Advertisements

FAVORITE (& A FEW NEW) HOLIDAY ALBUMS

Whew, what a long spell without blogging! I’ll admit that I was surprised how events happening earlier this month on 11/9/16 scrambled my brain a bit and threw me off my blogging path!  Though I’d love to blame it on the election chaos, the truth lies in the fact that holiday music started playing around the clock on one of my favorite stations that same day – weeks before Thanksgiving!!  Now don’t get me wrong, music single-handedly gets me in the holiday mood faster than ugly sweaters and outlandish Christmas lights! Just call me old fashioned (or call me scarred from when I used to work in music and would hear holiday music heralding the halls in July) but I can’t listen to Christmas music before Thanksgiving is done.

Now that you know my quirks, here are my traditions. We always buy one new Christmas album every year.  Below I’ll share with you our all time-favorites, and the highest contenders for this year.

CLASSICS
ELVIS PRESLEY – IF EVERY DAY WAS LIKE CHRISTMAS

xmaselvis

Nobody keeps you warmer on these cold winter nights. He’ll wrap you in his voice and sing to you as if you were cuddling by a fire. It has my all-time favorite song “Blue Christmas” and even has a holiday message from the King himself.
Runner up:  BING CROSBY – White Christmas

COMPILATION
THE BIG 80’s

xmas80s

From Billy Squier to Hall & Oats, Pat Benatar, Queen, The Pretenders, The Smithereens and The Ramones – to name a few – my childhood favorites come together to perform the ultimate holiday concert!   It features the funtastic “Christmas Wrapping” song about the girl and the guy trying to hook up all year but holiday magic brings them together for cranberry one holiday eve!
Runner up: NOW THAT’S WHAT I CALL CHRISTMAS

DIVA
MARIAH CAREY – MERRY CHRISTMAS

xmasmariah

Just last night on the Disneyland Holiday TV special, this diva belted out her instant classic (that she wrote back in 1994) and the world sang with her: “All I Want for Christmas Is You!” Her gospel tracks on this album get you rolling into the holidays and praying for her to do a whole gospel album. I know there was MERRY CHRISTMAS II YOU but it just wasn’t as DIVAlicious!
Runner up: CELINE DION – These Are Special Times

CAST
GLEE: THE MUSIC: THE CHRISTMAS ALBUM VOLUME 2

xmasglee

Not only do we miss our favorite voices singing to us regularly, but the arrangements on this show have always been worth a closer listen. They artfully highlight everyone’s voices through their choices of songs and partners. My favorite features Santana (Naya Rivera) singing “Santa Baby.” I love how her voice captures the classic tune, but one can sense the power she’s holding back!
Runner Up: A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS

CHILDREN
DISNEY CHRISTMAS FAVORITES, VOL. 2

 

xmasdisney

Honestly, pick up any Disney Christmas album and you’ll find a wonderful collection of classics and a new song or two. Characters will make you smile with songs, or you’ll find classic holiday tunes from the Parks.  I’ve never gone wrong with any holiday album from them and my kids love each one.
Runner Up: TIM BURTON’S A NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS

A CAPELLA

THE NYLONS – HARMONY

xmasnylonsWhile Pentatonix is bringing a capella to the forefront again, I’m guessing The Nylons probably helped influence them.  You may know them best from their song “Lion Sleeps Tonight” but you need to know their version of “Carol of the Bells! Rather than a Runner Up in this category, let’s turn right into… 

2016 CHRISTMAS MUSIC

PENTATONIX – A PENTATONIX CHRISTMAS

xmaspent

Speaking of Pentatonix, their career crescendo has hit a high note with the release of this, their 2nd, Christmas album. This group of vocalists who came from a variety of colleges (even one high school) and singing backgrounds to form the group that got its start on Youtube.com. Their “Hallelujah” video, released just 5 weeks ago, already has close to 12 million views.

SARAH MCLACHLAN – WONDERLAND

xmasmclach

Sarah’s angelic voice brings me to tears when singing any song, so pairing her with classic Christmas tunes truly brings the most golden sound you’ll hear.  After hearing her ethereal version of “Angels We Have Heard On High” you’ll feel as though angels were singing directly to you.  

SHE & HIM – CHRISTMAS PARTY

xmasshehim

Amazon Exclusive Deluxe Edition!

For those of you who may not know who makes up this duo, it’s a musical partnership of actress Zooey Deschanel on vocals and ukelele and M. Ward on guitars.  Their throwback sound perfectly teases us with an island holiday wishing “Mele Kalikimaka” – a classic everyone knows the chorus to, but now you can learn the rest of the verses.

What about you?
What is your favorite Christmas album?  Will you add to your collection?
If you wrote a holiday song about your life what would it be called?

 

#Pentatonix #Elvis #SheandHim #TheNylons #Glee #Gleek #Celine #CelineDion #Mariah #MariahCarey #Christmas #Holiday #NewYear #Soundtrack #Album #Disney #DisneyPixar #IBelieveInDisneyMagic #BingCrosby #NightmareBeforeChristmas #TimBurton #CharlieBrownChristmas #Peanuts #SarahMcLachlan #80s

Advertisements

CURRENTLY: November 2016

Here I am again, daydreaming and trying to distract myself from the election!  I’m hopeful for a quick and final decision so that we can shrug and move onto holiday preparation!  If you’d like to give yourself something else to think about and and do this exercise, share your links below!

CURRENTLY LOVING
Holidays are a family affair and I received this fun Knock Knock stuff that will weave the family together for this season. The 20 Holiday Vouchers help you enlist the family for assistance, but also remind you all to take family time over the holiday. The sweet Spread the Love journal becomes a keepsake remembering what about that person tugs on your heartstrings …and I guarantee it’ll pull on theirs!  Sorry, but the Vouchers already sold out for this year, but browse the Spread the Love journals – available in a variety of styles!

nov-hello2

CURRENTLY INDULGING IN
Don’t ever feel guilty about only sending a card again!  Letterpress Holiday cards by Papermum Press are a gift in and of themselves. The impression of the letterpress gives your card depth, and emphasizes the quality of the paper. For every color on the card, they pass each card through the printing press again. The printer’s expertise and artistic eye comes through in every card. Maybe we’ll get an up close look one day soon

nov-llttr

CURRENTLY DAY DREAMING ABOUT
My next themed birthday party.  I love doing themed parties – in the past I held a non-tragic TITANIC party for my son, a SPY TRAINING CAMP for my daughter.  For work, we recently hosted a conference but gave the guests the true California experience. Now, I’m creating an Oceans 16 themed event. Being a Walt Disney fan, creating events that appeal to every sense with unexpected surprises invigorates me. Pictures to come!

CURRENTLY LISTENING TO
This music choice perfectly represents my gemini-ness:
21 Pilots Heathens perfectly portrays the delicate line between pained control of Marvel’s Suicide Squad’s outward appearance but also the betrayal that deeply scarred their hearts.

The Weeknd (featuring Daft Punk) produced a song Starboy that takes me away! The strong beat supports The Weeknd’s dreamy lyrics and the melody just makes my body move –  I’m a star girl!

CURRENTLY OBSESSED WITH
In a world where life is often lived online for the world to see a gift with a secret code feels like something my loved ones would cherish. Though Morse Code was built for communication to connect two individuals, reinventing it into cherished modern jewelry as a way to connect two individuals warms my heart.  The style of the code easily fits with the styles worn by men or women!    

nov-morse

CURRENTLY ANTICIPATING
Every amazing movie from the 80s culminated in the new series Stranger Things!  My children and I binge-watched the series over two nights.  Though they don’t appreciate all of the symbolism from my teen years in the show,  they love the characters and the suspense.  We were thrilled to see that STRANGER THINGS SEASON 2 recently started production!

stranger-things

CURRENTLY WANTING
I know I’m in my mid-40s but the sloth ring may be the cutest thing I’ve ever seen and I love the way the designer builds multiple parts to the ring to create depth with her animals. Maybe I’ll get one for myself “and for my daughter” (but it may escape and wander over to my jewelry box one night…)

nov-sloth

WTF: What?! Toes? Feet?

CURRENTLY AVOIDING
The media of all kinds (at least for the next 60 or so hours). Though this blog lives online and we all live in a social media world now, I feel as though the news agencies’ competition for ratings result in exaggerated, sensationalized and even falsified news. This crazy election exacerbated the problem.  So until the election washes over, my screen will be dark except to write my #NaBloPoMo posts. Now if only I could stop political mail from hitting my mailbox.

What favorite song represents you the best?
What indulgence reminds you of your childhood?
What happened to Barb?
Did you vote?

What about you? Consider these:
CURRENTLY REFLECTING
CURRENTLY DRINKING
CURRENTLY WATCHING
CURRENTLY PANICKING
CURRENTLY COVETING
Or dream up your own!

 

#Election #Vote #StrangerThings #MorseCode #Holidays #Sloth #Ring #Jewelry #Journal #KnockKnockStuff #TheWeeknd #21Pilots #Disney #Marvel #SuicideSquad #Heathens #Starboy #Letterpress #HolidayCards #NaBloPoMo #StarboyAMAs

TOP 10 BEST ADVENT CALENDARS

elf-meme

Now that we howled through Halloween I feel like life becomes a game of Chutes and Ladders leading up to Christmas!  On the one hand, time slows down the hourglass a bit as your to-do list becomes filled with larger projects and many social gatherings. On the other hand, it always comes too fast for me. I always wish I had a few more paychecks between now and then to play, gift and donate to everyone I want to.

So let me start by leap-frogging to December 1st!  For me, anticipation builds my excitement for any holiday! For Christmas, my internal clock gets a break because Advent calendars builds my holiday spirit – one day at a time! While some people carry a traditional method of counting down, I love to mix it up a bit to keep my kids on their toes.

In no particular order, because my vision of the holidays changes annually, here are my family’s favorite Advent Calendars!

advent-lego-swars

So many adventures come from one tiny calendar! Play well with other Legos too!

1.  Lego Star Wars – After getting this calendar you may not need to do Christmas.  Lego and Star Wars tie for favorite toys with my children so while this calendar carries a larger lifetime – the life of its daily toy is longer than any other from this group. Plus these daily lego toys spawn creativity and the engineering side of my children’s minds which also goes a long way.

advent-chocolate

Treat yourself!

2.  Chocolate – Coming off of Halloween, you may not be as eager to rush out and get a chocolate calendar – until I tell you it’s made by Cadbury!  You may want to buy one for yourself (and a bottle of red wine) and treat yourself during the season where you’re considering everyone else’s treats!

advent-ring

For a how-to tutorial, click the picture!

3.  DIY Paper Rings – I’d say most of us made these rings out of construction paper and hung them on the wall or framing our door to count down days for the holidays or vacations. Whether as a calendar or decoration, its a fun tradition to sit together and make these. During these still quieter moments, the fun stories of old come forth again.  

advent-mel-doug

4.  Melissa & Doug Tree – This lovely calendar will become a family tradition as everyone remembers their favorite ornaments to hang on this wooden tree.  The whole family’s excitement will grow as the ornaments decorate more and more of the tree! Melissa & Doug products last long enough to be passed down.

nativity

5.  Nativity Scene – As a beautiful reminder for the reason for the season, these calendars recreate the Nativity story with a new addition each day. This gives one plenty of time to ponder each new addition to the story and stop to really consider its significance!

advent-tsum

WTF: Welcome These Favorites to your home!  (C) Disney

6.  Tsum Tsum – Your favorite Disney characters win you over again now that they’re adorably oval! Tsum tsums were this year’s hottest collectible and create stacks of smiles! Again, the hours spent with these will outlast the holiday!

paper

I love the simplicity of this look from the allfortheboys.com blog!

7.  DIY Grab bag – Who doesn’t love opening presents?  This way your family gets a small daily gift you can tailor to fit your style!  Go as simple as a brown paper bag with raffia, all the way to decorative cellophane bags. Gifts can range from Bonus tickets: Watch an extra Christmas special! to favorite treats, or notes to your family! To really torture them, give them 1 clue a day about some surprise that will come their way at Christmas!

advent-grat

Click thru to learn how to make the Gratitude Calendar (originally from pragmaticmom.com blog)

8.  Gratitude – I saw this idea on another blog and LOVE it!  This idea is similar to the one above, only fill each bag with a random act of kindness to complete for others.  OR you can create a Gratitude Journal as they do in the blog post and write down the things you’ve completed – or write down one thing you’re grateful every day. Warms your heart better than hot chocolate!

advent-alcohol

9.  Alcohol calendar – To warm your hot chocolate one step farther – may I suggest Alcohol Advent calendars.  I found a company that creates a calendar for you featuring scotch whisky, bourbon, rum or vodka (to name a few). You can peruse their site like a kid in a candy store and custom make your own calendar.  You’re welcome!

wedge

10. Wedgewood blue and white jaspar ware (Limited edition of 3; only 1 available online) – For that relative who has everything, why not surprise them with this amazing calendar. Wedgewood’s delicately decorative exquisite pieces set the tone for an exquisite holiday.

What about you?
Do you mix it up each year or use an heirloom calendar?
Can you share other ideas for wonderful ways to count down to the holidays?
Feel free to share ideas or links!

Please note that some of these posts contain affiliate links through which I may earn a few coins should you purchase your calendar through them.

THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL and I went to work

    Pulling away from my home, without my kids in the car, felt like the hardest thing I’d ever have to do. An unsettling calm covered the land, muffling out the normal din of our maddening Monday rush. The empty parking lot at 7-11 threw me off my routine so much that I forgot to buy something. At the second 7-11, at the edge of yet another empty lot, I joked with the cashier, “What, did everyone leave town? Is there something I should know about?” He just nodded as we exchanged an uncomfortable smile.  

fwy

    The roads seemed abandoned. I caught so many green lights on my way out of town that I made a mental note to buy a lottery scratcher (I didn’t win anything). I swear a tumbleweed crossed my path, or perhaps simply an illegal plastic bag floated by. I slapped my face to wake up from this crazy dream after I pulled into my parking lot and my access card worked first swipe.  Then, it hit me… it’s a holiday, everyone else was frozen in time (in La-la Land, still tucked in bed), and I was at work.

    WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYNE!

wah

    My screeching disrupted the balance of this Monday so significantly that recovery seemed a distant possibility:  

  • An unexpected fire alarm sounded causing mass evacuation – I suspect the other employees at work today, rather than the students trying to avoid midterms. Did we do an employee count afterwards to see if anyone snuck to their car and drove home? No. (Dang, why didn’t I think of that?)
  • Direct deposits didn’t land in our accounts – because, apparently, even computers vacationed today – but not me.  
  • The sun shone brilliantly trying to lure us outside – ok that hasn’t been so unusual this winter.  

    Every effort to communicate verbally or electronically felt as if we were trying to work with people on the other end of that double black hole that caused the wrinkle in time… yeah, ok, I don’t really get it. But if felt that hard to comprehend!

    Thankfully, time marched on in the linear fashion I’ve grown accustomed to and at 5pm things returned to their normal state as I stepped out my office door…

RED STARBUCKS CUP (inspired by Toby Keith)

red

RED STARBUCKS CUP

Inspired by Toby Keith’s

“Red Solo Cup”

.

Now Red Starbucks cup is the best receptacle

To fuel me through work-days, ball games and festivals

And their coffee is strong but some say they lack testicles

To Decorate Merry Christmas

.

Hey Red Starbucks cup is trash, inexpensive

In all my years, ain’t seen folks so offended

And unlike most gripes it’s something NOT printed

Folks seein’ red ‘bout missing holidays

.

CHORUS:

Red Starbucks cup, I fill you up

Order a grande, why not a venti?!

I love you Red Starbucks cup, I lift you up

Why’re they so whiney? Had too much caffeine!

.

Now I’m cracking up how you’re taking a stand

But I don’t relate, these’re First world problems, man

Cause you’re pouring your passion into the wrong plan

Am I wrong, it’s just a cup

.

But the “Merry Christmas” name campaign ain’t that hard-hittin’

All’s lost anyway when barista fouls the name written

On you with a Sharpie when they get real busy

Take a sip, steamed milk hit… relax

.

Chorus

.

Now I’ve seen you in white and I’ve seen you in green

But only you, Red, will do for this coffee queen

Cause you are the palette on which I scribble scenes

To bring the real warmth of the holiday

.

Red Starbucks cup, your season won’t last, it’s

More than a color, you’re contents – fantastic!

And believe me that I’m not the least bit sarcastic

When I look at you and pray:

“Red Starbucks cup, you’re not just Winter (No, no, God no)

Stay all year, yea (Year-long)

Thank you for bringing me cheer”

.

Chorus

.

[repeat]

.

I couldn’t help it, I had this rolling around in my head since the issue started simmering in the press.  Now it’s hit a boiling point with politicians chiming in and competitors taking the chance to do it better.  Without pointing out the obvious – if this is ruining your hoilday, the cup ain’t the problem.  Ellen said it best with a hand-crafted dose of holiday humor.

For real holiday cheer, buy someone who’s not expecting it a warm Starbucks drink and see how THAT makes you feel! Warmer than a Quad Latte in winter!

random