Goodbye 2017

goodbye-2017

Goodbye 2017

Well, it’s been a fun year but we’ve got to say goodbye. Christmas may not be over yet, but 2017 will be at midnight tonight. Why not party down while the clock ticks away?

If you like the excitement of a Times Square ball drop party without the crowd, police checkpoints and freezing temperatures, you can watch the whole thing starting at 5PM Eastern at the official site of Times Square!

New Year’s Eve Party Ideas

If you’re entertaining for family and friends tonight, you’ve got a lot of options for a marvelous year-end wingding. You’re going to want to determine if you’re planning to have a supper or just appetizers and drinks. If you’re having a supper, are you providing all the food or are you having a potluck? Decisions, decisions, decisions.

If you’re planning to have a supper, then your appetizer count should be about 4-5 per guest. If you’re just doing finger foods and drinks, you’re going to want to allow for at least 12-15 per guest. With a sit-down option, you can provide appetizers that can be eaten with a fork. If it’s a standing mingle, you’ll need to stick to finger foods. Likewise, if you’re having a formal get-together you’re going to want to avoid sticky or heavily sauced items that can get on nice dresses and suits. If you’re having a casual affair, messy snacks are perfectly appropriate but be sure to provide a lot of napkins so they won’t be tempted to wipe fingers on your furniture.

Another key point for a wonderful party is providing a variety of drinks. Providing both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks is key. New Year’s Eve is commonly associated with excessive drinking, but keep the kids and the designated drivers in mind. Cocktails and mocktails can be prepared to give a broad selection of flavor profiles. Mocktails are the non-alcoholic versions of their spiked counterparts. Pina Coladas, Margaritas and Daiquiris can be just as delicious without the booze but be sure to make it obvious which is which so the designated drivers and teetotalers don’t get an unfortunate surprise.

Holding a potluck dinner is a great way for family and friends to bond as the year draws to a close. Guests can bring their favorite foods to share with everyone and create an awesome year-end feast. This kind of comfort food can serve as a marvelous backdrop to a happy gathering. It also takes a lot of the stress off of the hosts both financially and in consideration of time and preparation.

However, if you insist on being the hostess with the mostest, you might opt to prepare all the food for the feast. If you are a hardcore foodie, this might be therapy for you. Some people absolutely love cooking and preparing food for others and this can be an excellent expression of your fondness for your guests. If you’re just a masochistic control freak, this could lead to a lot of stress just before the end of the year. Be kind to yourself. If you love cooking for your loved ones, by all means, go for it. If you’re just feeling like you need to pull out all the stops to keep up with the Joneses, do yourself and your guests a favor and just don’t. You should be getting together to have fun as you wrap up the year. Getting stressed out of your brain is going to make you an awful host and the butt of a lot of jokes in the coming weeks.

When it comes right down to it, as long as you are with your favorite people on this final night of the year it doesn’t much matter what you prepare to eat and drink. Dollar store soda and generic chips & dip are going to be just as memorable as a five-course meal and exotic cocktails if you’re having fun. What really matters is ringing in the new year with your loved ones. End the year on a high note and don’t stress about the victuals.

Five, four, three, two, one… Happy New Year!

Elves’ Day Off

Elves’ Day Off

Well, we probably don’t need to know this much about elf dating but the folks at TXT Stories decided to follow the rabbit hole as deep as they could go.

TXTMAS 2018 #7 – ONE NIGHT OFF |by txtstories

TXTMAS EP. 7 – elves get one day off all year… 😏
#txtmas

Posted by TXT Stories on Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Personally, I’d expect the elves are getting carpal tunnel syndrome therapy on their day off considering they spend all year making toys but we all have our own ideas of how Santa’s helpers unwind.

Christmas Shopping Season 2017

xmas-shopping-01

Christmas Shopping Season 2017

Make a list for Christmas Shopping

He's making a list, he's checking it twice
This is a famous line from one of the most beloved Christmas songs. Everyone who celebrates Christmas knows all about Santa’s good and naughty lists. Most people do their best to stay off of Santa’s naughty list. While the concept of Santa’s lists is a fun way to convince children to be on their best behavior during the Christmas season, the concept of a list should one that all Christmas shoppers depend on while they are doing their Christmas shopping. In fact, your Christmas shopping should be filled with a variety of lists. You can create lists for everyone you plan to give gifts to this year. You should make lists of potential gift ideas and narrow them down to the actual gifts you’ll buy. All of this list making may sound tedious but we’ll see how all of these lists can be very helpful.

Making a list of everyone you plan to give a Christmas present to should be the first step in any Christmas shopping expedition. This list is important because it gives you a handy reference to all the people you want to surprise with a holiday treat while you are shopping. It also gives you a tally of the number of people on your Christmas list. Knowing how many people are on your list is important for setting a budget. Determine how much money you can afford to spend and divide this amount by the number of people on your list and this will give you an idea of how much you can spend on each person on your Christmas list.

After you make this list and set your budget, it is a good idea to make a new list of potential gift ideas for each person on your Christmas gift list. It’s a good idea to brainstorm and come up with a couple of viable gift ideas for each person on your first list. When you are out Christmas shopping, it will help you to know where to start your search. You’ll have a few choices on hand if you are having difficulty finding just the right presents for someone. You may find items that are not on your list but are perfect for the person you are shopping for. It’s okay to buy gifts that are not on the list as long as you stick to your budget. Your list of gift ideas is just a point of departure. If you find a more appropriate gift that is not on your list, go ahead and roll with it.

When Christmas shopping, you should also keep a list of the items you actually purchase. This is particularly helpful if you have a very long list. You might have difficulty remembering all the items you already bought if you don’t mark them down. Keeping an updated list will minimize this problem. This list also comes in handy when it is time to start wrapping all the Christmas gifts you’ve purchased. If you have a closet full of gifts, you may have trouble remembering which one goes to whom. However, if you kept an accurate list while you shopped, this should not be a problem.

Setting a Budget for Christmas Shopping

GiftingIt is never too early to start thinking about setting a budget for Christmas shopping. As much as we would like to be able to purchase anything and everything we want for our friends and relatives, most of us have to budget carefully to be able to get Christmas gifts for all of our friends and relatives withouth breaking the bank. As such, it is very important to set a budget for Christmas shopping and to do your best to really stick to it.

Some people take an interesting approach to setting their Christmas shopping budget by waiting until they are ready to start shopping to actually set the budget. They usually do this because they are saving specifically for the purpose of Christmas shopping. Whether they open up a bank account specifically for Christmas shopping, set aside money in a piggy bank each week or plan on using a percentage of their income from the month of November for Christmas shopping it is important to set your budget and determine a plan for purchasing all of the Christmas gifts without exceeding your shopping budget.

Other people take a different approach to setting a budget for Christmas shopping. They do this by shopping throughout the year and incorporating their spending for Christmas presents into their monthly budgets. These individuals may designate a percentage of their monthly income to Christmas gift giving. They might either purchase the gifts on a monthly basis or simply set aside the money for a Christmas shopping spree later in the year. Those who spread out the Christmas shopping by doing a little bit of shopping each month not only keep their budget in control but they also eliminate a great deal of the stress which often accompanies last minute Christmas shopping.

Another interesting approach to setting a budget for Christmas shopping is waiting for an end of year bonanza. Those who typically receive a financial bonus at work around Christmas time may base their budget on the amount of money they are awarded in this bonus. This strategy may work out well since it does not cause them to alter their normal monthly spending. These bonuses are independent of their regular monthly budgeting. However, unless these bonuses are guaranteed annually, there is some risk involved. Often, annual bonuses are awarded based on criteria such as the company’s earnings and the individual employee’s contributions to the success of the company. The company may not enjoy financial success or the contributions of the employee may not be highly valued. There may be either no bonus or a bonus much lower than expected. When this happens, those who count on bonuses for Christmas shopping may find themselves in a pinch with no recourse but to stack up debt on their credit cards instead.

Budgeting for Christmas shopping is especially important for those who plan to use credit cards to make their purchases. In the case of credit card purchases, it would be worthwhile to spread the Christmas shopping out over the entire year in order to repay the debts associated with the shopping on a monthly basis. This will help to prevent carrying a huge balance and being charged interest on that balance each month. However, if must do all of your Christmas shopping at one time, it’s best to save up during the year instead of running up your cards. Before you begin shopping, evaluate the amount of money you have saved and set the budget for your Christmas shopping. This way even though you are using a credit card and will receive a large bill the following month, you will already have enough money to pay the bill in its entirety and avoid paying interest on the debt.

Even those with the best of intentions can find themselves going over their Christmas shopping budget. When this happens, it’s important to keep your generosity under control and avoid going too far over budget. You may spend too much on one or two people on your Christmas list but you can offset this by purchasing less expensive gifts for a few other people to stay within the overall budget.


We hope this has helped you keep a bit of a tight rein on your shopping forays. Be kind and courteous to family and friends, but be kind to yourself by not burying yourself in debt.

Xmas Heroes – Christmas Truce

Xmas Heroes – Christmas Truce

On June 28th of 1914, a Bosnian Serb nationalist assassinated the presumptive heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Due to a mad web of international treaties and cultural obligations, this began a horrendous conflict that lasted four years. The war ultimately cost the lives of 11 million combatants, 7 million civilian victims, 20 million wounded and countless families broken by the deaths and property destruction. Entire towns were wiped off the map. Ancient sites were demolished. Empires fell and countries ceased to exist.

The Christmas Truce in No Man's Land, 1914In the midst of all this, on Christmas Eve of 1914, peace broke out. Men who had been shooting at each other for months spent an unexpected night of friendship and camaraderie that began with a bit of Christmas spirit.

Trench warfare was a soul-sucking drudgery. Men on each side had dug a rabbit’s warren of trenches through which they could travel safely back and forth along the lines. Small makeshift barracks were dug among the lines as well as supply closets and ammunition depots. On top of the trenches, machine gun emplacements provided cover fire to keep the other men down in their tunnels. It was dreary and uncomfortable. After a summer of rapid exchanges back and forth across battle lines, the trenches created a sort of dreadful permanence to the battlefield that would persist for years to come.

On that particular night, it was time for the combatants to celebrate the season in their own ways. For the Germans, they chose to sing the song written less than a century before by Father Mohr and Franz Gruber. Stille Nacht rose over the parapets to reach the ears of their British adversaries. Before long, the Brits joined in with their own Silent Night.

http://christmasallthetime.com/xmas-heroes-franz-xaver-gruber/The song led to a conversation. The conversation led to men meeting in No Man’s Land, the wasted and bomb-scarred area between the trench lines. This was an area that was usually a guaranteed death sentence to any who entered it, but on Christmas Eve it became a gift exchange and even an impromptu football game. Unlike both World Wars, the Germans actually won.

Sadly, the truce was not observed everywhere along the lines. In many places, fighting continued. Afterwards, reactions were generally disapproving.

The French felt betrayed by the British who had participated. Being friendly with the army who had invaded their land and caused so much damage and death was considered to be a slap in the face.

Winston Churchill and Kaiser Wilhelm II-(1906)General staff was certainly concerned that this sort of fraternization could lead to open mutiny and collapse of order. Rather than viewing it as a grass-roots rejection of the validity of the war, it was seen as disciplinary matter. Threats of court martial and renewed propaganda to demonize the enemy changed the nature of warfare afterwards. The remainder of the war was a cold, dehumanizing slog to an ultimately pointless finish on the 11th of November in 1918. Millions dead and empires shattered. All of this could have been prevented in the summer of 1914 or staunched at Christmastime of 1914. Instead, they brutally stamped out the Christmas spirit and ordered the shooting to begin again.

Trivia Day and Spaghetti Day

Trivia Day and Spaghetti Day

Christmastime is quickly slipping away and we’ve only got a little bit of the magic left to share. So, why not sit the family down around a bowl of spaghetti and play some trivia games?

Spaghetti Day

Spaghetti Day Spaghetti is a wonderful comfort food for the chillier times of the year. You can enjoy the usual tomato sauce, alfredo sauce or garlic butter depending on your mood. You can also add proteins such as meatballs, shrimp, sausage or langostinos to fortify the dish. If you’re into vegetables, you can use a light broth and make a wonderful pasta primavera.

There are unresolved issues about the origin of spaghetti. Some say that it was created in Ancient Greece and others hold that Marco Polo brought it back from the East after dining on it at the court of Kublai Khan. Whatever the truth is, we’re glad we have this versatile dish to keep us warm and nourished.

Trivia Day

Is there anything more enjoyable for a family to enjoy than an evening playing a trivia game? From the classic Trivial Pursuit and all of its specialty variations (we really enjoy Lord of the Rings Trivial Pursuit) to the latest craze in trivia games, trivia games test your memory and teach you things you might not have known before.

If you want to tackle the latest trivia games, I’ve located 119 amazing facts that could help you in your next trivia challenge.

Click on this game to get your copy

Click on this game to get your copy

Click on this game to get your copy

It’s the Eleventh Day of Christmas and not a moment too soon. Who doesn’t love a band of pipers?
 

Eleven Pipers Piping

Make A Gift Day

Make A Gift Day

It’s December 3rd, so you still have enough time to make some personalized gifts. In fact, prior to the turn of the 20th Century, most gifts were personally made rather than store bought. Christmas wasn’t the big commercial event that it has become.

Harken back to the olden days and make gifts for your friends and loved ones. I’ve tracked down over 250 ideas for gifts that you can make yourself.

Some of my favorite homemade gifts are the cookie kits in a mason jar. It’s fun because you make it look like sand art and it’s practical because they can just dump out the contents and bake themselves a bit of holiday fun courtesy of you!

The absolutely best thing about making personal gifts for your loved ones is that you’re genuinely giving them a bit of yourself. Even if you’re not the handiest or craftiest person, the fact that you’ve taken the effort to make something special will make the gift that much more treasured. To this day, I still remember the presents that my Nana made for us all. When you make a gift yourself, you’re making memories that will last a lifetime.

Fritters & Mutts

Fritters & Mutts

Today we’re going to fill your belly and your heart. December 2nd is National Fritter Day and it is National Mutt Day.

National Fritter Day

To celebrate today as National Fritter Day, we’re going to hook you up with breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert. Fritters are any sort of cake or pastry with fruit or meat inside and are a classic comfort food in many regions of the country.

Breakfast: Cheesy Bacon Fritters

This image courtesy of cinnamonspiceandeverythingnice.com

This image courtesy of cinnamon spice and everything nice.com

I just love the smell of bacon in the morning! My mouth is watering just thinking about these bad boys.

If you like the extra zing, the recipe includes a ration of jalapeños. Click through to get yours sizzling.

Lunch: Easy Zucchini Fritters

This is going to make a really tasty lunch for you today. I love zucchini in casseroles, stir fry, as a side or even in cookies! Click here to see how to have these for lunch.

This image courtesy of laurenslatest.com

This image courtesy of laurens latest.com

Dinner: Indonesian Corn Shrimp Fritters

Bakwan (seafood cake with whole shrimp).jpg

This image courtesy of Garrett Ziegler. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Commons.

Also known as Bakwan Udang, this savory shrimp dish brings an exotic set of spices to your holiday table.

Click here to learn the secrets of this Eastern dish.

Dessert: Easy Glazed Apple Fritters

Is there anything as tasty as an apple fritter with a generous layer of glaze?

Click here to find out how to make this tasty treat for dessert tonight.

This image courtesy of cinnamon spice and everything nice.com

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National Mutt Day

We were watching the highlights of the National Dog Show on Thanksgiving Day and it’s neat to see all the exotic breeds, but not everyone has the cash for a purebred or the medical problems that are inherent in some of the breeds. A lot of people just want a furry friend who is going to live a long healthy life without the cost and drama of a pedigree. If you have room in your home and your heart for a fuzzy family member, today is specially designated for the rest of the canine community.

How to Maintain Weight During the Christmas Season

How to Maintain Weight During the Christmas Season

Eating Heartily but Mindfully During the Christmas Season

During the Christmas season, bikinis are a distant memory and warm, baggy clothes are in.  Sweaters, long johns, scarves and boots reshape what goes for shapely. Indulgence in the many foods featured at Christmas isn’t as likely to produce the same feelings of guilt. All the same, its not a great thing to start the New Year carrying a few extra pounds. So why then eat yourself into yet another resolution to take off a few extra pounds if you can deftly avoid it?

Whether it’s sharing holiday treats at work or having an evening out at a dinner party, you can have your favorite Christmas food and enjoy it.  While you seem to be chowing down heartily with a smile, the key strategy is to exercise moderation. It involves sticking to a budgeted eating plan.  A budgeted eating plan is not about the cost of what is eaten, but about the quantity of what is eaten.  This is not unlike the Weight Watcher’s point system. It is important that a moderated eating budget is developed because it is almost impossible to avoid exposure to a lot of cookies, candies and other sweets at Christmas.

At work, you may seem like Ebeneezer Scrooge if your response will always be, ‘Bah, Humbug’ whenever some Christmas goodies are offered. It will seem as if you aren’t in the holiday spirit; particularly since  everyone is usually in a festive and more relaxed mood, and the pace at work is usually slower at this time of year.

A clever way to partake in Christmas goodies, for example, is to substitute some Christmas cookies for a bagel that you might have with breakfast or for a mid-morning snack. Also, instead of just taking one cookie from the platter (which is noticeable and likely will encourage a colleague to tell you to have more) take three instead. That’s where the plan can come into play. You can then nibble at the cookies over two or more hours, because nobody will be watching how you really eat. You can always have a few candies, one cookie or a cookie and a half by your desk and that way it will seem as if you are heartily enjoying the holiday treats.

However, the proximity to such tasty treats can lead to temptation.  Should you indulge, you will need to find a way to burn off the extra holiday calories.  If weather permits, taking a walk at lunchtime can help to burn those calories and excuse you from some of the jolly peer pressure to further indulge.  If the weather is not conducive to taking a walk and you work in a building with stairs, put on your ear buds and rock some Christmas music while you get a quick cardio workout.  I would recommend at least one song for every extra cookie.  If you need to run a whole album on the steps, you should probably forego the idea of nursing treats at your desk as a stealth, health technique.

Another tactic is to bring low calorie Christmas cookies and candies that you’ve bought or made yourself to counteract others that are being offered at work or parties. Since eating healthy is the best approach, health-conscious cookies will not be frowned upon as long as they taste great.  My wife has a recipe for zucchini cookies that are always a hit with visitors. For instance, a box of sugar-free Christmas chocolate candies will look just as delightful as their more fattening counterparts.  Here is an interesting resource with some Guilt Free Chocolate Recipes that you might be interested in at Christmastime or any time you need a chocolaty treat without all of the calories. It’s no surprise that in a 2004 poll sponsored by the National Confectioners Association, chocolate was the favorite edible holiday gift among Americans surveyed. Sadly, fruit cake was last on the list.  Frankly, I love fruit cake but my wife would simply say that you are what you eat. According to the Association, the second favorite holiday food gift was a fruit basket and a plate of cookies took third place.

For an occasion such as a Christmas party or a dinner, particularly the family Christmas Dinner, where larger quantities and selections of food are available, the budgeted eating plan will be a means to control serving portions and to select the healthier choices of food. At an event where more desserts and sweets are likely to be on hand, a few of the options can be sampled and eaten slowly to present an apparently full plate as you mingle. If you cannot resist the urge to try everything, then stack your plate with one of each and don’t go back for seconds unless you can pass off an item or two. The same is basically true of Christmas Dinner. The main difference is that the food served during Christmas Dinner will be heavier. Select your portions wisely and you can enjoy all of the flavors of Christmas without winding up with Santa’s belly.  If you stick to your budget at a sumptuous Holiday Dinner, your stomach will be full from the wonderful food and your soul will be full of joy from sharing another memorable holiday with family, friends and loved ones.

Snowflake Oldies Dance

Adults 21+ are invited to St. Jerome’s

Snowflake Oldies Dance

Saturday, December 8, 2012
8:00 PM ~ 11:00 PM
St. Jerome Regional School Auditorium
250 W. Broad Street, Tamaqua, PA

Dancing DJ – Ed Zelonis
60’s, 70’s, 80’s and by request
(non-alcoholic event)

Dress to Impress

Tickets: $10.00/person in advance
$12.00/person at the door

Tickets available after weekend Masses
Weekdays at the Rectory Office, 9:00 – 4:00 PM
or by contacting The Office of Adult Formation:
570-624-9181 or adultformation@hotmail.com

Dress to impress

We’re going to have a blast!

Snowflake Oldies Dance

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