19 points: Be Thankful

While I try to practice Daily Gratitude; Thanksgiving reminds us to take a moment to pause, eliminate the clutter, reflect on the past year and share what we are thankful for.

gratitude

This year I have quite a bit to be thankful for. 

  1. I’m thankful that Thanksgiving, Channukah AND my 10 year high school reunion all fall on the same weekend, saving me from three separate costly trips home.
  2. I’m thankful I get to spend over a week with my family, since I don’t live close anymore.
  3. I’m thankful I had the courage to move across country to DC.
  4. I’m thankful for new friends I’ve made in DC, particularly Cara.
  5. I’m thankful that I am only two hours away from Terra and Stacey and can just hop on a train at any moment to visit.
  6. I’m thankful for all the experiences I’ve had in the past (two specifically) years that have helped me grow and shape me into the person I’ve become.
  7. I’m thankful for my job. I love that when I get a candidate a job, I am positively impacting their life.
  8. I’m thankful for food, clothing, shelter and clean water. Because really, with these necessities taken care of, everything else is a privilege.
  9. I’m thankful for airplanes. I am still amazed that we can fly through the air in a heavy metal tube to travel to a new location within a matter of hours, rather than days.
  10. I’m thankful that I don’t already have everything I desire. This allows me to have things to work towards, look forward to and strive for, and appreciate it when I receive it.
  11. I’m thankful for my body for allowing me to do everything that I take for granted.
  12. I’m thankful that I don’t know everything. This allows me the opportunity to continue to grow and learn new things.
  13. I’m thankful that no one in my family has any serious health issues.
  14. I’m thankful for my family; although quirky and sometimes I admittedly lose patience quickly, I am blessed to have such a loving and supportive family.
  15. I’m thankful for the mistakes I’ve made and the lessons I’ve learned.
  16. I’m thankful for the difficult times, they have helped me grow.
  17. I’m thankful I don’t have school loans or debt.
  18. I’m thankful that while I like Channukah being so far from my birthday, I am glad that Thanksgivvukah won’t happen again for a long time, another 76,000 years. It just didn’t seem right to be celebrating both together. Hope all you MOT’s enjoyed the combo holiday.
  19. I am thankful for YOU. Thank you for continuing to read, support me and for being apart of my journey. Your presence and loyalty means more to me than words can describe.
thanksgivukah
thanksgivukah menorah and turkey

 

There is so much to be thankful for, my list could go on for pages. So tell me, what are you thankful for this year? 

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Adventures in Baking: Super Bowl Edition

It is really hard to duplicate what you see on Pinterest. Working with melted chocolate is very complicated because it hardens quickly. Even though I used a toothpick to get a fine line, it is still really hard to keep it clean and so pretty. When you attend a party as a guest in someone’s home, you should never show up empty-handed. I wanted to bring something fun and theme appropriate so I made deliciously fresh and fun Chocolate Covered Football Strawberries.

It was supposed to look like this:

Mine turned out like this.

chocolate covered football strawberries

You can hardly tell a difference, right? At least mine has goal posts.

{Have you been able to duplicate a pinterest photo successfully? Share your story.} 

Some Days You Gotta (Just) Dance!

Thank you to Ubisoft for sponsoring this post. Please click here to learn more about Ubisoft. I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective. #UbiChamps 

Some days you gotta dance, Live it up when you get the chance, ‘Cause when the world doesn’t make no sense, And you’re feeling just a little too tense, Gotta loosen up those chains and dance  – Dixie Chicks

Man, the Dixie Chicks got that one right. Some days you just gotta dance! There really isn’t a better way to let loose than spending a night with friends for a ‘girls night in’ dance party. It is pretty much impossible to be unhappy and dance at the same time. Sometimes you just need those nights where you cut loose and act like a kid again.

The plan was for the girls to come over around 6pm, we’d order dinner, drink a little wine, and play Just Dance 4 for a little bit. Instead, when they arrived, we opened a bottle of red and got straight to playing, if you can call dancing playing. We barely stopped for dinner; we wound up playing until 1030pm! That is over 4 hours of dancing and laughing! In Weight Watcher points, that’s about 12 points of exercise! One of the girls said, it was “surprisingly more of a workout than expected, but didn’t feel like a workout at all.”

As a kid, I quit dance class because I didn’t like performing in front of people. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve stopped caring so much, especially when there is no way to look good while mimicking the silly dance moves in Just Dance 4. (And now there is video proof for all to see!) The first song we tested out was Carly Rae Jepson’s Call Me Maybe.  In the spirit of the American Music Awards that were last weekend, I am going to host my own Just Dance 4 Awards for the Best Music Video, The Worst Music Video and the Best Group Dance.

In the spirit of the American Music Awards that were last weekend, I am going to judge Just Dance 4 based on The Best Music Video, The Worst Music Video and the Best Group Dance.

Rick Astley – Never Going to Give You Up takes home the award for The Best Music Video. The video was as entertaining to watch as it was to dance to. In the background there was a sinking Titanic, UFOs, Godzilla, robots and more. 80’s music is just so much fun to dance to. When the song was over, Katherine said, “If all the videos were like that, I’d do so much better.”

B-52’s – Rock Lobster wins The Worst Music Video Award. There was this awkward lobster-man that was just too creepy and weird.

And finally, the Best Group Dance award goes to Dirty Dancing- I’ve Had The Time of My Life. We reenacted a choreographed duet as Baby and Johnny Castle. Hopefully, it is obvious who was who in the video below. Some of the moves didn’t quite fit the rhythm but we tried to make it work. Sadly the jump catch/hug at the end was accidentally cut out. Nobody puts Baby in a corner!

Check out the highlight video from a few of the songs we had a blast dancing to: 

Top 6 bits of feedback for UbiSoft:

  1. Videos should be more like Rick’s. So much more entertaining and fun to watch.
  2. I would love to see themed games like 90’s, Boy Bands, 80’s power ballad, modern, pop, reggae, or even zumba class songs. There were just too many random, unknown or bad songs on this disc.
  3. There is a calorie counter on Just Sweat portion but that should be made available on Just Dance, too. The calorie counter was a good feature, but the workout portion wasn’t much of a workout. I also preferred the Just Dance songs and dances.
  4. Maybe include a 3 minute intro video, “As you level up, you unlock more levels of difficulty. Every 5th level, you unlock a new song”. We wanted to know what we needed to do to unlock the “Cute Badge” or any of the levels. Maybe we didn’t play long enough (4 hours isn’t enough?) but we wanted to know how to accomplish goals and we weren’t sure how. I wish I had read the wikipedia article before playing – it explained bits of the game that were confusing.
  5. DDR has different levels of difficulty for each song and JD4 should too. While some songs, like Call Me Maybe unlock another version, it was kind of confusing. All songs should be classified by Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced and Expert. As you advance, the harder levels unlock. This would increase the challenge and extend the playing life and interest in the game.
  6. We found that the level of difficulty didn’t seem to correspond with the difficulty of the dance moves. Rick Astley would be a great starter and Time Warp was not hard enough to be a level 3.

The nice thing about the Just Dance series is that it really is a great way to loosen up those chains, laugh with friends and even get in a workout. Even though we are in our upper 20’s, we were pleasantly surprised at how entertained we were. While we all agreed, we probably would not invite friends over just to play the game, we would definitely include it in a game night shindig or a good “ladies date” as a free alternative to taking a barre or yoga class with a friend. We also agreed this would make a great holiday gift for friends or family. The game is available for purchase at Amazon.com or ToysRUs.com and many other retailers too.

Which video highlight did you like the most? Have you played? Which was your favorite song to dance to?

** Ubichamps provided me with the game and opinions are my own.

We’ve lost the meaning of Thanksgiving

Every year as a kid my mom would make us all go around the Thanksgiving table and share aloud one thing we were grateful for. While I didn’t appreciate or really understand her intentions at the time, (I thought she was just being your typical annoying quirky mother) this annual act of gratitude managed to impart upon me the importance of being grateful. Turns out, she wasn’t trying to be annoying, she truly understood the meaning of Thanksgiving. This is a tradition that I will no doubt carry on with my own family, even if they think I am annoying too.

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Walmart recently announced that it would be opening its doors at 8pm on Thanksgiving night, two hours earlier than last year. 10pm still stinks but at least it is after dinner whereas 8pm cuts into family time. Regardless of whether or not the two hours makes a difference, why are stores opening their doors at all on Thanksgiving day? Why can’t they wait until 12am for Black Friday? Why do retailers feel the need to cut into time that should be spent with loved ones? Is getting a good deal really more important than family? I am glad to see that Walmart employees are petitioning this, because they, like the rest of us, deserve to have time off to spend time with their friends and relatives for the holiday.

It is true, not everyone has the day off. Doctors, firefighters, police and waiters in restaurants, etc. give up their holiday for the needs of the public, for the greater good. But is it really a necessity for retailers to be open? Is this really for the greater good? Or just corporate greed? The retail giants market the doorbuster deals as being better the earlier you shop, but are shoppers really going to get better discounts just because the doors open before Black Friday? The doorbuster deal should remain the same no matter what time the doors actually open whether it be at 8pm or 4am. I don’t see it as creating or bringing in any new sales that wouldn’t have otherwise existed; I see it as retailers just moving the sale from Friday to Thursday. Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday have blended together and transitioned into one big shopping holiday, time we get off from work and school to shop and eat.

It is bad enough that we stuff our faces until we can’t move anymore, but we have to go and add insult to injury when people get into physical fights over toys. It is ironic that while at dinner we share what we’re grateful for, yet turn into monsters that very night and fight over things we don’t need.

While we are gorging and fighting over junk, there are people out there who are starving and fighting just to survive. Americans have developed this warped sense of what we “need.” What people need is to put life into perspective and realize what is truly a necessity and what is not. Can’t we use that energy and money we’re spending on chotchkes to help people who really need it?

It is sad; Americans seem to have lost the meaning of Thanksgiving. We have misplaced our priorities and forgotten what truly is important. Yes, we might watch the parade and football while a delicious meal cooks in the oven, but Thanksgiving itself isn’t just about tables full of great food nor is it about getting the best discount on holiday gifts and junk. It’s about remembering the pilgrims, spending time with family and friends and taking time to be grateful for what we have. The name itself says it all – it is about giving thanks, not about wanting more. Thanksgiving is a time, not only to give thanks for everything we have, but to give back to those who are less fortunate.

Just what we are grateful for varies for everyone; there are people who are grateful for less than what you have, Sandy survivors who are just thankful to be alive, the immigrants who are thankful to be celebrating their first Thanksgiving as a US citizen, the people in the shelter who are thankful to have a meal at all, the cancer survivor who is thankful to have lived to see her son’s wedding, or the daughter who is grateful that her father’s quadruple bi-pass surgery was a success, etc. Yet, we have companies saying that our priority this holiday should be about shopping.

This is the one time of year that we are reminded to pause our busy lives for a night to reflect on what we are grateful for while we eat surrounded by friends and family. So this Thanksgiving, please take a few minutes to set aside everything that Thanksgiving has come to represent to reflect on what you are grateful for this year. Please encourage your family to go around the dining table and share something they are grateful for, too. Just as my mother did, start that as a tradition in your house, too. Listen to what others are thankful for. When we hear all the things that others are thankful for, it reminds us that we are all thankful for different things and that there is so much to be grateful for in this world. But it isn’t the elaborate details of what we are thankful for that matters. It is the simple fact that we are taking the time to appreciate what we have and reflect on that.

Lets go back to basics and rediscover the true meaning of Thanksgiving. Lets surround ourselves with our loved ones, our family and friends and give thanks.

Have a very happy and gratitude-filled Thanksgiving.

Happy Channukah, Merry Xmas & Happy Holidays. Warning: the adorable videos may make you smile

‘Tis the season! The holiday season is upon us, and tonight marks the first night of Channukah (which means my birthday is quickly approaching)!  On a personal note, it is also a memorable night for Mr. Fiancé and I, as tonight marked the first time we have lit the candles on our own menorah that we bought together and the last time we will celebrate Channukah as a dating couple.   A big Happy Channukah goes out to all my fellow heebs.

“Oh Channukah Oh Channukah, Come light the menorah, let’s have a party, we’ll all dance the hora. Gather round the table, we’ll give you a treat…”

To help spread the holiday cheer, I thought I would share with you some awesome holiday goodies that I came across today.

Lastly, I want to share these three videos that come to us from Jessica. They are just way too cute not to spread around the smiles and cheer. Thanks for sharing Jessica! She has a few more holiday videos, so be sure to check them out!  These are guaranteed to put a smile on your face and bring out the holiday spirit.  Enjoy!

Puppies’ first Christmas, it really doesn’t get any more precious than this. I love the one that gets stuck in the Santa hat. I just want to wrap them up and take them all home! But can you imagine training them all?

Great parody/mashup of the Channukah story with songs like Stayin’ alive, Born to Be Wild, Can’t touch this, and Move Like Jagger and more.

These sailors look like they are fun people who sure know how to get in the holiday spirit. I want to be friends with them!

People always say Merry Christmas this time of year, but for those of us who don’t celebrate it, it can get kind of old. Since you don’t always know the person’s religion, I prefer saying Happy Holidays, across the board to everyone. Happy Channukah, Happy Kwanza, Merry Christmas & of course Happy Holidays to all!

Happy Holidays to all!