Amanda Cade

Worth It! (Things to try, read, watch, hear, and discuss)

Perserverance

Some people keep their goofy, silly, ridiculous behavior to themselves. That’s a perfectly valid life strategy…but I am not that person. When I experience what I call a “sitcom moment” (often self-inflicted), my first instinct is to share it. I think it’s important to be able to laugh at myself, and I’m happy to invite others to join me.

So…about getting my presents wrapped.

The Plan

On Wednesday evening, I posted about my plans for my vacation days, and then decided it was time to deal with the fact that my living room was starting to look like an Amazon warehouse.

I should mention that I’m not a huge fan of wrapping presents the traditional way, so I’m a gift bag and tissue paper kind of girl. Quick, easy, and festive.

So I turned on The Man Who Invented Christmas and started opening boxes.

The First Snag

When I had everything unboxed and organized, I paused the movie and went to get my huge collection of Christmas bags out of the guest room closet…

…and they weren’t there. Everything else was there: birthday bags, tissue paper, gift labels, actual wrapping paper, etc. The Christmas bags, however, were nowhere to be found.

After a few minutes staring blankly into my box of supplies in hopes that they would suddenly materialize, I summoned a vague memory of telling myself last year that I needed to hit the after Christmas sales because I had finally run out of bags.

Oops.

The First Solution

Easy enough. I had four rolls of wrapping paper, and I reminded myself that I am a grown woman who is perfectly capable of traditional wrapping, even though it isn’t my preference. So I set up a folding table in front of the couch, assembled my materials, made a cup of tea, and turned the movie back on.

The Second Snag

That’s when I realized I hadn’t gotten the scissors. And that was the point where things really started to veer into sitcom territory.

You know how there’s the one thing that you’re always losing? The thing you can’t seem to remember to put back in its proper place, so you’re constantly trying to remember where you left it?

For me, that thing is my scissors. Almost every single day, I need them for something, and so I have to hunt for them. Sometimes they’re in the living room, sometimes they’re in the kitchen, sometimes they’re in the guest room, or my bedroom, or the basement…you get the idea. I might find them in a drawer, or under a stack of mail, or on top of the DVD player. Every once in a while, they’re actually on my desk in my home office, which is where they should be. That happens so rarely that it’s usually the last place I look. Then I take them into the room where I need them, use them, put them down somewhere, and promptly forget where they are.

Anyway, I paused the movie again and went on the hunt. Typically, it takes me about five minutes to find them. Occasionally ten.

Wednesday night, however, I spent half an hour searching with zero success. That’s when I said to myself, “Amanda, you could have gone to Walgreens and bought another pair of scissors by now.”

The Second Solution

Walgreens always has my back. When I arrived at the store and went to the appropriate aisle, not only did they have quality scissors, but they were on saleThat’s when I had a moment of clarity. Inspiration. Genius. If I have a pair of scissors in every room in the house, I’ll never have to search more than one room.

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It’s an example of what one of my friends calls “Perfect Amanda Logic”. (If you’re laughing at me by now, I’m with you.) At any rate, I bought six pairs of scissors. Problem solved.

Back home, I made more tea, turned the movie back on, and got to work. Soon I had about a dozen adequately wrapped presents and was feeling pretty pleased with myself…

The Third Snag

…until I realized that I had forgotten to label them as I went and had no idea what was in most of them. I was certain about three, but the others…

The Third Solution

You probably know where this is going. I unwrapped the rest of the gifts, trying (and mostly failing) not to tear the paper so I could reuse it, and wrote out labels for everything. No worries.

The Fourth Snag

By the time I was finished unwrapping and labeling, I discovered that I had somehow managed to misplace my new “living room” scissors. (I’m starting to think there’s some kind of paranormal force at work here.) So I congratulated myself on my forethought, got the dining room scissors (You see how my brilliant long term solution is already breaking down?), and got back to work.

Then, of course, I ran out of tape.

The Fourth Solution

Back to Walgreens! Ignore the puzzled look from the employee who had already given me a puzzled look when I bought all the scissors! Find tape! Grab tape (get extra)! Head for the counter, through the aisle of…

…Christmas bags. Lots and lots of Christmas bags. That I could have just bought the first time.

Cue a laughing fit in the middle of the store.

The Outcome

Presents

The presents are ready, The Man Who Invented Christmas was a great movie, and I have enough bags for next year.

The living room scissors have yet to materialize, but I did find the original lost pair this morning.

Roll credits.

merry Christmas

Join me in the comments to share your own sitcom moments and ridiculous behavior…or just make fun of mine. 🙂

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So here’s another off-schedule post, because today was my last work day until after Christmas. Yay! The past few weeks have been seriously busy, and I’m super excited about having some time to take care of “non-business business” (aka “stuff I want to do”). Here’s what’s currently on my agenda:

  • Drink coffee on the patio, even though I’ll probably have to bundle up.
  • Keep implementing my favorite acts of kindness.
  • Catch up on my reading. I have five books waiting.
  • Host one more low stress holiday event (see this post for tips on the “low stress” part).
  • Watch The Man Who Invented Christmas, which hit my “must watch” list after I read Charles French’s recommendation.
  • Spend a day with my best girlfriend, and do at least one thing we haven’t tried before (an annual tradition).
  • Go to the movies.
  • Get ahead of the game on content creation for my Instagram.
  • Spend time with my family.
  • Organize my thoughts and plans for this blog.
  • Go out to dinner.
  • Finish my semi-annual house decluttering.
  • Bake a cake.

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What’s on your agenda for the next week or so? Any suggestions for things I should do with my days off? Let me know in the comments!

 

So if you read my post on holiday music a few weeks back, you already know that I have a weakness for the offbeat and eclectic. So it probably won’t surprise you that my holiday viewing ranges from feel good traditional to tinsel-lit slasher, with a few other genres in between. Believe me, whatever you’re feeling right now, there’s a Christmas themed (or at least a Christmas timed) movie that fits the bill.

Here are a few to consider:

My Top Pick: The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)

Muppets

I love the Muppets. Period. I am a grown woman who cheerfully, unabashedly, proudly adores all things Muppet. Add that to a classic story like A Christmas Carol, and you have a recipe for my all-time favorite Christmas movie. Kermit and Piggy are great as Bob and Emily Cratchit, Gonzo (with Rizzo in tow) narrates as Charles Dickens, and Michael Caine owns the role of Ebeneezer Scrooge. The soundtrack is everything you expect from a great Muppet movie, including “It Feels Like Christmas”, which I think is one of the best Christmas songs ever (check it out here).

Looking for Laughs?

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I tried to choose a single Christmas comedy, but there are just so many. I finally narrowed it down to:

Elf (2003)

It practically goes without saying that this story of a North Pole native who brings the Christmas spirit to the big city is a must watch. It’s chock full of comedy and good feelings, with great performances from Will Farrell, James Caan, and Zooey Deschanel (a personal fave).

The Santa Clause (1994)

In another great “fish out of water” story, Scott, played by Tim Allen, suddenly (and reluctantly) becomes the new Santa Claus. There are a lot of great moments in this film, with the elf rescue being one of the standouts. I honestly wasn’t a big fan of the sequels, but the original is a lot of fun.

A Christmas Story (1983)

Peter Billingsly (who works behind the scenes as a producer these days) will forever be best known as Ralphie, whose quest for a Red Ryder BB gun is framed by a crazy family, a pair of bullies, a cynical Santa, and so much more. I’ve seen it dozens of times and it’s still hilarious. If you’ve seen it, see it again. If you haven’t, watch it. Watch it now.

Seriously.

Seasonal Slapstick: Ernest Saves Christmas (1988)

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Maybe I should have put this above with the other comedies, but it’s sort of in a class by itself. I never actually feel guilty about what some would call my “guilty pleasures”, so I’m going to own the fact that I really like the goofy, over the top, cringe-worthy Ernest movies. This is another case of passing the Santa torch, and Jim Varney’s Ernest becomes a bumbling facilitator trying to help the transition happen, before time runs out and Christmas is ruined. There’s a strong positive message woven through the gags and silliness, and I think the film is a whole lot of fun.

Action Movie Fan? Die Hard (1988)

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I refuse to engage in the debate over whether or not Die Hard is a Christmas movie. In my book, it counts. And it’s great. Bruce Willis versus Alan Rickman, a lone wolf taking on a small army, and the difficulties of heroic actions when you aren’t wearing shoes…do I need to say any more?

Wait, I do. “Now I have a machine gun. Ho-ho-ho.”

Ho-Ho-Horror: Gremlins (1984)

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Christmas is a crucial element of Gremlins, with an unfortunate gift serving as the catalyst for a classic creature invasion. When a mysterious (and adorable) little creature spawns a host of murderous, nightmare monsters, a small town is plunged into chaos and a few ordinary people have to save the day. The movie became a cultural touchstone, although I’m sure a lot of parents were taken aback by the fear and gore factors once things really got going. If you’re a scary movie fan, it’s definitely worth watching (or watching again).

Black Comedy/Slasher: Santa’s Slay (2005)

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Sometimes I’m in the mood for a good horror movie. Sometimes I’m in the mood for a bad horror movie. And once a year, I get together with a few slasher-film enthusiasts for a viewing of Santa’s Slay. Professional wrestler Bill Goldberg stars as Santa, who is anything but jolly. The film’s premise is that Santa has always been evil, but has been forced to do good for the last thousand years. Now that time is up, and Santa’s traded Christmas cheer for murder and mayhem. It’s definitely not for everyone, but it’s a real crowd-pleaser for the right kind of crowd.

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Whew! Once again there’s more in my head than I have time to put in the blog, so would you mind taking over for me? Add your personal favorites (traditional or otherwise) in the comments!

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I had a busy, somewhat stressful week. When that happens, I really become attuned to the kindness of others, because little things mean a lot more when I’m trying to keep my attitude in the positive zone. I also make a concentrated effort to spread kindness when I’m feeling stressed, because that usually helps me snap out of a bad mood. And since we’re in the holiday season, 12 feels like the right number of my favorite acts of kindness to share.

So if you’d like to try spreading some cheer, you can…

1. Buy someone a beverage

Inexpensive and super simple. Taking a trip to the vending machine? Grab an extra and give it away. Stopping at Starbucks on the way to work or class? Text a friend and see if you can get them something. I also like to occasionally pay for the car behind me in the drive thru, because everyone can use an unexpected kindness.

2. Give sincere compliments

Costs nothing, only takes a few seconds, and can make a big difference. When there’s a reason to recognize someone, do it.

3. Write a positive note

At work, I like to sneak Post Its on people’s desks with messages like, “You make working here awesome” or “Thanks for helping me out this morning”. I also keep a box of cards (Thank you, Congratulations, Good luck, etc.) on hand, so I’m always ready to celebrate or offer encouragement.

3. Bring food (with some extra thought)

christmas cookies

Giving someone a treat is always a win, and this time of year most of us are surrounded by goodies. At my job and in my circle, we’re really big on treat days and teaming up for meals (I talked a little about that in my holiday gathering post two weeks ago). And if you want to level up…

Bring a healthier option. A few years ago I noticed that I always saw people who never ate any of the cookies and whatnot because they were dieting, diabetic, had food allergies, etc. So I started looking for recipes (and bakeries, when I needed to save time) that could provide some treats that were healthier, but still yummy. It takes a little extra effort, but I love being able to bring something for everyone.

4. Give someone a break

Offer to babysit, run a few errands, help with a cleaning project, etc. This is really powerful, because not only are you making someone’s life a little easier, but you’re showing that you care about them.

5. Take time to listen

Yes, we’re all busy, but find the time to connect with others, and find out what’s going on in their lives. The gift of a friendly ear really is priceless.

6. Extend an invitation

invite

Let’s have lunch, want to join me to knock out some holiday shopping, how about getting coffee, want to see an movie…everyone likes to be invited. And on a related note…

7. Try someone else’s idea

Be open to letting someone else choose the restaurant, activity, etc., and then go with a positive attitude. Even if it turns out not to be your thing, they’ll appreciate that you gave it your best shot.

8. Give someone a gift (even a small one)

My two favorite types of small gifts are the things people don’t think to buy themselves (like fun versions of everyday items, or mini luxuries), and the things someone always needs (one of my friends at work regularly gives me colored Post Its, because I’m always running out). A few dollars is enough to say “I’m thinking of you”.

9. Give a group a gift

Group gifts are great because they increase the number of people benefiting, and sometimes create shared time and connections. A new game or activity can be great for a family, because everyone can enjoy it. At work, a shared gift can have a huge impact on the overall environment. Every once in a while one of my coworkers brings a bunch of flavored creamer for the coffee room, and everyone has a better morning. And you can imagine the excitement when a few of us went in together to upgrade the coffee machine.

10. Clean up (even if it isn’t your mess)

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If you make a mess, you should clean it up. We all know that…except that we also know that not everyone practices it. If you have the extra minute (and most of the time we do), clear off a table in the break room, rinse the dishes in the sink, return a shopping cart to the cart corral, etc. You’ll definitely be making someone else’s day a little bit easier.

11. Introduce yourself and/or have a conversation

Do you have a neighbor you wave to but have barely spoken to? A coworker you pass in the hall but couldn’t put a name to to save your life? A parent you see everyday waiting near you in the school pick up area? Take the time for a meet and greet.

12. Smile!

It’s good for you and the people you smile at. Don’t just take my word for it-click here to check out some science. 

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What are your favorite ways to spread kindness? Let me know in the comments!

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It’s beginning to sound a lot like Christmas, because radio stations and public spaces have definitely changed over to their holiday tracks. I’m a big fan of the holidays, and I enjoy the traditional soundtrack. However, sometimes I’m in the mood for something a little bit different, kind of quirky, or just plain ridiculous. When I host holiday gatherings (see last week’s post for more tips on get-togethers and celebrations), I always add a healthy dose of offbeat tunes to my playlist. (Please note that these are chosen for their fun factor, not their musical quality. Lol.)

If you want to try going off the beaten path in your holiday listening, here are a few suggestions:

Shatner Claus (2018)

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William Shatner cracks me up. His “I’m ridiculous and I’m owning it” persona doesn’t work for everyone, but if you find it entertaining, you should check out Shatner Claus. It’s filled with his signature style of spoken word/over the top drama, and while I definitely would NOT call it “good music”, I couldn’t stop laughing.

Personal favorite: Jingle Bells (Punk Rock Version).

Meowy Christmas (1993)

cat christmas

Meowy Christmas was the first of four albums by the Jingle Cats, produced by Mike Spalla. I can’t begin to image how many hours of cat sounds Spalla collected and mixed to create the “choir” that performs these holiday favorites. The strange but entertaining discography also includes Jingle Dogs and Jingle Babies.

Personal favorite: Ode to Joy

Merry, Merry Christmas (1989)

Boom Box

I could work on this post for weeks and never run out of holiday albums recorded by pop stars over the years. Going back to the “must haves” of the past is a great way to revive some old memories. For me, the standout is New Kids on the Block, which seemed to be in everyone’s stocking as we prepared to welcome the 90s. My family still listens to it every year, with a lot of smiles, giggles, and occasional eye rolling.

Personal favorite: Funky, Funky Christmas

Twisted Christmas (1988)

happy christmas

Comedian Bob Rivers went heavy on the parody in his series of Christmas albums, including a strong focus on the irritations that go hand in hand with the joy. It’s a tongue in cheek look at the holidays, and a lot of the humor comes from the fact that much of it is so easy to relate to, even for serious holiday fans.

Personal favorite: The Twelve Pains of Christmas

Christmas in the Stars (1980)

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I love Star Wars. The good, the bad, and the hopelessly cheesy…I can’t get enough. (And if you’ve read this far, I’m sure you’ve already realized I have a general weakness for anything cheesy.) Christmas in the Stars is a surprisingly earnest blend of the Star Wars universe and holiday spirit, with a distinct early 80s feel.

Personal favorite: What Do You Get a Wookie For Christmas?

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What are your favorite holiday albums and songs (traditional or otherwise)? Let me know in the comments!

So my plan for this blog is for regularly scheduled Sunday posts with tips, ideas, and recommendations. Other things (personal news, musings, etc.) I’ll post on other days, as appropriate. So my first “Worth Mentioning” post is because I’ve been tagged by John, The Eclectic Contrarian, for a 3.2.1 Quote Challenge. Thanks for thinking of me, and for getting me thinking!

The rules of the challenge are:

• Thank the Selector

• Post 2 quotes for the dedicated topic of the day

• Select 3 bloggers to take part in ‘3.2.1 Quote Me!’

• And give them a topic/word

Note: Although this is the topic for today there is no specific deadline to it, meaning you  can answer when you chose.

The Word I Received Is: Intelligence

Intelligence without ambition is a bird without wings. -Salvador Dali

I’m a huge believer in hard work and perseverance. Going back to my student days, I was in classes with people who had a wide range of intelligence, but across the board the ones who were the most successful were the ones who worked the hardest. I think that our intellect is like any other gift we’re given: we need to use it to achieve our goals.

It's not that I'm so smart, it's just that I stay with problems longer. _Albert Einstein

Einstein’s words have a similar message. The more you work at something, the better you become, whether it’s a physical activity or an intellectual exercise. One of my teacher friends once told me, “There’s a huge difference between ‘I don’t get it’ and ‘I don’t get it YET’. The student with the growth mindset is the student who’s going to succeed.”

I’ve definitely started making an effort to think in terms of “yet”. “I can’t do this…yet. I don’t know what to do…yet.” You get the idea.

  instagramiconBy the way, you can find more of my favorite quotations on my Instagram feed. 

So my challenge word is: Dedication

I’m tagging:

Amy Beth

Megan

Lottie Rose

What do you think?

Thoughts?

How do you exercise your mind? In your opinion, how big a role does intelligence play in being successful? Leave me a comment-I’m dying to discuss this!

 

dinner celebration

Getting together with friends and family should be awesome, not stressful.

I’m definitely the planner in my social circle. When there’s something to celebrate (birthdays, holidays, important life events, etc.) or when people just want to get together, nine times out of ten I’m coordinating, and often hosting. Gatherings with friends and family create some of my very best memories.

However, a few years ago, while I was organizing holiday events, I came to a disturbing realization: It wasn’t fun anymore. Somewhere along the line, I had reached the point where I felt like the pressure was outweighing the positive. So I decided I needed to figure out how to put the fun back into the functions.

As the holiday season is gaining momentum, this feels like the perfect time to share what’s worked for me, both general advice and specific suggestions.

1. Don’t put pressure on yourself

dinner table

Don’t get hung up on perfection.

Repeat after me, “My friends and family love me even when I’m not perfect. We all value the time we spend together way more than a brilliantly executed party.”

For a long time, I was all about hosting the perfect events, from the menu to the decorations to the music. I spent hours planning, shopping, cooking, creating custom playlists, and so on. The result? Hours or days of caffeine-fueled mania culminating in parties where I found it almost impossible to relax and have fun.

The first time I scaled it back, I was nervous that my guests would be disappointed, but I should have had more faith in them, because we all had a great time, and no one seemed to care that I had bought a cake at the bakery and only had one appetizer. On a few occasions, I’ve bought everything I needed premade from the grocery store, and my guests have enjoyed it just as much.

If going all out is something you enjoy, then go for it. However, if it’s stressing you out, dial it back. It’s about the experience, not the expectations.

2. Don’t be afraid to accept help

team heart

Working together is an expression of love.

When I show up for someone else’s party, the first words out of my mouth are “What can I do?” It took way too long to realize that I’m not the only person in the world who likes to help others. I’d had this idea that guests should never do anything, and that was just silly. Nobody leaves my house and says, “That was a great party until Amanda let me load the dishwasher. The nerve!”

Once I started accepting help, people started offering even more. It makes things so much easier when I can ask someone to stop at the store on the way over, or give me a hand with some last minute preparations. Now, I always have one or two people who come over early to help set up, and one or two who stay after to help clean up. Not only does it lower my workload, but it allows for some personal time with these special people to bookend the larger event.

You can take this a step further and…

3. Make it a team effort

My mother is a world champion entertainer, and her dinners, parties, showers, etc. are always amazing. When I thought about how Mom gets things done, I remembered that she’s constantly asking, “Can you bring XYZ?” or “Is there something you’d like to bring?” At our Thanksgiving dinner this week, Mom only made three of the dishes. The rest of us had happily provided the rest, and together we had assembled everything we needed to end the day in a food coma.

So I’ve fallen in love with the potluck. It saves me tons of time and money, and my friends actually get excited about contributing their favorite dishes. My absolute favorite method is:

The Crock Pot Potluck

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Sometimes, my slow cooker is my best friend.

One of my co-workers organized what she called a “Crockluck” four or five years ago, and it was the best! A dozen of us brought in our slow cookers, filled with a variety of our favorite recipes, and plugged them in first thing in the morning. By lunchtime, we had an awesome selection of soup, chili, meat, vegetables, and even dessert.

The idea was too good not to steal. At work we used the cooking time for, well, work, but outside of work we use it for social time or activities. At my most recent Crockluck, we gathered at my house, plugged everything in, caught up on each other’s lives, and then piled into a couple of cars and went to the movies. When we got back, dinner was ready and we were all in a great mood. A few guests who weren’t able to make a day of it cooked their contributions at home and brought them in time to enjoy the evening with the rest of us.

One of the coolest things about Crock Pots is that you can use them to make anything from appetizers to desserts. Here are a few great recipes and resources:

I’ve discovered crock pot recipes for everything from coffee cake to vegetarian lasagna, and chances are that your friends and family already have some favorites of their own.

4. Go out!

painting pottery

Pottery painting is just one example of awesome group activities.

Not every gathering has to be at someone’s home. Activities can be a great way to spend time with important people without having any pressure to cook, clean, and entertain. In the future, I’ll be posting about some of my favorites, but for now, here’s a quick list of things to consider:

  • Plays
  • Cooking classes
  • Craft classes
  • Holiday light tours
  • Escape rooms

Most importantly, HAVE FUN, and focus on creating memories!

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What’s your favorite way to plan or host a gathering? How do you keep the fun in your functions? Share your ideas in the comments!