Tomorrow I get to host this year’s Friendsgiving at our home and I’m just about as excited as I can be. I’ve been hard at work on my Pumpkin Cheesecake for the last two-ish hours and listening to my favorite Friendsgiving playlists to get in the spirit. I love the beautiful new tradition of gathering your family of friends to practice gratitude for each other and touching base before everyone heads off for the holidays. What a perfect way to kick off the whole holiday season. Here are my top three new finds for hosting or attending your Friendsgiving!
1. Plaid Skirt
I have been actively looking for a plaid skirt all fall and finally found the perfect one. I love the tiny little flair and the school appropriate length. With Old Navy’s Pre-Black Friday sale tonight, you can snag this for under $20!
2. Pumpkin Cheesecake
I am WAY into baking cheesecakes this holiday season! I posted a no-bake pumpkin cheesecake in my last post that is wonderful and time efficient, BUT if you are looking for the authentic cheesecake experience, this is your recipe. You’ll have to take on a water bath (not as scary as it sounds), homemade crust, over 12 hours of total committed time, the works. But spending this evening sipping wine, chatting with company, and building this giant cheesecake one piece at a time makes preparing for Friendsgiving feel so special. Click below for the recipe!
Music is so necessary for setting the perfect atmosphere. I wanted something that felt old fashioned, high quality, a little folksy, and very chill. I also wanted a new Christmas album to keep me company during my prep time. Here are my picks. For the meal we will be streaming Starbuck’s Thanksgiving Gathering Playlist. I know this sounds incredibly basic, but it’s so GOOD. Click to check that out.
As far as my new Christmas album, I can’t stop won’t stop listening to Christy Nockel’s brand new Christmas project, The Thrill of Hope. Gorgeous, touching, and the perfect blend of traditionally festive and unique. Listen to it and then please tell me how obsessed with it you are. ESPECIALLY, “Silent Night (Holding Us Now).” Wow.
Whew! What a week. We have collectively been through a lot this week, and I feel like the election and the general upheaval over the results have cast an emotional shadow over all of us. But guys, we are bigger both as a country and in our communities than one election. There has been a time to research, to speak our hearts, to listen, and even to grieve. But now, let’s find a little joy.
Here are five ways I am intentionally finding and celebrating the lightness and joy of life.
Bake a Cheesecake.
Here’s the thing about baking cheesecakes: it is enough effort to completely take your mind off of anything else that is stressing you out but the payoff of eating it is COMPLETELY worth it. This week alone I have baked and help eat two cheesecakes. I think I’ve found a new favorite in the Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake linked below. It’s all the tradition and spiciness of a pumpkin pie plus so much more decadence and a graham cracker crust (which let's be honest, is way better than pie crust.) Also! If you hate cheesecake (I’m pretty sure these people exist?) they make great gifts in one of those adorable baking boxes from the Target Spot.
Wrap a Gift
Speaking of gifts, wrapping your first Christmas gift can be the best de-stresser. You’re doing something for some someone you love while flexing your creativity and making something beautiful. My thing this year is postal or butcher paper with drawings or ribbon to give each gift it’s own flair without getting too busy. Here are the gifts I’ve been wrapping up tonight and some inspiration for future wrapping parties.
Spend Time with Jesus.
Spend a few precious minutes with your creator. For me this looks like me, under one lamp, before the sun has come up hiding some little piece of God’s word in my heart. For you it might be popping on a podcast (two of my favorite Christian podcasts are linked below) and taking a jog, committing to a weekly bible study, or praying your way to work in the morning. Make the time to check up on your soul and spend time with the one who will heal the hurts.
Treat Yo Self.
This is important. If you are anything like me, it’s hard to spend valuable time on something if it doesn’t have a specific practical purpose or enrich my life in some way. This week give yourself permission to indulge in something you love that is absolutely just fun. For me, it was FINALLY buying the tulle skirt I have had my eye on for literally a year (the one I bought is linked below). For you it might be watching a whole season of the Office in one night, rereading the Harry Potter series for the zillionth time, or just spending a stupid amount of money on an overpriced latte. But listen, you deserve it. Treat yo self.
When it really is just all too much though, go home. This weekend I sat at our giant kitchen table with my family sipping coffee and playing board game after board game and laughing until I couldn’t breathe. I sat on our barstools and poured out my stresses and my hurts to my parents; who always find a way to both make me feel heard and put it all back in perspective. I played Mario Wii with my siblings until my eyes burned and my sides hurt from giggling, and I snuggled in our same old blankets on our same old couches and watched 90’s Thanksgiving cartoons. At home, whether that’s your parents house, or in your dorm room, or in your own kitchen, you can find rest and peace. Go be at home when the world is too big and hard to recognize, and remember that you have a tribe and they stay the same.
Do you ever feel like God is chasing you down? I did. If I could describe my September with one image, it would be a marathon. Hustle, to-do lists, deadlines, accomplishments. I measured successful days as effective ones and wore my “productive person” label just a little prouder than any other. I spent the last month running as fast as I could toward something, anything that would make me feel worthy and the only thing that made me feel worthy was climbing the next milestone mountain before anyone else. More money in the bank, more degrees, more hobbies, more friends. I woke up almost every morning anxious to run toward whatever marker I had to reach that day to go to bed a little more accepting of myself. Oh, and all along the run, I had to maintain a polished, perfect smile. I wanted to pack my hours full of hustle but look calm, peaceful, content.
But I was bone tired, spiritually dry, and terribly disoriented. And I got sick. Little elementary illnesses brought me down one right after the other. I was exhausted of my own striving and God stopped me. I felt God’s heavy hand on my shoulder. Sit down Emily.
So this month I started walking through my life. And I had to walk through some sad truths about my priorities. I realized that I had been ticking interaction with my friends and family off my list like every other task and missing the connection completely. So I put my phone and my planner way and looked my husband in the eye when he told me about his day. I sipped my coffee and laughed with my friends and ignored the nagging voice talking to me about the next application due. I woke up earlier and I sat in the lamp light and prayed and cried and read scripture and wisdom and poetry. I realized that I missed the joyful girl who cries over Christmas decorations going up and I don’t care for the girl who snaps at the too slow waitress.
Today I’m chiseling out some sacred space. This season, I’m only running when I have to, and I am being gentle with myself. I know I will run myself into the ground if I don’t insist on a taste of the Sabbath every morning. Thank you God for stopping me, and making me look at myself, showing me how to forgive myself, and letting me see your footprints in the sand of my life.
“What kills a soul? Exhaustion, secret keeping, image management.
And what brings a soul back from the dead? Honestly, connection, grace.”
Welcome! I'm a brand new wife, first year music teacher, Jesus follower, and am chronically curious about just about everything. Join me as I start off a whole new life.
"I am the Vine, you are the Branches. If you abide in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."