December 2017

December 2017

 

“On cold December fragrant chaplets blow, / And heavy harvests nod beneath the snow.”  — Alexander Pope

Hello, December!

I’m so glad it is December.

This is absolutely one of my very favorite months ever.  And the fact that this is my baby’s first Christmas…well, this month is more than welcome around here!  As I said in my last post, I like writing to-do lists.  But I like writing realistic ones.  Or at least ones that give me a breather some months.  Last month, my to-do list was pretty soft.  But I knew I had a baby on the way and didn’t want to overcommit.  (<–Or let’s be real…I wouldn’t have gotten anything done anyway, but I would have had guilt along with it!)  Anyway, I’m looking at another soft month ahead, and I’m totally excited about that!  Here we go, December 2017:

  1. Celebrate my baby’s baptism.  I’m about halfway done with her gown.  I can’t wait for her special day!!
  2. Make 4 new recipes.  Currently thinking:  rigatoni, crab pot pie, and sloppy joe’s…I still need one more.
  3. Continue to toddler-proof the house.  It’s part of my grand plan for a cleaner house with less cleaning. ha!
  4. Play some Christmas music on the piano.  “Sleigh Ride” is a real favorite of mine.
  5. Read “A Christmas Carol” by Dickens.  Because it’s Christmastime.
  6. Bake Christmas cookies.  See above.
  7. Finish my two knitting projects.  I’m making a turban and a stocking for my baby!  Shhh…it’s a surprise!
  8. Mail out Christmas cards! Because stationary and photos are so much fun.  And I kind of need to.
  9. Wrap presents.  And there are a lot of them.  Good thing I love wrapping paper parties!
  10. Spend my very favorite holiday with my very favorite people.  I LOVE Christmas!

And that’s pretty much it!  So, not a lot of hardcore “t0-doing.”  But that’s because I know myself too well. haha  Because when it comes down to it, all I really want to be doing in December is spending time at home: cooking, knitting, crafting, drinking coffee (and shopping online).  So here’s to a restful December 2017!  What are your plans?

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Round-Up: December 2016

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“Remember this December, That love weighs more than gold!” – Josephine Dodge Daskam Bacon

Happy End-of-December!  This month is my favorite of round-ups, because it’s the round-up of all round-ups.  It almost feels like I need to do a yearly round-up, but that’s basically what I did in my blogiversary post a little while ago.   I guess it didn’t provide a round-up of my life, but it did explain a year-in-review of my blogging journey.  (hint: this has been quite the year of changes for my blog).  But getting back on track, here is my traditional monthly to-do list, which was only half-done!

  1. Make a few ornaments for our tree.  There were 2 “brand” new additions and some fixer-uppers!
  2. Make a Christmas wreath.  Kinda forgot, kinda love my fall wreath too much to take it down.
  3. Visit the local library with my baby.  We found a BABY version of Jabberwocky.  *dies*
  4. Start reading a new book.  Twilight.  Does it count as new?
  5. Begin reading a french blog.  La Revue de Kenza– http://larevuedekenza.fr
  6. Do an act of charity daily until Christmas.  Would like to maybe expand this next year!
  7. Try two new recipes. Mac n’ Cheese (amaze!) and salting pork (not a recipe, but a new technique!)
  8. Rework my Google Ads.  Saving this for January. (read: didn’t get around to it).
  9. Take my blogging course.  See above excuse.
  10. Complete my craft projects for Christmas. I sewed a Mass quiet-time book and cross-stitched a onesie.
  11. Do all my Christmas shopping/mailing!  For the first time ever, I didn’t even feel rushed!
  12. Celebrate Christmas with my family. Truly is the most wonderful time of the year! <3

This December 2016 was really a good one.  It is impossible to not enjoy the holidays–and we definitely enjoyed them!  Decorations were unboxed, stockings were hung, cookies were baked, cards were sent, Christmas music was played, so many pictures were taken, and memories were certainly made.  I even think I saw one single snowflake!  haha  The best part about it all was spending so much time together as a family.   I wrote a post about military Christmas traditions during time of separation, but I didn’t write one about our normal Christmas traditions.  Maybe that will make it on next year’s to-do list?  Leave a comment below about your Christmas traditions!  Thank you for stopping by.

 

 

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5 Christmas Traditions for Military Families Facing Separation

 

If you are a military spouse then you have probably spent your fair share of holidays apart from your spouse. Our first Thanksgiving married was celebrated via Skype, and to this day, we still have yet to spend a single Halloween together! The separation can be especially difficult if it occurs over Christmas. It’s hard being apart for any holiday. But at least none of the others have songs playing in every store about “being home” during them. You probably already have a set of Christmas traditions, but consider adding in a new one to mix things up during separation.

1. Decorate your tree with red, white, and blue ornaments and lights.

One of my friends does this when her husband deploys, and I think it’s such a good idea.  Decorating patriotically can serve as a constant reminder for “why” you are both enduring holiday separation. While the tree can primarily be covered in red, white, and blue, I think a yellow ribbon in place of the star wouldn’t be out of place!

2. Set up a mini-tree instead.

When we were apart during the holidays, it was too hard to try to set up our Christmas tree as if everything was normal. Because it wasn’t. At the same time, having a bare house when the entire town was fancied up was depressing.  A good balance for me was making my house feel Christmasy without setting up the way we usually did together, with all the special ornaments and the family tree.

3. Find someone who is having a rougher Christmas than you and help them out.

This is definitely not a case of misery-loves-company. It can cheer you up to help someone else, and remind yourself that you don’t have it all that bad.  Of course its lonely to be apart during Christmas. But you have the rest of your lives to spend together once he returns home! There are others though who are expecting to have a rough Christmas, whether that’s because they are homeless or terminally ill or abandoned, and they aren’t necessarily looking forward to better years in the future.  You have all the Christmases of the future to look forward to, but they might not.

4) Begin a new Christmas decoration tradition.

We all have our own way of decorating each year–whether that be a manager scene or a nutcracker collection. But consider changing or adding to your collection something new. Put yellow-ribboned wreaths on each window, or buy a soldier santa for your front lawn. There are many, many, many military-themed Christmas decorations.  Collecting nutcrackers was a good way for me to add a bunch of soldiers to my decor.  If all else fails, there is nothing more classic than a Christmas wreath for your front door that shows off your patriotism.

5) Save Christmas for when he returns.

As an Army brat, growing up we often didn’t celebrate holidays on the day they were supposed to be celebrated, if it meant leaving my dad out of it.  Consider opening a few handmade gifts with your children, or with family if you have any visiting.  But save the “real” Christmas present exchange between you and your spouse for when he is home! It’s just as fun as the real Christmas Day celebration, I promise.

At the end of the day, being alone for Christmas is hard.  And even though familiarity is comforting, don’t try to make the holiday be exactly like it was on the other years.  It’s going to be different, and so embrace it and make it so.  Even though it’s really hard being “left behind,” think about your loved one who doesn’t even get to be home for Christmas.  No matter what kind of separation you are enduring, try to make your soldier a part of the day.  Call, video chat, or even just write a long in-depth “Christmas edition” letter.   Any way you can feel connected during the time apart is a good thing.  And remember, next year, you won’t be spending it apart!

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December 2016

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“God gave us our memories so that we might have roses in December.” – J. M. Barrie

This has always been, and will always be one of my very favorite months–just like the rest of the world!  I am so happy December is here.  It couldn’t have come soon enough, and now that it finally showed up on my doorstep (with some cold weather) my home is all aglow with December feels.  My to-do list for this month is pretty fun, which is good since “fun” and “to-do list” aren’t always synonymous.  But in December, everything is more fun.  Here it is:

  1. Make a few ornaments for our tree.  Until our daughter is old enough to fill the tree, it’s still my job! haha
  2. Make a Christmas wreath.  I can’t decide between traditional winter greenery or snow white fluff.
  3. Visit the local library with my baby.  There are some very fun programs running next week we should catch.
  4. Start reading a new book.  Possibly a result of the above library trip.  But I do have some ready to read too.
  5. Begin reading a french blog.  I’ll leave the link at the end of the month for whichever one I choose!
  6. Do an act of charity daily until Christmas.  Kind of my own version of 25 ways in 25 days.
  7. Try two new recipes.  Hopefully Mac n’ Cheese and pot pie, but we’ll see.
  8. Rework my Google Ads.  They still could use some adjusting here and there.
  9. Take my blogging course.  I enrolled in it last month, but now it’s time to actually TAKE it.
  10. Complete my craft projects for Christmas.  I’m knitting a baby sweater & sewing a Mass quiet-time book.
  11. Do all my Christmas shopping/mailing!  It’s going to be a lot this year.  But so much fun.
  12. Celebrate Christmas with my family.  This is what I’m most looking forward to, naturally! <3

Please pretend I didn’t make a twelve item to-do list in imitation of the twelve days of Christmas.  I have a weakness for matching things up.  It just made sense, to me, that is.

Have a very merry December and as always, thanks for stopping by!  Even though there will probably be some more Christmas-themed posts, I have some other ideas that will be making an appearance.  Until then, Merry Christmas!

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What to Buy After Christmas

What to Buy After Christmas

You’ve seen the sales.  It’s all too tempting.  Though there are remarkably less piles of merchandise spilling out of stores the day or two after Christmas, they’re still there.  And they’re calling you.  Or at least, they are definitely calling me.  And every year I’m faced with the same opportunity to make a mature decision, or just blow all my money on sales.  The thing is, how are you benefiting from a “sale” if you are buying things you don’t need?  Sure, they are discounted.  But if you don’t need them, are you really doing yourself a service?  I say in some circumstances, yes!  These are things that I think you can easily (and in good conscience) purchase post-Christmas:

  1.  Wrapping paper, tissue paper, bows, string, etc.  Even if you can’t use the wrapping paper til Christmas, you won’t regret having beautiful new rolls of it lying in wait under your Christmas ornament bins.  There is nothing wrong with having a good supply of this, especially if you’re The Wrapping Paper Police.
  2. Ornaments, wreaths, baubles, etc.  I know you probably already have enough decorations, but then again, is there ever enough?  Christmas decorations actually do come in “styles” and sometimes your style might go-out so to speak and won’t be readily available next year!  Point in case…look at popular pinterest pins this year.  They won’t be the same in a year or two from now.  So if that canvas-feather anthropologie-vibe woodland animal ornament collection is your thing, buy it.  Because next year we might be doing vibrant jewel-toned trees and decor.
  3. Christmas gifts!  If you haven’t exchanged gifts with someone, as crazy as that sounds, then buy their gift after Christmas.  Depending on the gift, there is a likelihood that it will be on sale.  And even though you’ve probably given almost everyone their Christmas gift…you still may have one or two people that you haven’t seen yet that you’re planning to give to.  Now’s the time to get their present!
  4. Warm-weather gear.  This only applies to my northern friends. 🙂  Often the warm-weather clothing/accessories goes on sale after the holidays because everyone has had a crack at giving it as gifts.  But the cold weather has only just begun!  Buy it now because you’ll still be wearing it two months from now.
  5. Last but (duh!) not least…MAKEUP!  All the sparkles and special-edition makeup, nail polish, and hair accessories are out right now.  And many of them are on sale.  Get the glitter now because the spring is for clean and fresh colors.  Later on in the summer, you’ll want to start pulling out the sun-kissed sparkles, and now is your chance to stock up.

Things NOT to buy.  More toys, just because they are on sale.  You bought enough already.  More kitchen gadgets, just because they are on sale.  Your kitchen is full enough.  Christmas potpourri or scented gifts.  They will lose their scent before next Christmas.  (CANDLES ARE LIFE AND THEY ARE THE EXCEPTION TO THIS).  Perishable Christmas foods–mixes, kits, and tins of goodies.  These are fun in small, time-appropriate doses.  You won’t want to make a gingerbread house in March, so you don’t need to buy another kit just because it’s on sale.  That stuff will taste better (and be fresher) next year when it’s been 11 months since you last had it.

Then again, the whole point of shopping is to have fun and get things.  And the whole point of a sale is to feel good doing that!  So with that in mind, hit those sales and tell me what you picked up. 🙂

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Boxing Day

Boxing Day...please share what you do on this day!

Happy Boxing Day!

I thought today’s post might be a bit of a history lesson. When I worked at a jewelry store last year, our store was offering coupons to customers. The expiration date on the coupon was December 26. –for those of you who are worried, this isn’t the history lesson– I told the customers as I handed it to them, “This is good through Boxing Day.” And they would always be like, “What?” And they asked me what Boxing Day was.

WHAT?!

Or am I the only one?… Isn’t it marked on everybody’s calendars? Even if you don’t know how to celebrate it, don’t you realize you’re supposed to? Okay, so for the history lesson…

Well, there is a little history there, but not much. Basically, the day after Christmas means many things to many different cultures. To many Christians, it is known as St. Stephen’s day. To Canadians and Brits, it’s Boxing Day. The different names for it usually stand behind a different history, but I’ll share with you the history as I was told by my Polish grandmother (who was from Canada).

Boxing day is the day (in Canada) that you put out all your boxes from Christmas on the street corner. If you were a little kid, you would be playing with those boxes and making a fort or something out of them. It’s typically a day off, and basically just an extension of Christmas festivities and relaxation.

For my husband, it represents the day that all the Premier League teams play soccer (football). Go Liverpool!

Like I said, there are many other reasons to celebrate the day, depending on your culture. It means something different for everyone, and I guess that’s really the fun of the day. How do you celebrate Boxing Day?

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Christmas Eve

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‘Twas the the night before Christmas…

  •       Sugar cookies baked. Check
  •       Presents wrapped.  Check
  •       Stockings Stuffed. Check

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a goodnight!

 

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The 10 Types of Wrappers

The 10 Types of Wrappers

Today was our traditional family gift-wrapping marathon.  It’s a little family tradition that my husband and I invented/embraced last Christmas, which was our first Christmas married.  He had been at Airborne school and had bought my presents and mailed them to me.  (I exercised enormous self-constraint and didn’t peek in a single one!…how mature of me haha)  I had been working and nannying and hadn’t wrapped any of his presents.  So when he came home just a few days before Christmas and we went on a little vacation to spend it alone together, we brought all the presents and wrapped them together for a couple of hours (still not peeking!).

This year, we had an almost proactive present buying season.  Mostly everything arrived on time, and there weren’t TOO many errors.  (It’s okay if the frame I ordered comes shattered in a million pieces…right?)  So I thought for sure that we would very naturally and responsibly wrap presents periodically, as we collected them.  In my mind, by the time Christmas day came, we would have accumulated a magical little stack of wrapped presents, and all we’d have to do is slip them under the tree.  ENTER REALITY.  My husband and I procrastinate.  Both of us.  About the same things.  And who says opposites attract?…:)  So today, only three days before Christmas we were faced with a stack of unwrapped presents and thus began the gift-wrapping marathon.  So at this point we are embracing it as a “family tradition” because there’s no fooling us.  Next year will be the same, people.

But all the wrapping got my mind on the different styles of Christmas wrapping I have encountered.  It inspired me to compose a list of the various wrapping-styles and stylists out there.  Maybe you’ll see yourself on the list!

1.  The Martha Stewart.   They spend quite a bit of money or time on wrapping the presents.  Sheets and sheets of tissue paper.  Big, thick, beautiful gift bags–the expensive kind.  They want the outside of the gift to look just as nice as whatever present it is that they bought.  I like being on the receiving-side of this kind of gift.:)

2.   The Fixer-Upper.   This happens more frequently with adult-to-child presents, but it can sometimes make its way into an adult gift exchange too.  It’s the person who dresses up a present to make it seem bigger and better.  They wonder, “Isn’t this present a little lame?”  And then suddenly an extra bow and some ribbon seems like a way to make it up to the receiver.  We’ve all been there.  Right?  Um…guys? Hehe, me neither.

3.  The Scrooge.   This person puts the item in a gift bag (so much more low maintenance than cutting and taping paper) and veils the present with a  single sheet of white tissue paper.  And yes, it is possible that both gift bag and single sheet of tissue paper are recycled from a gift that scrooge received last Christmas.  And yes, it is possible that in a desperate circumstance I have found myself in a situation that lent itself (read:DEMANDED itself) to occur.

4.  The Thoughtful Planner.  Some people use the wrapping paper to color-coordinate which presents belong to which person.  This makes it easier and faster to sort through the pile of mixed-up presents so that opening can commence as quickly as possible.:)  A very kid-friendly tactic.  I remember one year waking up to a map-key that explained which paper coordinated with which sibling.  (But parents USE CAUTION as it quickly becomes a tool for children to assess which sibling got the most or biggest presents–not that I did that haha).  Another word of warning: make sure you don’t accidentally wrap someone else’s gift in someone else’s paper!

5.  The Traditonalist.  It’s Christmas.  That means no gift bags, or gift card holders, or sneaky little “I’ll-just-put-a-bow-on-it-jobs.”  If it’s a gift, it’s getting smothered in wrapping paper.  And they don’t care if it’s a car.  It will get wrapped.

6.   The It-Arrived-Too-Late-To-Wrap Person.  This is worse than the Scrooges.  This puts procrastination on a whole new level.  This is the person who basically has the “I’ll-just-put-a-bow-on-it” kind of mentality–minus the bow.

7.  The Squared-Away Wrapper.  It has to be square.  No matter what.  This person wraps everything in paper, and so obviously the only way to do that is to put whatever present they are giving in a box.  This can actually turn out to be super thoughtful and extravagant looking.  Who doesn’t love opening a present, only to find a pretty sweater box from a department store?  This can get out of hand though…when you unwrap a gift to find a Cheerio box staring at you, and the giver prompts, “No silly, open it up!”  But you’re thinking…”Why am I the silly one when I opened a Christmas present and see a box of Cheerios and look slightly confused?”

8.  The Wrapping Paper Police.  Each paper can only be used once, and it absolutely has to have a color coordinating bow and ribbon.  Presents that fail to meet expectations during the inspection period (because yes, there is on) must get redone.  There’s no purpose in buying someone a present unless it’s perfect.

9.  The Git-R-Dun Wrapper.  The goal for them is to just get that present covered, no matter the means.  Tape, a decent patch-job, a purposefully placed gift tag to cover up the gap between the paper.  This wrapper is sweet intentioned and tries their best to keep you from knowing what the present is.  But the object here isn’t attractiveness–it’s just getting the job done so you don’t know what you’re about to open.

10.  The Sneak.   This person is above and beyond wanting you to “not know” what you’re about to open.  They are out to get you.  Kind of.  They don’t want you to have even an INKLING about what they got you.  And if they can steer you off-course, even better.  This game can get pretty far.  As in triple-boxing a small item to make it seem big, and tossing a few marbles in to give it a random rolling-effect.  (True story…my husband lives to tell the tale).

Which kind of wrapper are you?  Did I forget someone?

 

 

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Christmas Traditions

The Christmas Traditions We've Made So Far in Our Marriage

As the most wonderful time of the year swirls around us, and Christmas week becomes a reality instead of a daydream, I find us embracing our family’s “Christmas Traditions.”  My husband and I say we are “creatures of habit” because it is just so true about us, but it especially becomes apparent around the holidays.:)  I’m sure we’ll add traditions to our Christmas repertoire over the years, as this is only our second Christmas married, but I already love the few we have started!

I guess decorating the house, gift giving, and a special family dinner are so embedded in the concept of Christmas Day celebration that we can’t necessarily count those as part of our “traditions.” haha  But they definitely make up a big part of this season for us.  I’m sure they do for you too!

But one thing we add when it comes to presents is that we have a gift-wrapping marathon and try to get everything wrapped in one day.  This one basically evolved from our propensity to procrastinate…but I guess you just have to embrace reality sometimes. 🙂 It is pretty fun, and we make it even more fun with Christmas music and little breaks in between to guess what each other have wrapped.   It’s one of our few little family traditions, and I look forward to it during the present-shopping period of the season!

A tradition we are trying to start this year is making a gingerbread house.  *Don’t tell Santa but…*  I’ve never actually MADE a gingerbread house.  The farthest I got was making big slabs of ginger cookies one Christmas as a teenager.  They never materialized into a house, as we ended up going on a trip for Christmas.  But they made excellent fuel for the road.haha

Maybe another tradition we will try down the road is opening up a gift on Christmas Eve after Midnight Mass.  I know sometimes people use that as an opportunity to gift pajamas for Christmas morning (and photos) the next day.  Is there any traditions that you want to try?  What are your family Christmas traditions?

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