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We are in the middle of the winter season, and I am counting down the days until spring. As you know, dear reader, I have to work hard to fight off the winter doldrums. This winter season seems particularly harder than past seasons with continuing to deal with COVID conditions and the aftermath of Ida on top of a holiday season that flew by so quickly my face feels chapped from the wind burn. I know, a bit melodramatic. However, the festive season came and went with a flurry of activity, followed by more flurries of activity, leaving Kelsi and I no time to really stop to catch our breath. Hence, why my Christmas Fun List wrap up post is late. I almost decided to scrap it; however, my bestie Shelly encouraged me to write it because, after all, someone might want to read it. Without further ado, this is how I spent my Christmas season.

MOVIES: Classic Christmas

In the month of December, I watch 24 Christmas related films, 12 are Christmas Horror and 12 are what I consider Classic Christmas. Kelsi and I already wrapped our Christmas Horror movies topped nicely with a bow. You can check out my blog post and YouTube chat with Kelsi if you are interested in the horror films we watched earlier in the Christmas season.

I had a terrific time watching the movies on my Classic Christmas list. My top three films were all movies I have seen several times but really, really love. To be fair, I generally watch Love Actually and Elf every Christmas, so I probably should not even include them on my annual fun list. The Holiday is a delightful romantic comedy and was fun to revisit this year, especially because of the dreamy Jude Law. Surprisingly, this year was the first time watching It’s a Wonderful Life. This FABULOUS movie is about being grateful for your blessings, not taking your life for granted, and getting second chances.

All four movies are 5 stars in my book. I could watch them over and over, and it would never get dull. Pottersville: A Magical Life rounded out my Top 5 films with 4 stars. It was my first watch and definitely a good time. The main character Maynard gets mistaken for Bigfoot after he is caught wallowing in moonshine and cavorting around town in the middle of the night. The Holiday Calendar (another Hallmark-esque romantic comedy), right on the heels of Pottersville, is about a magical Advent calendar that shows the main character Abby that dreams can come true in unexpected ways. The Night Before (adult humor), The Christmas Chronicles (kids catching Santa off guard), and Rise of the Guardians (holiday representatives come together to solve a problem) all received 4 stars as well for pure enjoyment. Rise of the Guardians was another rewatch and every bit enjoyable as the first time I watched it with Andrew in the theater many moons ago. My 3-star movies included Holidate (more adult humor mixed with a Hallmark vibe), Surviving Christmas with the Relatives (British comedy), and Unaccompanied Minors (kids catching airport officials off guard). Unaccompanied Minors replaced Almost Christmas since I could not get the DVD in time from Netflix. All of the Classic Christmas movies on my list this year were enjoyable, and I would recommend all twelve of them.

Books/Short Stories

I read my first Fear Street book, Silent Night, by R.L. Stine. Kelsi gifted me a copy for Christmas. I loved the thematic setting at Christmastime blended with a mystery, murder, and mayhem. The other books that I read this season were Robot Santa (sequel to Santa’s Twin) by Dean Koontz, Wraith (prequel to NOS4A2) by Joe Hill, and He Sees You When He’s Creepin’: Tales of Krampus (collection of 12 short stories) edited by Kate Wolford. All of my books received 5 stars

because they are all awesome, in my opinion. What a great reading season! Kelsi and I talk more in depth about our books and movies in our wrap up chat which you can watch at your leisure. I have included our video below for your viewing pleasure.

Thematic Potpourri

In addition to amazing books and several terrific movies, I wore Christmas socks and pins. I added gnome socks and a Grinch t-shirt to my Christmas clothing collection. On the subject of gnomes, I bought a few to add to my Christmas decor. I am officially obsessed with GNOMES. My affinity for these small mythical creatures happened quite by accident when I found a couple of them at Hobby Lobby to add to my autumn decor.

I am also collecting little birds that reflect the season. You will notice them popping up here and there in my pictures. I received one a few Christmases ago, and since this last fall (again shopping for autumn decor), I am noticing them for other holiday seasons. In addition to buying Christmas decor, I bought Christmas cards to send out to my family and friends. I love sending cards to my favorite people for Christmas and for other special occasions. Funny enough, I picked out my cards way before I knew I was joyspotting in 2022.

No fun list is complete without thematic adult beverages and food. Unfortunately, I did not do any baking this year for Christmas. However, I enjoyed two new cocktails. The first concoction was a Mistletoe Margarita that I made for our family get-together on my husband’s side.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups Silver Tequila
  • 1/2 cup Triple Sec
  • 1 1/2 cups Cranberry Juice
  • 1/2 cup Lime Juice
  • 1/2 cup Simple Syrup

Instructions

  • Add all ingredients to large pitcher.
  • Stir well.
  • Pour into individual glasses over ice.

That is sugar on the rim of the glass.

The second concoction was a Cherry Ripe Martini that Kerry, Shelly’s husband, made for my hubby and me on Christmas evening, one of our favorite drink nights to spend with awesome friends. This year, my two boys came over and hung out with all of us.

Ingredients

  • 30 ml White Creme De Cacoa
  • 30 ml Cherry Liquor
  • 20 ml Vodka
  • 100 ml Coconut Milk

Instructions

  • Add all ingredients to large pitcher.
  • Stir well.
  • Pour into individual martini glass over drizzled Hershey’s chocolate syrup.

I also bought a “happy” for myself. OwlCrate, a YA book subscription box I have purchased in the past, offered a 12 Days of OwlMas box for the holiday season, and I ordered one. Starting on Monday, 13 December, I opened one gift each day for twelve days leading up to Christmas Day. I recorded my unboxing each day through pictures on my Instagram account (katherineloyacano). It inspired me to make a 12 Days of Christmas “happy” for Kelsi with all kinds of little gifts related to pop culture that she loves. I had a blast gathering the gifts, wrapping them, and writing out the clues on each tag. I love this project so much that I want to do it again next year and plan to expand it. Plus, I have all year to gather the little gifts instead of just a couple of weeks.

December was a fun-filled month that made my life merry and bright. I spent time with amazing people, participated in awesome activities, and received some great gifts. As I mentioned before, dear reader, creating a fun list for a holiday, a month, or even a season adds a happiness boost to your life. It can be as simple or as extravagant as you want it to be, but the goal is to add a little extra fun to your existing plans. Stay warm, dear reader. Happiness!

“Christmas,” says Santa,” is about living your life with love and a spirit of giving, friendship, compassion, peace, and bright hope.” ~ Dean Koontz, Robot Santa: The Further Adventures of Santa’s Twin

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Kelsi and I have neatly wrapped up watching the Christmas horror movies on our Christmas Fun Lists this year. When creating our lists, we lamented that we watched all the best Christmas horror movies in 2020. She fared far better than me this holiday season because I chose quite a few duds and barely eeked out a Top 5 list.

The Mothman Prophecies, which was a rewatch for me, topped my list. If you are a fan of The X-Files, urban legends, or Richard Gere, you may enjoy this slow burn movie, dear reader. A reporter’s personal tragedy leads him to the discovery of a mysterious entity in a small West Virginia town. Second runner-up is The Lodge, another slow burn that is dark and disconcerting. It is a psychological horror film about siblings marred by a sudden tragedy that leads to disturbing consequences.

The third movie on my list is a Christmas comedy-horror film that took me by surprise. Mercy Christmas is a “when something seems too good to be true, it is” kind of story with an unexpected twist and social commentary. The protagonist, Michael Briskett, is a likeable but lonely guy, who is spending yet another Christmas alone when a beautiful co-worker invites him for Christmas dinner at her family’s home. Horror ensues shortly after he arrives and serves the perfect blend of bloodshed, brutality, and black comedy.

P2 took fourth place. This horror thriller fairs well as a one-and-done film for me. It is a predictable story about a workaholic who quickly learns that working late on Christmas Eve can be deadly. Finally, Dead End snags the fifth place spot on my list. This is another slow burn horror film about a dysfunctional family going through an existential crisis after taking a wrong turn on their way to a family member’s home to celebrate Christmas.

Except for Christmas Evil, the other films on my list are not really worth mentioning; however, of the remaining movies on my list, Black Christmas (2006) and Slay Belles both earned 2 1/2 stars. While they are not the greatest Christmas horror films out there, they may warrant a watch from horror fans, but do not expect much. Unless you are a glutton for punishment, I would steer clear of Krampus: The Christmas Devil, The Traveler, Mrs. Claus, and All Through the House.

Kelsi and I had a chat on December 12th about the films we had in common this season, which included The Mothman Prophecies, Mercy Christmas, Slay Belles, and Mrs. Claus. It was a terrific talk.

Last but not least, Kelsi and I wrapped up our ongoing debate of Christmas Evil. I reluctantly agreed to rewatch this film and participate in the Christmas Evil Challenge. Bantering back and forth with Kelsi about this ridiculous film, which is one of her all-time favorites, was a great deal of fun. Surprisingly, I did discover some new insights about the film and even bumped it up another 1/2 star for a total rating of 2 1/2 stars. Kelsi and I had a lively livestream on December 23rd where we revealed the winner of the Christmas Evil Challenge.

I may have completed watching all of the Christmas horror movies on my list; however, I still have plenty of traditional Christmas movies to watch and a sufficient amount of holiday reading left. The Christmas season has been enjoyable, and I am loving my time off. I hope your Christmas was merry and full of good cheer, dear reader. Happiness!

“To hear a voice is one thing. But this isn’t just a message, it’s a prediction. It came true.” ~ John Klein (Richard Gere), The Mothman Prophecies

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May is Zombie Awareness Month! However, both Kelsi and I had some unfinished zombie business, so our zombie fun spilled over into the beginning half of June. We both completed our movie marathons, and I enjoyed several zombie-related activities on my Zombie Fun List. I love zombies as you can see from my t-shirt, dear reader.

The bulk of our month was spent watching Zombie Horror Movies. While Kelsi chose seven movies to watch (zombies has seven letters), I chose to watch ten. Overall, I enjoyed all of them, and the zombies looked awesome. Interestingly, five of them are foreign films (Shaun of the Dead, Ravenous, #Alive, The Girl With All the Gifts, KL Zombie) and four of them are American films (Slither, I Am Legend, Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse, Army of the Dead) with Little Monsters being a mix of the two (Australia, UK, USA).

Out of the 10 films, three were rewatches, Shaun of the Dead, Slither, and I Am Legend. Five of the films are considered comedy/horror. Five of them have slow zombies (which I generally prefer) while the other five have fast zombies. Shaun of the Dead made the top of my list. It is a cult classic and one of my favorite zombie movies. KL Zombie ended up in last place. It is a super silly, low-budget film, but worth watching at least once. Not all zombie movies are created the same just like not all zombies are created the same.

Kelsi and I had two chats to discuss zombies. Our first chat was midway through the month of May to discuss Shaun of the Dead and Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse along with zombie survival tips. Both movies are comedy/horror and have terrific casts, plots, lots of laughs, and plenty of gore .

In addition to movies, I watched three television shows, Fear the Walking Dead (AMC), Betaal (Netflix) and Deadset (Netflix). I would recommend all three shows to anyone who enjoys the zombie genre. Originally, I chose six zombie shows to watch, but I clearly did not have enough time to watch them all. There is always next year.

I was also a little too enthusiastic about the amount of reading I wanted to throughout the month. I originally chose four books and an article. I read the article and two books, Dawn of the Dreadfuls by Steve Hockensmith (prequel to Pride, Prejudice, and Zombies) and The Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks by Max Brooks (graphic novel).

My hubby and I invited friends over to eat boiled crawfish and enjoy a refreshing Zombie Apocalypse Cocktail. I give this cocktail two thumbs up. Everyone seemed to enjoy it.

For this fun-filled month, I offered my readers an opportunity to receive a free book. Since we should all know how to survive a zombie apocalypse, I chose one lucky reader to receive a copy of The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead by Max Brooks. The lucky recipient was Dave Pozefsky. Dave also loves zombies, and one of his top five favorite zombie films is Shaun of the Dead. His other faves are Train to Busan, Pontypool, 28 Days Later, and Night of the Living Dead. He also likes the zombie anime Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress. Congrats Dave!

As you can tell, dear reader, I had a delightful month immersing myself in the fascinating world of the undead. Check out the second chat that Kelsi and I had to discuss the remaining movies on our lists as well as my other zombie-related activities. What kind of bread do zombies prefer? Whole brain! Happiness!

“Elizabeth dropped her dagger, sprang toward the unmentionable, and tried to pry the flintlock from its grip. She quickly got the gun — and the hand wrapped around it, as well. It snapped off at the wrist with a dry crackle.” ~ Steve Hockensmith, Dawn of the Dreadfuls

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Kelsi and I completed our Holiday Horror Movie Marathon at the end of April. It was a two-month long marathon (March/April) that entailed watching 15 holiday related horror movies. We both kicked off the marathon with Holidays, an anthology of eight short horror films centered around holidays, and I wrapped it up with The Evil in Us. Kelsi and I originally chose 18 films for this marathon; however, we made some adjustments after viewing Rottentail. We bothed nixed Hanukkah and replaced Father’s Day because of content. Kelsi watched Stepfather, and I watched Stepfather 2. We also decided to move Thankskilling to November. Additionally, since we were unable to find a full-length movie of Groundhog (only watched trailer, teaser, and kill count videos), we removed it completely from our lists with the hope of getting a DVD of the movie by next year.

Out of the 15 movies that I watched, two of them were rewatches, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and Terror Train. Overall, I enjoyed most of the movies that I chose for this marathon with Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter being my top favorite. Along with Fat Tuesday, it was filmed in Louisiana. Both films feature local actors which I absolutely love. In fact, about ten years ago, I worked on a short film called Hotcakes with Michelle Kolwalski, who acted in and produced Fat Tuesday. As you can see from my rankings, there are two films that I wholly hated and have NO redeeming qualities. Both Leprechaun in the Hood and Rottentail are beyond terrible (content) and were difficult to sit through the entire viewing.

Since our Holiday Horror Movie Marathon was longer than our other marathons, we decided to split our conversations up into four separate videos. There are a few ways that you can watch all four of our delightful chats at your leisure, dear reader. This blog post contains links to all four of our conversations. They are also located on the Movie Marathon page of my blog. And, you can view them and additional fantastic content on Kelsi’s YouTube channel, Slime and Slashers – A Nostalgia and Horror Channel.

Our first chat is featured in my 19 March 2021 blog post, “Kicking Off Holiday Horror Marathon.” This conversation includes our opinions on the holiday horror themed anthology Holidays, and our expectations for the movie marathon.

Our second chat is a review of the first half of the films we watched at the beginning of the marathon. It includes our thoughts on Terror Train, My Bloody Valentine, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Leprechaun, Leprechaun in the Hood, Fat Tuesday, Candy Man: Farewell to the Flesh, and The Happening.

Chat #2

Our third chat is a review of some of the films we watched during the second half of the marathon. It includes our thoughts on April Fool’s Day, Dead Snow, Night of the Lepus, Rottentail, Ladronas de Almas (Soul Thieves), Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, and The Evil In Us.

Chat #3

Our fourth and final chat is a wrap-up of the marathon which includes holiday related dishes, literature, activities, and the final three films we watched, Stepfather, Stepfather 2, and Severance. We give our rankings of the films we watched and our thoughts on the marathon in general.

Final Chat

Generally speaking, dear reader, our Holiday Horror Movie Marathon was a success. Some of the highlights of the marathon were watching the horror movies connected to holidays, eating a Mexican feast while watching Ladronas de Almas, and chatting with Kelsi about the movies and our thematic activities. If there was a downside to our marathon, it would be that it was a tad bit too long. Our final concensus is watching holiday horror movies around the actual holiday would be a better approach. Kelsi and I also discovered in April that April is Halfway to Halloween Month. Apparently, it is something new conceived by the streaming service Shudder. Therefore, you can imagine what the two of us will be watching next year during the month of April. All in all, I am happy that I participated and look forward to sharing more of our movie marathon experiences. Happiness!

Horror, at its best, seeks to show its audiences that it’s okay to be scared–scared of anything at all–because fear is the dark before the dawn. ~ Carly Racklin, “Why Horror Matters”

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Kelsi and I kicked off our two-month-long (March/April) Holiday Horror Marathon the first weekend in March with watching the horror anthology Holidays. It is comprised of eight short horror films with each one inspired by a different holiday. A few days later, we had a chat where we reviewed the films and discussed our expectations for this marathon.

Kelsi and I decided that our horror movies would center around holidays throughout the year with the exception of Halloween and Christmas. We both chose 18 movies with many similar choices. I selected films connected to Arbor Day, Cinco de Mayo, and Memorial Day, but Kelsi did not. I only picked one movie for Easter, and she picked three. Kelsi also included an additional movie for Father’s Day. I have also decided to watch the movies in the order of when the holiday happens during the year. Additionally, we will include some other holiday horror related activities, such as reading a holiday horror story, fixing thematic food and drinks, or listening to music to celebrate the day of festivity. Once we have completed our marathon at the end of April, Kelsi and I will have another conversation or two to discuss our likes, dislikes, the thematic tie-ins, and much more. 

Holiday Horror Movies

  • Holidays (Anthology)*
  • Terror Train (New Year’s Eve)*
  • Groundhog (Groundhog Day)*+
  • My Bloody Valentine – 1981 (Valentine’s Day)*
  • Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter (Presidents’ Day)*
  • Fat Tuesday (Mardi Gras)*
  • Leprechaun in the Hood (St. Patrick’s Day)
  • April Fool’s Day – 1986 (April Fool’s Day)*
  • Rottentail (Easter)*
  • The Happening (Arbor Day)
  • Soul Thieves (Cinco de Mayo)
  • Mother’s Day (Mother’s Day)*
  • Memorial Day (Memorial Day)
  • Father’s Day (Father’s Day)*
  • The Evil in Us (4th of July)*
  • Severance (Labor Day)*
  • Thankskilling (Thanksgiving)*
  • Hanukkah (Hanukkah)*

Notes: *These are the movies that Kelsi and I have in common. +We watched the trailer, teaser, and Kill Count compilation of Groundhog; however, I am in the process of doing some more research to see if I can find the full-length film of Groundhog for us to watch before the end of the marathon.

In Other Horror News

Kelsi and I are starting a BOOK CLUB. Oh, the Horror! It will be a horror-themed book club focusing on horror fiction as well as occasionally reading mysteries, thrillers, and science fiction. It is sure to provide chills, thrills, and kills with each book club selection. We are super excited since this is our first book club, and we would love for readers who share our love of the mysterious and the macabre to join us. The first order of business is choosing the name of our book club. You can help us, dear reader, by answering just one survey question (click on survey) by 31 March 2021. The name of our book club will be revealed on April Fool’s Day. Happiness!

“And the most terrifying question of all may be just how much horror the human mind can stand and still maintain a wakeful, staring, unrelenting sanity.”            ~ Stephen King

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Kelsi and I completed our Musical Movie Marathon that we planned for the month of February. I chose seven romantic musicals and enjoyed watching all of them. I kicked-off my marathon with Mamma Mia! and wrapped it up with Across the Universe. Terrific music, spectacular performances by incredible actors, and love stories galore warmed my heart and put some pep in my step.

Out of the seven musicals that I watched, two of them were rewatches, Grease and Cry-Baby. Both movies are set in the 50s. Grease is one of my top favorites. The songs are awesome, and I absolutely loved singing along while watching the film. Cry-Baby has some pretty catchy tunes and has become a cult classic over the years. Both Gigi and Funny Face are 1950 classics. I enjoyed Leslie Caron and Audrey Hepburn’s performances. Beauty and the Beast and Across the Universe were visually delightful. How I wish I could have seen both films in the movie theatre! They are magical films that are definitely worth the watch. And, if you are a fan of the Beatles, dear reader, I highly recommend you check out Across the Universe which is a love story creatively intertwined with a plethora of songs written by the Beatles. Last, but definitely not least, Mamma Mia!, what a fun film!

More of my thoughts on the musicals that I chose for the marathon are included in a fantastic chat that I had with Kelsi where we also learn about the films she chose for her viewing pleasure. Additionally, we rank our musicals and favorite songs and reveal a few fun facts about some of the films that we watched throughout the month. We invite you to check out our chat, dear reader, and let us know what you think. Happiness!

“Music’s the only thing that makes sense anymore, man. Play it loud enough, it keeps the demons at bay.” ~ Jo-Jo, Across the Universe

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For Catholics, the Christmas season officially ends tomorrow, 10 January, with the celebration of the Baptism of the Lord when Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, thus marking the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry. With that being said, it is time for me to reflect on the festive activities that I participated in throughout the Christmas season, mainly during the month of December. I had a jovial time watching Christmas movies, reading Christmas stories, consuming a mirthful beverage, and so much more as I celebrated the delightful season of Christmas.

As I mentioned in previous posts, dear reader, Christmas is not my favorite holiday; however, creating a Christmas Fun List helped me enjoy the joyous season with good cheer. Kelsi also created a fun list. Similar to Halloween, our lists consisted of movies (horror and classic), books, accessories, treats, and extras. Since we incorporated a Christmas Horror movie marathon and a Christmas Classics movie marathon as part of our fun lists, Kelsi and I had TWO Christmas chats. Again, Kelsi is the mastermind behind the technical aspects of our conversations and does an awesome job of hosting our chat and creating the finished product. I’ve included our Christmas Retrospective in this post.

Without delay, here are my thoughts on how I spent the Christmas season.

Movies

I selected 24 movies, 12 Christmas Horror and 12 Christmas Classics. What an insane amount of movies for me to view in a month! I decided to complete my Christmas Horror Marathon prior to starting my Christmas Classics Marathon. To read more about the Christmas Horror movies that I watched, to listen to the song I wrote about the Twelve Days of Christmas Horror, and to check out my conversation with Kelsi discussing the Christmas Horror movies, please visit my post “The Gift of Christmas Horror” which includes all three components. Unlike a few of the movies on my Christmas Horror list which I didn’t like very much, I loved all the movies chosen on my Christmas Classics list. The movies are ranked in the order of how much I liked them and the stars represent my rating.

My top six movies all received 5 STARS from me. I have seen all six of these films numerous times over the years. My absolute favorite is Love Actually. It is a fantastic romantic comedy full of wonderful characters whose lives intersect while navigating through the chaos caused by love and loss during the Christmas season. I watch Elf every year. It never gets old, and Will Ferrell is hilarious! Next up is How the Grinch Stole Christmas with the brilliant Jim Carrey as the Grinch. The 2009 version of A Christmas Carol is beautifully animated and terrifically terrifying in all the right places.

I had not seen Home Alone in several years, so it was a real treat to revisit. Andrew and I watched it together, and I laughed hysterically throughout the entire movie, especially at the shenanigans of the Wet Bandits. The Polar Express is another visual delight. I’m a fan of the author, Chris Van Allsburg, who wrote and illustrated this beautiful story. I love how well the film captured the heartwarming message of the book.

Out of the remaining six movies on my list, three of them were new watches. Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey is a marvelously magical musical that gave me a holiday happiness boost. The young actress Madalen Mills who portrays Journey is pure delight. I hope to see her in other productions in the near future. Klaus is an amazing animated breath of fresh air with a heartfelt message and a new spin on the legend of Santa Claus. It is not a musical, but it has a lovely soundtrack. And, Rashida Jones, alum of The Office and Parks and Recreation, is the voice of Alva.

My third new watch, He Sees You When You’re Sleeping is an enjoyable movie-of-the week based on a mystery novel by Mary Higgins Clark and her daughter, Carol Higgins Clark. I’m a fan of both authors. In fact, I’ve been reading Mary Higgins Clark since I was 18 years old. This movie isn’t exactly a Christmas movie, but it takes place during the Christmas season. The acting isn’t stellar and there are some cheesy scenes, but it does have a decent plot. As for the final three movies, which were all rewatches, it was lovely to watch A Charlie Brown Christmas. My favorite scene is when all of the children are dancing on stage. Of course, Snoopy steals the show with his endless imagination and sense of humor. It has been over 20 years since I’ve seen The Muppet Christmas Carol. Luckily, I was able to see it with my hubby in the theatre. It is a lovely musical starring the talented Michael Caine as Scrooge alongside the fabulous Muppets. Last but not least, A Christmas Story. I know I have seen this movie quite a few times and in recent years; however, there were many scenes I did not remember, so I’m guessing I had it playing in the background while engaged in other activities. It’s not my favorite, but it has plenty of entertaining moments that make it worth the watch.

Books/Short Stories

I picked out two books to read throughout the month, A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens and Santa’s Twin written by Dean Koontz and illustrated by Phil Parks. Even though I have seen a variety of cinematic versions of A Christmas Carol over the course of my lifetime, I have never read the classic novella. I thoroughly enjoyed it. It is a superb piece of literature that I highly recommend to everyone. Santa’s Twin is another equally enjoyable read. It is a beautifully illustrated picture book with an endearing story featuring two charming and spunky little girls.

Initially, I was only planning to read those two books. Shortly after I finished them, I read four more terrific books. Two of them are picture books, The Polar Express written and illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg and The Animals’ Santa written and illustrated by Jan Brett. One of them is a splendid children’s lit selection that features a debonair mouse, Merry Christmas, Geronimo. The final one is an anthology, Krampusnacht: Twelve Nights of Krampus edited by Kate Wolford. I think anyone who is a fan of Krampus will enjoy this collection.

Thematic Potpourri

Besides watching both creepy and classic Christmas movies and reading holly and some not so jolly stories, there were several other thematic activities that I engaged in throughout the month. I wore a pair of Christmas socks a few times during the month. Every day at work, I wore different Christmas pins. Although I did not buy a Christmas sweater (the only item on my fun list I did not complete), I bought a Christmas mask to wear at work. I sent out Christmas cards to family and friends which included flying wish paper. Kelsi and I both included flying wish paper demonstrations in our chat.

I made a sweet and salty Christmas treat. It is super easy to make and only requires three ingredients (a bag of Snyder’s Snaps Pretzels, a bag of Hershey’s Hugs, and a bag of red and green M&M’s). I used my toaster oven and set it for about 275 degrees. Put a piece of aluminum foil on a pan (you can also do it without aluminum foil). Place pretzels on the pan first. Place a Hershey’s Hug on each pretzel. Put the pan in the oven for two minutes to make the Hug soft. Take it out the oven after two minutes and press an M&M on each Hug. I carefully take the aluminum foil with the treats and place it in the refrigerator to harden. Voila! You can basically make this treat anytime and for any holiday just by changing the colors of the M&M’s.

On Christmas evening, my hubby and I went over to Shelly and Kerry’s house for our annual Christmas visit. We generally have a glass of wine or a cocktail and enjoy leftovers from lunch. What a perfect time to try a Christmas cocktail! Kerry, who is our designated bartender, mixed the Grinch Cocktail for us. Instead of using Ginger Ale, he used Sprite. He also did not get the simple syrup or the green/red sanding sugar to decorate the rim of the glass. It was a yummy cocktail that I would definitely drink again. Afterwards, we enjoyed a glass of 19 Crimes Cali Red, featuring Snoop Dogg. With that, my Christmas Fun List is complete!

December was an amazingly merry month thanks to having a Christmas Fun list. Seeing Christmas decorations lit up in the evenings when I’d drive through the subdivision, reading thematic stories, and watching both creepy and classic Christmas movies added so much joy to my life. I will definitely be doing this again next year although with fewer movies on my list. What did you do to celebrate the Christmas season? I hope you will take a look at my conversation with Kelsi, dear reader. We’d love to get some feedback on our conversation and what we might consider for next year. Happiness!

“And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.” ~ Dr. Seuss

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Halloween 2020 has come and gone; however, I must reflect on the fang-tastic activities that I participated in throughout October before I can get into the heart and soul of November. I had a horror-rific time watching Halloween/horror movies, reading scary stories, consuming a spooky libation, and so much more as it all led up to the magical night of Halloween.

As you know, dear reader, Halloween is my favorite holiday which makes the month of October super special for me. Inspired by my dear friend Kelsi, who also adores Halloween, I created a Halloween Fun List. Basically, it was a fun list of activities planned for the entire month of October that encapsulates the spirit of the season. My list included: movies, books, accessories, events, and extras. I took the liberty of incorporating some spur of the moment items which included a spooktacular conversation with Kelsi. We were actually scheduled to have our conversation the Thursday evening before Halloween; however, it was postponed because Hurricane Zeta swept through Louisiana causing damage and power loss. Unfortunately, Kelsi was one of many who lost power, thus putting a slight kink in out creeperific plans. Thankfully, her power was restored, so we recorded our conversation Friday night. Please check it out! It is my first attempt with this type of format. And, I LOVED it! Podcasting is something I really want to do in the near future, so having this opportunity was both important and exciting for me. Kelsi is such a pro and is responsible for setting everything up, editing it (such cool graphics), and getting it out into the world.

So, without further ado, my thoughts on how I spent the month of October.

Movies

I chose 13 movies. Five of them were movies I had seen before, but wanted to revisit since it had been quite awhile since I had seen them last. The Haunted Mansion (ghost story), Hocus Pocus (witches), The Nightmare Before Christmas (animated dark fantasy), Sleepy Hollow (headless horseman), and Salem’s Lot -1979 (vampires). Thankfully, movie theatres have opened again, and the AMC Theatre in Hammond is showing FAN FAVORITES for $5. I was able to see both Hocus Pocus and The Nightmare Before Christmas in the theatre to my great delight. I cherish both of these films. I enjoyed all of my re-watches, but was a bit disappointed with Salem’s Lot. I remember it being terrifying when I saw it as a kid but not so much as an adult. In all fairness it was released as a made-for-tv movie back in 1979. The head vampire is a nod to the German vampire Nosferatu (awesome), the vampire children floating outside the window are still creepy, and seeing David Soul again was visually appealing.

As for the other eight movies on my list, I was pleased with my choices. My new favorites are Train to Busan (zombies), The Ritual (Norse mythology), Death Note (Japanese death god), and The Innocents (ghost story). I definitely recommend them to anyone who enjoys the horror genre. The Vatican Tapes (demonic possession), Dark Skies (aliens), and Color Out of Space (sci-fi) were all entertaining. While they are not necessarily my favorites, they are all worth the watch, especially Color Out of Space. Based on a H.P. Lovecraft short story and starring Nicholas Cage (a fave of mine), it is an artfully, over-the-top gem. My only disappointment was House of the Witch (witches). It wasn’t terrible, but not really scary. There were a couple good jump scares, nice special effects and makeup, and an interesting plot twist. While some would enjoy it, it is one where watching it once was enough for me.

Books/Short Stories

I chose two short stories written by Edgar Allan Poe, “The Conversation of Eiros and Charmion” and “The Purloined Letter.” Of the two stories, I enjoyed “The Purloined Letter” more. It featured C. Auguste Dupin, a fictional character who uses his intellect and imagination to solve mysteries even though he is not a detective by profession. Then, I chose three short stories from A Newbery Halloween, and all three were gratifying. My favorite of the three was “The Year Halloween Happened One Day Early” written by Virginia Hamilton. The short story is taken from Chapters 7 and 8 of her book Willie Bea and the Time the Martians Landed which was inspired by “The War of the Worlds” radio drama.

Of the three children’s novels that I read, Ghost Squad, Witch Catcher, and The Collected, I was disappointed with The Collected. It didn’t quite have the same creepy energy as K.R. Alexander’s other scary books. I also added Coraline which is a reread for me. Neil Gaiman is a fantastic author and one of my favorites, and Coraline is a classic. I would highly recommend the book and the movie. Lastly, I tackled the monstrous novel NOS4A2 written by Joe Hill. It was AMAZING! I feel like I must devote a whole post in the future to this novel and Joe Hill because there is so much to say about it. Kelsi and I discuss it more in depth in our conversation, and she reviewed it on her blog Kelsi Explains It All.

October Reads

Thematic Potpourri

Besides watching spine-chilling movies and reading scary stories, there were several other thematic activities that I engaged in throughout the month. I wore Halloween socks and pins every day to work and on the weekends. My hubby and I attended a screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. I savored a wicked beverage called Witch Potion Cocktail while socializing with my best buds from high school. On Sunday evenings, I immersed myself again in The Walking Dead universe. On a whim, I posted a Halloween-related Snoopy picture daily on Facebook (my story). My favorite was Pinhead Snoopy. And, for the first time, I sent out a few Halloween cards to friends I know who appreciate the holiday as much as I do.

And, last but not least, Kelsi introduced me to David S. Pumpkins. It is completely absurd but totally entertaining. I watched it numerous times throughout the month.

Halloween Night

On Halloween night, I dressed as a witch. My plan was to hand out treats to all the trick-or-treaters in our neighborhood. One of our neighbors had signs made for anyone in the neighborhood who wanted to hand out treats. We placed the sign in our front yard, so the children and their parents would know who was handing out candy. I placed the candy in my cauldron and set it on a table. I wore a mask and socially distanced. Son #1 dressed as Cookie Monster and his girlfriend Kayla dressed as Oscar the Grouch. They brought an inflatable Haunted House that we set up in front of my table, so it looked like I was in the house. It became a huge hit with the children. Many parents took pictures of their children in the entranceway or near the haunted house. It was a pleasant night. Afterwards, I watched Eli Roth’s History of Horror. The episode was on witches. Then, I watched a little bit of Halloween before hitting the hay.

October was an incredibly BOOtiful month thanks to having a Halloween Fun list. Seeing Halloween decorations lit up in the evenings when I’d go for a walk, partaking in seasonal events, reading scary stories, and watching creepy movies added so much joy to my life. I will definitely be doing this again next year. I’ve already started compiling my list. What did you do for Halloween? I hope you will take a look at my conversation with Kelsi, dear reader. We’d love to know what you think and what we might consider for next year. Happiness!

“Villainy wears many masks, none so dangerous as the mask of virtue.” Ichabod Crane, Sleepy Hollow

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Today is Sunday, 01 November. Today is a pretty significant day. It’s a brand new month, the time changed (fall back one hour), it’s All Saints Day, and it’s the first day of NaNoWriMo. Like many people, I’m profoundly affected in a negative way by the shorter days, diminished light, and colder temps of late autumn and the winter months. Once it gets dark, I tend to want to head for my bed and sleep which is obviously not a good or productive practice. However, I find that if I’m involved in a project of some kind, I can handle the next four months better, and I avoid total hibernation.

Last year, I tried to participate for the first time in NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month and failed terribly. At the time I chose that endeavor I had no idea that I would be in my first play. I could not wholeheartedly commit to both my first role in a play or my first novel, so instead of writing 50,000 words in one month, I wrote 1,505. Acting in my first play won the majority of my time with NO regrets. The silver lining (always can find the silver lining) was I actually tried, failed, and now I’m giving it another try. Why not? 

I decided that NaNoWriMo will help me with another writing project I started in September. My hope is with the help of the NaNoWriMo community, more time, and support from my other writing group, I’ll meet my writing goal this year. 

In Other News:

  • Kelsi and I are in the process of rescheduling our Zoom conversation about our Halloween Fun Lists. We were supposed to converse on Thursday; however, Hurricane Zeta landed in Louisiana, leaving damage and hundreds of thousands without electricity. Well, Kelsi was one of many who had damage (minor, thankfully) and lost power which did not get restored until yesterday. 
  • My treadmill is finally up and running. When Shelly was given a treadmill many, many months ago, she gave me her old one. I’m so grateful, especially with it getting dark earlier and the onset of cold weather. I don’t mind walking in the dark, but I despise walking in the dark when it’s really cold. 
  • On Saturday afternoon, I will be attending an in-person audition intensive class in New Orleans with casting director, Matthew Morgan, of Morgan Casting. I’m super excited! I met Matthew for the first time in one of Lance’s workshops. He’s an awesome guy with a wonderful reputation as a casting director. I’m looking forward to taking an acting class and working with Matthew.  
  • In three weeks, I will be on vacation from my day job for one whole week to celebrate Thanksgiving. It will be a much-needed staycation. I CAN’T WAIT!

November is also a time that many people focus on gratitude. I don’t post much on Instagram, but during this month I’ve been toying with the idea of posting photos expressing my gratitude. I greatly enjoyed having something festive to do daily during the month of October, so the thought of doing something daily throughout November is appealing to me. Of course, I should be writing daily (wink wink). Do you do anything special in November or when the time changes, dear reader? Happiness!

Daylight saving time: Only the government would believe that you could cut a foot off the top of a blanket, sew it to the bottom, and have a longer blanket.”

~ Anonymous

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