How To Make It Feel Like Christmas

8CAC4E8C F0A5 4395 8C0B B2AA1C5C9161 1

I recently discovered that most people don’t care much for Christmas despite what others think. I was wondering why this was the case, and thus I did some research. Here is what I’ve found out.

rosie kerr IIMvRgVOjRo unsplash scaled

Most of the time, the number one reason people don’t like Christmas is that the intensity of the holiday preparations, all the shopping, and family demands to make things perfect and festive – make people cringe.

I don’t know about you, but if you walk outside and watch the traffic and human behavior around the holidays – everyone is crazed. Why is that?

jason king y7Vrg7fb4qo unsplash scaled

Well, that Aunt from Australia is coming for Christmas, and we sigh, nobody wants to see HER. Someone might add, gosh, I have to get a present for my boss and have no clue what to get him. And, we sigh once again. Or, the house needs to be cleaned before the out of state guests arrive, and we don’t have money to hire a cleaner—double, sigh.

Besides, the stores have long lines and more rushed stressed customers who probably think the same way. The commercial aspect of buying, buying, and more buying is the real Grinch that stole Christmas. I think we forgot what Christmas is supposed to be like. That’s the whole clue to the miserable feeling. We need to discover how to celebrate Christmas again.

josh hild TuI8tZHlk4 unsplash scaled

Of course, for those who are religious, Christmas is all about the above mentioned plus the celebration of little Jesus’s birth. So not only do they have to endure the family stress and the “shop till you drop” syndrome, but they also have to make sure that they attend all sorts of church services.

jametlene reskp 2wzayVh4x0 unsplash scaled

However, for the rest of the people who might think that Hallmark and Amazon invented Christmas – the misery doesn’t get easier.

matthias kinsella i13KeDr0D00 unsplash scaled

To make things a bit more understanding around Christmas time, let’s look at the past. What did people do for Christmas 100 years ago? Or 200 years ago? I mean, I’m throwing a considerable year gap that’s at least is still in the history books. Let’s not forget that Jesus was born over 2000 years ago, so there were already 2020 plus Christmases!

jonathan kemper mTzokuL Gbs unsplash scaled

Back in the old days, it was unthinkable for shops to be open on Sundays or 7 am or 10 pm. Nobody would come to work during those hours anyway. Moreover, years ago, there were fewer TV channels, fewer commercials, and looking further into the past, we had no TV at all.

As such, constant advertising was not inundating human brains. Also, because the job workflow was not as busy and many women stayed home with the children, there was more time to prepare for Christmas without the stress and the rush.

giulia bertelli NZDwapiGrYQ unsplash

Furthermore, I don’t think that Abraham Lincoln would have trampled over his neighbors’ heads during Black Friday hysteria, mainly to buy a horse buggy or a leather armchair. Nah, I don’t think he would be into that if he were still alive. I think he’d rather sit in his old chair and smoke a cigar. Indeed, what is wrong with that?

Well, how do I make it feel more like Christmas – you ask?

The best way to get into the holiday spirit is to give the people you love something they can’t buy in the shops. Yet, give them something that they can keep with them forever.

And that, my friend, is time and memories.

cris dinoto K6qH4pYiKvs unsplash scaled

I wonder how many people will glance over my blog post right now and laugh—probably many. But I genuinely don’t care because the purpose of my blog is to reach one woman at a time.

So perhaps you’re contemplating today, somewhere on this globe, and you’re reading my blog, and you’re wondering how to make Christmas feel more like Christmas. And I’m telling you how. Give the people you care about your time.

drew coffman X1KB4VoMqBo unsplash 1 scaled

Call that friend you haven’t seen in six months and find out how she’s doing. Meet her for a cup of coffee. Listen to her story. Snap a selfie to create memories. Or, if you have a family, take time off from work, and spend time with them exclusively. But not just for an hour or twenty minutes. Do something with them. Create extraordinary memories.

phil hearing iRGOj ydAI0 unsplash scaled

It’s the stories we create that are the most valuable Christmas gifts! That’s how you make it feel like Christmas. That’s how you make it unique. You don’t have to smoke a cigar like Abraham Lincoln, although truthfully, I simply visualized him like this. I honestly don’t know if he smoked cigars.

Perhaps you have neighbors that you only wave to once a week. Why not bake a pie and bring it over. Start a conversation. Bring your kindness and warmth into their lives. Remember the old movies? People used to welcome new neighbors with pies—that person who received the pie most likely never forgot that moment nor the pie. Little moments like that are priceless.

nonki azariah ArpQlCM L7U unsplash scaled

Kindness is not trendy anymore. Maybe that’s why people don’t like Christmas. They forgot how to be kind.

There is no need to buy aimless gifts and spend a fortune during Christmas. And the house doesn’t need to look better than the Jones’s. A simple, fresh Christmas wreath will do.

Boil a pot of water with cinnamon sticks and orange peels to make the house smell festive. Make a delicious meal. Don’t just order from a restaurant. You do that every week.

olena sergienko fA4yRUZlCkQ unsplash scaled

Take out that porcelain dinner set that’s been sitting in a box somewhere. Set a table cloth and some candlesticks. Put on a lovely dress or a shirt. Dress it up with a smile.

And in that festive, celebratory mood, spend quality holiday time with your loved ones while singing songs, talking about everything, and laughing until your belly hurts.

Also, show your family and friends that they are important and turn off the TV, turn off the iPhones and iPads. Let go of technology for a few days. I promise – you’re not going to die.

jonathan borba P3Tc5ZxHowk unsplash scaled

During Christmas, focus on your family. Direct your attention to the people in your life. Listen to their stories, tell them yours, and create incredible lifetime keepsakes that you will never forget.

And THAT, my dear friend, would be a truly wonderful way to create an unforgettable Christmas!

chad madden ctdfK 0UKnk unsplash scaled

The Grinch who stole Christmas can only remain alive if you let him. In this case, I don’t know; maybe it’s Walmart, or Marshall’s, or Macy’s. It doesn’t matter. They’re all the same. Do you believe that they care about Christmas by telling their employees to work such odd hours? By staying open no matter what for profit? No, they don’t care about Christmas.

matthias cooper JU8hU0YviE8 unsplash scaled

But you do! So, do not shop until you drop, do not get sucked into consumerism. Set your priorities with how and what you give and how you spend your time.

Go ahead and create heartwarming, beautiful presents called memories that no department store will ever offer at any clearance event.

Give kindness, give time.

Have a very Merry Christmas!

IMG 3386

Photography:  S&B Vonlanthen, Chad Madden, Matthias Kinsella, Jason King, Nonki Azariah, Josh Hild, Phil Hearing, Olena Sergienko, Giulia Bertelli, Cris DiNoto, Jametlene Reskp,  Jonathan Kemper, Matthias Cooper

Featured photo: Simon Berger

Text copyright Caramel Chic LLC 


Hungry for more content? Check out my recent post about Christmas Gift Ideas For The Practical People In Your Life 

Delicious Traditional Borscht Recipe

7C191D5A 50CF 4C02 8D73 E2ECF9A7C696

Today’s post is about a traditional borscht recipe.

What do you associate Christmas with? Turkey? Juicy baked ham? Casseroles? Christmas tree? 

annie spratt 1Qg9PXse00s unsplash scaled

Well, I relate Christmas to a steaming bowl of traditional borscht and hand-made dumplings. That’s because even upon emigrating to the USA, we still cook this scrumptious dish during the holiday season. We couldn’t imagine Christmas and New Year’s Eve without this European delight.

borscht with dumplings homemade soup for christmas 328JYDH scaled

Some might think this soup is difficult to make. But that’s only an illusion. And that’s because beets can be quite intimidating when you look at them in the supermarket’s produce section. Nevertheless, all you need is some patience, and the possibilities of creating amazing dishes with beets are endless.

Traditional Borscht Recipe

Once you wash the beets thoroughly and chop off the stems – half of the intimidation is gone. The second half is coming up with a good recipe.

As such, I’m presenting my old-time favorite traditional borscht recipe, which I use every year to create the most flavorful wonderful traditional borscht.

Traditional Borscht Recipe

Ingredients
4 liters (1 gallon) of water
3-4 kg (approx 7 lbs) red beets
2 pears or apples
2 parsnips
1 celery root
2 medium-size onions
8 dried prunes or apricots or dates (prunes are the best)

Spices
1-2 tsp sugar
2 garlic cloves
4 bay leaves
Balsamic Vinegar (to taste)
Salt/Pepper

Secret ingredient: few dried mushrooms

Method
1. Peel the carrot, parsley, and celery and cut them in half.
2. Wash the beets and cut them into chunks.
3. Put all vegetables, beets, onions, herbs and leaves, apples and plums or dates, and the secret ingredient into a large pot. I add enough water (preferably filtered water) to cover all the vegetables so that the water comes above three fingers. I add a little salt, and I let it simmer for about 45-60 minutes.
4. Next, I take out the vegetables, and I add balsamic vinegar to the pot (make sure you add this after the broth stops boiling). I add a little bit, then taste, then add more according to my desire.
5. I then add crushed garlic cloves and sugar. I add all spices bit by bit and taste the broth until it’s slightly sweet and tangy. I cover and let the borscht rest for 10 minutes so that all the flavors combine. Borscht tastes best the next day and can be frozen ahead.

*Warning: When the borscht is cooking, the kitchen smells divine!

Note: this soup unlike the Russian Borscht, is NOT served with sour cream. 

Final Notes
This red beet borscht can be served with homemade dumplings with mushroom filling, aka “uszka pierogi’ (ear dumplings). Or simply served on its own in your favorite ceramic cup. In Poland, when the borscht is served without dumplings, it is consumed out of teacups along with puff pastry filled with wild mushroom filling. On the other hand, large soup bowls are provided if small dumplings are present. Traditionally, the soup is made only once per year for Christmas Eve but we eat the borscht all the way until New New Year’s Eve. 

This recipe is adapted from Olga Smile.

IMG 3386

Hungry for more content check out Molten Lava Cake For Two

Hyper Organized – Top Tools For Entrepreneurs

5FD2DFC3 D64C 45DA 90E1 260197A4E49F 2

Do you like being organized?

Not just in real estate but in any self-run entrepreneurial business, one needs tools that will assist in sustaining a manageable workflow while elevating performance — resources that are efficient and leverage productivity, as well as time. 

You should know I’m a “techie” person, so I use lots of apps and online resources. I, for example, don’t use a paper calendar. I do most of my planning electronically. This way, when I am on the go, I have my schedule with me and know what’s going on. 7934B8C1 AC77 4F6F BBB5 3BAB3C36D1B3 1

Also, I love Apple products, and I use MacBook, Apple iPad Pro, and iPhone interchangeably. On my phone and iPad, I have several apps that keep me organized and make my life easier. 

Here are the top five apps and resources that I use in my business to keep myself organized. The apps pertain to project management, creative content, business development, scheduling, and grammar. 1FE8F6BF A93E 4186 ACA2 036696166CB6 1

Here is the list: 

1

Todoist is a highly underestimated tool. It’s a to-do list in an app and desktop app. It’s a project management tool, tasks list, and lots more. I discovered it while searching for some useful apps on apple.com and purchased a yearly subscription. I love how it integrates with my online calendar and sends all sorts of reminders, thus keeping me super organized. 

2

Spark. For all my creative work, social media posts, pages, slides/videos, flyers, I use Spark Adobe. Moreover, I own the entire suite of Adobe products, and I love them. Adobe keeps evolving and updating their tools. I find them to be very useful. 

3

Haystack is for my business card, as well as all the ones I receive from my contacts. I can keep all of them in the Haystack app on my phone. It’s easy to share my business card with anyone I meet instantly. As well as scan a card I receive. Never fumble through a bunch of business cards again. 

4

Acuity. For scheduling with others and keeping track of my calendar, I use Acuity. A powerful tool that has too many benefits to list. Time is needed to learn all the tools. Acuity has to offer, but in the long run, it’s worth embracing this smart apparatus. 

5

Grammarly is probably one of my best investments so far. A tool that instinctively guides me in a style of writing that I wish to produce. Whether it’s a formal letter, engaging topic, or a story, I use Grammarly to check my blog posts, emails, notes, and all of my creative content. It does an excellent job of things a human editor would do. Furthermore, it’s an indispensable mechanism to exhibit and learn proper writing. 

In conclusion, these are not all of the tools I use. But the top five provide a general overview for anyone whose business, blogging world, or the creative industry.

Best of all, practically anybody can use these tools.  

What resources do you use? 

Have a fantastic rest of the week! 

IMG 3386

Check out my video on Business Goal Setting – Motivation

Check out my video on Assertive Vs Aggressive Communication

Thirsty for more content? Check out :

Read my previous post on real estate book recommendations. 

 

How To Make Amazing Thanksgiving Turkey – My Tips And Tricks

libby penner 1107937 unsplash

Originally published November 2020. Reposting due to high demand.  

Today, I share my favorite secrets on How To Make Amazing Thanksgiving Turkey – My Tips And Tricks.

You must know, I WILL be making a turkey this year. It won’t be an elaborate dinner, but still, I like to prepare.

As such, I am already researching some ideas on how to make everything tasty and unique.

vika fleisher 1095631 unsplash

Photo by Vika Fleisher

From my experience, I can share that it’s best to make, as much as possible, ahead. It saves me time and allows me to still enjoy the holiday evening with my family.

Since I’ve moved to the south, I heard that North Carolina people fry their turkeys outside their homes in a particular fryer. I haven’t eaten such a fabulous invention yet, but I hope, one day, I will. I can only imagine the crispy skin on the outside!  

This year, I am debating on making mushroom gravy for my turkey. I’ve found a wonderful recipe on my favorite culinary site. When you get to the link, notice the wonderful reviews by people who’ve already made the gravy, as well as the turkey using this unique recipe.

libby penner 1107933 unsplash

Photo by Libby Penner 

Also, I will be preparing my cranberry sauce, side pumpkin dish, and mashed rutabaga with potatoes. Side dishes that are simple, traditional but add enough color not to be boring. I can make some of it ahead and won’t slave over the oven the entire day!

annie spratt 446127 unsplash

Photo by Annie Spratt 

Also, on Thanksgiving, we always have to have some traditional European twist! Even though this holiday is not celebrated in Europe. I still like to add an element that brings me back to my childhood days.

As such, our holiday table wouldn’t be complete without a European dessert. Therefore, I will be making a traditional Polish cake made with apples, called Szarlotka. Yum! Watch out for a separate post coming up on how to make this delicious cake!

hugo aitken 804001 unsplash

 Photo by Hugo Aitken

And, now, without further ado, here are some of my favorite tips and tricks on how to make the juiciest, most flavorful turkey even if you’re not an experienced chef!

Tips & Tricks

  1. Before you put your turkey in the oven, bring it to room temp. This means take it out of the fridge for an hour before you cook it. Trust me on this one!
  2. Start your oven at 425F, roast turkey for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 325F. This seals in all the juices first.
  3. To make a super flavorful turkey, baste it every 15 minutes.
  4. A general rule of thumb is to roast the bird 15 minutes per pound but you should still check the temperature with a kitchen thermometer to make sure it is at 160F. Gramma tip: if the leg comes off easily – the turkey is done.
  5. If you’re not using stuffing inside the turkey, put orange and onion, as well as some fresh thyme and rosemary, for a rich flavor.
  6. A cool tip is to butter the turkey under the skin, not on top.
  7. Bonus tip, if you want an extra juicy bird, roast it breast down. Yes, my friends, breast down. Gramma knows this too. 🙂
  8. Before you take the turkey from the oven, flip it, and broil the top to brown the breast. This can be dangerous with a considerable bird, so be careful or skip this step.

Photo by Alison Marras 

thanksgiving

Photo by Annie Spratt 

Feature Photo by Libby Penner

How about you? Are you making turkey this year? What’s your secret tip? Comment below. Don’t be shy! 🙂

Happy cooking, decorating, and eating! 

Hungry for more content? Check out – Chocolate Petit Gateaux recipe! 

Huntersville NC: One Of The Best Places To Live In North Carolina

DJI 20211020 100131 770

If you are tired of the hustle and bustle of big city life, then it’s time to move. Where should you move to, you ask? Well, I have an excellent place for you right in the Carolinas, and it’s called: Huntersville NC.

Besides being one of the top growing cities in the south, Charlotte, located only 14 miles from Huntersville, is one of the leading USA’s growing, eclectic urban municipalities.

Therefore, living in Huntersville NC allows you to transport yourself to the city center of Charlotte on a whim and check out its trendy vibe while enjoying the nightlife, as well as the vibrant neighborhoods nearby such as Noda, South End, and Camp North End.

DJI 20210508 140321 062

Nevertheless, when you’ve had enough of the big city feel, you can return home to the beautiful, tranquil Huntersville NC.

Huntersville’s charm preludes the fact that it is close to Lake Norman, where you can do boating, fishing, hiking, and other outdoor activities, including jet ski and paddle-boating.

IMG 5133 1 scaled

Huntersville’s population currently is close to 60,000 inhabitants. Making it a small city with a big feel. Everything you need is within five minutes drive, including shopping, restaurants, bakeries, farmers markets, and even wine and beer breweries. We also have our small historic downtown, including a children’s museum with a yearly membership.

Screen Shot 2021 11 10 at 1.02.23 PM

Scattered throughout Huntersville NC are plenty of greenways, bike paths, and dog parks. In addition, if you are in the mood for some forest bathing or bird watching, take a quick drive to our very own Latta Plantation Nature Preserve. With plenty of hiking trails, picnic areas, outdoor grill spaces, and even rustic, elevated lookouts with a stunning view of The Mountain Island Lake.

huntersville nc

Want to check out some fantastic sightseeing? Learn about taxes, and see what a charming small town Huntersville is? Then you must watch my latest video. Click below.

Hungry for more content? Check out Things To Do In Charlotte This Weekend
Want to check out Latta Nature Preserve? Watch my latest video!
Also, check out Beautiful Charlotte Botanical Gardens

How To Decorate Your Home For The Holidays

2A189599 0903 48A7 9623 27D029D57B63

The holiday season is one of the most-traveled periods of the entire year. People drive and fly across the country or around the world to visit friends and loved ones. It’s lovely to have those you care about coming to see, but it can also be very stressful if your home is in disarray. Even though you tell yourselves that people won’t care about what your home looks like, there’s always that fear that they’ll judge you if your house isn’t ready for guests.

You don’t have to worry, though. There are several ways that you can make your home more festive in preparation for holiday visitors. Here are just a few suggestions to help get you started.EEFD685A 744A 4E02 BAD9 81CB07FA8699

Rearrange the Furniture

Even something as simple as rearranging some of the furniture can have a significant impact on the look of your home when the company arrives. Changing the positioning of couches, chairs, and other large pieces can open rooms up and make them seem more inviting to your visitors. Best of all, you can easily focus the changes around a Christmas tree or other holiday centerpieces to tie things together and create a unified holiday look. Once your guests leave, you can either move the furniture back to its usual spots or leave it where it is to keep the new face going throughout the year.

Clean Up the Outdoors

Another place that you can make a significant impact is cleaning up around the outdoors. Rake and mulch leaves, clean up flower beds, trim back trees and bushes… do whatever needs to be done to get everything looking great before the temperatures drop too low. If possible, you may even want to clean the bricks or siding and clean out your gutters. While you’re up there, you may as well install some hangers for holiday light strings, too!DC07B65D 5B8A 4AF8 B465 8F92C9D95924

Update Your Accents

A seemingly small change that can make a big impression is to change the accent colors on your home by painting the doors and shutters. This option isn’t right for everyone since it’s a permanent change, but for those wanting to update the look of their home, it can make a big difference. While the color you choose is dependent on the color of your home and your personal preference, going with red or green can add a splash of holiday flair that will still look great the rest of the year through.

Spruce Up the Floors

If your carpets are stained, worn, or otherwise need a refresh, don’t just install a similar rug in their place: Consider going for woodgrain vinyl slats or laminate wood flooring instead. These flooring options add the beauty of a natural wood floor without the frustration, standing up to stains and other issues while requiring significantly less work to maintain. Best of all, a change to a wood-look near the holidays can enhance the charm of your home when your visitors finally arrive.628F8D15 2866 4457 8250 4991B8280BDE

Change Your Decorating Style

Consider ditching the tired old holiday decorations that you put up every year and go with a bit of a different look this time around. If you usually go cartoony, consider something classier like white lights and pine accents. If your decorations are typically sparse, do something a bit more over the top this year. It doesn’t matter how you refresh your decorations; just give your visitors something to see that they haven’t seen before. While this is especially effective if combined with other updates to your home, you can still wow your guests just by subverting their expectations of your holiday décor.

B0EADAC4 70FD 420D ACDC C85B11A157F7

Thirsty for more holiday content? Check out our blog post on how to make an amazing turkey!