Weekend Link Love: December 19, 2014

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I’m having a hard time wrapping my mind around the fact that Christmas is less than a week away. I’ve done most of the things on my Must Do Before Christmas list but there is still much wrapping and last minute planning to be done and not much time to do it in.

Before I dive back into holiday prep, here are some festive and helpful, delicious or hilarious things to enjoy this week:

Cherry Almond Shortbread Cookies from Sally’s Baking Addiction: In case you are addicted to cherries, almonds and shortbread cookies.

Chocolate Peppermint Bundt Cake from Our Best Bites: In case you just said, thanks but what about something with chocolate?

How to Play the Dreidel Game from Chabad.org: In case your kids have been asking to learn more about Hanukkah this year, too.

10 Ways to Relax During the Busy Christmas Season from Snailpace Transformations: In case your Bah Humbug keeps getting in the way of your merry.

The story of Christmas as told by children from Auckland, New Zealand in 2010 – in case you needed a reason to swoon and laugh simultaneously.

I’ve made my list and checked it twice.

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It’s kind of a blogging tradition to share Christmas gift ideas and I wouldn’t want to mess with tradition. But I don’t quite have the energy or time to make a list for all the different people you might be shopping for, so I’m just focusing on the most important person on your list: me.

So for the Jen in your life (the bookworm, the nerdy girl, the kid at heart, the lover of pretty things), here are a few the things to consider:

81yvgylbotL._SL1500_My dream big item this year is a color laser printer, perhaps with all the bells and whistles? This one is a printer, scanner, copier and fax machine which means I can remove two big bulkies off my desk and replace it with this one with excellent reviews.

With this baby I can stop crossing my fingers and praying for cooperation whenever I need to print something in color.

This Brother Printer is $530 right now.

71Gkd+SgfkL._SL1500_I am a sucker for pretty tea or coffee mugs and this one by Tea Forte doubles as a tea kettle with a built in stainless steel brewing basket and travel lid. It’s microwave and dishwasher safe and would look super cute in my kitchen or place of employment.

Price varies from $15-25 depending on color and availability.

il_570xN.192307229This 5 Golden Rings necklace by Lemonadehandmade at Etsy is pretty, seasonal, classically chic and humorous. I  love the literal interpretation of everyone’s favorite line from the 12 Days of Christmas.

She’s selling hers for $48. It’s made with 14 karat gold .21629_zoom1

These Warm or Cool Face Coffee Mugs from uncommongoods.com make me laugh every time I look at them. Apart from being funny, they also seem pretty useful for those of us who need a snack to go with our warm beverages.

And at only $35 for a set of two, I’m gonna go ahead and call this one a bargain.

0.largeThere is a safe bet that anyone shopping for me is going to consider getting me books or gift cards to buy myself books (a good plan). Why not go the extra mile and add this Bibliovore tote bag so I can haul them around in style? From the creative geniuses behind my favorite comic strip, Unshelved, this bag is currently out of stock but if you love me you’ll keep checking back so you can buy me one when they get more.Quarterly_BKR02_01And since we’re talking about books, a subscription to Book Riot would be a great way to make sure that tote bag is never empty. $50 for a box of bookish goodies would be a pretty awesome indulgence and if you are feeling generous, you can subscribe to send me a box every three months. I won’t hate you.

I’m linking up with Mama Kat’s World Famous Writer’s Workshop. You should join in on the fun – share your Christmas Wish List or answer one of her other 4 prompts here.

3 Books to Read Before 2015

I’m linking up with Anne @ Modern Mrs. Darcy‘s linkup formerly known as twitterature. Now dubbed Quick Lit, the goal of the game is still the same: Share some mini book reviews for what you’ve been reading over the last month. 

Here are 3 books I’ve read since last month, all three definitely worth fitting into your reading time before the new year rolls into town.

The Book Everyone’s Buzzing About: 

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simion

17925125This has been a much loved book around the blogosphere and I can see why. Although it took awhile to get used to the narrator’s voice which is as methodical and dry as you’d expect from a scientist with Asperger syndrome who decides for scientific reasons to find a wife. Not a girl friend, not true love, just a wife.

He makes a questionnaire for potential prospects to fill out to determine their qualifications for said position and conducts the whole thing like a scientific study. Then in true rom com fashion, he meets the perfect girl who doesn’t match any of said qualifications.

The story really clings to your heart after awhile – the author does a good job of fleshing out the characters, while remaining true to their inherent selves. I really, really enjoyed this one.

A Christmasy Classic: 

Christmas with Anne by L.M. Montgomery

543138The perfect book for Anne Fans to curl up with during the holidays. There are two “Anne” stories and then several others that Montgomery wrote for magazines and newspapers over the years.

Each story is good, but the truth is they all tell basically the same story: Be good to people, even when they don’t deserve it. It’s better to give than to receive. Unexpected kindness is the best kind of kindness. Etc.

It occasionally borders on repetitive, but I still enjoyed each story and if you are a fan of Montgomery’s writing (and who isn’t?) you’ll probably enjoy this.

And One To Read With Your Kids: 

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson

2797624I think I read this once before as a kid but it was even better reading it as an adult and parent. I read it with my 8 year old who thought the antics of the Herdmans was hysterical and I agree. This story has a lot of laugh out loud moments and a few heart string tugging moments as well. It’s a really cute story that will remind you of your own family and childhood even if you never knew a family like the Herdmans. Plus it’s a nice quick read with good flow for a read-a-loud.

What have you been reading lately?

Celebrating St Lucia Day.

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We’re continuing the tradition of celebrating Saint Lucia Day or Saint Lucy’s Day with our kids. Dan’s parents did it with their kids growing up and our kids loved celebrating last year so we did it again this weekend.

The story is that Saint Lucy secretly brought food to persecuted Christians in Rome, who were forced underground into the catacombs. Lucy would wear a crown of candles so she could use both of her hands to carry items. Lucy also means “light,” and December 13th falls close to the winter solstice, so the name “Lucy” also has much significance.

We don’t do the full traditional celebration – no music is involved and we just picked up tasty looking pastries at the supermarket rather than tracking down or making the sweet, saffron-flavoured buns (lussekatter).

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Like last year, I was so not about to put a crown of candles on the head of my 5 year old (although it looks like Amazon sells crowns with light bulb style candles for around $15-20). We used the same floral garland headband that she wore last year and a white shawl and she thought that was fabulous. We put out candles on the table to symbolize Lucy’s candles and served tea for mommy, apple cider for the kids and coffee for daddy. I also wasn’t quite ready to put her in charge of carrying all those breakable mugs, so I just had her serve the pastries.

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We put MM, our Star Boy, in charge of bringing the platter of pastries and serving plates to the table so he wouldn’t feel left out and I made him a quick construction paper Star Boy hat. One of these years I am going to do a better job of making him a nicer hat to wear!

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I have found the holiday seasons to be more meaningful when I take the time to teach my kids about different celebrations and stories from around the world and focus more on learning new traditions and stories of giving and love – and less on presents, though there will be plenty of time for presents, too!

Next on my list is to teach the kids a little bit more about Hanukkah this week. Any suggestions for good videos / websites / books to share with them?

Tell me about your family’s favorite Winter Traditions and celebrations!