Five Fandom Friday: 5 more must see Christmas movies

So, this week’s FFF prompt was must-see Christmas movies.  But I remembered that I already did this prompt two  Christmases ago.  But as I’m a massive Christmas nerd with  huge collection of holiday movies, I didn’t think I’d have any difficulty thinking up a list of 5 more films to get you in the holiday spirit. So, just in case you’ve seen all the ones on my original list, here’s a few more geeky films to sink your teeth into this Christmas.

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  1. It’s a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie

Fun fact: I don’t particularly like It’s a Wonderful Life. This Christmas Classic has never managed to warm my heart.  But the Muppet version has been a part of my Christmas festivities for about twelve years now.  After a series of devastating personal failures, Kermit the Frog starts contemplating his place in the universe, and begins to wonder if the world would be a better place if he weren’t a part of it.  Luckily, his guardian angel (played by David Arquette) swoops down from Heaven to show Kermit what the world would be like if he’d never  been born.

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2. Elf

Nothing has ever made me laugh quite as hard as watching Will Ferrell catapult himself off a couch and into a giant Christmas tree in this film.  Although it’s kinda corny, Elf is full of giggles and joy.

 

3. White Christmas

I’m a sucker for Danny Kaye, and when you pair him with Bing Crosby you just know that you’re in for an all-singing-all-dancing good time.  This film has an array of gorgeous costumes, a sweet story and features the classic song White Christmas.

More Christmas shirts. #geek #Christmas #homealone

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4. Home Alone

Nothing says Christmas quite like parental abandonment and home invasion.  Even with the unsavory subject matter, the moment I hear the opening strains of the Home Alone theme, it feels like Christmas to me.  If you haven’t seen it, do yourself a favour and grab a copy, then hunker down with pizza and pepsi and check it out.

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5. The Night Before

Ok, so this one isn’t fun for the whole family.  You definitely want to clear the kids out of the room before you pop this movie in the DVD player.  But even though it’s choc-full of profanity, violence and drug abuse, The Night Before manages to be a really sweet story about friendship and holiday tradition.

 

What movies do you like to watch to get you in the holiday spirit?  Have I left any off my list that you feel should be here?

Vegan Eggnog recipe

Eggnog is one of my favourite Yuletide treats.  The very first sip always leaves me with an overwhelming rush of Christmas spirit. Lately I’ve been experimenting with what I call a vegan-ish diet, in that I’m eating a mostly plant based diet with as few animal products as possible.  I’ve been attempting to convert some of my favourite recipes to make them vegan-friendly, and I couldn’t resist trying to create my own vegan eggnog.

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The results were a delicious, creamy beverage that is like Christmas in a cup.  This recipe is really easy, and uses ingredients that are available in most supermarkets.  You don’t need any special equipment or appliances and it’s ready to drink in a matter of minutes.

 

This eggnog recipe is for you if you:

  • are vegan
  • are lactose intolerant
  • are watching your cholesterol
  • are grossed out by the idea of drinking raw egg

 

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You will need:

  • 1 cup non dairy milk.  I love cashew milk for this recipe because it has a sweet flavour.  Almond milk also works really well.  But you could use soy milk, rice milk, oat milk, coconut milk or any other non-dairy alternative.
  • 1/3 cup coconut cream.
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 shot brandy (if you want to make this a boozy bevvy.  If not, leave the brandy out)

 

Method

Place ingredients in a jug and whisk with a fork until combined.  You can also put it in a cocktail shaker and give it a good shake if you want a frothier drink.   Top with a little cinnamon in a glass.

 

This recipe makes enough for 2 glasses.

 

Variations:

  • warm milk, spices, syrup and coconut cream in a saucepan over a low heat, stirring often.  Pour into a mug and add brandy if desired.
  • Add a teaspoon of drinking chocolate to make a chocolate version.

Happy nogging!

 

 

Minimalist gift-giving

It’ s just about time to start Christmas shopping (2016, where did you go?) and I’ve been thinking a great deal about giving and receiving gifts as a minimalist.

Over the past couple of months, I’ve been trying to adopt a more minimalist lifestyle, which has involved evaluating what I’m buying and getting rid of the things I no longer need.  I’ve noticed that a lot of the items that I’ve gotten rid of have been gifts from people, which is tricky.  I always feel extremely guilty when I get rid of something that someone else has bought for me, even if I totally hate that item.  After getting rid of several gifts, I started to really consider the prospect of gift giving from a minimalist perspective.

Now, minimalism is a big umbrella term that means different things to different people.  To me, minimalism is about simplifying my life.  It’s about looking at my habits and pruning the ones that don’t serve me.  It’s about clearing out physical, electronic and emotional clutter to allow space to focus on the things that are truly important to me.

Whether you identify as a minimalist, or if you’re buying a gift for a minimalist, here are a few ideas I have for choosing a present mindfully.

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Ask them what they want.

There is this idea that for a gift to be good, it has to be a surprise.  I think that a lot of bad presents have been purchased because the gifter madly wracked their brain too hard to come up with a surprise gift idea, and frazzled their synapses. In this scenario, the gift giver is out of pocket, and the recipient now has a gift they neither like nor need to deal with.  And neither is happy.

Instead, just go right ahead and ask the person what they want.  No really, you’re allowed to do that!  And while they will probably initially shuffle their feet and reply “I dunno, there’s nothing I can think of” if you explain to them that you just want a few ideas to avoid getting them a shitty gift, they will most likely have a few suggestions.  There might be one particular thing that they’re burning for, or they may be able to give you a few general ideas, and you can choose one thing from their list so the gift will still be a surprise.

Give an experience, rather than a thing

Most of us have homes that are packed to the brim with belongings, and the thought of trying to cram one more thing into those bursting drawers is enough to drive us to hide under the bed with a bottle of wine.

So rather than giving a thing that your loved one has to put away on Boxing Day, give an experience instead.  Book them in for a spa treatment.  Get a gift voucher to their favourite restaurant.  Buy tickets to a play or concert.  Get them a cinema voucher.  Treat them to something you know will be fun for them, with the added joy that comes from knowing that they won’t have to stress about finding a place to keep it.  If you’re stuck for ideas, check out Red Balloon.  They have some sensational “experience” gifts at a range of prices.

Give the gift of time

Time is one thing we could all do with more of, whether it’s time with our loved ones or more time to ourselves.  Instead of buying a physical present, offer to do something that gives the recipient more time.  Provide your services as a babysitter so they can have some down-time.  Offer to walk their dog or do the housework so they can focus on a project they’ve been working on.  Give them an afternoon of your own time, taking them for a drive to a cafe for coffee and a chat.  Time is a precious commodity, and any way you can give your loved one some quality time will be appreciated.

Agree to forgo presents

While it may feel a bit mean to decide not to get someone a gift, sometimes it’s the best course of action.  If you and a friend are both strapped for cash, or if there is genuinely nothing that either or you need or want, it’s perfectly OK to come to an agreement to not exchange gifts.  Just be sure that you both honour your word, and don’t be tempted to sneak off and buy a secret gift to throw them off guard.

Do you have any ideas for incorporating minimalism or mindfulness into your gift giving?  I’d love to hear them!

What Santa brought me….

This Christmas I was absolutely spoiled.  I got so many gorgeous gifts and I feel so blessed.  I thought you might like to take a peek at some of my loveliest presents from Christmas 2014

 

This stunning antique brooch was a gift from my parents.  I had spotted this at the antiques fair earlier in the year, and my mother had secretly gone back later to pick it up for me.  Sneaky.

 

This art deco ring is from the 1920’s.  I was so thrilled to unwrap this on Christmas morning, because I’m in the throes of a love affair with art deco jewelry.

 

My grandmother gave me this stunning pearl bracelet.  She said it was a gift from my grandfather and she has only worn it once or twice.  It is from the 1960’s and features stunning apricot-coloured pearls.  I have a soft spot for pearls, and this bracelet is so perfect.

 

From my father I got this beautiful cranberry-coloured cloche.  My dad always does an amazing job choosing clothes and accessories for me.  He seems to have a great handle on my tastes.

 

I got a couple of movies to add to my collection.  Guardians of the Galaxy was a present from my friend Luke.  Heavyweights was from my parents.  Heavyweights was one of my favourite films when I was a kid.  My best friend and I used to watch it non stop.  It’s been jolly difficult to track down a copy, but just before Christmas I found two on ebay.  So I got one for me and one for my best friend, and then Mum wrapped them for us for Christmas.

 

My brother got me The Witches board game, based on the books by my favourite author, Terry Pratchett.  I got The Discworld game a couple of years ago and it’s excellent, so I’m extremely excited to play this one.  Best of all, this game can be played in a group, but it’s also designed for solo play.

 

Mum and Dad got me this sensational TARDIS shirt from the Dr Who pop-up store in Melbourne.  Dad said they spent ages in there trying to pick just one thing to buy me.  I’m so pleased with this shirt.

 

My bestie got me this book: Dress Memory by Lorelei Vashti.  I’ve had a flick through it and it looks really interesting.  I can’t wait to read it.

 

And my friends Kath and Evan bought me these awesome Frida Kahlo socks.  I wish I had filmed myself unwrapping these because the noise I made was hilarious.

 

I got lots of other beautiful clothes as well as some more books.  But I think I’ll wait and show off the clothes in some outfit posts.

 

What did you get for Christmas this year?  Was Santa kind to you?

Why being single at Christmas is awesome.

This year was the second Christmas that I’ve celebrated as a single woman.  I’ll admit that in the lead-up to Christmas I was a bit down about going it alone during the holidays.  All the cheer of Christmas can be hard to swallow when you’re all by yourself.  It gets tough fielding constant questions from relatives about your relationship status, reading gift guides for couples and knowing that you’ve got nobody to snuggle up with on Christmas Eve.

But it isn’t all bad being single during the holidays.  In fact, there are a lot of fantastic things about celebrating a solo Christmas.  I’ve been reflecting on all the ways that being single at Christmas is awesome, and today I thought I’d share my thoughts with you.

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– There are no fights about whose parents to spend Christmas Day with.  You can spend as much of the day with your own people as you’d like.  You don’t have to rush about, trying to spend equal time with both families.  You can just chill out and divide up your time however you’d like.

– There are no dramas about buying romantic gifts.   You don’t have to agonize about finding just the right gift for your significant other.  There’s no need to stress about how much to spend on your new boyfriend, or whether it’s too soon to buy them a “serious” gift.

– You don’t have to worry about opening a disappointing gift from your boyfriend on Christmas morning.  There’s nothing quite like spending a fortune on a set of gorgeous cufflinks for your man, only to be presented with a gift voucher for JB-HiFi on Christmas morning.

– You can regale all of your married cousins with thrilling tales about your exciting single life over drinks on Christmas Eve.

-You get to entirely side-step the horror that is joint holiday card writing.

– There is nobody to disturb you during your post-lunch nap on Christmas Day.  You can nap as long as you want, without some horny dude trying to fondle you in your sleep.

– You don’t have to suffer through wearing the itchy, ill-fitting “sexy” lingerie that your boyfriend bought you for Christmas.  Nor do you have to open said lingerie in front of your parents.

– You can watch “Love Actually” and “A Muppet Christmas Carol” on repeat and there’ s nobody to poke fun at you when you tear up at the end.

– You are in total control of the Christmas decorations.  You don’t have to compromise and hang the hideous decorations he inherited from his great-aunt.  And likewise, there’s nobody to tell you that you can’t hang the stockings you made in kindergarten.

DSCF9220– There’s no need to stress about your post-Christmas-lunch body.  I would always feel so self-conscious about eating too much on Christmas day, lest I be bloated and sluggish if my boyfriend wanted to have sex that night.  Now, I know that any Christmas night sex will be a solo affair, and I don’t mind if I’m rocking a food baby.

– You don’t have to buy presents for in-laws. You don’t have to take part in your boyfriend’s family’s Kris Kringle and wind up buying a present for his aunt Marjorie who you’ve never met.  You don’t have to buy presents for your lazy or clueless boyfriend to give to your parents.

-You can put Christmas hats on your pets without your boyfriend rolling his eyes at you.

-You can cuddle your cousin’s baby without your grandma making goo-goo eyes at you and cooing “Getting clucky are we?  You two should start thinking about children soon, you know?”

Did you celebrate a solo Christmas this year?  What are the best bits about being single at Christmas?

Things I love *ahem* Wednesday 24/12/2014

I know what you’re thinking.  “Vanessa, it isn’t Thursday yet, why are you doing a Things I Love post on a Wednesday?”

Well, the simple reason is that tomorrow is Thursday and it’s also Christmas Day.  So I thought I would give myself a break from blogging and do my Things I Love post on Wednesday just for this week.

So, let’s get started shall we?

This week I love:

– Not shaving my legs.  Don’t get me wrong, I like having smooth legs in summer.  But I’m also sick of razor burn and the itchiness when my leg hair grows out. So for now I’m experimenting with not shaving.  So far, so good.

– Eggnog.  It’s the perfect Christmassy drink.

– Sparkling apple juice and gin and tonic on a hot night.  Refreshing and delicious.

– Baking gingerbread.  This year I tried out some fancy new cookie cutters, and had very mixed results.  The cookies tasted amazing, but the shapes didn’t turned out the way I’d planned.  These ones were supposed to look like teddy bears.  Go figure.

This was supposed to be a candy cane, but turned out looking more like Mr Hanky, the Christmas Poo from South Park.

Ironically, the shapes that turned out the best were these dinosaurs: the only non-Christmas shape I made.  Oh well, at least these looked cute.  And my friends had a blast trying to guess what shapes the cookies were supposed to be.

– Catching up with good friends before Christmas and sharing stories, a cup of tea and some delicious sausage rolls.

– The Muppets.  Today, tomorrow and always.

– Chunky rings.

-Having Jelly join in with my yoga practice.  I call this pose “Reclining Rainbow”

– Getting hugs and kisses from all the old ladies at church.

– Attending a funeral for the wife of one of my old work colleagues.  Although it’s never nice to attend a funeral, this one was so beautiful.  The church was full to the brim, so much so that I had to sit up on a balcony.  In all of my twenty eight years, I’ve never been onto any of the balconies in that church.  The family of the woman who had passed told such beautiful stories about her and it was a really uplifting and positive service.

– My new Slinky shirt.  I bought this as a Christmas present for myself from Pulp Kitchen and I just love it.  They make some of the best tee shirts ever.

– Watching my cats snuggle each other in a rare spirit of friendliness.

– Stringing up Christmas lights in my bedroom.  Originally it was just going to be for decoration during the Christmas season, but my room look so magical that I think I’m going to have to leave them up all the time.

– Surprise packages in the mail from awesome friends.

What do you love this week sweetheart?  I’d be chuffed to read all about the things that are bringing joy to your world this week.

Also, I must wish you all a Merry Christmas.  I hope that the end of the year is somewhat relaxing, and that you have a chance to celebrate in your own way.  Look after yourselves and have a lovely Christmas.

Five Fandom Friday: My must-see Christmas movies.

I love a good Christmas movie, don’t you?  There’s nothing quite like curling up with a glass of eggnog and a gingerbread cookie to watch one of your Christmas favourites.  Today as part of 5 Fandom Friday with The Nerdy Girlie, I’m sharing the 5 films I watch every Christmas without fail.

1. A Muppet Christmas Carol

This is, without a doubt my favourite Christmas film.  It’s a heartwarming take on a classic tale with a killer soundtrack.  Oh, and The Muppets are in it, so you basically can’t go wrong.  I tear up every time I hear Kermit as Bob Cratchit give his speech about the death of Tiny Tim.  It’s ridiculous how much I’m moved by a talking frog puppet.

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2. The Hogfather

The Hogfather is a 2-part tele-movie that is based on the book by Terry Pratchett.  When The Hogfather (the Discworld equivalent to Santa Clause) goes missing, Death must step in to take his place.  All the while, Death’s granddaughter, Susan, is trying to figure out who is behind the Hogfather’s disappearance.  This film is clever, funny and perfect for those who don’t usually get into traditional Christmas stories.

3. Blackadder’s A Christmas Carol

This hilarious one-hour episode puts a spin on the traditional Christmas tale.  Ebeneezer Blackadder (played by the awesome Rowan Atkinson) is the nicest man in London.  But on Christmas night he is visited by the Spirit of Christmas, who gives him a glimpse of his ancestors and of Christmases to come, and gives him the idea that it just might be more profitable to act like a prick.

4. Love Actually

Love is all around at Christmas.  Sometimes it’s amazing, and sometimes it hurts like hell.  The reason I adore this film (aside from the amazing cast and the many hilarious jokes) is that it celebrates all kinds of love: true love, lust, unrequited love, companionship. Not all the stories end happily, which is the way it is in real life.  But it’s an awesome film all the same.

5. Miracle on 34th Street.

I’ve always held tight to the fantasy of Santa Clause.  Miracle on 34th Street is all about the importance of belief and the joy that we can take from celebrating those things that aren’t entirely logical.  The legal eagle in me also loves seeing a court case that debates the existence of Santa Clause.  There are two versions of this film, but I personally prefer the modern adaptation starring Mara Wilson.

What are your must-watch Christmas films?  Please feel encouraged to leave your own list in the comments.