Monday, December 24, 2012

"'twas the Night Before Christmas"

"And all through the house not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse..."

Well, the rats are stirring. Does that count? They don't seem to be as excited about Christmas as I am.

I am celebrating Christmas Eve watching Christmas episodes of shows mixed with random episodes of Doctor Who and Star Trek. Nerdy Christmas. And enjoying my coffee out of my lovely Xmas mug!

Happy Christmas Eve all!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Christmas-y Movies and Episodes to Watch

Alright, time for Christmas movies!

1. The first one I can't wait to get into: White Christmas! Always a favorite.
2. The one I watch right after number 1: Holiday Inn. Gotta love Bing. He's funny in this one. I love when he is listening to the Thanksgiving recording and talking to his singing voice. "I've got eyes to see with." "You need glasses." "Ears to hear with." "Or fly with." "Arms to hug with, lips to kiss with, someone to adore." "You're a little flat, too." And his house keeper and her kids. "Is your names Mamie?" "Is your names Miss Linda?" Crack me up.
3. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. The old clay-mation one.
4. Santa Claus is Coming to Town, the old clay-mation one with Mickey Rooney!
5. The Grinch with Jim Carrey (normally I don't like him, but I do like this movie).
6. How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Classic.
7. I always want to watch Charlie and the Chocolate Factory on Christmas morning. The new one with Johnny Depp (tho sometimes it does lead to watching Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory). I am not sure how this tradition started.

And that is, sadly, about it for Christmas movies. I guess I haven't seen nearly as many of the typical Christmas movies as I should have... Oh well. On to other things.

Christmas TV Episodes:

1. From Boy Meets World: 
     Season 1 Episode 10: Santa's Little Helper
     Season 2 Episode 12: Turnaround
     Season 4 Episode 12: Easy Street
     Season 5 Episode 11: A Very Topanga Christmas (I love this one!)
     Season 6 Episode 11: Santa's Little Helpers

2. From Cheers:
     Season 1 Episode 12: The Spy Who Came in for a Cold One
     Season 6 Episode 12: Christmas Cheers
     Season 11 Episode 11: Love Me, Love My Car

3. From Fraiser:
     Season 1 Episode 12: Miracle on Third or Fourth Street
     Season 3 Episode 9: Frasier Grinch
     Season 5 Episode 9: Perspectives on Christmas
     Season 6 Episode 10: Merry Christmas, Mrs. Moskowitz
     Season 7 Episode 11:The Fight Before Christmas
     Season 8 Episode 8: Mary Christmas
     Season 10 Episode 10: We Two Kings
     Season 11 Episode 11: High Holidays

4. From How I Met Your Mother:
     Season 2 Episode 11: How Lily Stole Christmas
     Season 4 Episode 11: Little Minnesota
     Season 5 Episode 10: The Window
     Season 6 Episode 12: False Positive
     Season 7 Episode 12: Symphony of Illumination (Sad one, but I really like it).

What are your holiday favorites?

Monday, December 17, 2012

My Favorite Christmas Memory

When I was little, we spent every Christmas at my grandparents' lovely house in Texas. My step-grandma always made lots of food and cookies and fudge. Their little dogs ran all over the place. Often times there was no snow (sadly).

When I was about six years old, I went to sleep after leaving cookies and milk for Santa and carrots for the reindeer. I woke up in the middle of the night. I heard noises from the roof. I went to the other bed and woke up my sister and we lay there and listened to the sound of reindeer paws until it went quiet. Disappointed that the magic ended so quickly, we crept out the playroom door to the banister at the very top of the stairs.

And heard packages rattling and wrapping rustling from the front parlor where the tree and stockings were. Was it Santa? It had to be.

The house was completely dark. All the bedroom doors along the hall were closed.

We couldn't go downstairs to the parlor though. My grandparents kept their dogs downstairs and they would bark as soon as we got close to the bottom of the staircase. And there was a motion-sensor light at the bottom so they were sure to wake up if they didn't hear us come down.

We stood there listening, excited by the magic and disappointed that we couldn't go down.

Eventually, the rattling stopped. We waited, hoping for more, but it never came. We crept back to bed.

And heard the sound of sleigh bells fading into the distance. We ran to the window, but couldn't see anything in the sky.

In the morning we were so excited about the night before. Santa left a note of thanks for the cookies and all around the kitchen island, on the white tile, were reindeer footprints! It was the best Christmas ever!

About a year or so ago, I asked my step-grandma how they had done that, remembering it fondly. "It was Santa," she answered, like I was still six years old. As much as I wanted to know, (so I could do the same for kids and grand kids or with my niece in the future,) I was glad that that was all she told me. I am happy that there is, even now, still a little magic in Christmas.

Must Have Christmas Music

I actively avoid listening to Christmas music. Until December, that is.

If you live in the Denver area, you probably know that KOSI 101.1 starts playing all Christmas music all the time insanely early. Like, beginning of November early. And this year, the oldies station, KOOL 105.1 also started playing all Christmas music. They may have waited to start until after Thanksgiving however.

I do listen to these stations, but often feel like I hear the same versions of all the songs whenever I am in the car. As for my personal Christmas playlists, I am kind of picky. Here are my essentials:

1. White Christmas by Bing Crosby (duh, right? I love Bing...). White Christmas by Bing Crosby
2. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen and Snow and The Christmas Song and Do You Hear What I Hear and It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas and really anything by Bing Crosby. I'm a big fan. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen. White Christmas: Snow (And any songs from the White Christmas musical and movie). The Christmas Song. Do You Hear What I Hear. It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas.
3. Santa Claus is Coming to Town by Frank Sinatra. And Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. Most anything by Frank, really. Frank Sinatra-Santa Claus is Coming to Town. Frank Sinatra - Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.
4. Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth by Bing Crosby and David Bowie. Oh my goodness, best combo ever with two of my very favorite artists. It's almost a miracle to bring so drastically different people with drastically different styles of music together. Listen to it here: Bing Crosby & David Bowie - The Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth. LOVE IT!
5. Little Drummer Boy. If not by Bing, I often like it when a woman sings it. Here is a good version: Little Drummer Boy by the Harry Simeone Chorale.
6. A new discovery this year: Merry Christmas Beautiful by Jim Brickman. Merry Christmas Beautiful. Sigh, makes me stupidly happy to listen to this one...
7. Jingle Bell Rock, one of my favorites. I have it by Bobby Helms (And Straight No Chaser...). Jingle Bell Rock by Bobby Helms 1957.
8. 12 Days of Christmas by Straight No Chaser (and just about anything by Straight No Chaser). This is the only version of 12 Days of Christmas even worth listening to and one that I do not get tired of. Listen to it here: Straight No Chaser - 12 Days of Christmas (1998). Awesome!
9. Silver Bells and Winter Wonderland by Martina McBride. Silver Bells. Winter Wonderland.
10. Carol of the Bells. I have an instrumental version as well as one by Straight No Chaser.Carol of the Bells.
11. Trans-Siberian Orchestra songs. My favorite album and show is "Christmas Eve and Other Stories." Here is the full album (minus narration, which I recommend reading because it really enhances the story and the songs. If you buy the CD it is included in the front cover with song lyrics.): Trans-Siberian Orchestra - Christmas Eve and Other Stories. My absolute favorite song from this album is: Old City Bar. "Because every light is a star..."
12. The Nutcracker by Tchaikovsky. Tchaikovsky - The Nutcracker Suite. My favorites are Christmas Tree, March, Mother Gigogne and the Clowns (which was disturbing to watch, but I love the music), Tarantella, and Journey Through the Snow. Here are Christmas Tree and March. Mother Gigogne (Don't watch it, just listen... Don't say I didn't warn you...). Tarantella and Pas de Deux. Journey Through the Snow.
13. I also like fun things like Up on the Housetop and Jolly Old Saint Nicholas.
14. Let it SnowLet it Snow by Martina McBride. Lots of good versions of this song, I think, but I like it when a woman sings it.
15. Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree. Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree by LeAnn Rimes.
16. Baby Please Come Home. I know Mariah Carey has the most popular version but I like it better when sung by a man. I even like this version (and I don't generally like U2): Baby Please Come Home by U2.
17. We Three Kings. Another I like better sung by women... for instance: Aly and Aj: We Three Kings.
18. Silver and Gold by Burl Ives. And Holly Jolly Christmas. Silver and Gold. Holly Jolly Christmas.
19. Silent Night. I have this version: Straight No Chaser: Silent Night.

What do you like to listen to?

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Ornament Wreath

This year I decided to make an ornament wreath to hang on our front door. I had seen ideas on how to make ornament garlands on Pinterest and my friend Katja was making an ornament wreath so I thought I would follow her lead.
Tools of the trade!
I didn't want it to be too big, so I bought three packets of small ornaments. There were 20 ornaments in each package. I got two that were mostly blue with some silver and one that was all different silvers. I ended up having to go back for another package of blue.

For the base I used a coat hanger. Or tried to, but the coating on it was too thick to string ornaments on, which I did not figure out until after I had bent it all out of shape... You live and you learn, right? So I found a thinner wire hanger to use. So make sure ornaments will fit on your hanger before you tear it up...
In a not-so-random order, I strung on the ornaments. It just kind of fills itself out. I wonder if it would fill out more if I had used some larger ornaments as well as small. I will save that for another project.
Almost done!
I twisted (as best I could) the ends of the hanger together once it was in a nice circle. I tied a ribbon to the top to hang it by and voila! I thought about trimming it with a little ribbon or something, but it didn't look quite right so I left it alone.
The finished product!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A Winter-y Welcome

Hello! And welcome to winter and the holiday season! Of course, if you live in Colorado like me, it is off to a very dry, un-snowfilled start. "I'm dreaming of a white Christmas..." If we are lucky! It would definitely make the holiday season feel like the holiday season.

Beautiful, right? It is called "Where Snowflakes Are Born" by vladstudio. Here is where I found it: Where Snowflakes Are Born
 For those of you who don't know, I celebrate a little Christmas and a little Hanukkah. My dad's side of the family is Jewish, but I wasn't exposed too much to the Jewish holidays. Hanukkah is one of the few I am familiar with. In honor of meshing these two, I usually keep my decor blue and silver. It works out quite nicely. So when you see posts for both holidays here in the future, you won't be confused. I also like to celebrate the solstice. Have to acknowledge that mildly pagan side of me as well. And if you see any references to Midwinter, it is a reference from the Tortall series of Tamora Pierce books, which I highly recommend. My friend Becca and I, in our mildly obsessive nerdiness celebrate this instead of Christmas. I probably just added to the confusion...

Hanukkah starts very soon; at sundown on December 8th. And I am excited because the last night of Hanukkah is on my birthday (eventful month!). I am not sure why that makes me happy, but it does. Aside from my birthday, which should be a good time lasting about a week, as birthdays should, we have some other birthdays, some shows, and a holiday party or two. I am very excited for this month.

Anyway, happy holidays everyone! Whichever one(s) you celebrate! I hope they are wonderful! Welcome to winter! (Unless you are in Colorado, where we don't know it's winter yet. I'm sure the weather will catch up.)