Holiday Cookie Baking Tips

holiday cookie baking tips

Last weekend we spent almost the entire weekend baking…cookies. Yes, cookies. We like to give them out as gifts for family and friends. Our kids friends and teachers love them too.  We usually do about 6 different types of cookies.  Six different types of cookies is just enough for us to place a variety in every container and platter we set up for this busy holiday season.  We have been doing cookies each year since my husband and I got married almost 20 years ago.  Wow, it has been a long time.

This post is about our holiday cookie baking tips to help first-time cookie bakers and anyone who wants to bake lots of cookies all at once.

First, I pulled out the recipes that we reuse each year and new ones we found.  We usually do a few new types of cookies each year to change it up a bit.

Tip: Have a holiday binder that holds all your reused holiday recipes for save keeping.  It helps if you can find the recipes easily. I like to use these folders with Velcro flaps to keep all the recipes in one place. Click on the image and buy them on Amazon.com. 

Then, I gather the recipes together and write down each main ingredient in one column.  Then, I write the recipe amount that I need for each ingredient on the paper below. This way, I don’t miss anything.  I go through recipe after recipe and write down the amount of each ingredient I need.  See below for the list.  Feel free to share and print. 

Tip: on the form below, write the cookie recipe name in the column then write the measurement you need in the right row. 
Grocery List For Holiday CookiesThen, it is time to go shopping! Before I go shopping, I go through my coupons and see if there are any coupons that I can use.  This year, I found lots of  coupons to use so I saved big.  I usually shop a few days before the baking cookie frenzy.

After I shopped, I put all the purchased ingredients in one place on the counter.  Usually near my baking zone which holds my flour, sugar and other essential ingredients for baking.

Then, I set up the weekend we are going to bake.  I started with the refrigerator cookies that we made so they could get cold.  Then, I moved on to the homemade pizzelles that my son worked on for hours.  After I got him started, I worked through each recipe one by one.

Tip:  When you do any marathon cooking, know that you will not want to cook dinner after you are done.  I like to order a pizza or go out to eat on those days of marathon cooking.

That’s it!  Here is our photo of cookies we made this year.  Enjoy!

Holiday Cookies 2014

If you want to know the names of the recipes or the ingredients, please leave a message below.  Above all else, have a great time baking cookies and spending time with family.  I know we sure did.

 

Sabrina Quairoli

Holiday Baking Tools List

Holiday Baking Tools List

If you are like me, this time of the year, you become the baking expert. Pulling out all the cookie sheets and baking supplies and tools you need for the holiday’s  “big bake-off” or “Cookie Swap”. Last time, we discussed going through the baking supplies and I provided a checklist for you to use.  Here is the link for that post.  And now, it’s the best time to go through the baking tools in your kitchen. To make this process easier, below I created a holiday baking tools list.  Print the list out and pull out every baking tool you have.  Look over them closely and check them off the list below. While you are looking through your baking tools, why not clear the clutter of items you don’t use too.  Here are some questions to ask yourself while going through your baking tools:

  • Do you need to replace any of your rusted tools?
  • Do you need disposable tools that may need to be replaced this year?
  • Are any of the baking tools need replacing?
  • Are you missing icing?
  • Are you missing spices?

I didn’t include tools like pizzelle irons, piping bags, etc… so I added a section on the right so you can add your customized baking tools.

holiday baking tools list

After you have gone through your baking tools, it’s time to schedule when you are going to go to pick up the missing items.  Look for online coupons to help reduce the costs of the supplies. Then, of course schedule time for baking. Break up the different activities over a course of a few days or a marathon day of baking.  Get everyone involved if you have family members in your home.  They will love it.    What type of cookies do you like to bake during the holidays?  Please leave a message below.

Sabrina Quairoli

Baking Supplies Checklist and Tips

Baking Supplies Checklist

If you are like me, baking is a big part of the holiday season.  I like to give baked cookies/cakes as gifts for clients, family, and friends every year. To make sure I have all my ingredients, I created a baking supplies checklist (see below) to help me make sure I have all the staple items I need. Here is the baking supplies checklist for you to use and share, Enjoy!

  • Variety of food colors
  • Flour (gluten-free or regular all-purpose or pastry flour or whole wheat or bread flour)
  • Confectioner Sugar
  • Powdered sugar
  • Light Brown Sugar/dark brown sugar
  • Oatmeal
  • Chocolate chips
  • Cocoa powder
  • Sprinkles for cookies and cakes
  • Icing boxes or powder
  • Shortening
  • Oils
  • Butter
  • Salt
  • Baking Powder
  • Baking Soda
  • Corn meal
  • Corn syrup
  • Cream of Tartar

Baking Supplies Checklist

Here are some tips while you go through your baking supplies checklist:

  • Check the expiration dates if there are any on the containers.  Make sure items do not smell stale or are hard to the touch.  I like to get rid of these items since they usually change the taste of the baked item.
  • See if any item needs to be replaced and make a list.
  • Do you have enough of each item for your recipes? Go through each recipe and add up the quantities you need to the list.
  • Pull out your most used recipes and make a complete list of the ingredients needed for those yearly recipes and use every year.
  • If possible, do this before the season to get the best deals if you need to repurchase baking supplies.  Manufacturers tend to have coupons on these items and stores tend to run sales on these items in November and early December.

Let me know how it goes.  Did the checklist help you manage your baking supplies? Did I forget an ingredient you use?  Please leave a comment below.  I would love to hear from you.

Sabrina Quairoli

5 Tasks To Do Before The Year Ends

5 Tasks To Do Before The Year Ends

There are three weeks till the year ends, have you reviewed your end of year tasks.  You have probably already been thinking about what you want next year to bring.  Thinking about it is great, but starting to plan for it is even better.  For me, December is a time for celebrating my accomplishments and learning from the failures.  It is also a time to figure out what I want to do next year in my businesses, on my blogs, and in my personal life. It is a great time to step back, take a breather, and decide what to do in the coming year. The benefits for me to do this now are:  It allows me to look at the bigger picture.  It guides me to decide on what goals would be a good and natural next step. To help you get your goals ready for next year, below are 5 tasks to do before the year ends to help you too.  Enjoy!

  • Review your current year goals to decide what next year goals will be. First look at the earlier 11 months. Check off the completed goals.  Decide what goal you want to carry over from the current year and what you have choosing to let go of.  This part always takes some time.  It is understandable if it takes a few weeks to do this. After all you are planning goal for an entire year, it will take you a little while to figure out what that goal would be.
  • Review all your investments and tax related paperwork to make sure they are in order for this year’s tax return.  Organize all your receipts, bills, sold investment papers and any other paperwork that you need.    Then, schedule time to meet with your bookkeeper, accountant and/or financial adviser at the beginning of the year.
  • Review your current year’s budget. Find the areas where you over budget or under budget to see what expenses can change to be more in line with your budget goals. Check your electric bill, cable, and other monthly bills to see what can be adjusted, reduced, and / or closed.  To help you keep your bills together, here is a What to Keep in Your Bill Paying Station checklist.   Using a software to review your budget is so much easier.  If you don’t use a software to help you get organized, I recommend Quicken Deluxe 2015 and you can purchase it from Amazon.
  • Donate to your favorite charities. One of your goals for this year may have been to de-clutter your home and give stuff to the less fortunate or donate a cash contribution more often during the year.  If these were on your goal list, here are some remembers for you to do before the end of the year.
    • For Cash Donations: Make a list of your favorite charities and give to this year.  Make those contributions now before the end of the year.  When you schedule your donation, make an automatic monthly contribution and add these to your calendar as a reminder.  Here are some of the most popular charities: American Red Cross, WHYY, United Way,  Salvation Army, Feeding America
    • For Property Donations: Bag up all the items you want to donate and bring to your favorite donation place.  Here is a list of donation locations I share with all my clients, Charitable Donation Locations.
  • Talk with your spouse/partner about what their goals are for next year. Then, start writing them down for next year.  This way, before the year starts, you are already on the same page.  Here are some topics to talk about:
    • How much do you want to save?
    • Where do we want to go on vacation next year? How much can we save for that trip each month?
    • What do we need to get done in the house next year?  When do we want to do it?
    • Do we need a new car next year?  Where will the down payment come from?
    • Do we want to change investment companies?
    • What do we want to invest in next year?

By reviewing these tasks before the end of the year, you will set your vision of what the new year will bring.  I would like to end with this quote: Plans are nothing; planning is everything. by Dwight D. Eisenhower  This says so much.

Plans are nothing planning is everything. by Dwight D. Eisenhower

I believe that planning then executing are necessary to reach any goal in life.  

Planning then Executing Are Necessary To Reach Any Goal in Life. ~ Sabrina Quairoli

Please share this post with your family and friends to also help them get their goals in order for next year.  I hope you set your goals and execute them next year. Before leaving, please leave a comment below and answer this questions: What do you do at the end of the year to help you plan for the next year?

Sabrina Quairoli

December Monthly Organizing Challenge

December Monthly Organizing Challenge

Congratulations for having the courage to make a change! You made it to the end of 2014 and if you followed me and took on all the challenges for the entire year, you have organized 11 areas in your life that needed organization. Great job! You are amazing!

If you want to revisit any of these posts, I have listed them below. Feel free to click on the link.

2014 January Monthly Organizing Challenge

January: Dining Room  – I talk about getting your dining room organized.

2014 February Monthly Organizing Challenge
February: Tax Return Organizing – I talk about getting your tax return paperwork organized.

2014 March Monthly Organizing Challenge
March: Powder Room Organizing – I talk about organizing your powder room.

2014 April Monthly Organizing Challenge
April: Organizing Kids Areas – I talk about organizing the kids areas.

2014 May Monthly Organizing Challenge
May: Organizing Photos – I discuss organizing your photos and getting them into an order that is usable.

June Monthly Organizing Challenge
June: Garage Organizing – I discuss organizing the garage and get the space manageable so a car can be added to the space.

July Monthly Organizing Challenge
July: Pantry Organizing – I discuss organizing your pantry and tips of getting your pantry organized.

August Monthly Organizing Challenge
August: Book Organization – I talk about organizing your books to get them organized in various categories.

September Monthly Organizing Challenge
September: Kitchen Organizing -I discuss kitchen organizing and give tips to help you keep the space organized.

October Monthly Organizing Challenge
October: Organizing Closets – I talk about closet organizing and give tips on how to keep the area organized.

November Monthly Organizing Challenge

November: Home and Holiday Organizing – I talk about how to make your home and holiday less stressful.

Is there any areas that you want me to focus on for 2015 year? Leave a comment below and I will do my best to incorporate the area into next year’s organizing challenges.

Have a great holiday!

Sabrina Quairoli

Happy Thanksgiving wishes to you!

On this Thanksgiving Day, I would like to thank you for supporting my blog. I am truly blessed.

Here are 3 happy Thanksgiving wishes I hope for you and your family:

  • May the good times in your life be yours in abundance.
  • May your tummy be full of food and love. 
  • May you receive all the love and caring every day of your life.

Please feel free to share this image.  The picture is of our Thanksgiving meal last year.  Hopefully, this year will be even better than last year.

Happy-Thanskgiving

May all of these wishes come true in this time of thankfulness.   What is your favorite side dish for Thanksgiving?  Is it a tradition to make it?  Please leave a comment below.  I would love to hear from you.

Sabrina Quairoli

Black Friday Tips and Tricks

black friday tips and tricks

Black Friday is coming.  Are you ready to get those deals?  The trick is to be organized in your strategy.  Here are some Black Friday Tips and Tricks to help you get those great deals and save you time and money.

Sign up for your favorite stores emails. Make up a junk mail email address that you can check out once a week to see what deals are going on.

Review all circulars online for your favorite stores. They most likely have them posted already. Print out coupons as needed.

Make a list of people who you want to shop for.  Here is a checklist you can use.  Add the item and price of the item that you want to pay to your list.

 

Holiday Gift Given List

 

Review online coupon sites to see if there are extra deals at other online sites.  There are lots of places to check like:  Coupons.com

Make a list of where to go and map it out on the paper.  Here is a Where to go checklist to use.  Write down your places and what you want to buy there.

Where to go checklist

Have all the cash you need for the purchase.  Whether you are using cash or credit card, be really aware of how much you will be spending for each item.

Read the fine print on all promotional deals before going out. The items could be not the items you want so by taking the time, at home, reading the fine print, it will save you time and confusion in the store.

Leave early in the morning instead of doing Thanksgiving evening.  I thought that some deals would run out, so I went on Thanksgiving one year. Then, went back the next day and sure enough the items were still there.  The stores don’t put all their stock out so don’t worry about going early.  If it is a good store, they will have enough supplies for the entire weekend.

I hope this helps you save time and money on Black Friday.  Keep in mind, a little planning will help you get what you want for less money every time.  Enjoy yourself and take your time. You will be able to get everything done.

 

Sabrina Quairoli

To Fold or To Hang Clothing Tips

To Fold or To Hang Clothing Tips

Did you ever wonder if you should hang or fold a piece of clothing?  Well, I get this question all the time when I work with clients.  Here are to fold or to hang clothing tips to make your closet more organized and your clothes last longer.

  • For Knit Sweaters or Thick Button Down Sweaters: Always fold if you do not where often.  Store on a shelf – stack no more than 5 on top of each other.
  • For Thin Knits or Thin Button Down Knits: Hang if worn often on padded. Here is a visual example from Amazon.  Feel free to buy there too.

  • For Work Dress Pants: Hang always in your closet. Lower section of the closet works best.  If you have the space, you can use the pants hangers or fold the pants on a hanger.
  • For Jackets/Blazers/Vests: Hang. If you don’t wear them often, get some covers to protect it from dust. Here is an example:

  • For Cotton T-shirts / Shirts: Hang or fold depending on your preference.  I like to fold workout shirts and hang nicer cotton shirts so they are less wrinkled.
  • For Capri, Jeans, and Yoga pants: You can hang or fold on shelf or in drawers.  If you have room in your closet, be sure to group the type of pants in sections.  This will help you find them quickly.
  • For Button Down Blouses: Always hang these items.  Group them in your closet in one section.  Preferably near your dress pants and blazers.
  • For Shorts: Fold and place on shelves or in drawers.  Hanging these items are more difficult unless you want to use the pants hangers.
  • For Nightgowns and PJ’s pants sets: Fold and place on shelves or in drawers.  There is no need to hang these items unless they are super special to you.
  • For Dresses: Always hang on a higher rod to not allow the dresses to drag on the floor.  Group the dresses by season or by type of material.
  • For Camis  and undergarment shirts: Fold the camis that are more casual. Hang the nicer camis on hangers with anti-slips or velvet covered to stop them from slipping off the hangers. Here is an example:

Here are some tips to make your closet look better and your clothes to last longer:

  • Pick hangers that match throughout the closet for visual consistency.
  • If you do not use your sweaters that often, you can get a box like this one from Amazon to help keep them protected and clean.

Keeping these tips in mind will help you make your closet functional.  Please share with your friends and family.  What type of storage items do you use in your closet to protect your clothes?  Please leave a message below.

Sabrina Quairoli

How to Make Sewing Mason Jar Kits

How to Make Sewing Mason Jar Kits

I love the sewing mason jar kits idea. They work great for gifts to keep your friends and family organized. They are great for college students, single men and women, and people who travel often. Anyone who needs to mend their clothes quickly. Here is what I did with making mason jar sewing kits:

Supplies Used: Note: I added links from Amazon for your convenience.  

Steps:

First, I created the pin cushion on the top of the mason jar lid. I added a handful of filler and covered it with fabric and added more as needed to make it really full.  I picked this picnic pattern since I was using Ball Vintage Style mason jars. I used a small zip ties and placed it around the bunch of fabric on the bottom.

bottom view of fabric cushion over the mason jar

I then cut the fabric back to very little. The other part of the lid (shown below) holds the fabric and cushion in place.  Then, I went and added Washi Tape around the end that matched.

Washi Tape Mason Jar lid

I went to the dollar store and bought 7 sewing kits. I got extra so I could add more to each sewing kit.

dollar store sewing kits organized by type

I then added labels.  I added the Washi Tape in rows to match the patterns up and cut off the excess.  I left about 2 centimeters of tape so I was able to fold it back.  They I added think blue string.  Note, I only had yellow tabs but if you do this, you can buy white tabs for a better look. Also, I also suggest to add a round sticker in the back to help keep the edges down.  Also, these round tags were from a discontinued Avery / Martha Stewart pack I bought at Staples a while ago.

Washi tape over the label tabs

 

Cut around the Washi tape to remove extra tape

 

 

Here is the final product! I ended up making 4 full sewing kits and added them into the jars.

after-sewing-mason-jar-kits

 

What do you think? Please leave a message / comment below.  I would love to hear from you.

Sabrina Quairoli

5 Tips If You Can’t Finish An Organizing Project

5 Tips If You Can't Finish An Organizing Project

 

If you are like most people, you don’t necessarily have the time to finish any organizing project right at one carved-out time. Many times, we get distracted or the time we allotted is not enough. We all usually don’t have the time or energy to do it all at once. I know for a fact, any project over four hours makes me really tired and I can’t focus any further.

Here are five(5) if you can’t finish an organizing project:

  1. Write the ‘To Do’ tasks on a paper and post it in front of the area so you know what needs to be done next.
  2. Use post-its and write the tasks that need to be done on each item and place them on the item.
  3. Pull out your calendar and write the next date and time you will be able to do the next organizing project.
  4. Call a friend and ask for help.  Schedule a time with them to come over and help you with your project.
  5. Group items into to do task piles.  Make a sign that says “To Donate”, “To Give Away”, “To Recycle”, or “To Trash”.

By taking the steps to figure out what’s next if you can’t finish an organizing project, it helps keep their mind focused on the next task at hand. Since I am only there a few hours at a time, my clients can take it upon themselves and do the next steps before our next meeting for homework.  This way, they will be one step closer to getting the room organized.   What do you do to remind yourself what the next steps are that needs completing? I would love to hear your comments below.

Sabrina Quairoli