Saturday, December 30, 2006

Happy New Year

The clock is ticking away, just a few more hours remain before the big bang. Lets usher the New year in with a smile, exclusive wine, a delicious gourmet spread and tons of good wishes. Here is wishing you all a cheerful Happy New Year.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Making Use Of Your Christmas Leftovers

Hey, I am back. Didn't want to let go of the golden opportunity to wish you all Happy New Year. So how did you celebrate Christmas? Must have had a gala time. But having a party at home means cooking loads of food and then wondering how to deal with the leftovers. Well, here I come to your rescue. Check out the tips below:

  • Make omelette from left-over cooked meat, fish, and vegetables.
  • Cook Escabeche and sarciado made from left-over fried fish.
  • Bake potato stuffed with left-over chopped meat and fish.
  • Mix left-over meat, fish or vegetables with mashed potato and shape into balls. Lightly dip in flour, egg, coat with breadcrumbs and pan-fry. Fry left-over rice. Add flaked fish, chopped meat, egg, shrimps, and seasoning for more nutrients and flavor.
  • Toast left-over bread with margarine or sugar or make a pudding.
  • Cold meats and hot potatoes – oven cooked, like hash browns are a yummy combination.


Sliced onions are fried till golden and then leftover caramel potatoes and roast pork (including the apples and prunes) are added to the frying pan. This ‘hash’ is served with a fried egg on the top and jam on the side!

Ham can:

  • Be fried and served witheggs for breakfast.
  • Be added to cooked pasta with oven roasted tomatoes and olives.
  • Make a quick pizza topping (use Lebanese bread for base) with tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese.
  • Be added to a summer risotto, with herbs, peas, and parmesan.
  • Croque monsieur – fried cheese and ham sandwich, still popular.
  • Freeze the bone for winter pea and ham soup.

Cold turkey with potatoes and anchovies

Ingredients: Leftover turkey, chopped, new (waxy) potatoes, ideally Pink Fir Apple or Ratte, ½-1 small can anchovies, chopped roughly, ½ clove garlic, crushed to a purée with a fork, few spring onions, or 1 small red onion, sliced finely, olive oil, lemon juice, fresh parsley


Mix the anchovies with the garlic, 1 tbsp of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon.Toss this mixture with the turkey and onion and leave to macerate while you boil some new potatoes until tender.Slice the potatoes when still warm and toss immediately with the turkey and some chopped fresh parsley leaves.Other possible additions include black olives, capers and sun-dried tomatoes.

Chocolate cheesecake


For the cheesecake

125g/4½oz bourbon biscuits, 65g/2½oz butter, melted, 100g/3½oz good-quality dark chocolate, minimum 70 per cent cocoa solids, 200g/7oz full-fat cream cheese, 400g/14oz ricotta, 75g/2½oz golden caster sugar, 3 eggs, 40g/1½oz cocoa powder, 125g/4½oz good-qualty Christmas pudding, cooked, crumbled into pieces (optional), 125g/4½oz good-quality dark chocolate, minimum 70 per cent cocoa solids, 125ml/4½fl oz double cream, 15g/½oz butter, good-quality chocolate, grated, cocoa powder, for dusting, clotted cream, to serve.


Preheat the oven to 180C/ 350F/Gas 4. For the cheesecake, crush the bourbon biscuits into crumbs and place into a bowl. Pour over the melted butter. Press into a 14cm/6in spring-form cake tin to form the base. Place the chocolate in a bowl over barely simmering water and melt, making sure the water doesn't touch the bottom of the bowl. Place the cream cheese, ricotta and sugar in a food processor and blend until smooth. Next add the eggs, then the cocoa powder and the melted chocolate. Stir in the Christmas pudding, if using. Spoon the mixture onto the base. Place the cake in the oven and cook for about one hour, or until cake is springy to the touch. Allow to cool in the tin.When cool, turn out of the tin and top with chopped or grated chocolate and a dusting of cocoa. For the sauce, place the chocolate and cream in a clean bowl over a pan of simmering water and melt, making sure the water doesn't touch the bottom of the bowl. When melted, whisk in the butter. The sauce must be prepared just before the cake is served, because it can't be reheated. Serve large slices with a big spoonful of sauce and a dollop of clotted cream. Dust the edge of the plate with cocoa.

Beef rolls


remains of cold roast or boiled beef, salt, pepper, minced herbs, 1 roll of puff pastry


Mince the beef tolerably fine with small amount of its own fat. Add a seasoning of pepper, salt, and chopped herbs. Put the whole into a roll of puff-pastry, and bake for ½ hour, or longer if the roll is bigger. Beef patties may be made of cold meat, by mincing and seasoning beef as directed above, and baking in a rich puff pastry.

Christmas Crumble


6 plums, stoned, 4 apples, suitable for cooking, peeled, cored and quartered, Zest from 2 orangesPinch of nutmeg, Pinch of mixed spice, 3 tbspns of honey, 25g candied peel, 25g sultanas.

Crumble Mix

300g plain flour, 225g chilled butter, diced, 100g caster sugar, 150g chopped mixed nuts, 1tspn mixed spiceMethodPre heat the oven to gas mark 6/200C.Place the fruit into an oven proof dish; add the orange zest, pinch of nutmeg and mixed spice and the honey. Cook for about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and add the candied peel and sultanas.

Cheesy Roast Beef Wraps


4 flour tortillas, 1/2 cup blue cheese salad dressing, 1/2 lb. thinly sliced roast beef, 1 bunch green onions, chopped, 1 tomato, seeded and chopped, 4 slices romaine lettuce, 8 slices American cheese.


Place tortillas on work surface and spread with salad dressing. Layer remaining ingredients on tortillas and roll up, enclosing filling. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill until serving time.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Bon jovi's 'Please Come Home For Christmas'

Celebrating The Christmas Spirit

Send This Ecard

Christmas is a time for Love; a time for Joy and Peace;
A time to trim the Christmas Tree and a time to stuff the geese.
It's a time when we can come together, however far or near;
To shed a little hope into a world of sorrow and fear.

The angels are bowing their heads in reverence in memory of the one who redefined the meaning of love, kindness, togetherness bringing faith and hope into this world once again. To drown oneself in the Yuletide spirit and and allow the feel of the season to pronounce its presence:

  • Hug somebody. Wish people that you meet in stores and other casual environments a happy holiday with a smile.
  • Forgive and forget. Its time to condone all those who have wronged you. Give it a try and you will surely feel better.
  • Drop spare coins in the Salvation Army collection buckets. Collect food and personal items and donate them to a local shelter for the homeless or for battered women.
  • Be hospitable and nice to everybody. Greet your neighbors with a smile.
    Offer to baby-sit so that your friend can do her Christmas shopping, take cookies to your neighbors, or shovel an elderly neighbor's walk.
  • Volunteer your time to a worthy holiday cause. Even if you are busy, you can spare an hour or two to help people less fortunate than yourself.
    Organize a party for friends and family. Play Christmas music. Watch Christmas movies.
  • Spend as much time as you can with your family. Decorate your house for the holidays.
  • Try not to exceed your budget as anxiety over after-Christmas bills can ruin your holiday.
  • Forget all your misery, anger and frustration. Don't wallow in self pity.

Well its time for me to immerse in the Christmas celebration. Its not adieu from my side as Christmas is not the end but the beginning of a beautiful journey that takes us to newer heights, farther horizons and helps us develop a special bond of love with worthier individuals. I am proud to have had the chance to associate with such an amazing audience and I promise to return next year with greater variety, mirth and entertainment for all of you.

Have yourself a merry little Christmas,

Let your heart be light

From now on,

our troubles will be out of sight

Have yourself a merry little Christmas,

Make the Yule-tide gay,

From now on,

our troubles will be miles away.

Wish you all a Merrier than ever Christmas and may the blessings of our savior guide you to a healthy, wealthy and wise future.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Handmade Candles Crafts For Christmas decoration

Making candle crafts is fun. Come Christmas I decided to indulge in some craft making with my niece and nephews. We are planning to get a few of these done by tomorrow evening and decorate the house with them. It requires a lot of care and patience. But the end product is always satisfying. Read on to find out more:

Apple Candle holders
12 Red Delicious apples, Apple corer, 12 small white taper candles, 1 orange, Lemon zester, 12-muffin baking pan or tray, Artificial white pine swag or branches, 4 small artificial holly branches, 4-8 medium pinecones, Florist's wire .
Wash and dry apples. Using apple corer, cut a small plug from the top of each apple. Insert candle. Use large hole on zester to make curls from orange peel. Embellish the tops of the apples with the curls.Group the candles on a pewter muffin pan or tray. For a nod to the holidays to come, place tray on a bed of holiday greens. Wire together holly and pinecones and place one garnish on each side of arrangement, as desired.

Ice Candles
Use a mould (paper milk cartons work well for these) Wick the candle before pouring, but use a wick that you have entirely coated in melted wax, otherwise it will get wet and never dry out, you will have a hard time burning the candle. Alternatively, you can use a taper candle secured in the centre of your milk carton (sticking through the bottom and sealed with putty from the outside). This will form a nice core for a hole-y candle, and will burn well. (again dip the wick end that is exposed in wax to keep it from getting wet). You can try making the candle with different sized ice cubes. Small ones leave small holes, etc. Fill the mould with ice cubes, then pour the melted paraffin over these. Let it harden then pour out the water. Tear away your mould and enjoy your new candle.

Christmas Candle Holder
Paint the outside of a clay pot gold. Cut a 54" piece of the red plaid wire edge ribbon and wrap the length around the wreath, overlapping the width by half. The first end can be tucked in when you are wrapping it around and this will secure it sufficiently but the other end needs to be hot glued in place. There should be a small opening between where you started wrapping the ribbon and where you finished. Take the two gold leaf branches and tuck the ends under the ribbon, one on the side where you started wrapping and the other into the side where you finished. You don't need to hot glue them in place, just use the tip of a pen or pencil to push them down in far enough so the leaves are barely touching each other. Insert the bottom of the clay pot through the ribbon-covered wreath and push the wreath up as far as you can. You should be able to push it halfway up the raised rim of the pot and because you pushed it up so tightly it will stay in place on its own. Insert a votive into the bottom of the pot. When you are ready to light the candle, melt a bit of the wax on the base of the candle to help secure it to the bottom of the pot.

Christmas-Tree-Shaped Candles
Wicking, wax, and color for starters (wax colorant is available but crayons work well too), one fairly tall, thin container - one 1-lb. coffee can per two participants - and a few pencils, pens or chopsticks for easy dipping. Silver and gold glitter comes in handy too. Put a coffee can in a double boiler and fill half- to three-quarters-full with wax and colorant. Melt over low heat. Tie a length of wicking to the center of a pencil, pen or chopstick. Make sure the knot is solid. The wick should be long enough so that when you rest the pencil across the coffee can the wick reaches to the bottom of the can.
Stir the wax to mix color evenly. When it's melted, remove it from the heat and set it on a trivet or other protective surface. Grasp the pencil and dip the wick quickly into the wax. Continue doing this, allowing the wax to harden on the wick between each dip (and dipping quickly so that you don't melt off the wax you just dipped on). As the candle forms, it will naturally assume a triangle shape - the level of the wax in the can will drop gradually and thicken as it cools. Every so often, gently but firmly drop the growing candle down onto the tabletop so that the bottom begins to flatten. Continue the dipping process until you are satisfied with the shape and size of your candle. At this point, hold the candle and gently but firmly press it down onto the table to flatten the bottom and create a stable surface. Hang the pencil over the coffee can overnight to allow candle to harden. Trim the wick.

Squash Candles
Cut the top off an acorn squash. Remove the seeds and innards. Use this hollow squash for a candle mold. You can thread a wick through the bottom of the squash using a long upholstery needle or other large needle. Seal the bottom with a bit of putty. Stand the squash in a large glass to keep it level. Pour your melted paraffin, remembering to keep some in reserve to fill the shrink well as the candle cools. You may have to do this several times, poking a small hole along the wick to relieve any trapped air. When your candle is fully hardened, cut away or peel away the squash shell and you are left with a wonderfully shaped unique candle. The flesh of the squash will leave a rustic patina on your candle as well. Flatten the base of your candle by rubbing it in an old fry pan on low heat.

Bundled Candles
Footed hurricane vase, 8 to 10 dripless silver candles with flat bottoms, Sheer blue ribbon.
Bundle enough candles to fit inside vase and tie them together tightly with ribbon bow.Stand candles in vase. Make sure ribbon will be well away from flames. Never leave burning candles unattended.

Decorative Candles
Taper candles, Stickers, appropriate for your ocassion, Double boiler or tall can in water filled pot, Sealing wax.
Choose your candle and place stickers around or down one side of candle. Place sticker towards the middle if you plan on burning your candles, as you can not burn below sticker placement. When satisfied with placement dip candles once in the melted sealing wax to "laminate" your stickers onto your candle. Holding onto wick, make sure wax completly covers stickers.

Marbelized Candles
Melt some paraffin in a container in a pan of water on the stove or hot plate. Color it with a contrasting or complimenting color to the original taper color. Heat water to almost boiling in a tall container. Pour to float the colored paraffin on the surface of the hot water in the tall container. Swirl the colored paraffin around gently. Dip your taper candle in the water/colored paraffin vat, swirling it around as you pull it out. It will develop a mottled, swirl pattern of color on its surface. Let it harden and cool. Repeat if you desire.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Christmas Tree Light Day

Hey did you know, December 22nd is Christmas Tree Light day. Enjoy celebrating this day with friends and family. May the brilliant beauty and warmth of the season light up your lives.

Christmas Inflatable Santas : Love it or Positively Hate it?

They are big, they are new, they are everywhere. They are coveted and in loud demand this Christmas.

Whatever be the occasion., the birth of Jesus, holly wreaths, the Chipmunks — it includes these gargantuan, inflatable outdoor decorations, called “Airblowns”. They have been around for quite a while but 2006 marks the year when these became a full blown fixture in the pantheon of holiday decorations. A spokeswoman for Home Depot said its stores doubled the number of inflatable Christmas items offered this year to 18 from last year. Most of the popular inflatables are made by Gemmy. They can also be found in bricks-and-mortar stores like Home Depot, Target and Ace Hardware and online at, HomeClick, Mary Holidays, Flower Barn Nursery, and

“The magic of the Airblown is that you buy it, plug it in, and it’s ready to go,” said Sharlene Jenner, the marketing manager for Gemmy, a company that first made its mark six years ago with a wall-mounted singing fish known as Big Mouth Billy Bass, and began making Christmas floats soon after. Inflatable lawn decorations are the rage of the season. You probably have a neighbor — or two or three or four — who goes overboard decorating the house and the yard with them. Its a craze among children as well.

But not everyone is fond of these inflatables. They may be colorful and larger than life but they have an uncanny presence as well. The traditionally accepted cute happy go lucky image of Santa that floats before our eyes is completely undone when we glance at these phantasmagoric giants. Besides when deflated, they look grotesque and ugly like faceless crumpled up bodies.

“Appalling,”my friend Kate, a traditionalist who prefers only holly and evergreen as decorations, sneered as she stopped her car in front of an inflated Santa playing poker with two shrewd-eyed reindeer in a menagerie totaling two dozen figures. “It’s bad enough to see those things on Halloween. At Christmas, they rise to a level of tackiness that is horrible.”

So, how would you like a cheesy plastic Santa with super rosy cheeks and unearthly beard peeping inside your kitchen window with an unnatural smile on his face this Christmas?

All Time Favorite Christmas Songs

Bruce Springsteen & Family Santa Claus Is Coming To Town

"Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" (sometimes with Coming changed to Comin') is a Christmas song. It was written by J. Fred Coots and Haven Gillespie, and was first sung on Eddie Cantor's radio show in November 1934. It became an instant hit with orders for 100,000 copies of sheet music the next day and over 400,000 copies sold by Christmas.

Christina Aguilera - Have Yourself a merry little christmas

"Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" is a Christmas song written by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane and made famous by Judy Garland in the 1944 film "Meet Me in St. Louis". The movie chronicles the change in seasons and times of St. Louis including the Christmas season. In the famous scene, Garland sings the tearful tune to child star Margaret O'Brien. The melancholy tune and lyrics were originally even more somber but were adapted by the song writers to the current version at Garland's request.

Last Christmas - WHAM

"Last Christmas" is a song by British pop duo Wham!, released on Epic Records in 1984, on a double A-side with "Everything She Wants". It was written by George Michael, one half of the duo. The song's Christmas theme was essentially a ruse to draw in the festive market as the lyrics were entirely about a failed relationship, which just happened to come to a head the previous Christmas. There were no other words or expressions within the lyrics with a seasonal theme or hint, except for a sleighbell effect during the instrumental interlude.


Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Last Minute Christmas Gift Wrap Ideas

Christmas is just a weekend away and if some of you have still not wrapped up your gifts, then its high time you finished doing the same. Here are some tips that will help you spruce up your gift wraps:

Photo Gift Wrap

Turn family photos into gift wrap for small packages. Arrange the color snapshots on a piece of 11 x 17-inch white paper and tack them in place with loops of adhesive tape. Copy the collage on a color copier as many times as desired for gift wrap. (Remember to choose the 11 x 17-inch paper tray when you begin copying.)

Jewelry Wraps
Wrapping paper in a solid color or small print, Tape, Ribbon, Scissors, Brooch

Cover a gift box with wrapping paper. Using a long length of ribbon, place the center of the ribbon vertically at the point where you want the ribbons to intersect on the front of the gift box. 2. Bring the ribbon tails around to the back of the package. Twist once and bring the ribbon ends horizontally around to the front. Knot the ends and trim the tails if needed. Pin a floral brooch to the knot in the ribbon.

Skip the Wrap

The fastest way to present a gift is to skip the wrapping paper altogether. This is the best solution for large items or gifts such as plants and flowers. Add a bow and gift tag and you're done

Basic Bow
Spool of wired ribbon, Scissors, Pipe cleaner

Fold ribbon back, making strands approximately 7 inches long, or another desired length. Fold until there are three loops on each end. After the final loop is made, bring the ribbon to the center of the bow and curl around in a loop in the center, leaving a tail hanging downward. While still holding center loop in place, insert a pipe cleaner into the center loop and around to the back of the bow, tying in place. Trim the ends at an angle and shape each bow loop uniformly.

Reindeer Bags
Crayons, Paper gift bag, Construction paper, Tracing paper, Pencil, Scissors, White glue, 2 chenille stems, Large and small pom-poms.

With crayons, draw two legs on the wide sides of the gift bag. Then draw the fronts and backs of the legs on the other sides of the bag. Trace the pattern. Cut out. Use the pattern to cut a construction paper head. Color in the details as desired. Glue the head to the top front of the paper bag. Bend the chenille stems into antler shapes and glue them between the bag and the paper head. Glue on a pom-pom nose and in the eye centers. Let the glue dry.

String and Tiny Trims
Keep a box of colored twine, string, or ribbons to use on small gifts. Embellish the boxes even more by gluing on miniature trees or tiny wooden cutouts from a craft store.

Quick Sparkle Wraps
Give your holiday gifts a special shine with glitter. Glue on shaped glitter or sprinkle it into a clear cello bag, right along with your gift. Sheer ribbon or tulle complete the look in any color or style you prefer.

Natural Gift Wrap
Red natural and cream handmade wrapping papers, scissors, sticky tape.
To Decorate:
Selection of red and green ribbons, pine cones, berry picks,mistletoe, red bells, brown chiffon ribbon, mache star shapes, red acrylic paint.

Use a selection of red, natural and cream handmade papers to wrap your gifts. Wrap ribbon around your gift and tie in a bow. Embellish with red, green and brown ribbons, mistletoe, red bells, berry picks and pine cones. Finish with a personalised mache star gift tag using the red acrylic paint.

Modern Cool Gift Wrap
White handmade paper, scissors, tape.
To decorate:
Blue handmade paper, lace ribbon, floral petites, gold card.
Use white handmade paper to wrap your gift.Wrap a band of blue handmade paper around the wrapped gift. Embellish with lace ribbon and floral petites, finishing with a gold gift card.

Ornament Garnish

Holiday ornaments make great package toppers. Simply wire or tie the ornaments to ribbons. You can also hot-glue them onto the gift box. Ribbon streamers add more shine.

Garnished Gifts
You'll find these clever boxes at craft stores. They match the look of the utilitarian take-out container, but are either clear, frosted, or printed with nice designs. Plop your gift inside and you have an instantly wrapped gift.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Master Animator, Joseph Barbera Dies

Joseph Barbera, who, with longtime partner William "Bill'' Hanna, created such beloved cartoon characters as Tom and Jerry, the Flintstones, the Jetsons, Yogi Bear, Scooby-Doo, Huckleberry Hound, Quickdraw McGraw and Jonny Quest, died of natural causes on Monday at his Los Angeles home. He was 95. During the 1940s, Barbera and Hanna were MGM's blue-ribbon cartoon directors, winning seven Oscars for the Tom and Jerry shorts. After MGM closed its animation unit in 1957, they moved to television, where they created a series of prime-time hits in the 1960s, beginning with ``The Flintstones,'' the first animated series in prime time.

In 20th-century animation the names of Joseph Barbera and William Hanna ranked second only to that of Walt Disney in terms of public recognition.
The son of a barber, Joseph Roland Barbera was born in Manhattan in 1911 and grew up in Flatbush, Brooklyn. After high school he spent six “dreadful” years as a bank clerk, while drawing cartoons for magazines and studying art in his spare time. He applied for a job with Disney, but did not get an interview. After spells with other studios, including Terrytoons, he joined MGM in 1937 and struck up a partnership with Hanna, who had been with the studio for several years. Barbera published his autobiography, My Life in ’Toons: From Flatbush to Bedrock in Under a Century in 1994. The title was an allusion to the town in which the Flintstones lived.

Despite the alleged creative and technical shortcomings, several generations grew up on Hanna-Barbera cartoons and retained fond memories of them. In more recent times The Flintstones and Scooby-Doo have been turned into big budget, live-action feature films, on which Barbera and Hanna served as executive producers.

Hanna died in 2001. Barbera is survived by his second wife, Sheila Holden, whom he married in 1963, and by their son and two daughters.

A legend just passed away, a huge loss to the industry for sure but the life he led and the immense success, love and adulation he received is a lesson and encouragement in itself. Joe Barbera will always be missed. But the Hanna-Barbera cartoons will continue to entertain us forever.

Low Fat Christmas Diet

Want to indulge in some healthy cooking and eating this Christmas? Is the Holiday party season taxing your weight? These low fat Christmas recipes might just be an easy way out:

Lowering the Fat in Holiday Treats


  • Use egg whites or egg substitute instead of whole eggs.
  • Use fat-free half and half or evaporated fat-free milk instead of their whole milk counterparts.
  • Substitute rum extract for the alcohol if you want the taste without the effect.

Cakes, Bars and Muffins:

  • Use heart-healthy canola oil instead of butter, or use applesauce or mashed bananas if you want to cut the fat completely. Other fruit purees will work too. If you must use shortening, there is at least a new trans fat-free version available.
  • Substitute egg whites for whole eggs in cakes and quick breads.
  • Use cocoa powder instead of chocolate in your baked goods to add a rich chocolate flavor without the fat, or use smaller quantities of miniature chocolate chips instead of the regular versions. Dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips add more flavor than milk chocolate ones.


The key here is to cut the fat rather than eliminate it altogether. If you take the butter out completely, the end result is not very satisfying in terms of texture or taste. Many recipes that typically call for a whole stick of butter or more can be made over with about half that quantity. Avoid using whipped butter or tub margarine: the air and water content in these makes them unsuitable for baking. Again, consider using cocoa and add smaller quantities of chocolate chips.


In moderation, these make a great holiday snack. True, nuts are high in fat and dense in calories, but most of the fat is unsaturated. They are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which help protect the heart. Nuts are also an excellent source of B vitamins, as well as iron, zinc and potassium.

Holiday Appetizers:

  • Substitute low-fat or fat-free versions of mayonnaise, yogurt and sour cream to make dips.
  • Serve plenty of raw vegetables to accompany your dips.
  • Make a fresh salsa and serve with home-baked tortilla chips.
  • Use fat-free cream cheese and lean cuts of turkey or ham in pinwheels and roll-ups.
  • In soups, use fat-free and low sodium broths as your base. Use pureed root vegetables or beans to thicken them instead of cream.

Holiday Dinner:

  • Serve lean cuts of meat, such as pork or beef tenderloin. If a ham is your centerpiece, be sure to trim the fat. And if turkey is making a comeback at your table, remove the skin and choose white meat over dark if you can.
  • Provide plenty of vegetables. Steam, braise or roast them. Glaze with a very small amount of butter if you like, or use broth and herbs for flavor instead. If you are serving mashed potatoes, substitute reduced fat or fat-free sour cream or cream cheese for the full-fat versions.

Holiday Desserts:

  • If you are serving a holiday pie, consider using Phyllo dough as a base or topping. Phyllo dough is light and flaky, and virtually fat free. Enjoy fruit cobblers or crisps with less butter and use oats for added fiber. Top with fat-free whip or low fat frozen yogurt instead of ice cream or heavy cream.
  • Use reduced-fat and fat-free cream cheeses for cheesecakes.
  • Serve poached or baked seasonal fruits such as apples or pears, again topping with low fat or fat free frozen yogurt or whip.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Elf Christmas Jokes

  • What kind of music do elves like best?

"Wrap" music!

  • How many elves does it take to change a light bulb?

Ten! One to change the light bulb and nine to stand on each other's shoulders!

  • What kind of bread do elves make sandwiches with?

Why, shortbread of course!

  • What kind of money do elves use?

Jingle bills!

  • Why did Santa's helper see the doctor?

Because he had low "elf" esteem!

  • How long should an elf's legs be?

Just long enough to reach the ground!

  • Why did the elf put his bed into the fireplace?

He wanted to sleep like a log!

  • What's the first thing elves learn in school?

The "elf"-abet!

  • Knock Knock.Who's there?


Elf who?

Elf me wrap this present for Santa!

  • Knock Knock.Who's there?


Yule who?

Yule be sorry if you don't Holly up and Elf me wrap this present for Santa!

  • One elf said to another elf, "We had Grandma for Christmas dinner".

And the other elf said, "Really? We had turkey!"

  • How do elves greet each other?

"Small world, isn't it?"

  • What do you call an elf who tells silly jokes?

A real Christmas Card!

  • What do they call a wild elf in Texas?

Gnome on the ranch!

  • Why did the elves ask the turkey to join the band?

Because he had the drum sticks!

  • If athletes get athlete's foot, what do elves get?


  • What's another name for Santa's helpers?

Subordinate clauses!

  • Where do you find elves?

Depends where you left them!

Unique Christmas Home Decorating Ideas

Wreaths, garlands, stockings and so on are aspects that create a traditional Christmas ambiance. But when decorated in a slightly unusual or unique manner, they make the home look trendy and traditional at the same time. Read below to know how:

  • Wreaths can be hung anywhere. On the windows, a blank wall, the front door and porch posts. Add small ones on the staircase. Kitchen cabinets are also not a bad idea.
  • Garland galore! Hang garlands anywhere you can. Across table tops, around candles, on top of your mantel and also under your mantel, along the tops of your kitchen cabinets, on your curtain rods, and of course wrapped around your banisters!
  • Stockings- A blank wall can be decked up with 3 stockings or one big glorious one. Hang small ones on your garland and up the stairs. Hang one on your child's bedroom doors. And then once they're hung, stuff them with tissue paper, candy canes and yummy potpourri.
  • Fill glass vases with colored stones or rocks. And place a candle inside. You can even add dry branches, silk flowers and poinsettias.
  • Place a small tree in a corner of the kitchen counter, decorated with miniature kitchen items found in a toy store.
  • Decorate your bedroom! There is no rule which says we can only decorate the hall and main rooms on Christmas. Put some of that decor in your bedroom as well and let the holiday cheer seep into your dreams. Drape garlands on your head board, hang a wreath on your door and above your bed, string white lights where you can. If you celebrate Christmas, put a small tree in your room. And don't forget a few scented candles.
  • Wrap a lampshade with translucent Christmas tissue paper. Put the paper on the outside of the lamp shape, overlapping the edges just a little and tape the edges down on the inside.
  • Place a small Christmas tree in a child's bedroom decorated with small toys, miniature dolls, or small sports items. Add twinkling white lights and you'll have a wonderful night light for the holiday season.
  • For easy Christmas tableware, tie red, green, or gold ribbons to the stems of wine glasses or the handles of cutlery.
  • Purchase small bells from your craft store. Tie each bell to a piece of ribbon between 6" and 18" in length. Gather all of the ribbons together and knot together at the top. Drape the bells over a door knob so that they ring when someone enters or exits.

Turn your home into a magical arbor this season and unwind unhindered, tempered with delight.

Naughty Or Nice On Santa's List.

Santa Claus has been keeping a thorough check on all the kids as usual before he embarks on his sleigh ride. So, how many of you have been good, very good or naughty this year? When I was a kid, I was encouraged to write down all my good and bad deeds in a little diary. Soon, I realized that being good meant rewards and being naughty...well you all know what being naughty elicits.
Just like us, Santa also maintains a journal where he lists all the names of the Good and Naughty Kids. We all want to feature on the good list. But “how” is perhaps the most valid concern for all of us:

  • Take a beautiful calendar or journal of this year. It should be in bright colors and funky, so that you keep using it regularly.
  • Try helping your mom with housework, your neighbors with their chores, clean up your room, polish boots for your dad, do your homework in time and study well, help others in need.
  • Though, you want to show off yourself in the best light, Santa knows everything and he will find out. Never tell lies or make up things you have not done.
  • Be sorry for any bad deed that you have done or when you have been naughty and try to avoid any such thing in the future.
  • Be extra helpful and kind, obedient and cheerful.
  • Share your toys with your friends, say 'Please' and 'Thank You' when required.
  • Always respect your elders and be kind to everyone.
  • Feature on Santa's list not because you simply want the best of gifts from him but coz being a good kid merits love, affection, success and happiness always.

But hey, are you still wondering what might accidentally place you in the naughty list instead? Here are a few pointers that you must keep in mind and avoid falling prey to:

  • Waking up early on Christmas morning to remove presents from everyone's stockings.
  • Being bad all year and then trying to pretend being nice up just before Christmas.
  • Forgetting to put out carrots for the reindeer with Santa's cookie's and milk. They need to eat too you know.
  • Knocking over the Christmas Tree while wrestling with your brothers or sisters.
  • Making a mess and then blaming it on the dog, cat or your imaginary friend, in other words...lying.
  • Knocking down other people's snowmen.
  • Not sharing your toys with your brothers and sisters.
  • Being consciously or deliberately rude to others.

Follow these instructions wisely and top the list of good kids this year and every other in the future.

How To Build A Snowman

Celebrate December 19th as the best ever Build a Snowman Day.
Building a snowman provides an entertaining, creative way to get some fresh air on a lazy winter day. You'll need a few inches of snow on the ground; wear gloves or mittens.


STEP 1: Test to see if you have 'packing snow,' which clumps together easily and isn't too wet. The snow must pack to make a snowman.

STEP 2: Shape a handful of snow into a ball. Continue adding more snow and packing the ball until it's too large to hold.

STEP 3: Place the ball on the snow in front of you and slowly roll it away from you. As more snow accumulates on the outside of your ball, pack the snow by pressing on it with your gloved hands.

STEP 4: Roll and pack the ball over and over until it is the size you want for the bottom of the snowman's body.

STEP 5: Repeat for the midsection and head. The bottom should be the biggest ball, and the top should be the smallest.

STEP 6: Pack some extra snow between the layers to make them stick together. Place sticks down the center where the sections meet if your snowman is having trouble standing erect.

STEP 7: Give the snowman a face. Use coal, rocks, buttons or anything dark and round for the eyes. A horizontal stick or twig will make a good mouth, and a carrot is fine for the pointy nose. If you don't have a carrot, a banana or a candy cane will do the job.

STEP 8: Cover the top of his head with an old plant for hair, or give him a knit hat to wear. Top hats will blow away unless secured.

STEP 9: Add arms, legs and other accessories. Push sticks into the sides of the middle section and hang old mittens on the ends, then place boots at the bottom for legs. Also consider adding items such as a shirt, a scarf or sunglasses.


  • If you're having a hard time rolling and packing the snow into sections, try using buckets. Find three that are of descending size and pack them with snow, then upend them, dumping the snow from one bucket on top of the other.
  • You can spray your snowman with colored water to add rosy cheeks.
  • Your snowman's days are numbered, so take plenty of pictures.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Christmas Party Games

To make your Christmas party a thorough success, there is nothing like having plenty of variety in the games. Short of bright ideas? Perhaps these will help to add tons of fun to your Christmas celebration.

Making Santa Claus’s dress is a great Christmas party game idea. In order to play this game, you will require approximately 6 players. Arrange red crepe paper, white cotton batting, black colored construction paper and a masking tape. Divide teams and allot time limit to them.

Box game- Wrap a small gift, such as candy or CD inside several boxes. Ask your guests to guess what is inside the box.

Charades is another great Christmas party game idea. This game involves acting and guessing of movie’s name.

Blowing out the Christmas candle- A lit candle is placed upon a table. Each player is blindfolded one by one and made to stand with his back to the candle. He is then told to take three steps forward, turn around thrice and then take four steps towards the candle to blow it out.

Christmas Limericks- Players invent clever Christmas limericks. Winner makes the most clever punch line. Example:There once was a snowman named BudWho thought of himself as a studBut later that day A girl came his way And he melted and turned into mud.

Gift Giving Game - This is fun for gift exchanges during the holidays. Everyone brings a gift to the party and stands in a circle holding the gift he/she brought to the party. Someone reads a story, every time the word RIGHT is read, everybody passes his gift to the right. Every time the word LEFT is read, gifts are passed to the left. The gift that each person is holding at the end of the story is the gift he keeps.

Balloon Stomping Game- Here all the participants blow balloons. These balloons are tied with wool string to the ankle. Now, guests will be asked to stamp on their opponents to burst the balloon.

Build a snowman - Outdoor activities make for great Christmas party games. Divide your guests into teams and have snowball fights, or snowman building contests.

Unwrapping Gifts- Wrap gifts for your guests and then tell them to open them wearing mittens on their hands. Set a time limit, and then see the fun.

Three-Legged Stocking Race
Supplies: Over sized stocking that will fit two feet, Tie, Tape to mark finish line.
Pair up guests/ kids and have each pair put a leg in the over sized stocking and tie at top so that it won't fall off. Make sure you have plenty of space. Put all the pairs at one end and mark a finish line at the other. On your mark the kids race to be the first pair over the line.

Christmas Concentration
Supplies: Colored butcher paper, Marker, Adhesive, Christmas trivia questions, Stocking.
On a large piece of colored butcher paper write out a message using words and symbols. Example: Have "ewe"rself a very "Mary" "Christ"mas ("pictures"). Cut into several odd shapes, turn over so words face the chalkboard.
In a stocking have Christmas trivia questions. Pull out a question, read. Player that answers correctly may turn any piece of the puzzle over. First player or team to guess what's written wins. Guess incorrectly, lose a turn.

Snowball Dance

All the girls stand on one side, the boys on the other. One girl and one boy are chosen to dance for a minute, a signal is given and the girl and the boy choose new partners. This continues until everyone is dancing.

Singing Carols
Separate your guests into two groups. One member of each group picks a piece of paper out of a hat that has the name of a Christmas carol written on it. This person draws clues for the other members of his or her group and they try to guess the name of the song. Once they guess correctly the group sings the carol.

Ensure a fun filled frolicking Christmas party for all your guests by indulging in these amazing games.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Top 10 Christmas Classics

This Christmas season, seat yourself with a warm blanket and a popcorn in hand, to watch some of the most popular Christmas classics of all times.

National Lampoons Christmas Vacation (1989)- Chevy Chase stars in this vehicle about the continuing lives of the Griswold family as they celebrate a Christmas with all their relatives. Also starring Beverly D'Angelo, Juliette Lewis, and Randy Quaid Christmas Vacation is one among the funniest films on my list.

A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)- Charles Schulz brought his comic strip to life, by writing a mad-for-television version of his Peanuts. A Charlie Brown Christmas was about his main character Charlie Brown, and what he and his friends go through one Christmas. In an industry that had been overwhelmed by adult actors playing the roles of the kids, this film made a difference by introducing children's voices. In addition to that, there were biblical references in the story that helped reflect the real meaning of Christmas.

A Christmas Carol (1938)- A Christmas Carol was written by Charles Dickens, and tells the story of old "scrooge" who wants nothing out of life but to make more money. He sacrifices his family and friends, and everyone that has ever loved him, in the pursuit of becoming richer. He is then visited by ghosts in his old age, attempting to show him the error of his ways. It depicts the importance of being there for your fellow man on Christmas, and does a great job of making a deep impression.

A Christmas Story (1983)- A movie told almost entirely from the mind of a young boy during the 1940's as he goes through his daily routine, hanging out with friends, running from bullies, and meeting Santa at the big mall on Christmas day. From wanting a Red Rider BB gun, to standing in front of the toy store windows, or eating Christmas Dinner outside, this movie does an excellent job of amalgamating a multitude of events.

It's A Wonderful Life (1946)- A story about a man who unable to bear the hard times makes a strange wish, that he had never been born. Feeling that the world would be better off without him, he wants to obliterate himself. For a short time, the angel grants him his wish, and the chance to see what life would be like if he really had never been born. Frank Capra directs, and Jimmy Stewart stars as George Bailey, a family man, who has come across some tough times. The movie instills hope and a new found belief that no matter how small we may seem in the scheme of things, each one of us has something immense to offer.

Miracle on 34th Street (1947)- A Miracle on 34th Street is about a man who claims to be none other than Kris Kringle himself. Of course nobody believes him, and it is up to a lawyer and a little girl who must set aside their logical thinking to have faith that this man could really be The Santa Clause. It is really a great story about whether or not we are willing to believe in something we can't see or prove for ourselves.

The Santa Clause (1994)- Something happens to Santa Clause and Tim Allen must now step in to save Christmas from being ruined. Slowly, he starts growing the beard and the belly, and soon enough he looks just like Santa Clause! The job of delivering presents to all of the children of the world over one night is not as easy as it seems. The film is hilarious at times, and was done well enough to have a sequel 8 years later.

How The Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)- Created in 1966, this was an animated feature based on the book by Dr. Suess. It covered the exploits of "The Grinch", who had lost its spirit for Christmas over the years. His only goal in life now, is to rid the world of Christmas joy. In order to do this, he will attempt to remove all of the gifts from the small town of Whoville.

Home Alone (1990)- A huge family that is going on a Christmas vacation with a truck load of kids. Unfortunately, on the morning of the trip, everyone wakes up late and ends up rushing around to try and make it to the airport on time. One of the kids (Kevin) is left behind, and when he awakes, he finds that he has a mansion size house all to himself. Now he must run an entire house, and defend it against thieves who are attempting to rob his family. Through it all, he comes to realize how important his family really is. He also learns some valuable lessons about life and the love for the people he holds most dear.

Frosty The Snowman (1969)- Frosty The Snowman is the tale of a magical top-hat, that when applied to the head of a snowman, brings him to life. It is a far-fetched story, but it is fun to watch, and it is endearing in everything that it presents. The best part though, is the theme song of Frosty. It is one of the great animations that came out in 60's around Christmas time, and still has a place in my home movie collection.

Keeping Your Waistline In Check During Christmas

Holiday time is all about gorging, enjoying and later repenting. But if you want to prevent your waistline from expanding and regretting the adipose add ons, then here are some wonderful tips.
Food is an important part of festivities but the key is to avoid the binge. This is the season to splurge, not on endless trays of fudge and cookies, but rather on the real meaning of the holidays — enjoying the company of others. A third helping of stuffing won't satisfy your soul and build memories like holding grandpa's hand during the Super Bowl or the belly laughs with your sister in the kitchen.

How do we put that philosophy into practice?

Instead of a sit-down gorge session or appetizer trays the size of the White House Christmas tree, invite family and friends over at a non-eating time such as mid-afternoon or late evening. Serve a beverage and a few low-calorie snacks. Then, consider any of the following as ways to spend more time with loved ones:
Cruise through the neighborhood in search of the best holiday decorations.

  • Take in a holiday movie, like "It's a Wonderful Life."
  • Caroling, either at a nursing home or through the neighborhood.
  • Sledding, tobogganing, skating, or cross-country skiing.
  • A tree-trimming or house decorating party, complete with stringing popcorn and cranberries, armfuls of holly, and mistletoe.
  • A wreath-making party with wire hoops, strips of wire, and lots of scotch pine, white pine, fir, cedar bows, holly, rhododendron, berries, pine cones, and fox wood.

What about other people's parties?

Decide to attend only the most valuable parties; you don't have to say "yes" to every invitation. Once you're in, sample foods that are special or unique to the holidays and bypass the everyday goodies.
Remember, it's the first bite that counts. Also, the longer you take to eat, the fuller you'll feel, so you'll be less likely to pile on seconds. If you find yourself overeating at a party, try to get away from the food. Park your silverware in the middle of your plate so it gets messy from gravy or dressing. You won't want to touch it again. Taking a tour of the house, admiring the decorations, or stepping outside may also help to break the overeating cycle.

When 'NO' just won't do!

Before a social event, rehearse how you'll handle offers for food you don't want. Try, "No, thanks, I'd love to have more but I'm full" or "It was delicious but I've already had plenty."

Skipping meals to save room- Many people skip meals in an effort to save calories this time of year, but are ravenous at holiday parties. Instead, keep yourself on a schedule by stocking the kitchen with low-fat munchables and eating a nutritious light breakfast and lunch the day of a social event. Always have a light snack, like a salad, fruit, cheese and crackers, or a fruit smoothie before a holiday gathering to take the edge off your appetite.

Knowing your booze limits- To save yourself from hundreds of calories, switch from light beer or wine to sparkling water; grab a diet cola and you'll save up to 300 calories; or sip on iced tea instead of hot buttered rum. Don't drink and you'll be amazed how much you'll learn about your friends and co-workers who are drinking!

How to handle the buffet table during the holidays?

  • Eat whatever you want, but take half your typical portion.
  • Limit yourself to one turn at the buffet table.
  • Avoid desserts for the next three days.
  • Stand somewhere other than by the buffet table.
  • Listen to your body and eat when you're hungry.

Smart appetizers when planning a holiday cocktail party

Toasted crostini with brie, spicy shrimp, and peach chutney
Thai-grilled prawns with coconut dipping sauce
Baked bruschetta with Mediterranean marinara and goat cheese
Asparagus with herbed cream cheese and smoked salmon
Mini crab cakes with garlic chili sauce
Mediterranean meatballs
Fruit kabobs to serve with fruit fondue

What to do if you do overeat

You can help prevent fat from becoming a permanent fixture by taking a brisk walk, a bike ride, or a hike the next day, or schedule an extra one-hour aerobic workout session during the week.

Christmas Eggnog Recipes

The holiday season is right here and its time for some delicious eggnog cheer. Try out these amazing recipes for your family and enjoy the best Christmas ever.

  • Christmas Eggnog French Toast Recipe

2 cups Eggnog-flavored skim milk, 1 Egg slightly beaten, 1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon, 6 Croissants, 3 tablespoons Butter.

In a shallow bowl, mix the eggnog, and and cinnamon. stirring well. Slice the croissants lengthwise. Melt one tablespoon of butter in a skillet or on a griddle. Dip 1 croissant half in the batter and place in the griddle. Repeat with the remaining halves. Cook on each side for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes, or until golden brown. Use remaining butter as needed. Remove to a serving platter. Serve at once with warm maple syrup.

  • Spicy Apple Eggnog

2 eggs, beaten, 3 cups milk, 2 cups light cream, 1/3 c. sugar, 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon, salt,
3/4 cup apple brandy.

In saucepan, combine eggs, milk, cream, sugar, cinnamon and salt. Cook and stir over medium heat until slightly thickened and thoroughly heated. Do not boil. Remove from heat; stir in brandy. Sprinkle with nutmeg. Serve hot.

  • Orange Non-alcoholic Eggnog Float

4 eggs, 6 tablespoons sugar, 5 1/2 cups fresh orange juice, chilled1/2 cup lemon juice, 1 quart vanilla ice cream, 1 quart ginger ale, chilled.

Beat the eggs and the sugar until light (no separation necessary here). Stir in the orange and the lemon juice. Place small scoops of ice cream in the punch bowl. Pour the ginger ale against the sides (inside, of course) of the bowl (this is done to preserve as much of the carbonation as possible). Add the orange juice picture slowly, stirring gently. Serve immediately. This will make about 30 servings.

  • Puerto Rican Eggnog

1 cup coconut milk, 1 cup sweetened condensed milk, 1 cup evaporated milk, 1 cup white rum, or 1 cup water, 3 cinnamon sticks, 4 egg yolks, well beaten ground cinnamon for garnish.

Combine all of the milks and the rum in a blender or a food processor. Set aside. Boil the water with the cinnamon sticks. Cool to room temperature. Discard the cinnamon sticks.
Combine all of the ingredients except the ground cinnamon and beat well in a blender or food processor in batches. Pour the eggnog into glass bottles and refrigerate until ready to use. To serve, transfer the eggnog to a punch bowl and sprinkle the cinnamon on top.

  • Kentucky Spike


2 cups bourbon, 1 cup dark rum, 1 cup brandy, 1 vanilla bean halved, 1 whole nutmeg
2 large cinnamon sticks, 7 whole cloves.

Pour liqueurs into a quart jar or bottle. Scrape seeds from the vanilla and add, along with pod. Crack the nutmeg into 5 or 6 pieces and add to the liquid. Put in cinnamon sticks and cloves. Cover tightly and let stand for 1 week in a cool, dark spot.

  • Chocolate Eggnog Recipe

4 eggs separated, 1/2 cup packed brown sugar, 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract, 1 1/2 cup milk, 1/2 cup light rum or brandy, 1/8 teaspoon salt, 1 1/2 cup cream, whipped to soft-peak stage, 1/3 cup grated semisweet chocolate.

In a large bowl, beat together egg yolks, sugar, cocoa and vanilla until thick and smooth. Slowly stir in milk and rum, mixing well. Cover refrigerate until just before serving, at least 2 hours so mixture becomes very cold. Beat egg whites with salt until soft peaks form. Fold whipped cream into chocolate mixture, then gently fold in egg whites. Serve immediately, garnished with grated chocolate. Non-Alcoholic Version: Substitute 1/2 cup more milk for the rum.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Popular Christmas music: All time favorites

I suddenly chanced upon this amazing list of Christmas songs/albums, thought I'd share them with you all. They will rock your Christmas party. If you have them, well and good but if you don't, its time to secure them as soon as possible and don't leave out any, coz the more the merrier.

Popular Christmas songs
"Blue Christmas
" – famously recorded by Elvis Presley.
"The First Noël" – traditional English Christmas carol now performed by various artists .
"Frosty the Snowman" – Composed by Gene Autry (1950) most famously recorded by Jimmy Durante.
"Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" - written by Charles Wesley in 1739; performed Mariah Carey (1994) and Bradley Joseph (2000); also appears in A Charlie Brown Christmas and It's a Wonderful Life.
"A Holly Jolly Christmas" – From Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (television special), by Burl Ives (1964)
"It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas" – Composed by Meredith Willson; first recorded by Perry Como (1951), but also by Johnny Mathis and Bing Crosby.
"Jingle Bells" – Composed by James Pierpont (1857); Covered by Kimberley Locke (2006)
"Little Drummer Boy" – The 1958 version by the Harry Simeone Chorale is the standard.
"Mele Kalikimaka" – Bing Crosby, and later, Jimmy Buffett.
"The Most Wonderful Time of the Year" – introduced by Andy Williams (1963)
"Mistletoe and Holly" – co-written by Frank Sinatra
"Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" – by Gene Autry (1949) .
"Santa Baby" by Eartha Kitt and Madonna
"Santa Claus is Coming to Town" – Perry Como, Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters; later by Jackson 5 (1970), Bruce Springsteen.
"The Nutcracker" - Notable version from Boston Ballet
"Twelve Days of Christmas" – Standard version is by the Ray Conniff Singers
"We Wish You a Merry Christmas"
"White Christmas" – first performed by Bing Crosby in the 1942 musical Holiday Inn
"Winter Wonderland" – Perry Como (1946), The Andrews Sisters (1946), Johnny Mathis (1958), Tony Bennett (1968).
"Christmas Time" – Bryan Adams (1985)
"Christmas Time is Here Again" – The Beatles
"Christmas Wrapping" – The Waitresses (1981) and later covered by Spice Girls
"Do You Hear What I Hear?" Bing Crosby (1963) – Whitney Houston
"Far Away on Christmas Day" – Christmas Around the World – Bradley Joseph (2000)
"Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" – John Lennon & Yoko Ono (1972), later covered by Melissa Etheridge, The Polyphonic Spree, Celine Dion, Idols - UK Pop Idol search finalists and most recently by Sarah McLachlan, in her 2006 Christmas album, Wintersong.
"Hard Candy Christmas" – Dolly Parton (1982)
"Here Comes Santa Claus" – Gene Autry (1947) (famously remade by Elvis Presley)
"If Every Day Was Like Christmas" – Elvis Presley
"I'll Be Home for Christmas" – Bing Crosby (1943)
"I'm Your Angel" – Celine Dion and R. Kelly (Duet) (1998)
"Last Christmas" Wham! (1984) then re-released again in (1985) Whigfield in 1995 and in (2006) by Crazy Frog
"Little Saint Nick" – The Beach Boys (covered by Sugar Ray)
"Mary, Did You Know" Kenny Rogers and Wynonna (1996)
"Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays" – 'N Sync
"Miss You Most (At Christmas Time)" Mariah Carey (1994)
"My Only Wish (This Year)" – Britney Spears (2000)
"Please Come Home For Christmas" – Eagles (1978), Jon Bon Jovi (1994)
"Santa Baby" – Eartha Kitt (1953), later covered by Kylie Minogue and Madonna, among others "Santa Claus is Back in Town" – Elvis Presley
"Santa Claus Lane" - Hilary Duff
"Santa's List" Cliff Richard
"The Night Before Christmas" – Carly Simon (1994)
"Walk This Sleigh" Robbie Williams
"Who Would Imagine A King" – Whitney Houston (1996)
"Winter Wonderland/Sleigh Ride" – a medley of the two Christmas favorites by Dolly Parton (1984)
"You Don't Have To Be Alone on Christmas" 'N Sync (2000)
"You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" – written by Dr. Seuss, and sung by Thurl Ravenscroft

Popular Christmas albums

8 Days of Christmas – Destiny's Child
A Christmas Album – Amy Grant
A Christmas to Remember – Amy Grant
A Christmas Together – John Denver & The Muppets
A Twisted Christmas – Twisted Sister
An Old-Fashioned Christmas – The Carpenters
The Beach Boys' Christmas Album – The Beach Boys
A Charlie Brown Christmas – soundtrack album of the classic TV special.
Christmas Peace (along with other variations) – Elvis Presley
Cliff at Christmas – Cliff Richard
Ding! Dong! Songs for Christmas - Vol. III – Sufjan Stevens
Hark! Songs for Christmas - Vol. II – Sufjan Stevens
The Jethro Tull Christmas Album – Jethro Tull
The John Legend Collection – John Legend
Merry Christmas – Mariah Carey
Merry Christmas with Love – Clay Aiken
My Kind of Christmas – Christina Aguilera
Noel! Songs for Christmas - Vol. I – Sufjan Stevens
One More Drifter in the Snow – Aimee Mann
One Wish: The Holiday Album – Whitney Houston
Taste Of Christmas – Various Artists
These Are Special Times – Celine Dion
Wintersong – Sarah McLachlan

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Christmas Lighting: Outdoor

Christmas without sparkling lights is hardly imaginable. I have often wondered how it would be like catching a glimpse of the beautiful starry ground while flying in a helicopter on Christmas eve. The sight will be a one in a lifetime experience for sure. Who knows, I might even come across Santa riding on his sleigh waving a grand Ho ho ho to me. Dreams apart, I am all set to begin lighting my yard this evening.
Thought I would share some tips with you all:

  • The most common color combinations appropriate for the Christmas season include red, green and copper lights that denote festivity; blue and green lights for more subdued arrangements; novelty combinations such as blue and red lights; mauve, blue and copper lights.

  • Create an Arbor Of Lights


Cut 8 or more trees, 9 ft tall, 1-2 inches in diameter. Make holes about 6 - 10 inches deep every three feet on both sides of your walkway with a steel bar, wide enough for the trunk of the tree. Make sure the distance on the holes from left to right is about 6 feet. Place trees in holes and bend left and right sides together creating an arbor, and tie together with wreath wire or twine. Weave the branches from trunk-to-trunk to try and close-in the canopy and tuck-away or cut any branches hanging down obstructing the walkway. Decorate with clear order colored mini lights. String the lights randomly throughout the canopy.

  • Grapevine Garland


A very nice way to decorate a doorway, inside or out, is to take grape vines, bundled together with string or baling twine, and drape them over doorways. Make them about 6 - 8 inches wide and about 14 feet long for standard door (18 feet for a double door) Hang them on small cup-hooks or finish nails. 3 - 4 fasteners should work on a standard 36" doorway. Next add mini-lights to the vines. Weave them in and out in a random but even fashion. Use 1 - 2 sets of 100 light mini-lights. Also add a mini-star wire garland (gold or silver). Lights can be any color, but clear or white frost gives it a nice old-fashioned Christmas look. You can add red berries also.

  • Using a live Christmas tree is the best outdoor Christmas decoration you can have. LED lights or fiber optic artificial trees work well for Christmas outdoor decoration.

  • Animated Snowman Sculpture
    He merrily tips his hat to passersby and shines in glorified grandeur with 150 clear and multicolored lights attached to his powder-coated frame.

  • Acrylic-Wrapped Light Arctic Penguin and polar bear create a beautiful crystal-glow effect when lit.

  • Polar Bear or North Pole Sign
    A cute lighted polar bear and a sign indicating the region he inhabits, North Pole. Thats sure to baffle your guests as they walk through the arctic wonderland.

  • Lighted Santa Sleigh with Horse
    Ready for the big night? Well, Santa is with his long drawn sleigh packed with Christmas gifts and faithful reindeer all set to travel and adorn the dark firmament.

  • Outdoor Walkway
    Line your walkway with beautifully lighted mini Christmas trees that can be driven into the ground on either side to create a welcoming aisle of greenery.

  • Topiary Animals -Each captivating creature shines brightly with clear miniature lights to bring a garden or atrium of life.

  • For an Oriental, meditative flavor, Chinese lanterns can be purchased in various colors. Any of this outdoor garden lighting can be hung from shepherd's hooks, available at most nurseries. Simply insert votive candles and close up the lantern securely.

  • Christmas Net lights are great for blanketing bushes and trees with hundreds of mini lights at once. Simply lay the net over bushes or wrap it around tree trunks.

  • Christmas Icicle lights are meant to replicate the look of icicles hanging from the eaves troughs. These lights come in a strand of 100 or 150 lights, usually in clear, white or pale blue bulbs. Most Christmas icicle lights have blinking capabilities to create the illusion that the icicles are melting. Hang icicle lights from the eaves trough gutters, railings or fences.

  • Christmas Rope lights for trimming windows, doors and so on.

Just work your way safely to a brightly lit Christmas.

Christmas Outdoor decor

Lets welcome Santa with a warm cheer and beautiful outdoor as well indoor decor this Christmas. He will be delighted to witness a charming display of lights, colorful ornaments and enchanting decoration within the house and without but there is only one risk, he might just forget to slide down the chimney once captivated by the beauty of your front garden. Hey, but its worth the trouble, isn't it? After all its not everyday that you get a chance to show how much you love and appreciate Christmas to Santa Claus and the rest of the neighborhood as well.

Some of the latest Outdoor Christmas Decorating Ideas are:

Luminaries: Line up the drive and walkways with luminaries. These can be made by hand cutting shapes such as snowflakes, stars, snowmen, as well as commercial luminaries.

Nativity Scene

A Gift Giving Christmas: Unleash your creativity by placing gifts...giant gifts outside, in your front yard. Wrap wood crates (or large cardboard boxes) in Christmas paper and a large bow. Highlight the ribbons and bows with a string of lights.

Santa's Workshop: Excite the neighborhood children by building a mock toy workshop on your front lawn. Set up oblong tables covered with brown table cloths and tinfoil. Place toys on this table and stand garden gnomes throughout the area. Set up a fake Santa Claus on the roof of the house for supervising the "elves".

Make a snowman. Better yet, make a whole snow family or even a whole snow village!

Themed Christmas Decorations: Some ideas for themes include: candy canes, snowflakes, snowmen, Christmas trees, angels, candles, bells, reindeer, and of course Santa Clause and his sleigh.

A forest theme is much easier to achieve in a large lawn along with twig bird nests, pine cones, oak leaves, raffia bows, twig garlands, acorns and clusters of berries.

You can organize a bar-be-cue- party where candies ornament Christmas trees, chocolate Christmas cakes adorn the dinner table and more surprisingly, Santa in his green apron goes about looking after the cooking.

Choose a rustic theme for wood cabins, lodges and country farmhouses, complete with crackling fire and raffia bows.

If you have a large, bare outside wall, cut a Christmas silhouette from a piece of plywood (a silhouette of Santa, a snowman, etc). Using screws, attach your silhouette to a short post that you can drive into the ground. Position a spot light on the other side of the silhouette so that it will shine on the silhouette and project a large shadow on the wall.

Wrap your front door in plain white paper and decorate with a large bow. Place red and green pens by the front door and have guests sign the door as they leave your home.

Holiday Welcome Window Box - To give your home a holiday face, consider branching out from traditional wreaths. This arrangement of evergreen boughs, berried branches, and pine cones is perfect for window boxes and planters.

Trim door frames, window frames and the edges of mirrors with Christmas garlands. Drape bells over a door knob so that they ring when someone enters or exits.

Giant Icicles

Window screen, Scissors, Clear rhinestones, large silver sequins, and other embellishments, Boxes of plastic wrap, Strings of miniature white lights, Thin aluminum wire, Needle-nose pliers, Gloves, Hot-glue gun and glue sticks, Hammer and nails or staple gun and staples.

Cut screen into a long, narrow triangle.Scatter some embellishments on the screen. Bunch up a long, narrow cylinder of plastic wrap; place over the embellishments along center of screen triangle. Arrange white lights on plastic wrap, leaving both ends free at top of triangle. Try to keep light bulbs visible outside of plastic wrap and tuck wire within wrap. Bring long edges of the triangle together and secure with pieces of small twisted wire, leaving top open. When completely wired closed, scrunch and mold to create irregular icicle appearance. Hot-glue or wire some embellishments to outside of icicle. Hang from eaves or gutters either by wiring, nailing, or stapling. Hang one at a time, spacing as desired and connecting light strands when needed.

Decorate your outdoor space with the above and watch with pleasure as your guests gape their way through this magical Eldorado.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Top 10 Christmas Stories

Time to sit around the fireplace with the whole family and recount these timeless stories reinstating faith and respect for the Christmas spirit.

"A Christmas Carol"
Ebenezer Scrooge, Bob Crachit, Tiny Tim -- everyone knows these names. Charles Dickens created an unforgettable world in "A Christmas Carol," one of the most famous Christmas stories ever written.

"The Nutcracker"
Here, Hoffmann has put "The Nutcracker" into story form. It's an irresistible tale of a toy soldier that turns into a prince. Read this Christmas story and find out why it has charmed generations of people

"The Elves and the Shoemaker"
A kindly shoemaker who has fallen on hard times needs a Christmas miracle to save his store. Find out how things turn his way -- and what he does after his fortunes change. This delightful tale is sure to put a smile on your face and reinforce the true meaning of the Christmas season.

Inspirational Christmas Stories
This article brims with inspirational Christmas stories about giving, love, spirit, and cheer. Perhaps you've become jaded by Christmas as you've gotten older, or maybe you sometimes get overwhelmed by the shopping, wrapping, and busywork that accompany the holiday.

Santa Claus Stories
Santa Claus is a beloved and influential figure in the lives of many children -- and their parents, who first explain who Santa is and then, in a few years' time, have to answer the question, "Is there really a Santa?

"Ansel's Special Gift"
"Ansel's Special Gift" shows the joy that can be derived from giving gifts to others and how these gifts can remind us of what's truly important in life.

"Vigil of Hope"
At one time or another, many of us have needed faith, friends, and family to help us through difficult times. In "Vigil of Hope" -- a Christmas story with a powerful message -- the main characters are forced to lean heavily on their pillars of support during a tragedy on Christmas Eve

"The Gift of the Magi"
Christmas isn't always about getting presents, as O. Henry conveys in his timeless Christmas story "The Gift of the Magi." In his tale, possessions don't mean anything if you're still lacking a gift that is much more important: love

"The Three Skaters"
Three men -- a farmer, a baker, and a weaver -- reap the simple and satisfying rewards of giving to the less fortunate. If you want to tap into the true spirit of the Christmas season, read this touching story.

Christmas Tree Stories
These four Christmas tree stories provide insights into the origin and history of the Christmas tree, as well as into the vital spirit that infuses every beloved evergreen.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Christmas Poinsettia

Christmas is just a few weeks away, it is time to decorate your home with the beautiful star shaped flower, Poinsettia. Are you aware that December 12 is known as the Christmas Poinsettia Day? Here is your chance to wish your loved ones on this day and order colorful poinsettias from these online retailers:

Also called the Mexican flame leaf, Christmas star, lobster flower or Christmas star, this flower was brought to the United States from Mexico by Dr. Joel Roberts and December 12 is celebrated the National Poinsettia Day in honor of this man. A Mexican legend claims that poinsettias came to be associated with Christmas when a child, who could not afford a gift to offer to Christ on Christmas Eve, picked some weeds from the side of a road. As soon as he brought them into the church, this humble gift given in love bloomed into the red and green Poinsettia.

Selecting a poinsettia
Look for plants with fully mature, thoroughly colored bracts. Select plants with an abundance of dark, rich green foliage all the way down the stem. The leaves and bracts should not be drooping. Look for plants that are full and attractive from all sides.

Keep your poinsettia beautiful
To help your poinsettia thrive in your home during the holiday season, follow these tips:
Light: Set your poinsettia in a bright location so that it receives at least 6 hours of bright, indirect sunlight each day.
Temperature: Excess heat will cause the leaves to yellow and fall off. The daytime temperature should not exceed 70ºF.
Water and Fertilizer: Poinsettias require moderately moist soil. Water them thoroughly when the soil surface feels dry to the touch.
With the poinsettia staying beautiful for months and well into the spring, you might consider making it a showpiece/centerpiece, to compliment your home or office decor.

Materials for Christmas Poinsettia Centerpiece
Low-growing poinsettias or artificial plants, floral foam or Styrofoam, decorative bowl, cache pot, or soup tureen greenery.

Follow these simple steps to make your poinsettia centerpiece:
If you're going to use cut flower stems, place a brick of floral foam or Styrofoam into the container and secure it in place. Place small, low poinsettia plants or artificial stems into your bowl, soup tureen, or cache pot. Add trailing greenery around the base of the plants. Place the container with plants in the center of your table.

Brad-Angelina Set For Fairytale Christmas Wedding In South Africa

Did You Know?
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are reportedly set to marry in South Africa this Christmas.The couple have chosen a small picturesque village just outside Johannesburg to host the intimate ceremony. Both actors are reportedly determined to keep it a traditional low profile wedding - which is expected to include tribal African music.
It comes after the popular TV host and Jolie's good friend Oprah, impressed by her humanitarian efforts told her: "When you have the chance to capture lightning in a bottle you need to go for it."
The limited guest list will apparently include George Clooney and new James Bond star Daniel Craig,chat show host Oprah Winfrey (who suggested the romantic location to Brad and Angelina after she founded a school in the area) Madonna, Guy Ritchie and others.
Hollywood's hottest star couple is tying the knot. Now thats a truly spicy wedding to look forward to this Christmas. Ain't it guys?

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Christmas Home Interior Decor Ideas

Its time to start decorating the home and its interiors for the Holiday season. I have chosen an Earthy Christmas theme. In this case, warm green, rich brown and soft crème colors, bright red wreaths in favor of forest green garlands and/or some decorative plants, like Pine Leaves and Cones collection are my choice. A tall clear vase with chocolate brown Christmas ornaments and will be displayed on the coffee table.

Decorative candles are an essential element for indoor Christmas decoration. They create an aura of warmth and brighten up the whole atmosphere adding to the festive spirit. Another terrific indoor decoration is artificial garland. Whether strewn about the tree or woven through the stair banister, artificial garland looks great everywhere. You can use trendy gold poinsettia garlands this year if you are tired of the traditional ones. Artificial berries garland look great displayed atop the fireplace, especially if held in place with some decorative candles.

Shells, sand, beach balls, lighthouses, flip-flops, sea creatures, Hawaiian shirts, swim-suits, sunglasses, palm trees, umbrellas, beach buckets and shovels, sand castles, coral, Adirondack chairs, fish nets, buoys, oars, boats, and surfboards, the nautical trend is now an important home decor theme. Coastal Christmas colors are sun bleached shades of green, blue, and sand. Accents include faded purple, pink, yellows, oranges, soft brown, and glitter. Add to this, a beautiful personalized snowman canoe family and you will have your nautical Christmas theme decor gliding in full swing.

Timeless Grandeur
Create a luxurious, elegant space using the warm combination of ivory and gold accents. Use a wide range of tree skirts, table runners, ornaments and candles in gold and ivory.
Combine black, red and silver to create a bold, contemporary look that is easy to achieve. Black candles with silver accents make a dramatic statement. Use a metal card holder to elegantly and neatly display your holiday cards.

Handcrafted Christmas
Classic holiday colors like red, green and gold mixed with vintage style characters and natural elements create a country theme. Start with a berry topiary for the table and feature snowmen and other holiday characters throughout the house. Over sized stockings add some merriment and fun to your holiday decor.

Turn your home into a winter wonderland using white and silver. Add pink accents, such as flowers and butterflies, and feathered decoration.

Palatial paradise
Combine burgundy and gold to create a majestic space. Add rich textures by choosing a dark tree skirt and stockings. Over sized gold tree decorations and exotic shapes, like jeweled elephants and crowns, direct the eye to your grand Christmas tree.

Ice Fantasy
Create a contemporary, unique look using a non-traditional accent color. Use cool blue and silver to bring the magic of Christmas into your home, and add violet accents to complete the look. Create your own centerpiece by placing a variety of silver and purple-hued holiday decorations in a clear bowl. Also, add a cheerful snowman rug to accentuate the beauty of the theme.

Warm Evening
Make your home glow this holiday season with lights. From the outside to the inside, LED lights are the easy way to create a feeling of warmth. In the front hallway, a pre-lit topiary tree or cashmere pine tree in a sturdy gold pot adds elegance to your home and makes your friends and family feel welcome.

Win laurels from your visitors this season, by creating an appealing display of the above décor. Do chime in with your own ideas and inputs as well. Have a gala time decorating your home.