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  • Kathryn Bechen

Streamlining Christmas Decor: Merry Christmas From Our Little Home


Kathryn Bechen cottage at Christmas 2022

Merry Christmas from our little home to your home, whatever its size, and wherever you live!


How do you like to "do" Christmas? One of the fun things about Christmas I think is seeing how families, towns, cities, and countries celebrate it differently.


My husband Steve and I have always kept fairly simple Christmas celebrations, but a few years ago we simplified our Christmas even more, down to just one bin of Christmas decor. If we want something new, our new "rule" is it has to fit inside our one Christmas bin, or else something else must be donated from the bin. So far, it's not even full so we are fine.


DISCLOSURES


This year, I did buy the cute Santa pillow covers shown above to create a cozy Christmas corner with our sofa as the main event, and since the pillow covers are such nice fabric I am sure we will keep them for years. (They washed up like a dream.) Other than some Christmas napkins on our dining nook table, and a wreath on each of our two doors outside, that's all of the Christmas decorating at our house! Easy. Affordable. Less storage. Less organizing. Less fiddling. More cozy movie time.


Why did we personally choose to simplify our Christmas even more than before?


  1. So that we focus more on what we believe is the true meaning of Christmas: Jesus, as these adorable children so beautifully sing it. For us, the overly commercial Christmas just isn't our thing.

  2. So that we don't buy and store more "stuff" than we need or want because reading Christmas tales like this gives me a headache and it makes me feel sad that people would do that when this could help them avoid it.

  3. To stick to a realistic decor budget for our home. I've never been a big holiday decorator, for any holiday, and now that I'm officially a senior, I simply don't want to store or pay for more stuff that's only out for one month a year.

  4. In the past, we traveled sometimes for Christmas, so we didn't want to spend a lot of time, energy, or money on Christmas decor as we preferred to spend the money on a trip together, a nice local dinner out, and making a charitable donation too instead of buying a lot of Christmas decor for our home.

  5. This Christmas, in all honesty, like many people, we feel exhausted from nearly three years of the pandemic drama dragging on and on, so we are keeping Christmas extra simple and cozy at home, and this just feels good to us right now. We have been binge-watching Hallmark Christmas movies together in our PJs from our bed, and loving it! Snacks included. (How we made our little "home movie theater.")

  6. We once lived where it was so COLD Steve didn't want to put up and take down outdoor lights in sub-zero weather, and now that we have lived out of cold weather climates for so long, we prefer to enjoy time in our outdoor secret garden instead!

  7. We don't want to contribute any more to already overflowing landfills than absolutely necessary. Here's a little help on that topic for Christmas. And more good tips.

Those are pretty much the reasons in a nutshell that we simplified our Christmas. And we both feel really peaceful about it.


Do you feel the need/want to simplify your Christmas, but still keep it festive?


If so, read on ...


Kathryn Bechen streamlined Christmas

One Christmas bin that latches well makes it easy to take out our Christmas decor and easy to put it away. Probably 30 minutes on each end. Wowza; simple!


TIP: If you want to save money on bins for Christmas decor storage, buy clear, not the red and green Christmas-colors ones. BTW, notice how much storage bins cost these days? Oh boy. Well, that's another good reason to simplify "stuff" ... not so many bins for your budget to buy in the future, and less plastic too.


Kathryn Bechen home at Christmas

A small wreath on each of our doors is all of our outdoor decor this year.



Steve Bechen home at Christmas

We do like to be festive with comfy-cozy-wear now at Christmas. Steve wears his PJs to cook, complete with his Santa socks! (Those knit PJs will some day be cut up for rags as they are soft and cozy fabric which will work great for cleaning. Sorry, honey!)


Some of our "red and green" cozy meals over the holidays are easy to make things like ...


Kathryn Bechen spaghetti dinner at home

Almost homemade spaghetti with a green salad and garlic toast. We like this organic pasta sauce* and I doctor it up with a little more garlic powder and Italian seasoning. Since we now eat plant-based 99 % of the time, we like this plant cheese. Our pasta bowls make serving this nice and easy.


*NOTE: Remember when organic pasta sauce was about $1.89 a jar? Yes, I thought so, but no more, so these are easy meals to make to also stay within your budget even with inflated food prices. Inflation is nothing new, but you can outsmart it with your savvy money managing skills my friends, and the kitchen is one place that you can make a difference with clever cooking, not wasting food, and still feed yourselves good meals. I will be writing more about that in 2023 as lucky me, I first started to learn to cook homemade meals at home when I was about eight and I had a front row seat too in many friends' homes I stayed overnight with and ate at their dinner tables, so I picked up lots of good cooking tips from some wonderful Moms who could make anything look and taste like the best restaurant, ala Midwestern style. Midwesterners like hearty, yet affordable food as they tend to be thrifty and resourceful people overall, so those cooking skills I learned as a young girl and teen never left me, no matter how many cute chic bistros I later went out to eat at. Stay tuned; I will share and we're gonna go a little yummy retro, but healthified for today's times/knowledge.


Kathryn Bechen stuffed baked peppers recipe

Anyhow, back to Christmas. I also like to make stuffed green and red peppers and serve them with a muffin. Just cut the top of the pepper off and dice up and set aside. Clean inside of seeds. In a bowl put the extra chopped pepper from the top you cut off, plus some cooked rice, black beans, onion, and garlic. Add a can or so of tomato paste and salt and pepper. Mix well and add a little water if needed, and stuff the peppers. Bake covered in a bit of water in the bottom of the pan for about 45 minutes until pepper is tender when pricked with a fork and inside rice is hot. Easy, yummy, economical, and Christmas colors!



Kathryn Bechen muffins at home

I found a wonderful muffin recipe online and "veganized" it by leaving out the egg and substituting 1 T. chia seeds soaked in 3 T. hot water which when set aside for 10 minutes makes an "egg." Perfect! I have made many muffins over the years and tried to veganize them with not so good results, but this one is absolutely delicious! Original recipe here. As I mentioned, I subbed out the egg with chia seeds and instead of chocolate chips I used raisins and since I didn't have any walnuts I used 2 T. sunflower seeds. Worked great. Also, I had some applesauce left over as it was a big jar so here's what I did ...



I immediately put 1/3 cup applesauce in containers and froze them after labeling. Now next muffin-baking-fest all I have to do is thaw out, dump in, wash the container and nothing goes to waste gathering mold in the back of the fridge. These containers in three sizes are my new go-to freezer containers as they stack well and the lids seal well.


TIP FROM STEVE: Turn the lid counterclockwise 'til it clicks and then clockwise to close. And, BTW, don't close it too tight or your wife will let you know that she can't get it open because you man-handled her lid and she will be coming back to you to open it! (You ladies who have been married a long time know about the man-handled lid closing thing, right?! God love 'em.)


I will share my crockpot stew recipe with you later; it's a breeze to make!


Reader Lolit in the Philippines sent me this photo last year at Christmas and said I could share it so here it is again as I saved it since I love it! So simple and sweet. Thanks again, Lolit!


Christ-mas is for everyone, no matter who you are or where you live. Rejoice!


Wishing you all a blessed Christmas season,


Kathryn & Steve






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