On the fourth day of Christmas…

I have been known to watch Christmas movies on DVD in the middle of the summer, but I get so excited when I start to see holiday movies on TV.  It’s usually one of the earliest signs that Christmas is fast approaching. 

I have my favorites, of course…the ones I’ve been watching since I was a kid.  There is Mickey’s Christmas Carol…the version I have includes a short of Goofy skiing, which has always cracked me up.  Of course, there is A Charlie Brown Christmas…which I think I can probably recite in its entirety from memory.  I can’t forget Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and The Grinch Who Stole Christmas…the original cartoon version. 

I have some more recent favorites as well…like Scrooged and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and Fred Claus.  The Santa Clause trilogy is a huge favorite too…we watched it while we were decorating the tree this year. 

Then I have my two absolute favorite Christmas movies of all time.  For me, it’s just not Christmas until I watch both of these movies.

The first is a big favorite of almost everyone…A Christmas Story.  Who hasn’t quoted this movie a million times?  “You’ll shoot your eye out”, “I double-dog dare you”, “Fra-gee-lay…must be Italian” (J said this while we were unpacking the Christmas tree).  I remember a conversation on the playground in grammar school debating the merits of licking the flagpole to determine if our tongues really would stick.  Christmas just wouldn’t be the same for me without a visit from Ralphie.

The second is far less popular and I actually had to hunt down a copy of it, though it’s much more readily available now…Christmas Eve on Sesame Street.  I’ve watched this movie every year since I was 2 years old (when it was made) and I adore everything about it.  Bert and Ernie selling their favorite things to buy each other Christmas presents, Snuffleupagus trying to climb into a barrel to demonstrate how Santa fits down the chimney, Kermit interviewing little kids about Santa…so much goodness in one movie.  If you haven’t seen this one, do make sure you check it out. 

To help make that possible…it’s one of today’s presents!!! 

Whoever wins today’s present will get Christmas Eve on Sesame Street…

And…a DVD set that include A Christmas Story, Elf and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation…

Click here for all the rules.

So what is your favorite Christmas movie?

On the third day of Christmas…

I love to shop.  I could shop for days and never be bored…and never be done.  Christmas shopping, for me, is like an Olympic event.  There is a lot of preparation and thought put in at the beginning of the season and the shopping itself is so much fun.

My process basically starts a few weeks before Thanksgiving with…The List.  The List is very important.  It’s also my favorite part of the whole process.  I have an Excel spreadsheet that I’ve been keeping for years…5 to be exact.  So what I do is I create a new tab for the current year.  I list everyone I plan to buy presents for and then I start to brainstorm ideas.  I make notes next to each idea including the store or website, the price of the items and an overall budget.  Once I start to shop I add columns to keep track of when things have been ordered, received and wrapped.

I know…it’s ridiculous.  But I’m a control freak and this is what you get.

The next step happens on Thanksgiving morning when the newspaper arrives.  I pull out all the Black Friday circulars and check out all the doorbuster deals.  I make slight adjustments to my list based on the good sales and then I plan my shopping strategy…what stores I will go to first and what I need from each store.  Target is so kind as to provide me a map showing where their items are located in the store, so I even plan out my route through the store to make sure I get everything I need.  Again…this is sick behavior…I know.  I just can’t help myself.  I love it!

Last year’s Black Friday shopping was epic.  I was with Marisa and let me tell you something about my darling sister in law…she might be small, but she’s fast and she’s scrappy.  We were after a TV last year and the one we wanted went flying off the shelves.  She fought with no less than two people and she stalked one woman around the store because the woman had two TVs and was only supposed to have one.  It was hilarious…even if it wasn’t effective.  We did get a different TV though, which was a total steal.  There were also outdoor Christmas decorations and toys and small housewares.  After Target, we went to the outlets, where we cleaned up.  By 10AM we were both 99% done with our shopping for the season and we were eating pancakes at the diner with my mom and brother.  Seriously…it was epic. 

This year did disappoint slightly…Marisa was working and I had to drag my brother, against his will, to Target in the rain.  We got good deals, but not like last year.   Also, there were no pancakes…there were eggs, but it’s just not the same.

Anyway…generally after Black Friday, I regroup, update my list and start my online shopping.  That is exactly what I did last night.  I had catalogs and notes and printouts spread all over the living room floor…much to J’s chagrin.  I was able to order almost everything else I needed and it is all scheduled to be delivered by this weekend. 

There are a few stragglers left, so I plan to go shopping on Saturday in order to complete my purchases.  I’m going to the shopping heaven that is Central Valley, NY.  It’s about 45 minutes from my house, but so worth the drive.  There is a very large strip mall containing a Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Michaels, Marshalls and TJ Maxx…among other things.  Across the street from that is a huge outlet center.  And, most importantly, Eileen Fisher (my favorite place to buy clothes) has a huge outlet store just around the corner.  I plan to get there by 8AM when the stores open and with any luck, I’ll be home before noon. 

I have to tell you…there is nothing better than walking to the car with shopping bags in hand and a completed shopping list.  I love the feeling of finding the perfect gift for someone…something I know they will just love.  Also, because I’ve gotten super cheap in my old age, I love getting a good deal…thus all the planning and shopping around. 

Speaking of the perfect gift…for today I chose a gift that I love to give…and especially to receive.  It’s Philosphy’s Peppermint Bark Duo…

I love the Philosophy soaps.  They smell incredible…and this one is no exception.  It’s a chocolate and peppermint scent and the lip gloss is flavored.  You are going to love this.  I always ask for these soaps at Christmas (again, because I’m cheap and I don’t like to pay this much for soap).  Last year I got so many bottles that they lasted me through the entire year.  I finished the last one on Friday.  Luckily, I ordered one of these for myself too!

So tell me…do you like Christmas shopping?  Are you as crazy as I am with the lists?  Do you shop on Black Friday?  What is the best gift you ever bought someone else?

On the second day of Christmas…

The second thing I love about Christmas are the decorations in the city.  New York takes on such a magical feeling around Christmas that I’ve always loved. 

Last night, I braved the (freezing) cold and walked from my office down to the tree at Rockefeller Center so I could give you guys a little taste of what I mean.  Unfortunately, these pictures don’t quite do justice to just how pretty everything looks…

This star hangs over the intersection of 57th Street and 5th Avenue…

One of the great windows at Tiffany…

How about a nice little bauble like this for your Christmas list…

Cartier wrapped up like a giant present…

Even scaffolding and hot dog carts get decorated for the season…

And, of course, the tree…

I love these angels…

I was very cranky when I left work last night.  It had been a long day and I still had a lot to do before I went home.  It was freezing out and my purse was heavy and I had to fight my way through a million tourists.  I considered just skipping a visit to the tree and grabbing some pictures from Google, but that kind of defeated the point, so I was a trooper and I went. 

The second I turned the corner and saw the twinkling lights of the tree I felt like a little kid again.  I was all smiley and happy.  It doesn’t matter that I’ve seen the tree probably 32 out of the last 35 years.  It was as special and magical and exciting as if I was seeing it for the very first time. 

I also got to see the Saks Fifth Avenue windows, which were amazing.  I didn’t get any pictures because there were way too many people.  I also wasn’t able to really capture the light show they do on the front of the store.  But that you can see here.  It’s very cool…you should watch it if you have a few free minutes. 

Once I finally got to Grand Central to catch my train, I made a bee line to Starbucks for a hot chocolate…because I was totally frozen.  It was good and warmed me right up, but what I really wanted was a frozen hot chocolate from Serendipity

via google

 

I love Serendipity at the holidays…the decorations are completely over the top, but so pretty.  The frozen hot chocolate is famous and really, really good.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t in the cards for me last night…J was at home waiting for me to go to Home Depot with him. 

However, it is going to be in the cards for one of you!

That’s right…today’s present is a canister of frozen hot chocolate mix from Serendipity…

For the rules on how to win this click here.

Have you ever been to see the Rockefeller Tree?  Have you ever had the frozen hot chocolate from Serendipity?

On the first day of Christmas…

For me, Christmas starts the day after Thanksgiving.  That’s the first day I will listen to Christmas songs on the radio and the first day of my Christmas shopping.  It is also the day when I do my first favorite activity of the holiday season…I decorate my Christmas tree. 

This year I bought a new tree…a 7 1/2 foot, pre-lit tree with fancy molded plastic branches.  It was a QVC Christmas in July purchase and really…it was the thing that kicked off my QVC addiction.  Because, you see, this tree has the cords for the lights built into the center pole of the tree.  All you have to do is assemble the three parts of the tree together and plug it into the wall and…viola!…you’re done.  The woman demonstrating it was able to do it in 23 seconds.  I was sold. 

So, last Friday, J and I went up to the attic and took all the decorations down to the living room.  All six giant boxes of decorations.  Then we took out the tree.  I kept telling him about the woman who assembled it in 23 seconds and how easy it was going to be.  He just looked at me and said nothing…because he knows that nothing in our house is that easy.

Well…it didn’t take 23 seconds.  But really, it only took about 5 minutes.  It was pretty simple and went smoothly…except for the part where I shifted something and pinched J’s finger inside the pole and he carried on like I’d actually cut his finger off.  Seriously…I thought he was going to want to go to the hospital.  He’s such a baby sometimes. 

Here was our creation before we started decorating…

Sofie was not a fan and was sniffing everything in sight...

J refused to help me decorate because he says I’m a Christmas dictator and I yell at him that he’s doing things wrong.  Which is true…I also move all the ornaments he puts on the tree and put them where I think they should go.  So he sat on the couch and conducted a running commentary while I decorated.

This is my finished product…

I also set up my nativity…

Please note the Swiffer dusting cloth behind the manger!

And my Christmas countdown calendar…

And J busted out this guy…who sings and scares the hell out of the dogs…

I still have some little touches to do…a gingerbread house for the dining room, the Christmas place mats for the table and the reindeer towels and oven mitts for the kitchen.  But overall, I’m so pleased with the house.  It’s very Christmas-y and I love it. 

Now…for the really important stuff…the presents! 

Starting today and lasting through Christmas Eve, I’m going to be doing my 12 days of Christmas.  The posts will appear Monday – Thursday…Fridays will still be random musings.  Every day with a 12 days post will feature a present.  These presents are going to be a selection of my favorite things (I feel just like Oprah!) for this year. 

So…how do you become a lucky recipient?  Easy…

  1. Leave me a comment – every comment counts for one entry
  2. Blog about the 12 days of Christmas – write about this on your blog and you earn three extra entries

That’s it…simple right?  All comments left for the week (Monday – Friday at midnight) will be entered into random.org and I will choose 4 winners.  Winners will be chosen on Saturday and I will post them on Monday morning.  To try to spread the fun, each person will only be eligible to receive one present each week.  Make sense?  I hope so…I had to read this three times to make sure. 

I’m sure you are all thinking…enough with the talking…get to the presents.  Here you go…

As I was decorating my tree I thought a lot about what I wanted today’s present to be.  It was the first day, so I wanted it to be something good.  I just had no idea what.  When I came to my favorite ornaments to put on the tree I knew that was it…

Yup…that is a sparkly pig and a sparkly cow with wings and crowns.  I love these guys…and I’m hoping you do to…because todays present is your very own pig and cow…

Please forgive my tackiness at leaving the prices on them…

There you have it…the first day of Christmas and the first present.  Good luck…

Have you decorated your tree yet?  What is your favorite ornament?

Random Musings Friday…

I’ve been getting a lot of complaints about the sporadic way I’ve been posting lately.  To those who have complained…you have been heard and I promise to be better.  As I said the other day…I have big plans for the rest of the month…but more about that later.  For now, here are this week’s random musings…

  • There is a sign on the subway for City University of NY (part of the state university system).  The bottom of the sign says…U might B eligible 4 financial aid.  Really CUNY?  That’s appropriate to put on the sign of an institution of higher learning?  Things like this are the problem with education in this country.  I am frightened for the future.
  • A guy sat across from me on the train the other night…good looking, well dressed.  He got settled in the seat and pulled out a newspaper.  As he read the newspaper he placed his hand firmly over his junk…in sort of a protective gesture.  He would remove it only to turn the page of his paper and then back it would go…right over his junk.  It made me wonder…are some men really so attached to their penises that they have to hold them in public?  I noticed his wedding ring and wondered what his wife would say.  I would kill J if he did that. 
  • The other night J put on “Punkin’ Chunkin'” on I think the Discovery Channel.  At first I thought “Oh, funny idea for a show”…until I realized this wasn’t something done for a show.  It’s like a thing…that these people do…every year.  Yes…teams build these pumpkin throwing contraptions and they compete to see who can throw the farthest.  There are different categories and prizes and all kinds of craziness.  They even have a website.  I find this to be a spectacular waste of time, but apparently other people love it.  For example, one spectator they interviewed said it was her anniversary and when her husband told her he was taking her to Punkin’ Chunkin’ she was super excited.  It seems there was no place else she’d rather be.  I looked at J and told him not to get any ideas.  Because he was totally thinking it. 
  • I was buying a train pass the other day after work.  I put my credit card in and was waiting for it to approve the charge.  As I was waiting, a woman came and walked around me and started trying to put her money into the machine.  I said “Excuse me, but I’m using this right now.”  She looked at me like she’d had no idea I was there.  Seriously?  She continued to stand right at my shoulder until my transaction was complete.  People are so odd sometimes.

That’s it for this week’s musings.  Now…on to more important things. 

I’ve mentioned before that I love Christmas, right?  Well…starting on Monday, I’m going to have my own little 12 days of Christmas here.  Each day I’m going to tell you about something different that I love about Christmas.  That’s not the fun part by the way.  My absolute favorite part of Christmas is giving presents.  So the fun part is that on each of my 12 days of Christmas there is going to be a present to one lucky reader!  See…I told you it was fun. 

The presents are going to be things I’ve come across in my shopping or things that are on my own list this year.  I have some good stuff lined up.  So make sure you check back on Monday for all the details and rules and excitement. 

Have a great weekend!