7 Time Management Tips for Thanksgiving

For some people, the Thanksgiving holiday is a source of stress. Whether it’s the hosting responsibilities, the cooking, the traveling, or dealing with family, it is perfectly normal to feel a bit overwhelmed this time of year. In preparation for the big day, we’ve come up with 7 tips for managing your time and minimizing stress this holiday.

1) Prep Early: Much of the day’s stress comes from preparing such a large meal. Lighten the cooking load, by preparing certain items a day or two ahead. Things that work well for this include, veggie chopping (onions, carrots, etc.), pies, bread doughs, and baked goods.

2) Use a Cooking Timeline: Having a set timeline or schedule for when dishes will be made can assist in keeping you on track. We’ve developed our own version, called The Turkey Timeline, which is available in our printable Holiday Planning ebook.

3) Clean as You Go: In order to minimize the after-dinner cleaning efforts, attempt to clean as you go. You should also aim to have a load of dishes running in the dishwasher before you sit down to eat, so you will have an empty washer to use after the meal.

4) Enlist Help: Just because you are the chef in the family doesn’t mean you have to do everything by yourself. Enlist help (children, partners, family members) for tasks that are easily handled, such as setting the table, taking out the trash, or organizing the beverage station.

5) It’s Okay to Cut Corners: While we would all love to play Martha Stewart for the day, sometimes it’s unrealistic to think that everything will be made to gourmet standards and from scratch. Cut corners with things like frozen pie crusts, pre-chopped veggies, and pre-purchased Honey Baked Hams. You can also utilize a YouTube video trick for pealing potatoes that cuts the prep time down to practically nothing.

6) Schedule Personal Time: Don’t forget to schedule in time for things like getting dressed and showered, socializing with friends and family, and having fun. Taking a few minutes away from the kitchen can help you relax and make the day more enjoyable.

7) Oven to Table Strategy:  Whenever possible, cook items in the dishes you will serve them on. For example, if you are cooking a side dish, make sure that it’s already in the presentation dish you will later use. This will cut down in time needed for transferring items around.

We hope these tips assist in making your Thanksgiving a happy and efficient one.


Guest Post: Top Tips for Fall Decorating

The weather’s turned cool and you’ve shifted from backyard barbecue to stovetop soups and stews. Now that the colors of autumn are all around, it’s a great time to update your décor for fall. Interior Designer Christopher Grubb of Arch-Interiors Design Group in Beverly Hills is used to styling the homes of his luxury-loving clients for all seasons. Here, he offers ideas on how to infuse warm hues and cozy textures into the home, helping you celebrate the harvest season no matter what your budget might be.

  • Update picture frames. This is a great change if you use wood or fall colored frames, or a mixture as well. It brings new life to your existing photos, and you’ll see them in a whole new light.
  • Fresh paint is always an inexpensive way to make a big impact. Think of adding a burgundy accent wall in the dining room, a terra cotta hue in the living room, or maybe a rich harvest gold in a breakfast nook. The options are unlimited.
  • If you have a chandelier in the dining room, add some new shades in a rich, fall color. There are some very fun beaded ones that sparkle with the lights on or off.
  • Find a great pattern for throw pillows with fall colors, and then complement them with solid colors. You can do this in the living room, family room, media room or bedroom.
  • Add linens. Tablecloths and napkins in the dining room or breakfast nook make a big difference. Choose fall shades in a solid color with colorful complementary napkins, or vice versa.
  • Switch out or add an area rug. If you have a solid colored one, choose a fun, patterned one for fall.
  • Switch up your accent towels in the bath. It’s a simple way to add a fresh touch of fall color. Use a combination of solids and prints and accent them with a new floor mat.
  • Fresh cut flowers can be costly, but they’re a great way to add a touch of any season to the home. One great thing to do is incorporate branches of leaves that are turning fall colors. They make a great statement and bring the outdoors inside. Also, arrangements of dried corns, nuts, and pomegranates instantly give a sense that the season is changing.
  • If you’ve had the same sofas or side chairs for years, you can find affordable slipcovers with great fall colors or warm textures such as chenille. If you’re crafty, look into making your own. Slipcovers can make a big change in your home without the high cost of reupholstering. Plus, they can be washed and dried.
  • Change drapes to a fabric with more weight to add warmth in any room. Velvet of chenille is a perfect fabric because of its thickness. You can add them as side panels on either side of a sheer drape.
  • A new comforter with warm colors is a great way to bring fall into the bedroom. Mix with fall-hued throw pillows to give the effect of a complete room makeover. Add fresh new sheets in fall colors such as pumpkin, hunter green, chocolate brown, or deep gold for a reminder every night that fall is in the air.
  • Accessorize! Start with your favorite fall colors such as burgundies, golds, browns, etc. Check out swap meets and garage sales for a mixture of glass vases or pottery. Group various colors and sizes together on a console, mantle, or coffee table. But be sure to remove some of the accessories you already have. Often we leave things out year-round and actually over-accessorize our rooms. Put them away temporarily and then add pieces of your own color scheme.

This post was generously written by Beverly Hills Interior Designer Christopher Grubb from Arch-Interiors.com.

A Place for Everything: The Biltmore Estate

Earlier in the Summer my family met for a long weekend in Asheville.  Despite my general attraction to minimalist spaces I am in love with Biltmore Estate and could probably spend a week or two there touring the house and taking part in all of the amazing outdoor activities offered on the property.

On our trip we took a behind the scenes Architect’s Tour and found ourselves up on the roof and in rooms not typically available to visitors.  Combined with the self-guided tour through the rooms open to the public we got a great taste of the design, functionality, and beauty of the house.

Most striking to me, as a person with organization and efficient planning often on her mind, is the care taken by George Vanderbilt and his architect, Richard Morris Hunt, to address every possible need for a home this size used for constant entertaining and with an eye toward complete self-sustainability.  Biltmore is the ultimate example of the classic adage, “A place for everything and everything in its place!”

The basement of Biltmore house is one the best examples of a place for everything I’ve ever seen!  In the food preparation and storage areas in particular you will find a canned goods storage room, a produce storage room, a rotisserie cooking room(!), cold storage, a pastry preparation and keeping room, and a beautiful general kitchen area with sinks and prep counters with views out to the gorgeous countryside behind the house. The incredible upstairs living spaces include a breathtaking library, great hall for gathering and dining, reception rooms, storage rooms, and a multitude of guest rooms.

Despite the difference in the size and purpose of our homes and this great manor house, we can reflect and take a cue from this well-planned home in designing our own calm retreats.

-Take a look at each room in your house and evaluate, moving from left to right through the room, if each area of the room is serving its purpose well.

- Identify the areas where too much is happening in one place: do you have books overflowing your bookshelves, is your living room overrun by dvds, magazines, toys, or stacks of paper? Analyze what can be culled down and what is truly meaningful or actually used.

- Use the space you have as a guide to what you can keep: We have a tendency to want to find the perfect organizing item to create more space to keep things. We usually cannot make more space so living well in the space we have often requires some intense analyzing and a little creativity.

-Make tough choices: If you have 50-60 hair care products (and we have seen this many and more!) and nowhere to put them, really ask yourself what you are using daily and at this stage of your life.  If 30 of the 50 are never touched, give to a friend or donate to a women’s shelter.

- Use Peter Walsh’s best organizing principle and envision the lifestyle you want to be living.  Does your physical space and the belongings that reside there support that vision? It can be a  joyful existence to live with less, but in an environment that is calm and well-planned!

For inspiration on living well with less check out The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide: How to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify Your Life

From the WOW Kitchen – Favorite Thanksgiving Recipes

Given that Thanksgiving is just a day away, I thought I’d take a moment to share a few of my favorite recipes I’ve used over the years at this holiday, just in case you’re in need of some last-minute menu organization. My recipes are all quite simple and are often borrowed from other sources, including the back of the bag the main ingredient is in! Enjoy!

Fig & Pine Nut Stuffing - from RealSimple.com, this recipe has the hearty flavors of fall, and the figs add just a pinch of sweetness. I recommend making this recipe the night before or the morning of Thanksgiving before you start on the turkey. You can always warm it up just before everything goes out on the table!


  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for the baking dish and foil
  • 1 large loaf Italian bread (about 1 pound), cut into 3⁄4-inch pieces (about 16 cups)
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 4 celery stalks, thinly sliced
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup dried mission figs, chopped
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves


  1. Heat oven to 375° F. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Divide the bread between 2 rimmed baking sheets and bake until dry and crisp, 10 to 12 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, celery, 1 teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until very tender and beginning to brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Add the wine and cook until evaporated, 2 to 4 minutes; transfer to a large bowl and let cool for 10 minutes.
  3. Add the bread, broth, eggs, figs, pine nuts, thyme, and ½ teaspoon salt to the vegetables and toss to combine. Transfer to the prepared baking dish. Cover with buttered foil and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake until browned, 20 to 30 minutes more.

Sweet Potato Casserole – Who doesn’t love sweet potatoes on Thanksgiving?! This recipe, from the southern food section of about.com, adds a lovely sweetness to your plate, and it makes the house smell amazing while it’s baking!


  • 3 cups mashed sweet potatoes
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • Topping:
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 1 cup chopped pecans


Combine first 6 ingredients. Pour into a buttered 1 1/2 to 2-quart casserole dish. Mix remaining ingredients together and sprinkle over top. Bake at 350° for 30 to 40 minutes, until hot and browned. Serves 6 to 8.

Green Bean Casserole – This recipe is from allrecipes.com. It’s a lovely variation on the traditional Campbell’s soup recipe. In fact, I like it better! I still use the fried onions because I love their flavor and texture. Simply substitute ~1 cup in place of the crackers below.


  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1/4 cup onion, diced
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 3 (14.5 ounce) cans French style green beans, drained
  • 2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup crumbled buttery round crackers
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir in flour until smooth, and cook for one minute. Stir in the salt, sugar, onion, and sour cream. Add green beans, and stir to coat.
  3. Transfer the mixture to a 2 1/2 quart casserole dish. Spread shredded cheese over the top. In a small bowl, toss together cracker crumbs and remaining butter, and sprinkle over the cheese.
  4. Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the top is golden and cheese is bubbly.

Cranberry Sauce - Though it’s right off the bag of the Ocean Spray cranberries, this recipe is one of my favorites and has always been a welcome addition to my plate – especially on a piece of turkey! I like to make two batches the night before Turkey Day and save one to go with all of our leftovers!


1 c. sugar
1 c. water
1 12 oz. bag Ocean Spray Cranberries


Combine sugar and water in a medium saucepan. Bring to boil; add cranberries, return to boil. Reduce heat and boil gently for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cover and cool completely at room temperature. Refrigerate until serving time. Makes 2 1/4 cups.

Pecan Pie – This is my favorite pecan pie recipe from my favorite restaurant in Athens, GA, The Grit! My family loves it so much, I even made extras last year and sent them as gifts! Buy the cookbook here!


1 Basic Pie Crust
⅓ c. melted butter
1 c. sugar
1 c. light corn syrup
3 large eggs, beaten
⅛ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon brandy
1-1/2 c. pecan halves or pieces


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a deep-dish pie pan with Basic Pie Crust. In a large mixing bowl, beat together butter, sugar, and corn syrup. Beat in eggs and stir in remaining ingredients. Pour into pie crust. Place pie on large cookie sheet. Bake 50 to 55 minutes until crust is lightly browned, filling is dark brown and a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Cool completely before serving. Yields 8 to 10 servings.


Other easy favorites include green peas and mushrooms (to add a little color to your plate), Pilsbury crescent rolls (so warm and buttery) and, in a pinch, Costco pumpkin pie (it’s enormous and really tasty)! Best of luck with your holiday meals. I am thankful for each of my clients and all of my readers!


Focus on the Holidays: Decorating Your Home for Fall and Winter

We’re not sure how it happened, but the holidays are truly upon us. Halloween is right around the corner, followed by Thanksgiving, Hannukah, Christmas and New Years – oh my!  Whether it’s decorating, gift-buying or entertaining, we’ll do our best to address all of your organizational holiday challenges over the next few months.

Decorating your home for fall is one of the greatest joys of the season. There is nothing I love to do more when the season arrives. At the same time, it can also be overwhelming if your home is big or your budget is small.

In the past, I loved to over-do it with tacky decorations for each holiday and for every room. But this year, I’m looking for a more subdued look. I don’t want my home cluttered with as much stuff as we’ve had in prior years. After all, I am the Well-Organized Woman — I must practice what I preach! Less clutter, more special.

Here are a few tips for decorating your home in style without adding too much STUFF.

  • First, take the time before you put things out and when you put them away to evaluate what you’ll trash, donate and keep/store. We’ve referenced this method in our last few posts, and you’ll see it come up again, I’m sure. One of my favorite de-cluttering experts, Fly Lady, encourages you not to think of donating items (in this case decorations) as throwing them away. Instead, bless another family in need with these items.
  • Next, focus on the room you spend the most time in and do one decorative installation, or put one or two small things in each room. For example, turn your sofa table into a display of gourds, Indian corn and pumpkins for Halloween and Thanksgiving. Or, place a small decoration on each windowsill in every room to spread the cheer.
  • Rather than buy a whole new set of decorations, consider what type of item you truly enjoy buying each year and go for it. For example, I love beaded coasters! Each year, I can’t wait to head to Target to see which ones they’ll feature. My sister, on the other hand, loves holiday wreaths and will splurge on a new one every year or two.
  • Double-dip! In other words, try using food as a decoration. Seasonal fruits like apples, oranges and lemons can look elegant in a large glass bowl on your dining room table. You can also eat these items if you’re hungry for a snack!
  • Or, try combining your standard white candles with pinecones and pomegranates for a seasonal look of things you have in your yard, your linen closet and your fridge!
  • If you’re feeling overwhelmed, invite a friend over to help. Open a bottle of wine, turn on holiday music and make it fun!

And finally, I’d like to address family traditions because I think they are deeply important. Yet, they can also feel like mental clutter if they take up too much time and effort. Rather than abandon them completely, think of ways you can modernize and streamline these traditions. For example, your family always has a full ‘the works’ Thanksgiving dinner, but you just can’t see how on earth you’ll make it happen this year. I recommend ordering at least one of your favorite dishes, if not the whole meal, from an external catering service. Or, if you always leave homemade cookies out for Santa, go for pre-made doughs that usually have a quick cook-time. By trying these simple modifications, you’ll save yourself unneccessary stress at the holidays while still keeping your traditions intact.

Keep your eyes peeled for more holiday tips and tricks in our upcoming posts and newsletters, as well as on our Facebook page. We’ll be keeping you informed and organized throughout the season!


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