Saturday, December 6, 2014

Five Christmastime favorites

This blog post brought to you by Frank taking the baby to Target with him, giving me an uninterrupted hour to write. Hurray Frank!!

1. Our updated fireplace

Some of you guys might remember how we've been trying to figure out what to do with our fake fireplace since we moved in here a year and a half ago.

Well, it took us a while, but we finally found the perfect thing! We bought one of these electric stoves, which fits perfectly in the space. It adds such a warm and cozy feeling—we love it! Now, why didn't we think of that a year and a half ago??

Some of us love to sit and look at the "fire" and occasionally shout excitedly at it. Luckily the outside doesn't get hot, so it will still be safe when Frankie is crawling.

2. We decorated for Christmas!

Meet this year's tree, Linus. (Do you name your Christmas tree, or is that just a weird thing we do?) (I put entirely too much thought into what to name the tree every year. This year is a shout-out to the saint and to Charlie Brown's Christmas. Frank rolls his eyes, but he thinks it's fun to name the tree too. Definitely a LOT easier than picking baby names!)

Frank went a little nuts with the greenery, lights, and berries over the fire, and I must say he did a fantastic job!

It's so crazy to look at those stockings and remember picking the middle one out a year ago for a little peanut whose name and sex were still unknown. We used the stockings to announce my pregnancy here and on Facebook.

Meanwhile this year, we had this happy little face watching while we decorated:

3. We got flannel sheets!

I've been wanting to get some for these awful Chicago winters, but we never got around to it last year. Then we were at Target a few weeks ago and found some with Scottish terriers on them... and you know about Frank's obsession with Scotties... so it was kind of meant to be.

I mean seriously, how cute is that?

I posted this photo on Instagram with a hashtag I'd seen for "make-your-bed Monday" (because don't we all need a little push to tidy up after the weekend?):

And now my parents are pretending to be scandalized that I only make the bed once a week. So here is the necessary clarification: occasionally I make the bed WITHOUT even posting about it on social media! Crazy, right??

4. My grandmother's annual tradition of buying Christmas jammies for each of her 20-some grandchildren is going strong. This year, she got to include not just her grandsons-in-law, but her two little great-grandsons. Here is Frankie modeling his adorable Christmas jammies:

The best. Thanks Grandma!

5. Homemade candles and the best little printable

I already mentioned the awesome Advent wreaths from Home Depot (here is ours in action):

But I also wanted to share about the gorgeous handmade beeswax candles we ordered from this family in the Chicago area.

Recently I read a blog post about how you can use the filters on Etsy to search for goods made in your own state, which is such a cool way to "shop local" (a Catholic blogger wrote the post but I can't remember who it was... if you know the post I'm talking about, can you let me know so I can link to it?). Last weekend I wanted to honor Small Business Saturday so I searched for Illinois sellers of Advent candles, and found those.

I'm so glad I got them, because they are by far the slowest-burning and prettiest Advent candles we've ever had! I also found some cool little things from Illinois craftspeople that I want to put in Frank's stocking for Christmas. I definitely recommend checking out what people in your state are selling on Etsy—you can find some pretty sweet stuff.

Also, I wanted to share this blog post with its link to a gorgeous printable of the St. Andrew Christmas Novena (that's the thing framed next to the Advent wreath). Thank you to Elizabeth for this post, as I had never heard of this tradition before this year (and everything she writes... I love her blog so much. This recent post had me in tears of gratitude for the fatherly witness of my husband, father, and father-in-law.)

I decided to find out some more about this tradition, and here is what I have learned about it:

1. The name is a total misnomer. It's not a novena (in the sense of "nine days") and it doesn't involve St. Andrew (it merely begins on his feast day).

2. You say this prayer 15 times every day from November 30 until Christmas.

3. It is not magic but it is incredibly powerful.

I was intrigued, especially since I have some pretty major prayer intentions on my heart (don't we all?). So I printed out the prayer and got to work. I have been amazed at the effect that just one week of saying the prayer daily has had. Every year I feel as though Christmas sneaks up on me and I don't really celebrate and appreciate the Advent season. Thanks to this prayer, for the first time in my life, I feel like I am slowing down and savoring each day of Advent. It's been wonderful. (And last night I totally fell asleep without saying it. But I will get back on the horse and keep going!) Do you have any favorite Advent traditions to get you in the Christmas spirit?

Finally, the Old Navy giveaway! The giveaway ended last night and the winners have been emailed. Thank you all for entering!!


  1. That is such a cute tradition - I think when (hopefully!) I'm a grandma I will have to adopt the same thing. Buying PJs is such a fun idea! And they are just so cute, no matter what the age. :)

  2. Sometimes my comments disappear! Anyway, thanks for the link for your advent candles. I need to get some and tuck them away for next year. Our candles are burning so fast that we can only keep them lit for the very beginning of dinner.

  3. Hi Tess!
    Frankie is too cute! And this is my first year doing the St. Andrew Christmas Novena, too—I like the background info you found on it, since it's all new to me as well. Actually, the first intention on my list was something that had been a problem for months, and within the first 6 days of the novena it was resolved! I like the prayer; it's a good way to focus myself during Advent.
    Also, in response to your other post—it's good to know that there are flexible work opportunities within editing! I like the work I've been doing so far in editorial, and that's awesome that there are options to work from home once you have a certain level of experience & connections.