New Year’s Eve: Goodbye 2012!

Obviously, the world didn’t end before Christmas. I knew it wouldn’t, because God tells us that no one will know the day or the hour that Jesus comes back. So I am quite willing to put my trust in Him and laugh at the end-of-the-world theories.

But now it’s New Year’s Eve! The year ending always feels like such a big event, doesn’t it? I don’t know why, but it does.

At any rate, it’s time now to list some of my goals for 2013. Yesterday I posted my book list, which is something I’ve been doing for a few years. Reading is my biggest passion. Writing is a close second. But I also have a passion for so many other things. My interests are incredibly varied, which always ends up meaning I don’t concentrate on any one thing for very long, which I don’t like at all. It makes me feel that I neglect my interests and passions, which is a terrible feeling. I’m not necessarily good at managing my time (though I have gotten better over the past few years), and then I try to do everything at once, and…well, that doesn’t go all that nicely.

Thus, one of my goals for the coming year is to manage my time better, in all things that I do. This just takes thought and willpower.

Other than that, I have set myself a goal of getting in shape. I don’t say back in shape because I was honestly never all that fit to begin with! I love hiking and camping and being outdoors, but I never really equated that with exercise. Plus, as I said above, reading is my favorite thing to do. So… But my husband is an outdoorsy kind of guy, and I really, really, really want to be able to keep up with him more so than I can already. And I ache all the time, so regular cardio exercise and stuff like yoga will help that! I really like the physical exercise of yoga. It’s more like strengthening than anything else, and that’s always a good thing. Plus it teaches you to listen to your body, and I think everyone would be a lot healthier if they could pay more attention to what their body needs instead of what they think it wants. Big difference right there. That leads me to my secondary goal under getting in shape: eating right. I eat pretty healthy food, as far as my actual intake goes. But the thing that I have a hard time with is that I so rarely eat at regular intervals. Eating breakfast is something I haven’t done regularly in years, and Nate doesn’t eat breakfast much, either. So I guess I should say that not only do I plan on eating better, but I’m going to help Nate to eat better, as well.

I have a few other goals, like sticking with a cleaning schedule instead of trying to do everything in one day, taking up knitting again, teaching myself crochet, playing the piano (and other instruments) more often, taking a walk every day it’s not gross weather outside, and doing more sewing projects.

Together, Nate and I are going to spend more time outside, as well as checking out cool places and museums together. We watch a lot of tv in the evenings, which is fine sometimes (especially if it’s Doctor Who, haha), but when the warmer weather and longer days come around again, we hope to remember more often that the outdoors calls to both of us. πŸ™‚ Of course, we’ve been outside more in the last few days because it’s snowmobile season!! Gahh, I love it so much.

I realize this is an incredibly long post, but sometimes it’s hard to articulate exactly what you want to. Plus, I’m a writer. Oh yeah, that’s my other goal: write something every single day. Blog post, poem, short story, journal entry, fragment of a novel, etc. Just write.

So.

Hopefully you have a fantastic end-of-the-year celebration with lots of champagne and laughter. Happy New Year’s Eve from us (Nate and Beth) and see you next year!

If the Packers don’t win this game…

…I don’t know what I’ll do. It’s not looking so hot for us at this point. I mean, yeah, we’re in the playoffs, but the Bears won, so…

UGH. UGH UGH UGH.

Yes, I get worked up over American football. Sigh.

In other news, I’ve been working on my list of goals for 2013. For the moment, I’ve just written up the list of books I hope to read next year. I won’t post the entire list here because I have a book blog. You can find the post here: Enthralled by the Written Word. As you may have noticed, I have a penchant for lists. Writing lists is one of my favorite things to do. Thus, a reading list as well as various other goal lists.

Also, we have so much snow now. It’s pretty awesome. And it’s going to be SUPER COLD for the next week, so I think the snowmobile trails will be excellent for awhile.

And the Packers FINALLY got a touchdown! Okay I’m happy now. Still losing at this point, though…

Twenty-five Days of Christmas Cheer: December 16th (Happy Birthday, Jane Austen!)

In lieu of Sunday Serenade today, I am instead celebrating Jane Austen’s 237th birthday! She is one of my favorite authors. Her novel Northanger Abbey is my favorite, with Persuasion coming in at a close second. Any of Austen’s novels are good to curl up with under a cozy blanket with a mug of steaming hot tea. They are excellent winter novels. If you don’t know all of them, a list follows. Go to the library and treat yourself. Better yet, go buy a copy of one as an early Christmas present. πŸ™‚

1. Pride & Prejudice

2. Northanger Abbey

3. Persuasion

4. Sense & Sensibility

5. Mansfield Park

6. Emma

 

And because England is beautiful when covered in snow, here is a picture of Bath in the winter time.

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Wizarding Wednesdays: Butterbeer

Of all the glorious food and drink that the characters in the Harry Potter series consume, I will admit that the one that has intrigued me the most over the years is butterbeer. First of all, it kind of sounds…gross. Just a bit nasty. Two years ago, I took my little sister to a Potter-themed party at the children’s museum in town where our other sister worked. It was an awesome shindig, by the way. Little sis and I were Luna Lovegood and Hermione Granger, respectively. (Little sis evenΒ made her own radish earrings.) Other sis was a dragon; she took a dragon costume that little sis had worn when she was tiny and it actually worked really well, haha. Dragon-head-hat and a cape with wings. Yes.

Anyway, there were snacks at this shindig, obviously. There was something labeled as butterbeer, which I think was just cream soda with butterscotch flavoring in it. It wasn’t bad, actually. Since then, however, I have been searching for the perfect butterbeer recipe (read: the most time consuming and difficult). I think I may have found one. Now, I haven’t tried this out yet, but it sounds delightfully scrumptious so I hope to make it soon! I found this recipe on harrypotterrecipes.net which stated that the recipe had come from Fox News. πŸ™‚

BUTTERBEER
Start to finish: 1 hour (10 minutes active)
Servings: 4
Ingredients:
1 cup light or dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons water
6 tablespoon butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar
3/4 cup heavy cream, divided
1/2 teaspoon rum extract
Four 12-ounce bottles cream soda
In a small saucepan over medium, combine the brown sugar and water. Bring to a gentle boil and cook, stirring often, until the mixture reads 240 F on a candy thermometer.
Stir in the butter, salt, vinegar and 1/4 heavy cream. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
Once the mixture has cooled, stir in the rum extract.
In a medium bowl, combine 2 tablespoons of the brown sugar mixture and the remaining 1/2 cup of heavy cream. Use an electric mixer to beat until just thickened, but not completely whipped, about 2 to 3 minutes.
To serve, divide the brown sugar mixture between 4 tall glasses (about 1/4 cup for each glass). Add 1/4 cup of cream soda to each glass, then stir to combine. Fill each glass nearly to the top with additional cream soda, then spoon the whipped topping over each.

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Twenty-five Days of Christmas Cheer: December 6th (Happy St Nicholas’s Day!)

It’s December 6th and still no snow. I am very sad. But today is St. Nick’s Day! Of course, I didn’t get a chance to do anything special for Nate because the last couple of times I went to town, he was with me. Ah well.

In honor of St Nicholas’s Day, I am going to post my favorite books and movies about St. Nick or Santa Claus. Really, they are one and the same, but did you know that St. Nicholas was a real person? He was born in the city of Patara (in modern day Turkey) circa 270 AD and died on December 6th, 343 AD. So we commemorate his death day, which is typical of most saints in the church. You can read more about him here at Wikipedia. There are also many other resources such as Catholic websites with lists of saints. He was a fascinating figure. How he morphed into Santa Claus is a much more involved tale. There are many books which speculate on this subject, of course, in the form of a novel or biography. And that brings me to my list. (Each picture is linked to Amazon.com.)

1.Β  The Legend of Holly Claus, by Brittany Ryan.

(This is one of my favorite feel-good Christmas novels of all time. Just read it. You’ll be so happy that you did.)

The Legend of Holly Claus (Julie Andrews Collection)

2. The Autobiography of Santa Claus, as told to Jeff Guinn.

(I actually just read this the other day. It’s probably one of the best (and magical) explanations of how Nicholas became Santa Claus.)

The Autobiography of Santa Claus

 

3. Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town (1970)

(Stop-motion animation is some of the coolest around. Also, this heart-warming musical tale is fun for the whole family. Especially as it’s only an hour long! Granted, this particular legend of Santa Claus has absolutely nothing to do with the real St. Nicholas, but it’s awesome just the same.)

Santa Claus is Comin' to Town

 

4. The Year Without a Santa Claus (1974)

(I would guess this is essentially a sequel to the previous movie. At any rate, this one is definitely my favorite of all the stop-motion Christmas classics. Maybe it’s the Miser brothers; I don’t know. I grew up watching all of these films, and this one definitely stands out in my memory.)

The Year Without a Santa Claus (Deluxe Edition)

 

5. Santa’s Favorite Story: Santa Tells the Story of the First Christmas, by Hisako Aoki (Author) and Ivan Gantschev (Illustrator).

(Another childhood favorite. It’s very hazy in my memory at the moment, but I do recall being very happy that Santa’s favorite story was the greatest story of them all — and the reason we celebrate CHRISTmas in the first place. Even as a kid, I understood that Jesus Christ was more important than any of the legends of Santa Claus ever would be.)

Santa's Favorite Story: Santa Tells the Story of the First Christmas

 

6. The Polar Express, by Chris Van Allsburg.

(One cannot forget the original picture book which inspired the beautiful film. I love them both.)

The Polar ExpressΒ  The Polar Express (Widescreen Edition)

7. Letters from Father Christmas, by J.R.R. Tolkien.

(This really should be higher on the list. Like, at the top. Doesn’t really matter, but honestly this book is amazing. I’ve always loved Tolkien, ever since my parents read The Hobbit to me as a little girl.)

Letters From Father Christmas

 

8. The Gift of Father Christmas, by D. Morgan.

(This is a rich book, if mostly for the paintings.)

The Gift of Father Christmas: Stories and Traditions of St. Nicholas

 

9. The Santa Clause (3-movie collection).

(I wasn’t going to include these movies in my list, but then I realized I would be lying to myself about these not being some of my favorite movies about Santa! The original is, of course, the best, but all three are pretty spectacular! Oh, and hilarious.)

The Santa Clause: 3 Movie Collection

10. Miracle on 34th Street (1947).

(Yes, there is a newer version, but as always, I prefer the old one. This one is EXCELLENT. Just watch it. I don’t care if you have something against old movies. Watch. It.)

Miracle on 34th Street (Special Edition)

 

11. Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964).

(It wouldn’t be a complete list if I didn’t include at least one totally kitschy and horrible holiday film! I’ve seen quite a few bad [and I don’t mean inappropriate, because that’s a whole different problem…eww] movies about Santa, but this one takes the cake. I was forced to watch it once, years ago, and to be perfectly honest, I’ve watched it again since and it’s hilarious because it’s so terrible. πŸ˜‰ Just so you know, you might need a drink or two while watching. lol.)

Santa Claus Conquers the Martians

 

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So, there you have my (probably incomplete) list of favorite books and movies about Santa Claus. Note, I didn’t include Clement Clarke Moore’s poem “Twas the Night Before Christmas” because everyone knows that one. πŸ™‚

I think over the course of the next few days, I will be posting various lists. Favorite Christmas carols, favorite Christmas songs, favorite Christmas movies (unrelated to Santa, of course!), etc. I’ll try to keep them short, but you never know.

Have a Happy St. Nick’s Day and I’ll see you all tomorrow!