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?

Continue Reading

Happy Thanksgiving, 2017!

Happy Thanksgiving, 2017

 

I know I haven’t been posting lately…but I couldn’t think of a better way to “get back on my blog” with a post wishing all my readers a happy thanksgiving.  I’m so grateful for your readership!  I know it goes without saying…but a blog doesn’t exist without readers.  So thank you for coming back so often to read and to support this place!

Without taking up more of your time on this holiday– Happy Thanksgiving, 2017 style!

And PS: thanks for being so patient and understanding about my absence.  I was taking off time for my little growing family.  But you should see some new posts popping up here and there during the holidays.  Maybe not as frequent as usual, but I’ll be around.  I hope you will be too!

Continue Reading

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!

Continue Reading

Thanksgiving 2016

stocksnap_a3v9yld63l

Happy Thanksgiving!  In the words of John Greenleaf Whittier, may “thy life be as sweet, and its last sunset sky / Golden-tinted and fair as thy own Pumpkin pie!”  Side note: mine is cooling right now.

Even though I am don’t enjoy 99% of traditional Thanksgiving fare, I’m 100% a celebrator of this holiday!  There should be a Thanksgiving every month, or even every week, because there is just SO so SO so much to be thankful for.  I would just like to name four things that right now I am incredibly thankful for:

  1. Faith- I am Catholic and having a faith to hold on to is my rock throughout this unpredictable Army life
  2. Family – my perfect husband is my best friend, and our darling baby is the apple of our eyes
  3. Health- there have only been a few times in my life where I have been generally “unwell” and I hated it!
  4. Memories- as a very sentimental person, it means so much to have years of memories that make me smile

I know Thanksgiving is not simply about being thankful.  It’s historic roots call to mind a sense of patriotism and honor among us.  The holiday also stands as a reminder to give, share, and nurture– both our own family, as well as the families in our world.  I don’t want to get preachy or cliche about it, so I will stop there.  But I would love to hear from you in the comments!  What does Thanksgiving mean to you, and how do you celebrate it?

Happy Thanksgiving!

Continue Reading

Happy Independence Day!

2AS2MYMJM9

Happy 4th of July!  I have always liked this holiday.  Well, to be honest, it might be the worst holiday when it comes to food…but when it comes to weather, it WINS.  If you love warm weather.  Like me.  While the day is filled with outdoor fun and romantic firework displays, it is also teeming with American passion.  Even though I think there is a basic understanding of freedom that we all celebrate today, everyone has their own feelings of independence and what that means in their life.  Today has a special meaning to me because we are an Army family, and because the US is my one true home.  I loved my travels abroad, but no other place will ever be the United States.  I wanted to share some of my favorite July 4 quote inspirations:

“The strength of a nation lies in the homes of its people.”

“This Nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave.” – Elmer Davis

“Better to fight for something than to live for nothing.” – Gen. George S. Patton

“It is impossible to rightly govern a nation without God and the Bible.” – Gen. George Washington

“Evil is powerless if the good are unafraid.” – Ronald Reagan

“Freedom is never granted, it is won.” – A. Philip Randolph

“In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.” – Thomas Jefferson

“Whose broad stripes and bright stars, thro’ the perilous fight, / O’er the ramparts we watch’d, were so gallantly streaming.” – Francis Scott Key

“Freedom isn’t free.”

 Today I like to remember those who have fallen in defense of our homeland.  Memorial Day might be dedicated to them, but we wouldn’t have Independence Day without them either.  I also want to remember those leaders who dedicated their life to shaping our country into the great nation it is today.  Even though its hard to gush on July 4th without sounding cheesy, I really don’t think there is anything silly about being patriotic and recognizing how amazing America really is.  I can’t imagine being anything but American, and I can’t picture the world without our country in it.

I hope you are enjoying your Independence Day!  Thanks so much for stopping by.  Happy 4th of July!

Continue Reading

New Year’s Resolutions 2016

I am definitely a new year’s resolutions-kind-of-person.  I think they’re fun, and I also think they are valuable.  Even though it can be easy to overdo it and make too many resolutions, I think it’s better to be an overachiever in this matter than an underachiever.

I find that lists help me get things done, and so creating a list of things I want to do or improve is a good way for me to make it become a reality.  In addition, I’m definitely a sentimental person, and sometimes new year’s has a slight bittersweet taste for me.  I always miss last year.:)  But resolutions make me excited about what I have to look forward to.

When I make resolutions (though I didn’t make this year’s yet!) I sometimes like to make categories.  I like making a few resolutions that are kind of unavoidable, like if I’m pregnant, I make the resolution to give birth. haha  The reason I like doing that kind of resolution is because it reminds me of what big or exciting things are in my future.  (Plus it’s nice to have some guaranteed success, lol).   My second category is the usual–things I want to do (ex. publish my book, grow my blog, start an indoor garden, etc) and things I want to improve (ex. my french, my piano repertoire, my cello time).  Then I like making a few spiritual goals as well–like more prayer time or completing a certain spiritual book.  If I want to improve in the next year then I definitely need to make spiritual progress!

Oh and last but not least, one big tradition I have is to save my list of resolutions.  It’s really fun to look back and see what was important to me each year.  And some things seem to make it on my list every year! *cough cough FRENCH cough*

What made it onto your list this year?

*Read next: Check out my New Year’s Resolutions for 2017*

Continue Reading

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. 🙂

Continue Reading

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?

Continue Reading

Christmas Eve

IMG_20151225_155400

‘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!

 

Continue Reading

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?

 

 

Continue Reading