Even though I don’t need to, I always end up creating a Holiday Rotation. That’s because things get crazy and there’s more baking and cooking for parties. I find it helps to sit down and make a plan (whether or not I follow it).
I’m focusing on potluck ideas and baking and trying to keep it simple for meals. I’m going to try Easy Homemade Ramen from Damn Delicious and add back in Slow Cooker White Chicken Chili from Budget Bytes. Christmas eve I’ll make Mexican.
I want to compile a list of favorite items to bring to Holiday parties. I usually bring meatballs using the easy Trader Joe’s recipe which includes their Sweet Chili Sauce, ketchup, and grape jelly. And I sometimes bring chicken tenders for the kids. I looked around and found this Copycat Trader Joe’s Spinach Dip and Bacon Parmesan Stuffed Mushrooms (I get hungry just writing that).
Oh, and this Mediterranean Chickpea Salad that I made Halloween night is great to bring to any party. Make it ahead and watch it get devoured!
Then there’s baking. I like to have some sweets for us and to give to teachers, friends, and neighbors. We always make sugar cookies and for the last couples years, I made this super easy dark chocolate almond bark. The kids and I will probably make some snickerdoodles and white and chocolate covered pretzels.
What is your favorite item to make (sweet or savory) during the holidays? Do you make the same thing every year or try new things?
My Meditation Journey
If you’ve followed this blog for a long time, you probably know that I’ve tried to meditate for many years now. I even started a separate blog about it. Through the years, I have continued to meditate, taking some breaks, but recently I had a huge breakthrough. One that has resulted in not just more meditation, but wanting to do more meditation.
I read the book The User’s Guide to the Human Mind: Why Our Brains Make Us Unhappy, Anxious, and Neurotic and What You Can Do About It. While I understood this information on a superficial level, the way in which author Shawn T. Smith explains how the mind works really struck me.
Basically, he writes about how we have evolved to survive and our mind’s main aim is to protect us. The problem is that life has become less dangerous but the mind hasn’t gotten the memo. Smith explains it this way:
Our minds are tireless worry machines. They do a fabulous job of protecting us. The downside is that they never stop looking for problems, and they can’t be turned off…with their overbearing nature and never-ending stream of thoughts, feelings and impulses, these worry machines frequently help us achieve precisely the opposite of what we want.
This is why it’s so easy to experience a large amount of resistance to almost anything that feels uncertain from calling a long-lost friend to looking for a new job to trying that workout class. Basically, the primitive mind is good at keeping us comfortable and unchallenged, which can lead to a dissatisfied life. You hear things like: “You don’t have time for that,” “what will people think?” “You’re too old,” and my all-time favorite, “Do it tomorrow!”
The good news is we can strengthen the higher, rational mind by getting better at watching and observing our thoughts. The key is not to feed into the primitive mind’s steady stream of self-doubt and never-ending “what if” fears. The aha for me is realizing that my mind really is trying to help me even though it doesn’t feel like it, and that has aided my acceptance of it. More from Smith:
That fact that our primitive minds exist and speak to us is not necessarily a problem. The problem is over-rehearsal in the wrong direction. Each time we buy into experiences like rumination, anxiety, and procrastination, we strengthen those behaviors in the primitive mind. Buying into our thoughts also weakens our ability to see past them.
Around this time — about a month ago — I started using the Headspace App, which offers a 10-day meditation for free. Andy, whose voice I love, talks in similar terms as the book and I enjoyed it so much, I became a subscriber. Headspace has meditation packs you can do in sequence (basic, anxiety etc.) and single meditations (feeling overwhelmed, stressed, or to boost creativity). You choose the time too.
There’s even a kids’ section that I plan to try out with Big A and Little D. I highly recommend trying it out if you’ve thought about meditating or like me have gone on and off. If you end up buying it, check Groupon first.
I no longer judge what happens during meditation. My goal is to gradually create distance between me and my mind’s steady stream of thoughts. And slowly, I’m getting better at not getting caught up in the noise in my head, and am moving forward with the values I hold dear.
Moving into 2018, I finally have my “why” for meditation. And that’s exactly what I needed to make it stick. It only took 5 years…
Sally at real Mom Nutrition dishes on how to handle holiday parties with kids
And the NY Times discusses How Not to Talk to Your Child About Weight. I’ll discuss the latest AAP report the article’s based on in my next Newsletter which you can sign up for at the end of this post.
Have a great holiday and I’ll be back next week!
Want to learn more about creating your own dinner rotation? Check out my book The Family Dinner Solution