Let the music play

Christmas Music

Let the music play

One of the many special things about Christmas is the music. No other holiday or season is attended by a month of 24×7 radio stations dedicated to playing music specially dedicated to the season. This extended playlist of sacred and secular, traditional and contemporary tunes grows every year with new interpretations, nuances and with original creations.

Some groups bank on their fame to promote the playing of their versions of various traditional tunes. It’s thought that because pop music is pushed off the radio for the season, popular performers want to keep their voices within earshot of their fans and the general listening populace. It could be that they also want to cash in on the popularity of Christmas music in general.

Likewise, bands and performers typically release new albums during the holiday season in order to help boost potential sales in the form of Christmas gift purchases for fans. They will also release holiday music albums to add to the variety available for the radio.

Others depend on talent alone to justify their addition to the corpus of the continuous collection. These guys fall into that second group.

 

Posted by Classic FM on Thursday, December 14, 2017

Music at Christmas time is important to stir the holiday spirit. Everyone has particular Christmas songs and carols that are favorites, maybe for the melody, the lyrics or because they are reminders of special memories.

The most popular Christmas song is said to be White Christmas. It’s popular even in warm and tropical climates where people sing of ‘dreaming of a White Christmas‘, which wouldn’t be very practical.

Other popular Christmas songs and carols are: Silent Night, Away in a MangerO Holy Night, Joy to the World, Hark the Herald Angels Sing and Angels we have Heard on High. Each of these songs are sacred as they are all about the story of Jesus’ birth. Of note also is Handel‘s majestic ‘Hallelujah Chorus‘, which is a favorite that choirs like to sing because of the splendor embodied in the music.

Nat King Cole’s Christmas Song is a contemporary favorite. It evokes happy holiday themes and moods such as you find in songs like Sleigh Ride and Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree. Among secular Christmas songs, there are also funny ones such as I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas, All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth and I’m Gettin’ Nuttin’ For Christmas.  Another sub-genre of secular Christmas songs is the character songs such as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman and Dominic the Donkey.

Christmas music is such a broad field that it makes it possible to choose songs for any occasion. There are songs for general listening at home, for a fun informal party or for a formal dinner. As an example, Christmas songs can be chosen to create the right mood at the start of a party, followed by more lively music when the party is in full swing, and still more to slow down the pace when the party is winding down.

Professional choirs, symphonies and orchestras often record performances of Christmas music on albums. For true music aficionados, these albums will provide wonderful listening experiences and make splendid Christmas presents. Listening to albums of these performances is almost as immersive as attending live concert.

Whichever selections of Christmas music are your favorite, it’s guaranteed to create a festive mood and imbue the holiday spirit wherever you go.

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.

Nativitygram

Nativitygram

My goodness, can you imagine if they had text and social media back in Bible times? The creative folks at TXT Stories have their ideas of how that might go.

TXMAS 2018 #5 – NATIVITY SCENE | by txtstories

TXTMAS EP. 5 – texts. visions. miracles. ✨
#txtmas

Posted by TXT Stories on Sunday, December 17, 2017

LOL, can you even imagine?

On a personal note

I made my darling daughters each a hand sewn pillow. The “fat quarters” from the Walmart fabric area were just the right size. My elder daughter is a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fan, so I found some TMNT material for one side of the pillow and orange (Michaelangelo’s color) for the reverse side. I also bought a Michaelangelo applique for the orange side of the pillow. My younger daughter likes Wonder Woman, so I found some WW material and matched the magenta color in the background and borders for the reverse side of the pillow. A bag of stuffing for each pillow and a bit of hand stitching later and my daughters have snazzy character pillows as a handmade gift they can enjoy as a decorative throw pillow or just to rest their busy heads on.

Mikey Pillow Stuff Wonder Woman Pillow Stuff

Did you make anything awesome for your loved ones this year? Let us know all about it

A Letter To Santa

A Letter To Santa

There is an outfit on FaceBook called TXT Stories and they’ve made a number of interesting stories for the holidays that I’d like to share with you. Today, being Christmas Eve, I’d like to share this one. It’s an exchange between a desperate mother and a Santa her son saw at their local shopping mall.

TXTMAS 2018 #8 – A TEXT TO SANTA | by txtstories

TXTMAS EP. 8 – texting a letter to santa… ✨🎅🎁
#txtmas

Posted by TXT Stories on Wednesday, December 20, 2017

How’s that for a surprise ending? I’ve got some more to share in the coming days. Some are helpful and some are just silly.

I don’t know about you, but I think that’s a clever way of telling a story. Technology is definitely having a wonderful effect on our culture. The ability to tell a story in the form of a simulated text exchange is something quite new and innovative. It’s an interesting spin on the slice of life skits you see in high school and youth group amateur theatrics taken to a new level with computer animation. The folks at TXT Stories are quite creative as you’ll see in the coming days. Stay tuned!

I’m going on the Naughty List

I’m going on the Naughty List

…and I’m PROUD of it! Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha!

Okay, let’s review the history of Christmas. Certainly, there’s the Nativity Scene aspect of it, but there’s also the secular or pagan aspects of the holiday. Going back to the days of Saturnalia and to the medieval celebrations with the Lord of Misrule, the Yuletide has come with its own tricky traditions like Christmas Crackers and kissing under the mistletoe.

Well, my own naughty Christmas tradition is pranking my kids. This year, my son will be receiving a well-wrapped present. Now, when I say well-wrapped I mean an entire roll of red Duck Tape and the better part of a roll of clear packing tape. If he wants his watch, he’s going to have to work for it.  😆 If you’re not feeling as puckish, you can click here for some more responsible uses of Duck Tape in your holiday wrapping and decoration.

Christmas is many things to many people.

Some folks look at it as a time to be sad. Loved ones we miss or even those who we lost during the holidays can bring a melancholy over the whole holiday season. Those who are alone in this world can view the holidays with a jaundiced eye. Some people whose political views see the holidays as a celebration of the worst excesses of capitalism can become quite miserable during the last month or two of each year.

On the other hand, there are some people who are so into it. The holidays are replete with opportunities for happiness, fun, love and togetherness. Family get-togethers, office parties, gift exchanges with friends or just hanging out with the people you enjoy sharing time with watching Christmas movies are all very excellent ways to share the magic of the holidays. Baking cookies for your family, friends, the neighborhood or even for sharing with people you don’t even know is a great way to share the Christmas Spirit. Some people like to decorate their houses for their own enjoyment while others like to decorate their homes and yards with lights that could very well be seen from space.

However you choose to celebrate the holidays or to leave them pass you by, we wish you the peace and joy that the best Christmas carols speak of.

As a parting thought, here’s something that may or may not be pleasing. I’m still not sure how I feel about it. Either way, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you and yours from me and mine!

Storage Ideas for Christmas Recipes

recipe-cards

Storage Ideas for Christmas Recipes

Every holiday season, many of us look forward to eating special treats made using long-held and cherished family recipes. Many families have holiday food traditions they hold dear. I simply cannot imagine a holiday without Nana’s plum pudding or Mom’s thimble cookies. Year after year, we enjoy these treats and use them as a way to stay connected with our families and the Christmas spirit. Keeping track of your favorite holiday treats will help things go more smoothly.

You can create that special holiday feeling each year by returning to your favorites in due course. The easiest way to do this is to have them stored in a coherent fashion. Here are some excellent ways to store your recipes:

      • 5 x 7 Cards – Many people still like keeping 5 x 7 cards in a box to save their recipes. It’s a good approach because you can take the cards out and use them while you’re cooking. Some people like to laminate the cards to keep the recipes from smudging.
      • Cookbooks – There will often be only a handful of recipes you like or cook out of any given cookbook. A great way to store these is to mark the pages that have the recipes you like and keep them on a bookshelf in your kitchen. In the table of contents, highlight the recipes you like best so that you don’t have to leaf through the entire cookbook all the time. It’s also worthwhile marking any recipes that you’ve tried and didn’t like. Highlighting the good recipes and the not-so-good will save you a lot of time searching through your cookbooks.
      • Electronically – Another way to keep your recipes is in soft copy. There is software for recipe databases that you can use on your computer, or you can just use the filing system and folders already available on your computer. For recipe-keeping software, try Big Oven. I’ve included a Holiday Meal Planner sheet and list sheet for your Favorite Christmas Recipes.
      • Online – Sites like Just a Pinch offer ways to save recipes and add your own original recipes and pictures. Just a Pinch additionally lets you print out your own cookbook based on the recipes you have created.
      • Photos – Another good way to keep a recipe is to take a photo with your phone of the dish, print it out, and then glue or write the recipe on the back of the photo. That way they know what it’s supposed to look like when they’ve made it.
      • Recipe Book – Get a notebook or scrapbook with clear sleeves, then just put the recipes inside. You can put magazine recipes, recipes printed out from the computer, your 5 x 7 cards, and even recipes written on the back of Christmas paper inside this notebook. It’s a great way to keep them.

cookingA great idea regardless of how you save your recipes is to make a note if you altered them. The holiday food traditions we look forward to are the byproducts of experimentation by previous generations. The creators of the original dishes may have never intended to make them again. They just happened to feel like doing something different or adding something new to the holiday table. When you tweak a recipe and it turns out great, making a note of it allows you to repeat it next time. This way, it becomes part of your family heritage and people can remember your contribution with as much nostalgia as you hold for your own ancestors’ recipes.

More than mere sustenance, the family traditions we enjoy year after year are a source of pride and lead to conversations about family members and fond memories of holidays past. Traditional family foods can be one of the most important parts of the holiday season for many people.

 

egg-nogThere was once, however, a time in each and every family history before those recipes existed. Mom had to make those thimble cookies for the first time. When she did, she may have placed them right next to chocolate chip cookies made with her Grandma’s secret recipe, having no idea they would become such an integral part of the holiday. She simply hoped that she could add a little bit to the holiday by trying something different. Our holiday food traditions are special to us, and it is wonderful to experience those comforting recipes each and every holiday. It’s important to remember how those traditions began. Taking the source of those traditions into account, we can be spurred to create our own.

This holiday season, consider doing something new. Think about adding a different plate to the dinner or treat table. Make a side dish not generally found on your holiday table or try a new cookie recipe. Try a few new ideas and see what happens.

dinner-with-friendsSome of the new options may not be very well received and others may be enjoyed, but not nearly as much as your family’s holiday classics. However, one might receive such rave reviews that you decide to try it again next year. In years to come, that simple decision to experiment may turn into part of your family’s traditional holiday table. The new cookie recipe you find in a holiday recipe collection this year may eventually become a staple item that your great-grandchildren cannot imagine missing.

Traditions are an important and wonderful part of the essence of one’s family. Wouldn’t it be nice to add your generation’s recipes to the holiday traditions you all hold so dear? Inventing new holiday traditions has no precise formula. One cannot really intentionally “design” a new holiday food tradition. They tend to grow over time. New traditions do require a willingness to prepare an inventive new dish. This holiday season, consider your potential role as a creator of a meaningful holiday tradition and add something new to the holiday feast.

You’ve got Elf Mail!

You've got Elf Mail!

You’ve got Elf Mail!

Everybody loves an Advent Calendar. Opening the little doors each of the 24 days leading up to Christmas to see a fancy picture or perhaps even a bit of chocolate. Great holiday fun.

Elf Mailbox

Well, I was at the Family Dollar and I saw this adorable elf mailbox. At that moment, I got the idea for a new twist on the Advent Calendar. What if I made little letters for the kids for each of the 24 days of December leading up to Christmas Day? All great ideas need a little try and a little umph in order to achieve triumph!

Gift CardsSo, I went to the Walmart and found these gift tags that look like little Christmas cards. Bingo! The perfect thing to go in to the Elf Mailbox. I have four kids and 24 days ’til Christmas, so I needed to get 96 gift tags! These came in packs of 16, so I got 6 packs and I’m good to go. I got a variety of them so each day would be a colorful holiday celebration

Next, we needed something to put in the cards. I did a bit of research and it turns out that the weeks of Advent are thematically tied to the following ideas:
Day 1Bible Verses

  • Hope
  • Love
  • Joy
  • Peace

Advent MessagesSo I found a collection of bible verses, motivational quotes and cheerful sayings to go with each of the themes of Advent. I’ve added an Advent Messages Planner Sheet for you to make your own Elf Mail Advent Calendar.

I think my kids are really going to enjoy this special, customized Advent Calendar. It’s a great opportunity to give them a special, personalized holiday experience and something special to look forward to on a daily basis leading up to Christmas Day.


Until you can get to the store and get your supplies, here’s a free Advent Calendar app for this year that you might enjoy.

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.

Setting Up Your Shabby Chic Victorian Christmas Village

shabby-chic-victorian-christmas-village

Setting Up Your Shabby Chic Victorian Christmas Village

Christmas villages can be a lot of fun to put together since you will be choosing each and every piece, from the people and shops to the trees and ice skating rinks. You can even turn your village into a shabby chic one that looks like an old-fashioned Victorian village during Christmas.

Just what is Shabby Chic?

It is a style of design where furniture and accents are selected for their apparent age and signs of wear. Also, new items can be distressed to emulate an antique appearance. Shabby Chic is a balance between vintage luxury and casual comfort.

Use Pink, White, and Light Blue on your Houses

shabby-chic-blueMost Christmas villages use old-fashioned model houses and buildings, but they are usually made to look like red brick, wood trim, yellow shutters on the windows, or other colorful accents; but these aren’t the best options for a shabby chic display. For your Christmas village, consider using all white or pastel-colored houses and buildings.

Use Victorian-Style Houses

Shabby chic and Victorian styles are often closely matched, so try to find small cottages for your village with an old Victorian look that adhere to the color scheme. Things like pointed roofs, bay windows, and brick roofs are good options for this particular style. Houses with “gingerbread” trim in the eaves or porch railings echo the comfort element that shabby chic introduces with its ruffles and frills.

Look For People in Old-Fashioned Clothing

The figurines you choose to populate your Christmas village should also represent your desired shabby chic style. Shabby chic attire is vintage in appearance, typically layered and loose fitting. Shabby chic clothing adheres to a pastel or earth tone such as white, lavender, beige, grey, antique rose and powder blue. Fortunately, most figures that are sold with other Christmas village supplies typically have the old-fashioned clothing style you’ll looking for. Keep a close eye on what they are wearing in order to match your shabby chic design. You can always paint the figures to fit the color scheme. For a Christmas village, you’ll want a reasonable mix of young and older adults, elderly, children and babies. Pets are also good to have a thriving community.

Use Lots and Lots of Snow

christmas-village-02Having lots of snow is a given for any type of Christmas village, but all the more so for one designed in shabby chic. Shabby chic uses a lot of white in its decor, so adding extra snow around your village allows it to have a natural shabby chic look. Spread snow on the ground, cover rooftops and trees with it, and sprinkle it around so traces of snow are glistening on the figures and other decorative elements.

Add Your Bristle Brush Trees

Trees are a part of the essential scenery for a Christmas village, but they usually come in dark green. Bristle brush trees are best because even though they mostly come in green, they are quite easy to spray paint other colors. Make your trees shabby chic by spray painting them all in a white or silver color, then staging them all around the village.


With a little effort, you can take generic Christmas village elements and make a shabby chic diorama to complement your personal style.

2017 Black Friday Shopping

2017 Black Friday Shopping

The day after Thanksgiving is known as “Black Friday”. This day is typically one of the busiest shopping days of the year. For many, this signifies the first day of Christmas shopping. While the term Black Friday was originally used to represent the day on which retailers return to profitability, many retail workers use this term to describe the chaotic crowds who do their Christmas shopping on the day after Thanksgiving. Likewise, consumers expect killer sales to go along with the madding hordes who invade the stores.

Black Friday

For many, shopping on the day after Thanksgiving is a tradition they wouldn’t miss for the world. These folks look forward to the sales and start their shopping as a way to get into the Christmas spirit. These intrepid shoppers can be counted on to arrive before the malls and shopping centers even open in order to get a great parking spot so they can make multiple trips to their cars to drop off packages before returning to the shopping area to make even more purchases and to almost literally shop until they drop. These are the diehard shoppers who retailers count on each year to boost their quarterly earnings and to help them lock in profitability for the year.

People enjoy Christmas shopping on the day after Thanksgiving for a variety of different reasons. Some enjoy shopping on this day for the promised tremendous sales. Others enjoy shopping on this day because they like to take things one season at a time, figuring now that Thanksgiving is over; it is time to start focusing on Christmas. There are some others who like shopping on Black Friday for the sake of the excellent opportunity to do some people watching. Whether or not they get any actual shopping done, these individuals flock to shopping malls on the day after Thanksgiving because they know there will be tons of other shoppers to observe. Finally, there are those who start their Christmas shopping on Black Friday out of a sense of tradition. These individuals have simply always started their Christmas shopping on Black Friday out of habit. Perhaps their parents started Christmas shopping the day after Thanksgiving. Perhaps they simply learned this as the way to start Christmas shopping. Perhaps they will pass the habit on to their own children.

sales

On the other hand, there are other shoppers who absolutely refuse to step foot inside a mall or shopping center on the day after Thanksgiving. That would be me! For us trying to get any shopping done on Black Friday is nearly impossible. We are perfectly willing to sacrifice the opportunity to buy some items as gifts at excellent sale prices in order to avoid the insane throng of shoppers who swarm the stores on this one hectic day. However, it is worthwhile to recognize that just because shoppers like myself avoid shopping centers on the day after Thanksgiving does not mean that we don’t enjoy great sale prices on the Christmas gifts we purchase. We take advantage of sales throughout the year and online to complete our Christmas shopping within our budget.

Whether you are an early bird Christmas shopper, a down to the wire last minute Christmas shopper or just a people watcher, you surely expect large crowds in malls and shopping centers on the day after Thanksgiving. It is up to you to decide whether or not you choose to join the shoppers on this hectic day.

Goodness knows you won’t find me anywhere near a store on Black Friday. God bless you if you do go Black Friday shopping. Everybody has their own tolerance level for such things. Mine is really, really low. I’ll be home with a cup of cocoa and a nice quiet book to read.

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