Sweet Little Saints for Christmas in July

Little Drops of Water Christmas in July
Image courtesy of Little Drops of Water. All rights reserved.

It’s Christmas in July this week, and there’s no better way to celebrate than taking a peek at the cutest little Nativity scene! Little Drops of Water, a family business based in Portugal, created their line of saint figurines when Anna Amaral, now a teenager, asked her father to help make child-friendly toys that celebrate the saints. The company recently introduced special Christmas products, including its Nativity scene — and they’ll have a Santa coming soon.

Little Drops of Water Nativity
Image courtesy of Little Drops of Water. All rights reserved.

This is the Nativity I wished we’d had when our children were small. We eventually got a Playmobil Nativity set, but that is not appropriate for toddlers, with all the tiny parts! But a Nativity like this — it looks like wood, but it’s made of high-quality resin — is basically indestructible and child-friendly. This would be perfect to bring out each Advent so the children can help prepare for Jesus’ birth.

I’m really impressed by the workmanship behind these figurines. I first reviewed Little Drops of Water products in March of 2016, and my collection of figurines is still in great shape — even the Holy Family that sits on the very narrow windowsill above my kitchen sink. It’s taken more than one tumble into the dishwater, but the colors are still bright and there’s not even a chip or a crack. That’s a huge plus when you’re selecting toys for small children.

Image courtesy of Little Drops of Water. All rights reserved.

Yes, I said “toys.” They’re religious figurines, but they’re made to be held and carried about in little hands or little pockets. Most of these figurines are 3 inches high (statues with crowns, such as Our Lady of Fatima and the Infant of Prague, top out around 4 inches) and they fit well in small hands.

Image courtesy of Little Drops of Water. All rights reserved.

There are two dozen different Mary statues, ranging from the Madonna and Child to regional favorites such as Our Lady of Guadalupe, Our Lady of Fatima, Maria Pomagaj (Slovenia), and Our Lady of Lourdes — and more. In addition, Little Drops of Water offers dozens of saints, from St. Anthony through St. Therese. There’s even Padre Pio, St. Teresa of Calcutta, and the newly-canonized Fatima visionaries, Saints Francisco and Jacinta.

Francisco Jacinta
Image courtesy of Little Drops of Water. All rights reserved.

As Little Drops of Water is based in Portugal, the Fatima connection is strong. In fact, they are the number-one supplier of statuary in both Fatima and Lourdes, and they offer several products related to each. They also create charms, plush toys, and more.

Little Drops of Water offers free coloring pages and craft activities for parents, teachers, and catechists to download and use, and you’re invited to share your creations with them!

Shop at Little Drops of Water using the coupon code BN63EE5EA9Y6 and you’ll receive a 30% discount on your order! They also offer free shipping (always my favorite perk) on orders of $50 or more.

Copyright 2018 Barb Szyszkiewicz
Opinions expressed here are my own. I received a Nativity set and other figurines from the manufacturer for the purposes of this review.

Score One for the Big Box

I shop at “big box” stores as much as anyone else. Around here, there doesn’t seem to be much of a choice. We don’t have a Main Street in town; instead, it’s strip malls along a state highway.

But when we (infrequently) host parties, we’ve always gone to Party Land to get our supplies. Because of the store’s location, it’s close but inconvenient–less than 1/2 a mile to get there but three times that to get home. It’s worth the trip, though; it’s a local business and we’d rather purchase plates, cups and tablecloths there than at (insert name of big box store here).

As the kids have gotten older, birthday parties have gone by the wayside, so except for graduations, we haven’t needed to visit the party store. I go there every February to stock up on colorful tablecloths for the Cub Scouts’ Blue and Gold Dinner.

This year I did that shopping a little early, because Party Land won’t be here in February. Just before Christmas, Party City opened directly across the street, in a strip mall owned by the same landlord. It’s got the advantage of a location with much more foot traffic.

I told Little Brother when we first saw the signs for Party City that Party Land would close within a year. Unfortunately, it only took a month.

So yesterday I headed over to Party Land before it closes its doors for good–to pick up blue and gold tablecloths for next month’s Cub Scout dinner.

As I told TheDad this morning, I felt really crummy doing so. And I don’t quite understand why. I needed to get those tablecloths anyway. I was going to buy them at Party Land anyway. I just wasn’t going to buy them until February. Yet when I walked into that store yesterday, it was crowded with five times more customers than I’d normally see in the middle of a school day. People were loading up carts with all kinds of things, squealing over going-out-of-business bargains.

All I bought was a dozen or so blue and gold tablecloths. That didn’t stop me from feeling rotten as I stood in line behind people with loaded-up shopping carts.

I’m glad that this will be the last year I do a Blue and Gold Dinner. I don’t think I could stomach getting those tablecloths at the competition.

And now my town will have one more empty storefront as one more family business owned by a local guy for over 25 years will close its doors.

That doesn’t really feel like progress to me.

Deliver Me from the Mall

Whoever wrote the lyrics, “Someone told me it’s all happenin’ at the zoo” had clearly never been to the Cherry Hill Mall.

I go to malls as infrequently as I possibly can.  And I hate to shop on Sundays.  But I had promised to take Middle Sister to the mall for jeans, and if we went today, we wouldn’t have to bring Little Brother along.

The clothes shopping was actually quite pleasant.  She tried to find some jeans for me, but that was a lost cause in the store we were in.  I did find a cute pair of capri pants, a scarf and a peasant blouse that I liked–all on sale.  And she got her jeans.

Then we headed to Forever 21, where I expected to see the kind of clothes aspiring hookers would wear.  I was happily surprised to see plenty of very sweet tops, with feminine lines and floral patterns.  I don’t follow fashion–is “sweet and girly” suddenly back in?  I sure hope so.

The rest of the time, I was people-watching while Middle Sister spent her own money, that she earned pet-sitting for our neighbors this week.  Being all “browsed out,” I sat on a bench while she shopped–there’s only so much blaring rap music and perfumed air I can handle in one afternoon, and I’d hit my limit.  You can do a lot of people-watching when you sit on a bench at the mall for 20 minutes, and you see some scary stuff.

A family stopped outside Victoria’s Secret:  mom, dad and two little boys.  Mom took the younger one into the store with her, despite his loud protests, saying, “Mommy needs you!  You have to help Mommy put on her panties!”

An impossibly skinny girl tottered past, dressed head to ankle in “junior hooker” garb–and shoes that would be more-likely found on a denizen of a retirement home.

And doesn’t it say something about the clientele of a particular store when you have to show your ID to use your own credit card?

I’ll stick to internet shopping, thanks.  The only people-watching I’ll have to do is staring out the window, waiting for the UPS truck.

Why I’m Thankful Today

Today didn’t start out so great, but I do have plenty to be thankful for. I wasn’t feeling well yesterday so most of the afternoon was spent on the couch with the heating pad. Fortunately I have a laptop so I was able to get my work done. Also fortunately, I have a husband who can turn a blind eye to a fair amount of clutter that happens when I don’t bother getting after the kids who’ve left a “Hansel and Gretl” trail of shoes, sandals, sweatshirts, novels, pretzel bags, jars of change, school projects and books for projects-in-progress all over the place. I also, fortunately, have a husband who is more than willing to take us to the Chinese buffet when I confess that I’m just not in the mood to cook any dinner.

So there were dishes to wash this morning before I could have coffee (I needed a clean coffee cup, after all). It’s never fun to wake up and find dishes in the sink. But Little Brother got fed, dressed, combed, and out the door with a minimum of drama. Middle Sister did not miss the bus or forget her lunch.

I missed daily Mass because I had a GYN appointment. Not my yearly (that’s coming up in 3 weeks) but a visit because I’ve been having problems. Again. Silly me for thinking that the hysterectomy would take care of all the problems.

The nurse weighed me before she took my blood pressure. BIG mistake.

The doctor kept me waiting for an hour. But then she kept other patients waiting while she listened to my concerns, asked detailed questions about my symptoms, checked on dates, reviewed past test results, and settled on a plan for where we go from here. I felt like I had been heard and that my concerns were respected.

So I left the doctor’s office two full hours after my appointment time. (Good thing I had my Kindle with me!) I was two blocks from the mall, and I decided to run in and check to see if the shoes I had seen on sale last time I was there were still available. Hey, a little retail therapy never hurts. Especially when shoes are involved. As luck would have it, the shoe rack at the Lands’ End Shop in Sears had ONE pair left of my “old faithful” sneakers–and they were in my size. Even better, they were on super clearance: $55 sneakers marked down to $6.99. AND they had ONE pair of a slightly dressier boat shoe left, again in my size, again marked down to $6.99 from $50.

I may have 3 medical appointments scheduled within the next 3 weeks, but at least my feet will look good when I get there.

A Good Deal

It always gives me a little lift when I get a great deal on something. And today’s Walgreen shopping trip: SCORE!
I did this in two transactions so I could roll over some Register Rewards on the second purchase.

First purchase:
3 10-packs Papermate pens, 19 cents each
3 5-packs Papermate automatic pencils, 19 cents each
1 Milky Way, 49 cents (with store coupon)
1 pack looseleaf reinforcements, on clearance for 60 cents
Gillette Fusion razor, on sale for 9.89

less a $4 coupon for that razor brought the total to:  8.97 with tax.

And I got a $5 Register Reward, which I rolled over to buy:

1 4-cup coffeemaker for Big Brother to take to college, on sale for $7.99.  After that $5 RR, I paid $3.55 out of pocket for the coffeepot.

My total OOP was  $12.52

My total savings including Register Reward, manufacturer coupon, and store sale was $18.19

Except for the Milky Way (mine!) and the reinforcements (needed for my sheet music for church), all of that went right into Big Brother’s Box of Stuff to Take to College.  Not bad!

Just not meant to be

This morning I thought I’d be smart and get ahead of all the amateur shoppers who come out just before Thanksgiving. Monday is my day to volunteer at the school library, and I have to be there by 9, so I headed to the supermarket as soon as the kids got on the school bus this morning. I was doing great, since I had a short list and there was hardly anyone in the store. Obviously they were expecting big crowds because there were open checkout lanes everywhere–unheard of on a normal Monday morning.

But the shoppers had obviously been out yesterday because the store was cleaned out of Dr. Pepper and Yukon Gold potatoes, both of which were on my list. So I stopped for a raincheck after I paid for my order. The guy at the courtesy counter was helpful and courteous, but he couldn’t get the soda raincheck to print. I waited 10 minutes before he finally gave up and wrote one out by hand, stapling it to the ad showing the deal.

Thinking I’d be out of the store pretty quickly, I bought a box of donuts. I wanted to eat one before library time. But by the time I finished getting that raincheck, I had just enough time to unload the cold stuff and head back out over to school.

I was obviously not meant to have that donut today.


The gift cards I received for Christmas have yielded heavenly toastiness in the form of:

My New Shoes

These shoes are fabulous–I have never had such toasty toes in my life. And when my feet are cold, the rest of me is not too happy either. I had a pair of their Winter Mocs before, which were an awful lot like these, but without the fabulous faux shearling. I’d have bought another pair of plain old Winter Mocs if I had found them, but these are much better.

I also got My New Coat (note: that is not me modeling the coat!)

And just in time too, since tomorrow’s high is forecast at a chilly 28* (yes, I am a winter wimp! I survived ONE northern Indiana winter and that was more than enough. Good thing I had plenty of Irish basketball to distract me from the cold).

And they were both on sale! Woohoo!

So, thanks for your warm & toasty Christmas gifts, Mom and Dad, and Mom and Pop!

Did You Ever Think…

you’d see me admitting that video games might be the way to go this Christmas?

Obviously, toys are out of the question. They contain lead, or little magnets, or the date-rape drug! (I had been thinking of picking up one or 2 of those kits, for certain cousins on my list. Not anymore!)

I can buy books for the children on my list–but not The Golden Compass series. I won’t put money in that author’s pocket.

Maybe it’s time to go back to the “Little House on the Prairie” tradition of oranges and walnuts in the stockings.

I’m just thankful that I only have one child in the “toy-wanting” age group, though there are plenty of cousins that young as well.

Thanks to Milehimama for the links.