9 Secrets to Outsmarting the Holiday Rush… Today.

This serene scene is what I imagine when I think of the holidays… but more and more often, I am caught at the last minute with all my good intentions gone by the wayside, and yet another holiday season weighing me down as I scramble to keep up.

Like a fast-moving train, once you see the Halloween decorations in the stores (like now!), the holiday season charges forward, and we’re always running to catch it.

This year, I’m going back to my roots as a mom of six – overwhelmed every single day, and convinced the entire world would fall apart if Christmas wasn’t perfect.  And it always was.  Because I planned, planned, planned – and finally mastered – the art of being ready for anything.

These days, with just one nine-year-old boy to focus on, I’ve become a holiday slacker.  Christmas and Thanksgiving – even Halloween – have had a way of sneaking up on me over the last few years, and it’s time to fight back.

If you’re feeling the same way, maybe my notes from the early days will help you.  If not, use the contact form below for a personal consultation and complete holiday planning and decor by NolaBubble.

Things you can do NOW that will help you enjoy the holidays and get all the work done early:

  1.  TODAY, get online or go to Costco and get the kids’ costumes.  Halloween, in my opinion, is the VERY BEST holiday in New Orleans.  So much fun for all ages, and the kids will not mind talking about and planning their costumes a month early.  Plus, Costco sells out before mid-October, and you’ll find there are many more sizes and options available online if you do it early.  There’s also a Spirit of Halloween store open at Elmwood already.  Just bite the bullet and check this one off your list.  You’re going to have school party stuff at the last minute, neighborhood plans, and plenty of other things to do as Halloween gets closer.
  2. Decorating for Halloween?  Why not get the decorations out of the attic or garage this weekend – Sunday morning before the game is a good time.  Throw out things you know you’re done with, save the good stuff, and add to it this week as you run errands.  Go online and pull coupons for Michael’s, World Market and other places you like – you don’t have to wait for the sales.  They’re already discounting like crazy, and with the online coupons, you can get those prices, plus great selection.  This also makes it easier to set a budget – and stick to it!
  3. Double Dip.  As you prepare for Halloween, you may as well think about Thanksgiving.  After all, the stores are going to push us ahead to November even before Halloween, so, why not pick up those beautiful autumn wreaths, pumpkin and fall flower decorations, and even house and garden plants in fall colors.  You can “overdo” Halloween with the fall decor a bit, then you’re ready to use it all for Thanksgiving – just put the Zombies back in the attic!  Decorating doesn’t have to be hell-day all at once.  You can “putter” at it a bit when you get a minute… just letting things evolve when you’re in the mood.
  4. Start a Tradition.  If you don’t already have one, you have plenty of time right now to come up with something cool for your kids to do this year, and every year, as your own Halloween tradition.  Maybe a haunted house in the foyer that they can enjoy creating over the coming weeks, some homemade treats might be fun to pass out, and if you think about it now, you can buy the ingredients and supplies and do the baking on a whim any time before the big day – you’ll already have all the things you need at home.  (We make Oreo zombies for Bryce’s class – super easy, just make Xs with white frosting for the eyes and a jagged mouth – super cute, super easy).  We also take a different route home from school every day during October, checking out the coolest decorations and getting pictures of the really funny stuff.  And there’s tons of it.  All over town.
  5. Buy the candy.  Buy it now at Costco or Sams.  You can buy huge bags, which can be split between home (for passing out) and school (for the inevitable class party e-mail you will get the day before the class party).  Plus… you can stash some to eat at your desk while refusing to let the kids touch any until Halloween.  That’s your right as a parent.
  6. Thanksgiving Menu.  Why not?  Everything is so much easier with a list.  Get a holiday notebook.  Put it beside your TV chair.  During commercials or breaks in the game… jot down all the things you always have for Thanksgiving.  If you see a recipe you want to add to it, clip it to it.  Text your grandmother for her recipe for pumpkin bread… make a list of who is coming.  Write down all the little things you may forget – like a decent table cloth in fall colors.  Just get started now, then you can organize it the first week of November.  You’re so all over it!
  7. Long Distance Christmas… I know it’s WAY too early for Christmas, but there are a few things you can knock out right now, leaving you more time during the holiday season to, you know, enjoy the holidays!  So, for now, just buy or design your Christmas cards and get your list up to date.  If possible, you can go ahead and address the envelopes, so you’re ready to mail December 1.  You don’t even have to make a big deal of this.  Bring them to work and do a few at a time when things are quiet, or, do it while you’re watching TV with the kids – during something you hate to watch, maybe…  Another thing you can do now is order any long-distance gifts and schedule shipping dates.  I like to order Bryce’s grandmothers and aunts photo items and calendars with our family photos.  It always takes a while to work with that software online, so by doing it early, that’s one less aggravation I have in December.  Baby steps, and a few more things are done that I usually stress about at the last minute.
  8. Make and Freeze.   What I ALWAYS forget when planning big holiday meals is that people actually want to eat other meals while I’m trying to get everything ready.  Breakfast on Thanksgiving and Christmas morning absolutely blow up my plan in the kitchen.  So… this year I’ll be making and freezing my sister-in-law’s breakfast casserole.  It’s brilliant.  Has all the breakfast foods in it, and you just throw it in the oven and bake.  It looks like you put some effort into it, and it’s filling, which keeps everyone full until time to eat the big meal of the day.  This also works with pancakes, waffles, french toast, etc.  And this can also be done during this “slower” time of fall.
  9. HAVE FUN.  By starting early in the fall, the holidays can actually be fun for parents, too!  Instead of having a running “to-do” list buzzing in my head, I can begin to see the holidays through a child’s eyes again, soak up the chaos of Halloween, make some fun Zombies for our garden, plan a fun night of trick-or-treating, and know that everything else will be done on time, because I’m all over it this year!

Let’s not let the world of commercial holidays take away our joy during this season.  Kids are only young once.  Moms and Dads only get to “do holidays” with the kids when they’re young… and life is just better when we don’t have to rush.


NolaBubble can help you get organized for the holidays, using your own plans, traditions, recipes and decor – or helping you start some new traditions with updates to your Thanksgiving table and menu, and your Christmas season.  If you could use a little help, send us a note in the contact form below for a custom consultation to help you get ready:

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The Fly… New Orleans’ Hangout for Summer Sports

It’s been a beautiful, hot summer… and it’s almost over.

School has started, but kids are still in summer mode, not yet ready to give up the lazy days and snoballs, unscheduled down time and random snack frenzies; but it’s almost time to admit there’s been a shift.

In New Orleans, the weather doesn’t change much in the “fall.”  We may get a bit less humidity, the sun goes down a bit earlier, and inevitably, the kids are busy with school activities and homework as September nears.  But we’ve got a long way

3 Smart Ways WINE Can Boost Real Estate Agents…

As a real estate agent, you have three problems to solve every day.   Closing your current business, getting new business, and staying connected to your sphere of influence as often as you can.

Much of this happens inside yourself before it becomes a reality.  You work hard.  You take financial risks every day that others cannot fathom.  You are brave, unique and have your own style of “doing” real estate.  It’s stressful and challenging – and takes lots of motivation and self-help… but you’re your own boss!  Not everyone is cut out for this wild ride.

So how can wine help?  Even if you don’t drink wine at all… wine can be your “secret weapon” in your real estate career!

  •  Wine makes a lovely gift.  A new listing, a closed sale, a new potential buyer… nearly everyone will appreciate a thoughtful gift of wine from you – and with this amateur-friendly wine club, you’re off the hook for choosing the right one.  It’s always fun to have wine on hand that’s been carefully chosen by an expert!
  • Wine tastings can be a great excuse to bring some old clients back into your life, and invite them to “bring a friend” who is thinking of buying or selling.  This atmosphere is perfect for controlled portions, a civilized gathering, and enjoying the moment – while creating and keeping your buying and selling connections strong !
  • And wine can even help you create a steady stream of side income – to compliment your real estate closings with a little “side hustle” to get you through those times in-between sales, pay for vacations, and those hard-to-budget things that happen when you’re self employed.

As a member of Direct Cellars wine club, you pay just $25 per year to have all those benefits, and you choose your own quantities each month.  2, 4 or 6 bottles at members-only prices, 40% off on cases of your favorites, and if you refer 3 friends who join the club – yours is FREE!

You can even become a Brand Partner for just $250 – and that puts you on the road to a second income that can work perfectly with your real estate career… because fellow agents love wine, clients love wine, your friends love wine… and learning about wine with a wine tasting club is just a good excuse (like you need one!) to invite people to get together, enjoy a good time, and remember YOU when they want to buy or sell a home.

You’re the fun, classy one – with the wine.


PS – Please feel free to reach out to me about this opportunity by phone or text (504)812-4702 or learn more at http://www.directcellars.com/annebeck

And join us online – absolutely free – in our NOLA Wine Tasting Facebook Group!

The New Orleans Healthy Eating Plan…

Healthy eating in New Orleans…

Let’s be honest.  Bobby and I went out the other night for a quick bite of seafood… I thought, “Good.   I’ll eat fish.  No red meat right now.”  And then I ate fried crawfish patties, smothered in a scrumptious cream sauce… so much healthier.  SO hard to eat right with all this decadence around us!  So many happy, crunchy fried things, so many drinks, so many po-boys… just SO MANY good things.  Not just good.  Incredible food.

But I know we’ve got to do better.  I try not to be bossy about food at home.  Shame on Bobby for eating veal, but I ignore the implications (the horrors) of how it arrives on his plate.  I don’t deny Bryce the Twizzlers, the Sour Patch candies, etc. after school.

All I can do is take one day at a time and try to make better choices, at least some of the time, and introduce some healthy foods at home that may (or may not) catch on as favorites.

One of the things I tried to bring back into my life recently was carob.  It’s a chocolate-like bean, available in powder for baking, and it brings back fond memories for me.

Our youngest aunt, Medora, was the one who introduced me to healthier eating as a teenager.  My Mom, of course, tried to make us eat right – but Medora KNEW THINGS about food.  She had a big property on the bay and introduced us to country life over a few summers.  Sleeping in a tent by the water, gathering eggs at sunset, hiding from mean geese, brushing her beautiful horses, and following her around the health food store were part of our daily routine as she tried to figure out what to feed us kids.  We insisted on going home with her for a week when she’d come to visit us in Mississippi, then it was a yearly tradition.

She taught me to grow alfalfa sprouts in a mason jar under the sink.  She taught us how good fresh eggs taste.  And she treated us with ice cream, smothered in carob syrup.  It was really strange, not much like chocolate after all, but with a taste so unique I crave it now to the point I’ve searched all of the city for carob, and ended up having to order it.  I just had to have it again!

Here’s basically how you make it:

1 cup carob powder

1 cup water

1/2 cup of honey

1 tbsp vanilla

(I added coconut oil to mine, about 1/4 cup – wow!)

You just melt it all together on the stove, bring it to a boil over low heat, then reduce the heat and stir for about 5 minutes, until it is smooth and shiny, like hot fudge.  You can serve it over ice cream, mix it with oatmeal or nuts for a snack, put it in yogurt… use your imagination).

So, it’s as good as I remember.  I have it ready to serve to Bryce when he gets home from camp, and I have a feeling he will feel as I did about it… he’ll wrinkle his nose, not like it, then keep tasting more until he does like it… there’s just something about it that keeps calling out, “This is what the earth intended you to eat!”

Little choices.  One good decision at a time.  Experiments and substitutes.

We will never eat the right things all the time when the wrong things are so good, and SO special here in New Orleans.  But we can try to do better, and maybe pass along a memory to someone of something that lingers on the tongue, and in the heart.

Thanks, Aunt Medora, for teaching us to love the healthy stuff, too.


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Look What I GET TO DO Today…

One of the side effects of a job in sales is constant education – and inspiration.

No one said it would be easy to create income from nothing, and I didn’t expect it to be.  I also didn’t expect it to be so scary – no paycheck on Friday unless I sell something!  But the rewards are great, and once in a while I realize that I receive far more than a paycheck for my work.

This was brought home to me in a podcast this morning by  Gabby Bernstein of Spirit Junkie, who is one of my invisible mentors, always bringing inspiration to my job.  So do many others, and without the “self-help” community being there to share their motivating thoughts with the world… people like me could not do what we GET to do.

That’s key.  Something I learned this morning will stay with me for a long time.

I had created a strange “to do” chart for myself that looks like the inside of my brain.  It’s my own thing, and resembles a spider web – many sections within sections, symmetrical but round, rather than a straight-forward list.  It has segments for my work, my side work, my “chores,” and just life stuff that’s going on every day within it all.  Using this, I can see clearly what is before me for the day… it just works.  For example, here are some things I have to get done today:

And as Gabby pointed out, I was looking at the day, already exhausted by all the things I needed to do in so many directions.  Then she said, “Think of it as things we GET to do.”  Just repeat that to yourself.


I live in New Orleans, the most interesting city in all the world.  It really is.   I GET to represent these drop-dead amazing properties and get paid for showing them to other people.  I GET to enjoy some funny things that happen in other people’s properties; like this shoe-in-the-freezer thing.  As I told my client, “Fodder for the blog.”

I get to be responsible for millions of dollars worth of property, plan fun events for friends as a side job, work with my little guy to get his summer homework done, cook for and feed my beautiful family in a kitchen my husband created with his own hands.  I get to be social, busy, amused and rushed and overwhelmed with a collection of to-do items that can only be listed in the form of a spider web.

There are people all over the world who would kill for my to-do list.  I am blessed enough to GET to live a life that feels like a merry-go-round to me sometimes.

But I don’t HAVE to do these things – I GET to do them.

I spent the whole day thinking that way.  Look what I get to do.  Look who I get to meet.  Look what I get to create.  How beautiful is life when we realize we GET to live it?

I have deep gratitude for my life in New Orleans, among the crazy, swimming in a tide of strange and wonderful things.

What do YOU get to do today?  Change that word, and the day will change around you.

Anne Beck

Realtor, Inventor of Spider List

(PS – You also GET to enjoy some free wine this month, if you want to share your bliss with friends of our club).

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