Wednesday Favorite – Ringing the New Year

Tomorrow is New Year’s Eve and pretty soon we’ll be getting ready to ring in a new year. What are your plans for tomorrow night? Here in Atlanta we have the peach drop, which is our smaller version of New York’s dazzling ball drop.

Last year my family, cousins included, went to Underground Atlanta, which is downtown, and together we watched the peach drop at midnight. The crowd—oh my goodness—the crowd was insane. Granted, I’m not a crowd person, so maybe that contributed to my wariness, but one thing I learned from that small adventure was that I’ll never do something like that again—not even in Time Square. Alcohol and crowds do not go well together so wherever you have people drinking in confined spaces, bad things are bound to happen. Although we managed to have a fairly enjoyable time, there were many instances when I truly feared for everyone’s safety.

On a positive note, we got to see Julianne Hough perform her debut song “My Hallelujah Song.” I’m a huge fan of “Dancing with the Stars” so it was a real treat to see her perform without having to buy a ticket.

This year we’ve decided to stay home, where it’s nice and warm, and watch the ball drop from the comfort of our own living room. I wish everyone a safe and happy New Year’s Eve, and I look forward to hanging out with you in the new year.

 

 

 

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Photo: Atlanta Journal Constitution

Wednesday Favorites – Christmas Dishes

In case you think I’m talking about plates, glasses, and all that good stuff, let me set the record straight. I’m talking about food—yummy Christmas dishes guaranteed to send you into a food-induced nap. I know I shouldn’t say this, but Christmas desserts are my favorite. I love sweets, and unfortunately they love me too, especially my hips. Turkey is fine, ham is good, but nothing beats homemade cakes and pies. Of course, by “homemade” I mean from a box. It’s been so long since I’ve had a real everything-from-scratch pie that I wonder if I even still have a rolling pin. For you real cooks out there, what cakes and pies do you make from scratch? And by scratch I mean make your own crust etc.?

When you think about the side dishes, what are your favorites? Me…I’m a homemade macaroni and cheese kind of girl. Actually, now that I think of it, stuffing is at the top of my list of favorites, followed by mac and cheese, and then…candied yams. Ooh, I better stop. I’m making myself hungry.

Does anyone have a recipe you’d like to share?

 

 

 

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Wednesday Favorites – Christmas Music

Have you ever been Christmas caroling? I wonder if the old tradition of going from door to door, singing for friends and neighbors, is a thing of the past. I hope not. Even though I haven’t gone Christmas caroling since I was a little girl, I still like the idea of it. The last time I went Christmas caroling I remember getting all bundled up and walking with my friends and family as we moved from house to house singing. As the world changes, and our traditional sense of community evolves, I wonder if the neighborly spirit of Christmas caroling will fall by the wayside—assuming it hasn’t already.

Last week we talked about our favorite Christmas movies, but another aspect of Christmas that I really enjoy is the music. I can’t hear the song “Carol of the Bells” without thinking of my father—it’s his favorite. Over the years, as I’ve watched him enjoy listening to that song, somehow “Carol of the Bells” has become a favorite for me too. How can you not love this song?

And no Christmas holiday would be complete without “The Christmas Song” by legendary Nat King Cole.

As much as I love the old classics, I also enjoy contemporary Christmas music as well. I think one of my favorite newer Christmas songs is “All I Want for Christmas Is You” by Mariah Carey.

 

What songs fill you with Christmas spirit or nostalgia?

 

 

 

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Wednesday Favorites Contest – Christmas Movies

As I get older, I may not have the Christmas spirit the way I did when I was a child, but no matter what, I always love Christmas movies. It’s kind of hard not to when Christmas movies touch our hearts and make us believe in the goodness of people. This weekend, I popped in a DVD of one of my favorites and I realized that I never get tired of watching these oldies but goodies. Are you like that, too?

When you stop and think about it, movies like A Miracle on 34th Street are just as popular today as they were years ago. Newer versions come out, but still the stories appeal to men, women, and children of all ages. Since it’s the holiday season, I thought I’d not only list my favorite Christmas movies, but I’ll also offer one of my favorites to the winner of this month’s contest.

As always, narrowing down three favorites is tough, but here goes…

Let’s see…hum…I’m going to have to put the movie It’s A Wonderful Life at the top of my list.

Right up there next to It’s A Wonderful Life is The Family Man with Nicolas Cage and Tea Leoni.

Another favorite is the movie Scrooged with Bill Murray.

I also love the classic Charles Dickens story of Ebenezer Scrooge, played by Patrick Stewart.

And now for the contest. Leave a comment and tell us one or two of your favorite Christmas movies and you’ll be entered in the drawing to win the DVD It’s A Wonderful Life. The contest ends December 14, 2009, and the winner will be announced on December 15th. Chances of winning depend on the number of entries, and the contest is available to US residents only.

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Wednesday Favorites – Beloved Clichés

One of the first things I learned as a new writer was to avoid using clichés. Because of that advice, I stayed clear of using catch phrases, stereotypes, and other overused words that point to weak writing. But here’s the thing…some clichés I really like. I find I verbalize clichés more so than writing them, but doggone it some situations call for the use of a good-old-fashioned cliché.

Out of curiosity, I checked the internet to see what kind of information was out there about clichés and I found a ton of stuff. My goodness…there are sites like http://www.westegg.com/cliche/ that help you find clichés based on a simple word search, and there are also sites like http://www.clichesite.com/ that list clichés—hundreds of them—topically. In the last few audio books I’ve listened to, I’ve noticed a cliché that gets a lot of mileage. How many times have you read a novel where someone was “waiting for an eternity?”

Since we normally have nothing good to say about the poor cliché, I thought we’d sneak and share a few we like to use from time to time.

Guess I’ll go first…

Here are a few of my favorite clichés.

  • It is what it is.
  • Out like a light.
  • Between a rock and a hard place.
  • Sleep like a baby.
  • Bitter Tears.

Who’s brave enough to admit having a favorite cliché or two? Oh come on, I can’t be the only one. Who’s with me….

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Wednesday Favorites – Starbucks Beverages

One of the many things I love about the holiday season is the special holiday latte flavors. Granted, Starbucks coffee isn’t exactly cheap, but every now and then I like to indulge my taste buds in the seasonal coffee delights. Here are my favorite Starbucks holiday drinks.

#1 Gingerbread Latte

#2 Caramel Brulee Latte

#3 Eggnog Latte (I don’t think they’ve added this one to the menu this year, but I’m hoping it will return in 2010.)

Are there any coffee lovers out there? What are your Starbucks favorites?

 

 

 

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Wednesday Favorites – Charitable Giving

One of the many things that bum me out about the recession is being forced to cut down on charitable giving. I suspect I’m not alone in having to curb giving to charities due to our current economic situation and how it has affected my pocketbook. So often, I find myself wishing I could support causes I really believe in. Even though I may not have a lot of money to give, I try to help in other ways too. Prayer, of course, is always free, always helpful, and always something I can do whether I have money or not. In addition to prayer, I’m blessed with being able to donate books from my personal library, and send cards of encouragement. I keep reminding myself that while I’m small and can do very little, God is all powerful and able to do all things.

I may not have the financial means to give as I once did, but I can showcase my favorite causes and pray for the effectiveness of these organizations in helping millions of people.

Here are two organizations I’ve supported in the past and hope to support again soon.

Susan G. Komen for the Cure

Susan Komen imagesI think most of us probably know at least one person who has or had breast cancer. In my case, scores of friends have battled and are battling this horrible disease, and I wish there was a cure. And not a cure for just breast cancer, but cures for all forms of cancer. Sometimes, I get so mad at the enemy for using this disease to steal the lives of people I love or care about. In times when I’m burdened with sadness, I find prayer is the only thing that keeps me from being in a constant state of sorrow. For my friends who know Jesus, I’m saddened when they leave this world, but I know I’ll see them again. But for friends who don’t know the Lord, my heart hurts so bad I can barely breathe. I hope scientists are able to find more effective, less invasive, and less harsh ways of treating cancer.

United Way

United Way imagesUntil I learned more about the United Way I had no idea how much the organization helps our communities and in so many different ways. I think the United Way’s Live United message says it all.

“Underneath everything we are, underneath everything we do, we are all people. Connected, Interdependent, United. And when we reach out a hand to one, we influence the condition of all. That’s what it means to live united.”

Do you have a favorite organization you like to support? If you’re like me, and funds are limited, what organizations would you support if you could?

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