Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Katie's Top 10 Christmas Movies (part 2)

First of all....MERRY CHRISTMAS EVE! It is after midnight (I was working at American Eagle tonight...we closed at 11...blegh) so I get to say that. So say it I will.

And now for the moment you've all been waiting for! Or at least the moment I've been waiting for since I got up at 7:30 this morning and didn't stop moving until about 5 minutes ago...

the continuation of my Christmas movie countdown (the crowd goes wild)! If you missed numbers 10-6, have no fear, just click here.

#5: The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)

Oh man. I've been craving this movie for the past few days. It's just so darn...cute! I love the songs. I love the characters. I love Michael Caine as Scrooge. I love the story! The whole thing just makes you want to live everyday like it was Christmas - like it was the best Christmas ever! Oh, fun fact - Dallin and I watched this movie on our first date, on December 15, 2006. Ready- 1,2,3...aaaawwww!

Favorite part: Ok this is starting to get hard. Um...probably the song "One More Sleep till Christmas." Or maybe the song "It Feels Like Christmas." How can you not love a song with a line like "It is the summer of the soul in December. It's true wherever you find love, it feels like Christmas!"? Love it.

#4: The Santa Clause (1994)

Yes, just the first one. Not the sequels. Step away from the sequels, people.

The first one is really the only one worth watching. But boy, is it worth watching. I've often wondered if the reason I love this movie so much is just a familial family really gets a kick out of this one, for some reason. This movie's humor is infinitely better than the sequels'. A total non-believer unknowingly "accepts the duties and responsibilities of Santa Claus" when he scares the old Santa and makes him fall off the roof. He then has to deal with his transformation into Santa Claus, including the weight gain and beard growth. And even though other adults think he's crazy and even he tries to deny it all he can, his son Charlie never loses his faith in his dad.

Favorite part: When Scott catches Santa on the roof. Pretty much from there until they get to the North Pole. "Well, we made good time."

#3: White Christmas (1954)

Oh, I'm so grateful to my mom for raising me on the classics! Seriously, I know this movie inside and out. And it is good. Bing Crosby is just classy. And this story is great too - it's all about giving an incredibly thoughtful gift to an incredibly deserving man. Throw in some awesome song and dance numbers (Mandy! Snow! Sisters!) and mix in a love story, and you've got yourself a goodie.

Favorite part: Hmm...can't choose between two. Either "Sisters," when Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye don the girls' attire to perform their number about what it's like to have a sister, or the end, when General Waverly walks into the ballroom expecting a show and getting a tribute planned just for him. And then it SNOWS! And it's pretty.

#2: How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2004)

Oh yes, the original animated one is fine. Classic, even. But Jim Carey is just...better. I don't even like Jim Carey, and I love this movie that is pretty much dominated by him. It still amazes me sometimes how Ron Howard (director supremo) stretched this story out without making it seem stretched. The background they give to the Grinch is entertaining, telling, and heartbreaking all at once. Poor little Grinch. And seriously- this movie has, quite possibly, the most impressive collection of spectacular one-liners/monologues of any movie. And I have them all memorized, thank you very much.

Favorite part: "Even if I wanted to go, my schedule wouldn't allow it! 4 o'clock- wallow in self pity. 4:30- stare into the abyss. 5 o'clock- solve world hunger- tell no one. 5:30- jazzercize. 6:30-dinner with me; I can't cancel that again! 7:00- wrestle with my self loathing...I'm booked! Of course if I moved the loathing to nine, I would still be done in time to lay in bed, stare at the ceiling, and slip slowly into madness.....But what would I wear?!"

(drumroll please)


#1: It's a Wonderful Life (1946)


What did you think- that I was going to pull a Moviefone and put this movie- this movie- in anything other than first place? Ok, maybe it is "cliche," or whatever, to list this as the best Christmas movie...but you know what? It IS the best Christmas movie.

A lot of times I wonder what I could be doing with my life- like, really doing with it. I've always seen myself as a pretty capable person- nothing incredibly special, but capable of doing a whole lot. Sometimes I wonder why I'm not doing a whole lot- why I'm not following a steady career path, why I got married so "young," why what I want to be isn't a doctor or a lawyer, but a kick-a wife, mother, daughter, and friend. These thoughts make me think about what really matters, and what really matters isn't the place I've gone or the impressive things I've done- it's the people I've touched, and whom I've let touch me.

The man in this movie had some serious dreams. He wanted to see the world, to build things, to get away, to really make something of himself. What he didn't realize was that he was making something of himself all along, by staying home, by working hard, by being a husband and father and being cooped up in an office and living in a fixer-upper home. He really was living the dream; he just didn't realize it.

I hope I realize it.

"No man is a failure who has friends." Life really is wonderful. Love one another. What better Christmas message is there?

So I hope that, in the next few days, you get to watch a good Christmas movie with some people you love. Turn off the lights, turn on the fireplace, turn up the volume. Watch and love, people.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 22, 2008


Four days ago...

(Side note: the reason I have to write about something that happened four days ago is because I have been unnaturally busy. It's just that time of year, I guess...)

(Side note for the side note: I know it was early in the post for a side note, but for some reason I felt like my delay in getting this post up had to be explained.)

So anyway, in case you forgot where we left off (and really, who could blame you?) - four days ago...

Thursday night. Katie is driving home after a long day at work. Every day at work is long, and Katie was extremely excited to get home, see her hubby, and maybe go out and do a little Christmas shopping. She had called this hunky husband of hers to let her know she was on her way home. She had called her dad to get some gift ideas for her older sister. And where our story begins, Katie was singing along - loudly and shamelessly, I might add - to whatever version of "O Holy Night" was on the radio at the time.

Just as Katie is about to reach the climax of her private performance, she suddenly hears a sound that just ruins the song. It's kind of a "thump THUMP thump THUMP thump THUMP thump," you know? Not only that, but Katie's ride suddenly gets a little bumpier. Katie slows down, pulls to the side of the road (unfortunately the left side, since she was in the left lane...) and soon her worst fears are confirmed.

Yes, I had a flat tire.

Here, I must pause and give myself props for not freaking out about the whole thing, because really, I didn't. No screaming, cussing, or crying. Just pulling over and stopping. Just so you know...this is rather uncharacteristic of me, so I had to point it out.

Anyway, just at this exact moment when I pulled over, my dad called to give me some ideas for a gift for my sister. I told him what had happened, and he insisted on coming to help. Then I called Dallin, who also left immediately to come to my rescue. I hung out with Mickey (this is my car's name, duh) for a while as I waited for my helpers. Dallin got there first, and started pulling out tools and stuff to fix the dang thing. Then my dad got there, and, since my services were obviously no longer needed, I went to wait in Dallin's car. Yes, perhaps I should have stood outside to gain some kind of knowledge about how to change a flat tire...but it was cold, people. COLD.

This was the only picture I got, taken via phone.

Long story short (ahem) my spare was flat. Dallin and I took off to get a new tire and fill up the spare, and my dad kept Mickey company. We came back, they fixed the tire, and we all went our separate ways...except of course for Dallin and I who went to the same place...since we are married....

How I wish this was the end of the story!

Dallin had a stop to make before he came home, so I beat him. An odd smell met my nose when I entered, but I thought nothing of it...until I walked into the kitchen and felt water under my feet. Our kitchen sink was overflowing. The stars must have aligned. They must also have hated us for some reason.

Dallin called the apartment complex people, and they sent a guy over. Dallin and I went to get In-n-Out, and then met the plumber man back home. He tried several different things, and the problem was not solved for a couple hours. Apparently the apartment above us had had a clog the day before, and when whoever helped them "fixed" theirs, he really just shoved everything down to us. Yummy.

Needless to say, it was not the relaxing night I was looking forward to.

Whenever my family would go on a vacation, we always seemed to have little incidents occur. You know - the rental car place screwing up and giving us a compact sized car for 8 of us plus luggage; locking the keys in the car in Massachusetts and having to spend 2 hours in a gift shop waiting for AAA; driving the wrong way down a one way street in Boston; being kicked off a bus in the middle of nowhere in Italy left to find your own way to your hotel. That kind of stuff. My mom referred to these "incidents" as "adventures." Adventures indeed, mother.

So I guess Thursday night marked mine and Dallin's first married "adventures" together. Unless of course you count getting on the wrong plane on our honeymoon.

But that's another story.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Katie's Top 10 Christmas Movies (part 1)

Love movies. Love Christmas. Do the math, people.

There's a list on Moviefone that counts down their top 25 Christmas movies of all time...but my eyebrows raised more than once while I was reading it. I decided to take on this task for myself, just so the universe knows how I feel. Mind you, 25 is a lot of Christmas movies, once you start to think about it. I don't think I could list 25 Christmas movies that I really like, much less like enough to give a place of honor on a favorite list. But there are 10. Oh yes, there are 10. I'm breaking this down into two posts for reading and writing ease. Hope you don't mind... here's 10 through 6!

#10: Santa Claus is Comin to Town (1970)

Really, this one earns its position by way of nostalgia. The classic Christmas-movie-making technique of clay-mation, the catchy songs, the cute penguin Topper, the villainous Burgermeister Meisterburger, Burgermeister Meisterburger's name, and the fact that Fred Astaire narrates, all combine to make a fantastic Christmas classic. Did I mention the cute penguin Topper?

Favorite part: the song "Put One Foot in Front of the Other." Don't ask me why - just love it.

#9: Miracle on 34th Street (1947/1994)

Old versus new. Can't decide; really I can't. In all honesty, I've probably seen the new one a few more times. I put the picture of the old because it is, obviously, more of a classic. I think the remake was done really well though. This movie just makes you want to believe in Santa Claus - which, of course, I do. But seriously, poor Santa being put on trial! It makes you sad for this movie's world. And then he's saved (huzzah!) by the post office/a dollar bill, depending on which version you're watching.

Oh my gosh. This is the perfect time to show you guys something:

Totally and completely 100% real. A customer brought it to me at the bank to exchange it for a "normal" one. I think she was worried no one would take it.


Favorite part (old): Pretending to be monkeys OR Santa blowing the bubble gum bubble. Classic.
Favorite part (new): Christmas morning, when all the little girls dreams come true. *sigh*

#8: Holiday Inn (1942)

The only reason this is so far down on the list is it's large dependence on other holidays besides Christmas. But don't get me wrong - this is a Christmas movie, and it's a Christmas movie I heart. I mean, this is where the song "White Christmas" came from. "White Christmas," people! That song is beautiful. And, fun fact - it won an Academy Award for Best Song the year it came out. But this movie is splendid. Great actors (oh, Bing Crosby!), great songs, and funny. Seriously, this movie is funny.

Favorite part: The ending, by far. Linda's crying, singing "White Christmas" all alone. Then she sees Jim's pipe and hears him whistling and she looks around for him and...there he is! Ah. Talk about "melting her heart right down to butter," Miss Maimie.

#7: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964)

Ah, the clay-mation capital of the world. Seriously, clay-mation = Rudolph. This movie is just cuteness clay-ified. Although, let's face it, a lot of the characters are grumpy gusses. The head elf guy, rudolph's parents, even Santa! But Rudolph makes up for it. And Clarisse is cute too. And Kirby, the elf (pictured above) who wants to be a dentist! Which is just so random it makes me laugh...

Favorite part: When Rudolph talks to Clarisse and she says he's cute, and then he gets so excited he flies around yelling "I'm CUUUUDE! She said I'm CUUUUUUDE!"

#6: Elf (2003)

Oh my. You want to see me laugh? Turn on this movie. There will be laughter. Will Ferrell isn't really my most favoritest actor ever, but he's hilarious in this movie. His innocence is just amazing. For those of you who don't know, Buddy is a human who snuck into Santa's bag one Christmas and was taken back to the North Pole, where he stayed to be raised by Santa's elves. But when he finds out he's a human, he sets off on an adventure to find his dad, and spread some Christmas cheer in the process. He loves sugar, syrup, singing, and Christmas trees. I'm already giggling.

Favorite part: Mmm...either the escalator, the Christmas-gram, or the date. Hard to say.
Favorite Quote: "I just like to smile, smiling's my favorite."

So there we go - one half down and one to go! Stay tuned. Go watch a good Christmas movie while you're waiting. With a blanket and some HoCho. Mmmm...

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The 25th Annual Lighting Ceremony

So. My family.

As I'm sure is the case with everyone out there, my family has their own nice little traditions for Christmas time. Some of the more normal ones include opening pjs from my grandparents on Christmas Eve, watching "It's a Wonderful Life" on Christmas Eve, building a fort for all the kids to sleep in, having a Christmas Eve program complete with a play in which Katie always gets to play Santa Claus...the usual.

There is one Allen family Christmas tradition, however, that I have yet to find a match for: the Lighting Ceremony.

Now, as you may have guessed, this tradition is all about turning on all the Christmas lights in my parents' front yard for the first time. What you may not have guessed is what accompanies said electrical display. Let me break it down for you:

1) Family and friends arrive. Usually between 4 and 5. This is my mom's whole side of the family, whatever friends my siblings invite, and whatever other family is lucky enough to be in town. All in all, we end up with a crowd of 35-45 people.

2) Crowd relocates from comfortable privacy of the indoors to the front driveway. Yep, the front driveway.

3) Crowd eats homemade chili, store bought french bread, and pink lemonade. Always this combination. Always. Still in the driveway, people.

4) Crowd moves to the street/sidewalk in front of the house

5) Crowd participates in program, which includes but is not limited to: introduction/history of the Lighting Ceremony, Q&A time with Mark Allen (the light putter-upper), singing various Christmas songs, freezing, and finally, a countdown during which several small children run to various outlets so they can plug in the lights when the countdown reaches 0.

6) Crowd sings "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" as we walk inside. (Except for this year, when we sang "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" and then sang the Sun Devil fight song, in honor of the big game...for all the good that did.)

That, people, is the lighting ceremony.

We've done this in the rain.

Let me just say that no matter how embarrassed we all act when a car slows down as it's passing by to see what those idiots are doing in their driveway, we all love the lighting ceremony. My mom started it, 25 years ago, and it's grown to be one of everyone's favorite Christmastime traditions, including mine. Perhaps, someday, I'll have the initiative to start a tradition that brings my whole family together to do something completely strange once a year.

love my fam.

You're all invited next year, just so you know. You'll have to give me your address so we can send you an invitation (yes, invitations are sent). Think you can handle it?

Here are a very few pictures from the blessed event - the big numero 25 - the Lighting Ceremony, 2008!

Ready to rumble.

Papa (Grandpa) enjoying his chili.

My sister Julie and her beau Chris enjoying THEIR chili.

My adorable cousin Brooke enjoying MY chili.

(here is where I would post pictures of the actual ceremony, including the crowd outside the house and the lights...but sometimes I suck and don't get good pictures of such things. Perhaps I will get them from my mom and post them later...)

Relocated to the indoors to watch the sucky mcsuckerson ASU v UofA game. That's all I'm going to say about that. De-press-ing.

Anyway, it was a fun time, as usual. Can't believe it's been going on for 25 years! And to think it'll probably keep going on for another 25...


Friday, December 5, 2008


So I made these great ginger cookies! They were so good. And Christmasy, which is possibly the best part. I got them from the blog of a girl I went to high school with. The blog is and it's great! Here's the recipe for these nummy cookies...

Dipped Ginger Cookies
2 c sugar
1 1/2c oil
2 eggs
1/2c molasses
1 Tbsp ground ginger
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
4 tsp baking powder
4 c flour
extra sugar
white chocolate or vanilla almond bark

Combine sugar and oil. Stir in eggs, one at a time. Stir in molasses. Stir in ginger, cinnamon, and salt. Stir in baking powder. Stir in flour. Roll out 3/4" balls. Roll balls in sugar and place on a greased cookie sheet.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Cookies will still be soft. Allow them to rest on warm cookie sheet for two minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.

To dip cookies, melt squares (about 3 at a time) in a double boiler (a glass bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water). Dip cookies in halfway and shake off excess chocolate. Place on waxed paper. Allow chocolate to set or put pan in refrigerator to set.

Makes 8-9 dozen cookies

My picture isn't nearly as good as her pictures, but the cookies still tasted good!


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

It's beginning to look a lot...


Ok, so yelling the last two words doesn't really fit into the song, but can you blame me for not being able to contain my excitement? We all love Christmas, and it's here! So yell it, baby!

I am particularly excited because a few short days ago, Dallin and I put up our Christmas tree that we bought as part of our 6 month celebration. While we haven't exactly built up a grand collection of homemade ornaments (or...any ornaments, for that matter...) we still put together a lovely, simple tree. And seriously, folks, we had to put it together. You know how those fake trees are...*sigh* too bad they're just so much easier than real ones, right?

*disclaimer: due to lighting issues (or, perhaps, just poor photography) many of our pictures are blurry! sad, but what can you do?

Dallin putting the top piece on! Yay it looks like a Christmas tree!

Untangling the lights. Maybe it's because our lights were brand new...but we didn't even have issues with them. It was like...surreal.

Stepping back to admire the handiwork of the lights.

Ornaments! aka the few, the proud.

Cleaning up afterwards...who knew that even fake trees leave a mess?

Ta Da!

You know, as I write this, I am sitting next to one of the beautifully decorated trees at the ASU Institute building...and it's made me realize some things as my pictures were uploading...

1) I need something for the top of my tree!! This tree has a huge bow on top that trails down and is all interwoven throughout the tree. It's lovely! I at least need a star or something...

2) Tree skirt=better. This tree just has a green sheet around the bottom and it looks good! Gotta remember that...sheet. Got it.

Well, I'll fill you in on the updates I make. For now, I love my tree!!!

Merry Christmas!