Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Memory Lane - My Life in 8mm

Long before we had video camera's, way back in the dark ages of the 1950's - the 1980's, we had 8mm film which we used to record our special Kodak moments.  Fortunately my parents took the time to record the fabric of our childhoods with 8mm film.

8mm was expensive, both to buy and to process.  Once the film was shot, my dad would take it over to Skrudlands Photo and drop it off.  It usually took 2 weeks to process.  Pick up days were Tuesday's and Thursday's, so 2 weeks after the drop off, we would meet my dad at the door after work, hoping he would be waving the small yellow box holding the processed film.  Then we would have to wait patiently on pins and needles until Saturday for the big movie night extravaganza.

Movie night was an event!  First, popcorn had to be popped (on the stove, in a stainless steel pan, with a dash of oil in the bottom and the lid placed on top.)  Once the corn stopped popping, mom would take the lid off and we'd squeal with delight if a few reckless kernels of corn shot up through the air.  Popcorn would be distributed into bowls, we'd each get a small glass of pop (RC) and we'd line up on the sofa in the frontroom, carefully balancing the popcorn bowls in our laps.

Meanwhile, dad would go down to the basement and lug up the large movie projector.

Then he'd go back downstairs and haul up the projection screen, open the legs, and pop up the screen.

It was a grand ceremony to open the box of film and carefully thread it through the projector.  Dad would yell "Lights" and one of us would jump up to slap off the light switch on the wall.  Dad pressed ON and the film would wind its way through the projector, onto the take-up reel and the fun would start.

Since it was expensive for the film, there was pretty much a set rhyme and rhythm to dads movie taking technique.  Some filming was done at each of our birthdays, a few shots at Easter, then a long recess until summer vacation, which was usually a good deal of footage, then a few shots at Thanksgiving, a small amount of random things over the course of the year and the big event was always Christmas.  Dad usually shot a couple of rolls of film throughout the year, having them processed as he finished them, and at the end of the year he'd splice them all together and make one grand film for that year.  Then he'd apply a label to the film canister and add it to the ever growing lock box of movies.  The first 19 years of my life are recorded on 19 rolls of film and stored in metal canisters of blue or brown.

Once the projector started flashing images on the screen, we would settle back in anticipation of what was to come.  We never knew what to expect.  Film then was black and white, and if you can imagine it, no sound.  The only backdrop to the silent movie unfolding on the screen was the steady, pfttt, pfttt, pfttt of the film winding through the projector.

First was usually a shot of mom with her 3 little ducklings (us).  We would all stare and grin like goofy idiots at dad filming us and wave wildly, which he hated for us to do because it didn't look natural.  He was Cecil B. DeMille and we were ruining his shot.  So of course we had to do it.  Then he'd zero in on mom, who would spin around so the camera could capture her outfit and then give a shy smile before she'd usher us off to do something natural.  Like pet an animal at the zoo, walk into an historic building, or run into the water at the beach.

We'd laugh hysterically at each other doing stuff,  like Laurie trying to swim with one hand while holding her nose with the other, or Wendy batting her baby blue eyes at the camera, or me flying down the alley on my bike, a jump rope attached to the seat, dragging Laurie behind me on her roller skates.  We'd watch movie's of our birthday parties where friends waltzed up the gangway bearing gifts, dancing with party hats perched atop our heads, blowing party favors at each other, or playing party games like "walk across the room with cotton balls on a spoon" or "pin the tail on the donkey."

We would ooohhhh and aawww over the puppy that grandma and grandpa bought us, watch dad sail off the big slide at Honey Hill Lake, see mom herd us around Independence Square in Philadelphia.

Occasionally the film would snap and dad would hiss "dammit" under his breath, mom would shoot him a dirty look and I would grin in the dark because I loved it when he said "dammit."  He'd scream "lights," one of us would flip the switch and he'd quickly splice the film back together and we'd be back in business.

We'd watch our grandparents mouth a silent hello back at us, get a flush of excitement as we watched ourselves learning to water ski or snow ski, or fly down the hill on toboggans.  There are countless shots of us standing on diving boards, waving at mom to look at us before doing a swan dive or cartwheeling off the end of the board.  And there are lots of movies of us gathered around the table, surrounded by family, saying a prayer before our holiday meal.

Several years ago my parents gave us each one of the best gifts they could ever have given us.  Dad transferred all the home movies to dvd's, one for each year, plus, my personal favorite, one special dvd where they compiled all the Christmases onto one dvd.  He and mom added an audio commentary in the background and interjected fun things like "we had just bought this car and it cost $ 3000.00" or "bread was .25 and gas was .57."  When they aren't speaking, there's Christmas music playing in the background - Old standards from that time, like Bing Crosby or Burl Ives.

It's my annual tradition to sit and watch the "Family Christmas" dvd the week before the holiday.  I'll toss a bag of popcorn into the microwave (it doesn't taste as good as mom's home popped), grab a can of coke and plop down against the pillows on my bed.  I'll start the dvd and slowly savor 19 years of Christmases as they flicker across the screen.

The dvd begins the first year after mom and dad had gotten married, and shows them setting up the Christmas tree, wrapping presents and hanging up cards on yarn draped across the walls.  Later they are at my grandma's house and moms voice-over states that she thought she had the stomach flu, but it turned out that the "flu" was me and she just didn't know she was pregnant yet.

We have cute shots of my sisters and I tumbling out of our bedroom on Christmas mornings, in footie pajamas, brushing sleep from our eyes and then POW, hitting the frontroom where the flood lights are set up for the movie taking extravaganza.  Cecil strikes again!  We stumble around like deer in the headlights until we got our bearings.

19 years of opening gifts, eating Christmas Eve dinner at one grandparents house and then going to the other grandparents for Christmas day.  I laugh out loud at Laurie and I modeling plastic wigs (why did we want those?) my heart melts at the dog ripping up wrapping paper, I smile at us jumping up and down in excitement over a book or a game, and watch as mom opens up her annual "nightie" from dad, and dad pretending that the eyeglass case I made him out of felt in kindergarten was the best gift he ever received.

The last Christmas on the dvd was when I was 19 and that was the Christmas after all 3 of my grandparents had passed away.  Mom and I fumbled around the kitchen, trying to figure out how to make a turkey and how to celebrate Christmas without so many of the people we loved so much.  Even today I can remember my heavy heart and how hard we tried to make that Christmas special for all of us.

I spend a little over an hour immersed in my Christmas memories, but when the dubbed-in Oak Ridge Boys start singing "Thank God for Kids" I always lose it.  I melt into a sobbing mess.

When the movie ends, I point the remote at the dvd player and turn it off.  Somehow it doesn't have the same effect as it did when we were kids and the movie ended.  Back then, there would be a few minutes of bright light from the projector flashing on the screen, and my sisters and I would jump up and dance like nut jobs so our shadows bounced across the screen or we'd make hand puppets fly like birds or hop like bunnies.  Dad would let us be silly for a few minutes, and then he'd yell "lights," and the movie magic was over until the next time.  Mom summed it up best when she once remarked that it's nice to have the films but she just wishes they had sound.  She would give anything to be able to hear her mothers voice again.

Still, those old black and white, silent home movies are priceless and I look forward to watching my Family Christmas every year.  If part of your life in captured in 8mm, you know exactly what I mean.

(all images from Google Images)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Product Review - It's a Michael Buble' Christmas

Michael Buble' recently released a Christmas CD, appropriately titled Christmas and it's quickly becoming my favorite holiday CD.

I bought it a couple of days ago and I can't stop listening to it.  It's packed with 15 songs, some oldies, some newbies, and a nicely written Buble' original.

The CD opens with "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas."  The violin is my favorite instrument and the violin music on this tune is soft and elegant.  Then you hear Michael's exquisite voice joining it and the combination is sweet and sentimental.  It makes me feel like I'm in a warm room filled with golden lights.  It's a great way to start the CD.

What I like the most about this CD is the "old school" feel of it.  The musical arrangements are stellar with big band sound and a full orchestra!  When I first listened to it, I kept thinking to myself how much some of the songs reminded me of classic crooners Bing Crosby and Dean Martin.  I was surprised when I read the liner notes and saw that this was exactly the intent Michael had when making this album.  Mr. Buble' - you have succeeded!

The big band sensation is especially true on "Jingle Bells" which features The Puppini Sisters.  It's a lively, finger snapping, toe tapping version and will make you want to get up and dance.

One of the best songs on the CD is "White Christmas" where Michael duets with Shania Twain.  "Hello. Ms. Twain!"  Shania, a country and pop superstar in her own right, makes music magic on this song with Michael.  I wish they would make a music video of this song, because I can just see them strolling down a street at night, lit by twinkling Christmas lights, snow gently falling all around.  It's just an outstanding version of this Christmas classic!

Another gem is Mr. Buble's cover of another all-time favorite of mine - Mariah Carey's "All I want For Christmas is You."  Slow and romantic, if your heart doesn't ache for the ones you love while you listen to this, then there is no love in your heart.

"Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" is a big serving of comfort food - it's old fashioned goodness and will have you daydreaming about grandma and grandpa, sitting on Santa's lap, and stringing popcorn and cranberries to hang on the tree.

A new favorite for me is the Buble' penned "Cold December Night."   This up tempo song is fun and romantic and makes me want to wrap up in my husbands' arms and snuggle in front of the roaring fireplace.

On "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" you can feel the joy and energy of Michael and his backup singers.  They are a superb group and the harmonies are spot on.

Throughout the entire album you can just feel that Michael Buble' is smiling.  He is obviously very happy to be making this album and the joy clearly comes across in each and every song.  Every time I listen to it I think "This is my favorite song" and then another one starts and I think "no, THIS is my favorite song."  LOL!  Take my word for it - this is one great CD!

Hey Michael - you really need to host a television Christmas Special - it would be FAB!

Visit the Michael Buble' Facebook Page.  He has contests going on and you can view some Christmas video clips.

Don't walk, run, run, run and jingle your way to the nearest store and get this CD!

(I received no compensation for this review.  I just loved the CD and wanted to share my thoughts on it)
(all images taken from google images)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Trail Mix: Healthy or Not?

Many companies produce and distribute trail mix and label it as healthy because it contains fruit and nuts.  However, when I see these products and look at the nutritional labels it’s a complete joke to me.  The fruits have been sweetened with sugar and dipped in oils in order to make it stick.  This is possibly the worst combination there can be.  The added sugar is going to spike blood glucose and all the un-needed fat from the oil is going to end up right in your midsection.  The nuts have also been salted and more often than not, also dipped in oil.

Many companies took healthy foods and turned them into a nightmare to anyone who cannot control their portions.  Lets face it - who stops at one serving of trail mix; just about no one.  The typical person will finish off half a bag in no time, and this is going to equate to hundreds of calories ( most of those from the added sugar and oils which weren’t needed in the first place).  Lets go back to portion control.  The added sugars are going to make you hungrier and make you crave the mix even more.  The saltiness of the nuts will also have this affect on many people.  The combination of these two things are a disaster.

To sum up- Added sugar + salt = more hunger.  Added sugar + un-needed oils = increased, unnecessary calories. Add those two together and you no longer have a healthy product.

Because of this common trend among companies I have created my own trail mix which contains all natural products and will keep you full and satisfied.  If you have been reading my posts since the beginning you know I mentioned that fats do not keep you full;  this is true regarding the loads of bad fats that you see in fast food and other products ( especially when these fats are combined with simple carbs, i.e. a hamburger bun).  However, healthy naturally occurring fats such as in egg yolks, lean cuts of meat, and nuts will leave you feeling full for a long time.

I went to the store and picked up pistachios, edamame, sunflower kernels, and walnuts;  all of these either had no salt or were lightly salted and contained no un-needed oils.

 I also bought raisins, dried apricots, and prunes, none of which had added sugar or oils.

I added one serving of each fruit product into a bag and 1 oz of each nut....

You don't have to use these exact ingredients.  Feel free to mix and match as you wish - just try to stay away from those bad additives which I listed.

After you've made your bag, calculate your calories and divide that number by 200 to get X amount of servings, each being 200 calories.  This is for portion control.  Here's what a mixed bag looks like....

This combination of products gives you salty, sweet, crunchy, and soft;  healthy fats which will keep you full, fruits for some carbs which will give you energy, and a large variety of micro nutrients which will keep your moral high and body healthy.

As an nutrition and food science major, I would greatly appreciate anyone who is willing to tell their friends about my blog entries or even feature one of them on your blog.  My wish is to help young adults to stay healthy and avoid all the mistakes I made as teen when it came to unhealthy eating, so getting my name out there would greatly help.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

What's Thanksgiving Without Cranberries?

I love fresh cranberries and they are so easy to make.  A lot of people don't know how easy they are, so I'm going to show you.

First, buy a 12 oz. package of fresh cranberries.  I buy whatever kind the store has in stock, this time they happened to be Ocean Spray....

Rinse the cranberries and pick out any smooshed ones....

The directions on the package call for 1 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar.  I tweak it a little and use 1 cup of water and 2 cups of sugar.  I am a rebel like that!

Pour the water, the sugar and the cranberries into a pot.  Turn up the heat.  Start stirring.  The cranberries will start to pop and get soft.  I start to crush them against the side of the pot at this point....

Turn down the heat and keep stirring.  They will easily boil over if you don't keep an eye on them.  I keep boiling them until they cook down and start to get thick.

Turn off the heat, pour into a container and refrigerate.  You can eat them hot or cold.  I prefer them cold, on my turkey.  I really like it on toast, with mayo and sliced turkey.  Yum!

In between cooking, look out the window and admire the lake....

Chablis helped me cook this year and she made the broccoli rice casserole and the green bean casserole.  And yes, I cheated and used instant potatoes.

This cute little bird kept hanging around the back deck...

The turkey took longer than expected to cook, but it still turned out....

Louie, Chablis and Kyle weren't shy about digging in.  This was a hard year for me - Tony decided to spend the day with his girlfriends family.  It was the first time in 18 years that our little unit of 4 wasn't together.  I know they have to grow up and do their own thing, but it was still hard for me.  Than goodness for Facetime - at least I still got to see him for a few minutes.  My nephew, Kyle, came and spent the day with us tho, so that was really nice.

Afterwards we all drove out to the hunting property and sat in the deer stands.

Here's a short video I shot tonight.  This is the first time I've tried shooting video on my camera and it's also the first time I've tried to upload video to the blog, so we'll see how well this works....

Can you see the deer in this picture?  We didn't shoot any, but it was nice to sit out in the woods and enjoy the quiet of the evening.

It was a nice Thanksgiving.  Hope yours was nice as well!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!
Especially to my family - I love you all!

My husband is out hunting this.....

So I can turn it into this.....

However, I bought this, just in case.....

This year I am thankful that......
God is in my life.
my family is healthy.
snow is on the horizon so we can make a living.
we have a house to live in and enough food to eat.
I have met and gotten to know an amazing bunch of people through blogging.

May you all have a safe and blessed holiday.  Hug those close to you. 

Hey, I couldn't do a holiday post without Snoopy ya know!
(all images from Google Images)

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