Monday, December 30, 2013

Too Shy To Scream, A Playlist

Can music save your soul? I'm a firm believer. Music has always been important to me. Those that know me, know it's an obsession of mine. How many playlists do I have on my iPod? Too many to count. Music is absolutely vital to me, it's how I get through my life. And I don't just mean for when I'm upset, it's something I need all the time, every day. Whether I'm happy, sad or angry, it doesn't matter, I need it. Most people won't know this, but my close friends and family know that I treat my iPod like a diary; each playlist is a deeply personal entry to which I inscribe "words" through the medium of songs.  In the off chance that I trust you enough to a) pick the music in my car while I'm driving and b) to look through something as personal as they are for me, the first thing you'd notice would be the titles. I don't own any mixes titled 1, 2, alternative or pop. These playlists are short stories from my life, and as such, are named things that either a) a song's title that's inspiring me/playlist at the moment or b) lyrics from a song on the playlist that inspire me or c) completely random musing of mine that don't make sense unless you're me (and be grateful you aren't!). 

But as stated before, I'm not very good at letting people see them (i.e. letting people in), and so it's been a goal of mine to get better at opening up. In fact, the whole reason for this blog is an attempt to do that very same thing. Because it doesn't come naturally to me. Although I'm a very outgoing person and rather chatty, when it comes down to deep feelings, emotions, or vulnerability, I'm no good. (Don't roll your eyes, I know what you're thinking... "And you want to be a fitting!" Trust me, I know.)

As cliche as it might be, I believe music can save you. It definitely saved me at a time in my life where I was completely lost, depressed, and felt angry and alone and thought I had no where else to turn. Ever since then, it's been like an anchor in my life, stopping my ship from being completely lost at sea. Sure, waves come, some larger than others, but with your anchor steady, you know you'll always make it out safely. 

While I won't be sharing the experiences that inspired the playlist itself, I thought there may be one or two music lovers out there interested in a new mix. Hopefully at some point, you'll find one that can rescue you like they did me.

[Author's note: Clicking on the title of the playlist will bring you to listen to it (for free) on Spotify, if you have an account.]

Too Shy to Scream

1. Too Shy to Scream- AFI
2. Breathing- Yellowcard
3. Just a Man- The Classic Crime
4. Jude law and a Semester Abroad- Brand New
5. Pardon Me- Incubus
6. Your Heart is an Empty Room- Death Cab for Cutie
7. Up Against the Wall- Boys Like Girls
8. Endlessly, She Said- AFI
9. Again I go Unnoticed- Dashboard Confessional
10. Seventy Time 7- Brand New
11. The Pros and Cons of Breathing- Fall Out Boy
12. Mexico- Incubus
13. Dissolve and Decay- Hawthorne Heights
14. Cold Hands- AFI
15. Nice to Know You- Incubus
16. All That I've Got- The Used
17. Way Away- Yellowcard
18. Sic Transit Gloria...Glory Fades- Brand New
19. We've Got the Knife- AFI
20. So Long, So Long- Dashboard Confessional

Monday, December 16, 2013

Where are all the Austen men??

I love Christmas. I love winter in general, but there is something so special about the whole month of December (a lot of special people to me were born in December too, including Jane Austen!). One of my favorite things to do during the Christmas season, usually just after finals, is to re-read my favorite novel, Pride and Prejudice. It's obviously not very "Christmasey" in the traditional sense, but to me they go hand in hand. I started a little bit early this year, mostly to escape some studying-for-finals-headaches (which are the worst, are they not?!) and it makes me instantly happier. 

TODAY is Jane's birthday! Happy birthday, my dearest friend. I believe I've posted about my love for Jane Austen once before, but to recap, I absolutely adore her and am pretty sure we'd be BFF's. One of my favorite things about her novels are the characters. The stories are great too, but her characters are superb! They're beautifully crafted,  intricate, genuine, and so lovely, it's almost painful knowing that they don't really exist. But every time I read or watch (BBC or Masterpiece ONLY) one of Austen's stories, I can't help also feeling a bit...sad. I'm envious of their lives! I'm envious of the way the talk (people just don't talk like that anymore!) and their clothing and their insults, but mostly I'm envious of their men. And every time I'm left wondering the same question...Where are all the Austen men? 

Daily, amongst the monotonous day-to-day thoughts and fanciful wonderings my mind can conjure, I dream what it would be like to go back to the time of Austen. Back to England in the late 1700’s and into the early 1800’s, into a time with petticoats and top hats, where horse drawn carriages can be heard strolling through the streets of Derbyshire. Back to a time where propriety and good breeding, along with her “accomplishments” were vital if a woman was to be considered for marriage. A time where the men were respectable, intelligent, and well mannered, and displayed only the most moral and correct decorum in front of a lady. Don't even get me started on their high-collared-necktie-scarf-thing.

I dream of walking around the grounds of Pemberley, running into Mr. Darcy on his way back with a shooting party, flanked of course, by Mr. Bingley, joyous in their successful trip. I imagine picnicking on Box Hill with Mr. Knightly, pleasantly engaging in a social debate that would soon turn into a lovely, but hearty, quarrel. Sometimes, I slip into a reverie where I encounter Captain Wentworth, back from his recent Sea expedition, and we walk by the Ocean and talk of the greatness of the Royal Navy and its officers. Or go for a long country walk with Mr. Tilney, take comfort under the shade of a large tree and read a book together for hours.

As great as these daydreams are, when awoken, it only saddens me to think of how different life is today, both in society and culture, as well as in men & women. Where are those great Austen men? I have never run into a Darcy or Wentworth or a Tilney. Do they even exist anymore?


Where is a Mr. Darcy? Sure, at first he is an arrogant and pompous character, who holds propriety and social class above all things most important in a female.  That, of course, and her accomplishments. Darcy does have certain faults; he is prideful, sometimes to an extreme, he is quick to judge, and is unlikely to forget when people fault him, his “good opinion once lost, is lost forever.” But, being a man of noble birth and wealth, he is expected to retain a certain level of haughtiness in his character, which makes him overly conscious of his social class and in turn, prideful.  However, he is capable of change, and learns humility in the rejection he faces after poorly proposing to Elizabeth. He is highly intelligent, well educated, and well breed.  He enjoys arguments, banter, and quick wit. He has the ability to love wholly and unconditionally. He is socially awkward, I’d even venture to say, inept. He does not converse easily with people he does not know; his manners are always civil, but never cordial. He dotes upon his sister’s every whim, and has taken care of her in the wake of his parent’s death.  He is charitable and moral, even going to lengths (and money) to save the Bennett family from total ruin at the mistake of their youngest daughter Lydia, even though still under the impression that his love for Elizabeth is not returned. Darcy is one of Austen’s most serious characters, but to me, one of the greatest. Yes, he has faults, but when needed to, he accepts the consequences for his actions and is determined to change. And one cannot argue the depth he is capable of loving, though in a quieter, more personal way. I would take the pride, gladly, considering all the other noble and moral traits he possesses.  Show me a man with his intelligence, manners and perseverance in obtaining the woman he loves, even if that means casting off family obligation and social expectations.  Darcy is Austen's most passionate man; nothing is ever done or felt half-way, and while that sometimes could be bad (if you're a deplorable human being like Mr. Whickham!), you can also be sure that he'll love you just as passionately. He is a very controlled man, so he's not one to lose his temper very often, and you'll always know that he'd fight for you, no matter what. 

Where is a Captain Wentworth? Captain Frederick Wentworth is perhaps my favorite Austen Man. He is brave and independent, hard working and sensitive, while always displaying the highest quality of manners and good humor. Wentworth was not born from money and had no connections or fortune to his name. When the woman he loves rejects his proposal because she is persuaded to believe that he is not a good enough match for her, he joins the Navy and makes a name for himself as a highly revered and wealthy Captain. Ten years he works hard for his title and accomplishments, and returns to Anne Elliott a changed man. Though, he is hardened by her rejection with pride and shame, he cannot deny the depth of his love for her. Captain Wentworth is wise, forgiving, and despite not being from noble birth, has noble character. He is caring and compassionate, and his manners and ease at conversing with people tend to create many admirers. He holds steadfast to his duty and responsibility within the Navy.  Wentworth always does what he believes is right, and values, above most, a woman who stands up for what she believes and how she feels, and has a sturdy resolve and strength of character that will keep her from being persuaded by others.  He has a strong character and is hard worker. To me, Captain Wentworth is the most ideal sort of Austen-Man.

Oh, Mr. Knightly. Emma sure didn't deserve you, but isn't that part of what makes Knightly so great? He loves Emma despite her selfishness and her snobbery and of course her insincerity. Knightly is a "Gentleman farmer and magistrate", he's hard working, compassionate, honest, funny, quick-witted and absolutely loveable. He loves to banter with Emma but he's the only one that doesn't over-indulge her. He's not afraid to put her in her place when she's being cruel or inconsiderate. As her (and her families) friend for years and years, he values friendship in a companion and not just romance. He really is the boy next door. I wouldn't mind bumping into a 'Knightly', and out of all of Austen's men, he'd probably be the most likely you'd actually run into. Knightly is dependable. He will always be there no matter what. And while he's rather reserved, he's not afraid to express himself, though he struggles with vocalizing his deeper feelings . "If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more."

It's not that I'm expecting every guy out there to an "Asuten-man", because that's not realistic. And while this entire post might not seem realistic, it's not like I have a check list or anything. But I just wish for someone like these that too much to ask?

Maybe I really do belong in a different era...somewhere around the time of Darcy or Wentworth or John Thornton (shout out to by girl Elizabeth Gaskell! What what!) or Matthew Crawley (I think Jane would've LOVED Downton Abbey!) It just seems like no one has their lives together anymore and are completely disinterested in anything except the "bachelor life". I've been reading about Jane's life and am so saddened that while she wrote the most beautiful stories, she was never married herself or ever found her "happily ever after". But you know what, maybe she did, maybe her happy ending is her life's work. But one can't help but feel a little sorrow for her, that she never found her real life "Austen man". Obviously, she deserved it most of all. 

So here's to my fellow Janeites out there, searching for your modern-day "Austen Man", rest assured that you're not the only one, Jane and I will meet you on the battlefield. (I'm not sure a Pat Benatar reference fits in here, but you know what I mean.) ;)

PS- Check this out if you haven't seen Masterpiece's Austen's Men
It's a simulated online dating website using all the men of Austen...and it's fabulous. 

You can copy and paste in if the link above doesn't work:

Monday, December 9, 2013

Nothing Compares to a Girl's Best Friend.

Aw...Best Friends. Is there anything better than a best friend? Someone who just gets you, someone who laughs at your jokes, who knows your "looks" and what you're thinking without saying anything. Who will sit with you while you cry or go to that horribly embarrassing movie that you're secretly dying to see, and then never make you own up to it. Someone who brings you your favorite treat just because or perhaps a Redbull to work after a horribly rough night. Someone who always tells you that you look great but wouldn't hesitate to let you know you've got a piece of cilantro in your teeth. Someone you can burp around, who won't judge you for being ridiculous, and who won't even make you apologize for things said while PMSing. A friend who always shares their cookies and chocolate and without whom you'd feel utterly lost.

I have been best friends with my BFF since I was born. I know everyone (except the people that know us) are rolling their eyes right now, but it’s pretty close to the truth. I say “when I was born” because she is exactly 11 months, 1 hour and 40 something minutes older than me. She’s also my cousin (our moms are sisters) which is just about the coolest thing in the world. Not only is she flesh-and-blood family, so she understands all those things that only close relatives seem to get, but she’s also my best friend, and you know how girls are with their BFF’s. I’m not trying to brag, believe me, I know how blessed I am to have somehow won the lottery when it comes to BFF’s, but it’s kind hard not to. The first documentation of our friendship is a picture taken in 1989, she’s 2 and I’m 1, and she’s holding me on her lap. 

See. So technically, we’ve been friends since I was 1, but I’m pretty sure it started even before then. Would I let just any toddler hold my fragile little body in their arms? I think not. Anyways, we’ve been best friends ever since. We’ve spent most of our lives laughing and talking together, camping and going to theme parks, traveling to Mexico, and spending lazy days inside hosting “Movie Marathons”. We were inseparable as kids and teenagers, and even now, I can’t go a day without at least sending a small message. We’ve always joked that we’re “soul mates” and it’s true. As kids we’d dream of marrying guys that were best friends, and our kids would be best friends, and we’d live next door to each other and bring each other brownies…no joke, the brownie part is legit. We promised that we’d die together because neither one of us ever wanted to live without the other. We’re a package deal. We’re an epic story of friendship. Best friends forever.

I have many wonderful friends and I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately. I have several extremely close friends (besties!) who have deeply impacted my life and who I cannot go a day without talking to. I whole-heartedly believe these people have been put in my life by divine fate. Girlfriends are astronomically important to being happy. No one understands you like them. "Girls Nights" are practically uniform these days; I know I need them as part of my monthly (if not weekly) life, just to stay sane. You just need them! You need the companionship (which ISN'T the same with boyfriends/husbands/significant others/boys that are friends/dogs/ get the idea). You need the laughter, the fun, and the conversation! (And by conversation, I mean gossip and complaining! Because everyone needs to vent and that's what your BF's are for!)

It seems like it’s in our nature to create these long lasting friendships, to connect to people in meaningful and intimate ways. I love a good story about best friends, maybe because my own is so amazing and important to me. Even better are when the best friends on screen are best friends in real life! We’ve had some good ones over the years, and it got me thinking of the little things that make up, not just a friendship, but a BESTfriendship.

Best friends should always have at least one choreographed dance together.

I love Something Borrowed. Not just because Kate Hudson is my homegirl and Ginnifer Goodwin is adorable, but because they remind me in a lot of ways of me and my BFF, but in the good ways, not the selfish or kissing-your-best-friends-fiance sort of way.  We used to go upstairs into the bonus room at my house and we'd make up dances to songs. Basically everything Backstreet Boys, Destiny's Child, or Will Smith had a choreographed number. I remember we had a pretty good one for Will Smith's "Men in Black". Yeah, we're that awesome. 

Best Friends always make you feel like yourself, even when (or especially when) you don't know who that really is. 

Okay, I know they're not 'girlfriends' but is there really a better example of best friends than Winnie the Pooh and Piglet? I've loved Pooh since I was a young child, and they really teach you how friendship is supposed to be. Everyone goes through times when we struggle to know who we are or days when they just don't feel like ourselves. But best friends takes care of each other. Always.

Best Friends are always partners in crime.

I used to watch "I Love Lucy" all the time, it was one of my favorites. The best duo on the show wasn't Lucy and Ricky (thought they were great too!) it was Lucy and Ethel. What would they be without each other!? Ethel always had Lucy's back, even when she knew it was a bad idea! And there were times when Lucy had to rescue Ethel, but let's face it, it was mostly the other way around. Lucy and Ethel were partners in crime. They'd never leave each other and were one of the first, and the best, examples of best friends. You know that they'd still be getting into trouble together, even when they're 80. That's how me and my BFF are too!

Best friends don't let each other look stupid...alone.

How is this not the most amazing friendship EVER!? Basically I'm jealous with anyone who's friends with Sandy, but I'm not going to lie, I'd cage fight to become friends with Melissa McCartney too! Friends always have each others' back, and part of that means if you're BFF looks stupid, you look stupid.


Best friends work out together.

Who is better than your BFF to keep you motivated and positive!? Plus, as your best friend, they're allowed to see you sans makeup and dripping with sweat! You never have to worry about looking good for them. Plus, they've seen you at your worst and won't judge you when you're having a rough day and you're not completely 100%. And they'll always remind you how amazing you are and to not get discouraged! [Also a plus: scoping out hot guys as they run past you...not as fun when you're alone! ;) ]

Best Friends complement each others personality.

Who doesn't dream of becoming the third bestie in this duo!? Best friends only really work because their personalities are complementary. And not that you can't be the same, but rather you feed off each other and bring out the best in one another. 

Best Friends are goofy together. 

 I had to use them again. I'm a firm believer that laughter is perhaps the most important ingredient in a friendship (or any relationship). Best friends should be silly together, they should make each other laugh and goof off and be awesome together! Life is so boring when taken too seriously.

Best Friends vacation together. 

Shopping in Cabo...that's the life. Best Friends Jen Aniston and Courtney Cox can be seen regularly hitting the beach or shopping in Mexico, which just happens to be their favorite vacation spot. The besties love to get away together, either with their significant others or a group of girlfriends. We all can't live like this, but a weekend away every year really does improve your relationship! We have an annual Girls Trip every year that I honestly count down to! Point is, these two know that just like a romantic relationship, best friends need their time away from home to just relax and have a good time. Best friends who vacation together stay together. ;)

I hope this has made you desperately want to call or text your BFF and tell them how much they mean to you. They should hear that from us every day!

So here's to you, Besties, for all the laughs, the love, and the memories...and to many more. I wouldn't be who I am without you, and I sure as heck wouldn't love life the way I do! You are everything.

Best Friends Forever.

[Authors Note: Try to ignore Darcy's (Kate Hudson) selfishness during the toast video above...other than that it's really sweet!] 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

How Disney Changed my Life

I've always loved Disney movies, not just as a kid, but as a teenager, young adult, and as an adult. I'm not sure why they are so magical, but they are. Maybe it's because Disney (and the Disney/Pixar collaboration) movies always have an inspiring tale, wonderful characters, and amazing art and music to accompany them. Or maybe it's more of a nostalgic thing, I'm not sure. But what I do know, is that I LOVE them. 

My family has always been "Disneyland people". We have been very blessed and fortunate to go; my parents have always taken us every couple years, since even before I was born (I'm the baby out of 5 kids). We just got back from our Disneyland trip a couple weeks ago, and as always, it was wonderful. I NEVER get tired of it! Even the rides I've ridden a hundred+ times are special every time I go. This time was unique in the fact that we had little ones with us (my handsome nephews) who are 7 & 4, and could actually ride all the rides this time. It was special to watch how they lit up when they got to meet Mickey and Minnie and the gang or watch them beam through the Mad Hatter's Tea Cups. Needles to say, this time was amazing indeed. Growing up and in our adult years, Disneyland was serious business. Our goal was to ride all the big rides as many times as was possible- we were always rushing from one thing to the next! And when you have little ones, you just can't do that. [Potty breaks alone for the little ones (and maybe sisters too) are more frequent and we also had my beautiful niece who is 6 months old, so we'd take a break to feed her too.] But I actually enjoyed it more. Seeing their faces and how excited they were for the rides and experiencing Disneyland was something I will never forget. And it brought me back to my childhood. 

Riding the rides and being around everything Disney reminded me of how much I loved it as a child and still love it today. It reminded me of everything I learned from watching Disney movies and I wondered if our generation would be the same had Walt never realized his dream. How much of who we are comes from our beloved Disney movies, watched in the "formative years" of our development? It would probably take many in-depth longitudinal studies to figure that out, but I know that for me, it definitely played a part in who I was and who I've become. So I give you, How Disney Movies Changed my Life.

Disney's Robin Hood is the first memory I have of a Disney movie. As a very young child (age 3 ish), it was my favorite. Many people don't think you can remember things from when you were that young, but I do. My Grandma lived around the corner from me and while my Mom was in nursing school and my dad was at work, I'd go over to her house and she'd watch me every weekday. And we'd watch Robin Hood and House on Pooh's Corner every day together. They were my favorite things! Most people know the story of Robin Hood, so I won't recount it, but what I learned was that you have to do what's right, even if (or especially when!) it goes against the grain. [I'm not saying stealing is okay, but you get the idea.]

When this movie came out in 1993, I fell in love with it. I'm not sure why as a little 5 year old I loved this so much, maybe because I loved Halloween, but I do remember that my favorite part in the movie was when Jack goes into the forest and stumbles upon the different "holiday door" trees. I loved that part because next to the Christmas tree (which Jack enters) is the Thanksgiving tree, and that was my birthday! Through the years my love for this movie (and all things Tim Burton) has grown as I have. One of the things I love MOST about Christmas time in Disneyland is that the Haunted Mansion turns into Nightmare Before Christmas! What I learned most from Nightmare was that you have to go after what you want and make it happen. Sure, kidnapping Santa Clause wasn't Jacks greatest idea, but he always had good intentions and he wanted to make everyone happy and share with them the feeling he got in Christmastown. Also, this was probably my first example of true love as a 5 year old, with Jack & Sally...who doesn't love them?!

From Snow White I learned to never eat candy (er...I mean fruit...or anything really) from strangers...especially ones who look like old decrepit witches. 

Belle (my favorite Princess) from Beauty And the Beast taught me that you have to look beyond people's appearances and some times how they act. Everyone has a "story", and a lot of times, it can change the way they act towards others, even if it's not who they truly are. Take the time to try to understand where people are coming from and to see who they really are before you judge them or write them off. You never know who's under that beastly exterior.

I love this movie! It's no wonder why it became so popular. The animation is incredible and the characters are lovable and the writing is genuinely funny. Plus, it was quite the epic under sea journey! But what I loved best was Dori's phrase to "just keep swimming". I really took that to heart. A lot of times in our lives, we get bogged down with so many things, it can feel like we're just treading water. When your life feels chaotic and you don't see the light at the end of the tunnel yet, just remember to keep swimming. It will get easier, we just have to hang in there until it does. [Also, listen to your parents. For the most part, they know better than you do, so trust them and do what they say. If you don't you might swim right into a trap. ;) ]

Okay, this is one of my favorites! David Spade in a Disney film? I'm in. Every time. It's hysterical but it's still got a really good message (would it be Disney if it didn't?!): who we are and what we do catches up to us at some point. It's like the old adage "you reap what you sow", but Disney-fied. Kuzco (David Spade) is a greedy and selfish Emperor of ...some place with lots of goats and llamas... and after he fires his adviser-person, she tries to poison him... but the potion actually turns him into a llama instead...I know, sounds amazing right? IT IS! His journey to get himself turned back into a human teaches him, of course, to be a better person and to put other people before himself, which is a good thing for everyone to learn, right?! Whatever you put out there comes back to you, so make sure you're only putting out good things!

This might seem like an odd list of Disney movies to use, but they are some of my all-time favorites! Plus, I feel like I talk about Disney a lot, so I'd hate to be repetitive with the movies too. I can't wait for my kids to one day experience both Disney movies and Disneyland. They are some of my favorite memories. And after all, Disneyland is the happiest place on earth and the only time it's socially acceptable for adults to act like little children and wear festive mouse ears for three days straight! ;)

Monday, December 2, 2013

It's beginning to look a lot like Chrismas...

...Everywhere you go! It's no surprise that I LOVE Christmas! I mean, December is the greatest month of the year. My family is very into Christmas. We have a lot of traditions that we've been doing, even since before I was born! (As I'm the youngest kid in my family as well as the youngest grandchild) There's nothing quite like the feeling one gets driving at night listening to Michael Buble Christmas album while looking at all the Christmas lights and decorations. It's magical! It feels like it did when you were a kid and the world was still so happy and innocent. Most of my favorite things happen in this month and this time of year, that I'm usually on an overload of pure unrelenting joy from Thanksgiving until New Years. There just seems to be more...cheer this time of year! People are a lot happier and more friendly and more willing to help each other out. It's like Christmas spirit just seems to bring out the best of most people. 

I'm so excited for this time of year! SO excited, that I've even been making lists of my favorite things! (I can't help it, I love love them...probably too much. lol)

Cindy Mangomini


1. Christmas Eve/Christmas Day (we have lots of traditions!)  My siblings and I (there are 5 of us) used to "plan Christmas" in advance. We'd all move our mattresses into the bonus room a couple days before Christmas and all sleep in there together. We'd of course plan out who slept where and every hour of Christmas morning, when we'd get up, who would sit where, who would hand out presents that year, what time we'd wake our parents up, etc. Then, Christmas Eve night my mom would read us a story (usually Polar express) before we went to bed, all of us nestled under our covers, mattresses pushed together, in the bonus room. Also, Every Christmas Eve we get together as a family an my Aunt's house for dinner and games. As a kid, it was my favorite part about Christmas (except for Christmas morning, that is). We'd drive down for dinner, open presents from our cousin exchange, and play games and eat goodies all night. We'd wait to hear the Santa spotting on the news and then run out and watch for him in the sky.

2.      Buying and wrapping presents for people! I love it! Our parents used to take us to the mall as kids, and we'd split up, half with Mom and half with Dad and then we'd go shopping for the siblings not in our group. We'd meet up a couple hours later and switch and go out again. It was so much fun! Of course, we'd always have to stop in at Sees and get a piece of candy... :)

3.      Looking at Christmas decorations and lights/decorating our own. I swear, my Mom could be Holiday Cheermister (Grinch reference, what what!). Our house was always fully decked out, inside and out in Christmas decor, most of which, she made herself! (She's super talented by the way.) I always loved decorating the house, but even more, I loved going for night drives to look at all the Christmas lights. It always felt so magical! 

And honestly, this is me the whole time...

4.      Hoodies, scarves, blankets, mittens, beanies, cute pj pants…all things WARM! I LOVE my hoodies. They are probably my favorite article of clothing. If I could wear them all year, I'd be a happy camper. They are just so comfy. Winter weather is all about comfort, it's no wonder why we love it!

5.      Christmas movies/music I anticipate listening to Christmas music and watching Christmas movies. They just make me's hard to explain. My family has our *favorite* Christmas movies and it's always a time when we gather together and just laugh and drink egg nog and enjoy each others' company. And the music! I think Will Ferrel says in best in Elf, "the best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear." Singing along to Christmas music just fills me's indescribable.

6.      Festive Drinks! Mmmmm, I love peppermint hot cocoa…I swear it tastes the BEST during December, I don’t know why! But seriously, Gingerbread Herbal Tea is like Christmas in a cup. (A la Ryan Reynolds style!)

And I love caramel apple cider, anything cinnamon, and of course EGG NOG! (Crystal Egg Nog, because I'm a snob about it...whatever, I admit it, but nothing is better than Crystal Egg Nog!) And let's be honest, I have a mug obsession, so I can whip out all the cute festive mugs! (And have reasons to buy Tis the season!!

7.      Snuggling in the house by a fire playing Clue with family or reading a book (LOVE to do this when the power goes out!!) There are certain books I read every Christmas, like Pride and Prejudice, which is just something I have to do. you understand, U know you do. But I love reading by the fire, drinking hot chocolate and snuggling in a blanket. Man, I feel like I'm repeating myself here, but each of these really are my favorite things! And Clue has always been my favorite board game, and it's even more special by the fire after the power's gone out! :)

8.      The light the Christmas tree gives off when no other lights are on in the house! I swear, I could just lay by the Christmas tree and stare at it for hours. It always reminds me of Christmas morning as a kid when I couldn't sleep in so I'd sneak out to the stairs and the only think lighting the house (at 4 am) would be the Christmas tree. It's my absolute favorite type of lighting! 

9.      Holiday baking! (...and eating...) It lasts for WEEKS! Another tradition...we bake goodies for family and friends the whole month of December. A lot of the treats are only mad during Christmas time too, like my Grandma's Million Dollar Fudge! (my favorite!)

10.  Being with family and friends more than usual…everyone seems happier during Christmas! It's no secret that my family members are also my best friends, we're all extremely close, but it feels different at Christmas, and we do a lot more fun stuff than during just the normal every-day things. 

11.  Celebrating Christ of course…that’s gotta be on here! Not like we don't celebrate the life of Christ during the year, but it's different for Christmas! And it's not just within our Church, people in general seem more likely to want to talk about Christ or get back to church during the holiday season, which is great! I love our Christmas program on the Sunday before, it's my favorite, probably because Christmas hymns have a special place in my heart. They are the best. :)

Top 10 favorite Christmas songs: (not in order)

1.      Christmas Eve Sarajevo & A Mad Russian’s Christmas- Trans-Siberian Orchestra (cheating, I know!)
2.      It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas- Michael Buble
3.      White Christmas-Frank Sinatra
4.      Winter Wonderland-Bing Crosby
5.      Baby it’s cold outside (Zooey Deschannel from Elf Soundtrack)
6.      Happy Christmas (War is Over)- Maroon 5
7.      Let it Snow- Dean Martin
8.      Carol of the Bells (Manheim Steamroller & Mo Tab)
9.      I’ll be home for Christmas- Josh Groban (makes me almost cry every time!)
10.  O Holy Night- Mo Tab

(I also love love LOVE listening to the Hallelujah Chorus form the Messiah at Christmas too, but it’s technically not “Chirstmas”)

It should also be said that I LOVE Michael Buble’s rendition of EVERY Christmas song, but I couldn’t very well put him on the list a thousand times, could I! ;)

***I also really HATE Santa Baby…sorry, but it’s true.

Top 10 favorite Christmas movies: (not in order)

1.      Home Alone
2.      Elf
3.      National Lampoons Christmas Vacation
4.      Grinch (both versions)
5.      Christmas Story
6.      The Holiday/Family Stone
7.      Love, Actually
8.      Claymation Santa Clause is coming…/Rudolph
9.      The Santa Clause
10.  Scrooged 

Honorable mentions because 10 is so hard! (Yeah, I’m a cheater at my own games...)
HM: Charlie Brown Christmas
HM: Jim Carrey’s Christmas Carrol
HM: Polar Express

If I could only watch one, it’s be a three way tie between Home Alone/Christmas Vacation/Elf. Those are like my family’s movies. Call me crazy (I know this will offend you to your very soul) but I don’t really care for Miracle on 34th Street…I just don’t. I didn’t grow up watching it and that little girl kinda irritates the crap out of me