Monday, October 30, 2017


This week I begin my Christmas Countdown.  I’ve counted down to Christmas for what seems like forever.  I start by purchasing a new journal for jotting down notes, gift ideas, menu and cookie baking ideas, and to-dos, which I’ll later transfer to my Holiday Lists.  This so gets me in the mood for celebrating and making the most of the holiday season.  Also, while I do love planners, I use a three-ring binder for my Christmas Countdown.  This is where I save the recipes and the decoration ideas, instructions for gifts to make, my cleaning lists, shopping lists… well, you’ll see as we count down to Christmas together.

On my Holiday To-Do List for Week 1 (along with celebrating Halloween):
1) Set budget for gift giving
2) Write out gift list (confirm sizes, colors, etc.)
3) Work on Thanksgiving Day guest list
4) Work on Thanksgiving Day menu and shopping list.
Quick confession: A few years back I created a dinner menu/shopping list for the whole week and use the same every year. Consider it – saves lots of time.  You can see the list here.
5) Create Holiday Calendar – mark special dates
6) Begin shopping
7) Browse catalogs for gifts, and begin ordering

To help get you started on your Countdown, I’ve included a few pretty and useful lists.  Enjoy!

Do you countdown to Christmas?  Consider sharing some of your most timeworn ideas and traditions.

Merrily, Trish

Sunday, October 29, 2017



I hope you will join me beginning October 30, 2017 as I Countdown to Christmas.  Every Monday through the week of December 25, I will be counting down to Christmas with checklists, recipes, ideas and inspiration.


Finish preparing the food.  I’ll get up early and get the chili started in the slow cooker.  About twenty minutes before the guests arrive, we will begin cooking the hot dogs and Kayla will make the punch.  We will begin putting out the dips and crackers, and other treats.

The last thing we’ll do is hang the donuts from the ceiling (fun game) and fill choose a pumpkin with a large stem for tossing a ring around the pumpkin game.

Once the guests begin to arrive, join in and enjoy!!!!

Saturday, October 28, 2017


Set the table with all the pretty party stuff you purchased.  Put on the
tablecloth, set with the punch bowl and cups, the napkins, the plates, forks, spoons, the candy bowl.  Don’t forget your centerpiece!  Blow up the balloons, hang the streamers, stand back and admire your hard work.  Take pictures.

Prepare the vegetable tray. Cut and wash the veggies, arrange on platter, cover with Saran Wrap, and store in refrigerator.

Sleep! Tomorrow the fun begins!

Wednesday, October 25, 2017


This is it, and I'm late.  My apologies, we and I mean all four of us have been a bit under the weather this week. Now, onto the final week of Countdown to

By now, all of the shopping should be done, the invitations sent and the RSVP’s rolling in.  This week is basically the “finishing up” week.

Finish Up: decorating the house, making the costumes (if that applies) and putting together the treat bags.  Finish any crafts in the making.

The Housecleaning:
This week clean the bathrooms and the kitchen.  Either the day before the party or the morning of, give all areas a once-over.

The Cooking:
Besides the breads, cakes or dishes that you made and froze in advance, this week make the popcorn balls, candies and taffy apples.

Start making ice.  I fill a gallon size freezer Ziploc bag and have four trays in the waiting.

Sunday, October 15, 2017


Okay, it’s that time again.  Time to get your planner, and review last week’s list.  (You can see Week 2 here). 
Elliot, 2015. How fast they grow!
By now your calendar should be filled with fun things to do.  Especially this time of year.  In fact, you may have already done some of the activities that you booked in your planner.  So far, we have gone to the last (for the season) Kid’s Day at Schenley Plaza, visited Schram’s Farm (for apples, pumpkins are today), gone for a nature walk to gather leaves for our painted ghosts, and went to a Fall Festival. Coming up is Zoo Boo, our own Halloween Party, Elliot’s preschool Halloween parade and trick or treating. Whew!

Getting ready:
1.  Your party invites should be mailed by now.  Are they??  

Shopping and Cooking
2.  With the menu finalized, finish shopping for your nonperishables.  Also, begin making and baking any food items that can be frozen ahead of time, such as chili, casseroles, sugar cookies, etc.

Think Decorations
3.  Finish buying or making any decorations and begin adorning your home.  This year I crocheted a spider web using this Red Heart pattern.  

Think Costumes
4.  Is your costume bought (or made)?  To prevent last minute anxiety of what to dress up as, decide this week and buy/make your costume.  At the beginning of the month we picked up Elliot’s “Catboy” costume (doubles as pajamas).  Amelia has a few costumes to choose from including Tuturo or a ghost.  K has yet to fail us in the costume making arena.  She has handsewn a red tutu for her Snow White costume and last year she painstakingly hand-sewed pom poms on a tee shirt and dressed as a gumball machine.  We shall see what this year holds.  I, with Kayla’s assistance in the hair and make-up department am hoping to transform myself into Elsa Lanchester’s Bride of Frankenstein.

Think Favors
5.  Are you making or buying favors (or a little of both)?  Put together your little goodie bags and hide from the kiddies.  (But don’t forget where you’ve hid them…).  K and I found fabulous little milk bottles with straws (which we will fill with Swamp Punch) from Target’s dollar stop.  The kiddies can taken them home after the party.

Don’t Forget the Table
6. With your theme in mind, purchase the paper plates, cups, napkins, tablecloth, plastic ware.  The Dollar Store is a great place to start.  But don’t wait too long as they tend to sell out fast of the seasonal goodies.

The Housecleaning
7. This week, begin cleaning (and decorating) the dining room and living/family rooms.  Give the foyer/entry areas a once-over.  

I apologize for no current photos – the internal battery of my phone camera died.  Makes me so sad.

Sunday, October 8, 2017


Pumpkins Galore

Grab your planner, review last week’s list.  If you missed Week 1, you can find it here
Have you filled your calendar with fun things to do?  Did you decide to host a monster bash?  We will be hosting our annual Halloween party on Sunday, October 29th. Have you finalized your guest list? Made or bought invites? Decided on holiday decorations? Do you still need ideas for a theme? Check out these fabulous party themes from Better Homes & Gardens.  

Getting ready:
Finalize your guest list.  With your made or store bought invitations at hand, begin addressing, stamping and stuffing those envelopes.  We will be mailing ours this week.  

Start Shopping
Finalize your menu, gather your recipes and create a master shopping list.  Begin picking up listed items whenever you visit the grocery store.  Need a list? Download our free printable here.

Think Decorations
If making your decorations, begin this week. This Bats and Leaf Ghosts project is perfect as it uses recycled and natural materials and is a great project for the kiddies.
Think Costumes
Decide on your costume.  Buy or make?

Don’t Forget the Table
Make a list for setting the table.  Don’t forget paper plates, cups, napkins, tablecloth, plastic ware.  Think about what your centerpiece will be – store bought, homemade?? You may want to consider one of these fabulous Halloween tablescapes.

The Housecleaning
This week, begin cleaning (and decorating) the foyer/entry areas.  This is the area your guests see first so you want it to be tidy.  Our entry area is forever filled with shoes, paper goods, keys, mail and laundry (the basement is off the entry area).  But when it’s cleaned, it’s beautiful.

The days are going so fast! and there’s still so much to do!!  Enjoy!



Saturday, October 7, 2017


Visit the Pumpkin Farm
Go on a hayride
Get lost in a corn maze
Walk the neighborhood – admire the decorations
Pick apples
Drink cider
Watch scary movies
Celebrate Jacob’s birthday
Go to a fall festival
Collect colorful leaves – make a decoration or two
Prepare the yard for winter
Visit a haunted house
Celebrate Oktoberfest
Collect pinecones
Paint gourds
Make popcorn balls and candy apples
Host a Halloween party
Go trick or treating
Read ghost stories
Put away summer clothes – donate what’s been grown out of.
Roast pumpkin seeds
Make chili and pots of soup
Decorate the house
Carve pumpkins
Go to Boo Zoo

Sunday, October 1, 2017

COUNTDOWN TO HALLOWEEN, WEEK 1 (and a printable!)

Grab your planner or a notebook, it’s time to countdown to Halloween 2017!   

This year Halloween falls on a Tuesday. Our Borough usually celebrates on the exact day so I will be rushing home from work to help with costumes, and filling bowls with candy. 

This week will be the busiest in the planning stage, so let’s get started.

1. Begin thinking about what Halloween events you will be attending this year.  Mark them on your calendar.  We always go pumpkin picking and running through the corn maize, to Zoo Boo, and some years K and friends attend The Zombie Fest.  And of course, there is our annual Halloween Party and Trick or Treating.   Fill up that calendar for fun things to do.

2. If you are hosting a Halloween Party:

Choose your time and date: Pick your date far enough in advance so that invites can be mailed at least two weeks before the party.

Write out the Guest List:   Once you have your guest list written, decide if you are making or purchasing the invites.  If making, gather your supplies and get busy. 

Pick a Theme: This party is actually hosted by my (now) 19 year old Granddaughter, Kayla.  I just provide a little monetary donation and help with the cooking and cleaning.  This year’s theme will probably be the same as the last – a mix match of everything

Make the Menu: Now’s a good time to decide on what you will serve so that you can begin picking up ingredients and maybe even cooking and freezing a few of the dishes.  I personally love reading cookbooks and writing out menus.  However, Kayla is hosting this little shindig, so we will be collaborating.  I’ll choose the “real” food menu and she will choose all the gory edibles.

The Decoration List: Making or buying decorations? Go down to the basement or up to the attic, pull out those boxes, throw away the torn or broken (or mend them), choose those items that match your decorating theme.  Make a list of what you have, what you may need to buy or what you will make.

Let’s Play: Will you play games, tell spooky stories, have a coloring contest?? We do two things every year.  Bob for apples and have a doughnut eating contest.  The doughnuts (sugar and/or frosted – messy is more fun), are tied to crochet thread or string and hung at different lengths from the ceiling.  The players MUST keep their hands behind their backs as they try to eat these swinging doughnuts.  The first person to eat all theirs is the winner.  OMGosh! Talk about fun to watch!!!

The Treat Bags: Everyone loves a goodie.  Visit the Dollar Store, Walmart and/or Target One Dollar Stop for Halloween themed favors.  Tie them up in a treat bag or box.

3. The Housecleaning (no escaping that even if you dress as Houdini):  Spend the first two weeks cleaning the bedrooms, the front and back porches (don’t forget to wipe down windows) and the yard(s) (we’ll be raking).  This is a good time to winterize the porches and get the yards ready for the winter storms to come.

Grab your free printable checklist here.