Episode #162: Holidays Traditions List


This week, we’re chatting about the holiday traditions we enjoy doing with our families and our top movies to comfort-watch during November and December. 

We’re also sharing some mindset tips for renovating and cooking for the first time!

You can find the podcast posts archive here.

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Show Notes:

Download your holiday bucket list here.

Our Holiday Bucket List:

Elsie – Hot chocolate bar, have a kids’ gingerbread house party, big tipping, and matching Christmas pajamas.

Emma – Christmas stockings, looking at Christmas lights, and having a soup party.

Here’s a photo of the stockings, and Emma’s gift from Elsie’s daughter—a Frozen dress! Haha.

Best Comfort-Watch Holiday Movies:


  • All the Harry Potter movies
  • Home Alone
  • Home Alone 2


  • The Holiday
  • The Family Stone
  • Home Alone
  • Elf
  • Gremlins
  • Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Here is a picture of a listener in front of the Home Alone house!

Listener Question: How to can you be productive/peaceful through a renovation? 

  • Carve out an area of the house that is your safe zone
  • Treat yourself
  • Watch The Money Pit
  • Find a way to have it bring you closer to your partner

Listener Question: How do you fall in love with cooking when you hate to cook and grocery shop?

  • Find one thing that you are excited to make
  • Set the scene for yourself
  • Identify the things you don’t like
  • Find a favorite grocery store

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Episode 162 Transcript:

Elsie: You’re listening to the, A Beautiful Mess Podcast, your cozy comfort listen. This week we’re chatting about holiday traditions we most want to enjoy with our families and our top movies for comfort watching during November and December. We’re also sharing some mindset tips for renovating and getting into cooking for the very first time. Okay, Emma, burning question. So we all know that you just moved into your house that you were remodeling for most of this year. So tell us how you’re feeling and how it is in your new green kitchen. 

Emma: Yes, I love our new kitchen.  I think I’ve talked about some in other episodes, but now it’s reality. I’ll tell you some more details. Yes, so obviously I got my hidden trash. If you thought I wasn’t going to get that, you’re crazy.

Elsie: How did it feel the first time you opened it up? Was it like a redemption moment?

Emma: Oh, I had a panic moment because I thought it was going to be in this one spot when I planned it with our cabinet guy and then it ended up being somewhere else just because of spacing reasons. So I had this moment when it all went in where I was like, Wait a second. Where’s the hidden trash? Did that get cut? And no, it didn’t. It’s right by the sink. It’s fine. It’s just like, Nooooo, it happened again. But no, we have hidden trash. 

Elsie: That would not be okay. 

Emma: I would have cried. Which would be the dumbest reason to cry ever but I would have. 

Elsie: No, no, no, everyone’s on your team and everyone knows this is actually the most important priority to you in a kitchen. 

Emma: I really like it. Okay, what we’re aiming for with it is for it to be very minimal and streamlined as far as the look of it. To me that’s part of it with hidden trash, it just minimizes any clutter, you don’t have to have a trash can out.  Another thing we did is we have the same backsplash as our countertops.  Our countertops are kind of white quartz and then the backsplash is also a white quartz, so they’re literally the same material.  They were made by the same person, cut by the same person, installed by the same person and  I like that look.  I’ve seen it in other houses, I just love how simple it is.  Instead of having a tile backsplash, a different material from your countertops, it’s just all one thing. I love that there’s also a good amount of outlets in the kitchen, which is important to me, I use a lot of small appliances. So that’s a big deal. It has a huge sink, which is great because I make a ton of dishes because I love cooking. It’s a black ceramic sink so it’s not going to scratch and scuff, I’ve had that happen in the past and that’s always a bummer. So I really like this.  I got a panel ready dishwasher, so that’s a dishwasher where you can put your cabinet front on the front of it. So again, kind of trying to go for that sleek, minimal, just less visual clutter. It blends in more, it has its own handle, so you can tell where it is, but it blends in more than other appliances do and it’s just a look that I like.  I was really excited to have it in our kitchen. We also have these big cabinets that function as our pantry. We didn’t have a pantry at all at our last house and so now we do and they are already full of all sorts of snacks for Oscar and then things too.  I have a whole baking section where all my baking stuff is, not just the ingredients like flour and sugar and all that, but also all my cookie cutters and all my random piping bags and different things like that.  They’re all in one place and easy to find and easy to grab and it just makes me so happy.  We’re still in the move in process. In my mind, it takes at least a few months. So there’s still a certain level of organization that I want to bring to the kitchen drawers and cabinets that’s not quite there yet. I feel like you have to kind of live in the space a little bit to realize, Oh, I’m always pulling open this drawer thinking it has this in it.  Maybe I should swap that.

Elsie: That’s a good idea. Yeah, before you spend money getting all the containers and little inserts and stuff, to see if you feel like the layout is functional. 

Emma: Yep. Exactly. I hate buying those containers and then I ended up changing it and then I’m like, Oh, I guess I’ll text my friends and see if anyone wants this, you know, it’s just kind of silly. So I’m like, Okay, we’re going to live with it this way for a minute. See what we think. Now we’re getting to a place where I feel like I know, yes, this is going to be the silverware drawer or the flatware drawer for sure. It feels like a good spot. We’re not going to change it. So now I’m going to order some more, make it a little more organized because it’s kind of half-organized at the moment.

Elsie: Nice. Well, that all sounds wonderful. I’m so happy for you. I can’t wait to see it when you’re all settled and I can’t wait to come visit for the first time.

Emma: Yes, I can’t wait for you to see it. And you can tell me what’s wrong with my kitchen like I always do to you. Haha 

Elsie: She does. Oh my gosh. Okay, so this is basically our holiday bucket list episode. But I called it, Holiday Traditions List, just to make it different. But actually, I learned recently, I  took some questions from podcast listeners on Instagram and so many people said, “I would love listening even if you did the bucket list episode every single week”. And I was like, Oh, thank you for that because it is our favorite thing to do and I feel like it hopefully is an exercise that we’re all doing together. So hopefully, you’re also making your list, every single one of you, that you can do, because this is such a meaningful exercise to get a little more magic out of every single season. I love it. Okay, so Emma, do you want me to go first? What’s on my holiday bucket list? 

Emma: Yeah. Or we could go back and forth. 

Elsie: Yeah, we can go back and forth. Okay. So my first one is, I have never done this before. This is like ultimate Pinterest mom thing that if I set it up, and I didn’t use it, I feel like it was a huge waste. If I set it up, and I use it three times a week for all of November and December, then it’s a wonderful, magical thing. So I’m going to make a hot chocolate bar for my kids, an epic one, a big one with all the stuff and let them make hot chocolate pretty much as much as they want but probably a couple of times a week.  My kids really really like hot chocolate.  I think the little decorations and stuff, it’s really just one trip to the store, get all the little decorations, put them in cute jars, put it all on a tray, but for some reason it’s just something that I’ve never done in years past, so I’m excited to try it and see if it feels like a thing that’s contributing big magic or if it feels like a thing that’s like, Oh, this is a big cluttery thing on my counter that I wish I wouldn’t have put there. We’ll find out.

Emma: Yeah, it got all sticky and weird and yeah nevermind. You never know which way it’s gonna go. That sounds epic to me though.

Elsie: I’m excited. Yeah, I decided this week. I was like, I’m going to go for it. This is the year.

Emma: I love it.  

Elsie: What’s yours?

Emma: So first thing on my holiday bucket list or holiday traditions list is I’m really excited to pull back out our Christmas stockings this year and make that a whole thing because I feel like Oscar is more at the age where he can pull stuff out of the stocking on Christmas Day on his own.  Also, our stockings are really special to me.  Last year was our first year with them. So this company called Psychic Outlaw, they make bandana dresses and jackets out of quilts and things like that.   You can mail them a family heirloom quilt or just a cool quilt you find at a thrift store or whatever and they can turn it into things.  One thing they offer is Christmas stockings so I sent them this baby quilt that our friend Rachel Dembo made me for Oscar. Our Christmas stockings are made out of that quilt.  Each family member has their own stocking made out of this baby quilt and we got one extra just in case.  I’m really excited to pull them out and have them displayed all month and use them for Christmas Day. They’re special to me because it was a quilt that our friend made. This is our second year using them so now it feels like a tradition because it’s not the first year. 

Elsie: Yeah, that sounds really cute. I can’t wait to see them. I think a customized stocking is really cool. 

Emma: Yeah. 

Elsie: Okay, my next one is I want to have a little party. So we have not had a party for the last few years, due to global pandemic reasons. This year, I feel like it is time, let’s have a big party and I want to have a kid’s gingerbread house party. I’m gonna let my kids invite friends from their classes and we’ll invite all our little friends around town who we don’t get to see as much.  I’m excited because I’ve never done this.  I do think it’s gonna be a good amount of prep because from what I’ve seen, you really need to build the houses ahead of time and then just the decorating is what the party is for. 

Emma: That makes sense. 

Elsie: Yeah, so I’ll do that part probably the night before or something but I’m excited and fingers crossed it goes well and it can become a tradition that we do through the years.

Emma: I love it. The next thing on my holiday traditions list, bucket list, is I really want to take Oscar to see some Christmas lights. So one year Trey and I went before we had Oscar to a local attraction called Silver Dollar City and they put up so many Christmas lights. It’s the most special time of the year to go to this amusement park, but I will say it gets pretty crowded so I’m a little hesitant to take Oscar while he’s still like stroller baby size. So I think instead what we’ll do is, there’s a couple of neighborhoods around town where people go totally ham with the Christmas lights. So probably some evening, it gets dark so early, drive through one of those, and I think he’ll really like it. But also honestly, it’s kind of for me, because I love Christmas lights, and I just want to see them.

Elsie: Yeah, that’s one of our favorite traditions as well. It’s so fun and it’s such a good way to top off a good night or, you know, kill some time or whatever. It’s fun. 

Emma: Yep, for sure.

Elsie: Okay. Earlier this year, I read this book that Remet recommended, called, We Need To Talk: A Memoir About Wealth by Jennifer Rischer. So the book is a lot about the psychology of changing your life as you become more wealthy through the years.  There’s so many things that maybe don’t apply to me yet. Or maybe what never will, but they’re just so interesting to read about from this woman’s journey. One of the things that she talked about was big tipping and so this has become one of our holiday traditions. We did it for the first time last year.  Basically, we set aside a budget for big tips.  We give the big tips, there like $100 tips, and we give them to service people and people who we see throughout the year, a favorite restaurant, a favorite coffee shop, places like that.  I think it’s a wonderful tradition. If you feel like you have some extra money that you can do for this tipping tradition, it was extremely meaningful to us.  Also, we’re letting our kids be involved by giving some of the tips as well. I feel like it’s a lesson for them to learn about giving a big tip that is, you know, special and meaningful for the people to receive.

Emma: I love that so much.  This is not my next tradition, but just an alternate idea or additional idea with kind of a smaller budget is I like to put gift cards out for mail carriers. You know you get so many packages. We order a lot of things online throughout the year, but certainly at the holidays too.  So it’s nice to put little gift cards out for any mail carriers, whether it’s US Post Office or other services like Amazon delivery people or whatever. Yeah, it’s cute and you can make the little container that the gift cards are in kind of festive looking and it can say Happy Holidays, please take one. It’s just cute.  I feel like a lot of people in that industry are working extra or have lots of extra packages and sometimes have to work on holidays so it’s just a nice little thing. It’s just nice to be thoughtful. 

Elsie: Any kind of special Christmas tip or gift or sign of appreciation I think is so special. 

Emma: Yeah, I agree.  Just makes people feel seen which is really nice. 

Elsie: Yeah. 

Emma: Okay, last thing on my holiday traditions list, bucket list, I’d really like to do this year is I want to have some friends over and just make a bunch of soups. 

Elsie: Oh, a soup party!  Laura did that once, do you remember?

Emma: Yes, yes. It’s so fun. I love soup.  I really wanted to do it earlier this year. Really just once the weather changes, but I wasn’t in my kitchen yet. I didn’t feel like I had all my stuff and I just want to have all my things, you know? So anyway, so now I’m like, Okay, ready.  It’s such a busy time of year. I’m definitely gonna keep it casual. It’s not a big deal. You could show up as you can or whatever, but I think a soup party is really fun.

Elsie: Yeah, that is such a cozy good party idea. Okay, well, honorable mention for me is I cannot wait to get the matching PJs, the matching Christmas PJs. We usually get ours from Hannah Anderson and they also make dog PJs. I always get the dog one too. So this is our first year with only one dog. Last year we had both dogs and they both had their matching plaid PJs with ours. It was so cute. So yeah, I think it’s the only time of year that we dress up our dog but our kids think it’s really cool. I just think it’s really sweet and special.

Emma: No, I love that. It’s very cute.

Elsie: Cool. We will put a link in the show notes this week at abeautifulmess.com/podcast for you to download a holiday bucket list if you would like to print one out. If not, just make one in the Notes app on your phone or make one on a post-it note.  Just make one wherever you want but definitely make one because having a few really special things that you want to do for the holiday season, that you might not do you if you don’t put it on the list and put the effort in, I think is really special. 

Emma: I love it. 

Elsie: Yes. It always goes by so fast. Okay, so we’re going to talk about best movie houses for holiday movies/comfort watches during the season.  A lot of mine are movies that I like to watch while I’m making a craft or while we’re baking cookies. So, Emma, do you have a favorite movie that is your comfort holiday watch and/or the best movie house that has holiday decorations? 

Emma: Yes. So as far as comfort, so in my mind here’s what a great comfort movie, holiday movie is.  It’s something that you’ve seen enough times, that if you need to, hop up during it to go refresh your drink or get some more yarn because you’re making some kind of craft or whatever, it’s not a big deal. You don’t feel the need to pause because you’ve seen it so many times.  You can kind of just zone out and it’s still on and it’s nice background, and you are watching it, but also not a big deal. 

Elsie: Yeah. 

Emma: So anyway, so probably my top is all the Harry Potter movies because I consider them both Halloween and Christmas movies because they usually have well, they’re kind of spooky but then also they usually have Christmas in them.  They have a little scene where there’s some kind of holiday thing happening, some more than others. So I love those.  My husband and I also have a pretty strong debate about Home Alone. I love the original Home Alone and he really loves Home Alone Two. That’s his favorite. So we always watch both and they’re both great, but that’s just kind of a thing between us.

Elsie: There both great but he’s the only person in the world that thinks Home Alone Two outranks the original. 

Emma: That’s what I think yeah, I’m like, Home Alone Two is great and all but better than the original? I don’t know.

Elsie: I desperately want to find a Weasley sweater under my Christmas tree this year. 

Emma: Oh, yes. 

Elsie: That’s very special. Okay, so my movies that I love. I’ll start with the ones with houses that are house specific, so obviously, The Holiday.  It doesn’t even need to be said because it’s been mentioned on our podcast, probably more than 30 times, but the movie, The Holiday, has the best houses.  I really like the two British houses, and the decorations, the coziness, everything about it is a 10 out of 10. They’re just wonderful.  Then another movie that has a great house, if you haven’t seen the movie just Google, The Family Stone. It is a white house with a wraparound porch. It’s a really beautiful movie house.  The movie is pretty sad but it’s also a comedy and I think that it does a really good job of showing the complicated nature of family. I don’t know but it is still a comfort watch for me. I like it a lot. And then Home Alone, the ultimate.  Earlier this year, maybe we can put this in the show notes, we had a listener send us a picture where they were showing their phone listening to our podcast, and they were standing in front of the Home Alone house in Illinois.  It’s the best listener email we’ve ever gotten.  We’ll make sure that’s in the show notes this week. It was so joyful and wonderful. We love Home Alone. Probably 27 people this week DM’d me the Home Alone Lego set. Yeah, a Lego set that makes the Home Alone house.  It’s really detailed. I heard it takes more than 10 hours to build it. So yeah, that is an amazing home and when you watch it this time, because I know you’re probably watching it every year, just take a moment to recognize and appreciate how every single room in the house is decorated red and green.  If you don’t consciously realize it, it can sometimes slip past you.  When I started to realize it, I was like oh my god, it’s every room. Probably the most classic possible movie house. And then the movie Elf. I mean, it’s good for so many reasons. My kids are into it, which thank God, it’s the bridge between a cartoon and an adult movie. Right?  They call it a real people movie, a movie that’s not a cartoon. So it’s sort of the first step you can get to after you only will watch cartoons. And I love New York. I love New York apartments, brownstones, it’s just gorgeous.  Who doesn’t want to take in the magic of a New York apartment at Christmas?  They decorate it really wild and I have to say the toy store. The toy store is everything and the way they decorate it. I’ve always wanted my house to be, that’s pretty much the level I measure myself against every year is like the Buddy the Elf toy store reveal scene. And I mean, that’s probably like the highest standards you could measure yourself against.  Huh?

Emma: I would say so that’s way too high. 

Elsie: Okay, and then I’ve mentioned this every year, but I will never not, I will never ever skip this one, Gremlins.  So everyone likes to talk about how Die Hard is a Christmas movie. And yeah, Die Hard is a Christmas movie.

Emma: I love Die Hard.

Elsie: We watched it last year. It’s amazing. It’s a 10, I love it. It’s definitely a very fun, worth watching, holiday movie. But no one ever remembers to mention that Gremlins is a holiday movie just as much as Die Hard, but more nostalgic. It’s incredible.  It’s so beautifully made.  The freaking gremlins, they’re so cute. 

Emma: They’re special.

Elsie: And I mean, the scary ones are even cute. They even have comedy scenes.  There’s almost nothing I love more than Gremlins.  Fun fact, last year when we made our holiday special, the way the fonts were at the beginning, it was me sending screenshots of Gremlins to the video guy, being like, can you make it look exactly like this? Because it’s one of my number one holiday movies. And then the claymation Rudolph, I’ll end with that, just because it’s the ultimate holiday kids’ movie. And it’s just, you know, it’s just ultimate, it’s very old timey. They say things in it that my kids call out as rude, like how the parents talk to their kids in that movie. It’s not acceptable. It’s not okay by today’s standards at all but it is from another time and it’s, I guess one way for them to learn about how their grandparents were raised. 

Emma: Oh my gosh, Yeah, I guess so. That’s very funny. Okay, that was an epic list. I love it.

Elsie: Thank you.  Oh my gosh, there’s nothing I love more than the holiday movie list. It’s just so fun and we get this every year. It’s such a gift.

Emma: I love it. Okay, next, we have a couple of questions that we got on Instagram. So the first one is, how to be productive or peaceful through a renovation? 

Elsie: Oh, okay. I love this question. It is very, very difficult because it can put you in a dark place. So my first tip is the don’t wait mentality. I love this. I think that Chris loves Julia, I think she coined the phrase, so I have to give her a shout out there.  The idea behind it is, whatever your tradition, however you want to entertain, however, you want to use your rooms and use your house, don’t wait until the rooms are finished and perfect to start. Make those memories in your home. So if you have a Friendsgiving with ugly wallpaper that you don’t like, have the freaking Friendsgiving.  If you have to have a Christmas with somewhat no kitchen and a makeshift kitchen because you’re renovating this year, then still host the Christmas, make the cookies, have the party.  Do whatever you have to do to still make the memories.  

Emma: Or buy takeout. Just make it different. 

Elsie: Yeah, just have a grocery store feast. That’s actually one of my favorite kinds of parties. My next tip is to treat yourself. Always, always always but especially during a renovation. I’ve read and heard so many reflective posts about how people feel guilty for buying so much takeout during a renovation, or you know, things like that. Here’s the thing, you don’t have to feel guilty if you decide not to at the beginning.  You’re going through a difficult transition, a season that it takes some compensating to make it work. So I think removing all the guilt and adding for yourself an extra budget for things that bring you joy and make this season work for you is really smart.

Emma: Yeah, a great way to take away the guilt is to put it in your budget for renovating. Be like, Okay, our budget for takeout is this… and if you’re like, Oh, I hate all the takeaway containers, it’s so much waste. I get that too, a lot of places you can request no extra forks, no extra things. So try that but also keep in mind takeout, you’re supporting restaurants, especially if you’re buying takeout from a local place. So that’s pretty cool.  This could be a nice little season for supporting people an extra amount while you’re renovating. So look at it that way.

Elsie: Yeah and I think that’s a very important tip. My next one is just a fun one but it’s our tradition now when we renovate.  During whatever is your low point emotionally, we watch The Money Pit with Tom Hanks, it’s such a zany movie. It’s so joyful to watch. Only when you’re in the bad part of your renovation. There’s no other time that this movie is meant for and I just love it.  We end up, you know, the part that sort of is the running joke throughout the movie is every time they ask the contractor how long, they always say two weeks, and then we always say that because it’s like, they’re so foolish.  It’s an incredible 10 out of 10 renovating tradition that I hope you’ll all steal for yourselves. And then my last tip is, this one’s actually kind of sentimental. The other night my husband and I were watching TV and laying on the couch together.  He said something so sweet, which I guess I’m a little bit bragging. He said that he feels thankful that so many people say that they almost got a divorce or they did get a divorce during a renovation or a home build. You know, that’s a very common thing that you hear is, it’ll ruin your relationship.  He said that he’s really thankful that those struggles have always found a way to bring us closer together and I think that that’s a mindset that you can steal for yourself. Maybe there are some things beyond your control but I think that the reason why it’s always worked for us as a positive is because we need each other and we’re relying on each other to get through it instead of blaming each other.   We blame everyone else, but don’t blame each other. You know what I mean? For like the stuff that’s happening, because it’s inevitable.  Renovating is very challenging and if it’s challenging for you, that’s normal. Never, ever, ever feel alone. But yeah, I think if you can find a way to let it bring you closer, instead of letting it be a wedge between you, that is so special.

Emma: And yeah, I totally agree with that tip. I think it’s really good in a communication standpoint, to stop with the blaming and focus on your feelings.  It’s totally normal to be like, I’m disappointed that we can’t move into our house yet instead of being like, it’s your fault, because you wanted different paint.  That’s not gonna get you very far, that’s not going to be a great conversation but saying, “I’m really sad that we’re not going to move in before Christmas, or whatever is happening in your life. Start there because I think that that’s more something that people can respond to, whether it’s a partner or even your kids or even contractors you’re working with.  Instead of trying to blame, try to be like, Hey, let me tell you my concerns or my feelings a little bit and be vulnerable.  That’s a better standpoint. Okay, the only other tip I would add because those were so good, is if you’re living in the house during the renovation, I think that makes it extra hard at times. So one thing I do is try to carve out some area of the house that’s kind of your safe zone.  Basically, this is a place that you can go to when you’re feeling really low, and it’s not super loud. Or you can go there and be alone for a minute if you need to take a little break. Or it might be in your bedroom and it’s kind of a wind down zone, just something that feels peaceful, little space that feels peaceful and clean. Sometimes I just need a minute to not have any dust or visual clutter in my face. I just need a little break and so having a little safe zone area somewhere in your house can make a big difference.

Elsie: That’s a great tip. Yeah, if you can just decorate and make one space feel cute, clean, decorated, organized. That’s an amazing tip. Especially when there’s a certain part of a renovation, I’d say like 60 to 75% through where you’re not far enough through it where you can really see the light at the end of the tunnel yet and it’s just so discouraging.  During that phase of it, it’s so good to just give yourself some kind of faux inspiration and the one cute room is a great method for that. I love that. Okay, the next question we got, I thought this one was really interesting and something we haven’t ever talked about before is how to fall in love with cooking when you a) hate to cook or b) hate to grocery shop.

Emma: Yes. Okay, so I have quite a few things to say about this.  Let’s tackle grocery shopping first. So first off, I would say you need to identify the things that you don’t like about grocery shopping. Is it that you don’t enjoy going in person? Is it that you like going in person, but sometimes it’s really crowded and that stresses you out?  Is it that you love showing up with a list, or you hate showing up with lists?  Figure out what your pitfalls are with the grocery shopping, and then adjust accordingly. So for example, I personally love to shop in person.  I like to walk down every aisle and have time to do that and pick up a few random things that sparked my interest. That’s my thing that I enjoy. My husband hates to grocery shop in person.  He’s more of a order groceries online type and that works great, too. You’ve just got to figure out what it is that sparks a little bit of joy for you.  If it’s to get your groceries delivered, great. See if that can fit into your budget.  If it’s, I want to make sure it’s not too crowded so I can enjoy my time, then you need to plan your week around when you’re going to go or what grocery store you’re going to frequent the most so that it’s not so crowded that you’re not enjoying yourself. 

Elsie: Yeah, I’m definitely the last one. I am a 7am grocery shopper. I like to be there right when it opens. I do not like to shop in crowded stores ever. And yeah, it’s just not as fun. So I think if you find a way to game the system a little bit and make it work for you. I also do love grocery shopping in person and I have favorite grocery stores. 

Emma: Yep. 

Elsie: I always say the best part of where we live currently is a suburban area and the best part of it is the grocery stores because there’s so many different, fancy grocery stores to choose from.  They all have their strengths and weaknesses.  I could probably do a whole episode just about grocery stores but that’s not what we’re doing. Don’t worry. But yeah, maybe finding a favorite grocery store would be my tip though. Just one that makes you, is aesthetically pleasing to you.  I like the grocery stores that look a little bit like, our favorite one is called Fresh Market, and it sort of looks like the convenience store in Home Alone, where there’s a lot of decorations, a lot of big displays, it’s very cozy and beautiful. It’s also very small so I would never go there when it’s busy. I only like to go when the parking lot is almost empty.

Emma: Yeah, and for me, it makes a big difference if they have a coffee shop inside. So I like to go to a Starbucks or something.  It’s nice cuz then you can, if it’s not busy, get a drink before you start your shopping and then it feels like you’re having a spa day, you’re not doing a chore, you’re having a latte. It’s nice. 

Elsie: Honestly, that does sound nice.

Emma: Yeah. Okay. And then let’s talk about cooking, how to fall in love with cooking when you hate cooking. So similar to grocery store shopping, you need to figure out your hang ups with it first. So it could be that you’re like, the idea of cooking a dinner every single night, where I’m gonna have a bunch of dishes, makes me want to cry.  It’s like, that’s cool, then you need to just find a way to simplify that task.  Here’s the thing with cooking, you don’t have to enjoy cooking every single meal or cooking every single day, you might be a person who’s like, I’m an adventurous cook so I want to get a new cookbook that might be something out of my wheelhouse, like authentic Chinese cooking or something different and I want to be adventurous in that way, and that’s what I’m into. Or you might be more like, I just want to learn to cook the three recipes that my grandma always made. I’m a nostalgia cook.  Maybe their holiday things and you only make them a couple of times a year. But like, those are your cooking moments.  You don’t have to love cooking all the time, every day, you can like it for oh, I make these cookies every summer and it’s my favorite thing. I’m really good at it. I do it every year.  That’s cool. Also, you can like cooking or you can like baking or you can like both, you don’t have to love all of it to find something that sparks a little joy for you.  Just so you know, I love cooking and eating, and I hate doing dishes but it’s just a part of it.  Unless you have some kind of special mate or butler situation or a really nice partner, you’re probably going to have to do some part that you don’t enjoy.  That’s just sort of the chore that comes along with it that I try not to focus on while I’m cooking because what’s the point of ruining the fun part for me by worrying about this other part that I don’t enjoy.  That’s just one part of the whole ecosystem so you don’t need to put your focus on the part you don’t enjoy. Put your focus on the thing that makes you excited.

Elsie: Yeah, I mean, I will say the one good thing about dishes is it’s definitely a good audiobook time. 

Emma: True 

Elsie: I always have an audiobook going. Okay, so I have one tip for getting into cooking because I have definitely had this struggle when my husband and I were first together.  We were eating out for every meal type of people.  Then through the years, we’ve gone through so many stages.  We can be really into cooking and we can also be really into eating out. And then also, we’ve had several years of staying at home. 

Emma: Sure, yeah. 

Elsie: The thing that I would say for your first step is to find your thing that you love. Find one thing that you want to make that you’re excited about.  Right now I am obsessed about only wanting to learn to make fancy pasta with little patterns and stuff. That’s all I care about.  I could learn so many more useful things than that.  There’s so many more things that would be more efficient, easier, simpler, more useful, more everyday meal foods but I think that following your passions when it comes to cooking is really worth it.  Probably one of the best things that I ever did was learning to make those royal icing cookies four or five years ago because now I make them every year and it’s so fun. It’s a tradition and I don’t even need the recipe anymore.  I feel good at it and I can impress people by bringing these little cookies to a party. It’s nice. I think, find something that makes you feel good, that gives you that feeling to start with.

Emma: Yes and then the only other tip I have is to set the scene for yourself.  Sometimes I’m like, Oh, I gotta make breakfast for Oscar before he leaves and I start my day.  It’s just a quick thing and not necessarily a fun thing, more like, this is a task, this is a chore.  We’re gonna laugh together but this isn’t a special thing.  There are other times where I’m like, Hey, I’m gonna take my time and make a fancy risotto tonight. What I really like to do in those moments is put on some music, light a candle, pour a glass of wine, and it’s like, this is a whole moment. Just sometimes I think switching your mind from this is a chore to this is self-care, you just kind of slow down and make it more fun for all of your senses. I think that can be really fun with cooking.  I’m not saying that every single time you’re in your kitchen making food, it should feel that way because that’s just not true. There’s going to be lots of times, you know, you’re a short order cook, and you’re just doing something quick but then there are, can be moments where it can feel like a leisurely, kind of like taking a relaxing bath versus a quick shower. It’s like every now and again, playing yourself a little relaxing bath moment, but cooking. So where your turning on all of your senses and taking your time and enjoying yourself.

Elsie: I love that. That’s beautiful.

Emma: All right. Thanks so much for listening. If you use one of our recipes for Thanksgiving this week, and you should, please leave us a five-star review. Most people don’t even know that you can leave star reviews on A Beautiful Mess.  It means so much. I promise we see them every single time and it’s one of the ways that you can help us grow because people will see it in search results like on Google. Alright, well, we hope you have a great week. We’ll be back next week with gift shopping and homemade gift ideas. 

Elsie: Awesome.

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