Ms. Napkinhead

If you’ve been wondering how we pass the time in Chicago in January… 😆

But let’s jump right in:

  • Emma and Lucy are launching their own candle company. It’s been such a fun activity for January in Chicago! The hope is that this venture is kind of like a “class” in entrepreneurialism for them. We’re also getting to the point in childhood when we need to learn the value of a dollar. We worked really hard to make this candle. Do we actually want to spend our profits on another pack of Shopkins? Maybe! Or maybe we want to save it. Or put the money back into the business. Or donate it to those who need it more than we do. Anyway, we’ve gotten a handle on the actual candle-making part, which is awesome. (To be honest, it took a while to figure it out! So many options… and so many ways to mess up. 😉) Now we’re on to making the actual vessels, or containers. Our original plan was to go with simple tins with cute labels.  But Gammy and Pop Pop gave us a pottery wheel for Christmas, and we said to each other, “Why not make teh vessels?!” (Another fun January activity!) So then we started making them, and discovered that it’s super fun but takes a really, really long time. We also learned that air-dry clay is totally combustible—meaning that if used as candle vessels, it could burn a house down. 😆 So we made silicone molds of our “pottery”—yay, science!—to make exact replicas using fire-safe white concrete. Guys, it’s been a journey, hahaha. But a very fun one. And the candles will be for sale soon, as we’re currently building the website. (Yes, we will be sure to include a step-by-step on how we did everything in case you want to try your hand at the craft!) Part of the proceeds will go to Chicago non-profits. ♥️
  • We celebrated James’ birthday over the weekend, and it was the definition of a hygge night. There were four couples, and it was just the nicest evening. Drinks beforehand at the birthday boy’s house, followed by a fun little walk in the snow to a cozy dinner at Gianni’s on Halsted. (Gianni himself was there, and told us many stories about Mitch’s parents and their family friends. It was so special!) When we typically hang out with Gretchen and James, we have the three little girls in tow since they’re best buds. So it was really awesome to be able to actually talk to each other this time, haha. But don’t worry: the girlies had a great night. They stayed up late putting on concerts for their fun-loving babysitter, and then all fell asleep in the pull-out bed in the basement.
  • The Larkin Family has a renewed love for their Kindles because we finally linked our Libby (free library books e-books and audiobooks!) accounts to them. If you’ve never done this before, please do it. We are constantly shocked by how many titles the library has; every time we log on to the site, the girls and I find multiple titles we want to check out. (Honestly, all three of us have “maxed out” our library cards!) It’s been awesome for Family Reading Night, too. We all sit in front of the fire and read our Kindles or listen to our Yoto audiobooks. Everyone looks forward to it, and it’s a great way for everyone to wind down before bed.
  • You need these incredible waterproof fur-lined Doc Marten boots, which are 40 percent off. They are heavenly. They are FULLY lined, and easily slip on and off. They have a super cushioned sole, too… and they don’t require any break-in time. I own them in both the brown and black, that’s how comfy they are! In terms of sizing, they run TTS. They only come in half sizes, so size up if you’re in that boat. Otherwise, order your normal size! (I wear a true 7.5, and ordered an 8 in these. Perfection.) They come in kids’ sizes, too.
  • Everything is broken all at once. I really can’t tell you how many things have broken this month. It’s comical, really. First it was the furnace. Then it was the p-trap. (Very smelly.) Then it was the coffee machine. Then it was the wifi. Then it was the doorbell. Then it was a skylight. Then it was the water heater. Then… oh my gosh. I know there’s more, but let’s just say our house is giving up on us. 😜 Send help. Actually, send a handyman. (Jk, he lives with us now.)
  • We started doing Parenthood-style “Sunday Family Dinner Nights” with Sammy and Charls and now we end every weekend on the best note. I’ve always wanted to do this, and now that we have family in the city and the holidays are over, it’s happening! We have a rule that everyone has to wear sweatpants and no one is allowed to clean their home in preparation. We usually order take-out because it’s easiest, but I’m thinking about cooking next since it’s my turn to host. 🙈 Pray for me, haha!
  • January is my favorite month. I know, I know. This is quite the controversial topic, and for good reason. It’s a gloomy, slow and cold time of the year—at least in Chicago—and it’s easy to fall into ruts and negative thinking. But a few years ago I decided to embrace the 1 percent Nordic within, and look at January as a break. There are fewer deadlines, fewer obligations, and (far) fewer events. And because of this, it’s a time to be cozy; an excuse to take care of myself and explore new interests. I don’t know about you, but throughout the rest of the year, I feel pretty crappy if I’m not working toward goals. But my goal in January is to not have goals. To not have resolutions! Instead, I find joy in turning on lamps at 4 p.m., sitting by the fire after coming in from the cold, making candles with my little girls, and heading up to bed on the earlier side with Noodle snuggled up against me as the snow falls outside. The older I get, the more I realize that life is better with the right mindset. Mope around, and no doubt I’ll have a crappy month. Embrace the little things, and I’m sure to enjoy it a lot more. Oh, I’m also an introvert. So January yields itself pretty nicely to that. ;)
  • Uncharacteristically, however, I have yet to start my January clean-out. I blame the candles. But I do have a week left to scratch that itch. 😉 I usually start by getting everything in our house back to its home, and then go through each room and make donate, recycle and trash piles. It doesn’t need to be done all at once, either. One room per day works incredibly well! I just always feel so much lighter… and our home works for me, instead of me working for our home. And that alone is worth it.
  • I saw Mean Girls with some kind girls last night. Okay, guys. I think it was one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen hahaha. But it was such a lovely night! My friend Haley hosted all of us for dinner beforehand and made the best chili I’ve ever had—thank you, Haley!—and then we walked over to the movie theater from there. The movie had its moments—I thought Jaquel Spivey was adorable—but it was the company I loved the most. ;)
  • My mother-in-law taught me how to use my sewing machine! Holy happiness, Friends. I can’t believe it! I’ve been trying to learn this thing for ages, but I clearly just needed to sit down with someone and guide me through it. In my defense, sewing machines are somewhat complicated, haha. It’s not the kind of thing that you just turn on and do it. But at long last, I can sew. I made a mini pillow and I can’t wait to make a full-sized one! And this goes without saying, but thank you, Lisa. You’re an incredible teacher, which checks out.
  • One Home Project Every Day:
    • I found the perfect nightstand for Lucy’s room on Facebook Marketplace. It’s scalloped! What a find.
    • I moved her old one up to our bedroom and made it into a little writing desk.
    • Mitch is on the final stage of mudroom construction: the drawer. I’m thrilled about having a place to stash everyone’s shoes!
    • We set up this amazing sectional sofa from NOA in my office for sleepovers and hanging.
    • I finished the laundry yesterday. Love going into the weekend with empty hampers, haha.