Trying to maintain an organized life on my little island.

Thanksgiving Holiday – Make it Memorable

With Thanksgiving less than two weeks away, I am planning my Thanksgiving dinner menu.  I have been hosting Thanksgiving for my family for over 20 years.  We have hosted in different locations and states due to our moving around a bit, but each one is special.  I still remember my first turkey in our first home 27 years ago.

The day takes so much planning and work, and before you know it, the day is gone and we are pouring over the Black Friday ads.  What I wanted to share with you are a few things that I have found that can make Thanksgiving dinner a little more memorable.

  • Thankgsgiving Leaves – Have each family member write or say what they are thankful for this year on a leaf.  Be sure you add the year to the leaf and use the leaves to decorate your holiday table.  You can laminate the leaves and bring them out each year.   The number will grow each year, but it is nice to see that happen.  I recommend using cardstock as it does not fade as easily as construction paper.

  • Photos – Be sure to take a photo of the table and the people that are at your dinner.  I know that if your family is like mine, they may groan a bit, but trust me, later you will be glad you did.  I keep a scrapbook of holidays with the photos from over the years.
  • Decorations – Get the kids involved in decorating placemats, making decorations and place cards.  I still have some decorations that the kids made years ago.
  • Activities – Play games or go on a walk together, or better yet do both.  Make a tournament and get the kids involved in the preparation.  Our family plays Bingo every year and the winner gets a scratch off lottery ticket.  No one has ever won anything substantial, but that does not really matter.  It is a great time to have some fun and play!

What are your family’s Thanksgiving Traditions?

Holiday Shopping Made Easier

I found a great app for my phone to help organize my holiday shopping list.  The app allows you to make a list of people you want to include on your gift list and set a budget for each.

With The Christmas List app, you add people to your list and you can even assign them to groups such as family, friends, and work and then assign a budget for each group.

Here is an example of my groups.

Once you have your list of groups, you can assign budgets for each person.  In this example, I allocated $75 each to my husband, daughter and son.

You can add the person’s photo and even add from your phone’s contact list or use the festive icons that are already on the app.

Ok, seems simple enough, but what I like best about the app is that I can set a budget, snap a photo of gift ideas and even track how far I am in my gift buying process.  This comes in handy because not only does it help you see how much shopping you have left, but it helps you keep track of spending.  You can even view gifts by store if you know where to find the gift.

So let’s say I found a cute jacket for my daughter at Costco for $50.  I can snap a photo and log it into my app.  If I add other items from this same store, I can view the list while I am in that store.

What I like best about this app, is that I can add to this list any time during the year if I happen to see something that would make a good gift for someone on my list.  Then if I buy the gift early, I will have it tracked so that I do not forget months later that I already bought a gift for someone.

The app has a passcode lock in case you have kids that might peek.  This app is only $.99 and is available for the iPad, iPhone and iTouch.

Do you use an app to help you with your holiday shopping?

Spicy Chipotle Chicken Pasta

The other night I made this simple chicken and pasta recipe after a long day at work.  I decided to pick up a rotisserie chicken to save some time.  It was just the two of us for dinner so I made my cream chipotle sauce.   This recipe for a creamy chipotle sauce has a kick to it which you can suit to your liking.  It can be made with store bought rotisserie chicken or with cooked chicken breasts.  It is especially good on a cool fall evening because it offers it’s own heat.

Spicy Chipotle Chicken Pasta

1 cup cooked chicken breasts, cubed

1 cup heavy whipping cream

1/2  of a 7 oz can chipotle peppers in adobe sauce

1 clove chopped garlic (I use the jar variety)

2 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

1/2 cup parmesan cheese

1 1/2 cups penne pasta uncooked (or other type of pasta)

Cook penne in boiling water as directed on package.  While pasta is cooking, start the sauce.

In a frying pan, melt butter over low heat and stir in chopped garlic.

Add 1/2 can of chili peppers until warmed through.  Break up chilis with a spoon while cooking.

Slowly add heavy cream.  Depending on your taste, you can add 3/4  cup whipping cream.  If it is hotter than you would like, add the full cup of cream.

While the sauce cooks, drain pasta and set aside.

Simmer chipotle sauce until bubbly over low heat.  Add chopped cilantro and cook 3-5 minutes.  Season with a dash of each salt and pepper to taste.

Spoon over hot pasta and top with parmesan cheese.

This recipe serves 2 and can be doubled.  If you like, you can add cooked corn or chopped tomatoes when you add the cilantro, but the recipe is seriously good without them.  You can make a great pasta sauce with these seven ingredients.

Do you have a rotisserie chicken to simplify your dinners?