The Only “White Christmas” For Me

snowpe

 

I don’t “do” snow. Let’s establish that up front. Being a vertically-challenged person, it means that the bottoms of my pants get all wet, and end up drying with a salt line ring around it. Sooo not attractive. Also, I guess, compared to some people, I fall just short of being a Scrooge. Christmas is not my favorite holiday, although it is lovely to spend time with family and enjoy all that Christmas means for you. For the record, New Year’s Eve is my favorite. You get to dress up and drink champagne, but the whole idea of a fresh new start is always appealing to me. However, if dressing up and drinking champagne is all it takes to get that “fresh start” feeling, I’m entirely in favor of doing it more often.

Right around the week before Thanksgiving, it seems like stores (and some people, too, don’t deny it) start to lose their minds for Christmas. Radio stations start playing Christmas music as soon as possible (sorry Mom), all the Christmas displays go up, and I end up walking around stores while muttering under my breath about premature and unnecessary tinsel. It creeps up earlier and earlier each year, and I think it takes away from how special the season is supposed to be.

I’ve never been a huge fan of Christmas movies, either. Ralphie and A Christmas Story? A-no, thank you. It’s A Wonderful Life? It’s a terrible movie. (I don’t know why George felt like he was the one responsible for the whole thing… it was Uncle Billy who lost the money, so wasn’t this whole mess actually his fault?) The only ones I kind of like are the stop-animation Rankin/Bass specials (think “Rudolph” and Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town), and sometimes, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. But, there is one movie that always puts me in a holiday mood, even if it is just for a little bit.

White Christmas (1954) stars Bing Crosby (Bob Wallace) and Danny Kaye (Phil Davis) as performer/producers who go to audition sister act Rosemary Clooney (Betty Haynes) and Vera-Ellen (Judy Haynes) for their show, and end up following them to Vermont. The foursome arrive at a snowless ski lodge, owned by Wallace and Davis’s former general from the war. No snow means no guests at the lodge, so Wallace and Davis devise a plan to fill it with their former army buddies.

I remember my dad teaching me the song, “White Christmas,” when I was a kiddo, and I learned to appreciate Bing Crosby, as well as some of the other big names in jazz and swing, from one of my uncles. Those 1950’s big-production musicals have always been favorites for me, too. White Christmas is a big-production musical inside a big-production musical — what’s not to love? (There are at least 4 numbers in this movie that are completely superfluous to the rest of the story. See if you can figure out which ones they are here.) Even if it isn’t essential to the story, I absolutely love The Haynes Sisters’ performance from their floor show:


“Sisteerrrrrrrrss!”

There are some things to learn from White Christmas, and most of the lessons seem to come from Phil Davis.

  1. “Let’s say we’re doing it for an old friend in the army:” Phil uses this on Wallace to get him to do the right thing, even though his stubborn friend is reluctant to do it.
  2. Giving their train tickets to the Haynes Sisters so they could escape from a shady landlord: If you’re in the position to help someone, do it. They did this again when Wallace used his TV appearance to appeal to the other soldiers from their unit to come to Vermont for Christmas to surprise the General.
  3. Count your blessings instead of sheep.

I know that this is one of the classics, and AMC has probably already run a marathon of this movie in one of the days leading up to Christmas. But, if you haven’t seen White Christmas, I encourage you to settle in with a cup of hot chocolate and watch it. Looking outside, I can see that Jack Frost paid us a visit last night, so unfortunately for me, this movie isn’t the only white Christmas I’ll have this year.

Wash my hands, my face and hair with snow? SNOWPE.

Want to read more? Check out Buzzfeed’s “15 Questions ‘White Christmas’ Left Unanswered” and “15 Things You Didn’t Know About ‘White Christmas.'” Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, dear readers!

Easy DIY Fall Fabric Flower Wreath

Like it or not, summer really is over. Well, almost — only a few more days to go.

So, in the spirit of Autumn and all things sweaters, leaves, mums, and cool weather, I decided to make an easy Fall wreath today to hang on the front door.

I used a technique I’m currently using to make a different wreath, but for today’s project I simplified it further.

photo-9

What You’ll Need:

  • A grapevine wreath (or one of a similar material) — I used 18″, but feel free to make a smaller or larger wreath.
  • 1/2 yard of Orange felt (or color of choice) — If you want more flowers, you’ll need more material.
  • Hot glue gun and hot glue sticks
  • Scissors

Instructions:

1. For this wreath, I made 9 large felt flowers, so you will begin by cutting 9 large felt squares.

You can use a ruler to measure out each square, but I just free-handed it. It doesn't have to be perfect. Just know that the larger the square, the larger the flower.

You can use a ruler to measure out each square, but I just free-handed it. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Just know that the larger the square, the larger the flower.

2. Cut each square into a circle.

photo-43. Cut each circle into a spiral.

photo-54. Starting on the outside, begin rolling the strip of fabric tightly. Continue until the fabric is completely rolled.

photo-6

5. When the spiral is completely rolled, you will be left with the inside flap. Apply hot glue to the underside of the flap and press it to the bottom of the flower. This will hold the whole thing together. Remember to handle hot glue and the hot glue gun carefully.

photo6. Repeat these steps on all 9 flowers (or however many you make). The finished flower will look like this:

Top view.

Top view.

Side view.

Side view.

7. Take your grapevine wreath and begin arranging the flowers on the wreath. I decided to offset them to one side, but if you prefer another arrangement feel free to play with the placement of the flowers.

photo-7photo-10

The finished product.

The finished product.

And there you are, an easy DIY Fall Fabric Flower Wreath.

Happy Fall!

 

 

 

 

Last Minute Holiday Gifts Under $35

judgemental santa

Don’t look at me like that, old man. You don’t know my life. Wait….

If you’re anything like me, you wait until the last minute… for anything. Writing papers, doing your makeup, and especially at this time of year, sending Christmas cards and getting my shopping done. From middle school all the way to my last week of graduate school, however, I was only rewarded for my last minute efforts with good grades, so I haven’t had much of an incentive to change my ways. Since that Mayan apocalypse didn’t happen, I guess Christmas (and my student loans) are still on. (Yay?) I only have a few things to pick up/finish making, but everything to wrap. Between work and commuting to work, or driving to whatever Christmas event where my presence is required, I don’t have a whole lot of time left. But, in all of that time I spend commuting to my new job as a bridal gown consultant, I have a great opportunity to think about any number of things. This includes anticipating (possibly unnecessarily) any wedding dilemmas my fiance and I might encounter, what I need to throw in the laundry, or, this blog post. So, here are some suggestions for last minute gifts or stocking stuffers for your friends and family. Yes, most of this is from Target, and yes, I do wish I was getting paid for my endorsement of these products, but doesn’t it just seem easier when you can find almost all of it in one store? Plus, Target did an amazing collaboration with over 20 designers to create exclusive products for this holiday season, and in these last few days leading up to Christmas, the entire line is 50% off!

holiday gifts for girls

1. For some holiday flair: OPI Nail Polish in Skyfall – $7.99 (wherever OPI Nail Polish is sold… try Sally Hansen Beauty Supply) This deep ruby red, inspired by the latest James Bond flick, adds a nice pop of color to the dark wardrobes of winter.

2. For the Woman with A Plan: Greenroom Planner  – $7.99 (from Target) Monthly planner with plenty of space for everything she needs to organize in 2012-2013 made from recycled paper, featuring a cute floral-patterned cover.

3. For the Hostess: ScentSationals Mini Fragrance Warmer  – $10 (from Wal-Mart) Melt scented wax cubes without a flame — plug this warmer in to release an aroma of Lemon Chiffon, Soft Cashmere, or any of the other great scents available.

4. For the Gym Fanatic: Goody QUIKSTYLE Paddle Brush – $11.99 (from Target) Super-absorbent microfiber bristles remove 30% of water as you blow dry or brush your hair, reducing styling time as you go from the locker room to the classroom, office, or wherever you’re heading.

5. For a touch of glamour: Multi Illusion Gold Short Necklace – $14.99 (from Target) This necklace adds a bit of polished elegance to any party outfit.

6. For the Funny GirlIs Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling – $11.20 (from Target) In addition to starring in her own TV show while The Office wraps up its last season, Mindy Kaling found time to write an autobiography, detailing her unscientific observations on romance, friendship, and Hollywood.

7. For the Girl on the Go: Carolina Herrera Travel Bags – $19.99 (WAS $39.99!, from Target)  Three bold prints adorn this Carolina Herrera travel cosmetic bag set. Each chic bag comes in a different size with a zip top and brass Carolina Herrera logo pull to ensure you always travel in style.

8. For the Label Lover: Oscar de la Renta Tote – $29.99 (WAS $59.99!, from Target) This spacious canvas tote, featuring a print by Oscar de la Renta, has a timeless shape and an affordable price.

9. For the Jersey Shore Guid-ette: Downton Abbey, Seasons 1 & 2 – $32.99 (from Target) Is one of your gal pals sad that Jersey Shore has been cancelled? Give her something new to love, featuring all the drama and scandal, but none of the spray tan or fist-pumping….

holiday gifts for guys

1. For the Kid at Heart: Nerf N-Strike Blaster Maverick – $9.97 (from Wal-Mart) C’mon. It’s a Nerf gun. Even I love Nerf guns.

2. For the Dude with Everything: Porcelain Gnome – $12 (from Target) This little guy is a fun guest in any room. He’s a bit fragile, so I suggest putting him somewhere up high… but that may add a “creepy gnome” factor…

3. To stay comfy and cozy: Printed PJ Pants – $12 (WAS $16.94, from Old Navy) Guys can always use a new pair of pj pants. Get him a pair to open on Christmas Eve so he can wear them to open gifts in the morning.

4. For your James Bond: rag & bone Flask – $14.99 (WAS $29.99, from Target) This slim, stainless steel flask is great for a sip of his favorite adult beverage on a cold winter day.

5. For the Bros: Band of Outsiders Set of 2 Toboggans  – $14.99 (WAS $29.99, from Target) He can keep one and give the other to a friend, but you may want to convince him to let you have it with its 70% wool/30% cashmere blend. I couldn’t stop touching the inside of these when I was in the store — so soft and warm.

6. For the ComicThe Onion Book of Known Knowledge: Mankind’s Final Encyclopedia (Hardcover) – $21.83 (from Target) Everyone has that friend who posts articles from The Onion, only to have someone take the headline “Obama Paranoid Government Coming for His Guns” seriously. This is the perfect book for that friend.

7. For a stylish topper: Men’s Sweater Cardigan – $22.50 (WAS $34.94, from Old Navy) Even the most ironic t-shirt can still look a little classier when he throws this cardigan over it. My fiance pairs his with a white button down and a skinny black tie for a dressier look.

8. For the Blockbuster Buff: The Dark Knight Trilogy – $27.29 (from Target) Was your brother at the midnight premiere of the final chapter of Christopher Nolan’s spin on Batman? Give him the complete set.

9. For the Mustachio-ed Gentleman: Silver-Plated 4 Piece Shave Set – $28.99 (from Target) Unfortunately, this one is online only, but you can give him an IOU. (Who hasn’t done that before?) This set makes his morning routine a little more special.

 

What’s on your wish list this year?

The Easiest, Most Delicious Potato Recipe Ever

Nostalgia is a powerful thing. Smells, sounds, tastes, feelings that just send you back to a previous time and place. It’s really amazing if you think about it. I heard a song on the radio last week that I probably hadn’t heard since it was first popular in 2000 — you know, one of those one hit wonder songs that were so bad they were good?  Even though I cringed at the lyrics that I now get at age 24 and went over my head at age 12, I still smiled and chuckled. It made me remember the people and events I spent those formative years with, and those memories, bad song or not, are always worth remembering.

But random memory triggers aren’t the only things that can bring you warm feelings. Consistency does that too.

Every Christmas Day, I go to my Aunt Susie’s (my Grandma’s sister) house for a huge Christmas open house. Situated on the border of a large park system, her house is a dream for a history person like me. It is filled with hidden nooks and crannies, with a double staircase, and a summer kitchen. And every year, like clockwork, she and my Grandma make what they have dubbed “Christmas Potatoes.” Even when my Grandma makes them at other times in the year (for smaller occasions) she still calls them Christmas Potatoes.

Really, they could be called Hungarian Potatoes. Or Paprika Potatoes. Or as they’re called in my own brain, Amazing Potatoes.

They’re probably so good because they are just so simple.

So, I figured I share the recipe with you.

Amazing and Easy Paprika Potatoes

Serves 4 -6 (All depends on how many potatoes are in each can)

Ingredients:

4 cans of Whole White or Whole New Potatoes*

1 stick of margarine (or butter)

1 heaping teaspoon of good Hungarian Paprika**

*The two names are interchangeable — they’re the same thing.

**The paprika is the most important ingredient. While you can make the potatoes with any kind of paprika, the better the  quality, the better the taste.

Instructions:

1. Open and drain the cans of potatoes. Cut any dark spots off the potatoes.

2. In a small saucepan, melt the margarine.

3. Add the paprika to the margarine, stir.

4. Drop the potatoes in the paprika-margarine mixture and coat them thoroughly.

5. Place the potatoes in an oven safe dish. I use a cookie sheet, but any oven safe dish or pan will work. Cover with aluminum foil.

6. Bake the potatoes at 350 degrees for 25 – 30 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked.

7. Enjoy!

I Have Met the 5k, and I Have Vanquished It.

This past Saturday, I completed my semi-short term goal of participating in a 5k. I’ve been training for it in earnest since the beginning of the year, taking in more miles on the ellipticals and on the track at the Rec Center than I ever had before. Once what snow we did have was gone and it was warm enough, I moved my training outside. A week before the event, I had my mom drop me off at the starting point so I could walk it on my own. Finally, after weeks of walking and jogging,  it was St. Patrick’s Day — 5k day. The Campbell-Dickinson St. Patrick’s Day 5k Run/Walk is a fundraiser for the Trinity Foundation’s Trinity Emergency Assistance Relief Fund, which helps provide financial support for cancer patients and their families. It is named for cancer survivor Jenny Russlee-Dickinson, a teacher in Toronto, and the late attorney William “Pat” Campbell. Through St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a charity helping children with cancer, people could donate $10 to have their heads shaved in front of everyone. Nearly everyone was out in their greens, or wearing the leprechaun shirt you got if you registered by a certain date. (Oh darn, a “free” t-shirt that I didn’t get… shoot.) I, however, as an Irish Protestant, was rocking the orange, making me stand out in a sea of green and white.

I look like the leprechaun compared to that guy behind me... (Photo via Facebook, TEMS Joint Ambulance District)

I walked with my best friend, Kara, who was registered with Team Hospice of the Valley (the people in blue). According to an email sent out by the group organizing the event, 819 people were registered to participate. After the runners took off at 11:30am, everyone else lined up almost around the block to start the walk. I was a little disappointed we didn’t get the starting gunshot for our part; they must have used their one blank for the runners… People were lined up on the sidewalk cheering on all of the participants, and as we headed north through town, others were on their front porches cheering for us. One little girl stood at the edge of her porch giving everyone a thumbs up as we passed by, so I turned around and returned the gesture.

My boyfriend came down the night before to support me, which was pretty awesome of him. In the week prior to the event, my sister would tell me all the things she was going to do as I walked by our house on the route, including booing me (out of sweet, sisterly love), throwing confetti over me, giving me the Gatorade shower, and holding signs with slightly questionable inspirational messages. I’m glad she opted for signs. When I passed my house, these are what she and Brian were holding:

Actually, this is true. By 4 days. I guess a lot of people got a kick out of this sign.

Hey, Dad's forehead, where did you come from? Also, don't mind our sad fence garden. The flowers should be in soon.

Can I be honest, though? 3.1 miles seems like a lot longer than it actually is. Maybe it was the turn-around point, or maybe it was because I’ve driven the route so many times… I’m not sure. And it’s definitely different from walking a track or running the same distance on an elliptical. I came in at 1:02:38, which is about what I expected for a 3-ish mile walk (I’ve got short little legs, remember?), but it was still shorter than the times of some people who chose to run it. Maybe next year. As I rounded the corner to go back to the main staging area, I saw my mom, sister, and boyfriend walking towards me to congratulate me. I was informed that I could use a shower, but they still took me to McDonalds for me to indulge in a large Coke and fries. I didn’t give either of those things up for Lent, but the day I inexplicably went on a Coca-Cola hiatus just happened to coincide with Ash Wednesday. I’m very glad that I challenged myself with this 5k. Giving up excuses for Lent really helped me prepare for this, and blogging about my goal probably helped, too. Thank you all for your encouragement, tips, and suggestions along the way. So what’s next for me? I don’t quite know yet. Let me graduate in May with my Master’s degree and we’ll go from there. But, it’s very likely that I’ll be accumulating more race bibs in the future!