Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year's! :: Eye Candy Blogfest

Only two more hours until the final countdown to the new year of 2011! Regardless of where you are celebrating your New Year's, I hope your last few moments of 2010 are memorable and special. Now for my entry for the Eye Candy Blogfest, which is hosted by Vicki Rocho at her blog, Rambles & Randomness. The idea is to post my single favorite picture. I couldn't literally choose which photo was my favorite, so I just decided to post ONE of them. :P Here is mine:

This was taken in Massachusetts. I love it because of the different reflections of the buildings...ah, how I love skyscrapers and city life! I own all rights to this photo.

Well, here we go! As a Facebook friend said, "happy birthday, time!" Hope you all have a fantastic New Year's. =D

Here is one of my favorite songs and YouTube videos. It is a little sad, of course, but it definitely puts things in perspective. When I listen to this song, I am reminded of the importance in living life to the fullest, never taking anything for granted, and appreciating every moment I have. :)

*holds up a virtual glass of grape juice* Here's to a new decade full of happiness!
Here's to a new beginning.


Thursday, December 30, 2010

My Resolutions for 2011

Question of the Day: If you could be famous for one day, what would you like to be famous for?

In my last post, I discussed what are the steps to creating an ideal New Year's resolution. With only a couple days left of 2010, I have created my yearly checklist of resolutions for 2011...this year, I have 28. Some people call me crazy for having so many goals, but for the past three years it has actually worked pretty well. This past year in 2010, I completed 21 out of 29 resolutions, which is kind of cool if you really think about it. :)

It's been a pretty tough year for me what with all the transitioning from high school to college, but I do feel proud for having accomplished so much as well....I got all A's in my first semester of college, learned how to control my temper, went "green," landed a position at two college magazines, and very importantly: started blogging. Back in January, I aimed for 20 followers by the end of the year. Now, I have 60! As cheesy as this sounds, thanks so much for reading my blog and believing in me and my writing. :D The comments I get on my entries constantly give me motivation and support, and they really mean a lot. So thank you!!

So what are [some of] my resolutions for 2010?

A Sneak Peek at My Resolutions List
Several of these resolutions are pretty formidable tasks, but I'm really excited about them. I love writing so much, but I don't feel like I delve into my passion enough. If I really want to be a journalist, a storyteller, a writer...then I need to soak myself in words and the art of writing. Sounds fun, eh? :D

I also set aside some important (some mini, some big) goals for this blog, .:The Red Angel:. Blogging has become not only something fun for me to do, but also a part of my literary career as a writer. At the very beginning, this blog was more of a project. An experiment. Just something to try out. And now, it has become a part of me and what I do. I'd really like to continue doing this and make this blog the best that it can be. :)

Goals for the Blog
Yes, yes, I'd like to receive some feedback from YOU as to how I can improve the blog, what you'd like to see more of and less of, and what new additions I could add. I will be hosting this poll on January 2nd, since I know many of you are busy now what with the holiday season and having quality family time and preparing for New Year's Day.

What do you think of my goals? Have you made a New Year's resolution yet?


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

5 Steps To a Resolution You'll Stick With

Question of the Day: What is your favorite holiday song? Among my favorites are Last Christmas, Frosty the Snowman, and Do You Hear What I Hear.

Now that the Christmas season is over, it is almost time to count down.....2011 is almost here! Do you have a New Year's Resolution? Or are you still trying to think of a goal that you can, well, actually commit to? Making a resolution is hard, and sticking to it is even harder.

Personally, I love New Year's resolutions. What better way to begin a brand new year than with a newfound determination to improve yourself for the better as a person? I've listed five steps that I've used for the past few years that are guaranteed to help you choose a resolution that is both bold and possible.

1) Want V.S. Need...or Want & Need? Be sure to make a resolution that is both pragmatic and desirable. If you want to start growing a vegetable patch but you don't like gardening, then what's the point? The best resolution will give you material benefits as well as personal happiness. Besides, you'll be much more likely to stick with a goal that you personally enjoy working towards as opposed to a goal that you don't.

2) Be Realistic. You want to write, edit, AND publish a book in a single year? My dear friend, you have some fierce ambitions! Although I admire your fervor, it takes A LOT of work to do each of those things...either you will have a mental breakdown by August from trying to finish your book or you'll lose steam fast. Your resolution needs to be realistic and attainable. Why not aim to only complete a book? Believe me, that's already difficult as it is! If you are a writing whiz-gizmo, you can start editing towards the end of the year. If you're feeling particularly bold, you could also start researching the publishing industry and weighing your options (self-publishing versus a publisher). But don't get too greedy with your goals without considering the work that must be done to reach them.

3) Be Specific. If you decide to "be healthier," what exactly does that mean? Do you want to lose weight, start a daily exercise routine, eat organic food, or what? You can take action in so many different ways in order to "be healthier," but if you try to focus on too many smaller goals you will lose sight of everything because it will simply be too much.

4) Make a Plan. Let's say your goal for 2011 is to "be healthier by avoiding processed foods and cooking with fresh, organic products." The point of the resolution is to "be healthier." How will you do that? By "avoiding processed foods and cooking with fresh, organic products." But a year is pretty long, and after a while it's way too easy to simply...give up. By using month-by-month progress check-ups, you can make sure that you stick with your resolution. If you realize you're losing steam by April or May, you can re-motivate yourself and gear up to start again full blast when June comes around. For each month, add a new mini goal to your resolution. For instance, in January you may start out easy by simply reading food labels when you go to the grocery store. Then in February, perhaps you'll start to plan out what vegetables you want to grow in your backyard. By March, you can start planting! Keep a notebook to keep track of your progress and to-do's.

5) Share It. There's nothing better than sharing your resolution with a good friend who has a similar goal in mind. However, it's best if your friend has a resolution that is at least slightly different from yours; otherwise, a friendly partnership may become a major competition. What's great about working towards a resolution together is that you're able to provide each other with healthy doses of moral support, constant motivation, and positive peer pressure. Plus, it will bring your friendship up to a whole new level that is even more meaningful and enjoyable than it was before.


Sunday, December 26, 2010

Stay WARM and Stay ACTIVE....with a Shuttlecock!

Question of the Day: If you had to choose, would you rather deal with really hot or really cold weather?

I'd just like to answer my own QOTD for a moment and make a case as to why I'd rather deal with really cold weather. Well, personally I get nauseous in the heat and just like cool weather in general. My practical argument is the fact that you can always put on more clothes if you're cold. When you're in the sweltering heat, though, you can't, peel off your skin. :/

Aaaanyway. On to today's post! x)

In China, when the youth got cold during the wintertime they would do anything they could to work out, exercise, move their body. Stay active. One of the most popular sports that they would play was with the shuttlecock, or as the Chinese call it, the jianzi.

You can buy one for yourself HERE or you can make your own!
You need these items:
1) scissors and tape
2) ribbon OR feathers OR strips of plastic
3) string
4) 3 coins (which allows the shuttlecock to land on its feet every time)

Last year, I learned how to kick the shuttlecock as part of my high school senior project. The shuttlecock is basically like a feather hackysack, and the actual sports game is similar to badminton. The Chinese enjoyed playing with the jianzi because it was cheap, fun, and warmed their bodies in no time. If you've kicked a hackysack before, you know what I mean! You have to constantly balance and twist and turn to make sure the hackysack never falls to the ground. You gain a lot muscle in your legs and you learn to balance.

The feather shuttlecock is most popular, but if you don't have any feathers you can still use plain old plastic or ribbon. Take a plastic grocery bag and cut it into strips of plastic. Fold them, starting at the middle, around a few coins and hold them secure with tape or ribbon or some other substance. It may not work as well and it may not be as fun to use, but the general idea is still there.

When you make a feather shuttlecock, you can find rubber bases in a Chinese supermarket. Twist the feather ends together and stick them into the base. Use glue or tape if you need it to keep the feathers in tact.
In that first photo, if you look close enough you can see the feather jianzi that have coins as the base. Tie the coins together with string. Remember, the more coins you use, the harder and faster the shuttlecock will fall to the ground, and the more strength you'll need to keep that shuttlecock in the air.

This is what a feather jianzi looks like after it has been put together!

Fun fact: In China, they use chicken feathers to make their jianzi.

It takes a lot of practice to be able to kick the shuttlecock well. You can play with it either on your own or with friends and family. In fact, it's even more fun when you kick it with other people! After you do it for a while, you won't even notice how good you've gotten! My dad kicked the shuttlecock a lot when he was younger, and got to the point where he could kick it over 100 times without dropping it on the ground or barely even moving from his original spot!

Stay warm! =)


P.S. It's best to find a room in your house that has ample space and no breakable objects. If you don't mind the cold too much and if it's not snowing, you can even take the jianzi outside on the sidewalk or driveway for more room and to show off your new skill!


Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas, Blogosphere!!!

Question of the Day: How will you be spending Christmas Day?

Well, the clock just struck 12am. Eh, I should be asleep right now but I just thought I'd wish my favorite online folks a happy Christmas and merry holiday! Whoops, got that mixed up...

I'd like to share with you a video that someone really close emailed to me. It meant a lot.

This song is by Darren Criss. You may know him from A Very Potter Musical, or perhaps you recognize Darren as the new stud Blaine on Glee. Either way, he is extremely awesome and truly talented. :)

For some, Christmas is about the birth of Jesus. For others, it's about the lovely gifts you receive and return. For me, it's about all that and more: Christmas is about spending time with the people who matter most and will always be there for you.


Monday, December 20, 2010

Gift Ideas That Come From the Heart

Question of the Day: What is the best gift you've ever received? What's the best gift you've ever given to someone else?

Here it is, yet another Christmas just around the corner. The fam's perking up, what with all the festive decorations and big meal plans. You've got the toy trains ready for your nephews, the Barbie dolls for your nieces, the journals for your aunts and the wallets for your uncles. But nada for your sister, brother, Mom, Dad, immediate family.

You feel like you've bought it all in the past. Movies, books, lotions, golf clubs, candlesticks. What about this year? No clue. It's like all the gift ideas have been sucked out of you. And there's...what, five days left? Four? Dang it!

Let me tell you a little story. I think I've told you this before, but I go to China for vacation every year during the summertime. Right around my birthday, which is June 22nd. A couple years ago, I had my birthday party a few days before our leave. I wanted to see my friends and celebrate my surviving another year, well, at home. We had a cake, foosball, television, video games, cupcakes, and lots of other fun goodies. When we had cupcakes, I smashed mine into my boyfriend's face. IT WAS AWESOME!!! Funny enough, my boyfriend (let's just call him Boyfriend for now) had one of my other friends get it all on video with his camera. And not just that, but EVERYTHING I was doing. I hate being taped or having photos taken of me, but I guess it was my fault since I promised him that, for this one day only, he'd be able to take photos of me and video me. Needless to say, he REALLY took advantage of that!

I got lots of gifts that year. But the one gift that I loved the most was the one Boyfriend gave me. (this is where you say: AAaawwWWWw!!) He didn't give it to me until the day before I left for China...on his way out, he handed me a CD. He told me I wasn't allowed to look at it until I was on the plane to Shanghai. I promised I wouldn't. But you can bet that the first thing I did the moment the pilot said, "okay, folks, you may now use your electronics" was bring out my laptop and stick that CD in.

The CD was a video of my entire birthday party. Everything was there. The cupcake smash, the foosball games, my face (ick), Boyfriend's face, and everyone else who had been at my party. Total nostalgia right there. At the beginning of the video, Boyfriend said that since I wouldn't be there for my real birthday, he had compiled a bunch of photos and a video of all the people he knew I'd miss and who would miss me back. That way, whenever I felt homesick, I could just watch the video.

In different parts of the video, Boyfriend even had interviews of different friends say things about my trip to China. "Hope you have fun!" "Get back safely!" "Bring me some noodles!" I think I watched the video about four times all the way through during the plane flight.


Bottom line is, gifts that come from the heart are always the best. I'm a total sucker for homemade gifts as it is. I hope this little story gives you some inspiration about what to give your family and closest friends this year. :) And if you're STILL stuck, here are a few ideas:

1) Bookmarks. If someone close to you is a total bookworm and you've given them, like, a trillion novels in the past, I think they'd appreciate a small collection of bookmarks. Make a few of your own (after decorating with markers and stickers, laminate them) and buy a few. Tie them with a pretty bow. You can even put them in special categories, such as Seasons of the Year or Moods/Colors.

2) Recipe cards. Any cooks/chefs you know would definitely appreciate these! Ask different people you know for their favorite recipes, and along with your own, write them on separate note cards. You can even draw a small picture of what the end result looks like if you're an artist. Punch holes into the cards and hook them on a ring so they stay together. Perfect!

3) Candy. For a good friend of yours who you've known for a very long time, give them a box of different candies that you used to eat together as children but aren't seen very much anymore, such as Mary Janes, Wax Bottles, Fireballs, Bonomo's Turkish Taffy, Chiclets gum, and War Heads. You can buy candy from any decade you want here at Old Fashioned Candy.

4) Homemade Videos/Movies. Take a leaf out of Boyfriend's book and make a movie about how you two became friends. :) Or just simply tape yourself telling that person exactly what he/she means to you, and how glad you are that person is in your life.

5) Scrapbook. Take all the photos you have of you and that person and compile it into a book. If you're feeling really creative, get some scrapbook essentials (such as stickers, stamps, old trinkets, ribbon, etc.) and decorate each page. Be sure to label all photos and title each page! This is definitely one gift you can't go wrong with, and you can be sure your friend/relative will cherish it forever.

What is most important is that the gift matters as much to you as it does to them.
That's a gift that comes from the heart.


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Twisted Christmas Fairy Tale Blogfest

Francine over at Romancing in the Blog is hosting a fantastic Twisted Christmas Fairy Tale Blogfest. The basic idea is that entries should turn those happy, famous fairy tales into, well, twisted nightmares.

I'm not that great at horror stories but I tried. :] I chose a tale that most people are familiar with, I hope you will be able to guess which one it is. ;) I'm sorry it's so long though...I started working on it last night and had planned on just writing some and then posting it, but I got so into it that it went on and on! Hope you enjoy anyway. Thanks very much to Francine for hosting this. Be sure to check out the other entries as well!

The Tragedy of Prince Ivan

It was a dark and stormy night. Prince Ivan was lamenting on his favorite regal couch in the parlor. "Why, oh why is it that none of the women I meet are real princesses?" he moaned in anguish. The sorrowful pelts of rain outside seem to be parallel with his own inner grief. His mother was walking in long strides in front of him, her giant purple cloak trailing behind. Servants fanned her as best as they could, but every time they got too close she would shoo them away with one hand covered in gaudy rings.

"Don't fret, my son," the Queen said. "We will find you a royal lady yet." At that moment, there was a knock on the main entrance, which echoed five times over throughout the castle. The prince and his mother had the same skeptical look on their faces, and they both left the room. A servant had already opened the door.

"Your Royal Highness," Bonnie uttered, immediately bowing down to her knees. She kept her head down but her eyes kept moving back to a tall and skinny silhouette behind the door.

The Queen dismissed the servant with a single wave of her hand, and poor Bonnie retreated into the shadows. Prince Ivan peeked from behind his mother and found a young girl peering at him, her golden locks and dress soaked in rainwater. Her eyes were a brilliant emerald green, which immediately captivated him. Freckles slightly sprinkled over her nose.

The girl bowed her head once and looked into the Queen's eyes. "My name is Hazel. I was walking out in the woods, and I got lost when it started to rain."

"We don't allow peasants into our home," the Queen said coolly. "You'll just have to seek shelter elsewhere, my dear. If you haven't noticed my crown already, I suppose I should point out that you are at a king's castle. My husband, King Ivan, to be exact. And this is my son, Prince Ivan the Second." She gestured at her son, who straightened his back as if to look the part better. "So as you can tell, now, this is no place for, ah, a little girl like you."

"Oh, but you see...I am of royal blood myself." The woman's eyes never left the Queen's, a small smile dancing upon her lips. "I am Princess Hazel, of King Martin in the East."


Prince Ivan couldn't take his eyes off of Princess Hazel. Inside, he had already accepted that she was, well, a princess. Certainly, none of the other young ladies that he had reviewed over the course of the week had been as beautiful as this girl Hazel.

After his mother had allowed her inside the castle and ordered servants to bathe and clean her, Prince Ivan hadn't been able to sit still. Yet, when Hazel had finally come down from the staircase and met him and the Queen for a light snack in the dining hall, he somehow lost his speech and movement altogether. Her beauty paralyzed him. True, Hazel was simply wearing a nightgown that the servants had provided her...perhaps it was the way her now-dry golden hair curled gently over her shoulder or the way her nose crinkled up when she smiled, but there was no doubt in his mind that this was the real deal. He was sure that, in just a few days, he'd find himself a wife in this woman.

"So how come I've never heard of this....King Martin?" the Queen asked, watching Hazel's expression as she drank her soup.

Hazel dabbed her mouth lightly with the cloth napkin in her lap. "Royal politics is never something kings like to discuss with their family. It's improper, or so my mother says. I mean, has your husband ever spoken to you about what is discussed behind closed doors at his meetings?" Her eyes lowered and found Prince Ivan, who was looking at her and smirking.

The Queen sucked her breath quickly. "No. No, I guess not."

"Of course, being a part of a king's family isn't dull either. When Father is ever away on business, he arranges visits to museums, parks, and whatever else he thinks is stimulating to the mind." Hazel finished the soup with one last delicate sip. "Lately, however, my parents have been trying to find me a suitable husband. None of the princes we have been searching for in the East have been good enough for my taste, nor theirs." She looked pointedly at Prince Ivan, who couldn't help but blush.

There was a short, awkward silence. "Ivan, may I have a word with you, darling?" Ivan looked up, as if surprised, and followed his mother into the parlor.

"What is it, Mother?" he asked her, his eyebrows furrowed in puzzlement.

"If she really is a princess," the Queen almost scoffed out as if she'd already set her mind on the fact that Hazel wasn't, "then she must be a fair and sensitive-skinned little woman. Why don't we test her by putting a pea in her bed?"

"A pea?" Prince Ivan repeated blankly.

"Yes, Ivan, a pea. You see, if Hazel really is Princess Hazel, then she ought to feel the pea underneath her no matter how many feather beds she sleeps on. If tomorrow morning she says nothing of it and seems well-rested, ha! well she will be out of this castle faster than you can say princess."

"Are you sure that will work, Mother? I doubt I could even feel a pea under my bed, and I am as royal as you are."

A small curve appeared at the base of the Queen's mouth. She put her hands on her son's neck. "Trust me, my dear boy, we will find out soon enough just how 'royal' Hazel is."

Neither of them saw Hazel's eyes peeking through the key lock before she turned and went back to the dining hall to wait.


"I must thank you again, your Highness, for allowing me to stay here during this awful storm. You have a lovely home, and family," Hazel said. She and the Queen were standing beside her guest bed, watching six servants prepare Hazel's quarters for the night.

"Please, I am Queen Rhamalia, and you may refer me with that name. If you really are who you say you are, there's no need for any of that Royal Highness jargon," the Queen said in a mockingly gracious tone.

"Of course. Queen Rhamalia."

As the servants smoothed out the sheets one last time and left, one by one, Bonnie bowed her head as she approached the Queen and said, "Your Highness, everything is ready for the girl."

"Thank you, Bonnie. You may go." And so she did.

"I hope you find your bed suitable enough for you," the Queen said with a twisted smile. "I know it probably doesn't measure up to your own bed at home..."

"Oh, er, I think these seven feather beds are definitely quite enough...good enough, I mean," Hazel replied, eyeing the fluffy, neat pile in front of her.

"Indeed. They have been made with the finest material...the softest and the gentlest. I know princesses tend to have rather sensitive skin and soft bones."

"How very considerate of you."

" is getting late, and I am tired from today's excitement, and I know you must be, too. Goodnight, Hazel." The Queen turned to leave the room.

"Goodnight, Queen Rhamalia. Please tell Prince Ivan goodnight for me, wherever he is."

Queen Rhamalia looked back at Hazel, her eyes narrowing ever so slightly. "I shall be sure to do so," she said slowly. "He is in the North Wing, where most Royal Princes take their respite... but surely you knew that already?"

Hazel's eyes darted down to her nightgown. "Of course I did. Goodnight."

The Queen paused a few seconds. "Goodnight."


The clock struck twelve, and Prince Ivan was still awake. He couldn't stop thinking about Princess Hazel. His heart was racing, even though he'd been unmoving in bed for at least an hour already. He sighed deeply. He couldn't wait to see her again.

The doorknob turned. Prince Ivan's eyes darted to the door of his room. "Mother?" he whispered out loud.

A gown of white appeared, yet the face it belonged to remained in the shadows. "Bonnie? Is that you?" The figure walked closer until the face hit the light of the moon. It was Princess.

"Hazel!" The Prince said out loud, alarmed but not frightened. He jumped out of bed. "Is something the matter?" He went to stand in front of her. It was amazing how pretty she looked even with just a simple nightgown on.

Hazel looked deeply into his eyes. "Nothing is the matter, Prince Ivan," she said. "I just liked to see you again. I couldn't help but notice how you stared at me so during dinner."

"Oh..." Prince Ivan started to blush, but then he noticed something very strange. "Hazel...your
eyes. They're black." Was he seeing things? But no...the girl's eyes were not the same color they were before.

Hazel looked down, and from her hands uncovered a small, green pea. "I found this in my feather bed."

Damn. Prince Ivan gulped. "Uh...I have no idea how that got there."

To his surprise, Hazel grinned. "Oh Ivan, it's all right. I've heard of this trick before. Mother taught me one time and I actually tried it before to see if it actually worked. And it's quite uncomfortable. Feels like a very small stone sticking into my back."

"I can explain," Ivan held up his hands. "Mother said that if you were a real princess, then you'd feel it while you were sleeping no matter how many feather beds there were."

"Well, I suppose you don't have to worry anymore." Hazel took a step closer to Ivan, looking up at him with a smile. She brought a hand to his face and stroked his cheek gently. "I am a real princess, Ivan. I have always been so, always will be. We are going to have a lovely afterlife together."

Ivan couldn't help but feel something warm and fuzzy inside. Her hand was so warm against his skin. He stroked it lovingly...and then....


But before he could question any further, Princess Hazel had popped the pea in her mouth and pressed her lips against his. His eyes closed and his mouth opened, and he began to get hungrier for more. Ivan put his hands on her hips, and that was when he felt that small, round something in his mouth. Without knowing what he was doing, he bit into it.

Something thick, wet, and bitter began to ooze all around his mouth....his gums, his teeth, his tongue. It was paralyzing him, and, as it reached his throat, choking him. Poisoning him. Hazel parted from him, and when he opened his eyes, it was not Hazel standing in front of him but a rotting corpse smiling at him with beetle black eyes.

Ivan fell to the floor, writhing in pain. The poison was slowly spreading across his entire body, he could feel it. And everything was clouding up in his vision. He looked into the bedroom mirror, and wasn't even able to move in order to express his horror at what he saw. His eyes were entire black. Just like Hazel's.

She knelt beside him. "My beloved, I have been searching for centuries for you. For the one. And now here we are together." She pushed hair out of his eyes, and kissed him even as he was still squirming. "It hurts, I know. But this was the best way. I was going to slip you this in a drink, but when I found out about the pea I knew it would be even better."

Ivan tried to speak, to shout, to call for help...anything and anyone to come and save him.

"Shh, shh..." The corpse's hand brushed against his lips. He tried to shudder, and couldn't. "We will be happy. You'll see. You're mine now."

And everything went black.


Friday, December 17, 2010

There's Nothing Better Than.....


My uncle and I discovered something absolutely AMAZING when you mixn'melt n u t e l l a together with a rich dose of m i l k:

The world's best Hot Chocolate!

1) Heat milk in a saucepan.
2) Using a spoon, scoop a generous amount of Nutella and drop it in the saucepan.
3) Stir frequently until the Nutella melts completely.
4) It's magic!

This is what it looks like when it's completely done.

My camera does not do this delicious stuff justice. -___- Sorry for the fuzziness!
Yes, I drink hot chocolate in a bowl. With a spoon.

Marshmallows!!! 10x yummier and sweeter. You can also add your own spices, cinnamon, or anything else you desire. Experiment: try skim milk instead of whole milk to lighten the fat.

Try it yourself! It's the perfect wintry drink. Now THAT'S what I call hot cocoa.



Sunday, December 12, 2010

Ten Perfect Holiday Movies

Question of the Day: What's your favorite thing to do during a cold, wintery day? Do you like to snuggle up by the fireplace reading your favorite book (a bit cliche, I know), or would you prefer hitting the slopes to go skiing or snowboarding?

1) The Holiday (2006)--If you're a total sap-face for romantic comedies, I suggest you rent this movie. Four of Hollywood's most beloved actors and actresses come together to create the story of two women who exchange homes (across the seas, too!) for the Christmas holiday and unexpectedly find themselves falling in love. Special miracles seem to always happen around Christmas time, don't they?

Starring Jude Law, Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet, and Jack Black

2) The Santa Clause (1994) -- What would YOU do if one day you found yourself as Santa Clause? (Yes, THE Santa Clause...the one that has to drink all the milk and cookies and lay out the presents for the children and work with elves in the North Pole. That Santa Clause.) Well, come along for the [open sleigh] ride with Tim Allen when he wakes up one morning and realizes that he has become the new boss with the white beard and red suit.

Starring: Tim Allen, Judge Reinhold, Eric Lloyd, Wendy Crawson

3) Home Alone (1990) -- This movie has just the right amount of suspense, humor, and family fun. When eight-year-old Kevin McCallister finds himself completely home alone after his VERY, very big family forgets to pack him up as well for holiday vacation, he gets to do whatever he wants. Including playing some hilarious tricks on two burglars!

Starring Macaulay Culkin, Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern, Catherine O'Hara

4) Meet the Parents (2000) -- Robert de Niro is one of my FAVORITE actors and this is definitely one of his best movies! In this film, he plays an overprotective dad who uses his CIA tactics to test his daughter's boyfriend to see if he's good enough for her when they two come visit him and his family for the holidays. Sounds fun, eh?

Starring Robert de Niro, Ben Stiller, Teri Polo, and Blythe Danner

5) Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory (1971) -- This is one of those movies that completely warms your heart and chocolate, of course! Everyone knows Willy Wonka: the chocolate genius who can make any sort of sweet he wishes and owns the biggest--and most secretive--Chocolate Factory in the world! Everyone is completely surprised when he allows five children and two family members, including the good-natured young Charlie and Grandpa Joe, each to come along a wild tour in his factory. If you've got a sweet definitely want to join in on the tour!

Starring: Gene Wilder, Jack Albertson, Peter Ostrum

6) Uncle Buck (1989) -- You gotta' love Uncle Buck. He's a family man all right.

Starring: John Candy, Jean Louisa Kelly, Gaby Hoffmann, and Macaulay Culkin

7) How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000) -- This movie is soooo entertaining! You wanna know why? Because Jim Carrey plays THE GRINCH. This is a really awesome remake of one of Dr. Seuss's most beloved and popular stories. Basically...well, The Grinch is trying to steal Christmas from Whosville. xD By the way, Cindy Lu Who is *adorable* in this movie.

Starring: Jim Carrey, Taylor Momsen

8) Little Women (1994) -- I haven't watched this movie in a good while, but I HAVE watched it at least six times.....and it never gets old. :) This is a movie about family, about sisterhood and friendship, about love, about poverty and the hardships of war. It's just as good as the book!

Starring: Winona Ryder, Kirsten Dunst, Claire Danes, Christian Bale, Susan Sarandon

9) Alvin & the Chipmunks (2007) -- If you've got little ones in the house, this is the perfect movie. They'll enjoy it, and you and any other grownup will too! Based on the old but much-loved cartoon, this movie is about three chipmunks who meet a songwriter; together, they make the perfect team and are on their way to success in a heartbeat!

Starring: Jason Lee, David Cross, Justin Long & Jesse McCartney & Matthew Gray Gubler (chipmunk voices)

10) Dumb & Dumber (1994) -- Yes, Jim Carrey is funny (and bizarre!) enough to make my list twice. Meet Harry and Lloyd...the two most idiotic roommates ever who decide to drive their ridiculous puppy van (watch it and you'll see what I mean) all the way to Aspen to return a briefcase full of cash to a beautiful woman named Mary Swanson. Your stomach will be so sore from laughing. Promise.

5/5 stars of stupidity...har har!

Starring: Jim Carrey, Jeff Daniels, Lauren Holly



Thursday, December 9, 2010

Reading Between the Lines

Question of the Day: What song inspires you? Why? Is it the rhythm, the lyrics, or something else special about it?
I'd like you to me Mr. Duke. He's a nice guy....been hanging out with me for a good while now. He lets me tell him anything I want. Very good secret keeper, I must say.

Mr. Duke is my Quotes Book. He's filled with a bunch of treasures and jewels in the form of words. Quotes, beliefs, inside jokes, famous sayings by famous people, song lyrics, Facebook statuses, you name it .

Whenever I'm lonely or just need a pick-me-up of inspiration, I turn to Mr. Duke. Because he's just that cool. :)

Today I'd like to share little tidbits of entertainment, inspiration, and insight that I've picked up over the past couple of years. I figured this was appropriate especially since 2010 is slowly saying farewell to us. It's nice going back and seeing what I've written and added to Mr. Duke. =)

(drag the image to your URL bar to make it bigger)

I hope you enjoy and that you find something to laugh over, smile about, and ultimately think of throughout the day. :) Which line is your favorite?



Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Vote For My Entry [Tessa's Blogontest Finalist!]

Question of the Day: What language/dialect/accent do you most enjoy listening to?

Hello all! I hope you are having a lovely week so far and staying warm. =) I just received a wonderful piece of news.....I'm one of the finalists for Tessa's blogontest! It was a HUGE surprise, seeing as all the entrants did an amazing job and there were some truly outstanding submissions.

If you read and enjoyed my entry (the Harry Potter fanfic), I would truly appreciate your vote!

You can read my entry HERE

You can vote HERE

Deadline to vote is Sunday, December 12th. Good luck to all finalists!!


Monday, December 6, 2010

5 Ways to Find a Summer In the Midst of Winter

Question of the Day: What's the weather like where you are?

Within the last couple of posts, I mentioned a significant quote:

"In the midst of winter, I found within me an invincible summer."
--Albert Camus

As December continues on, we will all become deeply entrenched within the chill of winter and the weather will get colder by the day. Studies have shown that people's moods tend to go downhill during the winter season, possibly because of the absence of sunlight and because the days become shorter and darker more quickly. If you ever find yourself feeling down in the dumps, here are a few ways to get back in high spirits:

1) Take a walk. Now it may be that the last thing you want to do is get yourself in the freezing cold just to stroll around the neighborhood or the park. But by sitting at home by the fireplace, you're bound to feel cooped up and listless. Perhaps you'll even welcome that bit of chill, and a simple glance at the snow outside will have you smiling once again.

2) Bake some cookies. Sometimes boredom gives rise to depression and feelings of dullness, and all you need is a bit of that chocolate chip or spicy gingerbread to perk up your senses and get you back into the holiday mood!

3) Do something for yourself. Whether it's taking a relaxing bath, playing tennis at the local gym, or writing in your journal. Taking some time to do something special on your own will definitely make you feel more

4) After you finish reading this post, get off the Internet and do some hands-on activities. Constantly looking at the screen (whether it be television, Wii games, or Facebook stalking) tends to depress the brain and make us less reactive, so make some arts and crafts or go play with your pets.

5) Play an instrument or listen to some soothing tunes. Music always works wonders. No matter if I am in the need for inspiration while writing my WIP, a lift in my mood, or something to jam and dance to, music is a must-have in some shape or form (Pandora/iPod/Radio, anybody?).


On Saturday, it snowed. =) My backyard became a total winter wonderland, and only today did the snow begin melting. But here is the miraculous thing...all of my lovely edible plants propped up on the fence are still in spectacular condition!

If that's not the perfect example of a small garden of summer in the midst of a cool winter, I don't know what is!!



Sunday, December 5, 2010

Tessa's Blogontest: Outside the Box

Question of the Day: When was the last time you overcame your fears or stepped out of your comfort zone?

Kudos to the lovely Tessa of Tessa's Blurb, who is hosting a "Blogontest: Outside My Box." Entrants are to post a short piece of writing that they usually are not used to writing. Since I write original fiction most of the time, I've decided to share with you all Chapter 1-3 of a fanfiction piece that I have been working on in my spare time when I decide to take a little break from my WIP novel. The fanfiction is based on J.K. Rowling's Wizarding world and stars The Marauders and Lily Evans (way back before Harry Potter was even born).

Let me know what you all think! If you are interested in reading the rest of what I have so far, you can view it HERE.

For What Is Worse?

Chapters 1-3

The golden, fluttering ball just didn't ever seem to want to stay put. Of course, the Golden Snitch's job was to never stay put—it was meant to keep moving at all times. Still, it was no match for James Potter's strong hands and flexibility as he caught the Snitch over and over again, almost leisurely. It never took him much energy to keep the Snitch from flying farther than a couple feet away.

"When are you going to stop playing with that thing?" Remus Lupin asked, looking over Quidditch Through the Ages. He was leaning against a tall oak tree, his forehead and his eyes being the only visible parts of his face. That tree also happened to be shading James, Sirius Black and Peter Pettigrew. It was a late Friday afternoon, and they had just finished their last class for the day…for the weekend.

Two days to do whatever they wanted. Best of all, tomorrow would be another Hogsmeade trip, and everybody looked forward to that.

"When this little sphere finally manages to get the better of me," James replied, sniggering almost lazily.

"Which will never happen," Peter piped up.

"—Unless some girl comes and distracts ol' Prongs for a second too late," Sirius added.

"Please," Remus said, finally putting down his book and turning to the others. "James has had that Snitch since the beginning of eternity, and girls have been chasing him since the beginning of eternity. Nah…Prongs is—"

"Whoa," breathed James. The others turned to look what where he was staring at. His brown eyes were wider than Galleons.

"What are you looking—"

Before Sirius could finish his question, James grabbed him and pointed ahead.

"Do you see what I see, mate?" He said, still breathless as though he'd been running.

"Uh…I have no clue what you're seeing…" Sirius said, uncertainly. "Come off it, just tell us what in Merlin's name you're staring at."

"Who is she?"

"She?" Remus automatically turned. "Oh James—you idiot—that's Evans!" James's eyebrow raised in surprise.

"Lily? Lily Evans?" he said. Lily was holding her books and apparently chatting animatedly with her friend Gizelle Peters. There was no mistake about it. The reddish-brown hair, the green eyes, it was all the same. And yet...Lily Evans seemed to have changed as well. She'd seemed to have sprouted over the summer; her hair was wavier and curves had appeared. Her complexion was bronze, not so pale like the last couple of years.

"That's her?" Sirius said, incredulously. "Merlin's beard, she looks different!"


From the corner of her eye, Lily Evans saw a boy walking towards her. Messy black hair, glasses…who else could it be? Lily asked herself. She rolled her eyes and continued chatting with Gizelle.

To Lily, Potter was nothing but an annoying show-off who thought he was cooler than anybody else on the face of this earth. Unfortunately he seemed to have made Lily his prime victim and every year he would not stop teasing her about everything, from her red hair to the robes she wore to Potions class.

But this year would be different, she decided. She would not let him bother her anymore and if he even tried she would curse his face—literally.

"That's not the Potter boy is it?" Gizelle asked her, now looking the same way Lily was a moment ago.

"Yeah, it is," Lily muttered. "No, don't look that way; and maybe he won't bother us."

"Too late…" replied Gizelle. James Potter had already approached them. He casually flung his hair out of his face and placed his arm around Lily's neck.

"Hey there Evans," he said, trying to sound cool and relaxed. "How was your summer?"

Disgusted, Lily tossed Potter's arm from her, way farther than was necessary. He let out a yelp of pain and rubbed his arm.

"Jeez, what was that for Evans?"

"Don't talk to me," Lily snarled. "See you haven't changed over the summer."

Potter smiled at her. "See you have." His eyes skimmed up and down her body.

"Just shut it, Potter," Lily snapped at him. "C'mon, Gizelle, let's go somewhere else." She grabbed Gizelle's arm desperately and began to walk away. But before they could go any further, Potter ran up to her, blocking her way.

"Get lost," Lily said. She didn't want this boy to have any more say in anything.

"Hey, hey, calm down Evans," Potter said, shocked at the way this beauty was acting. "Just hold on a sec, okay?"

"And what? Listen to your little teasing remarks for another year? No, I don't think so." And Lily took a step forward.

"No—wait—I have something to say. Look, I promise I'll stop teasing you forever on one condition." Potter smiled again, this time in a mischievously cheerful way.

Lily raised her eyebrow. "And what's that, Potter?"

"I promise to stop teasing you forever if you'll go out with me."

"What?" Lily laughed and wouldn't stop. "Forget it, Potter. You're way out of your head."

"No I'm not," replied Potter. "I just happen to know what I want and I'm willing to sacrifice some things for that."

"First of all, I decline. And second of all, you say you'll stop teasing me forever but in the end, to you forever means the end of tomorrow."


James walked back to his group of friends, feeling discouraged but not upset. Evans always acted this way toward him, ever since their first year at Hogwarts. But now that it was their fifth year, he wanted things to be different.

He always had an interest in girls of all kind, but this one seemed to spark him in the forehead. James had always thought of Evans as the girl who he could always tease without shame, for she was headstrong and didn't seem to care what others thought. Especially not him.

James returned to the tree that Peter, Remus, and Sirius were lounging under, their heads bowed and hands over their faces. Obviously, they were chuckling at what they just saw.

"That, my friend," Sirius said, smacking James on the back, "is what I call an epic fail." The rest roared with laughter when James punched Sirius in the arm.

"Don't worry," said Peter, "she'll probably say yes to you sometime or other. I mean, every other witch in this school would die to be in her place."

"Yeah…" James said absentmindedly. But somehow or other, he figured this girl would be different than the others and not so easy to obtain.


Sirius had just finished naming James' attempt an "epic fail," laughing with the rest. But inside, his thoughts were complete confusion.

When Sirius had seen Lily Evans a moment ago, it was shock at first. Had that small lanky girl with no boobs really transformed into this wondrous woman of red hair and curvy hips? Even he himself wished he wouldn't think such things; in their younger years he had often thought Lily as a sort of clumsy potion brewer of a witch. Always mixing something in her cauldron, she never needed a textbook to create anything—a genius by all means. Just the instructions, her ingredients, and her cauldron: that's all she needed.

But now…now was different. Lily was different. And Sirius had suddenly changed as well.

James had always been Sirius's first mate; or rather, it was the other way. Sirius had always been James' first mate, right-hand man. He supported everything James did, no matter what it was. His years at Hogwarts consisted of so many memories, all shared with James…

How they had almost gotten expelled in their first year for lighting a teacher on fire...

How they had both spent their second year trying to kill Mrs. Norris, Filch's cat and then both wounded up in detention…

How they had taken time in their third year to come up with plans for their monthly outings with Peter and Remus, turning into Animagi…

How they had stolen food from the kitchen underneath James' Invisibility Cloak their fourth year…

James was Sirius's brother. They were always together and never let the other down. So why was it that now Sirius felt like his mortal enemy?

But secretly, inside, he knew.

That uncomfortable, squirming feeling he experienced when he saw Lily just moments ago confirmed it.

And now an internal battle seemed to be taking place within Sirius. His desire versus his right mind: two opposing forces like fire and ice fighting against each other, never ending.

That's James' witch, you know you can't have her.

Who said I wanted her at all?

You know you do. And you also know you can't.

Who says I can't? Wait—who said she was James' witch in the first place? She's nobody's witch…which makes it even more appropriate for me.

No it does not! James is your best mate!

Exactly, he'll understand perfectly.

If he does, that makes it all the more worse for you to even think about it!

Lily...Lily Evans…how could she have become so beautiful in the course of three months?

Stop that! Stop that, I tell you. You have NO right to think those thoughts.

Neither does James.

That's none of your business.

Lily Evans…

In the end, Sirius convinced himself that these thoughts were harmless, that they were just normal wishes of getting a girl himself for once, not necessarily Lily. He promised that he would stop thinking about her, that he would think of any other witch but her. After all, James had liked, perhaps even loved, Lily for all these years even if he hadn't admitted it. And now James was showing his feelings more than ever. And Sirius honestly didn't want to interfere with that either.

Still, he glanced one more time towards the direction in which Lily and her friend were walking away. And he couldn't help but see the way her dark red hair rippled in the wind, so bright under the sunlight. And in an instant, Sirius wished so badly to hold the person who owned that beautiful mane, to bury his face in those strands.


What do you think?


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