3 {Other} Christmas songs

I love Christmas music.

Golly, who doesn't?

Also, who says "golly" anymore? I think we should bring it back.

Anyway, Christmas music is splendid. I love traditional Christmas songs that there are a zillion different versions of.

BUT I also have a few songs that aren't quite as well known. Like, there are only a couple versions of it, or maybe even just one. Or it just doesn't get the play time that all the other songs do.

I thought I'd share three of those with you today. Just the ones that came to mind first...

1) "Ding Dong Merrily on High" by Celtic Woman

Dude, this song is awesome. It is an older carol that you've probably heard before, but if you haven't heard this version, check it out. It just feels Christmasy. It makes me want to ice skate while it's snowing and angels are singing and bells are ringing...or something.

2) "A Baby Changes Everything" by Faith Hill

A very pretty, very meaningful song. Sung by Faith Hill. Gorgeous.

3) "Christmas Makes Me Cry" by Mandisa and Matthew West

Kind of pop-y, but moving nonetheless. Good vocals, too!

Have you heard these? What other Christmas songs do you like that don't get played a a gazillion times every year?

The bark and the bite(s)

Once upon a time, there was a boy named Mint.

One day, Mint met a girl named Chocolate.

He was a boy, she was a girl...can I make it any more obvious? (Thanks, Avril).

They fell in love and got married.

The world has been a better place ever since.

The end.

Do you understand the moral of this half-baked fairy tale? Let me make it as clear as possible to you:

mint + chocolate = perfection

And one of the reasons Christmas time is the best is because it is during this festive season that mint and chocolate come together to create one of their finest accomplishments: peppermint bark.

Hi, my name's Katie and I'm a peppermint barkaholic.

It started with Williams Sonoma peppermint bark several years back. Mm mm good.

However, this goodness comes with a price...a price that is right around $20 per tin.

Bummer, dude.

I've tried making peppermint bark. Believe me, I've tried. It's all right, edible and all, but just not as good. Not as good.

BUT this year...I have discovered two - yes, TWO - acceptable alternatives that do not - do NOT - cost $20.


No, neither one is the Williams Sonoma stuff...but they are both chocolaty, minty, and downright yummy.

If you're like me, and peppermint and chocolate rocks your world, try these. I predict that you will like them.

And if you don't like them, e-mail me and I'll send you my address so you can send me the leftovers.


And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David (because he was of the house and lineage of David)

To be taxed with Mary, his espoused wife, being great with child.

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of heavenly host praising God, and saying,

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Can you really read this enough?

I can always tell when I'm reading it the right way...it makes me cry.

From humble beginnings came the Savior of the world, the literal Son of God.

He came to live and die for each of us. His love is immeasurable, and His example is perfect.

I hope I can do something to follow that example this Christmas. Will you join me?

He is our Savior. He lived and walked this earth, and He still lives today. I believe this with all of my heart, mind, and strength.

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Merry Christmas!

Joyful and Triumphant

The title of this post really has nothing to do with the content of this post.

I just really like the phrase joyful and triumphant.

I will now proceed to write this post that is largely unrelated to joyful-and-triumphant-ness.

Basically, I am up earlier than I want to be (love you, Madelyn!), still tired, and rather bored.

So here are some things on my mind:

1) Christmas is in like, three days! Christmas Eve is in like, two days! Christmas Eve Eve is in like, one day! I really like Christmas.

b) I have a large amount of Christmas shopping left to do, some of which is unplanned (aka I have no idea what to get some of the people on my list)

iii) I like Dallin. He is fun to look at, be with, and smell.

IV) I am in a very intense baking mood. I have seen many yummy to the max recipes nowadays -

**Side note: I love picky-palate.com. This lady has the BEST recipes. And if anyone has a picky palate...well, hi, it's me. Side note over**

and would love to just escape to my kitchen and bake my little-but-powerful heart out. We shall see if that happens.

E) I'm pretty sure I could list 8,700,040 reasons why I love Madelyn. Stay tuned for that post.

last) I am fairly to moderately upset about the newer version of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" being at the TOP of Moviefone's Worst Christmas Movies Ever list. Um, hi. Did they not read my Katie's Favorite Christmas Movies of All Time List and realize that this movie is one of my favorites before really hurting my feelings in this way? Apparently not.

I think that about covers what's on my mind at the moment...

Oh wait - and I'm hungry. Now we're done.

So tell me - what are you baking today?

Last Christmas

I gave you my heart
But the very next day, you gave it away
This year, to save me from tears,
I'll give it to someone special.

Do you know this song?

If you listen to the same Christmas radio station that I listen to, you do. You probably know it backwards.

Special someone to it give I'll
tears from me save to year this
away it gave you day next very the but
heart my you gave I Christmas last.

Yeah, that probably made perfect sense to you.

This song gets played a lot. And like everyone that's ever recorded a Christmas song sings it.

WELL guess what? If I ever record a Christmas album, I'm NOT singing this one.

That's right - I don't like this song. Nope, I sure don't.

The original version by Wham! is especially irksome to me. At least other versions have decent vocals.

But really, what is this song other than a love song disguised as a Christmas song? I'll tell you what - it's a bad love song disguised as a Christmas song!

If it wasn't for the word Christmas, it wouldn't be allowed to play at Christmastime. And since none of the other lyrics have anything to do with Christmas, I submit that we officially change the title of the song to "Last Easter" or "Last August," which make just as much sense, and get this song off the Christmas playlist.

So - do you have Christmas songs that you just get sick of, or deny the Christmasness of? Don't worry - it doesn't make you a Scrooge.

Holly Jolly Christmas

Yes, it is January.

Yes, I am finally writing about our Christmas.

You've heard the phrase "Better late than never?" This phrase and I go way back. We're tight. I am going to embroider it on a pillow someday.

If I ever learn to embroider. Better late than never.

So - Christmas! Our first Christmas together was indeed very special.

Christmas Eve found Katie working at American Eagle and Dallin doing a little work from home. I didn't get home until about 4:45 or so, and we finished some present wrapping and egg nog drinking before heading over to my parents' house for the traditional Christmas Eve bash.

Said bash consists of eating, (dr. pepper) drinking, mingling...all fairly typical bash-ing.

Our typical bash-ing.

And then it's showtime. A fantastic talent show is followed by (trumpets!) the Christmas Eve play.

The Christmas Eve play was started by my mother (gosh! my mom and her traditions!) many moons ago. It originally involved her and her four brothers (one of which was always assigned any extra female roles) and usually tells a story involving Santa Claus and some kind of catastrophe that is threatening to ruin Christmas. Over the years, several evolutions have taken place:

1) The play now stars the next generation of Allen kids
2) While the "Christmas is in danger" idea is still the main idea, the plot revolves around some kind of event that took place that year (we've done the Olympics, ASU football (the 96-97 season-yeah baby), and Harry Potter, just to name a few)
3) I play Santa Claus

This last one might shock you. I mean, I hope it shocks you.



Not exactly twinners, you know?

Anyway, don't ask me how it happened. But I'm Santa Claus. I have been for the past 5 or 6 years now. It's an odd job, but somebody's gotta do it.

This year, the play focused on the bad economy. Basically, the bank was going to foreclose on Santa's house and workshop, making it impossible for him to get out and deliver his toys on Christmas Eve. Riot ensues. But with a little Christmas magic, hearts are changed and all is well again!

The cast

Let me just say that the stuffing of Santa didn't go as well this year as in previous years. Santa had quite a few questionable lumps in odd places...not to mention his pants simply did not want to stay on.

But they did. I made sure of it.

After the play, we all get to open our present from Grandma and Papa. It's always pajamas. Call me clingy, but I clung to my childhood and requested that Dallin and I also get pjs. So we did. And I'm glad because we slept in style!

I got to open one more present that night, right before bed. Dallin gave me a card informing me that we would be going to stay the night at a bed and breakfast in Pinetop in a few weeks! (of course, that "few weeks" passed and our trip was this past weekend. Don't hate! I'll get there!) It was a very thoughtful present and I slept on Christmas Eve with visions of cozy cabins dancing in my head.

Christmas morning, we took a traditional "waiting to see the presents picture"

before being let loose on the presents. Dallin and I got some great stuff, including a remote control airplane (his) and a fabulous spice rack (mine). We also got some new games, clothes, and movies, which are, of course, always welcome. Dallin got me some perfume and an AE gift card, along with B&B trip, and I got him a tent and camping stove, and a new dress shirt.

I abhor this picture. But it was the best I could do to show you our excellent Christmas load.

After the present opening came breakfast (breakfast flopovers (quesadillas) and crepes) and, of course, an afternoon nap!

We went to see "Bedtime Stories" that afternoon, which was actually pretty darn good, and then headed over to my grandparents' house for food, games, and more family time.

Bragging moment: my family loves this game called Tripole, and we play it all the time. I never win. But I WON this time. In fact, dominated might be a more appropriate term. Check it:

For all you non chip-game players out there, a lot of chips is a good thing. Oh, I was am so proud.

So, we stayed late and partied the night away! I won't ruin the good feeling I'm sure you have inside now by telling you about the terrible day I had at work the next day. Blech.

Oh, I love Christmas!

Can't wait till next year!

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 thing...my 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!

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...

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...



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 http://mymuffinthursdays.blogspot.com/ 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!


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!

Most Wonderful Time

Oh my.

I'm not sure I can explain to you the goodness of the good news I have.



My love for these delicious morsels has distorted my thinking. I can no longer decide whether the appearance of these Cookies (yep- capitalized) means Christmas is coming, or if Christmas coming means the appearance of the Cookies! Either way, I bought two boxes.

Holidays are grand. Wait until I get a hold of some Mint M&Ms.