My New Go To Cookie: Semi-Homemade Chocolate Sandwich Cookies

My sister hosted a Christmas cookie swap this weekend and it was such a success. All of the guests brought such a great assortment of cookies and my husband was ecstatic when I walked in the house with a perfect mix of holiday cookies. 

This past week was an unexpectedly stressful week for us filled with Christmas parties, unplanned get togethers, and an EXTREMELY sick dog. When it came time to start baking for the cookie swap I was wiped out. I wanted to make something home made and delicious but I didn’t really have time or energy to whip up some complex, cookie cutter, frosted masterpiece. 

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START TODAY! A weekly plan to save $500 by Black Friday!

20171209_103047-01.jpegYou’re probably thinking to yourself “The Holiday season just ended. Why is this crazy girl already posting about Black Friday?”

I’m already posting about Black Friday because I LOVE the holiday season. I enjoy so many aspects about the holiday season: The friends, family, travel, tradition, and of course, gift giving…

The challenge that I faced in the past was financial planning for the holiday season. For so long, I would get to the end of November and early December and wouldn’t have anything specific set aside for holiday travel or christmas gifts. This led to me taking out of savings to pay for Christmas gift or even worse, not saving anything and putting an entire paycheck towards gifts.

When I got married I realized this had to stop. We started doing a lot more holiday travel and increased gift giving. This meant spending a lot more money and it made sense to go into the holidays prepared.

I tried a few different things in the last few years, but this year we tried a method that worked wonderfully! Basically, we set up a line item in our budget or “bill” to ourselves for Christmas. I want to help you be prepared for this time next year and I’ve got an easy way for you to save $500 by next Black Friday! If you need to save $1,000, just double the plan.

Today is January 1st. Black Friday is on November 23. That means you have 326 days to save $500 (did I do my math right for the days?). That’s incredibly realistic. That means you need to save roughly $1.54 a day.

That’s right $1.54 a day. That’s less than your coffee habit… that’s less than you amazon habit… that’s less than your eating our habit… $1.54 a day is easy.

I’ll make this plan for 46 weeks. I’ll start off slow and ease you in!

Weeks 1 and 2: $5 a week

Weeks 3 through 37: $10 a week

Weeks 38 through 45: $15 a week

Week 46: $20

In 46 weeks you’ll have saved $500 and you’ll have 4 days to spare before Black Friday!

The hardest part is not touching that money before Black Friday. Some easy suggestions for setting the money aside:

  1. Open an online checking or savings account not connected to your main checking account. Some banks will even give you free money for opening up an account.
  2. Get cash every week. Go to the bank (or get cash back while you’re grocery shopping) and put the allocated amount in an envelope. Add cash to the envelope every week and you’ll have $500 in cold hard cash set aside for holiday shopping.
  3. If you’re like me and have a paypal account that you don’t use: put the money in a paypal account every week and transfer it back come holiday season.

 

Holiday Etiquette

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The holiday season is a wonderful time of thanksgiving, celebration, giving, sharing, and enjoying the company of friends, family and loved ones. There are so many things that I am thankful for, but one thing that I become more thankful for as I get older is that fact that my parents took the time to invest in me.

My parents are some of the most supportive and encouraging people that I know. They were constantly encouraging me to do what I love, and to be the best version of myself. My parents encouragement and support started when my siblings are I were children and has continued on into adulthood.

As children, my siblings and I never ate out of plastic “kiddy” bowls and were never allowed to place our hands in our plates. My parents believed in the importance of teaching table manners and to this day, I am so grateful they did what they did. So many people do not know, or understand table manners… knowing which fork to use, or how to differentiate between your bread pate and someone else’s is important.

As we enter the holiday season, here are some tips on how to use table manners at the Thanksgiving table, while mingling at a Christmas party, or while enjoying your time with loved ones on New Year’s Eve.


Basic Table Setting

 

InformalTableSettingA basic table setting consists of a fork, knife, spoon, bread plate, bread and butter knife (optional), dinner plate, napkin, and beverage glass. The fork goes to the left of the plate, and the knife and spoon are set to the right. The napkin can be placed on the plate or to the left of the fork.

Sometimes it is difficult to know which bread plate or glass to use if you’re seated at a crowded table. If you forget easily, here is an easy trick to remember which plate and glass to use: holding your hands in your lap, touch the tips of your pointer fingers to the tips of your thumbs making a lowercase “b” and a lowercase “do” with your fingers. The lower case “b” shows that your bread and butter plates is to your left. The lowercase “d” shows that your drink is to your right. This is usefully for both children and adults.


10 Tips for a Pleasant Dining Experience

  1. Compliment the host and don’t forget to bring a hostess gift.
  2. Show up on time. If you are going to be late, be sure the host is aware so that he or she can plan accordingly. The meal might begin without you.
  3. No one wants to know what partially digested food looks like: Chew with your mouth closed
  4. There is a purpose for your napkin — Use it.
  5. Keep your mobile devices out of sight at the table. If you must take a phone call or respond to an urgent text, excuse yourself from the table.
  6. If you accidentally use someone else’s bread and butter plate, apologize, make a joke, and and then offer your unused plate.
  7. If you don’t like how something tastes keep your opinions to yourself. The chef put time and effort into the meal.
  8. It’s okay to talk about current events but try to avoid controversial topics such as religion and politics. The holiday season is a sensitive time for some people so try to keep from asking about relationship status, family planning, or recently lost loved ones.
  9. Introduce yourself to someone you don’t know. If you’re sitting next to a stranger, make a comment about the food, the weather, or the occasion. If you ask questions that cannot be answered with a simple “yes” or “no” it’s easy to get a conversation started.
  10. Enjoy yourse

Party Etiquette: Christmas, Holiday, and New Year’s Eve Parties

  1. RSVP: If you receive an invitation, respond by the given date. If you need to arrive late or leave early, ask the hostess if this is okay.
  2. Dress to impress. If necessary, ask the host for attire suggestions. Wouldn’t it be horrible if you showed up in jeans and everyone else is dressed in black tie?
  3. Show up on time or within 15 minutes of time stated on the invitation. If you arrive early, sit in your car and call your mom, scroll through Instagram, or get on facebook. Showing up to an event early is just as rude as showing up late. Don’t ring the doorbell until the time that’s stated on the invitation.
  4. Don’t overindulge: be aware of the ratio or party guests to the amount of food. Keep alcohol consumption on the moderate to low side (If you do plan on drinking — don’t drink and drive)
  5. Don’t bring uninvited guests: It’s rude. If you want to spend that evening with someone who was not invited, send your regrets (by the RSVP date) and hang out with your friend. If you already gave your RSVP and replied with a “yes” stick with your commitment and hang out with your friend another time.
  6. It takes a lot of time and hard work to plan and host a party so be sure to send your host a thank you note. Trust me, it will be appreciated.
  7. Have fun and go with the flow! The best way to have a great evening is to have a great attitude!