Let’s Take A Moment Day 281

Hi everyone.  Hope you are all well and continue to stay that way during this global health crisis we are facing.  But in addition to protecting your physical wellness, what are you doing to stay mentally healthy today?

Dec 22

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

I know we are in a serious situation, but I need a break from the gloom, doom and bullying by way of hoarding. Music has always been my refuge and watching those beautiful Italians singing to each other from their balconies reaffirmed my belief that music is the answer. So until the old normal returns, I am going to share a song I listen to that helps me escape the current state of things, if only for a few minutes each day.  And if this helps anyone else, even better.

Today’s song has the distinction of being featured at the end of two Christmas classics: “It’s A Wonderful Life” & “A Charlie Brown Christmas”. And today’s singer’s rendition is one of the best out there. He may be known as the premier voice of the season for his iconic version of “The Christmas Song” , but nearly every holiday song Nat King Cole recorded in his lifetime is a treasure. He was one of the earliest entertainers who used his talents as a singer, songwriter & musician and turned it into a brand. His TV show was one of the first of its kind in entertainment and he was the first black artist to host his own series. His sound infused jazz & pop while his appeal as an artist helped him cross over into film & Broadway as well. All of that made him one of the most successful, original, charismatic artists of all time. And a staple every Christmas season.

Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
“.

Nat_King_Cole

Nat King Cole circa 1958. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Nat King Cole: “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” (1960, based on a 1739 Christmas carol with various writers including Charles Wesley and George Whitefield).

I do not own the rights to anything.  I am just sharing what I love and how I am coping with you.

Stay well.

Let’s Take A Moment Day 270 & My Top 10 Favorite Christmas Movies

Hi everyone.  Hope you are all well and continue to stay that way during this global health crisis we are facing.  But in addition to protecting your physical wellness, what are you doing to stay mentally healthy today?

I know we are in a serious situation, but I need a break from the gloom, doom and bullying by way of hoarding. Music has always been my refuge and watching those beautiful Italians singing to each other from their balconies reaffirmed my belief that music is the answer. So until the old normal returns, I am going to share a song I listen to that helps me escape the current state of things, if only for a few minutes each day.  And if this helps anyone else, even better.

wonderfulpic.0

“It’s A Wonderful Life” movie still. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

With two weeks to go before Christmas, some of you may be tired of the formulaic but understandably watchable Hallmark movies. So before we get to today’s song, I am sharing my Top 10 Christmas film picks for anyone who might be looking for something different.

10. THREE DAYS (2001)

An angel (Tim Meadows, SNL’s “The Ladies Man”) gives a husband three days to convince his wife he loves her before she dies.

9. IF YOU BELIEVE (1999)

A bitter female Scrooge-like woman gets the chance to heal her inner child-who is an actual little kid following her everywhere that no one else can see, of course.

8. YOU’VE GOT MAIL (1998)

A Tom Hanks & Meg Ryan classic-and my favorite of their four collaborations-set in the greatest city in the world, NYC. With Jean Stapleton, Dabney Coleman, Dave Chappelle & Greg Kinnear in the cast as well, it is a fun watch.

7. WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING (1995)

Sandra Bullock became America’s sweetheart in this utterly charming film.

6. ELF (2003)

What is not to love about Will Ferrell as a 30 year old 6 foot tall elf? Ed Asner, Bob Newhart & James Caan help tell this thoroughly enchanting & adorable story.

Elf 1A

Buddy The Elf (Will Ferrell, L) & Santa (Ed Asner, R) in “Elf”. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

5. THE CHRISTMAS LIST (1997)

A 30-something woman (Mimi Rogers) makes a list for Santa and suddenly starts receiving everything she asked for. But not in the way she expected. Improbable, yes, but entertaining nonetheless. And completely enjoyable. Not very popular but not to be missed.

4. A CHRISTMAS STORY (1983)

I triple dog dare you not to adore this movie. What I love the most about it? How simple the celebration of the holiday actually is. No one is trying to do too much, the mom is not frantic to make everything Christmas card perfect and ends up giving her family a lovely, warm, comfortable & happy celebration. The house is not overwhelmed with decorations so the one big beautiful tree is the centerpiece to love, admire and inhale. Plus we see a bully finally get what he deserves. Delightful in every way.

3. IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE (1946)

The film equivalent of Nat King Cole’s “The Christmas Song”, it’s just not officially the holiday season without George Bailey’s self-sacrificing good guy persona. And as Monica told Phoebe in “Friends”, it has “wonderfulness baked right in”.

2. LOVE ACTUALLY (2003)

Before Liam Neeson declared himself & his skills a nightmare to the people who took his daughter, he was helping his stepson navigate his first crush. And Bill Nighy is his usual brilliant self. Plus it features two musical standouts: Today’s song by Otis Redding and Joni Mitchell’s 2000 version of “Both Sides Now”. And even though it does end with a group performance of “All I Want For Christmas Is You”, somehow it works.

1. SCROOGED (1988)

Oh, do I love, love, LOVE this movie. The classic Dickens story told with such colorful characters portrayed by Bill Murray, Alfre Woodard, David Johansen, musical street players like Miles Davis, Dave Sanborn & Paul Shaffer, a theme song featuring Al Green & Annie Lennox and the lovably quirky Carol Kane, who delivers the best line ever spoken by any “Ghost of Christmas Present”: “You know I like the rough stuff, don’t you?”

Scrooged

Bill Murray (L) and Carol Kane (R) in “Scrooged”. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Honorable mention to “The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year” (2008). Henry (“The Fonz”) Winkler plays a retired NY cop who goes to Illinois to spend Christmas with his niece, her son & the kind helpful stranger he met on the plane. This was actually one of the first Hallmark Christmas movies before the concept was turned into an assembly line franchise. Maybe that accounts for the lack of sugary side effects in this thoroughly pleasant film.

And if you are vehemently opposed to Christmas movies but are still reading this post? Yes, Virginia, there is one for you, too: “Bad Santa” (2003). Billy Bob Thornton is the ultimate ne’er do well and best part of this film, but hearing Bernie Mac shout “Pull your damn pants up” to a kid wearing them close to knee cap level is everything.

Now back to the music.

Today’s song is my absolute favorite version of this Christmas staple. Bing Crosby’s may be the classic recording of this tune, but to hear Otis Redding sing anything will always be my first choice. His cover is chock full of heart, soul, blood, sweat & tears. It is an absolute must for any holiday playlist.

May your days be merry and bright
And may all your Christmases be white
“.

Otis

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Otis Redding: “White Christmas” (1967, written by Irving Berlin).

I do not own the rights to anything.  I am just sharing what I love and how I am coping with you.

Stay well.

It’s A Wonderful House

I know it is almost Easter, but I have been thinking a lot about a Christmas movie lately:  “It’s A Wonderful Life“***.   The one scene in particular I replay over and over in my  head is the one where George and Mary are walking home from the dance and they throw rocks in the window of the old house that Mary wishes will become her home to share with George one day in the future.

On my recent travels, I drove passed a house that I dream of owning.  It’s old, not in the best of shape, and I am not even sure if it has been occupied recently as there are never any people or cars around it.  The house sits on about an acre of land with a beautiful lake behind it.

This is the front street view of the house.  Please forgive the quality of the pictures as I was using my iPhone.  My SLR camera is not working at all.

IMG_0611[1]

And this is the side view.IMG_0619[1]

I am in love with this house.  I love the wrap around porch, the charm it exudes and all the beautiful trees on the property.  I have yet to see the inside, but I imagine there are fireplaces in every room, more than one bathroom featuring a claw foot tub and a kitchen right out of the 1940’s or 1950’s.  Sa-woon.

Of course, none of that may be true, but since the outside still retains its charm, I am hopeful that the inside loveliness has been preserved as well.  I will be crushed it it turns out the kitchen contains 1970’s Formica or that the living room has bright orange shag carpeting, but for now I will hold onto my dreams.

When I picture my life in the future, I see myself living in a home like this, one that my future husband & I have lovingly restored and now live in with our two pugs, Starsky & Hutch.  We plant a vegetable garden, some lilac and hydrangeas bushes and perhaps get a few chickens so we can have fresh eggs every day.  We host lavish clam bakes in the summer & cozy Christmas Eve dinners every December with our guests helping us trim our 10 foot tree while we drink eggnog and watch “A Charlie Brown Christmas“*** over and over until it is time to eat.  I have had this dream forever.

This is the view as I drove down the drive way towards the side entrance.

IMG_0614[1]

 

IMG_0616[1]

But now that dream is not so easy to have.  Ever since I sold my small house (which was only 811 square feet) and downsized to a studio half that size, I have come to really appreciate living smaller rather than larger.  I know I am not alone, as the tiny house movement has become a real cause and purpose for many people looking to live a more minimalistic life.  I made the choice to live smaller simply because I realized I was basically living in only one room of my house-the bedroom-so I did not see the sense in spending money on a multiple room apartment or paying to furnish those rooms when I was very content having everything I needed in one room.

I want a simple life.  Someone to love, a couple of dogs to rescue, several road trips throughout the year and a freedom from not having any house maintenance work to worry about.  But then I picture life in that big old house, and as idyllic as it seems, I get bogged down in the guilt of the amount of energy a house that size uses, or the carbon footprint it has on the environment, or the fact that two people and two dogs really do not need a house that big. And I love road trips and spending the weekends going to estate sales, antiques stores and flea markets. Houses of any size require regular maintenance, and an old big house requires that much more.  We may need a place to live, but it does not have to be such a big place.  Sometimes I hate having a conscience!!!

The views from the back of the property.  How great would it be to look out on a lake every day???

IMG_0617[1]

IMG_0615[1]

Do any of you get bogged down in that kind of thinking?  Or do you just push forward to make your dreams come true? I would really love to know.

***The starred links are my affiliate links.  I only share what I truly love & I am grateful for the support 🙂

I hope all of you who celebrate the holiday have a very happy Easter!!!

Until next time, fellow Vixens, happy digging!!!

Christmas Songs of the Day 12 & 13

Hello, Vixens!!!  Sorry I missed all of you yesterday but unfortunately, technical difficulties prevailed.  Ugh.  So first, let me wish you a happy Winter Solstice!!!  Two, to make up for missing yesterday, I will share two favorite holiday tunes with you today!!!

8941cce5863830424b15cf91abf2b572[1]

Source:  Heartfelt Finds 

Up first is a familiar song that has closed out two of the most famous Christmas specials out there:  “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and “It’s A Wonderful Life“.  So many people have covered this tune so I have too many favorites to list here.  But this year I have been listening to Amy Grant’s version of “Hark! The Herald Angels” the most.  Not a lot of bells and whistles, just her voice strong and clear and in the same version I remember best from my childhood.  Sometimes simple says it best of all 🙂

amygrant1-300x252[1]

Source:  entertainment.caller.com

Next is a more modern song (despite the fact that it came out almost 40 years ag0) that almost instantly became a holiday staple from the minute it was first released, despite coming out in April not December.  For anyone who has ever been away from home for an extended period, from service men & women to college students to married couples who moved away from their families for various reasons, this song welcomes them all home and more.  It’s Kenny Loggins with “Celebrate Me Home“.

Please remember I do not own the rights to anything, I am just sharing my favorite music with you.

Enjoy!!!

MI0003569032[1]

Source:  allmusic.com

 

 

My Top 20 Christmas Songs

Music is such a special part of my life, and Christmas songs are no different.  There have been so many great versions of almost every song, it was hard to narrow it down to just 20.  But with 10 days to go before the big day, I thought I would share my list with all of you.

Each song includes a link to a YouTube video.  I do not own the rights to anything, nor am I associated with any of the channels/videos that I chose.  I just picked ones that showcased either the artists and/or the song enough to give you the best feel for the tune (in my humble opinion).

All opinions are my own.

What are some of your favorite Christmas songs?  Tell me in the comments below.

Enjoy!!!

1)  Merry Christmas Baby by Bruce Springsteen ( written by Lou Baxter and Johnny Moore).

It’s Bruce.  To say this is perfect would only be redundant.

2)  Christmas Time is Here by the Peanuts ( written by Lee Mendelson and Vince Guaraldi).

The Peanuts were my best friends when I was a kid, and today they are just as special to me.  “A Charlie Brown Christmas” is the main reason why.  If all I did for the holiday season was watch this special, my Christmas would still be perfect.

3)  White Christmas by Otis Redding (written by Irving Berlin).

Yes, I know all about the popularity of Bing Crosby’s version.  However, in my humble opinion, Redding brings such a stunning soulful element to his version of this song I really cannot listen to any other one. And if it was good enough for the “Love Actually” soundtrack, it is good enough for me.

4)  Winter Wonderland by Ray Charles (written by Felix Bernard).

Charles’ take on this is as unique and gorgeous as his version of “America The Beautiful”.  Truly a holiday gem.

5)  Holly Jolly Christmas by Burl Ives (written by Johnny Marks).

Who does not want a singing snowman???  Burl Ives is one of the reasons why I still tune in to watch “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” even now.

6)  Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) by Darlene Love (written by Phil Spector, Ellie Greenwich & Jeff Barry).

Love has performed this song on Letterman’s show since 1993.  You have to watch both the studio version and the live version to truly appreciate this song and Love’s voice.

http://youtu.be/4EvZOXEoJ84 (studio version)

http://youtu.be/m7M6wRPuD2w (2013 Letterman performance)

7)  Hark! The Herald Angels Sing (written by Charles Wesley).

Between the Peanuts characters singing it at the end of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and it being the song that celebrated George Bailey’s worth in “It’s A Wonderful Life”, it is impossible for me to hear any version of this song and not get verklempt.  A multitude of singers have covered this song but Martina McBride, Neil Diamond & Frank Sinatra’s versions are among my favorites.

8)  Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas by Judy Garland (written by Hugh Martin & Ralph Blane).

Tony Bennett called Garland the greatest singer he ever heard.  I am in no position to argue with a man of his talent and taste.

9)  Blue Christmas by Elvis Presley (written by Billy Hayes and Jay W. Johnson).

It’s ELVIS!!!

10)  O Come All Ye Faithful by Nat King Cole (written by John Francis Wade).

Most people associate him with the most famous version of “The Christmas Song”, but it is this Christmas classic that I love the most of Cole’s holiday recordings.

11)  The Christmas Song by Tony Bennett (written by Mel Torme & Robert Wells).

Tony Bennett is a legend.  If you do not have any of his music in your collection, you are doing yourself a disservice.

12)  It’s a Marshmallow World by Dean Martin (written in 1949 by Carl Sigman and Peter DeRose).

I think Frank Sinatra would even agree that Martin was probably the coolest member of the Rat Pack.

13)  Celebrate Me Home by Kenny Loggins (written by Bob James and Kenny Loggins).

Not a cover of a Christmas classic, but a song of Loggins’ very own is now a holiday staple.

14)  What Christmas Means To Me by Stevie Wonder (written by Anna Gordy Gaye (yes, Marvin Gaye’s first wife) & George Gordy).

Another original Christmas tune that has become a staple of the holiday.  And who can forget Will Ferrell’s “Elf” jumping on the mattresses with his little brother while this song was playing?

15)  Silver Bells by Rosemary Clooney & Bing Crosby (written by Jay Livingston & Ray Evans).

Before her nephew George was probably even born, Rosemary Clooney was Hollywood’s “it” girl.  Anything she sang was perfection and pairing her voice with Bing Crosby’s turned a song into a spectacular event.

16)  Happy Christmas (War is Over) by John Lennon (written by John Lennon & Yoko Ono).

From the man who told us “love is the answer”, peace was the gift he wanted for the world, and not just at Christmas.

17)  The Most Wonderful Time of the Year by Andy Williams (written by Eddie Pola and George Wyle).

I’ll admit this song now reminds me of back to school shopping thanks to a fabulous campaign several years ago by Staples, but it is a holiday classic nonetheless.

18)  The Little Drummer Boy/Peace On Earth by Bing Crosby & David Bowie (Drummer Boy written by Harry Simeone, Henry Onorati & Katherine Kennicott Davis, and the Peace on Earth music & lyrics written by Ian Fraser, Larry Grossman and Alan Kohan expressly for the recording by Crosby and Bowie).

In theory this was an odd pairing, but in principle their voices worked so well together it is hard to imagine this season without this song.  But I still wonder what would have happened if Bowie had shown up at Crosby’s house dressed as Ziggy Stardust???  (LOL)

19) O Holy Night by Eric Cartman (written by Adolphe-Charles Adam).

South Park is one of my all time favorite shows, and this clip illustrates just one of the reasons why.  Any reverence I had for this song is gone thanks to Trey Parker and Matt Stone, but I would not have it any other way!!!

20)  Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer by Elmo and Patsy (written by Randy Brooks).

This brings back memories of me and my cousins signing this song to my grandmother, who I miss everyday, not just at Christmas.  But this makes me feel a little closer to her.