Cool Yule Cinema: Holiday Affair

November 19, 2014

Here’s one maybe you haven’t seen before — Robert Mitchum and Janet Leigh star in “Holiday Affair,” a 1949 romance that features an adorable child actor and lots of great lines.

I think you’ll enjoy this RKO film. Visit Cool Yule each Wednesday for another Christmas-themed movie.

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For Thanksgiving: A Turkey Cheese Ball

November 18, 2014

turkey-cheese-ballI think this is pretty darn cute. It’s a standard cheese ball — nothing fancy in the way of ingredients — cheddar, chives, cream cheese, a little pepper and Dijon Mustard — but, ah, it’s the way you decorate this cheese ball that takes it into sublime territory.

My only worry is that people will not want to mess it up 🙂 But it sounds delicious! Put this out with your crudites this Thanksgiving!

From your friends at Hallmark. Download the recipe and decorating instructions.

Thanksgiving Celebration Idea: Graves Mountain Lodge

November 15, 2014

A different way to celebrate Thanksgiving that doesn’t involve cooking! I highly recommend Graves Mountain Lodge

Autumn in Virginia

Graves Mountain LodgeA couple of years ago, my family all got together for Thanksgiving: my mom, my sister, her girlfriend, and my son.  We decided to spend Thanksgiving at Graves Mountain Lodge in Syria, Virginia.  We had all been there several times before, but we hadn’t had Thanksgiving dinner there in maybe twenty years. We went a couple of years ago, and really enjoyed it.

If you’re looking for a delightful and delicious way to spend an old fashioned Thanksgiving, you can’t go wrong here.

Graves Mountain Lodge is located in the mountains (naturally) and it is beautiful.  You can just enjoy dinner, or stay over.  If you stay over, meals are included in the hotel rate, which is a little over a $100 a person (but remember, it includes three big meals); with discounts for children.  Otherwise, Thanksgiving dinner is $39.95 plus tax, and half price for children, and you…

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Holiday Blogger Call for Content, Events, Guest Posts

November 15, 2014

1684_35443242705_4289_nHello all! Cool Yule is back for 2014!

Each year, since 2009, I blog in November and December about all that is wonderful about the holidays, including Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day.

If you have ideas to share, I would love to hear about them.  I appreciate event information, guest posts, photographs, and videos.

If you are interested in guest-blogging about a topic, please let me know (email: MaryFletcherJones@Yahoo.com or Twitter @MaryFletchJones).

Here are some ideas…

  • Religious services, church services
  •  Dining/Restaurants (offering special holiday menus, specials, etc.)
  •  Holiday Fashion for women (all ages and sizes)
  • Hanukkah-related
  •  Money-Saving Tips for Holiday Meals and Shopping
  •  New Year’s Eve Ideas
  •  Special Needs focus – this is a big focus for me, appreciate all the content I can get
  •  Thanksgiving Specials
  •  Travel/Hotels specials for the holidays

 

Make 2014 the best year of your life

December 30, 2013

2014-Wallpaper-HD-New-YearYou hear a lot of bad press about new year’s resolutions this time of year. That people never keep them. That people shouldn’t make them. That they can even CAUSE you to fail.

Well, don’t listen to any of that.

Marriages end, and the statistics about divorce aren’t pretty, but people still get married, don’t they? Cars need to get repaired sometimes, and we still buy and drive them. Life isn’t perfect and resolutions aren’t either.

But resolutions are still good. Examining your life and deciding what’s missing or how it can be better, or how you could be healthier or happier, or make other people happier — that’s a good thing.

Who was it who said “The unexamined life is not worth living?” Socrates? I’d say that was a bit harsh 🙂 but yeah, point taken. It’s good to take stock.  It’s good to set personal goals. If you don’t achieve them, you may have made progress toward them. You can’t go somewhere unless you have a plan.

What works for me: setting pleasurable goals, as well self-improvement goals, like travel plans for the year (Virginia State Parks, here I come!), and producing a portable version of my resolutions I can carry around in my purse and refer to often.

There are some great articles about making resolutions and setting personal goals online — check out Forbes and MindTools.  Here are some of my previous posts about making and keeping New Year’s resolutions.

There’s no one “right” way to do this.  Tackle it the way that works for you!

Happy New Year!

Happy Poinsettia Day! How to Select and Care for a Poinsettia

December 12, 2013

National Christmas Tree Lighting live online today

December 6, 2013
Crowds on the Ellipse in Washington, D.C., wat...

Crowds on the Ellipse in Washington, D.C., watch the annual lighting of the National Christmas Tree, attended by President George W. Bush and Laura Bush, Thursday evening, Dec. 7, 2006, during the 2006 Christmas Pageant of Peace. White House photo by Paul Morse. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The 91st Annual National Christmas Tree Lighting will take place on the Ellipse in front of the White House on Friday, December 6, 2013 starting at 4:30pm ET. President Obama and the First Lady will light the tree. Featured performers include Aretha Franklin and Mariah Carey, among many others.

Should you go in person? If you have VIP tickets, yes. If you don’t have tickets, no! It will be very hard to see anything, the crowds and traffic will not make you feel very Christmas-y, and on top of that, the forecast is for rain.

My Cool Yule Tip: watch it live online, instead:  http://thenationaltree.org/2013-national-tree-lighting-show

Or watch it on public television, where the program will be aired throughout December.

Oh, and this is new: the tree itself has a Twitter profile! Follow @theNationalTree for fun updates.

Cool Yule Recipe: Candy Cane Brownies

December 5, 2013

A candy cane hanging on a Christmas tree

Here’s a holiday recipe from Sara Ayyash, pastry chef at The Jefferson Hotel in Richmond, Virginia.

Candy Cane Brownies

Yields: 2 dozen brownies

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3 candy canes, finely crushed
  • 2 York ® peppermint patties, chopped

In the microwave, melt the butter and chocolate, stirring every 30 seconds till melted.

Let the chocolate cool to room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 350 and grease a 13×9 inch pan.

All at once, add the sugar, eggs, flour, salt, and vanilla to the cooled chocolate. Stir until completely
combined.

Pour the brownie batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle the crushed candy canes and chopped peppermint patties on top.

Bake for 25 minutes. Let cool completely before cutting into squares.

Winter Preparedness Week

December 2, 2013

Winter Preparedness Week is here! Time to get your car kit ready — read these tips from Fairfax County

Fairfax County Emergency Information

winter preparedness week 2013

Posted at 1 p.m.

While temperatures are somewhat milder this week, we did get a sneak peek at cold, winter weather over the Thanksgiving holidays. And Mother Nature is certainly getting ready to bring us colder temperatures and perhaps ice and snow — there’s a slight chance of snow next Monday — are you ready for winter weather?

This week, Dec. 1-7, is Winter Preparedness Week across Virginia, a great time to take a few minutes and make sure you have everything you need to be ready for wintry weather.

According to the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, the National Weather Service (NWS) predictions for the winter of 2013-14 in Virginia suggest normal temperatures and precipitation for the season.

“We don’t see indications of an extremely cold winter in Virginia. However, the potential for normal snowfall and/or ice means we need to be ready for disruptions in travel and schedules,” said…

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Holiday Party Dress Ideas

December 2, 2013

I cruised the web looking for the most adorable holiday dresses I could find.  Here are some of my Cool Yule picks for this year, from Anthropologie, Nordstrom, Dots, Wet Seal, and JCPenney. It’s like an online fashion show! Which one is your favorite?

blue lace wet seal 35

I’m showing the rear view of this fantastic $35 blue lace plus-size dress from Wet Seal because I think it makes the dress really special. The front is a modest scoop neck, and with the sleeves, this is an holiday office party appropriate choice, but it still stands out in that fabulous royal blue color. Classy but still vroom vroom!

This flirty red plus-size dress from Nordstrom was almost sold out online the last time I checked, but you may be able to find it in stores. A great antidote to the little LBD in a feel-good color and easy-to-wear cut make it a winner at just $88.

This flirty red plus-size dress from Nordstrom was almost sold out online the last time I checked, but you may be able to find it in stores. A great antidote to the little LBD in a feel-good color and easy-to-wear cut make it a winner at just $88.

This luxurious looking gold lace dress from JCPenney was actually quite a bit more pretty in the store than it shows in this photo, IMHO. It's one of the few longer dresses this season, too, for those who prefer that look.

This luxurious looking gold lace dress from JCPenney was actually quite a bit more pretty in the store than it shows in this photo, IMHO. It’s one of the few longer dresses this season, too, for those who prefer that look. This would be a lovely dress for that photo-op by the Christmas tree.

Nordstrom has some of the hottest dresses in plus sizes. This well reviewed sequin dress is $168. I love the not quite black color - universally flattering.

Nordstrom has some of the hottest dresses in plus sizes. This well reviewed sequin dress is $168. I love the not quite black color – universally flattering.

Okay, no Christmas tree will compete with you in this red sequin number. Check out the back on this dress! You'll turn heads, that's for sure. It's $188 from Nordstrom.

Okay, no Christmas tree will compete with you in this red sequin number. Check out the back on this dress! You’ll turn heads, that’s for sure. It’s $188 from Nordstrom.

The metallic touches in this simple dress make it a classy choice from Anthropologie, $168

The metallic touches in this simple but elegant dress make it a classy choice from Anthropologie, $168. This is the dress you want for the after-five holiday party or networking event, don’t you agree?

This is the dress you want to wear to the Kennedy Center to see the Nutcracker ballet, am I right?  The copper lace is gorgeous. It's $228 from Anthropologie

This is the dress you want to wear to the Kennedy Center to see the Nutcracker ballet, am I right? The copper lace is gorgeous. It’s $228 from Anthropologie

dots dress 16

This adorable black chiffon cocktail dress from Dots is only $16! Love the sequin detailing at the shoulders.

dots dress 22

This show-stopper from Dots will only set you back $22. If you’ve got the body for this dress, flaunt it! I can see this on New Year’s Eve on the dance floor.

jcpenney emerald dresss 31 99 _80

Tired of LBDs? This well-reviewed dress in emerald from JCPenney is marked down to $32 from $80 this weekend. I bought the black version and I love it! It’s a flattering fit if you’ve got curves.

Tulle is a hot trend this winter. This is a classy number and it's only $30 at Wet Seal. Pair it with a soft cardigan if you feel chilly.

Tulle is a hot trend this winter. This is a classy number and it’s only $30 at Wet Seal. Pair it with a soft cardigan if you feel chilly, or check out their website for an edgier look with black tights and a blazer.

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