Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Tuesday's Travel Tip: International Currency Exchange




   International currency exchange* is available at all four of the Disney Theme Parks as well as Downtown Disney Guest Relations and at each Walt Disney World Resort front desk.


*There may be a limit on the amount of currency that can be exchanged.







Rose & Crown Pub & Dining Room: Chocolate Guinness Cake Recipe




Rose & Crown Pub & Dining Room: Chocolate Guinness Cake
*serves 8


Ingredients:

1 stick unsalted butter, softened
2 1/2 cups brown sugar
6 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups Guinness Stout
1/2 cup cocoa powder


Directions:

    Preheat oven to 275°.

    Spray two 9" or 10" round cake pans with non-stick cooking spray (or line bottoms with parchment paper). Cream butter and brown sugar in a large bowl with electric mixer. Gradually add in eggs.

    Sift flour, baking powder and baking soda in a separate bowl. In a smaller bowl, stir Guinness into cocoa powder. Fold in alternate quantities of the flour and cocoa mixtures into the butter/brown sugar. Mix well until incorporated. Pour into the two prepared cake pans and spread evenly. Bake for 1 hour and 30 minutes at 275°. Let cool in pans for 5-10 minutes before turning out onto cooling racks. If you like you can dust tops of cakes with powdered sugar before serving.

Enjoy!




Mickey & Friends Printable New Year's Activity Page


   Ring in the New Year with Mickey & Friends!! Print out this New Year's Activity Page from our friends at DisneyFamily.com. This is a great way to keep the kids entertained while waiting for the countdown to 2012!!

Click HERE to be taken to their page to print out.



Happy New Year!!!





Sunday, December 25, 2011

My Top 25 Christmas Movies List: #1 A Christmas Story

A Christmas Story (1983)




   The best Christmas movie and most quoted ("You'll shoot your eye out!") is none other than: A Christmas Story. Set in the fictional town of Hohman, Indiana, it tells the story of Ralphie Parker. He is a nine-year old boy that only wants one thing: for Santa to bring him a Red Ryder 200-shot Carbine-Action Range Model Air Rifle (bb gun), but every time Ralphie tries to convince an adult, he gets the same response: "You'll shoot your eye out!"

   The movie is filled with tons of comedic situations like the famous "Triple Dog-
Dare" and "Ohhhh Fuuuuddggge!!" scenes. I promise you will love this movie. It has quickly become a holiday classic. Will Ralphie ever get the one true thing he desires? You'll just have to watch and find out. ;)


(Check your local listings because I believe they are showing a marathon of this film today.)


Merry Christmas!!!











  

25 Days of Christmas Photo Countdown: Day 1

Nativity Scene at Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights (Disney's Hollywood Studios)



MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!








Saturday, December 24, 2011

My Top 25 Christmas Movies List: #2 A Charlie Brown Christmas

A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)


    In this Emmy Award-Winning Christmas classic, Charlie Brown and the rest of the Peanuts gang remind viewers of the true meaning of Christmas.

   While on their way to the ice skating pond, Charlie Brown tells his good friend Linus that although the holiday season is underway, he is feeling depressed due to the over-commercialization of Christmas. He then visits Lucy's psychiatric booth where she advises him to be more involved and take action by directing the school's Christmas play.

   On his way to the auditorium, Charlie Brown finds Snoopy frantically decorating his doghouse. When he questions his motives, Snoopy shows him a neighborhood flyer about a lights display contest. Charlie becomes upset and feels betrayed, saying that even his own dog has gone commercial. Even his sister, Sally, asks him to write a letter to Santa requesting large sums of money which troubles him even more.
  
   Finally, Charlie Brown arrives at the auditorium to rehearse the play but he cannot control the actors and crew because they are only interested in modernizing the story with trendy dancing and music. As the director, Charlie refuses to commercialize the play and insists on telling the traditional story of Christmas.

   Lucy tells Charlie they need a Christmas tree as a set decoration so she suggests he go out and get a big, shiny aluminum one. But instead Charlie returns with a small, pathetic baby tree which was the only live tree on the lot. Everyone on set laughs and mocks Charlie's sad little tree and he begins to wonder if he really knows what Christmas is all about. He cries out in despair and Linus walks to the center stage to tell him. A spotlight suddenly appears shining down on Linus as he recites Luke Chapter 2, Verses 8 - 14:

  
    "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 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 the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace and goodwill towards men."

   "And that's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown."


   At that moment, Charlie Brown realizes that he does not have to let commercialism ruin his Christmas. He picks up his little tree and leaves. He stops at Snoopy's decorated doghouse, and finds that it has won first place in the neighborhood decorating contest. Charlie places a red ball ornament on one of the little tree's branches and it flops over from the weight. He declares, "I've killed it!" and runs off upset.

   Meanwhile, the other kids, inspired by Linus' speech, begin to realize that they were too tough on Charlie Brown and have followed him home. Linus sets the tree's bent branch upright and wraps his security blanket around the trunk. The other kids begin decorating it with the prize-winning decorations from Snoopy's doghouse.

   Charlie Brown arrives and is shocked by the tree's new appearance. The kids shout, "Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown!" and begin singing "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" as the film ends.


   This is the best Christmas special ever made and it has become an annual telecast since its debut in 1965. It's also amazing how the storyline still applies 46 years later. Let's all take Linus' recitation from the Word of God and remember the true meaning of Christmas this holiday season.



   Merry Christmas and God Bless!!








25 Days of Christmas Photo Countdown: Day 2

Merry Christmas!!





Friday, December 23, 2011

My Top 25 Christmas Movies List: #3 Frosty the Snowman

Frosty the Snowman (1969)




   This animated TV special tells the story of our favorite snowman, Frosty and how he came to life one day.


   It's the day before Christmas and a schoolteacher has hired a bumbling magician, Professor Hinkle, to entertain her class. When he fails to pull a rabbit out of his top hat, he gets angry and throws it away. The rabbit (named Hocus-Pocus) climbs out of the hat and hops away. Professor Hinkle tries to chase him down.

   Once school has let out for the day, the children head out to play in the snow. A little girl named Karen and a few other children build a snowman and call him "Frosty". Suddenly a gust of wind blows the Professor Hinkle's top hat towards the children, Karen picks it up and places it on Frosty causing him to come to life and proclaim, "Happy Birthday!" Karen realizes that the hat must be magic but just then Hinkle appears to reclaim his hat and Frosty becomes inanimate again.

   The children beg Hinkle to let Frosty have the hat but he refuses, wanting to keep the magic for himself. He storms off with the hat and Hocus-Pocus, but the rabbit manages to escape, taking the hat with him. He returns the hat to the children and with it, they bring Frosty back to life.

   Frosty and the children enjoy their time together until they notice the thermometer rising. Frosty is afraid he will melt so the children decide to send him on a train to the North Pole where it's cold. They parade through town as they make their way to the train station. When they arrive they are sad to discover that they cannot afford a ticket for Frosty. So they sneak him, Karen and Hocus-Pocus onto a refrigerated boxcar but little do they know that Professor Hinkle has also boarded the train in an attempt to get his hat back.

   While on their journey north, Karen begins freezing so Frosty takes her and they jump off the train. Hinkle tries to jump too but crashes into a tree and a pile of snow falls on him. Hocus-Pocus speaks to the forest animals and asks them to build a campfire to warm Karen but Hinkle shows up and blows it out. Hocus hops off to get help from Santa Claus. Meanwhile Frosty and Karen escape and find a greenhouse where they both enter to keep her warm. Once again, they are found by Hinkle and he locks them in.

   Hocus arrives with Santa but it is too late. They find Karen in tears next to Frosty, who is now just a puddle of water. Santa explains that Frosty is made of special Christmas snow that he can never completely melt. Just then, a gust of cold winter air blows into the greenhouse, restoring Frosty to his snowman form. Hinkle arrives and demands that his top hat be returned. Santa steps in and tells him that if he takes it from Frosty his name will forever be removed from his Christmas list. He also tells Hinkle that if he writes "I am really sorry for what I did to Frosty" a hundred-zillion times, Santa will leave a gift in his stocking so Hinkle runs home to begin writing his apologies.

   Santa then places the hat back upon Frosty's head and he awakens to life again. They celebrate then take Karen home. Frosty has to go live at the North Pole with Santa but promises Karen he will be back next winter. The film ends showing the following Christmas, as all the characters are reunited and parading through the town singing the "Frosty the Snowman" song. Frosty climbs back into Santa's sleigh and proclaims, "I'll be back on Christmas Day!"







25 Days of Christmas Photo Countdown: Day 3

Santa in Mickey's Once Upon a Christmastime Parade (in Magic Kingdom)






Thursday, December 22, 2011

Minnie's Christmas Candy Box Craft



   Check out Minnie's Christmas Candy Box, an easy and festive craft from DisneyFamily.com. It's a cute way to display your candy canes this Christmas. Click HERE to be taken to the page for the template and instructions. Enjoy!



   Merry Christmas!!!






Related Posts:

Mickey Mouse Santa Candy Box Craft

My Top 25 Christmas Movies List: #4 Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964)





    I'm sure Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is one of your favorite Christmas TV specials as well. It begins with Sam the Snowman (Burl Ives) narrating the story of Rudolph, a reindeer that is born with a special glowing red nose. His father, Donner, Santa's lead reindeer is ashamed of Rudolph's nose and covers it with mud to make it appear normal. But While Rudolph is playing with his friends, the cover is knocked off and his secret is revealed. The other reindeer make fun of him and his coach bans him from playing in the reindeer games.

   Clarice, Rudolph's female friend is the only reindeer that doesn't care about his appearance and tries to comfort him but her father forbids her from speaking to him. Rudolph, sad and outcast, runs away.

   While out on his own, Rudolph meets Hermey, an elf that wishes to be a dentist instead of a toymaker in Santa's workshop. The two bond over the fact that they are both "misfits" and set out to seek fame and fortune. They have a run-in with the Abominable Snow Monster but manage to escape.

   Rudolph and Hermey also meet Yukon Cornelius, a prospector in search of silver and gold. The three end up on The Island of Misfit Toys that is ruled by a winged-lion named King Moonracer. They ask the King if they can stay on the island because they too are misfits but he declines their request.

   Several months later, Rudolph grows into a young stag and decides to return home. When he arrives he discovers that his family and Clarice have gone looking for him. Rudolph finds them, but they are captives of the Abominable Snow Monster. Rudolph, Hermey and Yukon manage to defeat the Snow Monster and rescue them then they all return home where they are held as heroes.

   Hermey opens a dental office and Yukon manages to train the Snow Monster. During the celebration of Rudolph and Hermey's return, Santa learns that a blizzard is on its way and Christmas will have to be cancelled. Everyone is sad but then Santa sees Rudolph's nose blinking and realizes that he can guide him through the storm. Rudolph happily agrees to help and they are on their way. They first make a stop at The Island of Misfit Toys and pick up the toys to give to boys and girls around the world. The film ends with Santa proclaiming "Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas!" as he flies through the starry night sky on his sleigh led by Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.



   *Here is the original promotional posted used when the TV special aired in 1964:



  

25 Days of Christmas Photo Countdown: Day 4

Epcot Poinsettias






Wednesday, December 21, 2011

My Top 25 Christmas Movies List: #5 How the Grinch Stole Christmas

How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)



   Every year, we look forward to watching How the Grinch Stole Christmas on TV. Based on the book of the same name by Dr. Seuss, this animated TV special tells the story of The Grinch (voiced by Boris Karloff) that lives in a cave on Mt. Crumpit. The Grinch is a bitter green creature, with a heart two sizes too small that despises Christmas.

   On Christmas Eve, the Grinch is trying to figure out a way to prevent Whoville, the town located below Mt. Crumpit, from celebrating Christmas. He decides to disguise himself and steal from each and every Who in Whoville. So the Grinch, dressed as Santa, along with his dog, Max (Dallas McKennon), disguised as a reindeer, pack empty bags and travel down the mountain on their sleigh.

   At the first house, he is caught stealing the Christmas tree by a small girl named Cindy Lou Who (June Foray). The Grinch lies to the child and tells her that he is taking the tree to Santa's Workshop for repairs. Cindy returns to bed and he continues his theft of not only her home but every home in Whoville.

   The Grinch and his faithful companion, Max, climb back up Mt. Crumpit and he is about to drop the sleigh loaded with all the gifts, decorations and holiday food that he took, off the edge of a cliff. But right before he does he hears the Whos happily singing. The Grinch then realizes that Christmas is not about material possessions but the Spirit of Christmas. He is overwhelmed at the sight of the townspeople and his heart grows three sizes larger, thus giving him the strength to pull the sleigh back from going over the edge. He returns all the items he stole from the Whos and is invited to join them in their holiday feast. The Grinch is even given the honor of carving the Roast Beast and he offers the very first slice to faithful ol' Max.


   This is truly a Christmas classic and I'm sure you and your children will enjoy watching it this holiday season!






25 Days of Christmas Photo Countdown: Day 5

"Mickey's Christmas Carol" Window Display on Main Street in Magic Kingdom






Tuesday, December 20, 2011

My Top 25 Christmas Movies List: #6 The Nightmare Before Christmas

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)




    This stop-motion animated feature tells the story of Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King of Halloween Town. He has grown weary of celebrating the same holiday over and over again. On the night of Halloween, Jack, along with his ghost-dog Zero, wanders into the woods where he finds several doorways leading to other holidays. He enters the door with the Christmas tree on it and is transported through a portal to Christmas Town.

   What Jack finds overwhelms him. He is filled with joy at the sights and feelings of the place. He wants to bring some of this Christmas magic back to Halloween Town. Jack returns to his hometown and presents his finding to the residents. He announces that this year they will take over Christmas.

   Jack becomes obsessed with creating the perfect Christmas and assigns roles to every citizen in Halloween Town to help. Sally, a rag doll that is in love with Jack, has a premonition of Jack's Christmas ending in a disaster and tries to warn him but he doesn't listen. Jack then asks three mischievous children: Lock, Stock and Barrel to bring Santa to Halloween Town and they do, by kidnapping him. They then take Santa to Oogie Boogie, the town's bogeyman that plays roulette with Santa's life.

   Finally Christmas Eve arrives and Jack is about to begin his night of delivering gifts to the children on his coffin-sleigh led by Zero, when Sally tries to stop his flight with fog juice. Zero's glowing nose leads them through the mist and together they fly high up into the sky and begin their journey. He delivers the toys made by the residents of Halloween Town but the children are frightened by the snakes, shrunken heads and scary toys. They declare "Santa" to be an impostor.

   The army is called to bring down this menace and they begin shooting at Jack. His sleigh is shot down and he crashes into the cemetery. At first Jack is disappointed by his failed Christmas attempt but then he realizes how much he loves Halloween. He heads back home.

   Meanwhile, Sally has been trying to free Santa from Oogie Boogie but in the process she is also captured. Jack arrives just in time to save them both and defeat Oogie. Jack is then scolded by Santa before he sets off to deliver the proper gifts to the children.

   Jack and Sally return to Halloween Town and are welcomed by the citizens. Snow begins falling upon the town and when they look up they see Santa flying above them. The townspeople rejoice and begin playing in it. Jack follows Sally out to the cemetery and begins serenading her. The two sing together then embrace and kiss while Zero watches from afar. The film ends with Zero flying high up into the sky and then a single shining star appears above Jack and Sally.


   This is one of my all-time favorite movies, during any time of the year. The songs are catchy and the stop-motion animation is absolutely amazing!

   




Mickey Mouse Santa Candy Box Craft



    DisneyFamily.com has this cute printable Mickey Mouse Santa Candy Box that you can make and display this Christmas. Another idea is to print out several, fill with candy then give as party favors to your guests. Click HERE to be taken to their page for the template and complete instructions.



Merry Christmas!!




25 Days of Christmas Photo Countdown: Day 6

Stockings at Mickey's House





Monday, December 19, 2011

My Top 25 Christmas Movies List: #7 Disney's "A Christmas Carol"

Disney's A Christmas Carol (2009)



     Ebenezer Scrooge (Jim Carrey) is a nasty and bitter old miser that hates everything about Christmas. He is busy working at his counting house on Christmas Eve with his underpaid employee, Bob Cratchit (Gary Oldman), when Scrooge's nephew, Fred (Colin Firth), pays him a visit to invite him to Christmas dinner but he refuses.

   Later that night, Scrooge is visited by the ghost of his former business partner, Jacob Marley (Gary Oldman), who died seven years prior. Marley has been forced to spend eternity shackled with chains due to his life of greed and selfishness and he warns Scrooge that he will suffer the same fate if he does not repent of his sins and change his ways. He also tells him that he will be visited by three more ghosts before the night is over.

   The first spirit that comes is The Ghost of Christmas Past. It appears as a small ghost made completely of fire and it takes Scrooge through the memories of his childhood and his first love, Belle (Robin Wright Penn). He and Belle were engaged but she later called it off due to his growing obsession with money.

   The second spirit is the Ghost of Christmas Present (Jim Carrey), which takes Scrooge to the home of his nephew Fred. He sees Fred and the rest of his family making jokes at the expense of Scrooge. He is then taken to the humble home of Bob Cratchit where he first sees Cratchit's sickly son, Tiny Tim (Ryan Ochoa). He learns from the ghost that Tiny Tim may not have much longer to live. He also warns him about the evils of "Ignorance" and "Want", that appear as two children that grow into violent, insane adults.

   The final visit is from the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come (also Jim Carrey), a frightening spirit that chases Scrooge through the streets of London. He is shown that Tiny Tim has passed on and his family is left to mourn. Scrooge also discovers that he has died as well, although no one is mourning his death. His nephew and his wife are in fact elated that they are the beneficiaries of Scrooge's wealth and he is even robbed by his own maid. In order to prevent these events, Scrooge begs the ghost for another chance but the spirit only forces him into his own grave where he feels the fire from Hell.

   Scrooge suddenly wakes up back in his own bed. It is now Christmas Day and he immediately begins his second chance at life. He runs out giving donations to the needy and attends Fred's Christmas dinner. He gives Bob Cratchit a raise, thus sustaining the life of Tiny Tim. Scrooge spends the remaining years of his life as a loving, caring man.





  
  

25 Days of Christmas Photo Countdown: Day 7

Downtown Disney





Sunday, December 18, 2011

My Top 25 Christmas Movies List: #8 Elf

Elf (2003)




      While Santa (Ed Asner) is delivering toys to an orphanage, a curious baby crawls inside his gift sack. Unbeknown to Santa, he takes the baby back to the North Pole with him where it is then decided that Papa Elf (Bob Newhart) will raise him. They name him Buddy because he was wearing 'Little Buddy Diapers'.

   Buddy is raised as if he is an elf and is unaware that he is in fact human. Until one day he overhears some elves discussing his poor toy-making abilities and they blame it on the fact that he is human. He confronts Papa Elf and he tells Buddy the truth about how he came to the North Pole. He also tells him about his parents and how his biological father, Walter Hobbs (James Caan), is on Santa's Naughty List. Buddy then sets out for New York to find Walter.

   The naive Buddy arrives in New York and finds his father working in the Empire State Building. Walter mistakes him for a singing telegram but then Buddy reveals that he's his long-lost son. Walter thinks that Buddy is crazy and has security escort him out of the building. The security guard sarcastically tells him to "Get back to Gimbel's" (because of the elf outfit Buddy is wearing) and he takes his advice and heads directly there.

   The department store Gimbel's assumes that Buddy is an employee and one of "Santa's" helpers. He stays in the store overnight and properly decorates it for the holiday season. In the morning, he has a run in with the shy Jovie, a Gimbel's gift-wrapper that Buddy is fond of. While working with the store Santa, Buddy discovers he is not who he says it is and reveals the imposter to all the children that have been waiting in line. A fight ensues and Buddy is arrested. Walter, being the closest relative, bails him out and takes him to a pediatrician for a DNA test. It proves that Buddy is in fact Walter's son and so he takes him home to meet the rest of the family. Buddy is happily welcomed by his new step-mother, Emily (Mary Steenburgen) and brother, Michael (Daniel Tay), but Walter is mostly annoyed by his childish ways.

   The next day, Walter reluctantly takes Buddy to work with him and has him assigned to the mailroom. He gets drunk on whiskey, believing it to be "syrup" and throws a party. Later that night, he goes on his first date with Jovie and she kisses him.

   During this time, Walter has been trying to save his publishing business and is desperately needing to hire Miles Finch, a temperamental writer. Upon meeting Miles, Buddy mistakes him for an elf and Miles attacks him then storms out. Walter becomes infuriated and tells Buddy to "get out of his life" and calls him crazy. Buddy writes a note then runs away. Michael later finds this letter and reads it to Walter. He convinces him to leave his important meeting so that they can find Buddy resulting in Walter being fired from his job.

   Meanwhile, Buddy is in Central Park when he sees Santa's sleigh crash. He finds the sleigh and Santa explains that there is not enough Christmas Spirit left to keep the sleigh flying. Buddy tries to help him fix it. Walter and Michael find Buddy and he takes them to meet Santa. Michael steals Santa's list (a large book) and reads it in front the news cameras that have gathered at Central Park.

   Back at Santa's sleigh, the Park Rangers have spotted Buddy and Santa and are now chasing down the sleigh while Buddy is trying to reattach the engine but as they are flying too low, they hit a statue and the engine is knocked off.

   But Jovie, remembering that Buddy had told her how singing was the best way to spread the joy of Christmas, quickly overcomes her shyness and begins singing "Santa Claus is Coming to Town". The crowd joins her and even Walter gets into the mood and sings along. They create enough Christmas Spirit to power Santa's sleigh even without an engine.

   The film ends showing that Walter starts his own publishing company and the first book is based on Buddy's life. Buddy and Jovie get married and have a daughter name Susie and they often visit Papa Elf and the North Pole.


   This is a fun-filled, silly Christmas movie that is fast becoming a favorite. Watch it with your family this holiday season for a good laugh.






25 Days of Christmas Photo Countdown: Day 8

Ariel & Prince Eric in Mickey's Once Upon a Christmastime Parade






Saturday, December 17, 2011

My Top 25 Christmas Movies List: #9 Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas

Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas (1997)


    This story takes place during the time of the original Beauty and the Beast film. It is set sometime after the Beast has rescued Belle from the pack of wolves.

   Belle (voiced by Paige O'Hara) anxiously awaits Christmas but is soon disappointed when she learns that the Beast (Robbie Benson) has forbidden celebrating it due to it also being the date that the curse first fell upon him. But Belle decides that it's time for it to be acknowledged again and heads up to the attic accompanied by Chip (Haley Joel Osment) and Lumiere (Jerry Orbach), to find the old Christmas decorations. There she meets Angelique (Bernadette Peters), the former tree angel.

   The Beast discovers Belle's plan to reintroduce Christmas and the two get into an argument. Belle discusses the situation with Forte (Tim Curry), the court composer, that is now a large pipe organ, due to the curse upon the castle and all of its inhabitants. Forte prefers being an organ over his human form and does not want Belle to break the curse so he falsely advises her to venture out into the forest to cut down a Christmas tree. She is unable to cut down the massive tree and in her efforts manages to fall through the ice.

   The Beast, along with Lumiere, Cogsworth (David Ogden Stiers) and Forte's minion Fife (Paul Reubens), run out and rescue Belle but when the Beast discovers that she was still planning on celebrating Christmas in the castle, he sends her to the dungeon. Angelique and the other servants visit the sad girl to keep her company.

   Soon after, the Beast finds the present that Belle planned on giving him for Christmas, a book. The Beast is moved by the book and has a change of heart. He releases Belle and agrees to let her and the servants celebrate Christmas in the castle.

   Forte is angered by this decision and attempts to destroy the castle with his music. The Beast tries to stop him but the music is overwhelming. Fife, now on the opposite side, points out Forte's weakness: his keyboard. The Beast takes this, throws it at Forte and he dies.

   Belle, Beast and the rest of the servants celebrate an enchanted Christmas together.





25 Days of Christmas Photo Countdown: Day 9

Train Station at Magic Kingdom






Christmas Cake Balls Recipe


  

Christmas Cake Balls
*makes about 50 (1-inch) cake balls


Ingredients:

Cake - 1 boxed cake mix, eggs, oil, water (prepare according to package directions and let cool)
1 tub store-bought cake frosting
green food coloring
1 bag of red Wilton Candy Melts (found in candy-making/cake decorating aisle of craft store)
1 brick of Vanilla Almond Bark Coating (found near chocolate chips in grocery store baking aisle)
vegetable oil or shortening
holiday sprinkles or colored sugar crystals


Directions:

   Mix in several drops of food coloring (I used green) to your cake batter then bake cake according to package directions and let cool completely (I like to bake my cake the day prior). Cut off any browned edges with a sharp knife then crumble cake into a large bowl.




   Add in 2/3 of the tub of store-bought frosting and blend well with a large spoon or spatula. It will now look like raw cookie dough. I used a holiday green frosting that I found at my local Aldi store. If you can't find colored frosting simply mix in some food coloring to your frosting and stir well until it reaches the desired color. It should match the color of the cake.



*Tip: I only use store-bought frosting when I make cake balls because when I tried using my homemade buttercream icing, the cake balls weeped and cracked. I'm not sure if it was because of the butter or vanilla or what but there was too much moisture in them so I switched to the pre-made frosting and have not had any problems since.




   Now, begin taking the dough into your hands and roll into 1-inch balls. If it is too sticky, you can place it into the fridge for a bit to chill. Place the balls on a wax paper-lined cookie sheet. Set the sheet of cake balls in your fridge for about 10 - 15 minutes to firm up while you melt the candy coating.



   Place your candy in a microwave-safe bowl (or double boiler) with 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil or shortening and heat at 50% power in 30 second increments until melted, stirring occasionally. I used red and white candy coating since my cake color was green.

Wilton Red Candy Melts

Vanilla Almond Bark Coating


   While waiting for your candy coating to melt, take your cake balls out of the fridge and let them sit at least 5 -10 minutes before you begin coating. We don't want to place a cold cake ball into the hot candy because it will cause cracking. Using a fork, dip each cake ball into the melted candy to coat. You can use a spoon to help roll it around. Gently shake the fork holding the cake ball to remove any excess. Set the covered cake ball back on the wax paper. Do this for all the cake balls then let set to harden.



   After the cake balls have hardened, use the opposite candy coating color to either drizzle with a fork or pipe shapes using a candy squeeze bottle. Immediately top with holiday sprinkles or colored sugar crystals then let harden.



   Serve on festive platters or set each cake ball into a mini-cupcake liner. You can also give an assortment of them in a tissue paper-lined box as a gift.



   BUT be sure and keep some for yourself!! YUM!!!!






Merry Christmas!!







Friday, December 16, 2011

My Top 25 Christmas Movies List: #10 Mickey's Christmas Carol

Mickey's Christmas Carol (1983)


    Based on the Charles Dickens novel, A Christmas Carol, and starring our beloved Disney characters.


   It's Christmas Eve in London and the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge (Scrooge McDuck) is busy counting his money while his underpaid bookkeeper, Bob Cratchit (Mickey Mouse) is trying to get the nerve up to ask for a half day off on Christmas Day. Scrooge reluctantly agrees but informs him that it will be unpaid time off.

   Two collectors (Rat and Mole) come by Scrooge's shop asking for donations for the poor but Scrooge simply explains his unwillingness to give by saying that if he does, the poor will no longer be poor and the collectors will be out of work. His nephew Fred (Donald Duck) also pays a visit to Scrooge to invite him over for Christmas dinner. He declines the offer.

   Later that night, the ghost of Scrooge's former business partner, Jacob Marley (Goofy) appears to him. Jacob tells Scrooge that because of his evil ways he has been doomed to wear shackles and chains for all eternity and that unless Scrooge changes, he is in for the same fate. Jacob Marley leaves and Scrooge returns to his sleep.

   He is woken again but this time by the Ghost of Christmas Past (Jiminy Cricket). He takes Scrooge on a visit to his past and shows him how his greed and love of money caused him to break the heart of Isabelle (Daisy Duck), his then fiance.

   Scrooge has a second visitor, the Ghost of Christmas Present (Willie the Giant), and he shows him inside the home of the Cratchit family and how they keep a positive attitude despite their poverty. He also sees that Bob has a sick and feeble son, Tiny Tim, and the ghost reveals that a tragedy is in store for the Cratchits. Scrooge asks if the tragic event concerns Tiny Tim but the ghost and the house disappear before he can get an answer.

   A third ghost, The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, takes Scrooge to a graveyard where he sees Bob Cratchit crying at the grave of his beloved son, Tiny Tim. He then hears two gravediggers (Weasels) laughing at the fact that no one attended the funeral of the man they are burying. Scrooge walks over to discover his own name is on the tombstone at which time the ghost shoves him into the grave.

   Scrooge wakes up back in his own home. It is Christmas Day and having been given a second chance at life, he runs out cheerfully donating to the poor. He makes his way over to the Cratchits home and pretends to be bringing a large sack of laundry for Bob to take care of but then he reveals its contents. The bag is filled with gifts, toys for the children and a giant turkey for Christmas dinner. Scrooge also gives Bob a raise and even makes him his business partner. The family is overjoyed and Tiny Tim ends the happy story with the famous line, "God bless us, everyone!"


  This is great way to expose your children to the Charles Dickens classic. They will love seeing Mickey and friends in this Christmas tale of kindness.
  


25 Days of Christmas Photo Countdown: Day 10

Santa at Disney's Hollywood Studios (Streets of New York)






Thursday, December 15, 2011

My Top 25 Christmas Movies List: #11 Santa Claus is Coming to Town

Santa Claus is Coming to Town (1970)



    This stop-motion animated TV special from Rankin-Bass is a Christmas classic. Narrated by Fred Astaire, as the mailman, it tells the story of how Kris Kringle came to be Santa Claus.

   A baby is left on the doorstep of Mayor Burgermeister Meisterburger (Paul Frees), the cranky ruler of the gloomy Sombertown. The Mayor orders the baby to be sent to the "Orphan Asylum" but on the way, a gust of wind blows the sled carrying the little bundle away to the mountains of Whispering Winds. The animals take the baby to the other side of the mountain to protect him from the Winter Warlock (Keenan Wynn). There he is found by an elf family, led by Tante Kringle (Joan Gardner) and taken in as their own. Tante and the elves adopt the baby and name him "Kris".

   Years later, Kris (Mickey Rooney) has high hopes that the Kringle family will become "the first toymakers to the King", but since they cannot travel beyond the mountain for fear of the Winter Warlock that is not likely to happen. Kris decides he will venture out to deliver the toys.

   Meanwhile back in Sombertown, the Burgermeister has outlawed all toys in the town after tripping over a child's toy duck. He threatens that anyone found with a toy in possession will be arrested and thrown into the dungeon.

   Kris finally makes it to Sombertown and tries to give toys to the children but is stopped by the schoolteacher, Miss Jessica (Robie Lester). After being warned, he shares the toys with the children anyway and the Burgermeister tries to have them arrested. Kris takes the blame for the children playing with the toys and even gives the Burgermeister a toy yo-yo. The Burgermeister is actually happy for a moment, as he recalls being the yo-yo champion of his town as a child.

   As Kris and Topper, his new penguin friend, make their way back through the forest they are captured by the Winter Warlock's magic trees. Kris offers the Warlock a toy train which melts his cold heart. He turns to human form and changes his name to just "Winter". To thank Kris for his kind gift, he gives him a magic snow globe in return. When they look into the globe, they see Miss Jessica has been searching for Kris.
  
   Upon finding Jessica, she informs him that the Burgermeister resumed his evil ways and destroyed all the toys that Kris had left for the children and now they are wanting more. Kris gets busy begins filling their orders, but the Burgermeister makes it more difficult for him. He orders all doors to be locked. So Kris climbs down their chimneys and hides the toys in the stockings the children have left hanging by their fireplace.

   The Burgermeister finds out and has Kris, Topper, Winter, and all of the Kringle family arrested and placed in his dungeon. Jessica begs him to release them but he refuses. She asks Winter if there is anything he can do to help but the only magic he has left is some magical feed corn and it can only make reindeer fly. Jessica takes the corn and feeds it to Kris' reindeer. The magic works, and with the help of the reindeer, Kris, Winter, Topper and the rest of the Kringles escape.

   After hiding out for months, and seeing the town of Sombertown destroyed by the Burgermeister and his troops, Kris decides to return to the woods. He grows a beard to disguise his appearance and takes back his original name of Claus. He marries Jessica and they move to the North Pole where they build their castle and workshop.

   The Burgermeister eventually dies and the people take back their town. The children hear of the legend of Kris Kringle and request tons of toys but it is too many for Santa to keep up with so he declares that he will visit once a year to grant their toy wishes. He will appear every December 24th, on Christmas Eve "The Night of Profound Love".

   The film ends with the mailman heading off to deliver a load of letters to Santa, followed by Topper, Winter and a parade of children singing Santa Claus is Coming to Town.








25 Days of Christmas Photo Countdown: Day 11

Magic Kingdom






Mickey Mouse Christmas Sugar Cookies Recipe



    Make these cute Mickey Mouse sugar cookies for Santa this Christmas! Not only do they look good but they are soft (thanks to the cream cheese in the dough) and yummy. And your kids will love decorating them with the Sugar Cookie Glaze (recipe below) and sprinkles. Enjoy!!


Mickey Mouse Christmas Sugar Cookies
*makes about 48 (2-inch) cookies


Ingredients:

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond -or- lemon extract (your preference)
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
powdered sugar (for rolling)


Directions:

   Cream the softened butter, cream cheese and sugar in a  large bowl with an electric mixer. Add in the salt, baking powder, egg, vanilla and flavoring. Slowly add the flour, 1 cup at a time, and mix well. The dough will be thick and a little sticky. Wrap it in plastic wrap and place in refrigerator to chill at least 2 hours.

   Preheat oven to 375°

   After the dough has chilled, take 1/5 of it and place it on a surface that has been dusted with a mixture of flour and powdered sugar. Keep remaining dough in fridge until ready to use. Roll it out to 1/4-inch thickness with a flour-dusted rolling pin. Cut using a floured Mickey Mouse (or whatever shape you like) cookie cutter then place 1-inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet (or lined with parchment paper).

                                                   

*Tip: Since this dough is made with cream cheese, it can get too soft to roll out. As soon as you feel that it's not cooperating, place it in a baggie and put it back in the fridge while you work on a new piece of chilled dough. This is also why we should only work with 1/5 of the dough at a time.

   Bake for 5 minutes at 375°. Remove from oven and let cool 5 minutes before transferring cookies to cooling racks. Let cool completely before icing with Sugar Cookie Glaze (recipe follows).




Sugar Cookie Glaze


Ingredients:

1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk
2 teaspoon light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon almond -or- lemon extract (your preference)
food coloring
colored sugar crystals or holiday sprinkles

                                   
Directions:

   Mix powdered sugar and milk in a small bowl until smooth. Add in corn syrup and flavoring. Separate into smaller bowls and mix in food coloring. Brush glaze on cooled cookies and then immediately sprinkle with colored sugar crystals or holiday sprinkles (this is where you get the kids to help).






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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

My Top 25 Christmas Movies List: #12 Edward Scissorhands

Edward Scissorhands (1990)




    Johnny Depp stars as the sweet and innocent Edward Scissorhands in this warm-hearted fantasy film by Tim Burton. I know that this is technically not a "Christmas movie" but the last scenes do take place during the Christmas season as you will see by the decorations, theming and snow.


   The film begins with an elderly woman telling her granddaughter where snow comes from. She explains that the story starts with a young man named Edward (Johnny Depp) that lives up on the mountain. He was the creation of an old inventor that passed away before he could complete Edward and so he was left with scissors for hands.

   Sometime later, Peg Boggs (Dianne Weist), an unsuccessful Avon lady, decides to venture outside of her own neighborhood and drives up to the dark, gothic mansion up on the mountain. There she encounters a frightened and lonely Edward and brings him home. He is welcomed by Peg's family with the exception of their teenage daughter, Kim (Winona Ryder) who is frightened of the strange man. Edward falls in love with her from the moment he sees her.

   Peg's busy-body neighbors force her to host a barbecue so that they can meet the mysterious new visitor. And after seeing the magnificent lawn sculptures he has created they all want him to do the same at their own homes.

   Edward's artistic nature becomes the most popular thing in the neighborhood and they soon have him cutting the hair of both the dogs and the women. One of the women, Joyce (Kathy Baker) wants Edward to become her business partner and open a salon. She attempts to seduce him but Edward, frightened and confused, walks out. She then lies and tells people that he tried to attack her.

   Kim's boyfriend Jim (Anthony Michael Hall) asks her to convince Edward to help them in a plot to steal from Jim's own parents. In the process, Edward becomes locked inside and is arrested by the police for attempted burglary. When given the chance to explain that he was framed, he does not reveal the truth. He does this to protect Kim, whom he loves. He is released based on the fact that after a life of solitude, he is unable to distinguish right from wrong.

  The Boggs family decides to hold a Christmas party and invite the neighbors, although they are reluctant to attend. While decorating the tree, Kim sees snow falling outside the window and when she goes outside to invetigate, she finds Edward sculpting an ice block into a beautiful angel. Kim begins dancing in the snow. Edward, not knowing that she is below him, accidentally cuts her hand with his scissors while trying to climb down from the ladder. Jim walks up just at that moment and claims that Edward did it on purpose and begins pushing and yelling at Edward until he runs him off. The Boggs family heads out to find Edward and bring him back.

   Edward, enraged by Jim, begins taking out his frustrations on the neighborhood by cutting down their lawn sculptures and slashing tires. The neighbors call the police and they begin a manhunt. Edward returns to the Boggs' home and Kim is there waiting for him. She asks him to hold her but Edward sadly says, "I can't." Kim carefully wraps his arms around her to show him that he can, and the two embrace.

   Edward then saves Kim's little brother, Kevin, from being hit by the drunk-driving Jim and his friend. While trying to see if Kevin is okay, Edward repeatedly cuts the boy. The neighbors run out to see the commotion and believe that Edward is attacking him. Jim jumps on top of Edward and begins hitting him. Once he is free, Kim tells Edward to run and he heads back home to the mansion on the mountain. But that is not good enough for the neighbors, they follow Jim, who is now leading the mob.

   Kim gets to the mansion and Edward before they do, but Jim interrupts them and begins shooting at him. Kim tries to stop Jim and he kicks her across the room. Edward stabs him and Jim falls out the window to his death, just as the neighbors arrive. Edward says goodbye to Kim and she confesses her love for him. She runs out of the mansion and tells the mob that Edward is also dead and they leave.

   The elderly woman resumes her story and says that she never saw Edward again. Her granddaughter asks how does she knows he is still alive. The woman explains that, "Before Edward came down from the mountain, it never snowed. And afterwards, it did." She then says, "Sometimes you can still find me dancing in it."

   The movie ends with Edward up in the mansion, sculpting blocks of ice, creating flakes of snow flying out of the window and falling down upon the town.