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Saturday
Sep 20th

Lifestyle

Chasing Away the Winter Blues

Chasing Away the Winter Blues“For some reason, every year after Christmas I tend to get kind of depressed,” my girlfriend confessed to me recently. She explained that Christmas is her favorite holiday and once it’s over she feels as though there is nothing to which to look forward. She’s not alone in feeling a mild case of winter blues. If you too can relate, consider the following strategies to help chase away those occasional blues.

Take a (Nearby) Vacation
While he may not readily admit it, I think my husband gets a little stir crazy during our long winter season. In November, he asked about the dates of the children’s spring break. “We have to take some kind of vacation to someplace warm,” he insisted. If heading south is out of the question at this time, consider doing what our cousins do; Go on an overnight or weekend vacation at a local hotel with nice amenities, like a swimming pool, whirlpool, sauna, fitness center, etc. Enjoy getting away from your normal routine and being refreshed in new surroundings. Whoever said you had to leave the city to be on vacation, anyway? Simply do a staycation.
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Personal and family organization--.com style

Personal and family organization--.com styleEvery year one of the top ten New Year’s resolutions is getting more organized.  To be honest, it is a constant struggle in our home as well.  Too often, we find ourselves “running late.”  It drives me crazy, but I have to confess that it is mostly my fault. 

This year the five of us sat around the dining table and listed one area in our own lives where we wanted to see improvement.  Next, each family member took turns sitting on the “hot seat” while the others each suggested one area where personal improvement was needed.  My seven-year-old son, who adores me, said, “Mama, I wish you wouldn’t get mad at me when I am running late for the bus on your Bible-study day.”   ouch. 
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The secrets of the skinny

The secrets of the skinnyIt’s the beginning of a new year, which is usually the time when we resolve to be different than we were the previous year. We often make grand plans to accomplish lofty goals, and then unrealistically expect to accomplish them all within a month. (Not!) This year I’d like to suggest that you consider the following: slow and steady wins the race. That philosophy can apply to nearly everything on your list of resolutions. If you set realistic goals as part of your lifestyle, you can have positive, lasting results.
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Holiday celebration etiquette 101: Mind your manners

Holiday celebration etiquette 101: Mind your mannersThirteen years ago, after having just moved to the Chicago area, we met a couple at church and invited them over for dinner. Although I was a new mom, and not a great cook, I spent a lot of time and effort preparing the best meal I could for these new potential-friends. They were over an hour late getting to our house, so I started to worry. When we finally spoke on the phone a few days later, she casually said, “Oh, we couldn’t make it.” In my mind, I was screaming, “Why didn’t you have the decency to pick up the phone and call somebody?!” Right after that call ended, in my mind, I crossed her name off my potential-friend list.

Most of us usually don’t set out to be rude or inconsiderate to others, but truth is, it happens at times. Especially during the busy holiday season when many social gatherings take place, consider these helpful tips whether you are the host or the guest during the 2010 Holiday season.
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Holiday regifting: Do’s and Don’ts

Holiday regifting: Do’s and Don’tsDid I ever tell you about my favorite Aunt Annie?  Many years ago, an older man started calling and coming around to see her.  They began what my aunt would call, a friendship, and, what the man would call, a courtship.  Before long, he had managed to upgrade his status in her eyes; he was her boyfriend (sort of).

Christmas rolled around and the suitor presented my aunt with a, let’s just say, very, very modest engagement ring.  I couldn’t tell if my aunt was more put off by the size of the ring or by the fact that she was in no way ready to commit to him in marriage.  I happened to be visiting that year and when I examined the still-boxed ring, I noticed that the inside was engraved, but not with my aunt’s name!  She was horrified when I showed her that she had been the victim of a serious crime; regifting-the practice of attempting to pass off a used gift as new or giving a gift to someone that you originally received as a gift, but didn’t want. (Needless to say, my aunt did not marry him and the relationship went quickly downhill from there-much to my relief and hers too, I think.)
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Budget friendly gift ideas for youngsters

Budget friendly gift ideas for youngstersSo, did you get all of your Christmas shopping done on Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving)? Why is that day called Black Friday anyway?

I spoke to one of my girlfriends who said that between the doorbuster deals and the Macy’s coupons, she scored big savings on Christmas gifts. If you were among those of us who did not go out and do battle over bargains and parking spaces, then I want to give you a few budget-friendly gift ideas for everyone on your list.

Infants - Okay, do we really need to buy gifts for infants? They should at least be old enough to appreciate the joys of tearing into a beautifully-wrapped present and throwing the paper as they go. If you are insistent on a gift for baby, splurge and buy the premium, extra-absorbent diapers. (Online you can even find holiday-themed reusable diapers and covers.)
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Thanksgiving and Christmas Together


Thanksgiving and Christmas Together
Leaving church this past Sunday, I stopped to hug Nicole and wish her a happy thanksgiving.  “You cooking, right?” I asked.  I’ve been told by many church-folks that she “throws down” in the kitchen, although I have yet to find out first-hand. In her usual, tell-it-like-it- is style, she responded, “Yes, girl, and I’m making enough for Christmas, too! There’s no sense of doing all that work twice!”  She explained how she doubles up on her dressing and sweet potato recipes, sticks half, uncooked, in the freezer and the other half in the oven. Then for Christmas, two of the main essentials are oven-ready. Sounds great, right? Although I’m a little too far into my Thanksgiving 2010 planning to double up, it definitely will be on my to-do list for Thanksgiving/Christmas ’11.

Want to save cooking time and stress during the holidays, or any other time of year? Be like Nicole and tackle two (or more) meals at once by planning menus in advance and preparing certain items to go right into the freezer. Here are a few tips to get you started.
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