Thursday, November 29, 2012

My Favorite Christmas Films

I love holiday films - some of my favorite childhood memories revolve around the watching of our traditional favorites! - but I'm super picky. Nothing crude. Nothing stupid. Elf does not make the cut. Nor does A Christmas Story. :/

In sort of particular order - meaning that the ones that came to mind first are my absolute favorites lol - here are my favorites:

1. White Christmas
2. Holiday Inn
3. Polar Express
4. A Christmas Carol (this one seems to be either much-loved or much-hated... clearly, I fall into the former category. :) Very faithful to the book and delightfully done!)
5. Arthur Christmas
6. Miracle On 34th Street (I've only ever seen the original 1947 version and ADORE it, but I just realized that the new version has Mara Wilson, one of my favorite child actors, and now I really want to see it...)
7. Mickey's Twice Upon A Christmas (laugh it up - but I have 2 Christmas's worth of memories of Abigail and I snuggled up tight watching it together :))
8. A Charlie Brown Christmas
9. The Christmas episodes of Bones - #1, #2, & #3. (And just for the record, producers of Bones, I was DEEPLY offended that you didn't have a Christmas episode last season. I haven't quite forgiven you yet. *glare*)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Tuesday Afternoon Randomizer

I can't believe it's been almost a month since I last blogged - this month has gone by crazy-fast! I have sooo much to write about, but it's way too much to put into one post, so I'm gonna do a quick randomizer post so I'll remember all the topics for later, longer posts. :)

1. Remember that epic thrift-store sale shopping trip I was about to go on the last time I blogged? Well, it was truly epic. :) We left around 7:30 AM and got back that night, hit three HUGE thrift stores - well, actually, sort of four because two of them shared a building - and I for one hit the jackpot. I spent about $50, which I'd normally consider an insane amount of money to spend in a thrift store, but considering that I came home with 90% of the supplies I needed to make Christmas gifts, I consider it mony well spent. Wish I could tell you everything I found, but unfortunately that's gonna have to wait til after Christmas.

2. Included in that $50 shopping spree? Two side tables, normally $10 apiece but 50% off on that particular day, and I have to admit, they looked horribly ugly. :) They had a terrible whitish finish, awful old-lady hardware, and I didn't blame Maggie for taking one look at them and asking me if the prices had gone to my head. But I could picture them repainted in a nice slate gray with uber-mod hardware, and I couldn't pass them up for the price. Home they came with me! I'm gonna do a longer post about how I refinished them, but suffice to say they turned out amazingly and I'm loving my new nightstands. :)

3. I am very, very slowly but surely chipping away at my Christmas list. It feels like I'm never ever gonna get done, but when I look at my list, I can see that I'm making progress. In case I failed to mention this before, this year I'm handmaking all my Christmas gifts. While it wasn't the main point of the experiment, I did think in the back of my mind that it would probably help me cut down on shopping. Um, not so much!!! I can't count the many times that I've run out of mod-podge, craft gun gluesticks, or whatnot, and had to make an "emergency" run to the nearest craft store. :) At the moment, I'm 3/4 of the way through one gift and I ran out of yarn. Which our local Michaels is out of. I'm hoping Mags and Mom can track down a skein when they go up to College Park tomorrow.

4. This year was our Black Friday "on" year - we only go out every other year - and this year was different because most of the sales started Thursday night, instead of Friday morning. Traditionally, we come home after Thanksgiving dinner, go to bed and sleep for a couple of hours, get up a bit after midnight, and we're standing in line outside the store by 2:30 AM. This year we left Thanksgiving dinner a little early to come home and strip every unfilled seat out of the van, and then Dad, Allen, and I headed up the street to check things off our list.
We've never had a bad experience Black Friday shopping, and this year was no exception. :) We got almost everything on our list, and it's true, we waited in line for a long time, but everyone was very friendly, compared deals, and helped each other find stuff. :)

5. The Christmas cantata is going much better. :) I feel like I'm finally in a rhythm, and I'm looking forward to our first performance, which is coming up fast! I ended up choosing "Raisins & Almonds" as my Russian/Yiddish lullaby, since I already knew it, and just hadn't realized it was Yiddish. Luckily, everyone present loved it when I used it in rehearsal, so I'm good!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Sunday Randomizer

~ My Sundays feel really, really long since Christmas drama practice has been moved to 4 PM. Basically, this means it's really not worth my time to go home, only to turn around and come back, but it's also a really long time to "kill." I should talk someone into giving me a key to the church so I could nap in the nice padded pews all afternoon. :)

~ Speaking of the church drama... My role in this play has become rather more complicated than I had initially thought. What started out as a light-hearted role ha morphed into a study on Jewish cultural anger, the Holocaust, Russian culture, and Jewish family dymanics. And now in my spare time, I've got to memorize (at least, if I can figure out how to pronounce!!!) a Jewish lullaby. I'm thinking of this one.

~ Maggie and I got to go out to lunch this afternoon with some friends of ours, including a friend who's especially close to my heart. It was great to get to see her - I always feel so much better about life after I've gotten to talk to her!!! :)

~ Tomorrow, my friend Chrisy, Maggie, myself, and possibly Anna and Liz are going on an epic thrift-store shopping trip. :) Up the road about an hour, where the thrift shops are huge! and full! and everything is 50% off! :)

~ Can you believe Thanksgiving is next week already? Where has Fall gone? (Although, I have to say that I think my seasonal confusion is due to the fact that it's been ridiculously warm lately lol).

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Chaos... And Peace

I rarely feel like the Christmas season is "too busy" - I enjoy a lot of the activities that happen around this time! - but this year I'm already feeling the crunch. Between the church drama program (2-3 rehearsals a week), making all my gifts this year (constantly running out of supplies!), and regular old life, I've been feeling a bit stretched.

This last week, I was especially blue. Not sure why, nothing in particular going on, just feeling down and tired. Some folks suggested it was due to Sandy, the elections, etc, but honestly, I have been largely insulated from the storm (no TV at the house means no heartbreaking TV coverage on 24/7) and, to be honest, I didn't expect my candidate to win, so no shock there.

I got off work on Thursday and Maggie and I headed out on our usual Thursday night dinner-and-shopping sister date, except we were both tired, and decided to switch it up. :) After dinner (french toast at Cracker Barrel! Yum!) we ducked into Giant for some chips, dip, and juice, swung by the Redbox to grab a movie, and came home for a girl's night in.

It was heavenly. We piled into my bed with way too many pillows :), juice in fancy glasses, an engaging movie (Snow White And The Huntsman), and relaxed.

And on Friday, waking up after sleeping way, way late (so late that I'm embarrassed to say how late it actually was), I woke feeling happy. Rested, refreshed, ready to get going again. Able to be tremendously thankful for little blessings in life. :)

It did me so much good, in fact, that last night we did a repeat, this time with Arthur Christmas. We laughed, we roared, we temporarily stopped breathing. :) It was so good we'll be watching at again tonight, this time with the whole family.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

What's For Dinner Wednesday: Chicken Enchiladas

I was looking for something new to make this week, something less crockpot-dependent (although, hah, I ended up using my crockpot anyway to cook the chicken!). I finally settled on making chicken enchiladas with rice, beans, guac, and pico de gallo.

Results: Amazing. We obviously didn't top the whole dish with cheese (like it should properly be, lol) and I didn't even miss it because the whole meal was sooo good.

Here's how I made it:

At 10:30 AM, I dumped three packages of boneless, skinless chicken breast and a couple of small cans of diced chilies in the crockpot on high, and poured a big can of enchilada sauce over it.

When I got home at 4:30, I scooped all the chicken out of the pot with a slotted spoon, cooled it slightly, and shredded it (it was so tender by then that it just fell apart). I added 2 cups of rice to the liquid in the crockpot, stirred it, and turned it down to low.

I opened another big can of enchilada sauce, poured a little on the bottom of two 9X13 pans, added most of the rest of it to the shredded chicken, and reserved a little to top it with. I wrapped the shredded chicken in flour tortillas and placed them in the pan, topping with the remaining enchilada sauce.

I served this dish at 6:30 PM with refried beans (from a can), my rice (which turned out FAB!), homemade pico de gallo, and homemade guacamole. :) The family loved it and I enjoyed the break from the usual crockpot fare.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Holiday Bucket List 2012

1. Make a Christmas tree craft
2. Drink hot cocoa with marshmallows or whipped cream
3. Listen to hear when 97.1 becomes all Christmas music
4. Go see Christmas lights
5. Make homemade gift tags or ornaments
6. Go on a shopping trip just to pick out the perfect wrapping paper
7. Eat pumpkin pie
8. Shop late at night
9. Make a list, check it twice
10. Buy an Angel Tree gift
11. Make cookies and take them to my mechanic :)
12. Take a holiday picture
13. Read the Christmas story
14. Read A Christmas Carol
15. Buy a festive sweater, pin, or accessory
16. Send advent gifts in the mail
17. Have a Christmas card party
18. Watch holiday movies
19. Make a reindeer craft
20. Do a random act of kindness
21. Make a list of resolutions
22. Go see The Hobbit
23. Go see Les Miserables
24. Catch up with friends who are home on Christmas break
25. Take a nap and stay up late wrapping presents
26. Burn holiday candles
27. Give thanks
28. Hang Christmas lights
29. Attend a seasonal Church service
30. Pull out holiday music and add a new CD to the collection
31. Deep-clean; take a load to the thrift store and/or dump
32. Send Christmas cards
33. Stay up late and chat by the fire
34. Buy new PJ's
34. Start a new habit
36. Eat leftover turkey sandwiches
37. Read How The Grinch Stole Christmas with Abby
38. Take the kids on a Christmas shopping date
49. Go on a shopping trip just to buy Christmas cards
50. Go to bed early

As always, I'd love for you to leave me a comment and tell me what you look forward to doing or seeing this season. :) By the way, this is my 300th post! Yay! :)

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Sunday Randomizer

~ This week, my mom found a reproduction vintage phone at a thrift store; she brought it home, and by this weekend it had been installed in our kitchen. I've been dying to answer it every time it rings with its cute little bell, but I swear every. single. call. we've gotten this weekend has been from a PAC (we can see it on the caller ID) and we don't answer. Seriously, someone, call me. :)

~ Speaking of the election, I am sooo ready for it to be over. Don't get me wrong, I hope Romney wins and all, and I am totally going to vote, but I'm just ready to get this over with and focus on the holidays.

~ Speaking of holidays... I woke up and looked outside today and it was winter. I can't describe it, but the light had changed seemingly overnight. The world is starting to look stark (not in a bad way, more like chiaruscuro or black and white photography) and the light is whiter, with more grey undertones (instead of the orange/red tones of fall). In the last week, whether due to Sandy or just the normal passing of time, the changing leaves have lost their vibrance. I can't wait to start celebrating a new season. :)

~ Fall brought me one last parting gift yesterday, one of my favorite things of the year: the end of daylight savings time, or Fall Back Day. :) My siblings and I celebrated by having our own little movie night, complete with popcorn, ginger ale, a Feature Films For Families movie, and, finally, a couple of episodes of Hogan's Heroes. :)

~ And finally, speaking of TV shows... has anyone seen Revolution? Is it good? The premise sounds interesting, and I've recently realized that I'm developing a love for post-apocalyptic literature, so maybe I'd like this, too? (I'm kind of running low on TV series I'm following, lol).

Saturday, November 3, 2012

New Clothes

Recently, due to some conflict in the family (and them being offended over some of my outfits), I've had to revamp my wardobe, getting rid of a few key pieces that I had loved and relied on. So getting dressed lately has left me feeling... uninspired, at best. Ugly at worst. :(

I'm having a hard time reconciling my own personal ideas about modesty with the fact that I'm living with a lot of people who have very different ideas about what modest should be. And that's fine - everybody should be able to form their own opinions! However, not only am I really having a hard time "physically" - ie. finding clothes and outfits that meet their stricter standards and still flatter me - but I'm also really, really having a hard time not feeling resentful over the whole thing. It's kind of a day-to-day battle.

I've really been struggling to remix pieces and outfits with a totally different silhouette, and trying to find new sources of inspiration without getting frustrated that I don't fit the "typical" "modest dresser" profile - tall, super thin, with small breasts and hips, etc. Where's the modest fashion for the not-thin curvy girl?!? Anyway... I think I may be finally sort of back on track lately - I found several pieces recently that have helped me feel good about getting dressed!

For instance - this cardi from JC Penney. It's got a hint of cashmere which feels sooo luxurious, but it's totally machine washable and very flattering, plus it has ribbed cuffs and hem (which is great, cuz I feel like these are always the first places to wear and look old). I was originally going to get another one of these cardis from Old Navy because I love the one I have (in the "Goodnight Nora" color) and they finally got them in orange, but after I saw both I'm sooo glad I decided to go with this one instead. :)

At the same time I bought this cardi, I also found this amazing scarf - so adorable! It's got a big graphic block print in orange, blue, green, and turquoise; it's called "Picasso" (fitting, because he's one of my favorite artists), and was clearanced, marked $10. I debated and debated, and finally decided I just loved it way too much to let it go. When we got to the register, it was marked down to $7, and Maggie had a coupon so it ended up being only $4! Score!

Another great steal - this owl locket from Amazon. :) I got it on a flash sale when it was about a dollar (the price has gone up since) and I love it. Nice long chain, adorable owl face, and I love having the watch.

I'm still adjusting, trying to figure out how to make everything work for me, but hopefully getting a new infusion of clothes and accessories that I love will help make everything easier. And if anybody has any suggestions, I'm open to ideas!!! :)