15 Ways to Brighten a Winter Day

Happy New Year and Happy Ground Hog’s Day as well! As has become my tradition, I took most of December and January off to enjoy family time and organize myself for this new year! We are welcoming February with high winds, rain and a nice little cold front here in North Georgia. While Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow up north, General Beau, Georgia’s own groundhog apparently did not.

{Rumor has it he wasn’t awake enough to see much of anything!}

Regardless of whether there will be six more weeks of winter or an early spring, the American calendar does confirm we have 6 weeks until the official first day of Spring. Whether it’s rainy, snowy or just plain ugly as winter days can often be, winter is not the most popular season.

With that in mind, I thought I would share Fifteen ways to brighten up your winter days.

1. Plant winter color – pansies, violas, crocus … all of these beautiful options are delightful in a couple of porch or patio containers during the season when everything is so dreary looking.

2. Go for a winter walk or hike. Bundle up if you must, but even just a few minutes in the outdoors on a sunny day improves your mood drastically!

3. Make a savory pot of stew. Simple, filling, homey, cosy … a pot of stew not only warms you up (and lasts through a couple of meals), but evokes wonderful memories of winter at home.

4. Plan out your spring and summer gardens. While you’re at it, order a few seeds as well!

5. Refinish a piece of furniture. Hit up a thrift store or Facebook marketplace and find an inexpensive project piece to keep you busy.

6. Open up the curtains and blinds and let the light in. Natural light (not the beer) is a known mood booster!

7. Set aside a few minutes daily for quiet time. Whether you read, close your eyes while listening to classical music, or really enjoy sipping your morning coffee choose a time of day for refocusing your mind and disconnecting from everyday stress.

8. Volunteer. Shelters and food kitchens all over are desperate for help right now. Even just one afternoon a week can make a huge difference in someone’s life, including your own.

9. Visit a local museum or other historical venue. This is a great way to get to learn your community or region. You might be surprised at what you find out about where you live!

10. Grow indoor plants or try your hands a forcing a bloom or two.

11. Visit the Georgia Coast. Carry a bike, a beach picnic, and enjoy a romantic weekend away in the Spanish moss of Jekyll Island.

12. Have a tea party for one or for several, it really doesn’t matter. Just turn off your phone and television, light some candles, find a Nancy Meyers inspired (think The Holiday, It’s Complicated, Father of the Bride, or Home Again) playlist on Spotify, and serve up a delightful afternoon of “chick” food, tea and conversation or a good book. There is no wrong way to enjoy tea!

13. Have a winter picnic. Pack plenty of blankets, and get creative with your menu. From a location where you can build a bonfire to soup served straight from the thermos there are many ways to enjoy this unique picnic.

14. Exercise. Winter is a great time to begin an exercise program. Not only will it boost your endorphins and your mood (‘happy people don’t kill their husbands” …. name that movie), you’ll feel better in the spring and summer when you bring out the shorts.

15. Set your goals for the year. I made this last for a reason; not everyone has goals or even knows what their goals are! For some people this is high priority, for others it is not, and guess what?! That is perfectly alright! The United States is a fast-paced goal driven society, but sometimes just living in the moment and seeing where it takes you is just as satisfying as checking off something on a list.

Is there anything different you would add to this list? I would love to hear your ideas!

Until next time, create a bright spot in your little corner of winter.

20 Movies to Spark Your Christmas Spirit

Most of us find our televisions bursting with holiday cheer inspired by various television sources who like to get started throughout November and December. To be honest, with all the repeating themes and storylines it’s easy to burn out on Hallmark and Lifetime Christmas movies, or the same thing repeating over and over on Freeform. Along with repeating themes and movies we are bombarded with annoying and excessive commercials. I for one will be so thankful when Medicare enrollment is over, and Martha quits yelling at me.

Thankfully we have access to streaming services, a fabulous DVD collection, and premium movie channels to set our own viewing schedule up and avoid commercials. Keeping that in mind I’ve put together a list of 20 (mostly) family friendly greats from way back to recently released that’ll spark your Christmas Spirit while changing up your viewing.

1. Take it way back with Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye and kick off the season with 1954’s White Christmas. Between the gorgeous costuming and fabulous music this one is always a cozy favorite. Right now, it’s streaming on Netflix, but if you check TCM’s movie schedule I guarantee you’ll find it!

2. 1946’s It’s a Wonderful Life is my favorite Jimmy Stewart movie of all time and is on Prime right now. And remember, “every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings.”

3. Netflix’s The Christmas Chronicles (2018) was such a pleasant surprise and feel-good movie. I just adore Kurt Russell’s portrayal of St. Nick. Skip the sequel as all the magic was used up in the first one.

4. Is it really Christmas without watching and quoting 2003’s Elf? This one will inspire you to sing your way through the holidays with a smile on your face, perhaps annoying that one “Central Park Ranger’ of a family member in the process!

5. While quoting Elf is a lot of fun, 1989’s National Lampoons Christmas Vacation is a classic we can actually watch on repeat all season long! Afterall, “we’re gonna have the hap-hap-happiest Christmas!”

6. The Disney Channel’s movie quality has declined over the last several years (let’s face it, the original High School Musical was the last great movie), but Disney+ has made up for it. Several classic Christmas movies are streaming right now and 1994’s The Santa Claus tops the list! Both sequels are available to stream as well if you want to binge the entire series, but the original is the best by far!

7. While there have been plenty of remakes, 1947’s Miracle of 34th Street with Natalie Wood is the most charming of all!

8. Put on your pj’s and whip up some hot chocolate, then settle in with 2004’s Polar Express. You’ll fall asleep dreaming of the North Pole while awakening out your childlike heart.

9. Your Grinchy heart will grow three sizes after an evening with Jim Carrey’s 2000 version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

10. “KEVIN?!?!” 1990’s Home Alone is a hilarious Christmas adventure the entire family can giggle over, while quoting and cheering for the mischievous kid (who really needs a wooden spoon to the bum) as he wreaks havoc while protecting his home. It can be found on Disney+ right now.

11. Disney+ is also showing 1999’s Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas which I watch solely for sentimental reasons; it was my Samantha’s favorite movie to watch when she was little as this particular one showcases the iconic Mickey and Friends.

12. Bill Murray will have you feeling crazy yet entertained while watching 1988’s Scrooged. A little crass for the kiddos this one is a silly and irreverent comedy that you can watch after tucking the little ones in bed.

13. Netflix has put out a few really good movies, and this year’s A Boy Called Christmas is a magical journey sharing another story of how Santa Claus came to be. Dame Maggie Smith narrates the tale which makes it even more enjoyable.

14. Christmas with the Kranks (2004) based off a John Grisham book sharing the humorous experience one couple has as they decide to “skip Christmas”. Let’s face it, we’ve ALL thought about it one time or another. It’s streaming on Prime right now.

15. Bloggers and influencers alike can relate to 1945’s Christmas in Connecticut with Barbra Stanwick as a magazine writer … one who embellishes her uninteresting life through her monthly articles. TCM loves to show this one during December.

16. TCM also airs 1956’s Bundle of Joy with Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher a couple of times in December. Eddie Fisher wasn’t the most talented actor, but his singing definitely made up for it. Reynolds and Fisher were married while filming this comedy and their chemistry is so sweet.

17. I saw 1983’s A Christmas Story in the theater on a cold Sunday night with a group of friends after evening services when I was eleven. I loved it then and I love it now. It’s the movie that never grows old … kind of like me.

18. A Charlie Brown Christmas from 1965 is not really a movie, but is it Christmas if you don’t watch it at least once? It’s a good one for remembering the modern reason for the season.

19. Another not-really-a-Christmas-movie, but one you must see is 1964’s Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. Some cartoons you really never outgrow.

20. Finally, I have to add 1944’s Meet Me in St. Louis. While technically it’s not a Christmas movie (only 25 minutes of the movie is dedicated to the holiday), but who doesn’t love Judy Garland’s gorgeous mix of tenderness and heavy-hearted version of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas?

What Christmas movies should I add to this list? I would love to know some of your must-see Christmas movies!

31 Days of Movies for October

Hello October!

Are you as excited for this new month as I am?

There is something special about the “Ber” months, especially October, November and December. It’s almost magical. My vibe, mood and attitude all improve which prompts me into celebrating all the little things this season has to offer …. even with an empty nest!

This attitude goes back a long way; 48 years to be exact.

When your Momma is a Halloween baby magical fun is always around the corner.

One of my favorite October traditions is 31 days of movies that are perfect for keeping your spirits up and setting the mood throughout the month. This isn’t Freeform’s let’s show the same movies over and over list, this is a movie a day that you can enjoy with your love, kids, neighbor’s kids, or while enjoying “me time” wrapped up in a patchwork quilt with a gourmet coffee you whipped up.

From traditional classics to a few shivers here and there, this 31 days of spirited thrills will have you excited for Halloween Night!

1. It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown

2. Hocus Pocus

3. The Goonies

4. The Haunted Mansion

5. Private Eyes (a classic with Don Knotts!)

6. Edward Sissorhands

7. Beetlejuice

8. The original Ghostbusters

9. Practical Magic

10. Sleepy Hollow

11. Disney’s Halloweentown

12. Casper

13. Nightmare Before Christmas

14. Disney’s Ichabod Crane & Mr. Toad

15. ET

16. Addam’s Family

17. Hotel Transylvania

18. The Ghost & Mr Chicken (another classic)

19. Bewitched (with Nicole Kidman … cheesy but cute!)

20. Mr. Mom (1983 … just go with it)

21. Harry Potter (marathoning is highly recommended)

22. Monster House

23. The Original Friday the 13th

24. Wizard of Oz

25. Pirates of the Caribbean (believe me, it fits)

26. Twilight (Are you Team Edward or Team Jacob?)

27. Sweeney Todd

28. The Corpse Bride

29. Scooby Doo (the movie)

30. The Mummy

31. Interview with a Vampire

I could go on, but if these don’t add magic and a little shiver to your October, it’s probably not your season! Obviously not all of these movies claim Halloween. The idea is to set a mood and this list will do the trick!

Many of the listed movies have sequels, so marathoning on the weekend is perfectly acceptable!

What’s your favorite October movie? I would love to hear from you!

A Fall Bucket List

At last! Autumn has arrived, not only is it calendar official, but you can feel it in the air in the south! This is my favorite season and I’ve been rather impatient waiting on it to arrive this year.

Thanks to the coronapocalypse, fall is a little different this year. Audley and I are skipping football games and missing tailgating, there aren’t any county fairs or rodeos, among other things, but there is no reason to not enjoy it! We have a “bucket list” of things we are looking forward to do this season. It got me thinking Maybe I should share it in case you were at a loss of how to enjoy the season in this crazy time. Almost all of these keep social distancing guidelines in mind.

* Go for a sunrise canoe ride

* Light autumn scented candles all through the house

* Pick apples and make apple crisp

* Make all the soups

* Bake a pumpkin pie using fresh pumpkin

* Visit a pumpkin patch

* Take a drive & enjoy a little leaf peeping

* Light a fire and make s’mores

* Celebrate National Coffee day ( September 29)

* Go camping or glamping

*Watch fall & Halloween themed movies

* Carve a pumpkin

* Pull out the patchwork quilts & get cozy

* Enjoy a girl’s day or even road trip

* Take a leisurely bike ride on a scenic trail

* Drink apple cider

* Meet your spouse for a coffee date

* Decorate your porch just a little extra this year

* Star gaze

* Make & eat caramel apples

* Go hiking

* Visit Starbucks for at least one Pumpkin Spiced drink

* Plan an autumn picnic

* Run through the leaves

Being outdoors is very good for boosting your immunity system, so many of our plans involve fresh air and sunshine, even with a few cooler temperatures. Take advantage of this anytime you can in the coming months! It’ll keep your spirits up as well.

What’s on your bucket list this fall? I would love to hear what you’ve been up to!