Simple Saturdays

Do you know where the term Christmas in July came from?  A search of the internet shows many different answers.  The one that I prefer is from one of my favorite books, by one of my favorite authors,  Mrs. Sharps Traditions by Sarah Ban Breathnach.  In the book she explains that frugal Victorian families would make their Christmas presents.  They would start the list in mid-June and be finishing them by the end of the summer. 

In addition, she also gives wonderful suggestions for gifts such as dried potpourri or dried-flower bouquets gathered from your summer garden (I currently don’t have a garden of any type, that’s one of those projects I would like to do!).   If you’re taking a vacation at the seashore she suggests making seashell picture frames.  Or, if you’d like to have fun in the kitchen with your kids, she suggests making things like spiced tea bags, nine-bean soup mixes or preserves.  She also suggests that celebrating Christmas in July, allows for plenty of time to plan and execute large holiday projects and plans.  This way the whole family will enjoy working on them together throughout the fall season.

To get everyone in the gift-making mood Mrs. Sharp plans a birthday party on July 15th for Reverend Clement Clarke Moore, the author of The Night Before Christmas.  She reads the story, over tea and birthday cake.  Then she pours over craft books and discusses plans with her family.

Our family always makes the majority of the Christmas presents that we give.  Mostly for financial reasons, but also because my kids have come to realize that it is more fun to give gifts that they have made, then to receive gifts.  I am not as organized as Mrs. Sharp, though I would like to be.  Often our family is scrambling to make the gifts right up to Christmas Eve.  This takes away from the advent season, and I’m often frustrated and yelling like a banshee.  Taking even more of the focus off of Christ birthday, and more on gift giving, which is not something I’m particularly proud of.

So, even though July 15th has come and gone, I think that I will plan a tea in the next couple of weeks for our family to get a jump on Christmas present making and family plans.  If you would like to join me but don’t know where to start, a quick search of the internet will provide a wealth of information.  However, here are a few sites that I like:

Of course you can always visit one of the photo sites like Shutterfly, Snapfish, Kodak or Blurb to make some wonderful photo gifts.  Or, check out Muvee a simple home movie editing program that helps you make fantastic home movies using video or still shots.  It’s great for beginners!  I’m sure that your local library also has a wealth of information as well.

To quote Mrs. Sharp “Once families made everything they needed from candles and soap to clothing and food.  But today, young children barely realize that things can be made by hand.  When adults encourage children to become aware of the process of creating, the sense of purpose becomes as important as the object itself.  Vacation time offers us this wonderful opportunity.  Celebrating Christmas in July keeps youngsters as busy as Santa’s elves, while nurturing a gift that will last a lifetime:  their creativity.”

I plan to make time in the upcoming Saturdays for our family to work on our holiday plans and family gifts.  It is one more way that I am going to work on making my Saturday more family focused, simple and fun.  Won’t you join me?

Here is a simple Saturday meal that my family loves, it’s also a Lean and Green meal if you’re following the Take Shape For Life program like me.

Ground Beef and Zucchini Skillet
2 servings
10 oz. 95% lean ground beef  (we use ground turkey and or MorningStar Farms ground crumbles)
3 slices onion, minced
1 ½ cups cubed zucchini
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 cup canned tomatoes, whole (no salt) (or equivalent fresh tomatoes!)
1 tsp. basil
1 tsp. oregano
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
Cook ground beef, onion, and garlic until meat is brown; drain. Crush the tomatoes and stir into the meat mixture (with juice). Add zucchini and seasoning. Cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until heated through and the zucchini is tender.
Serves two people on Medifast. (Approx. 248 calories and 11 carbs. per serving)
(The original recipe also calls for one can whole kernel corn, drained, and ¼ cup Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top. That would be for the rest of the family!)

I also add a green salad and a loaf of whole grain bread and some fresh fruit for the rest of the family.


Here’s to Simpler, Family Focused, Fun Saturdays!


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