The 12 Movies of Christmas

Instead of singing about turtle doves, maids a milking, golden rings, and the other Christmas gifts from the song The 12 Days of Christmas, why not watch twelve movies in preparation for Christmas?

That’s only three movies per week for the next four weeks, and of course if you fall behind, you can schedule one or two movie marathons.

Watching one of these Christmas classics will make decorating or wrapping gifts or baking more enjoyable. My must see list:

12. Scrooged

11. The Santa Clause

10. White Christmas

9. Trading Places

8. Miracle on 34th Street

7. It’s a Wonderful Life

6. Home Alone

5. A Christmas Carol

4. Elf

 

3. Toy Story

2. A Charlie Brown Christmas

1. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

Happy Christmas movie watching!

R.A.C.K. Revisited

RACK banner[11]Late last December I posted a message about R.A.C.K., a plan to practice random acts of Christmas kindness. Unfortunately, it was only a couple of days before Christmas with little time remaining to put the plan into action so here it is again.

In middle school, your writing teacher assigned a project on random acts of kindness, an idea that started in a Sausalito, California, restaurant in 1982 when Anne Herbert scrawled the words “practice random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty” on a place mat. From this simple start, bumper stickers spread the idea and a book was published filled with stories of random acts of kindness, which started a kind of chain reaction. You were asked to find an example of someone who participated in performing these acts of kindness not only as a writing assignment, but to encourage you to think about how you could be a part of this movement.

Without even thinking about it, you frequently do little things that add beauty to the lives of others. You may bring in the grocery cart for a fellow shopper, compliment someone, reach an item on a shelf, or hold the door…all simple acts, but acts that brighten the days of others. However, by thinking about acts of kindness and acting intentionally, we can bring smiles to the faces of those we meet.

So what’s R.A.C.K.? Random Acts of Christmas Kindness. Recently, I’ve come across several websites with ideas to make the Christmas season a time to make these acts, not just random, but planned to spread good cheer. In fact, you may want to search random acts of Christmas kindness on Pinterest. The ideas are boundless.

Perhaps you can think of a couple of ways you can make an impact during the next month that focus on Christmas kindness. I’m making plans. This is a good tradition to add to the Christmas season. And who knows, once you get thinking and doing, you may decide to make intentional acts a kindness a year round project.

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A Dessert for Every Person

On Rachel Ray’s two day Thanksgiving show, she provided tips on everything relating to preparing the feast. Can you believe that one of the tips was to prepare just enough dessert for one piece per person? And to fix only one, maybe two desserts. The suggestion…two pies…one pumpkin and one apple.

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That doesn’t work in our family! If we were to make a dessert preparation guide, I think it would be make one dessert per person. Not one piece per person, one whole dessert per person!

Pumpkin pie

IMG_4410.JPGCherry pie

IMG_4412.JPGLemon meringue pie

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Cheese cake

IMG_4414.JPGOrange cranberry pound cake

IMG_4390.JPGPraline pound cake

IMG_4388.JPG Brownies, cookies, candied pecans, and Rice Krispie treats

And an apology from my mom that she didn’t bring and fudge or sweet treatsthis year. I don’t think we needed them!

 

TBT Lesson #28

For years the Turkey Trot’s been a Thanksgiving Day tradition. I can hardly remember a year when at least one member of the family didn’t participate in the annual 5K run through the neighborhoods of Ocala.

On more than one occasion our Thanksgiving table’s been decorated by a trophy awarded after the race, but on Thanksgiving Day in 2000 the girls brought home two first-place trophies and a third-place turkey.

IMG_5281.JPGThrowback Thursday Lesson #28: Run a 5K before eating Thanksgiving Dinner so you can eat an extra piece of pie.

Thanksgiving’s Going to the Dogs

After we abandoned the family last year for a getaway to New York, we assured all that we would be home this year and that everyone should plan on spending Thanksgiving at our house. With the exception of one daughter and one nephew our invitation has been accepted.

We’ll spend the day making final preparations for a family gathering of 26…parents, siblings, daughters and their husbands, nieces, nephews, their significant others and one grand nephew. It’ll be a full house.

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A homesick Willis on day 1.

But in addition to the crowd of people, we have three dogs that have accepted the invite as well. Sarah and Daniel won’t be joining us as they travel to D.C. to spend the holiday with Daniel’s brother, but they sent their dog Willis so they’ll be represented at the table. In fact, Willis will be staying for eight days and has been a house guest since last Sunday.

He’s a little skittish around John preferring to sit on my feet or hang by my side. Funny…I’m not the dog person in the family. Of course, a little cheese goes a long way to building a relationship with a dog.

Later today Willis’ buddy Luna arrives so they can play and compete for attention.

luna These two know how to spend a holiday!

And this year they’ll meet the newest member of their canine family, Matt’s dog, Willie.

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Thanksgiving has definitely gone to the dogs!

Why Saving Money Makes Me Angry

Everybody has a money saving gimmick, but I’d rather spend more than jump through the money-saving hoops.

Last Saturday I decided to buy a regularly priced $30 item at JoAnn’s Fabrics since it was on sale for $15 and I had a 20%off coupon. I made this decision after checking the price at Michael’s since it was still cheaper at JoAnn’s even though I had a 50% off coupon. Michael’s price on the same item was $30. It seemed like a good, logical plan until I started shopping.

  • First stop, JoAnn’s – the employee could not find the product.
  • Second stop, Michael’s – don’t have the first choice, but a substitute is available, if I’m willing to wait in line behind twenty other customers.
  • Third stop, another JoAnn’s – first choice not available.
  • Fourth stop, another Michael’s – first choice not available. Who cares? Get the second choice. Use the 50% coupon. Get out of there! No, check the fine print, the coupon is not good on this particular product. Who cares? Just buy…but then I realize I can go back across the street and save $15.
  • Fifth stop, back to JoAnn’s #2 – buy the second choice. No, they won’t take the coupon either…same fine print.

The lesson? Don’t read the sale ads. Don’t clip the coupons. Go to the store. Buy the product you want. The $15 saved wasn’t worth 2 hours of my time and the additional gas used to drive all over the county and the increase in my blood pressure.

I’m tired of being asked if I want to apply for a credit card so I can save 15% on the day’s purchases. No, I do not want a Target Card or a Gap card or a Loft card.

Then after I make a purchase, I receive a coupon good for $20 off a purchase of $50 or more IF I return in two weeks. No, I’m not coming back in two weeks.

I hate reward cards! I don’t want to carry a card for Walgreens, CVS, Staples, or Winn Dixie so I can take advantage of the sale price. I don’t want to join the Hilton HHonors or the Wyndham Rewards Loyalty Program or the Choice Privileges program. If I have to carry your card and play your game to get the discount, I’ll just shop somewhere else.

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Really? A rewards card for gas?

And guess who’s NOT camping in front of Best Buy to save money on a TV or computer? I won’t shop before noon to get the doorbuster price. I won’t even step foot in a retail store this coming weekend. Saving a few dollars isn’t worth the aggravation. I’d rather buy less.

I don’t like to pay more than necessary, but I’m really not interested in the money saving schemes of retailers. Do me a favor. Price your products so consumers can shop without playing games. I don’t enjoy playing games when I have no chance of winning.

It’s no wonder more and more shoppers are making their purchases online. A lot less frustration.

Don’t Swerve

Last week while driving into town, we passed a black bear that had been hit by a car and killed. When I read the article in the newspaper about the bear, I noticed that several readers responded by criticizing the driver claiming bears don’t dart across the street. Some even demanded the driver by held accountable for killing the bear.

Bears do dart! I’ve witnessed a bear dart across S.R. 40. Fortunately, it crossed about a half mile ahead of our car so it made it safely to the other side of the road. My brother also experienced a darting bear that managed to safely cross between two cars.

These bears weigh 300 pounds or more. Not only did the bear die, but the woman who hit the bear was hospitalized and her car was totaled. You’d have to be crazy to purposely hit a bear.

While the bear caught my attention this week, bears aren’t the only animals that are killed by cars or put drivers in danger. Opossums, squirrels, deer, and many other animals cause driving hazards.

No one wants to hit an animal while driving, but it’s going to happen. I’ve hit squirrels and a rabbit and the heron I hit crossing Alligator Alley made a real mess on my car, but remember what Coach M. said in Driver’s Ed, the most dangerous things on the road are the other cars. Hitting a rabbit is preferable to swerving and hitting another car.

This is even true when that animal is someone’s pet. I remember one of the pieces of advice from my Dad when I first started driving was to never swerve to avoid an animal. He said saving the life of a dog or cat was not worth risking serious injury or death to yourself or another person.

If you hit a dog or cat, stop to check on it when you can pull over safely, but make people your priority.

Of course, you’ll want to do all you can to avoid a bear or alligator or horse, but even hitting large animal is better than hitting another car, a tree, or a building.

I hope you never find yourself forced to hit an animal, but if you do, please take care of yourself and your passengers and don’t swerve.

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Mom

Advent Photo Challenge

I’m always looking for another photo challenge, and I’m excited that Ocala First United Methodist Church has developed an Advent photo challenge which begins next Sunday, November 30th.

A grown-up version of an Advent calendar, the goal is for this to be a different way to meditate into this season by participating in the Advent Photo-a-day on Instagram @ocalafirstumc.

  • Step 1 Follow Ocala First United Methodist Church on Instagram @ocalafirstumc
  • Step 2 Copy the list of words and start thinking about images that could illustrate each word
  • Step 3 Take pictures and post on Instagram using #OcalaLight
  • Step 4 Check out the photos posted and LIKE and/or COMMENT
  • Step 5 Invite others to participate

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This year’s theme is “Advent 2014: the light shines in the darkness” (John 1:1-14)

We’re celebrating (remembering) that Christ came into this world. God, the light, the Word, the life came into the brokenness (the darkness) of our world—in order to redeem and heal and save it. The season of Advent reminds us to look for light in those dark places, but it also gives us the courage to look into those dark places, knowing that Christ has come and is coming again. Advent calls us to confront our darkness (and the world’s darkness) and wait for—look for, prepare for—Christ.

Remember, this isn’t an all or nothing proposition. If you miss a day, that’s ok. Post later or skip a day and post the next. And if taking photos isn’t your thing, check out the photos posted by others.

I’m getting ready for the Advent Photo Challenge! (And follow me on Instagram @mcdeea)

Having trouble reading the words in the graphic above? Here’s another, easy to read list.
Nov 30: Advent (Coming)
Dec 1: Darkness
Dec 2: Awake
Dec 3: Promise
Dec 4: Anticipate/Await
Dec 5: Hope
Dec 6: Peace
Dec 7: Beginning
Dec 8: The Word.
Dec 9: Spirit
Dec 10: Light
Dec 11: People
Dec 12: Joy
Dec 13: Good News
Dec 14: Witness
Dec 15: Preparation
Dec 16: Path/Way
Dec 17: Holy
Dec 18: Ordinary
Dec 19: Love
Dec 20: Blessed
Dec 21: Believe
Dec 22: Neighborhood
Dec 23: Welcome
Dec 24: Glory
Dec 25: Rejoice! Celebrate!

 

Delivering Treasures to the Next Generation

We’ve started downsizing and fortunately, our daughters appreciate many of the family treasures. One dining table and chairs furnishes Meghan’s house and a second dining room set occupies a place of honor in Emily’s dining room. Now it’s time for Sarah to add a family heirloom to her house.

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We’ve unloaded crystal, china, and a beautiful hot chocolate set from my great grandmother’s china cabinet that’s been in our dining room for over thirty years. This weekend we’ll rent a trailer from Uhaul and deliver this one hundred year old treasure to Sarah, passing down a piece of furniture that connects her to her family.

The next challenge will be finding homes for sherbet glasses, cordials, sherry glasses and wine glasses. I can’t help but wonder why my great grandmother had such a collection of crystal. Living on a farm, I can’t imagine any of these pieces were ever used, but instead brought pleasure as she walked through her dining room past her cabinet of treasures.

Maybe it’s time to find a way to dust off these rarely used pieces and put them to use.

November Pound Cake of the Month: Orange Cranberry

Lemon, blueberry, coconut, chocolate, pecans, the ingredients used to spice up the first ten pound cakes baked in 2014. What better than cranberries for November? I’m sure some would say pumpkin, but pumpkin bread, pumpkin muffins, and even pumpkin pie aren’t family favorites, so cranberry it is, and when combined with orange, well that made it irresistible.

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You’d think after baking ten pound cakes this year, this would be a “piece of cake”, but I’m still baking challenged and it takes me forever to whip up one of these desserts. The recipe indicates a 15 minute prep time, but I’m sure I invested at least 30 minutes in gathering and measuring ingredients and cake preparation. Fortunately, it was worth it!

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I located the recipe used this month on That’s My Home, a website devoted to cooking and baking, and made only a couple of modifications, using turbinado sugar instead of white granulated sugar and adding butter to the icing which I thought was needed for a little more flavor.

Ingredients for cake:

 

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • zest of one orange – about 1 tablespoon
  • juice of an orange
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 tablespoons sugar

 

Ingredients for glaze:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 – 3 Tablespoons orange juice
  • 2 Tablespoons butter (softened)

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Spray a bundt pan with cooking spray.
  • Sprinkle the 2 Tablespoons of sugar on the bottom of the pan.
  • Sprinkle 1/4 cup of the cranberries on the bottom of the pan. Set aside.
  • Cream together butter and sugar at medium speed on mixer.
  • Add eggs, one at a time, and mix until incorporated.
  • Add orange juice and zest.
  • Add sour cream until incorporated.
  • Then add the flour, salt, and baking powder.
  • Finally, stir in the remaining 1 1/4 cups cranberries.
  • Bake for 50 – 55 minutes until a tester comes out clean.
  • Let pan set for 5 minutes after you take the cake out of the oven.
  • Turn over cake unto a wire rack to cool.

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Prepare glaze and drizzle on top and sides of cake.

I baked the Orange Cranberry Pound Cake in the smaller 6-cup pan and three smaller 1-cup cakes because I wanted to serve this cake for Thanksgiving next week. Of course, we ate the smaller cakes since we needed to do a little taste test, but I stored the larger cake in an inverted mixing  with a clip on lid and placed it in the freezer.

Thanksgiving baking has begun!