Thursday, December 12, 2013

Merry Christmas, From Mr. Evans & Mr. Palminteri

I have two Christmas season recommendations for you this week.  Every year at this time I have a certain book I read and a certain movie I watch during the wind up toward Christmas.  I love them both.  The book is called The Christmas Box by Richard Paul Evans.  It's a short, quick little read, and I just love the story and message.

It really brings into focus how easy it can be to get distracted by trivial day to day routines and become too fixated on the parts of life that aren't nearly as important as love of family.  The story most definitely veers toward traditional Christian values and the birth of Jesus. - Not what I would normally be drawn toward, but there's something about the story that resonates with me.  Maybe it's just that the central theme is love and Christmas. Granted, it can be a little sappy at times, but I'm okay with that. And you should be, too. - If Christmas isn't the time to be overly sappy, then I don't know what time of year is better!

My go-to Christmas movie that I like to watch is called Noel, directed by Chazz Palminteri.  He's one of those actors that you recognize when you see him, but you don't necessarily know his name right off the bat.  He played the gangster Sonny in A Bronx Tale, the detective interviewing Kevin Spacey's character, Verbal, in The Usual Suspects, and many, many other roles throughout his career. Anyway, he directed Noel, which was released in 2004, and also played a small part in the movie.  I love this movie.

It's most definitely on the top of my list as far as Christmas movies, and if you haven't heard of it you need to watch it.  It weaves together very somber but also very uplifting story lines in a touching, compelling way.  I cry every time I watch it, but I'm a total softy, so it doesn't take much for me to turn on the waterworks.  I'll weep at a well done coffee commercial.  What can I say?  I'm a sensitive little flower. 

The gist of the plot is about five strangers who are linked together – and who meet each other at separate times – by a series of events that take place on Christmas Eve.  It has a phenomenal cast:  Susan Sarandon, Robin Williams, Alan Arkin, Penelope Cruz, and the recently and unexpectedly deceased Paul Walker.  This is one of those movies that will appeal to you if you have even a little bit of faith in the idea that things you can't see or easily conceive of as feasible are possible.  And even if you don't, maybe you'll pause a second and give the unbelievable a moment of consideration.

Let's hear those sleigh bells ring-a-ling.....
And since it's a Christmas-themed post this week, I thought I'd share the Christmas centerpiece I craftied up for this year.  It's sort of a riff on a snow globe, but using a standard big centerpiece goblet.  I created the paper trees using THIS very simple tutorial with the paper I had leftover from some St. Patrick's Day crafts I did last year.  The snow is from breaking up some Styrofoam packing material that came in one of the many Amazon orders I've made over the last six months, and I had the little mini-presents and faux mini-pine cones in my crafting stash already.  I think it turned out super cute.

And hell, I might as well share our Christmas tree and cheerful lights and decorations from outside. We didn't go out into the wild and cut down our tree - as I'm sure many would think would be the norm in Alaska.

I wanted to, but then I learned that the type of pine trees that grow naturally here tend to lose their needles and die very quickly after being cut down, so we opted to support the local Kodiak Kiwanis Club.  Turned out to be a lovely pick of a Noble Fir (fresh off the ferry!) by the hubby, as usual - he has an uncanny knack for picking great Christmas trees.  As for the outdoor decorations, hubby tackled the lights, and I was excited to be able to hang ornaments out front like I've wanted to for a few years.  I thought they looked nice with the red wreath:

And of course, Pugbulls are as usual very interested in the new addition to the living room

Not too much longer until Christmas...and I have to admit I'm reeeaaally excited about our menu for this year.  Yes, it will be a blog post in the near future.  Because - Alaskan King Crab Legs!  YES!!  It'll be our second foray into the unbelievable deliciousness of the King Crab we can get up here, and I'll be sure to share the crabby love here.

In the meantime, check out my Christmas book/movie double header.  You won't be disappointed.  If you don't shed a tear or two you must be dead inside.  Kidding.  But, I can guarantee at the very least you'll feel warm and fuzzy.  Especially if you pair your reading or movie watching with some vino or a little Hot Buttered Rum.

Merry Christmas & ta-ta for now.

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