How to Make the Holidays Less Stressful

With all of the gift buying, cookie baking, and crowded homes filled with out-of-town visitors, you may forget that the holidays are supposed to be a time of fun and relaxation. Here are a few smart tips that will help you to take the stress out of the holidays and better appreciate time spent with family.

  1. Ask for a wish list. Instead of stressing out about buying the perfect gift for a loved one, just ask for his or her wish list. There’s no shame in asking what everyone wants to ensure that you feel confident about your purchases.
  2. Create a budget—and stick to it. Although it’s easy to overspend when you want to spoil your friends and family members, it will only leave you feeling more stressed afterward. It’s entirely possible to purchase thoughtful gifts within your means, provided that you set a budget for your gifts.
  3. Say “no.” You don’t have to attend every holiday party, volunteer to bring a side to every family dinner or even host the festivities at your own home. Carefully consider which things you’ll actually have time for, and say no to everything else.
  4. Keep things simple. Instead of trying to make your holiday celebrations the best on the block, focus on simply spending time with the family over a delicious meal. The rest will work itself out.

Peggy's Top Five for Stress-Free Gift Giving [Emily Post]
Our Stress-Less Holiday Guide [She Knows]
10 Steps to a Less Stressful Holiday [Parents]

Delicious Uses for Thanksgiving Leftovers

If you’ve ever made a turkey sandwich from Thanksgiving turkey, you know that the leftovers are almost as good as the meal itself. Here are a few new ways to use Thanksgiving leftovers in creative and delicious ways.

Thanks Benedict on Stuffing Cakes with Sage Hollandaise [Food Network]
If the long name on this one leaves you scratching your head, you’ll understand once you see this breakfast dish in action. Thanksgiving stuffing is molded into small, flat cakes and toped with pancetta and poached eggs to create a new version of eggs Benedict using mostly holiday leftovers.

Cranberry Sauce Over Pound Cake A la Mode [Rachael Ray]
If your dinner guests leave behind an excess of cranberry sauce, use it as a topping on this delicious seasonal dessert. You can also use pre-packaged pound cake to make the whole thing even easier.

Turkey Banh Mi [Martha Stewart]
Instead of your usual day-after turkey sandwich, get a bit global by creating a traditional Vietnamese banh mi with the leftover Thanksgiving turkey. Top it with spicy mayonnaise, fresh cilantro and crispy vegetables and serve the whole thing on a whole wheat baguette. This sandwich is especially great for those who can’t bare another bite of the cranberry and gravy flavors of Thanksgiving dinner.

America Recycles Day is November 15th

One day to educate. One day to motivate. One day to make recycling bigger and better 365 days a year. We recycle. Do you? Help us celebrate America Recycles Day by taking the pledge at www.americarecyclesday.org!

Turkey 101: The Basics of Cooking a Thanksgiving Turkey

If you’re hosting Thanksgiving dinner for the whole family, you want to make sure that the turkey comes out perfectly. It may take a bit of effort, but cooking a browned, flavorful turkey is possible if you adhere to a few strict guidelines. Here are some basic instructions for cooking a Thanksgiving turkey.

  1. Buy the right size bird. Allot 1 to 1.5 pounds for each dinner guest. For example, if you’re hosting 10 family members for dinner, a 12-pound turkey should be just the right amount.
  2. Thaw completely. Cooking a turkey that is still frozen inside is one of the most common turkey mishaps, so be sure to let your turkey thaw for at least one full day for every four pounds. If it’s still frozen on the day of, soak it in cold water for 30 minutes for each pound of meat.
  3. Remove the neck and giblets. This is the most unpleasant step of the process, but it will be much more unpleasant if you forget to do it.
  4. Roast. You should roast a 12-pound turkey for about 3 to 3.5 hours, less time for a smaller bird and more time for a larger one. Test the turkey’s doneness by using a food thermometer. Once the inside meat reaches 180 degrees F and the stuffing reaches 165 degrees F, it’s completely done.

Cooking Questions: Thanksgiving [AllRecipes]
How to Cook a Turkey Perfectly [How to Cook a Thanksgiving Turkey]
How to Roast a Turkey [Martha Stewart]
How To Cook a Turkey: The Simplest, Easiest Method [The Kitchn]

Happy Veteran’s Day!

For all that you have sacrificed, and everything you've done to help make this world we share a safer, better one. This comes with admiration and with gratitude to say you're thought about so often and especially today!

Happy Veteran's Day to all those that have served and are serving our country!

4 Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About Tea

Whether you prefer a soothing green or an English breakfast with a splash of milk, tea is a delicious treat that can be enjoyed a number of different ways. Even the most experienced tea drinker may not know everything about this steaming beverage, so here are a few fascinating tea facts.

  1. The word “tea” comes from the Chinese word “t’e,” which refers to the plant from which tea leaves are sourced. It's believed that tea was first discovered in China around 2737 B.C., when emperor Shen Nong found that a few leaves fell from the tree into water that his servants were boiling.
  2. All teas, from black to green to oolong, come from the same camellia sinensis plant. Their leaves are plucked from the same bush, but the fermenting process gives them their unique styles. Interestingly enough, herbal teas do not come from this plant because they are not true “teas” at all.
  3. Tea wasn’t grown in countries outside of China until the 19th century. Today, China still supplies around 29 percent of the world’s total tea, although its residents are not the biggest consumers. The United Arab Emirates takes that title, with each individual citizen consuming an average of 14 pounds per year.
  4. Green tea is considered the healthiest of all teas, and some even call it a “superfood.” Studies show that regularly drinking green tea may prevent against heart disease, certain forms of cancer, and diabetes!

Tea Facts [UK Tea & Infusions Association]
10 Interesting Facts About Tea [Food Network]
Tea Fact Sheet – 2013 [Tea Association of the U.S.A. Inc.]
26 Things You Didn't Know About Tea [Fine Dining Lovers]

Shooting at Marysville Pilchuck High School

Marysville Pilchuck High School was the site of a tragic school shooting. May our thoughts and prayers be with the staff, students, and families from that community.

More information here

10 Tasty Beverages to Get you Through the Season

1) Classic Hot Toddy
2) Kahlua Hot Chocolate
3) Hot Buttered Hazelnut Whiskey
4) Winter Sangria
5) Mulled Wine
6) Pumpkin Pie White Russian
7) Cranberry Margaritas
8) Spiced Cider Rum
9) Rum Punch
10) Clementine, Whiskey & Wine Cocktail

Click here to see more and get complete recipes!

Clever Mason Jar Craft Projects

Mason jar crafts are a very popular trend among DIY home decor enthusiasts, but despite their ubiquity, these antique glass jars still feel rustic and special when used in smart ways. Here are three new ways to incorporate mason jars into your decor.

Mason Jar Bathroom Storage [lizmarieblog.com]
Instead of simply filling a few mason jars with your small bathroom essentials, this simple DIY project will show you how to mount the jars to the wall to make them feel a bit more sophisticated. Using large pipe clamps, a sturdy piece of wood, and a few picture frame hangers, you can create this storage system in less than an afternoon.

Mason Jar Soap Dispenser [apartmenttherapy.com]
You may have seen mason jar soap dispensers in your favorite boutiques, but this tutorial will show you how to make one right at home. By taking the pump out of an old soap dispenser, your can make use a mason jar to hold your best smelling soap and add a shabby chic look to your bathroom.

Hand Painted Mason Jar Glasses [somethingturquoise.com]
Add the look of milk glass to your stash of mason jars with a permanent craft paint. This project is especially great for parties, as it allows you to create a set of glasses that perfectly coordinate with your color scheme.

Best small city in Washington to live?

Money Magazine says Kirkland! Who knew we were all so smart to choose living here? Rock on Tera Residents!

Check out the article from the Puget Sound Business Journal for more details here.