Friday, July 30, 2010

CIJ Journaling Days 28, 29, 30!

28. When does it really start feeling like Christmas to you each year? Is it the day after Thanksgiving? when your tree is up? When the presents are all wrapped? When the family is all gathered together? Once the outside prep is done, I move indoors and that is when it feels like Christmas. That's usually the first week of December. The last two years I've been lucky enough to take off a few days and get all my decorations done at once. With my business being dictated by snow, it's not always that easy! So on those good years, I get a little excited. On the bad years, I just go with the flow and learn to "let go". A couple years ago, we had blizzard, after blizzard in December and to boot, I think it was a short month between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Needless to say, things DID not get done as scheduled.

29. Do you have a ritual for taking the Christmas tree down each year? I usually take the family tree down right after New Years, because that's upstairs for "public" viewing. However, my Disney tree downstairs is so big, I've been know to leave it up through January, while I pack it up, piece by piece. It's such a huge job, I don't stress over it anymore and if someone comes over and my trees still up, so be it!

30. Do you think Santa is sexy? I feel WRONG answering this question!

CIJ Day 30: Eggnog Thumbprint Cookies

Today was spent prepping for my CIJ crop party tomorrow. I had a little hiccup with my help, so I've been in the kitchen for hours now. I'm finally done with my salad prep, my cupcakes and my Christmas Cookies. Now I've just got to get all the small items and details put together, so I don't forget anything. Like a camera to start!! That would be disastrous!

I asked each guest to bring a plate of "Christmas" cookies. I decided to use the Eggnog Thumbprint Cookie recipe my Advent partner sent me last year.  It's a fairly easy recipe, but I didn't realize I was out of rum extract, so I had to make one of those frustrating, last minute runs to the store. Ugggg!!

Here's an actual photo of the recipe and I think it's big enough for everyone to read if you'd like to copy down the recipe.

My husband is a huge eggnog fan, but does not eat nuts. So when he walked in the door and I was making a batch of cookies WITH nuts, he kindly reminded me I could make some WITHOUT nuts for him to try. Being, the nice wife I am...I did! The picture shows the recipe as is, but on my second batch I omitted the part that tells you to roll them dough in egg white and chopped walnuts. I just rolled them into balls and pressed with my thumb. After tasting both, I thin I prefer the cookies without all the nuts. The cookies without nuts, had a stronger eggnog flavor for me. BUT the recipe does call for finely chopped walnuts and I wouldn't say mine were fine...they were more like "small" since I did them by hand. I think making a little extra filling wouldn't hurt either. That way, they each get a nice big filled center! So over all, this recipe was a thumbs up! But at Christmas, I will make them without the nuts!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

CIJ Day 29: White Christmas vs Holiday Inn

I finally got to watch Holiday Inn. I'm embarrassed to say, that until a year or so ago, I didn't know that they had put White Christmas with Bing in two separate movies. Of course, they've talked about it on the boards, but my "scroogy" book mentioned earlier talked about the reason in depth.

I enjoyed Holiday Inn, but found it a "Holiday" movie and not a "Christmas" movie really. There's nothing like the White Christmas scene with everyone dressed up in red and white, coming in on a horse drawn sleigh and singing around the Christmas tree. But I found it went a little faster then White Christmas. Of course, Fred Astaire's dancing is amazing to watch by itself.

After reading it was recently remastered in color, I think I'm going to buy that version and watch it again in color.

As usual, I found that IMDB had a lot of information and some comments that educated me even more on the movie. It's really a great source, so if your not familiar with it, check it out. I'm on this site ALL the time now.

Holiday Inn IMDB Info

White Christmas IMDB Info

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

CIJ Day 28: Dinner Recipes and Pics of Dinner!

First let me say Ms. Ciara did a very good job, picking out dishes, cleaning them and printing out our little Rudy Day tags for the table. She's picking up mom's nack and for the last couple years has asked to be "in charge" of the table.  She even washed dishes yesterday to get them all sparkling and clean again (they get a little dusty out of season..LOL).

Her music choice came directly from my grandpa's record collection. It's Christmas with Colonel Sanders. Yes, there is such a thing!! Who would of known. When I brought all the records home and went through them years ago, this one gave me the biggest laugh. When she went to pull it out, we realized we'd never removed it last year from the record player. Since it's not nearly as long as a CD, we had to play it twice to get through dinner, but we had our usual laugh.

Our family photo is next. Gotta love my husband, he doesn't say a word and just plays along. Tammy, is game for a good dinner anytime, so she loves me for being the great cook I am and even accept me as a little Loony sometimes! Poor Mike is still in recovering from his surgery and was not feeling well. I have to give him kuddos for joining us when he didn't feel good.

Last, but not least the food and recipes. The ham ended up being okay. Not great I thought, but good. Alot of people raved about the recipe, but some stated it had to much clove in it and I agree 100%. Therefor I'm going to decrease the clove amount when posting this now. I think with that change, it would be a great recipe and alternative to cooking it in the crockpot and opening up the oven.

Rich and Cheesy Macaroni
2 ½ c uncooked elbow macaroni
¼ c flour
1 tsp sugar
8 oz velveeta
2/3 c sour cream
2 cups (8 oz) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
4 Tbs Butter
1 tsp salt
2 c milk
1 1/3 c small curd cottage cheese

Cook Macaroni Al Denti (under cook just a tad) and drain. Grease a 2 ½ quart baking dish and set aside. In a large sauce pan, melt the butter. Stir in flour, salt and sugar until smooth. Gradually stir in the milk. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly for 2 minutes or until thickened. Reduce heat, stir in velveeta until melted. Stir in cottage cheese, sour cream, and cheddar. Pour macaroni in sauce pan and mix well. Pour entire mixture into baking dish and bake uncovered at 350 for 30 minutes.

Pink Fluffy Salad
2 (15 oz) cans of mandarin oranges-drained
1 apple diced
1 large can cherry pie filling
1 (8 oz) container of cool whip
1 cup sliced strawberries
1 (6 oz) container of plain yogurt
½ pkg of small marshmallows

Mix all together and Enjoy!

Herbed Corn
This recipe is served for our large family dinners. For smaller dinners, I half everything.
It’s meant for 10-12 servings if you use the entire recipe.

12 cups frozen corn
1 cup water
½ cup butter
1 Tbs dried parsley
2 tsp salt
1 tsp dill weed
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp Italian seasoning
¼ tsp tried thyme

Cook corn in water till tender, add remaining ingredients

Easy Slow Cooker Ham

1 (6 pound) bone-in country ham
3 cups apple cider, or as needed  (I used juice, no cider to be found)
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 tablespoons ground cloves
1 tablespoon vanilla extract (optional)
1 orange's peel

Place the ham in a slow cooker. Pour in apple cider until only about 2 inches of ham is above the surface. Pack the brown sugar on top of the ham, pressing into the cloves. This will get washed away in the next step but any that stays on is a bonus.

Pour the maple syrup over the ham. Season the apple cider with cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, ground cloves and vanilla. Add the orange peel to the pot. Fill the slow cooker as full as you can with apple cider without going over the fill line. Cover and set to Low. Cook for 8 to 10 hours.  (I cooked  my 7 pounder for 8 hours, after it had been refrigerated overnight in the juice and it was overdone, I do not suggest 10 hours, I would cut it down to 6 if you have a choice)

Have a great day everyone and I hope you enjoy the recipes!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Our Rudy Day Dinner was Yummers!!

Dinner was really good tonight, to bad we weren't all feeling better to enjoy it. But we ate our share and my new "Pink Fluff" salad was a success. Doug even had seconds and that's a MIRACLE. Now Tammy, I promised I wouldn't tell, but she had seconds and thirds...LOL  They all tasted my coconut pie, but I was pretty much on my own for that. They all wanted cheesecake. Ciara did a great job on the table, but we had to blow out the candles becuase it was literally radiating HEAT!! LOL   Lots of candles good in December, NOT so good in July.

CIJ Journal Entry for Day 26 and day 27:

26. DO you decorate things other than your home for the holidays? Like-- your office, your car, your aquarium? I do decorate my office, especially since i'm there so much. I have a tree at my office decorated in Red, White and Green. Many of the ornamenets were made by me as a teen or my mom before she passed away. It's rather sentimental to me and I do get a bit emotional when it's time to decorate. My mom was how our whole business started, so her picture ornament goes front and center. I don't decorate my car, but I'm thinking I might put some sort of sign on it this year with vinyl cut from my cricut. Haven't decided yet for sure though.

27. Do you decorate outside in your yard and your home? Tell about the decorations in your yard and outside? Do you add or change to it year after year? DO you do the outside stuff or does your significant other take are of that? I do decorate my house and yard. It use to only be disney blow ups, along with some other decorative accents, but they've all gotten old and retired last year. So this year, I need to start over and decide what I'm going to do. I've put some extra money aside to buy some new decorations, but will need to decide if I'm still going to do Disney or something else.  My husband does the house lights, which are pretty limited, but I set up the rest. The ladder is NOT my friend!

Ms. Michelle is pretty much out of commission for the rest of the day, so this is it for the blog today. I'm not feeling good at all and my dinner is tonight. So after we enjoy dinner, I'm off to bed early!! I'll be excited to show and tell you all about it tomorrow!

Monday, July 26, 2010

CIJ Journal Entry Day 25 (Day 26 not posted yet???)

25. Christmas Stockings- tell about your families Christmas stockings.. are their stories behind them? are they homemade? have you always had these stockings or have you changed them- why? What are your stocking traditions? Do you hand them on the mantle, lay them under the tree? Does everyone in your family get stockings or just the children?  Our stockings are all hung by suction cup latches in the front window of the living room. We have a stocking for Doug, Me, Ciara, Byron, Barb, Chris, Dog and Cat (before he passed away). Byron and I work at collecting items all year long. Ciara's stocking is purple because his favorite color is purple, Ciara has always had a Disney Marie stocking till recently, now she has a pink sating "princess" stocking. I have a Minnie Mouse stocking, Chris has a green stocking because it looks "manly", Byron has a long, knitted rainbow stocking and Barb's stocking was decorated by Byron and says, Mom and Grandma. Stockings are one of Ciara's favorite parts of Christmas. That's the first thing she does when she gets up. No mom, no dad, just her and the stocking on Christmas morning. That usually holds her over till it's time to get up and open gifts. Until last year, I usually filled my own, but Doug has finally learned to add items to my stocking as well. Because I hadn't had anything in my stocking, I was participating in a stocking exchange. I'd fill a stocking for some lucky lady and she'd do the same for me. Then Christmas morning, it was like being a kid all over again. Full of surprises!

CIJ Day 26: Coconut Pecan Pie and The White House

For our dinner tomorrow I made a beautiful "Coconut Pecan Pie". It's been on my to do list for awhile, so I'm going for it. I've now adventured into all 3 Pecan Pies I wanted to make. Chocolate, Caramel and Coconut.

Now, let's move on to some White House, Christmas Facts and Figures. Here's info on what it takes to Deck the White House. 

18' 6 inches Height of White House Christmas tree every year.

250 Poinsettias in the Palm Room

780ft of garland strung throughout the building

13' Height of two Uncle Sam nutcrackers flanking the East Foyer

232 Wreaths in the White House

Various White House Photos Taken at Christmas Time.....Beautiful!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

CIJ Day 24 Journal Entry: Christmas Letters..Yes or No?

24.  How do you feel about Christmas newsletters sent by people? DO you love hearing their news? DO you think they are just "brag letters"? Do you write one yourself?  I enjoy receiving Christmas newsletters,  especially from family and friends that I'm not always in contact with. I don't see them as brag letters at all. Because my family is so small, I do NOT write a family newsletter. No need to be honest!

Last year, one of my friends from church posted her Christmas letter on facebook for her friends and family to read. It was the most amazing and creative Christmas letter I've ever seen. Read below, it's well worth it. 

To our dear friends and family,
Once upon a time in a kingdom not too far away, there lived the xxxxx Family. When the weather got colder and the Christmas lights began to twinkle, the xxxxx Family decided to send a message to all of their wonderful friends and family to share some fun and wish them all a Merry Christmas!

During this particular year the kingdom fell upon difficult economic times, which became known throughout the land as the Gray Times because everyone agreed that while things could have been a lot better, they also could have been a lot worse.

The patriarch of the xxxxx family was none other than Sir Charlie xxxxx, the famous court jester who made it his life’s ambition to make others laugh wherever he ventured. However, due to the Gray Times, court jesters all over town began getting laid off. Luckily for the xxxxx family, Sir Charlie’s hard work, ingenuity, and positive attitude gave him a leg up at his company, which allowed him to avoid losing his job like so many other poor souls. It was hard for the xxxxx Family and Sir Charlie in particular, to see close friends and relatives losing their jobs, but they were truly grateful for the blessing of work in the economically challenged land. In his spare time Sir Charlie loved to learn martial arts, and during this particular year, he stopped practicing kung fu and decided to study Kenpo. It proved helpful since a band of ninjas had recently entered the land. Nevertheless, he was a natural at Kenpo, so he quickly received his white belt and chased the band of ninjas to a land far far away. When he wasn’t fighting ninjas, Sir Charlie also enjoyed volunteering at his local church as the executive secretary to the Bishop, and his willingness to serve greatly blessed the entire family.

The Lady of the xxxx Family was Lady Alicia, the fairest maiden in all the land (at least according to Sir Charlie). Lady Alicia was quite busy attending to her studies and managing the xxxxx House during the Gray Times. While she often felt overwhelmed with the tasks she had to complete, the loving support of all her friends and family enabled her to accomplish many goals. Indeed, at the end of the Gray Times, Lady Alicia procured a field placement position working at the Arapahoe House, which assists the local drunkards. Lady Alicia was especially grateful to Sir Charlie for giving her the wings to fly, and she hopes that in one more year she can be finished with her undergraduate degree completely! Lady Alicia also enjoyed volunteering at the local church teaching the young Ladies of the land, and her life was greatly enriched for it.

The most fearsome member of the xxxx family was Sir Justin, the first-born son. Having completed his training in kung fu, he went throughout the land defending the villagers against all enemies both foreign and domestic. Sir Justin’s greatest ambition was to join the Dragon Riders (something akin to the Air Force) when he was of the proper age. As such, Justin learned all that would be required of him to attend the Dragon Rider Academy someday, and he began to train in earnest. Sir Justin was always on the look-out for those in need of assistance, and he would bravely stand up for anyone who was being wronged. His sense of compassion, good conscience, and outgoing personality drew others to him in droves. He became known throughout the land as Sir Justin, the Brave and the Tender-hearted.

Sir Zachary, the second born son of the xxxx Family, was quite a bit smaller in stature than Sir Justin; nonetheless he was a formidable enemy to meet. In his quest to ‘make-up’ for the slighter stature, Sir Zachary developed a scrappy fighting style, advanced weaponry, and a quick wit. As such, villains as terrifying as ghost pirates and mud monsters tried to avoid the inevitable beating Sir Zachary could deliver. One day, during the Gray Times, Sir Zachary announced to his family that his greatest ambition in life was to become a fry cook, like Spongebob from the land of Bikini Bottom. In order to prepare for his life’s ambition, he began taking swimming lessons from the local Mermaid’s Guild. Sir Zachary began his lessons swimming with the Starfish, but quickly advanced to the same level as the Angel fish. It is his hope that eventually he can tame the sea enough to join Sponge Bob at the Crusty Crab. Alas, Sir Charlie and Lady Alicia do not give up hope that he will one day set his ambitions higher, but in the meantime, they wait with amused awe to see what Sir Zachary will come up with next.

The youngest son of the xxxx Family, Sir Caleb, grew tremendously during the Gray Times. Sadly, due to his young age, of only sixteen months, Sir Charlie and Lady Alicia would not allow him to go to battle with his older brothers. But this did not stop Sir Caleb from participating in the training activities that frequently went on inside the xxxxx House. Indeed, Sir Caleb became rather skilled in the art of wrestling, and he greatly enjoyed the time he spent sparring with his brothers. While Sir Caleb conquered many milestones throughout the Gray Times, from crawling to running, his language skills remained comparable to those of a caveman. Sir Charlie and Lady Alicia suspected this verity existed because Sir Caleb’s older kin so greatly enjoyed catering to his every whim and desire. Nevertheless, he did learn how to mimic many sounds, including an evil laugh and animal noises. In truth, Sir Caleb loved animals of all kinds, and sought them out wherever he went. The xxxxx Family thoroughly enjoyed watching Sir Caleb’s personality and spirit develop as he grew.

Princess Shannan, the eldest child and only princess in a house full of fearsome warriors, often dreamed that one day she could have a sister who would participate in more civilized activities with her. Alas, the fear that she would end up with yet another silly brother, kept her from vocalizing this dream to her parents. So instead she put her full energy into finding ways to covertly sabotage her brothers’ training activities. Insomuch as she loved to torment her brothers, she also enjoyed spending her time reading, and attending to her studies. Princess Shannan’s greatest ambition in life was to be a pre-school instructor, so that one day she could share her love of learning with little children, just as her pre-school instructors had done for her. Princess Shannan reached an important milestone in her life during the Gray Times; she became of age to be baptized. Sir Charlie had the privilege of baptizing Princess Shannan shortly after her 8th birthday, and oh what a celebration it was. Friends and family came from all over the kingdom to see her take the plunge, and Princess Shannan and her parents were greatly touched by all the support. Princess Shannan’s shining example and sweet spirit touched and enriched the lives of all who knew her.

As the Gray Times came to a close, the xxxxx Family looked back at the many challenges presented by this difficult time in history. They were truly grateful that, despite the prevailing Grayness in the land, they somehow managed to remember what really matters, and they lived happily ever after in the land that’s not too far away…

In these difficult times, we just want you all to know how much we love, think, and pray about you. Regardless of all the turmoil in the world, we look forward to another year with great optimism and excitement. We would also like to thank you all for your love and support this year. We wish you a wonderful Christmas Season and a Happy New Year full of all the things that matter most.

With Love,
The xxxxx Family
(Sir Charlie, Lady Alicia, Princess Shannan, Sir Justin, Sir Zachary, and Sir Caleb)

CIJ Day 25: You know what that means...HAPPY RUDY DAY!

Normally I would blog for the 24th, but since I'm not feeling the best and doubt I'll blog tonight, I think I'll just jump ahead and blog for the 25th. We, in the online Christmas world, call this Rudy Day.  Some use the 25th of each month to accomplish a small task to help prepare them for the Christmas to come. It might be writing a gift list, completing a crafted gift, buying a gift, trying out a new cookie recipe...and the list goes on. For others, it's just a quick reflection, some Christmas music or a cup of hot chocolate. For me, Rudy Day always seems to be proceeded by something else on my schedule. Rarely, is my calendar open on that day. 

For Christmas in July, the 25th is celebrated in all sorts of ways. This year I'm not able to have a dinner on the 25th, but I have scheduled it for the 27th. We'll be having a slimmed down "Christmas" dinner. Ham, mac and cheese, rolls, a vege and a coconut pecan pie. On Tuesday, I promise to post these recipes as well. Trust me, the Mac and Cheese recipe is a keeper. It's my most requested dish now and a necessity at most family dinners.

Another fun thing I like to participate in, is a CIJ swap. This year my swap partner was from England. My box arrived a few weeks ago and I stashed it in the back of my closet, so I wouldn't be tempted to open it early. When your the "mom" or "wife" of the family, it's often hard to be surprised. Doing these larger swaps on occasion, gives me the excitement of being a kid again and wondering "what's in side that package!" So without further ado, here are the contents from this years CIJ gift.

1st let me tell you, these little "counters" chocolates are yummy! Very, very rich! As you can see, I immediately opened the corner of the package to sample some and then realized I had to put them back for a pic...oops! The little guy on the right is a red and white Christmas cow. It's pretty dang cute for a cow! LOL I think I'm going to add him to our little collection of Christmas buddies here in the office.

The next item I opened was a package of mini crackers. I'm excited, because normally I pick some crackers up on clearance for the following year and did not last year. So it's the perfect gift! I was actually going to try and make my own this year, but now...I'm good! Having Christmas Crackers on our table, was a tradition started by my stepmother when I was in my teens. One of my favorite photos, is of my Grandpa with his paper hat on from his cracker. It's really not a tradition many follow anymore and I really don't know where it originated from, but at our table it's just a little something to add a "POP" and laugh to our dinner. The gifts and jokes are beyond silly and sometimes..not even funny..and yet, that's what makes it so fun! It's just plain CORNY!

History of the Christmas Cracker

Online Store for Christmas Crackers

Then I received some Cadbury Hot Chocolate. In America, Cadbury is recognized because of the Cadbury eggs, but not everyone knows that the Cadbury company orginates in Brittain and is a huge supplier of chocolate products outside of the US. Just this year, it was purchased by Kraft. Let's hope it continues it's history of quality with this merger.   The Cadbury Company Website

Last, but not least are my scrapbooking supplies. It's always a given in my swap packages, since I list it as one of my hobbies. I'm always surprised at what people find and especially enjoy the different Christmas products. The 4 piece Hampstead set I got today was my favorite. I love the colors!

Let me end, by thanking my partner Sue. Thanks for the note and the great gifts! I can't wait to hear all about your package as well.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Thanks To Everyone Following My Blog and Those Checking In Daily!

The feedback is great and I'm having a blast. I just seen everyone's comments and responded to them all. I'm sure there's a setting someone to notify me when I have comments, but I don't know where that is. So in the mean time, I'll keep checking them daily for the rest of the month.

CIJ Day 23: Christmas Music 365 Days a Year!

I always have access to my Christmas CD collection at home, but if I'm at work and need some immediate perking up, these online music stations are the first place I go.

Merry Christmas Radio

Merry Christmas Radio, also keeps up to date notices on any recording artist who has announced a Christmas CD in the works. So far this year, it talks about Mariah Carey, Wilson Phillips, Katharine McPhee, Susan Boyles and if you can believe it Ozzy Osborn and the Kate Gosselin crew! Out of all of those, I bet Susan Boyles CD will be awesome. The women can sing! 

Want to learn more about the History of Christmas and how it's come to be in the US, I suggest you watch a documentary by the History Channel: Christmas Unwrapped: The History of Christmas. And yes, they even have it on Netflix!  


CIJ Day 23: Journal Entry

24. Black Friday- I am right there with bells on, knocking down the doors or I wouldn't shop on Black Friday if you paid me? I have a simple answer...NO!  To crazy for me and so not worth it!

Friday, July 23, 2010

CIJ Day 22 : Journal Entry

22. Tell about your feelings about Christmas Cards--- are they a joy to write or a burden? Do you have a ritual for writing them out? Do you look for a certain kind of card each year, is it a search for the perfect card? Do you write out a letter to everyone or a hand note in each? Does your Christmas card list change each year? Has you Christmas card sending changed thru the years? Considering I do Christmas swaps, I would say I LOVE cards. I have no ritual, but I do cheat and get my swap cards done early in the year, so when the address are sent out I just have to address them to get them out. I'm kind of picky when it comes to my cards. I like cards that are bold, retro looking and colorful. I'm not much into the "traditional" looking card. I always get something that I know others will take a second look at and say...hmmm..that's pretty cool. Last year was the first time I've done photo cards. We took a cute family photo with all our different Santa hats on. My list is pretty much the same every year and of course the girls at work are always included. My friend Lil is always the first one to send me a card. She's a card fanatic, so she's always promt and has perfect timing. Because my family is so small, I don't include a family letter.


CIJ Day 22: Sales, lots of Sales! Do your shopping early!

Believe it or not, lots of stores do use CIJ as a sales promo. Thanks to some of my online friends, here are some links. Some are relevant for Friday only, others are for multiple days.


Target: Black Friday

Sears: Christmas Lane

Toys R Us & Babies R Us: Free Shipping!

Barnes and Noble

Etsy: Community CIJ Sale for Homemade Gifts

The Holiday Spot: Ornament Sale

Christian Books

Little Tikes

Here are some Black Friday Survival Tips from a Today Show segment:  

“Black Friday.” Doesn’t that sound awfully … dark?
It turns out it’s all a matter of perspective. For some, the shopping frenzy that ensues on the Friday after Thanksgiving is an obnoxious and distasteful display of unrestrained consumption. For others, the day represents a fun annual tradition of bonding with like-minded friends and family members who love to hunt for bargains.
Whichever scenario applies in your world, the following tips will help you make it through the day more or less unscathed this year.
1. It’s OK to do nothing. In fact, if you steer clear of stores entirely that day, you’ll have plenty of company. Many people shun most forms of shopping for the entire weekend, either because they can’t stand crowds or they’re turned off by the notion of people shopping from pre-dawn ‘til after dark. Each year on the day after Thanksgiving, the funny and incisive Adbusters Magazine sponsors “Buy Nothing Day” in countries all over the globe. The 24-hour event is billed as a “festival of restraint.”
2. You can always shop on the Internet. Stop and think of the myriad benefits: no crowds,  no lines, no need to change out of your pajamas. What’s more, many online retailers offer sales and special discounts on the Friday after Thanksgiving — and sometimes those sales kick in at midnight on the night before Black Friday. It might be a weird way to spend the wee hours of the morning, but you’re guaranteed not to get scratched, kicked or trampled.
3. If you must brave the crowds, be prepared. You’re really going to head out there? Then this isn’t a time for messing around. This is a time for strategizing! Get the Thanksgiving Day newspaper in your area and flip through all of those ads. You might be surprised to notice how many of the ads are time-sensitive — as in, deeper discounts may apply if you shop before 10 or 11 a.m. or noon. Other ads will let you know what time certain stores plan to open and close.
4. Be a savvy shopper. You can rise above the Friday fray by doing some homework in advance about products that really interest you this year – especially if they’re big-ticket items. Visit sites such as — (if you don’t have a subscription, get one … it’s worth it!) —and to gather intelligence and read product reviews before the big day.
 5. Distinguish between deals and duds. To ensure you’ll be getting an actual bargain rather than a ho-hum or too-high price, visit Web sites such as, and as you’re doing your research to get a sense of how much items should cost
6.  Decide how early you’ll arrive, and plan accordingly. Can’t resist the urge to stand in line in the dark before your favorite store opens at 5 a.m.? Then remember to dress comfortably — warmly enough for the time you’ll spend outside, but with layers so you won’t collapse from heat stroke inside stuffy, crowded stores. Comfortable shoes are a must, and so are portable snacks and drinks. They’ll prevent you from having to endure low blood-sugar levels, dehydration or congested food courts.
7. Make friends with people in line. A spirit of camaraderie will not only make the long, dark wait more pleasant — it also could prove to be a godsend if you must give up your place in line so you can run to the bathroom. You could offer to hold a place in line for your newfound friend in return. Here’s a potential conversation starter for you: The term Black Friday comes from the idea that retailers spend most of the year in “red ink.” The day after Thanksgiving helps them begin to get back “in the black.”
8.  Pick the right shopping buddy. Unless you want to bicker and feel frustrated all day, think hard about who would get into the spirit of a shopping day like this. As Yuri Baranovsky wrote in a hilarious survival guide to Black Friday, “Taking your lover is like taking a walking argument – just don’t.” It also might be wise to leave your kids at home.

9.  Shop with a list. You’ll feel more in control and focused if you head out with a list of the people you’re shopping for, the gift ideas you have in mind for them and the target price range for each item. Otherwise, a shopping day like this one could be so overwhelming that you might fail to accomplish as much as you had hoped.
10.  Bring the ads you found. If you saw an advertised special that really impressed you, bring the ad along to avoid any disputes over how much an item is supposed to cost on Friday. Having the ad also could come in handy at stores promising “lowest-price” guarantees – especially if you find lower prices elsewhere.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

CIJ Day 21: It's my birthday, so I'm thinking we need a few laughs!!

Some of these are wrong, but funny! 

Alvin and the Chipmunks was my first Christmas album. I'd play it on my Grandma's cabinet stereo, over and over again while I'd visit.

In honor of my favorite girl and guy...

Okay, as a Basset owner, these are HYSTERICAL!!

Okay, this one is not Christmas related, but has me laughing my BUTT OFF!!

And for you Tammy..Some Donny and Marie. Poor Donny!


And on that note...I say goodnight! That was fun!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

CIJ Day 20: A Holiday Affair

Tonight wasn't the best night, I was feeling a bit Bag Hum Bug earlier, but I still have Christmas news to report and the festivities must go on!  First my journal entry:

20. Snow at Christmas- essential? a nice touch? a pipe dream but a dream nonetheless? Snow is good, but not to much snow. I like it the day before, a light dusting the day of, but we've had alot of delayed Christmas in colorado because of snow. Maybe 2 or 3 years ago, we finally were able to eat our Christmas dinner at 9pm. It took hours for everyone to get to our place, we opened packages "quickly" and then finally, finally we got to eat. I can't imagine what Christmas would be like without any snow in December. I know people all over the world celebrate Christmas without snow, but to me it is an essential! And of course, my favorite Christmas song of all times is White Christmas. 

I did manage to get a little Christmas fun in today. I watched a very old movie today called "A Holiday Affair". It's an old black and white movie from 1949 with Janet Leigh and Robert Mitchum. It amazed me how the plots of Christmas movies in the past are so similar to movies today. It was like watching a Hallmark movie in black and white. The best part for me is watching the innocence of the children back then. They are to dang cute!

IMDB Link for A Holiday Affair

Monday, July 19, 2010

CIJ Journal Entry Day 18 and Day 19:

18. Are homemade gifts a part of your holidays? Do you enjoy receiving homemade gifts in a different way than a store bought gift? Are you know for giving a certain kind of homemade gift - like fudge?  I do give homemade gifts. Foods, scrapbooks and sometimes crafts. It varies every year, but I do at least make pumpkin bread to give out. I've made various cookies in the past, but I've decided I'm going to focus on breads more. I think so many people get cookies, it can be overwhelming, so I'm going to use some really, tried and true bread recipes this year that others can enjoy at any time of the day or even freeze for later. Someone in church shared a great recipe for lemon poppy seed some time ago and I'm super excited to give that out. I do enjoy receiving homemade gifts as well. I only have 1 friend who gives me homemade gifts, because most of my other friends call themselves "craft challenged" or have no interest at all. 

19. Do you have holiday dinnerware? If so, tell how you choose it, the pattern and why you love it!
I don't have "holiday" dinnerware with Christmas prints or designs, but I do have nice dishes I usually only use for holidays. That includes fine silver that's been passed down. I usually go with simple white and use table accents to make it special for the holidays. I have serving pieces that have been given to me by multiple people and each has a special memory or adds a special touch to my table. My grandmother did and my stepmom does, have a Lenox Christmas ware china set. Maybe someday I'll have the pleasure of inheriting some of those pieces. 


CIJ Day 19: It's Craft Day! Pulling out my Link Archives

First I'd like to thank Ginger at Magical Holiday Home for posting me on the front page and exposing my CIJ blog to other Christmas lovers! Magical Holiday Home

She's been posting some great ideas all week and I absolutely thing she posted the last two, just for ME!  Today's link is something Ciara and I need to make for her Barbie tree. I think it would be the perfect addition to her collection, but finding the shoes wont be easy. I think garage sales will be the way to go. I've looked online in the past, when we wanted to make Barbie Shoe jewelry and they sell for a pretty penny on ebay. To bad I didn't keep the hundreds of shoes, she use to have!  Barbie Shoe Garland

On the 9th, Ginger posted a Christmas Star ornament, made from puzzle pieces. I've already decided I'm going to use the idea for my Activity Day girls for a project this coming Christmas. I think it is definitely something that will work well with a lesson.  Puzzle Piece Ornament

I love these snowballs as well. I've had this linked saved for some time. Bucket of Snow

These ornaments are something I'd like to make with Byron's help. He's the beader in the family, so I forwarded the link to him, in hopes he'll make ME some. But if not, then I'll enlist his help for next years homemade ornaments. I think the possibilities of different color combination's will be perfect to personalize them.  Thread Spool Ornaments 

I saved this link, because I know someday my dear, loving, beautiful daughter will embroider me a set of holiday napkins. She started embroidering years ago, after a church activity lesson. She's completed several small projects, but recently she finished a very large piece that she's been working on this past year. She started last summer on a camping trip and with her work load at school, she didn't have much time to work on it during the school year. Her intentions are to make it into a pillow and use it to mark one of her Personal Projects off for Young Women.  So, Ciara if your reading this, mommy would love a set of these very much someday. (Wink, Wink)  Homemade Holiday Napkins

Do you like giving gift cards? I do have people in my life who prefer them, but I always find putting them in an envelope way to boring. So I saved this great stocking idea, in hopes I'd actually do something this creative with my endless supplies of scrapbooking paper. It's pretty cute!  Stocking Gift Card Holder

Last, but not least are my Advent choices. I've been debating this year on which project to complete. I try not to finalize an idea until I've received my partner and get to know them a little better. But here are Advent Calendars I'd love to make.

Cookie Sheet Advent 

Okay, after searching and searching, I can't locate my second link. Can you say FRUSTRATED!! But while looking I ran across this web site that is absolutely amazing. I see things like this and only wonder "WHY DIDN'T I THINK OF THAT??" It takes awhile to load, but she has all kinds of fun Christmas stuff made from "Junk".   A Junky Little Christmas 

Sunday, July 18, 2010

CIJ Day 18: Small ways you can make a HUGE difference this Summer!

As I do every Sunday, I was looking through the paper and found a header on the USA Weekend page that caught my eye. It read "Small ways you can make a huge difference this summer". When I turned to the article, something immediately caught my eye. One of the 21 things to do this summer, is to "Celebrate Christmas Daily".Who would of thought! The article was written by the parents who inspired the movie "Blind Side". Here is what they have to say: "We love to give and to receive presents. It's the whole spirit of the holiday season. We believe Christmas should be every day. That's how it was with us ans Michael. Every day we had Michael was Christmas because we were continually being able to give to him, and it gave us the euphoric feeling. Your whole demeanor changes when you're in that mode. And you don't need to spend money. It can be a gesture or even a comment. The ripple effect that a little act of kindness creates is amazing. Once you're in the groove, you look back and go "How did I ever do this any other way?" The reward for you will be just as great as it is for the people you are reaching out to.   

Book Link:
In a Heatbeat: Sharing the Power of Cheerful Giving 

Next I wanted to talk about another book and tell a little story. On my trip last week I started reading a book called God Rest Ye Grumpy Scroogeymen.  2 chapters in and I was laughing out loud in the car. I'll try to summarize one of the chapters. It's called "His and Her Trees".  The couple was discussing their first Christmas together and how the wife came home and the husband had surprised her by decorating their small table top tree. He had blinking colored lights and lots of character ornaments. Fun stuff like Snoopy and Mickey Mouse. She tried to hide her disappointment because she had always in visioned her tree with solid white lights and pretty Victorian ornaments. She thanked him for decorating the tree, but when he came home the next day all his character ornaments were conveniently in the back and her tiny teacups and lace were in the front. They came to a compromise and for a couple years the Victoria Tea cups and Mickey ornaments lived happily ever after. When they moved into a home, they decided they needed His and Her trees to get exactly what they wanted and it's been like that ever since.  When I read this I was laughing hysterically because 2 things came to mind. First, my 2 trees at home. I have a Disney tree in the family room downstairs that has solid colored lights and a family tree upstairs that has solid white lights. I would never think of making my lights blink on either tree and I would definately not put colored lights on my family tree. My husbands asked for blue lights and purple lights and I've always outvoted his choice. Sooooo, in the car, we talked and I decided that a few purple LED lights, couldn't possibly hurt and a compromise was reached for this coming Christmas. Then my friend Tammy popped into my head and this was the funniest thing of all. Because, she does have a Beautiful Victorian tree. When she got married, she truly did marry a guy who's 100% kid at heart and wanted those fun things on their tree. Of course, she over ruled and the tree is still Victorian, but he's added a few hints of fun around the house now and she's okay with that.  That chapter hit home so close, I couldn't help but laugh at the two of us. Does it always have to be so serious? Maybe not. So the lesson learned, loosen up a bit and compromise. 

Since my main computer is down, I don't have access to my photos. I've posted these photos as an example and they are not our trees.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

CIJ Day 17: A Christmas Modge Podge!

Because I've not been able to get online the last few days, I have a head full of ideas for blog entries. That means toady is going to be full of various Christmas ideas, pictures and thoughts. Fun Stuff! 

First off, when I was looking for Christmas store links I ran across this Bed and Breakfast. I seen it personally for the first time last year, while on vacation, and thought I'd died and gone to heaven. I made my husband promise, that some day he will take me to this wonderful little getaway. The thought of hanging out in such a beautiful place in the winter (or summer) just makes me smile! 

Day 17 Journal Entry:  If you have a pet do you include them in your Christmas? Do they have a stocking and get gifts like all your other family members? My pets do get stockings and usually Santa brings them a special treat for their stockings. Byron and I will also exchange kitty to kitty gifts on occasion, if we find something fun or really yummy! I also have an ornament to represent each of my pets on my family tree. This year, I'm on the search for a new dogie ornament to represent  Hoover on the tree. I even dress them up on occasion. Kirby's had a festive jingly collar and faith wore a pretty T-shirt last year. When we first adopted Kirby, we joined an online Basset group and did a Basset Christmas card exchange. Getting over 100 cards with different bassets on the front, was one of the funnest things we done. Those cards, made my dad so happy that Christmas and it's a great memory. People would come over and say, what is this all about??? 

Kirby-Now at the Rainbow Bridge  

Hoover-The newest addition to our family and next ornament recipient. 

CIJ Dinner Menu: I invited my friend Tammy over for dinner next Sunday on the 25th. I'm going to keep the menu simple and small, but want to try out a few new recipes. Because of the heat, I'm going to try cooking a ham in the crock-pot. Several of my online friends have posted a recipe they've had lots of success with, so I'm going to give it a shot and hope it may be something I'm able to use in the future. I think Mac and Cheese are a must, as well as ambrosia salad. I only usually make ambrosia during Christmas, but some cold fruit salad sounds super good right now with the heat. I'll add some sort of vege, dinner rolls and a dessert. Hmmm?? What kind of dessert should I make?  Maybe the coconut, pecan pie I've been wanting to try. That sounds super yummy! We've tried caramel and chocolate pecan pie recently, so why not try the coconut recipe I've been wanting to try for a couple years. Serve it with some vanilla ice cream and I'm sure it will hit the spot! 

CIJ Gift Exchange:  My exchange package arrived from England this week. I was surprised at how fast it got here. To avoid the temptation to open it, I stuck in the back corner of my closet. So is it Rudy Day yet? (aka: the 25th for those online Christmas newbies)  My partner said she was actually going to give it to a family member to keep. I thought that was super funny! 

Last, but not least I'm going to finish this with another Christmas song.  This time, it's one of my fun, favorites by Harry Connick Jr. 


Friday, July 16, 2010

CIJ Journaling Day 16: My kind of presents!

16. Do you think YOU are an easy person to buy gifts for or a challenging one? Why? 
I don't think I'm hard to buy for. I have a ton of hobbies and a whole lot of collections. I like practical gifts as well as nic naks. 

Thursday, July 15, 2010

CIJ Day 15: Colorado Christmas Stores

While I was in Littleton yesterday, I was just around the corner from the St. Nicks store. I had 15minutes to spare between appointments, so I figured I'd run in and out. I must say, I had forgotten how BIG this store is. Yes, it was a quick glance of each tree, but honestly I didn't have time to look closely. It was an instant mood lifter and gave me some great ornament ideas for this year. I'll definitely be back to pick out a few for gifts.

Next month is our annual Nemnich Girls Day out in Estes Park. The highlight of the day for me is, getting to stop in at each Christmas store. I think there were 3, but one was destroyed in the Estes Park fire earlier this year. I don't know if they've reopened, but the one that was lost in the fire, was a hidden treasure in the back of the building. Not sure how much traffic it received, but it was very cute and I loved their Halloween decorations as well.

Here are some links and photos of these locations. I'm going to see if I can track down any others for posting as well.

Littleton: St. Nicks      

Estes Park: The Spruce House  

Estes Park: Home for the Holidays

Littleton: All City Pools (Yes... they transform come Fall)   

Denver: Legrues Flowers and Gifts

Colorado Springs: The Holly Leaf