No Room at the Inn- a christmas post

As Christmas comes ever closer, I wanted to share a story about Christmas three years ago that has been on my mind a lot recently. It doesn’t necessarily fit with any of my themes for this year, but I figure since it’s about Christmas and I’m transitioning blog focuses anyway I’d just go for it. It’s about a small act of kindness that made enough of an impression that years later here I am writing about it… Continue reading

FAVORITES: Non-material gifts for the holidays

OK, one more round of favorites before the holidays are in full swing and I start my year end wrap up…

The thought of adding any more STUFF to our already very full house makes me feel a little anxious. We are about to cram five people into our fairly small home. So today I’m writing about a few things that have been or currently are on our holiday gift list in case anyone else out there is trying to be “minimalish” for the holidays and focus on gifts that don’t take up space! Bonus- this also means you don’t have to dust them/tell your kids to pick them up… Continue reading

Christmas Movie Themed Stay at Home Date Nights!

I mentioned before that some of our dates this year have been stay at home date nights. I was a little skeptical about doing this, but budget and time constraints meant that it was stay at home or nothing. It turns out that thanks to being serious about intentionally setting aside that time and starting it right when both kids went down to bed, they were some of our best date nights this year. To finish out the year I’m hoping to get a date night out and we are already planning a date night in. With the holiday hustle and bustle, I thought some of my readers might d some suggestions for their own stay at home date nights themed around some favorite holiday films. Also heads up- potential spoiler alert for any of the following movies so scroll past any you might not have seen… or just accept that they are worth watching anyway… plus, they’ve all been out a while y’all so no guilt here…
1. Jingle All the Way: This is a movie people either love or hate. My husband and I happen to love it. The theme of presents vs. presence is so good and it just makes me laugh every single time.
Snacks: This date night absolutely requires some cookies so you can lay claim to them by screaming “THOSE ARE MY COOKIES!” and maybe pair them with Ted’s hot chocolate
*Must quote line: aside from the one above, “It’s Turbo Time!” or a “Most Wonderful Time of the Year” singalong…
*Post-Movie ideas: Challenge each other to see who can name all Santa’s reindeer the fastest, Take a moment to be thankful that your neighbors aren’t as creepy as Ted… or if they are maybe take a moment to think about moving…
*Discussion: ask each other about your favorite gift you’ve ever been surprised with on Christmas or else the craziest thing you’ve ever put on a Christmas list!
2. Elf:
*Snacks: Try to create something from the four major elf food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corn, and syrup… preferably not over spaghetti… cookies from the Keebler company would not be amiss either… and don’t forget to have the word’s best cup of coffee!
*Must quote line: “I’m in love I’m in love and I don’t care who knows it!”
*Post-Movie ideas: Have an etch a sketch contest for who can make the fanciest drawing in a limited time. If you make this movie night a double date you could play a guessing game with etch a sketches instead! If you live in a place where it snows then snowball fights are a must. If you live in a place where it is as hot as Phoenix… try to channel your inner Miles Finch and create storyboards for a new holiday children’s book! You can do this together or work on them separately and share your ideas, hopefully some laughter will ensue and maybe you’ll even stumble upon your next couples project!
*Discussion: The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear… what are your favorite Christmas songs and why?

3. The Holiday
*Snacks: Sushi! and definitely not at the same time but later in the night a hot chocolate bar is a must… with at least five marshmallows each… and bonus points if your date agrees to do Mr. Napkinface
*Must quote line: “I used only the good notes.” “Gumption” and “I’m in love with you. I apologize for the blunt delivery, but as problematic as this fact may be, I’m in love… with YOU”
*Post-Movie ideas: Improvise theme songs for each other. “Scroodleedoo!” or get on airbnb and imagine where you’d like to escape on holiday.
*Discussion: Talk about your perfect holiday, reminisce about your own “meet cute”, or commiserate over a time you had to work through long distance.

*It’s a Wonderful Life
*Snacks: I think you have to go with Angelfood cake in honor of Clarence. You can also have some mulled wine… or a martini or two in honor of the Martini family…
*Must quote line: “What do you want? You want the moon? Just say the word and I’ll throw a lasso around it and pull it down.” and of course, “Remember no man is a failure who has friends…”
*Post-Movie ideas: Go for a walk if you don’t have kids tucked in bed. If you do, just go outside and gaze at the stars and the moon. OR think about how Mary dreams the Bailey house into becoming a beautiful home even before they own it and do a little daydreaming for your own home or the home you wish to own in the future.
*Discussion: This is a great movie to get your talking about your blessings and also the angels in your life- the friends and family who helped you through tough situations and dark times.

This picture is from one of my first snow days- from the first year my husband and I were together. After this outing in the snow, we went back to my house, watched Love Actually, and I told him I loved him for the first time… only took me about six weeks after he’d first told me… thank God for a man who is patient!

*Love Actually
*Snacks: Pie. I mean, you can be really true to the movie and make sure it’s Banoffee pie but I’ll pass on that… alternatively chocolate biscuits. For something more savory you can go for lobster ravioli in honor of the lobsters present at the birth of Jesus…
*Must quote line: “I HATE Uncle Jaime!” or you know… any of the number of actual lovey dove lines. Having signs confessing your love wouldn’t be bad either…
*Post-Movie ideas: Dance party to All I Want for Christmas is You. Have a contest to see who has the better British accent.
*Discussion: Craziest thing you’ve done for someone you had a crush on? Favorite romantic gesture you’ve done for each other? What instrument would you want your partner to woo you with?

*Your personal tradition-everyone has their favorite “Holiday movie” that isn’t technically a popular or traditional holiday movie but has become one because you watch it each year between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. For some it’s more of a holiday special than a movie- I had a friend in college obsessed with Andy Williams and he couldn’t be happier than watching that Christmas special. For other families I know it’s Star Wars, for us this is Nicholas Nickelby. No, not the actual movie that came out in 2002, but the recorded stage performance of the 1980s Royal Shakespeare Company production. I have memories of this playing during Thanksgiving prep at my dad’s house and since I happened to marry a fellow theatre nerd we’ve carried the tradition on… it’s 8 hours of brilliance (yeah, I know that kind of marathoning is not for many people) and while we used to try and attempt it all in a day or two, we now take it over a week or so… we call it a win if we finish by Christmas
*Snacks: Thanksgiving leftovers, tea, your favorite alcoholic beverage, popcorn with hot sauce… anything that is unique to you and your beloved.
*Must quote line: Obviously different for everyone but here’s my favorites from Nickleby- “You are my home” “My heart is so full, I cannot tell how full it is”
*Post-Movie ideas: Decorate for Christmas! the Holiday season now feels officially in full swing.
*Discussion: What traditions you want to continue to cultivate. The things in your favorite movie you forgot about or noticed about a little detail for the first time. If you have children maybe discuss the top traditions you hope your kids will pass on to their kids one day.


I obviously couldn’t get to every movie in this post, so I’d love to hear about your favorite holiday films or your favorite stay at home date night ideas during this time of year. Or if you’ve thrown a party for friends or special time with your kids centered around a favorite film.

A Favorite Christmas Tradition…

There are so many things I love about the Christmas and Advent season. The marvel of lights, the gorgeous music, the specifically Catholic traditions (I’ve been slowly adding to our nativity scene each Sunday, and when we have a little more space one of my first wish list items is an advent wreath!) Then there are the family traditions which are some of my favorites Continue reading

Cultivating Memories

As we head into the holiday season, I’ve been reflecting how best to intentionally spend my time. It feels like there’s extra pressure this year to make it special as it’s the last Christmas my son will be an only child and that makes it tempting to try and do ALL THE THINGS. But I don’t want to do all the things and feel the consequences of an already difficult pregnancy under the added stress of exhaustion. And for that matter, I don’t just want the holidays to be the time we’re consciously choosing ways to make memories with our kids.  Continue reading

To those whose holidays aren’t feeling merry or bright:

Sometimes I worry that my blog gets a little schmaltzy. I’m a passionate person and I have always had intense feelings- both on the positive and negative spectrum. I just do a whole lot of feeling. I’m sensitive to joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain. That being said, I don’t think I’m alone in LOVING this time of year and all the Christmas traditions and merriment. It is truly a magical time of refocusing and rejoicing. I want to talk about a Christmas where things felt neither calm nor bright. Continue reading

Baking #22: Do you wanna bake a snowman?

IMG_4970My nephew came to visit us yesterday and surprised us by asking for a
blanket, some hot chocolate, and to watch the movie Elf. We live in Phoenix so this seemed a little crazy, but he told us he wanted to pretend it was Christmas so we decided to theme our whole day around Christmas in June. (Since we won’t be watching him in July this made perfect sense.) We were more than happy to accommodate with the movie because Elf is one of our all-time favorites. In fact, I watched Elf while I was in the hospital in labor. That’s how much we love it (and how much I wanted to laugh through my nerves about giving birth…) So we had hot chocolate (or a mocha in my case) and watched the movie and turned on the fans so that bundling up in blankets wouldn’t lead to heat exhaustion and had a great day. Continue reading