I love birthday’s. They are my absolute favorite. I love the anticipation of a new year. Fresh start. I love being able to have some quiet time to myself to reflect on the last year and all that it meant to me. Being thankful for each breath I breathed and day I was given. Questioning how I grew this past year, how I changed, how I treated people, how I loved. Then looking towards the future. Praying and hoping and dreaming of how I would change and grow in this next year. Figuring out what really matters and how I want to spend my precious time. 365 days to stop wishing and start doing.

It is so important to me to take time away from the excitement of potential gifts, dinners and cake to really reflect and project for the next year and be in prayer. I want to live each day of my next year being led by God in a way that brings more people to Him. I want to have goals and stick to them. I want to surprise myself. I want to make myself proud. Mostly I am thankful for the gift of life and that God loves me so much. What more could I ask for?

I looooove me some mashed potatoes! For some reason, my holiday “bring to the potluck dish” has been mashed potatoes. I’m starting to think that folks don’t have much faith in my cooking…either way, I show them by bringing some delicious mashed potatoes, that aren’t just the typical milk and butter. So HA!

I went to Costco and bought a HUGE bag of Yukon Gold potatoes because I think these are the best potatoes {besides red} to use. Yukon Gold is easier than red potatoes for a large group because they are generally large enough to skin.

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Recipe for Yummers Mashed Potatoes:

{Don’t miss the recipe for what to do with the leftovers! Found here}

 

INGREDIENTS:

4lbs Yukon Gold Potatoes (Or really any kind)

1 Tbls Salt (more or less to taste)

2 Tbls Pepper (more or less to taste)

2 Tbls Garlic Powder

1.5 packages of softened cream cheese

3/4 cup sour cream

1/2 cup milk (more or less for how you like consistency)

1/4 cup green onions (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

1. Rinse and clean potatoes with skin on. Peel potatoes (doesn’t need to be perfect, I leave a little on each potato)

2. Slice up the potatoes for easier boiling and mashing – I usually cut the potato lengthwise in half and then dice up.

3. Boil the potatoes in a LARGE pot for about 20 minutes, or until potatoes are very soft when poked with a fork.

4. Drain the water from the potatoes – I pour mine into a strainer.

5. Dump the potatoes into a very large mixing bowl. {Side note: I actually put about 3/4 into my large crock pot so that I could keep them warm while being served for the holiday dinner} You may need two mixing bowls!

6. Use a hand-masher to start mashing the potatoes. Once they are starting to get mashed, add the salt, pepper and garlic powder. Mix and mash!

7. Add the 1.5 package of softened cream cheese and the sour cream. This is where I grab the electric hand mixer (if you have one) to get a more fluffy potato consistency.

8. Once those ingredients combine with the potatoes you can add milk to get the potatoes the consistency you like. Less milk makes for thicker potatoes, more milk makes them a little creamier.

9. (Optional) Dice up the green onions into very fine pieces and sprinkle in. I ran the mixer a final time through to spread out the onions and to give it a little extra smooth and creamy texture.

I can’t believe I had never had these delicious left-over alternatives before meeting my husband. This was a staple leftover meal made from mashed potatoes from Thanksgiving and Christmas for him and his family. I tried out my own rendition after this last Thanksgiving and got a delicious seal of approval by the hubbs. Enjoy!

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Recipe for potato pancakes (this recipe uses the leftover mashed potatoes, from here):

INGREDIENTS:
1 cup real bacon bits
4 cups cold leftover mashed potatoes
2 eggs
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder, optional
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1-1/4 cups shredded Cheddar cheese, or Colby Jack
4 to 6 Tablespoons flour (add slowly and increase by 1/2 Tbls. increments, if needed)
2 Tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
Cooking spray
DIRECTIONS:
  1. Mix the mashed potatoes, eggs, onion powder, salt, and black pepper together in a bowl.
  2. Stir in the crumbled bacon and cheese.
  3. Mix in flour – start with 3 Tbls and then add more, as needed to yield a firmer texture.
  4. Form the mixture into 8 balls. If it sticks to your hands and you can’t roll it into a ball, add more flour.
  5. Start heating the oil in the skillet over medium heat. Put 2 of the balls into skillet.
  6. Spray bottom of spatula well with non-stick cooking spray. Press each ball flat with spatula into patties.
  7. Pan-fry the patties until crisp on each side,4 to 6 minutes per side. Resist the temptation to turn until after 4 minutes, or patties will fall apart.
  8. Cook until crispy brown. Repeat with remaining potato balls. Serve hot. {We like them with ketchup!}
 
Yield:  8 patties

 

Throughout the last couple of years, from random ornament purchasing, the adornment to hang the ornament to the tree with has had many looks.  I’ve purchased wire ornament hooks that didn’t seem to last, and have even gone as classy as using paper clips to hang from the tree – not cute.  This year, I decided to get more uniform and actually make my tree look more put together! {I’m trying} I purchased a roll of garden twine to make ornament holders with!  Super simple and easy {& cheap!}
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I cut a 5 to 6 inch stand from the twine and folded it in half.  I slipped the loop through the ornament top and did a simple single loop (put the untied ends through the loop) and tied a knot at the top.  Voila!

christmasornupdate

Alright folks – here it is, the mother of all day-of-event master planner templates! I created this detailed itinerary for my wedding in May 2010 and {although people thought I was a little nuts awesome} it made the day go very smoothly – and I was able to be totally hands-off so that I could focus on enjoying all the little details of my wedding day!

weddtimeline

This template is a Word document, and is geared towards the details of a wedding, but you can edit it as needed to use it as it fits your timeline needs for any event. I also have an area for any pre-event day details and also for clean up/tear down. {I got you covered}.

Please enjoy this template {Day-of Event Timeline Template – free for the love of your sanity} and pass it along to anyone planning an event! Please leave a comment below letting me know how it helped you and if you would rather see anything changed! Also comment below letting me know if other event planning tools would be useful!