll use

·         In the evening set the table together as a family

·         Make side dishes that can be baked ahead

·         Set up a staging area for coffee, desserts and drinks

Thanksgiving Timeline for Success - 1 Week Ahead

- Friday, November 20, 2015

Only one week left until the big day. Here is this week’s to do list.

One Week Ahead:

·         Determine seating arrangements

·         Schedule your recipes and cooking schedule by day for the days ahead and by hour for Thanksgiving Day

·         Verify thawing time for frozen turkey

·         Ready guest rooms with fresh linens and other amenities

·         Rake leaves and clean windows and glass on your front door

·         Get out games or movies for the kids or ask parents to bring activities for kids to do


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