Feeling Festive!

Thanksgiving was early this year – but that just gives you more time to enjoy the holiday season if you ask me.  I’ve got my holiday spirit cranked up to 10 but if you aren’t there yet, here’s a list of things for you to try to make you feel as festive as I do:

  • Drink a cup of hot chocolate.  It makes you feel all warm inside and packs a sugar rush!  My favorite this time of year is Swiss Miss Peppermint Hot Chocolate – in comes in envelopes and K-cups!
  • Watch a Christmas movie.  Last night I watched Holiday Inn with Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire – strictly speaking, it covers a whole year of holidays but it was the movie that gave us the song “White Christmas!”  It was on AMC, but if you don’t have the patience to wait for a holiday movie on the biggest cable channels, try Hallmark Movies or Lifetime – they’re playing holiday movies 24/7.  Or if you can wait a few days, it will be 25 day s of Christmas on Freeform!
  • Bake cookies.  Need I say more?  I’m planning on adding Grinch cookies and Cherry Chocolate Shortbread cookies to my baking list this year.
  • IMG_0631.JPGHave some fun with Christmas lights.  Who says lights are just for the tree?  I have a string of Christmas lights that are a phone charger cable too – can’t wait to plug them in at work!
  • Christmas crafts – I made a new wreath for my front door this IMG_0612year for less than $10.  Just a wire wreath form and a bunch of ribbon I bought on Christmas clearance last year; then I added some berries I found on a sale rack this fall.  An hour or so of cutting and tying ribbon onto the form and ta-da!  Festive front door!
  • Volunteer somewhere.  Or be a secret Santa for a needy person or family.  Nothing will bring out your holiday spirit like doing something nice for someone else.  I love being a secret Santa – planning surprises is as much of a present to me as the gifts “Santa” delivers!
  • Sing a carol.  Go ahead – you know Jingle Bells is playing in your head right now!  Check your radio – I’ll bet one of the stations has holiday music on that you can sing along with.

That should get you started – tell me what gets you in the holiday mood in the comments!

First REAL Snowfall

Last night we had our first major snowstorm of the season – in fact, where I live there was a Blizzard Warning starting last night that ran through 9AM today!  It didn’t live up to the 2011 Groundhog Day Blizzard here, but last night was a little nerve racking.  In addition to a lot of wind, I heard a couple really loud cracks of thunder!

thundersnowThundersnow is a real thing – although relatively rare.  It is most common in the Great Lakes region of the US so we have that going for us Midwesterners!  Thundersnow is really just a good old thunderstorm that produces snow rather than rain – in my case last night, the storm system was snow over the north and western suburbs of Chicago, but across the state line in Indiana, it was all rain.  So what caused the thunder?  Just like with a summer storm, there was a lot of movement in the atmosphere with pressure and temperature changes.  I didn’t see lightning, but that is possible with thundersnow as well.

Want to know more about thundersnow?  Check out these links:

I’m guessing we had about 6″ based on what I can see on my deck – but there was so much wind it’s hard to tell.  But the roads are a mess and I’m happy to be working at home today!

Happy Thanksgiving!

happy-thanksgiving-calligraphy-text-illustrated-260nw-743717227Thanksgiving is a uniquely American holiday – even though the Canadians have one too.  (Point of fact, Canadian Thanksgiving was a month ago and is a sad, pale imitation of American Thanksgiving.)

A typical Thanksgiving gathering in the U.S. involves getting a LOT of people around the table for a traditional turkey dinner complete with stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, sweet potatoes, cranberries and pumpkin pie.  That huge dinner of course comes after watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade and before watching the Detroit Lions play football.   Or at least that’s what all the TV sitcoms would have you believe!

We all know the Thanksgiving story of starving Pilgrims who gathered with the Indians to share a feast and give thanks for the harvest.  But do you know the real origins of Thanksgiving?  Check out these links:

I’m thankful for all my family and friends as we start the holiday season – including all of you readers.  Let me know what you’re thankful for in the comments?

And however you celebrate, I wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving Eating

Thanksgiving-dinner-planning.jpgThanksgiving eating.  Mmmmm……  I bet you’re already thinking about all the great food we’ll be eating tomorrow.  Turkey?  Ham?  Green bean casserole?  Stuffing?  Pie?  All of the above?  Well, your Thanksgiving dinner can be heathy too!

Dietitians estimate some people eat thousands of calories at a single meal on Thanksgiving – so you can either accept that or make an effort to have a healthier holiday.  It doesn’t mean you can’t have turkey and trimmings, you just need to be smart about it.

Real Simple Magazine suggests this:

Start by filling half your plate with vegetables, then pile one-quarter up with turkey breast, and leave the remaining one-quarter for starchy sides. Here, some more expert-approved guidelines for keeping portions in check this Thanksgiving Day.

And don’t forget – all the snack things and drinks have calories too.  So make sure you aren’t mindlessly eating.  And a big holiday tradition for my family is a walk after a big meal.  But touch football is always an option too!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Hallmark Christmas Movies

Want to know a secret?  I’m a closet addict of the Hallmark Christmas movies.  The Hallmark Channel has already gone 24/7 with Christmas movies – and I LOVE them!  They’re SOOOOOOO bad!  Seriously, if you cant figure out what the whole plot is going to be within the first 5 minutes, you are obviously wearing a blindfold and have the volume turned off.  And don’t even get me started on some of the acting.  It’s also bad – but for me, that’s part of the fun.

The plots generally involve getting Christmas spirit and of course falling in love since it is the Hallmark Channel.  Every Christmas tree is impossibly perfect, the snow is mostly oh so fake and despite how cold everyone acts, they’re not really bundled up for winter and you can’t see their breath.

But on the plus side, unlike in real life, holiday problems are solved easily and you’re likely to find out your significant other is either an angel or a resident of the North Pole.  These movies are the perfect thing to get you in the holiday mood and relieve your holiday stress.

There’s even a drinking game!hallmark

You’ll be drunk and full of the holiday spirit in no time – give it a try!

My first break…

time outIf you’re a regular reader, you probably noticed I didn’t post anything at all last week.  It was my first break since starting this blog spot last March.  It’s not that I don’t love writing – but I had a busy week at work and company last weekend so I just didn’t get it together enough to blog as well.  I took a little time out OK?

Why?  This is my busiest time of the year – not only do I work for a retail chain so the holidays are crazy to start, but I also challenge myself to see how many handmade gifts I can make every year.  So time is at a premium.

Want to know a secret about my blog?  I try to write all my posts for the week on Sunday – so if I get home late from work, I’m not scrambling to write the next day’s post.  So with company last week, that didn’t happen.  Please don’t be offended that I prioritized company over blog – I bet you would too!

So, this week I’m back on schedule – happy reading!

First Snow

Driving-in-Snow.jpgLate last week, we had our first snow of the season here in Chicago – and you know it won’t be the last.  So before we have deep, deep  snow, let’s review some driving tips for snowy days:

  • SLOW DOWN!  You can’t see black ice on the roads that can be really dangerous.  So give yourself a few more minutes to get to your destination and make sure you’re always driving at a speed that allows you to keep control over your car.  Accelerating and braking slowly are key to keeping control of your car on ice or snow.
  • Know your brakes and your tires.  You need to know how your car performs on ice and in snow – if you don’t, find yourself an empty parking lot and put your car through the paces so you know how it handles on ice or in snow.
  • Leave your lights on.  Your headlights will help you see – and help others see you in heavy snow.  Just don’t use the brights OK?
  • Get your car a pre-winter check.  Now is the time to know if your battery is in good shape and whether your coolant levels are ready for cold weather.  A dead battery can leave you stranded and nobody wants that!  And don’t forget your windshield wipers – now’s a good time to replace them before your windshield is frozen over!
  • Put the snow brush in the car.  And don’t forget an extra pair of gloves and maybe a blanket.  Maybe you could ask Santa for one of these car kits too?
  • Make sure to fill your windshield wiper solution – and gas tank – often.  When the roads are sloppy, you don’t want to be without wiper solution.  And don’t get me started on the level of your gas tank – if it’s cold and you get stuck in traffic or just stuck somewhere, you’ll want your gas tank full!
  • And last but certainly not least, when your car is covered in snow, brush it all off before you put the car in gear and start driving.  You want to be able to see at all times – and if you don’t clean off the hood, the back window and the top of the vehicle, you’re going to have your vision obstructed by blowing snow.  And it’s kind to the vehicle behind you when there isn’t snow blowing off your car too!

Need more tips?  Try these from AAA – Winter Driving Tips.

And if all else fails – just stay home and build a snowman!

Disney World

Two years ago and three years ago this week, I visited Disney World with a group of friends for RunDisney events.  The first year I didn’t run – but 2 years ago I ran the first 10K I had run in well over 20 years.  My time wasn’t great but it was respectable at 1:27 for 6.2 miles  – including selfie stops at EVERY mile marker!

RunDisney events are huge fun although you need to be prepared for expense and crowds.  But, you get to run through the Disney parks when they’re closed in the overnight hours and it’s incredible.  Want to know more about RunDisney?  Check out this link.

My Facebook memories are full of throwback pictures from Disney this week – but here’s a few of my favorites from the 2016 trip:

I HAD to stop running and take a picture of the sun coming up over the lagoon at Epcot Center!
And I had to stop again for an iconic Epcot selfie.
My medal!