Easter-basket-cupcakes

Easter-basket-cupcakesIt’s Spring!  And that means flowers, bunnies, the Easter basket, and of course, cupcakes.  What could be more delightful than getting them all in one place?  I can’t think of a single thing.  This weekend while my sister and I were arguing over what is the best satellite tv provider, she was bragging all about how she has five cooking channels.  Well, I have six — and all of them were full of delicious ideas for lightening things up for Spring.  I also scoured the Internet to find cute ideas for Easter.  I’m definitely for the traditional things, but I was looking for something that goes beyond the same old basket with colored eggs, and I found exactly what I was looking for on YouTube.  

In this video, a really dedicated mom and her sweet little assistant team up on the hippity hoppity to bring beautiful, creative cupcakes to your Easter festivities.  With all the colors of the season, these cupcakes are made to be miniature representations of Easter baskets loaded with goodies:  candy eggs, Peeps, and jelly beans liven things up, and a base of brightly colored icing made to look like Easter grass is the ultimate touch.  Check it out, and do try this at home.

HappyStPatricksDay-e1392058569191

Can you actually believe that the month of March is halfway over?  I mean, it seems like just yesterday that I was putting away all of the Christmas decorations!  I swear that time really is seeming to speed up more and more.  Anyways, since it is the middle of March there is a fun holiday coming up tomorrow.  Yes, St. Patrick’s Day is tomorrow.  Hopefully you have your green ready to wear so you can avoid being pinched, and if you have no plans I have some ideas so you can have a fun-filled St. Patty’s Day.

With the Kids:

Having some fun with your kids, or other people’s kids that you have permission to hang with, is a lot of fun on St. Patrick’s Day.  Things like four leaf clovers and leprechauns are exciting for children so make some games out of it.

  • Find four leaf clovers – If you want to kill some time the easy way, HappyStPatricksDay-e1392058569191go outside with the children and have them hunt for four leaf clovers.  You have no idea how long kids will lay there looking for these things even if they are having no luck.
  • Create a Leprechaun scavenger hunt – Leave behind green clues from a Leprechaun to get to his pot of gold.  This game is a lot of fun for kids of all ages, plus the pot of gold can be chocolate wrapped in gold foil.  Who doesn’t love chocolate?

With the Adults:

For those celebrating the day without the company of little ones, there are still plenty of fun things to do, but you probably already knew that.

  • Green beer brings great cheer – Green beer on St. Patrick’s Day is a given.  It is not a fun St. Patty’s Day without it.  If you are not the kind to partake in spirits, then green kool-aid will work, but you are definitely missing out.
  • Watch the Leprechaun movies  – Okay, this sounds lame, but the horror movies Leprechaun are not only a little scary and creepy, but kind of funny too.  Look at your direct tv channels, and I’ll bet you see these movies playing on more than one channel.

No matter who you are with or what your plans are for St. Patrick’s Day, I hope your holiday is safe and full of fun!

love-letters

love-letters

The holidays have just settled down for me, and I have to say that 2011 definitely went out with a bang.  Now there are new holidays and things to look forward to.  Just like last year, I have already started saving up for Christmas.  I like to save a little here and there and it really adds up to keep me out of debt come December.  On top of that, I am getting things ready for Valentine’s Day.

Yes, I said it, Valentine’s Day.  It is a holiday that I absolutely love because I love love!  I do not like to go broke though getting gifts like a lot of people do.  Some people seriously go all out on the gifts that they give, and to me that is not what Valentine’s Day is for.  I love to be creative and find special ways to show those I love that I care and appreciate our relationship.  Some people just think the more you spend, the more you love though.

This year Valentine’s Day spending is expected to be higher than last year’s.  The economy took a bit of a toll on spending in 2009 and 2010, but it is slowly creeping back up.  Take a look below at the cost of love and what people are buying on Valentine’s Day.

girl-green-dress-gift-box

girl-green-dress-gift-box

In eighteen days, the holiday that I love the most will be here. Boy it has already been a busy season, but the holdiay cheer and the hustle and bustle has definitely helped to keep me going. Yesterday I picked up some lunch with friends and we got to talking about gifts we were giving this year, and what do you know, we all had the same idea to stick to giving green gifts. Not online are we going green with the gifts we are giving, but most of us are buying online nixing driving time, buying from local businesses, and looking to companies for items that have a mission to be friendly to the environment. One pal even mentioned using newspapers for wrapping paper, how great is that?

If you need some green gift ideas for this year’s holiday, here are some ideas for you:

  • Eco-friendly golf accessories are the perfect gift for the club swinging men in your life.  That’s right, there are biodegradable golf tees that you can get the golf lover that you love.  There are even golf balls made from recycled materials that help you do the green thing while on the greens.
  • Organic bath soaps, lotions, and other body works make great gifts for friends and ladies on your Christmas list.  There are many companies out there making organic and environmentally friendly bath and body products that smell great, work great, and are great for the earth.
  • Who doesn’t enjoy watching television every once and a while?  Get the gift of entertainment this year with an energy efficient television.  On top of saving more than 40% more energy, the picture quality is most liekly an upgrade too.
  • Anything with an energy star rating will also be sure to please and save energy and help people live a life that is a little more green.

 

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635837550531878231-375711953_esq-charlie-brown-christmas-1212-xlg

Halloween has past, and that means that Christmas music is playing in my house.  I could not be more excited about hearing the jolly sounds filling the air in my car and in my home.  I think it might drive my kids and my husband absolutely crazy, but I cannot help it.  This is the time of year I start to really get into the spirit more than any other time. Of course, I know that Thanksgiving is coming up first, and I do love that turkey day.  The thing is, Christmas music just makes all my days seem more “merry and bright.”  I am even more merry and jolly about a new Christmas album from She & Him that was released this week.

She & Him is Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward, and their Christmas album A Very She & Him Christmasfeatures 12 holiday classics with a She & Him twist.  Her voice brings a certain sound to some of my favorite Christmas songs like I have never before heard.  Most of the songs are simply an acoustic guitar and vocals giving that timeless feel that we all love to hear from our Christmas songs.

Here’s a peek at the album so you can listen for yourself.  It’s She & Him singing “Silver Bells.” Enjoy!

Christmas gifts. Photo in vintage style.

If your household is anything like mine during the holidays, it can be easy to get lost in the chaos of shopping, decorating and baking.  With special events for school and work on top of that, it can be very easy to forget some small details along the way.  One task that seems to always escape my planning is picking up those little gifts for friends or coworkers to make a thoughtful gesture during the holiday season.

Christmas gifts. Photo in vintage style.

Christmas gifts. Photo in vintage style.

As I’m sure most of you can agree, it is critical to be aware of your budget for the holidays and manage gifts and spending accordingly.  But this shouldn’t mean that you can’t be a thoughtful host or prepared party thrower.  There are a few little tricks that I have used over the years that allow me to be prepared for unexpected guests and make sure everyone leaves with something special for the holidays.

Make sure you always have a bottle of special wine tucked in your cabinet.  I’m not talking about an expensive bottle that no one will be able to pronounce the name, I mean a wine that has special meaning to you or a story attached to it that you can share with guests.  For example, I keep a couple bottles of a seasonal wine from a vineyard where my husband and I went on a tour a few years ago.  This way, when I give the gift I can also share the story about how my husband spilled red wine on the owner’s white jacket and we can all enjoy the memory.

Another budget friendly gift to keep on hand for unexpected visitors is an amusing coffee table book or picture based book.  With all of the political and media drama out in there world, you can find plenty of amusing books that suit friends of any personality.  The response I have received in the past about this particular gift is that it is something they haven’t already received at another gathering.  Giving friends or guests a memento to not only remember you, but to remember the gathering makes the experience more sentimental as opposed to just a meaningless gift exchange.

You may be thinking that it will be easier to just bake some cookies to give out when guests stop by and, while that is certainly a generous gesture, I can guarantee they have already received cookies or cake or fudge from someone else.  It isn’t easy to throw a successful holiday party or make all of your friends jealous of your preparedness, but if you stock up on just the right items, you may just get the neighborhood talking about your amazing events.

For more ideas and tips, check out holiday programming through Dish2u.

o_tannenbaum_anime

o_tannenbaum_anime

My fellow Christmas lovers have you been feeling the crisp in the air?  Oh, I know that I have, and that means that the season is fast approaching!  Now, as much I love the holidays I still wait until the day after Thanksgiving to put up our Christmas tree.  I sure do love going to buy the perfect tree to put up in our living room.  Then again, I also like to find the perfect tree for the other rooms in our home too.  A sparkly and beautifully decorated tree just does wonders for the soul if you ask me.  So, in order to get you into the tree spirit I decided to show you this cute and informative little infographic that I found.

Interesting Points:

  • In the 16th century the tradition of having a decorated tree began in Germany, and the first artificial tree was made in Germany.  No wonder the song “Oh Tannenbaum” was created in Germany first.  They love trees!
  • Christmas tree farms only sell 23% of Christmas trees directly to consumers.
  • When your tree is well watered, it will be less dry and therefore less likely to catch fire.
  • It is very easy to create your own homemade ornaments for your Christmas tree.

67505_006 - "A Charlie Brown Christmas" - When Charlie Brown complains about the overwhelming materialism he sees amongst everyone during the Christmas season, Lucy suggests he become director of the school Christmas pageant. Charlie Brown accepts, but it proves to be a frustrating struggle; and when an attempt to restore the proper spirit with a forlorn little fir Christmas tree fails, he needs Linus' help to learn what the real meaning of Christmas is. "A Charlie Brown Christmas" airs on Thursday, December 6 and Sunday, December 16 (8:00-9:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network.  (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)

Here in the United States, we are proud of our customs. We have long standing traditions about many things, but our major holidays can be incredibly impressive. Especially Christmas. People who enter our society from foreign cultures oftentimes do not realize just how important these holidays are to us until they happen, then those people become fascinated as we rope them into the fun. This article will be about some of the “Christmas Classics” of American culture, from holiday foods to movies and traditions. Let’s begin with food.

67505_006 - "A Charlie Brown Christmas" - When Charlie Brown complains about the overwhelming materialism he sees amongst everyone during the Christmas season, Lucy suggests he become director of the school Christmas pageant. Charlie Brown accepts, but it proves to be a frustrating struggle; and when an attempt to restore the proper spirit with a forlorn little fir Christmas tree fails, he needs Linus' help to learn what the real meaning of Christmas is. "A Charlie Brown Christmas" airs on Thursday, December 6 and Sunday, December 16 (8:00-9:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)

Traditional Christmas dinners in America are loosely adapted from those of English and German origin. We typically roast a turkey and dressing, goose, or ham, and serve side items like gravy and mashed potatoes or rice, corn pudding, green beans or green bean casserole, yams, pecan pie, pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread pudding, biscuits or yeast rolls, and Christmas corn, and a cranberry and pecan salad with brie. And for dessert: fudge!

As for movies, there is Miracle on 34th Steet, White ChristmasElf, The Santa Clause, It’s A Wonderful Life, A Christmas Story, Home Alone, and the time honored National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.  These are some of the most beloved movies about Christmas that Americans enjoy watching again and again.  In fact, one of those movies in particular has such a following that it is played during all 24 hours of Christmas Day on the television station TBS (Turner Broadcasting System) and that one movie is A Christmas Story, the timeless tale of a fourth grader growing up, longing for a Red Rider BB Gun, battling bullies and coming of age during a Christmas season long ago. This dear film has engendered a cult following of sorts, if that can be said of something so popular among mainstream populations. Another all time favorite is Home Alone. The story is about a little boy left home alone without an alarm system!

Finally, some traditions.  In America on Christmas Eve, Santa Clause makes his rounds, delivering gifts to people all around the world.  He transported them originally in his flying sleigh, but since his operation went global, it is believed he has enlisted “civilian” couriers to help get his packages out in some areas.  There are also more “no fly zones” above some areas of the country now that prevent unauthorized aircraft from flying over.  No matter how he does it though, Santa gets gifts delivered on time every year.

Those are some traditions of the American community, regarding Christmas.

The-Grinch-how-the-grinch-stole-christmas-30805541-1024-768

I need to rant here.  I have a friend, a dear friend mind you, who phoned me up six days ago to announce that she had finished all of her Christmas shopping.

Finished.

All.

It’s the middle of July, for goodness’ sake.

The-Grinch-how-the-grinch-stole-christmas-30805541-1024-768It’s not that I’m not thrilled for her accomplishment.  Shopping for Christmas gifts can be a difficult and stressful event for members of any household or community.  People should be proactive about it, I agree.  Just not until November.  Why, you ask?  Well, this is just my opinion, but I really do like to shop for Christm
as gifts right in the midst of the Christmas season.  I enjoy the hustle and bustle, the busy people rushing hither and yon, arms laden with shopping bags as they stand in mile long lines to check out of department stores.  I like stopping in at Starbucks for a Peppermint Mocha.  I look forward to seeing the municipal Christmas decorations lining the streets of the villages, seeing the glass window panes of shops sprayed with faux snow, and hearing the jingle jangle of Sleigh Bellsbeing broadcast from the speakers outside the Hallmark store. I also love sitting in my room, hidden away from all of my kids, wrapping presents and listening to the Christmas music channel on my satellite tv.

It’s not that I avoid thinking about gifts for friends and loved ones until the last minute.  No, I think about that all during the year.  I even have a perpetual Christmas list on my iPhone, to which I add ideas during all twelve months of they year for people I overheard saying they would like to have this or that, or mentioning they admired something.  This takes a little more attention, in fact, than doing the shopping early, because I have to pay attention up to my preferred shopping time of the year to be sure they haven’t already received that gift or bought it for themselves.

Now, anyone who has already completed their Christmas shopping by now has certainly earned my respect for a lot of reasons, but I can’t help thinking they are missing out on some of the magic of the season by avoiding all those things I mentioned above, crowds and scarce goods included.  They are part of the Christmas season, and I love them.  So for all you fellow “I don’t Christmas shop in July” people, take heart.  I am sure many others agree with us.