My Weekly Adventures: Holiday Celebrations

weekly adventures

The last Weekly Adventures of this year everyone!

It is going to be a really happy one full of holiday celebrations and food and family. Its hard to imagine that its New Year’s Eve and I’m sure not a ton of you are sitting around looking at blogs but still, I’m keeping to my normal routine to share this. I have something to get done hopefully today as well if New Year’s Eve cleaning and dinner party prep doesn’t take up too much of my time.

Winter Solstice Festival

Dinner

Winter Solstice Festival was celebrated a day later so it was just the day before our Christmas Eve gathering meaning that we had a few days of lots of eating. This festival is more of a Chinese celebration between family. My mom made some turkey and as usual made more food than the amount of people since she also invited one of her friends as well. It was delicious and fun. My husband was occupied with watching NFL football match while I chatted with my mom and her friend. It was really nice.

Christmas Eve Family Gathering

Our annual Christmas Eve gathering was at my in-laws this year. The whole taking turns to celebrate is a pretty nice. Everyone showed up as well as some close family friends and their loved ones. Its always a fun time to see everyone and just have a good laugh, eat lots of food and do some gift exchange. The adults are usually just simple little things so we actually brought a bunch of stuff that I had bought from the haul in the previous weekly adventures and did a little pick your prize style so everyone got to just close their eyes and put their hands in the big christmas bag and see what they got. It saves me the trouble from figuring who wants what and they have a little surprise element. I just hope that everyone liked their little sweets.

Friends Holiday Gathering

I forgot to take a picture of the food at this gathering. However, this is part of what I brought. I also brought dessert, pumpkin cookies. (recipe HERE). My meal though was finally putting the many goodfood boxes to use and added my own little twist from something I had learned from those recipes in their one pan recipe. This had squash, brussel sprouts, nantes carrots and chicken thighs and some garlic. Lots of fun with my girl friends and their other halves. This year did make our gatherings less frequent than previous years so we have agreed to try and make things happen more frequently in 2019.

Game Warp Podcast – Year in Review 2018 (plus new audio format)

Gatherings and family is a big deal but in between all that, I did manage to get our big year end episode for Game Warp edited. These episodes are usually mammoth tasks so I did procrastinate a little and pulled two evenings of working hard and got this one done. Hopefully you have time to check it out and enjoy. On better news, Year in Review 2018 is also available audio on Himalaya FM now. I can’t figure out how to embed the player but you can find it HERE. I’m still exploring this Himalaya thing so hopefully things will get better.

Cute Kitty Pic

Kitty Cat

This wraps up the last 2018 Weekly Adventures!
Hopefully I’ll be back with an overview of 2018, if not, I’ll talk about 2019 plans tomorrow.

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVE CELEBRATIONS!
(and Happy New Year if you already have past midnight)

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Christmas 2018: Music Obsessions Special

Christmas is just around the corner! I promised you all a Christmas Special. After searching up a little bit of some new covers of songs, these have been my faves! Hope you enjoy it!

Rockin’ Around the Christmas – Pentatonix

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen – Peter Hollens feat. The Hound + The Fox

Where Are You, Christmas? – Pentatonix

This Christmas – VoicePlay

And for a little random fun…

I’m keeping things short and sweet for this post. Its all about Christmas and holidays and the joy from it all!

What Christmas songs have you been listening to?

Christmas 2018: Christmas Wedding Planner (2017)

Christmas Wedding Planner (2017)

Christmas Wedding Planner

Director: Justin G. Dyck

Cast: Jocelyn Hudon, Stephen Huszar, Kelly Rutherford, Rebecca Dalton, Eric Hicks, Joey Fatone

Wedding Planner, Kelsey Wilson, is about to have her big break: planning her beloved cousin’s lavish and exclusive wedding. Everything is going smoothly until Connor McClane, a devilishly handsome private investigator, shows up and turns Kelsey’s world upside-down.  – IMDB

The good streak of holiday films plummets with Christmas Wedding Planner. It falls into the incredibly predictable movie even more than any other ones I’ve seen. There’s really awkward chemistry and lacking of romance also. I’m not exactly sure where to start. It did a few redeeming points and moments so it wasn’t something I hated just something I probably wouldn’t want to watch again.

Christmas Wedding Planner

Most of these holiday romance movies are already quite predictable and that is a given. It usually doesn’t bother me too much because the formula it has works when it pairs up a charming pair, a few funny and heartwarming moment and things still feel fun to watch because of this natural chemistry or whatever supporting cast and shenanigans and situation that it is in. Christmas Wedding Planner is missing a few of those elements. It feels a bit disjointed because the story does jump around fairly fast but then if it was longer, it probably wouldn’t have changed much for this story. It is really where it falls flat because it is about as generic as generic can get. On top of that, the cast itself didn’t really seem to be feeling it. Kelsey (Jocelyn Hudon) and Connor (Stephen Huszar) on paper did have dialogue that normally would be relatively okay but then some of the dialogue felt like it was so rehearsed that it didn’t feel natural anymore. That is where my problem with this works because they both look great together and when they aren’t talking and just looking at each other, you can feel the chemistry a tad but then the script kicks in and it just knocks it all down.

The saving grace here though, despite the script is Kelly Rutherford as Aunt Olivia. Kelly Rutherford has this elegance and charm that radiates through her role and it works with the role she is playing as the controlling and disapproving aunt and somewhat seems to have a change in her role towards Kelsey at the end. The other is Joey Fatone who is really just a supporting role as George, Connor’s brother but somehow it was fun to watch him do his little bit.

Overall, there isn’t much to say about Christmas Wedding Planner. I don’t have a whole lot that I liked about it. In terms of holiday, this is about a holiday wedding so there was a whole lot of that going on. The wedding dress and outfits are pretty nice. However, it was the script and the lack of chemistry between the romance interest in a good few moments that pulled it down for me.

Christmas 2018: The Christmas Chronicles (2018)

The Christmas Chronicles (2018)

Christmas Chronicles

Director: Clay Kaytis

Cast: Kurt Russell, Judah Lewis, Darby Camp, Kimberly Williams-Paisley, Oliver Hudson, Lamorne Morris, Martin Roach

The story of sister and brother, Kate and Teddy Pierce, whose Christmas Eve plan to catch Santa Claus on camera turns into an unexpected journey that most kids could only dream about. – IMDB

An adventure this one definitely is. The Christmas Chronicles is a fun little adventure full of everything that we love. I have to say that Kurt Russell as Santa is a pop of difference. Judah Lewis and Darby Camp are great as kids. It gave me this whole vibe of what great Christmas movies that we love had especially when tackling the power of to believe in Santa. The story is a bit generic and expected but the enthusiasm and the pure humor of the whole thing along with all the fun action-packed bits definitely set it apart whether its racing down the streets in flashy race cars or commandeering a sleigh ride and the different aspects that gives it some fun moments makes it never forget what it is and stays true to its purpose.

Christmas Chronicles

The highlight of The Christmas Chronicles definitely hands down goes to Kurt Russell who truly takes us for a fun little Christmas ride as after the kids scare him and make him crash land in Chicago, to chase down his Santa hat, his reindeers and his bag of toys. With the help of Teddy (Judah Lewis) and Kate (Darby Camp), this adventure is kind of an interesting way to see Santa portrayed in a rather non-traditional way. Its refreshing and Kurt Russell’s version is so memorable.

Other than that, what I did like a lot also has to go to the computer graphics and how it makes up for all the cute designs here and just how everything comes to life. For one, the reindeers are done so lively and the expressions in their eyes are fantastic. Just like when we get to see these North Pole elves who have their fantastical language but all so unique in their design just like how they look so cute but have this very hilarious ugly side when the situation is needed. They are so cute and charming.

Overall, The Christmas Chronicles is a fun Christmas adventure. It has a lot of the Polar Express feels, especially because a few parts takes the music from that movie, especially with the same concept of believing in Santa and the power of this belief and trying to get someone (in this case Teddy) to regain belief. At the same time, it also has these musical moments where Kurt Russell has a singing moment. There are a ton of elements here. Its festive and fun and honestly, its been a while that I’ve felt like any holiday films released in the last few years has made it onto our annual holiday movie marathon, but this one definitely fits all our criteria.

Christmas 2018: Stinky Santa by Otto Fishblanket

Stinky Santa
by: Otto Fishblanket

Stinky Santa

Jingle bells, Santa smells –
he smells of mouldy cheese.
He doesn’t wear any trousers
so you can see his knees.
A new work by renowned poet and part-time aeronautical escapologist, Otto Fishblanket, Stinky Santa is a book about a smelly Santa. It is illustrated by celebrity childen’s book illustrator, Gerald Hawksley. – IMDB

It seems like I’m taking a childish turn of events over here. Its not a bad thing at all. I was going through my Kindle and realized I had at some point gotten this Stinky Santa book for free. Its two short stories set in rhyming poetry about the holidays. The first is called Stinky Santa which talks about Santa who doesn’t like to shower and smells a lot but then gets all nice for Christmas to deliver the gifts and goes back sweaty and dirty and goes back to his usual routine. Its a little silly but somehow quite fun and satisfying to read. Plus, the drawings are done pretty cute as well. It fits into what I think kids will enjoy. Plus, the writing runs off the tongue well especially because it does rhyme well so never feels too forced.

The second story or poem (not sure what to call it yet) is what they say is a “surprise gift”. Its a nice little perk called Santa’s Grotty Grotto. Most people probably wouldn’t refer to Santa’s workshop as a grotto but here it works a little like Snow White and the Seven Dwarves or something where the place is usually empty and desolate and then it comes to life when it snows. Its a nice thought because even for myself, living in Canada, there is more Christmas spirit and holiday cheer when it snows outside and it just feels more suitable for the holiday season the way that I like it.

Both of these stories is just fun and entertaining. It has some funny bits and a lovely reading experience. Plus, its quick and quirky which also fits into something similar to Dr. Seuss. I mean, there is no comparison because Dr. Seuss is always a gem to read and irreplaceable but I had some similar vibes here and there with the creativity and the silly nature of the material. It is a nice break from the novels and romance and all that stuff that I’ve been reading and watching so the change of pace works for me.

Christmas 2018: Mooseletoe by Tiffinie Helmer

Mooseletoe
by: Tiffinie Helmer

Mooseletoe

Alaska’s matchmaking moose, Bullwinkle, has his sights set on a most unlikely pair. Holly Noelle Snow loves Christmas so much she could be one of Santa’s elves, and Reese Sutton might as well be Scrooge. But there is no way BW will allow these two to ruin his perfect track record. Even if he has to bind them together with Christmas lights. – Goodreads

It is always a struggle to find holiday books and Mooseletoe fits a lot into the movie selections that I have made this holiday season. Its contemporary romance set during Christmas in Alaska in a town with a Christmas-y name and a story revolving a lady with a Christmas-y name. We soon learn why but it couldn’t be more in your face. Suffice to say, there are quite a few holiday elements and that works. The matchmaking moose also works. I realized that this moose is part of other books by Tiffinie Helmer which I haven’t read before or even heard of and responsible for other couple pairings that are in this town. I have nothing against it. Its a decent idea plus I like moose and how it should be used more in winter settings.

My main issue with Mooseletoe is very much the fact that it hits a lot of aspects I find wrong with these contemporary romance books. One of them is the dialogue. Its a tad cringey at times and the ways certain descriptions are written were equally odd. There is this thing about writing contemporary romance that really needs to be read out loud before finalizing because it never feels like I am reading a real couple (or maybe I just don’t talk like that).

Then we have this sped up romance that sometimes works but in this case, it also falls into this frustrating situation and the love at first sight but not embracing it thing and these meaningless arguments. Its a bit too much for me. There are some intimate scenes and it was okay written and I am rather indifferent to it. However, my main issue is the personality characteristics of the main couple, Holly and Reese where it feels very contradicting in parts in what happens before and after.

To be fair, Mooseletoe did bring in a family element. That part was a nice twist and surprise to the story. I enjoyed having those bits because even if you move alone to Alaska, real life is more than romance (no matter how much of a romantic I can be). On that same note, the moral of ths story behind this pairing is a positive message about having courage to push through the bad and see the good to be happier sort of thing. And to not let the bad define you. All very good messages just its not in a very fun read for myself. Overall, a few good ideas, but the writing style is not for me.

***On a side note, I am starting to think contemporary romance is something I need to stay away from for a while. Its the contemporary genre that really gets me very irritated.***

Christmas 2018: The Holiday Calendar (2018)

The Holiday Calendar (2018)

The Holiday Calendar

Director: Bradley Walsh

Cast: Kat Graham, Quincy Brown, Ethan Peck, Ron Cephas Jones, Genelle Williams, Ali Hassan, Rodrigo Fernandez-Stoll

A struggling but talented photographer inherits an antique holiday advent calendar, the contents of which seem to predict the future. Will this magical calendar lead her to love this holiday season? – IMDB

I’m going to be honest that I really only gave this one a chance because I really like Kat Graham in The Vampire Diaries. However, I wasn’t as much of a fan of her in Honey 2 so while I don’t know what The Holiday Calendar was about, I decided to take a chance anyways. I do want to say that on one side, I did work for what it was trying to deliver but if you really don’t have much tolerance for these kind of Hallmark films, then it might not be for you. I’m just going to lay it out so you don’t waste your time. I say this because The Holiday Calendar does nothing special. Everything you predict will probably happen right down to who she ends up being with in the end and even how she pieces together the “magic” calendar to the things she missed to leading her to the one. However, while being predictable isn’t particularly a good thing, there is enough fun bits here to make it enjoyable. Its heartwarming and talks about family and dreams and careers and taking chances and not just romance.

The Holiday Calendar

While the antique calendar itself has something of a spirit here in the background with a lot of presence because the film flows with what pops up in the window everyday, the movie does benefit a lot from Kat Graham who does a great job as Abby, a girl who is stuck at a day job that pays her bills but scared to live her own dreams. There’s this really fun element to her character and her friendship with Josh (Quincy Jones) has a lot of sweet moments to it also. Surprisingly, the parts that I liked the best are the ones where Abby talks to her grandfather because there is a lot of genuine and good bits to it all. The family moments and the picture moments and those bits also add to the experience.

The only thing I did feel about The Holiday Calendar is that there is this turning point moment in the middle which felt kind of awkward. It was this weird epiphany moment that kind of felt out of spot but it didn’t really last too long before things got back on track. If you like Hallmark holiday films, this one is pretty alright. Its pretty predictable but also has a nice heartwarming element and emphasizes on more than romance but also on family moments and a lot of Christmas-y moments.