Showing posts with label holiday traditions. Show all posts
Showing posts with label holiday traditions. Show all posts

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Christmas Jars - Movie Review

Watch Christmas Jars - Free Online Streaming
This time of year I am looking for inspirational movies in keeping with the true spirit of Christmas.  I love stories with heart, so when I came upon Christmas Jars, I knew I had found my kind of holiday movie.

Based on Jason F. Wright's New York Times bestselling novel, this film is for anyone who appreciates a focus on kindness, generosity, hope, forgiveness, compassion, and family.

As the movie begins, Hope Jensen, a 22-year-old aspiring writer is going through really hard times. Just when she is at her lowest, Hope discovers that someone has left a jar filled with coins on her doorstep.

The mystery of who committed this random act of kindness grips Hope.  She goes into full investigative journalist mode in her quest to uncover the perpetrator of this anonymous generosity.

Of course, there are twists and turns along the way, for that is the nature of life, and a good holiday movie.  Hope does find the beautiful individual who left her a gift much bigger than a sum of money.  Things become complicated, however, when she must choose between protecting the identity of her benefactor or achieving the long-awaited dream of publishing the feature that skyrockets her career.

This isn't a spoiler review, so I am being careful not to reveal too much.  Let's just say there will be elements of romance and finding what you have always needed.  In wrestling with her moral dilemma, and coming out on the other side, Hope experiences the power of compassion, forgiveness, and chosen family.

Though the movie is associated with a faith organization, there are no religious overtones.  It is simply a wholesome family film that can be enjoyed by all.  Originally released in November of 2019 as a special one-night theater event, Christmas Jars recently made its debut on television.  Both the original novel and the movie have spawned an ever-expanding kindness movement.  Millions of dollars in spare change has been collected and distributed to individuals in need.

In conjunction with seeing the movie (I've provided you with this link to watch it for free online), I encourage you to visit the Christmas Jars website to be moved by the personal stories of recipients of that kindness.  There is so much goodness that often goes unreported by the news networks.  I found that these true stories were a reminder that it is the small acts of love that change the world for the better—one person at a time.

As I was working on this review, and doing my own Hope-esque search for the backstory behind this movie, and the phenomenon of the Christmas Jars, I discovered something really wondrous.  The author of the book, Jason F. Wright, actually started the tradition of the Christmas jar with his wife and young children back in 2004.

When they were looking for a new family tradition that would make the holidays extra special, they decided to place all of their spare change in a jar throughout the weeks leading up to Christmas.  Then, they would select someone—an individual or family—who needed some encouragement.  That first jar contained about $88.  On Christmas Eve, they crept up on the chosen family's porch, placed their jar of coins by the door, rang the doorbell, and then ran to hide behind some bushes.

Here's where it gets really good.  In 2005, when Wright's book was first released, and had not yet achieved NYT bestseller status, he found himself downsized at work and a bit financially strapped.  It was at that moment when someone anonymously left Wright and his family their very own Christmas jar.  The tradition had gone full circle.  How beautiful is that?

It may not seem like much, but as you will read from the testimonies, a Christmas jar can be miraculous to the one needing a miracle, or a reminder that they are seen and loved.  I am filling my own jar of coins even as we speak.  On Christmas Eve, I plan to leave someone a little bit of tender loving kindness.  For what are the holidays if not a time to be a messenger of hope and light?











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Monday, December 31, 2018

New Year’s Eve 2018

2018
It is New Year’s Eve. The last day of the year. Tomorrow turns the page into the brand new year. Beginning tomorrow, I will have to remember to write 2019 instead of 2018 on checks and paperwork. I will wonder where the years have gone and say, “Wow, time flies” at least once. Those are a part of my traditions during this time of year.

Each person, family, region, and country have New Year’s Eve traditions. A search on the internet will show those traditions; some familiar and some that seem very strange (red underwear).  Some involve food (12 grapes). Some involve drink (champagne). Most traditions involve how to celebrate and who to celebrate with.

As a younger person I attended New Year’s Eve parties at someone’s home. We drank, ate, talked, listened to music, and kissed everyone in the vicinity when the clock struck midnight.

Later, I sometimes attended public firework displays. In the US, many people go into the cities to see the fireworks. The dropping of the ball in Times Square draws many celebrants waiting to welcome the new year. It seems to be one of the most well-known celebrations worldwide but such a large gathering culminating in fireworks is not a uniquely US thing. I’d venture to guess that this is the most popular (worldwide) New Year’s Eve tradition.

More recently, I go to The Shack for New Year’s Eve. And by the time you read this, I hope to be there.  One of my superstitions is that whatever you are focused on as the New Year rings in is the focus of the new year. Therefore, my intention is to be at The Shack as 2018 ends and 2019 begins. I like to spend the evening close to nature and in the “home” I plan to live in soon. I also prefer to be off the roads and away from potential drunk drivers.

We have a wide audience at Review This! and it makes me wonder how our readers around the world welcome in the new year. On behalf of the Review This! team:

We wish you a happy and safe New Year’s Eve. 
We wish you the kind of celebration that leaves you with wonderful memories and continues welcomed traditions. 
Happy New Year's Eve!  


 Photo courtesy of Pixabay and Fotojet 



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Sunday, November 18, 2018

DIY or New Reusable Advent Calendars For a Treasured Family Keepsake

A Wooden, Cardboard, Cloth or DIY Advent Calendar

We've had a cloth advent calendar for Christmas for the past 20 years. Since the kids were little, the same advent calendar sees our family room annually. 

The nice thing about a cloth calendar with pockets is you can put treats inside for each of the 24 days.

Our family Advent Calendar is featured below.

Bring out your own Advent Calendar each year and make it standard part of family traditions.

However, if you're not into a store bought reusable Advent Calendar, you can make your own. Get the kids involved.

Five DIY Ideas on How to Make Your Own Advent Calendar:
Our Family Advent Calendar
by Funkthishouse.com
  1. Use 24 kiddie Christmas socks. Glue each sock to a painted cardboard or wooden backboard. Put treats in each sock for each day.
  2. Use 24 small boxes (ring size) glued to cardboard or backboard. Keep the lids on the boxes, and inside each box put treats. Decorate the boxes individually.
  3. Attach 24 small gift bags to a backboard or cardboard. Put treats in the gift bags.
  4. Use mini tree stockings. Put them all together on a piece of string with numbers on the front for each day. Put treats in each one.
  5. Use 24 empty toilet paper rolls. I know, that's weird right, but it works. Glue the rolls together in the shape of a Christmas Tree - 1 on the top for the star then, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, then 2 and 2 for the base of the tree. Glue them together then decorate each one. Place goodies inside each roll. 
Making your own Advent Calendar is a beautiful reminder during the kids growing years. When they're older, and no longer decorating with you, you'll pull out that calendar along with your past Christmas memories.

Time holds our treasures, and our treasures stop time. Think about the decorations your kids have made over the years, and what they mean to you. There isn't anything quite as precious.

Whether you use a pre-made Christmas Calendar or  DIY one makes no difference. Create memories during the little years to carry you through the big years.

When the time is right, take all the decorations your kids have made, wrap them up and pass them on. They can include them into their Christmas traditions along with your family stories.




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Thursday, November 30, 2017

Review of Favorite Christmas Cookies - Rosettes Recipe

Review of Favorite Christmas Cookies - Rosettes Recipe
Nothing says Christmas to me like my grandmother’s rosette cookies.  Coming together as a family during the holidays means making, and then inhaling, these Scandinavian treat delights (my highest dessert rating).

These lacy snowflake-like cookies are as much eye candy as they are absolutely the tastiest lighter-than-air, flaky pastry you will ever eat.  I don’t think there is a more beautiful holiday food than rosettes.  Just having a plate of these delicate cookies on your table will instantly make the season more merry and bright.

If you are looking for a unique gift for friends, family, neighbors, teachers, or co-workers, this is a delightful way to share the warm spirit of the season.  Simply create a gift basket filled with rosettes, or even better, offer a kit with the recipe, a set of rosette irons, and the mix.  You just might help someone start a treasured holiday tradition.

Ingredients:
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon granulated white sugar
  • 1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
Directions:
  1. In a mixing bowl, whisk your eggs, sugar, and salt until blended.
  2. Use a sifter to mix in your flour.  Add milk and vanilla.
  3. Add three to four inches of cooking oil to a deep fryer or stove top pan.
  4. Use candy thermometer to heat oil to 365 degrees (Fahrenheit).
  5. Heat rosette iron in the oil for at least two minutes.
  6. Remove heated rosette iron from the oil.  Let excess oil drain off the iron.
  7. Carefully dip the hot iron into batter (leaving a 1/4 inch margin at top of iron).
  8. Immerse rosette iron into heated oil.  Fry batter until golden.
  9. Use skimmer to remove rosette from oil.  Drip off excess oil.
  10. Place rosette on drying rack.  Sprinkle with sugar (granulated or powdered) just before serving.
  11. Reheat rosette iron in hot oil for one minute and repeat the process.
Serves: 10     Prep Time: 15 Minutes     Total Time: 30 Minutes









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