…a few of my favorite things…

My friends.  We sit with just 9 days until Christmas.  Nine!  Why does is seem like we have all the time in the world & then “BAM!” out of no where, we’re almost out of time?  If you’re feeling behind, I’m here to help.  In the spirit of Christmas with a little inspiration from The Sound of Music together with a little Opren {that’s Oprah & Ellen}…I give you…

My Most Favorite Finds – 2016

  1. This has been at the absolute top of my chart for years now.  It is my absolute favorite!!  My dry, winter skin needs SO much help.  You have no idea.  Cracking, itching, awful.  This year is particularly bad with all the extra hand washing I’m doing.  And this little treasure is the best I’ve ever found.  L’Occitane Hand Cream.  Hand down the very best!  $28 very well spent.  And if you signed up for eBates {which I know you did} you’ll get 3% back on each one.  
  2. I received this as a gift from seven of the most amazing women in my life.  Scattered all over the planet, they coordinated this gift as a comfort when Sweet Ginger began his chemo treatments.  It is most wonderful throw blanket in the entire world.  Softness does not even begin to adequately describe it.  It is cozy, weighty, 100% lovely.  If you have someone on your list who might need a luxurious throw, this! is! it!!  Pottery Barn’s Ruched Faux Fur Throw.  Regularly priced at $149, it is on SALE today {Dec. 16} only.  What a steal at $104.  Don’t miss this deal!
  3. This year I did my first Whole 30.  It was a good experience and I am sure that after the holiday eating is over, I’ll be looking at another go around.  I really did feel better, sleep better and have way more energy while on it & I think I could go again here in the new year.  Anyway, while doing that I discovered my next favorite find – Bubbies Sauerkraut.  It may be a bit more expensive than other sauerkrauts out there, but for good reason.  This is true sauerkraut.  Made with cabbage, water, salt.  That’s it.  Naturally fermented like our great grandparents would have eaten it.  Delicious!!!  You can pick it up at lots of you favorite food stores in the refrigerated section.  
  4. These past few months I have become somewhat of an expert on winter head ware.  Living in the frozen tundra with a completely bald bald has required us to find the most fabulous hats known to man.  While the absolute best have come from an amazingly talented friend, the next best have to be the ones from Love Your Melon!  Hands down.  Warm, soft, comfortable.  And 50% of profits go to cancer research. Winner, winner.  They come in a multitude of colors and styles, but are so popular that they are often low or short on their most populars.  Luckily they restock often and add to their styles regularly.  They range in price from $30-$45.  A great deal on such a wonderful hat…with a fabulous cause.
  5. My final favorite find for this year is Isaiah 41:10.  “Do not fear, for I am with you.  Do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”  Especially over the past few months, I have needed this reminder almost daily.  Do not fear.  Do not be dismayed {agitated, discouraged, disheartened, frightened, horrified, rattled, scared, unnerved, upset}  God is with me, he is my God, he will provide the strength & help necessary and he will hold me up when I ca no longer stand on my own.  This doesn’t mean that every moment is rosey.  It doesn’t mean that in the end this will turn out the way that I think it should go.  It means that however it goes, I’m not alone.  This verse.  So for my final favorite find, I have a FREEBIE for you.  Simply click the “like” at the bottom of this post {or better yet leave me a comment!} and download your free printable.  Simply download & print on your home computer & printer.

printable

I hope you have a wonderful eight days of shopping or relaxing by the fire sipping hot cocoa, whichever.  I hope you enjoy this list of my most favorite finds.  Buy one for a friend or for yourself, no matter, you’l be glad you did!

And if you still need to sign up for eBates & start getting some cash back in your wallet, click here.  Get shopping straight away because they’re giving you an extra $10 just for signing up & shopping.  Don’t delay.  There’s money waiting!!

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#Perfect

May I be honest?  The past few weeks have been a bit rough.  Cancer is dying {can I get a hands-raised hallelujah?!} but the chemo rounds are getting tougher on sweet ginger’s body.  More side effects like nausea, fatigue & chemo brain are creeping in. He’s a bit more, let’s say ornery, for good reason. And my patience often feels fleeting.  Cancer, chemo, all of it is just plain no fun!

Now how about we throw Christmas in the mix?  Why not?  I will admit up-front that online shopping has saved the gift giving aspect of the holiday.  I have not stepped foot in an actual brick & mortar since Black Friday.  This has no doubt helped to save my sanity.  And while the boxes are filing up nearly all my adequate hiding spaces, I would say that shopping has come to a close.  That’s the good news.  Cancer cannot win the gift giving battle!

I think what has been getting to me…is all the “perfect” Christmases I see everyone else having out there.  And by everyone, I mean a bunch of people who mostly I don’t even know.  Don’t.  Even.  Know.  And by perfect Christmases I mean the ridiculously faux, staged, photoshop perfected, do-people-even-live-in-your-home posts filling my Instagram & Facebook feeds.  I don’t know most of the folks & I know that there’s no way their homes looks like that 100% of the time.  Yet for some reason my Christmas feels downtrodden and frankly lacking when their homes, cookies, decor, Christmas lights, trees, parties with every ounce of their perfection fill my screen.  Here’s the amazing tree at the nurse’s station on the oncology floor:

The “perfect” tree for the cancer kids of the 7th floor.

For many, who are in far worse circumstances than ours, this is the only Christmas tree that they will be enjoying this season.  It hardly compares to the ones coming across the wi-fi.  And I have spent too much of my recent days a bit on the angry side about that.

OK!  I’ll say it so you don’t have to.  Jealous much?  Yes, I would agree.  There is a jealous covetousness that sits inside of this little annoyance of mine.  Jealous.  Covetous.  Ugly.  Really…I’ll say it..:: I really just want a perfect Christmas, not a cancer Christmas.

A “Perfect” Christmas

What exactly is a perfect Christmas?  From my feeds, I might conclude it’s in the tree, the decor, the food, the parties.  So what to do about that?  I could cancel my Instagram & Facebook accounts.  But I don’t actually think that would solve the root of my problem.  Instead it would perhaps just mask it for a while.  I would say the best go-to is always…wait for it…prayer & the Word.  So, that’s what I’ve been up to.  And here’s how the story looks this morning.

Yesterday, while feeding the chickens in temperatures that make your face hurt, I was complaining {pretend you’re shocked} about all the frozen poop in the coop {that’s a fun rhyme} it occurred to me that Jesus was born in a stable…basically a big chicken coop.  The poop in that stable was likely not frozen and instead horribly stinky.  And that is where Mary delivered him.  Mary.  What on earth would have gone through her mind if they’d had Instagram back at Jesus’ birth?  All her other friends would be posting full make-up smiles holding precious pink newborns wrapped in striped blankets from clean beds with hashtags like #perfectbundle and #amazingdelivery, while she was holding her precious bundle in some old strips of cloth Joseph found on the ground of the stable and shook off.  There would have been dirty animals, straw & stinky poop in the background of her photo with Jesus.  Not exactly hashtag worthy?

But as I envisioned this, about the King being born in a dirty old barn, I couldn’t help but smile.  Jesus really isn’t interested in our “perfect” Christmases.  His Christmas {if you can call it that} was less than picture perfect.  He isn’t necessarily impressed with our picture worthy Christmas decor or our Christmas cookies or parties or any of the things we pretend are perfect & post for some “likes” and accolades on social media.  All those things I’ve been jealous of lately.  Jesus came for people.  Christmas is about people.  Christmas {coupled together with Easter} is the gospel…the whole story…the perfect story.  Christmas is about Jesus.  Coming to earth so humbly it’s ridiculous. Remembering this, made my jealous rage {yep rage} seem so misplaced.  And rather silly, really.

Mary’s Instagram would have looked absurd.  Imagine it.  Baby Jesus in a feeding trough-#cozy.  Holding baby Jesus while the cows lick his face-#madcowsnotspreadthroughsalivaright.  Selfie with Mary, Joseph & baby Jesus in the barn-#atleastitscovered.  Jesus surrounded by dirty, stinky shepherds leaning in, touching baby Jesus’ face-#strangementouchingmybaby. Mary holding Jesus while wise men bow with amazing gifts-#theybroughtembalmingfliud.  These pictures would have been so foolish by our current Christmas standards but each embodies the Perfect Christmas. And each should have #perfect.

I don’t post this to judge anyone.  Please don’t take it that way.  I think these pictures of trees and decor and parties are beautiful. I just needed to realign my heart, remember what Christmas is really about, and appreciate my cancer Christmas.  When I look at Mary, I can see that this Christmas perhaps is closer to the Christmas Mary experienced…dirty, ugly, less-than-ideal.  But because of Jesus–absolutely perfect.  If your Christmas is not exactly Instagram-worthy, remember neither was Mary’s.  But she treasured up every, single moment.

Luke 2:19 – But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.

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An Online Christmas

Well, well, well.  Twenty three sleeps left until Christmas morning.  Twenty three!  My friends, that’s right around the corner!!  And if you consider at least five days until the 25th will be spent inpatient with a chemo kiddo, I had better get myself in the Christmas giving spirit very, very quickly.

I must say I have zero energy to drive all over town & sort through aisles & aisles of stuff.  While usually a bargain hunter at heart, I have zero desire to search & scour for the very best deal on the things my loved ones are hoping for under the tree this year.  Honestly, I want to get whatever I need & get the heck home to take a nap.  So instead, this year I plan to get it all knocked out…

ONLINE

I’m not sure who the brain child was that thought up internet shopping, but they should definitely win a “major award” {ode to my second favorite Christmas movie of all times!}  A Major Award!  Internet shopping.  Sit down, wearing cozy pjs, sipping delicious hot coffee that didn’t cost $5, get what I need, sit back & wait for the packages to arrive by Santa’s true little elves – the men in the big brown van!  Perfection.

And do you know what makes internet shopping ever better?  Getting money back for just clicking “purchase”.  I know you’ve seen the commercials.  You’re skeptical, like I was.  “How do you really get cash back from shopping online?  What’s the catch?” Well, I’m here to tell you…NO CATCH.  It really, really, really works just like they say.  See here

Ebates Really Works!

Since July 2015 {a year and a half} I’ve received $270.65 for purchases I made online.  For things I would have purchased anyway.  Just a little jingle•jingle back in my wallet for doing nothing.  No coupon to clip.  No driving around town.  Easy.  I buy, they send me a check.  A real old fashion check made out to me that I deposit in the bank & use to buy whatever I want.  This is no tricky scheme to give you money that can only be used at their store {ahem, Costco/Kohls} This is CASH.  The cold, hard variety.  Win!

Here’s all you need to do.

  1. Click here to get to Ebates.  {***deal alert!!  Ebates is giving you $10 if you sign up through this link.  $10 free!!!  WIN!***}
  2. Get signed up.
  3. Go shopping at the 100s of stores available at Ebates {I like Nordstrom’s best, but choose whatever suits your fancy}
  4. Make a purchase.
  5. Watch the $$$$ add up.

It is So easy.  You’ll thank me later.  Promise.  It really is that good.  You’ll love it.  Get yourself signed up and earning money right away.

Advent Cards :: FREE Printables

Can you even believe that it’s December 1?  This autumn has just flown right on by & Christmas is rushing up the front walkway with lightning speed.  Are you ready?  I’m not.  Even. Close.

Last year I put together a few different printable advent cards to help slow down & focus on the amazing story that is Christmas.  You can find all three set here.  I think they are super fun.

But this year, I wanted to have a super simple set to display.  Something without a lot of graphics or bright colors.  Something with simple, elegant fonts.  And I wanted to pass the set along to you.  Because what’s Christmas exactly without some fun giving?

Simply click here to download the printable.  Print them out on some quality cardstock.  I used 65 lb. in brilliant white.  Then cut each one out following the cutting guides & if you’re feeling fancy, dust off your favorite Creative Memories corner rounder or another corner rounder of your choice {maybe like this one}.  There is one card for each day & each one tells a bit of the miraculous Christmas story.

In case you’re curious, the absolutely adorable display with the candy cane stripes came from Michael’s.  I’ve seen similar at Hobby Lobby.  Super fun and cute way to display these cards!

If you like them {or anything you see here} please add a little love:  like this post & pin it!

If you don’t want to miss anything, please add your email and “follow me”.

Count Your Many Blessings

In these early hours while the house is still quiet and before the bird gets ready for his big debut, I thought it might be a good idea to reflect for just a moment on this year & the abundance that I have to be thankful for.  Especially looking back over the last two months since sweet ginger was diagnosed, it’s easy to look to all the struggle, pain, unknown and inconvenience and pitch a tent in the land of the whining complainer.  I don’t want to spend time there {I don’t usually like the people that live in that place}.  I want to march on through & spend time in a land where blessing are counted.

I am thankful for the obvious things – friends and family.  But this year I am specifically thankful for those who have come alongside us, who have cared for, prayed for, thought of & loved us.  I am extra blessed by those people who have been able to let me remain “normal”…let me just be me.  I am thankful for people near and far.  I am blessed by so many, many people and their love.

I am thankful for oncology researchers, doctors and nurses.  I had no idea how much love poured from within the walls of the sterile hospital.  These men and women have literally held us up these last two months.  To those who pour their hearts and lives into childhood cancer, there are few words that express my gratitude.  You are a blessing to me!

I am thankful for sweet ginger hair’s friends.  In rough and tumble days, the kids that love my kid are truly a blessing beyond words.  They come hang out, they bring food, they organize t-shirt & bracelet sales, they send cards, they shave their heads & bring a bald boy hats…they are the most amazing group of kids ever.  And I am thankful for the friends of my other two kiddos too.  They provide relief, normalcy, a place to hang out and be a kid.  I am thankful for the friends of my kids {and their parents} more than I ever thought I could be.

People top my list of this year of blessings.  I could live my entire life without a new car, without a bigger chicken coop, without a Fixer Upper-worthy home. But I cannot live without the love and kindness of the people I share this life with. The things that fill my heart are things that just cannot be bought.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

 Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth!
    Worship the Lord with gladness.
    Come before him, singing with joy.
 Acknowledge that the Lord is God!
    He made us, and we are his.
    We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
 Enter his gates with thanksgiving;
    go into his courts with praise.
    Give thanks to him and praise his name.
 For the Lord is good.
    His unfailing love continues forever,
    and his faithfulness continues to each generation.  -Psalm 100

 

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Thankful Cards part 3 :: Free Printable

It is hard to believe that we are just a few short days away from Thanksgiving!  I absolutely love Thanksgiving!  It may very well be my favorite holiday…but don’t tell Christmas or Easter.  One of the things I love to do most is cook and Thanksgiving provides the opportunity to cook up some amazingly delicious & comfort-classic foods.  I am bursting to get in the kitchen!  Guess I should probably get the turkey thawing.

Last year I put together some Thanksgiving cards to display around the kitchen & table.  Each contained a scripture passage about thanks.  You can find them here & here.

This week I put together another set of 8 cards.  I printed them off on some Kraft paper cardstock, cut them out and again used my trusty Creative Memories corner rounder to finish them off.  I plan to use them around our dinner table this year.

And what fun would it be if I didn’t share them? So here they are!

thanksgiving cards

Thanksgiving Cards set 3

Simply click on one of the pictures above or here, print them out on your favorite quality cardstock, cut them using the cutting guides & round them off {if you still enjoy your 1990’s CM corner rounder as much as I do} and display them around your table and home this year!

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!  Be thankful for the many blessings in your life.  Love your family well.  And praise God from whom all those blessings flow!

And, hey, take a second to pin these if you wouldn’t mind!

 

From Where I Sit

It’s been a bit ugly in the world lately.  If you haven’t noticed, you likely do a much better job of staying off of social media & news outlets than I do.  There’s an arrogance.  A bitterness.  A whole awful lot of finger-pointing & judging. There’s outright rage & anger & hatred.  Real hatred.  Words that should never be said have been screamed.  Thoughts that should never be thought have been thought.   And actions that should never occur have boiled into our everyday.  It seems that ugliness might just be winning.

Please, though, don’t lose heart.

…because from where I sit…

I see goodness & kindness.  I see no separation of people based on color or gender or religion or any of the other zillions of categories we throw people into.  There’s no hatred, no judgment, no bias, no rage.  From where I sit, in a sterile room on the childhood cancer floor at Children’s Hospital, I find only goodness & kindness & understanding & love.

Each room on that floor holds a child.  A child fighting for their life.  And there’s not a single person walking those halls that thinks one of those children deserves to win their battle more than another.  When everything is stripped away and all you’re left with is a fight to save your baby {even your 16 year old baby} every single one of us is on equal footing. There is no rich or poor.  Or black or white.  Hispanic or Somali.  Muslim or Jew.   We may have once believed that some were more important, more worthy, more valuable than others, but in the face of cancer, none of that exists.  We are all the same.

We wander the halls sleepily in the night & early morning.  {mostly tracking down coffee}  We gather without planning in the parent’s lounge waiting to brew our cup of morning joe, wiping sleep from our eyes and often tears from our cheeks.  We smile & offer kind words of encouragement to each other.  We know each other, even though we don’t.  And the very last thing we care about in that place is color, religion, gender, nationality or political views.  In that place we are humans with the exact same purpose – love our families and bring our babies home healthy.

It’s easy to get caught up in the ugly that is in our world. It’s easy to see only the bad and forget all the good.  But I offer you that we are all more alike than we are different.  And to cut it down to the very center, the exact core, us humans are pretty much the same.  We want to raise amazingly wonderful & healthy kids, to love them well and do our part to make sure they love others too.  And from where I sit, this is the goodness I see.

7th Floor. Where all childhood cancer patients go.
7th Floor. Where all childhood cancer patients go.