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It seems like yesterday; Hillary and I became empty nesters, with our youngest daughter off to OSU in Columbus to start college. Without the kids, the house was too quiet and suddenly felt like more space than we needed. A few years earlier, we had purchased some land with the plan of someday building a house. But with college tuition, we needed to add to our savings before we could take the leap. What should we do? “I have an idea,” I said. START THE NEW YEAR WITH A CHANGE OF SCENERY
Years of hearing those words immediately triggered suspicion for Hillary, and before I could finish the sentence, she said, “No way.”
office for our growing team. A number of us decided to play musical offices to switch things up. It strikes me as funny the way we often get comfortable in our spaces and then become resistant to change. The move to the new house, and even the simple process of trading offices, has been cathartic in many ways. It has given us a chance to clean up, purge, and reorganize. Moving to a new space has given us a fresh outlook with renewed enthusiasm. As we start 2023, I encourage all of us to look for opportunities to make a change — big or small — that will give us a chance to refresh our outlook. Even the simple process of cleaning a closet, changing up artwork, or applying a fresh coat of paint can make us feel reinvigorated about the space where we live and work.
“Please, just hear me out — we have extra space in our office. Let’s make a little apartment upstairs. We can live there for a year, two at the most.”
To my surprise, Hillary reluctantly agreed. As it turned out, once we made the move, we got comfortable, settling into a routine. We loved the nonexistent commute, especially in the winter. Two years turned into nine. One snowy day last winter, Hillary said to me, “I have an idea …” She didn’t need to finish the sentence. I knew what she was going to say, and we started building in the spring. I am happy to report that just before Thanksgiving, we finally moved into our house on that property we bought all those years ago. Although we now have to get in the car to get to the office rather than just descending the stairs, we are enjoying having our own space again. Moving out has allowed more space at the
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2023 has arrived, so it’s time to plan for the year ahead and set some resolutions. On Dec. 31, as the clock struck midnight, you likely celebrated the New Year with fireworks, parties, noise makers, the ball drop, music, celebration hats, and confetti. But around the world, not everyone celebrates the same way. Check out some of these traditions others use to ring in the new year! Colombia Who doesn’t love to travel? In Colombia, many carry an empty New Year, New Perspectives NEW YEAR’S TRADITIONS AROUND THE WORLD
When we moved out of our “apartment” in the office to move into our new home, we were able to free up plenty of space for our growing team. Having this new space to work with has allowed us to be more organized than ever before. It took plenty of time to clean up so we could be as organized as possible. Getting everything cleaned up and in order can be quite challenging when things are messy at home or in the workplace. Luckily, you can use a few tricks to become more organized in a timely manner. Find motivation. The most challenging part of getting organized or cleaning up your area is finding the motivation to get started. You have to ask yourself why you want to be more organized. Your desk might be overly cluttered, preventing you from focusing on your work, or a messy end table annoys you every time you look at it. Use that motivation to tackle the main obstacle first, but carry on with other areas that need organizing. Set deadlines. When you have an important task due at work, you set deadlines for yourself to ensure you accomplish everything when needed. You should do the same when organizing your home or workplace. Set deadlines for each task and hold yourself accountable. Create rewards to encourage you to stick to your goal. Don’t try to do it all at once. You may have watched a sitcom in the past where the main character had to deep-clean their house in a few hours or one day. Do not try to emulate this behavior. Doing too much in one day can lead to burnout, preventing you from completing the tasks you set out to do. You will likely become exhausted and overwhelmed. If you fail to finish, you’ll feel like you wasted an entire day, and you’ll not likely return to the task any time soon. With Help From These 3 Tips Organize Your Workplace or Home
suitcase or two around the neighborhood, hoping to bless the coming year with many chances to travel. Spain In Spain, you may catch some natives eating exactly 12 grapes, one for each clock strike once midnight arrives. Each one represents good luck for each month in the new year. In larger cities such as Barcelona and Madrid, they gather to eat grapes together in the main squares.
Brazil, Ecuador, Venezuela, and Bolivia In these Central and South American countries, the new year is celebrated with lucky underwear! The most common colors are red, intended to welcome love in the upcoming year, and yellow, which is said to bring about prosperity. Greece If you were to visit Greece on New Year’s Eve, you might see onions — thought to symbolize rebirth — hanging on the front doors of every home. On New Year’s Day, parents wake their children by gently tapping them on the head with the onions. Philippines In the Philippines, people use round shapes to represent coins that symbolize prosperity in the new year. Some even display round fruit, such as grapes, on their dining room table and, like people in Spain, will eat 12 at midnight. Denmark To get rid of evil spirits, the people of Denmark will throw old plates and glasses against their friends’ and families’ front doors. Then to “leap” into the new year with good luck, they stand on chairs and jump off!
What New Year’s traditions do you have?
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For the crust: 1. Adjust 1 oven rack to lowest position and second rack 5–6 inches from broiler element. Preheat oven to 350F. 2. In a bowl, whisk flour, sugar, and salt together. Add melted butter and stir with wooden spoon until dough forms. 3. Into the bottom of a 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom, press 2/3 of dough into bottom of pan using hands. Press remaining dough into fluted sides of pan. Press and smooth the dough with your hands to even thickness. 4. Place pan on wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet and bake on lowest rack until crust is deep golden brown and firm to touch, 30–35 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking. Set aside until ready to fill. For the filling: 1. Cut 5 apples lengthwise into quarters and cut each quarter lengthwise into 4 slices, about 1/4 inch thick. 2. In 12-inch skillet over medium heat, melt 1 tbsp butter. Add apple slices and water and toss to combine. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally until apples begin to turn translucent and are slightly pliable, 3–5 minutes. Transfer apples to large plate, spread into single layer, and set aside to cool. Do not clean skillet. 3. After the apples cook, microwave apricot preserves until fluid, about 30 seconds. Strain preserves through fine-mesh strainer into small bowl, reserving solids. Set aside 3 tbsp strained preserves for brushing tart. 4. Cut remaining 5 apples into 1/2-inch-thick wedges. Melt remaining 2 tbsp butter in now-empty skillet over medium heat. Add remaining apricot preserves, reserved apricot solids, apple wedges, and salt. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until apples are very soft, about 10 minutes. 5. Mash apples to purée with potato masher. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until puree is smooth, shiny, and reduced to about 2 cups, about 5 minutes. 6. Transfer apple purée to baked tart shell and smooth surface. Select 5 thinnest slices of the sautéed apple and set aside. Starting at outer edge of tart, arrange remaining slices, tightly overlapping, in concentric circles. Bend reserved slices to fit in center. 7. Bake tart, still on wire rack in sheet, on lowest rack, for 30 minutes. Remove tart from oven and heat broiler. 8. While broiler heats, warm reserved preserves in microwave until fluid, about 20 seconds. Brush evenly over surface of apples, avoiding tart crust. Broil tart, checking every 30 seconds and turning as necessary, until apples are attractively caramelized, 1–2 minutes. 9. Let tart cool for at least 1 1/2 hours. Remove outer metal ring of tart pan, slide thin metal spatula between tart and pan bottom, and carefully slide tart onto serving platter. Cut into wedges and serve. To Make Ahead: The baked crust, apple slices, and apple purée can be made up to 24 hours in advance. Apple slices and apple purée should be refrigerated separately in airtight containers. Assemble tart with refrigerated apple slices and purée and bake as directed, adding 5 minutes to baking time.
Hillary made this apple tart for friends the first night we entertained in the new house. It is a classic French apple tart with a quick and buttery pat-in-pan dough that bakes to a shortbread-like texture. Half the apples are cooked into a concentrated purée, and the remaining apples are sliced and par-cooked adorning the top with concentric circles. It takes a bit of time, but it is not difficult and the final product is absolutely beautiful and will WOW your friends and family! FRENCH APPLE TART
INGREDIENTS For the crust: • 1 1/3 cups (6 2/3 oz) all-purpose flour • 5 tbsp (2 1/4 oz) sugar • 1/2 tsp salt • 10 tbsp unsalted butter, melted For the filling: • 10 golden delicious apples (5 lbs), peeled and cored • 3 tbsp unsalted butter, divided • 1 tbsp water • 1/2 cup apricot preserves • 1/4 tsp salt
NOTE: You may have extra apple slices after arranging the apples on top of the tart. If you don’t have a potato masher, you can purée the apples in a food processor. For the best flavor and texture, bake the crust thoroughly until it is deep golden brown. To ensure that the outer ring of the pan releases easily from the tart, avoid getting apple purée and apricot glaze on the crust. The tart is best served the day it is assembled.
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INSIDE THIS EDITION
1 Start the New Year With a Change of Scenery 2 Not Everyone Welcomes the New Year the Same
Tips to Help You Get Organized
3 French Apple Tart 4 Inspiration Corner
Jane’s Peanut Butter Fudge
• 3/4 cup whole milk • 1 cup powdered sugar • 1 cup granulated sugar • 1 cup peanut butter • 1 tsp vanilla
INSPIRATION CORNER JANE DARR The focus of this month’s newsletter on organization got us thinking about Jane Darr. Jane has been helping to keep our offices clean and tidy since we opened our Ontario office in 2001! Jane works harder than anyone we know, leaving every space she touches immaculate and orderly. We are inspired by the way Jane works efficiently and methodically, making it seem effortless even though we know it is anything but. She comes in early before most people are out of bed because she is helping to raise her great-grandchildren. Every Christmas, Jane brings us some of her famous peanut butter fudge, which is to die for! We asked Jane for the recipe, which she graciously shared with us.
1. In a saucepan over medium-high heat, bring milk and both sugars to a boil, stirring to dissolve. Boil on high for 5 minutes without stirring. 2. Stir down and add peanut butter and vanilla, stirring vigorously. Immediately pour into a buttered 8-inch square pan. The fudge will harden as it cools. 3. Cut into squares and serve. It is delicious warm or at room temperature!
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