To the mother in the NICU this Christmas

Advice to the mother spending Christmas in the NICU or PICU.

I see you … you’re drinking Ronald McDonald coffee you smuggled into your little one’s room sitting in the middle of IV alarms, feeding tubes, ventilator equipment, and nurses chattering in the background. You’re spending Christmas in the NICU, PICU, or surgery floor. 

I see you smiling at your baby — thankful to be with her even if she’s in a warming tank or you’re wearing those noisy isolation gowns.

Despite your smiles I know you’re struggling with tears and questions — why do we have to spend the holidays here? Why do we have to endure this?

It’s okay; I know that your burden is very real and very heavy.

Can I give you some advice as a woman who spent 281 days in the hospital with her baby?

Mama, decorate your baby’s crib. Even in the middle of the storm, you need to find ways to make these days special.

If baby can tolerate stimuli, I hope you sing her your favorite Christmas carols and dress her in the outfit you got at your baby shower.

Eat the extra cafeteria sugar cookie and take a little time to look at the Christmas lights down the street.

Give your husband an extra long kiss before he goes back to work.

Please buy a tiny Walmart tree and set it up in your Ronald McDonald apartment and enjoy the free gifts they leave hanging on your door.

This is your Christmas.

This horrible, exhausting, lonely Christmas is your Christmas and one day it will end.

One day you’ll look back at this season and wonder how the days passed so quickly.

But until then, be easy on yourself. Find ways to make these precious days count.

You need to survive these days just as much as your baby needs to survive. You need to be gentle with yourself — after all, you’ve lost so much normalcy — it’s okay for you to grieve the loss of normalcy.

It’s okay. 

Love and blessings from someone who has spent the holidays in the NICU and PICU

Frannie

Our Simple, Natural Christmas Tree



We like to keep our Christmas tree simple and, as a lover of all things cottage and farmhouse, the goal for our tree decor is to reflect themes of natural, neutral, old-fashioned charm.

Our secret ingredient? Potpourri! 

It all started when we were newly weds and poor as mice. Our tree was given to us by some amazing neighbors who were upgrading. We went to Hobby Lobby but nothing suited our unique tastes and tiny budget so my amazingly creative husband thought outside the box. We came home with this box for $14.99 and after an afternoon of hot gluing Christmas hooks we had a unique and (incredibly cheap!) tree!

Since then we’ve added a few homemade, DIY ornaments and store bought favorites. The tree’s charm and simplicity grew as we added glittery wicker balls from Pier One, wood slices (cut by D himself) with handwritten words, and pine cones which I picked up on an afternoon walk. 

Future goals include making our own dried cranberry and orange sliced garland (see Leah’s for an adorable tutorial!) and catching one of these adorable tree collars on sale! 

I love Christmas time. There’s something so good about it all — the snow, gifts, hot chocolate, family time, shopping, traditions. It’s all so good. — How do you decorate your tree? Are you a clear or colored lights sort of gal? Tag me in your pics on Instagram — I’d love to see your creativity! 🎄

Happy decorating! 

Frannie

Christmas Bliss

Mmmmmm … there is something so delicious about Christmas time. I’ll be enjoying some of the most glorious, simple pleasures I love. Namely, family gathered close at home, candles burning, full stockings, giving and receiving and eating hearty, homemade goods.

Most of all I’m excited to be spending this coming week in thanksgiving and prayerful reflection on my Lord Jesus and Heavenly Father’s amazing gift born in a poor town to a poor couple in the poorest way. We have a good Father who loves us and if you don’t know the full extent of that love please read 2 Corinthians 8:9.

I’ll be pretty silent for the coming two weeks but I do plan on sharing some pictures from where I came from, my own mother’s beautiful, Christmas homemaking. 🙂

I’m sure there will be a few coffee pictures shared on my Instagram and Facebook for those still needing a midnight browse. (Tisk, tisk you! Shouldn’t you be in bed? 😉 ) Don’t forget to leave a comment if you’re interested in our wintry giveaway.

So very thankful for you reading folk and wishing your Christmas week be very merry and white.

Love, blessings and coffee,

Frannie

Decorating for Christmas on a Newlywed Budget

Christmas Decor on a Newlywed Budget

It’s a joy-filled, sunny day in our neck of the woods. Christmas is only ten days away and my little heart can hardly stand it! 🙂 This is our second Christmas as a married couple and it has been enjoyable in every way — what a blessed, love-filled month it has been!

One of the difficulties many new brides (and single folk too!) experience is decorating for Christmas on a budget. We fret, stress and grumble remembering how lovely our childhood Christmas’ were; we want our homes to be as cozy and festive as the one’s left behind. Can any one relate? Or am I alone in this? 😉

Thankfully, creating a beautiful, cozy holiday home does not need to break the newlywed’s budget. Join me as I show you eleven of my favorite affordable decorating ideas for Christmas. (This is an excellent excuse for me to browse Pinterest … cue the hot coffee, chocolate and Pinterest marathon!) 😉

DIY Advent Countdown

Isn’t this Advent calendar delightful? Start with toilet paper rolls, ribbon, tape and paper and end with something you can hide treats in. I love it! (link here)

Handmade Ornaments

Cinnamon ornaments smell yummy and add a rustic charm; I’ll be making some of these this week! (link + recipe here!)

Isn’t this little nest so sweet? Our tree is very reflective of our home and personalities; I have a few birds nest tucked away and several berries springing out of branches; this little nest would be a perfect addition! (link here)

Delightful Decorations

chr 6

Stop by Lowes and ask if you could have the pine branches left from the tree cuttings. Branches are a delicious (free!) way of bringing the natural elements of the winter season  inside. (link here)

Wrap a few miscellaneous boxes in scrapbook paper or pages of books you no longer use (if you have the heart to rip up a book!) 😉 I think these little, hanging gifts would be enchanting above a kitchen sink. (link here)

Use your library to add a unique, quirky “tree” in your home! I loved this idea and made three “trees” in the school’s library using various green books — I just love how bookish and Christmas-y it looks! (link here)

Smells for St. Nicolas

There are so many affordable, natural ways to make your home smell delicious for the holidays. Toss some apple or orange peels, cinnamon sticks and sprinkle various spices to get a yummy November smell or add pine and evergreen for a fresh Christmas smell. (link + recipe here)

Chalkboard Creations

I love Callie’s Christmas décor and her chalkboard is no exception! (link here)

Isn’t this chalkboard by Dear Lillie a delight? Add personal charm to your Christmas home by lettering a unique phrase or bit of Scripture you love. (link here)

Wreath Wishes

Again, Callie’s Christmas coziness inspires me! I love her wreath above the dining table and even the branch in the pitcher. So adorable!! (link here)

Finally, this set of wintery wreaths delight my Christmas-loving heart and have me wishing for inches of snow and never ending coats and mittens. (link here)

The wonderful thing about each of these pictures is that the sort of coziness oozing from them is available to even the tightest budget. If you crave a welcoming, wintry haven but are on a tight budget rejoice! You have the perfect excuse to use your hands and make something beautiful with them.

How do you decorate on a budget? Have you ever known a holiday where finances were tight but your inspiration abounding? Share with us, dear, and let’s grow together in grace and beauty!

Love, blessings and coffee,

Frannie

p.s. Here’s some of my own Christmas inspirations!

Our Christmas tree is very earth toned — it simply delights my heart! Glittery pinecones, bird nests, white berries and fruits of the Spirit written on log slices make it truly unique to us! <3

Of course the quirky, uneven string of lights add to the mood of sweet fun in our home. And leftover Thanksgiving pumpkins sit happily beneath the limbs; I couldn’t bare throwing them out! 😉 Naturally, Braveheart would be an excellent companion to such a wintery day.

Currently in December (Plus a Giveaway!)

Currently Series with Authentic Virtue Blog

Crafting: Lots of Christmas gifts! This year I’ve enjoyed working my hands over several loved one’s gifts. I’ve so wanted to do several DIY’s for you but that would give away surprises. 😉 Let’s just say there’s been a lot of Hobby Lobbying happening round here.

Dreaming: Of sweet babies! I recently had the most lovely dream of us having twins, a boy and a girl. And while it was just a dream I’m clinging to the promise that sweet children are in our future, Lord willing. <3  

Anticipating: Dalton and I’s 2nd anniversary trip!! Woot, woot! I’m not announcing our destination yet but let’s just say I’ll need to pack sundresses and I’m ordering this cute (and modest!) swim bottom. 😉

Planning: My sweet sister and brother-in-love’s second baby boy’s arrival! (Well, I’m not planning that but … you know.) I’ll soon be spending time with their growing family — a trip I am very much looking forward too.

Smelling: Warm, wintry candles. I’ve been keeping the candles lit from dawn until dusk lately; they just add such a peaceful, homey feel to our little home.

Eating: Lots of salads and baked potatoes. This is the month of delicious, light meals and I’m very much enjoying it.

Celebrating: My Periscope launch! I had a few friends encourage me to branch into live Periscope moments with my readers and I’m so glad I took the leap. Of course, chatting live is very nerve-wracking and I’ve miserably flopped a time or two but overall it’s been a great challenge and a lovely way to connect more personally with readers.

If you have a smart phone look me up with the app Periscope (@FrannieAnneDuncan) for weekly bits of coffee and conversation.

Listening to: Mannheim Steamroller’s Christmas channel or this great song.

Enjoying: My new exercise routine! My certified personal trainer (aka Mr. Duncan 😉 ) and I are having a lot of fun as he helps me/gives me pointers in weight lifting (itty bitty weights) and other exercise routines. He’s got some really great ideas and makes working out not as dreadful as it normally is for me. 🙂

Reading: I’m pushing through Elizabeth Prentiss’ Stepping Heavenward. Honestly, after God’s Word, this is the one book I’d recommend to all Christians. Theology and life lessons are beautifully tucked into a fictional story and there is both edification and encouragement wrapped within the chapters. Do check this old classic out.

Pausing: My three post-a-week blog schedule. 🙂 It seems like I’ve entered a season of life where writing requires more focus than normal; this discouraged me at first but I’ve come to a place of thanksgiving and gratitude. I love this place and if writing requires more effort then that’s what I shall give — but I’ll do it in a way that promotes growth and grace and less stress in meeting my self-made deadlines.

Giving: I love the quality, life-giving items Worldvision shares and would love to pass these two beauties on to two separate readers. The first is a gorgeous, cross over purse with lining and zipper and the second is a beautiful, silver-lined bracelet with vineyard carvings in it.

 

Leave me a comment below to be entered into the drawing which will end January 13th, 2016! Also, for extra entries share the fun (on Facebook, Instagram or your blog) and leave me a comment with your link below. This is open to any sweet soul so feel free to share. 🙂

What does your world currently look like? I would love to hear about it. Leave me a comment below! With love, blessings and wonderful, black coffee,

Frannie