Hallmark Christmas Movie BINGO

It’s the MOST wonderful time of the year! Hallmark Christmas Movies are running full-time, filling my tv, my home…my heart with g-rated, pure-as-snow Christmas cheer. I think I’ve mentioned before how addicting these movies are for me during the holiday months. I can’t stop watching, even though they’re all pretty formulaic and predictable and they are pretty…traditional. No one is getting tipsy at the holiday parties. (Honestly, I’m not even sure if the eggnog is spiked.) And no one is having any premarital shenanigans, no-siree. These movies are so innocent, there’s rarely a kiss before the couples are committed. All that said, I’m pretty cynical and even so, I find these movies so comforting and they’re a cozy background show to have on during decorating and holiday card writing.

It’s the tenth anniversary of Countdown to Christmas this year, so I thought I’d share some of my favorites in case anyone out there is watching or is tempted to watch. It was very hard to narrow it down, and I’m already feeling guilty for leaving Mariah Carey’s movie off the list, so maybe there will be a follow-up to this post during the season… My all-time favorite Hallmark Movie is A Very Merry Mix-Up with Alicia Witt. I think this was her first Hallmark Christmas Movie (in 2013) and she’s gone on to make one every year since. I like the story on this one: a woman goes to meet her fiancé’s family and accidentally ends up at the wrong house, but soon discovers how right the house really is. It’s basically one giant misunderstanding that leads to a cute, but predictable outcome. I like the chemistry between the leads and the chemistry with his family. This movie also has the ultimate evil boyfriend. (In case you don’t know, a typical Hallmark trope is to have a woman in a relationship with a man who clearly doesn’t value her or care about Christmas…usually he’s a businessman who only cares about money. Sometimes the roles are reversed and the woman is the cold-hearted Christmas hater…you know, for variety.) Christmas with Holly is on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries channel where the movies are a little more family oriented, but almost always have a love story too. Holly’s mom passed away and she has stopped talking and is being raised by her three (unprepared) uncles. One owns a coffee shop and he meets a toy shop owner and magic happens. (Not real magic…Christmas magic.) It’s sort of a modernized Three Men and a Baby, but with younger guys and a little girl. It’s a really sweet movie. The Christmas Card was kind of my first Hallmark Christmas movie. (It was made in 2006.) Faith, a woman from a small town, writes to a random solider, Cody, in Afghanistan. He is so moved by her letter and charmed by her stories of the town that he finds the town and stops to visit when he’s on leave after a tragedy in Afghanistan. They meet (randomly at a diner where they order the exact same meal involving extra crispy curly fries.) Cody ends up staying with Faith and her family–there’s an Army connection with Faith’s dad who is played by the loveable Ed Asner–and of course, they all fall in love. But the road to happiness is blocked by Faith’s boyfriend/fiancé (Skipper from Sex and the City!) who seriously couldn’t be more wrong for her. Ed Asner does his share of meddling to help Faith realize who she really should be marrying. I watch it every year. I haven’t been crazy about many of the newer Hallmark movies, but this one from 2017 was a winner for me. Holly is “Miss Christmas,” the person who chooses the Christmas tree for the “Radcliffe Center” in Chicago. Her search takes her to Claus, Wisconsin to answer a letter from a boy offering up his family’s tree. The boy happens to have a handsome single father and the family is recovering from the death of a close loved one. Who better to turn those sad hearts around than Miss Christmas? There are baking montages, ugly Christmas sweaters, a couple of misunderstandings, and lots of Christmas cheer in this one. Oh, and I really like the little boy–child actors in these movies can be…precocious–Joey is just precocious enough. And the grandpa…he’s punny. And finally, The Nine Lives of Christmas. Presley and I look forward to this one every year. What do you get when you mix a busy veterinarian student with a scarred, I’ll-always-be-a-bachelor firefighter, two cats, and an old house? A purr-fect Hallmark Christmas movie. This one has a shallow, evil girlfriend, a meddling sister, and a wise fire chief.

I am working my way through this season’s new movies. I’ll report back if there are any stand-outs in the new season.

I made a simple Hallmark Christmas Movie BINGO based on my years of watching these movies. click here if you want to play! You can print the cards or play online. (New cards can be refreshed by clicking at the top.) Let me know if I should add some more tropes…I know there are plenty I missed!

I’d love to know if you watch the Hallmark movies during the holidays. Which one is your favorite?

I’m off to decorate the tree! Everything feels so rushed this season with Thanksgiving being so late but I’m determined to be done tomorrow so we can enjoy as much of the lights and decorations as possible. Three cheers for Christmas lights (and silly movies) to get us through the darkest days of winter!

 

 

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Thanksgiving Invitations 2019

I sent out my Thanksgiving invitation yesterday, finally! I swear I start thinking of ideas for invitations on November 1st and I still wait til the last minute to execute any plans. I should know by now how quickly the end of the year flies. I can’t believe I haven’t used this quote from JFK before. I like it a lot. I layered the white invitation onto a fig colored card and picked a colorful envelope liner from my Galaxie Safari encyclopedia stash.

Now that the invitation is done, we need to clean the apartment and decide on the menu this weekend. We’re trying to find a new salad or lighter green vegetable to balance out the menu.

Have a good weekend and Godspeed at the grocery stores!

October Books

After reading NOTHING in September (who AM I?) it felt good to get back into my reading groove again, especially since October means scary stories and Halloween reads.

The Crown Derby Plate by Marjorie Bowen

It’s so hard to talk about short stories because, well, they’re short and giving away a little sometimes gives away it all. But this one is about a china collector (I can relate!) who revisits a home where (30 years before) she bought an entire collection of Crown Derby china. She returns to recover the one missing plate for her collection. She encounters the woman of the home and admires the woman’s china displayed lovingly in the home…and things happen. I’d say this is a 6/10 on the creepy scale but it was a fun read nonetheless. I’d like to read more of Bowen’s work!

“The Diary of Mr. Poynter” by M.R. James

This one was weird. It was basically about…haunted curtains. Yes, haunted curtains. There was a scary moment, but that’s about it. I give it a 3/10 on the creepy scale.

“The Signalman” by Charles Dickens

This one stayed with me for a bit. It was about a train signalman who kept seeing signs of danger while he was stationed at work. Anything else would ruin the ending so, I’ll just say, it was haunting. 7/10 on the creepy scale.

“The One Who Saw” by A.M. Burrage

The buildup was better than the payoff but maybe that is the point. It’s about a man staying at a hotel in Paris and his encounters with a mysterious woman in the courtyard. I think it’s a 5/10 on the creepy scale.

Inner Witch by Gabriela Herstik

A friend and I were talking about witches and herbs and the moon one day and we decided to start a little group for all things witchy. There were about ten of us who met at a local bar to chat about Inner Witch. It was a good introduction because it provides a nice overview of witchiness and it does a good job covering the connections to the seasons (which is the thing I’m most interested in.) In some cases, the author kind of glosses over the cultural appropriation involved in witchery, and in others (ahem, smudging,) she doesn’t even acknowledge it. So, read at your own risk…

Not Without Laughter by Langston Hughes

We read this for book group and I loved it. It’s a semi-autobiographical coming-of-age story about a black boy growing up in Kansas with his mom and his grandma, and also two aunts. The first chapter opens with a tornado scene that is just spectacular and some of this other descriptions (of a dance, of his first day at an integrated school, of Chicago) are amazing as well. I’ve read a few coming-of-age books this year and it was nice to read one from another perspective. It got equally good ratings from almost everyone else in book group.

The Dollhouse Murders by Betty Ren Wright

Someone mentioned this on Instagram and I’d remembered reading it so I thought it would be fun to revisit it. It holds up after all these years but I’m clearly not as easily spooked as I was back in grade school.

The Sundial by Shirley Jackson

I’m still making my way through this one. I kept putting it down for book club and short stories so maybe it’s a sign I should give up? I love the premise and I always find Shirley Jackson slow in an intentional way but for some reason this isn’t grabbing me like all of her other books have…I’ll report back next month if I continue on!

Are you reading anything good lately? I have one hundred pages to go in my book club book for tomorrow so today after work, I’ll be hunkering down with The Girl of the Limberlost and a cup of tea. Have a good weekend!

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Petite Boutique 2019

This week I’m preparing for another Petite Boutique! Prepping for this show always reminds me of how quickly the year goes…I can’t believe the holiday season is back again. This is my fourth year at Petite Boutique, which you may remember was my first ever craft show! Petite Boutique kicks off my holiday show season–I have three shows in November and one in December. If you’re local, this page has all of the information on where to find me this season.

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Halloween Snow

It snowed on Halloween this year and we had to break out our winter coats already. I wasn’t ready!!! I am still not ready! The snow started on Wednesday and I walked through Austin Gardens on my way to work. It was really pretty with the snow falling on the brightly colored trees. However, tree branches were falling like crazy all day because of the weight of the heavy, wet snow on the leafy branches. Thankfully, I made it through the park unscathed. The snow is all melted now and temperatures are back to fall-like levels. And the fall colors are still pretty vibrant. Halloween is always pretty low-key at our place since we don’t get trick-or-treaters. I’m recovering from a cold (again!) so I spent most of the day reading scary stories and hanging out with Presley, who really enjoyed her costume…

Such a good sport, that old cat.

 

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Halloween Mail

I have been very behind in my correspondence–I was responding to letters from June, so it felt good to catch up with some of my pen friends. I think I like Halloween mail more than Christmas mail…maybe it’s just that it feels like there’s more time to attend to Halloween mail. At the last stamp show, I tried to collect some “scary” stamps. I was so excited to score the ten cent Legend of Sleepy Hollow ones, and I also picked up the Movie Monsters, Pharmacy, and Houdinis. I had the Alfred Hitchcock stamps leftover from a few years ago. Usually when I use vintage stamps, I leave the rest of the envelope blank so the stamps really pop, but I also bought a ton of great Halloween washi tape in Japan last year, so I was excited to use some of that too. Everything is still relatively simple…In my Halloween stash, I also found some unused decorated envelopes from one of Donovan’s mail art parties.I pulled this one out because it was basic enough to add vintage postage without too much distraction. The bats are from a torn napkin, so I slid the envelope into a plastic card sleeve (leftover from a birthday card I sent) and put the address on some vintage gummed tape that has the texture of bandages. (So spooky!)

In spite of my many, many stamps, I had Naoto pick up a few sheets of the latest USPS Halloween stamps. Have you seen them in person? They look fine on the website, but they have a bit of metallic shine that is very impressive in person. I’m looking forward to finishing out the month with those!

 

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Church Lady

So, I’ve been at my job for three weeks now and so far so good. It is really hard being the new person…I haven’t been the new person in so long, I’d forgotten how unsure I would feel so much of the time as I get to know the rhythms and routines of a new place. But everyone is super nice and welcoming so I feel like I’m slowly getting my footing.

In case you didn’t notice by the title, I’m working at a church doing administrative work. It’s still part time, so I have plenty of time to devote to Galaxie Safari, but it’s more hours and more regular hours than my previous job, which is a good change. I really enjoy office work (Is that weird?) and I’ve been looking for an office job for quite some time, but it’s been difficult to find part time work with a company or organization that I felt good about. The church is very progressive (which matches my sensibilities.)

I have to tell you how serendipitous getting this job feels! In 2013, Anne from my book club passed away and she had been a member of this church. I went alone to her memorial service and noticed how diverse and friendly the congregation was. So many people got up and spoke so fondly of Anne, you could tell the community really valued her. So when I started looking for a new job, I was delighted to discover that the church looking for someone to work in the office was Anne’s church. I applied and interviewed (where we talked about Anne!) and got the job. The timing was perfect. The church is currently in a temporary location (at another church in the area) because they had a fire last year and are rebuilding. My commute is about a mile walk right now, and it will be about the same when we get back into our own church next spring. It’s a nice little stroll in the morning, that I’ve actually been enjoying, even in the cold. (But ask me again in January!) I get to walk through Mills Park, which is right by Pleasant Home where we used to hold book club and where I sell at Petite Boutique every November!

So I’m embracing a new routine, getting out of the house a little earlier in the mornings, and the discomfort of not knowing what I’m doing…some change is good, right?

In My Mailbox: Postal Coasters

Nic from Fiber & Wooly Arts sent me these oh so perfect mail themed coasters last week! Aren’t they so wonderful? Nic designed the patterns herself, making a wax seal envelope, an airmail envelope, and a mailbox! They are made of super soft cotton and are stitched and adorned with so much love! Right now, the mailbox is living on my freshly cleaned desk, the airmail envelope is heading to my new work desk, and the wax seal envelope is going by my bedside (so Presley can knock it down at 3AM.)

Nic and I are pen pals, so the mail coasters came as an extra treat in my order of pumpkin coasters, which are just as cute. I gave a set to my mom for her birthday this week and I bought myself some grey ones.

I know it’s been quiet around here lately as I’ve been adjusting to my new groove. What a change it has been to start a new job! I’ll share more about it later this week, but for now, have a good Monday!

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It Feels Like Fall

I took this picture of Naoto last week when temperatures were still warm. It has been so cold ever since! We haven’t turned our heat on yet, but nights are cold and I’m wearing a jacket every time I leave the house. It’s amazing you can go from skirts and sandals to socks and jackets almost overnight. We had a light frost this past week, so I assume our garden is done…we need to go and clear off our dead plants, pick the last of the carrots, and plant our garlic so we can have a fresh start next year. I brought in all of the balcony plants I want to overwinter, so now I have to figure out where they’re going to live.

I’m looking forward to the weekend. Tonight, I’m going to a marujuana forum for Forest Park. Recreational marujuana is going to be legal in Illinois starting on January 1st so a lot of communities are deciding right now if having a dispensary or growing facility is right for them. It’s all been an interesting learning experience! Last time I live-tweeted it because it was so entertaining. And tomorrow is book club and live music at Goldyburgers! I can hardly wait!

Have a good weekend!

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Moving On…

Today is my last day at my job. I’ve been working part time at a local paper store (turned national chain store) since 2007! I started out while I was still working at my old full time job, working during the holidays and on occasional Sundays. I took a year or so off somewhere in between then and 2010, but when I left my full time job in 2010, my old manager said she’d hire me back “until you figure out what you want to do next.” (It took me awhile…)

Since then, I’ve looked for other part time jobs, on and off, depending on my happiness level. (We’ve had a lot of managers during this time…transitions aren’t always good.) But I could never find something local and part time that was a good fit.

Last summer, our store got a really fantastic manager and work became fun again so I stopped looking. But all good things must come to an end–she got promoted to a bigger store (yay, Danny!) and everything has been in this weird flux since then. I don’t do well with change and a lack of transition plan…and so I started looking again.

I found something that I *think* will be a good fit. I don’t want to jinx it, because I start on Monday…but there are some good signs. I’ll tell you all about it once I get up and running.

In the meantime, I’m going to celebrate turning the page on this chapter and look forward to a quiet October weekend…