This Is Halloween!

Everyday Adventures

Oh, folks, it is my most favoritest time of the year: Labor Day is done, summer is effectively over, and now we can get to the good stuff: fall and Halloween!

While we’ll wait a little bit to start decorating (our decorating scheme may have to change a bit to be Duncan-proof, but that’s a conversation for another day), I think it’s the perfect time to start watching some of my favorite seasonal movies. Usually I just start in October, but I think this year I’ll start right now (well, last night) with the various Halloween and Halloween-adjacent movies that I love.

Last night’s flick? Practical Magic. As much as Love Actually inaugurates the Christmas movie season, Practical Magic is my go-to witch movie of choice. Not that I restrict viewing of these or any other movies to only one time of year, mind you, but it’s more special this time of year.

And what will I watch for the next 54 days? In no particular order…

  1. Halloweentown
  2. Halloweentown II: Kalabar’s Revenge
  3. Halloweentown High
  4. Return to Halloweentown
  5. Hocus Pocus
  6. The Nightmare Before Christmas (we consider this a dual-holiday movie)
  7. Scream
  8. Scream 2
  9. Scream 3
  10. Scream 4
  11. The Craft
  12. Ghostbusters
  13. Ghostbusters 2
  14. House on Haunted Hill, 1959
  15. House on Haunted Hill, 1999 (I’m usually not fond of remakes, but both versions stand pretty well on their own for different reasons)
  16. Little Shop of Horrors
  17. 13 Ghosts
  18. The Haunting, 1963
  19. The Haunting, 1999 (again, another stand-along remake that I can get behind)
  20. The  Birds
  21. The Addams Family
  22. Addams Family Values
  23. Manhunter
  24. Silence of the Lambs
  25. Hannibal
  26. Sleepy Hollow
  27. The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad
  28. The Others
  29. The Sixth Sense
  30. The Corpse Bride
  31. Devil’s Advocate
  32. It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown
  33. Edward Scissorhands
  34. Rocky Horror Picture Show
  35. Beetlejuice
  36. Monsters Inc
  37. The Faculty
  38. I Know What You Did Last Summer
  39. Skeleton Key
  40. Buffy the Vampire Slayer
  41. Idle Hands (a friend of mine’s brother is in this one)
  42. Teen Witch
  43. Sabrina the Teenage Witch, the Movie
  44. The Worst Witch
  45. Clue
  46. The Lost Boys
  47. The Haunted Mansion
  48. The Good Witch
  49. Once Bitten
  50. What Lies Beneath
  51. The Woman in Black
  52. Flatliners
  53. The Witches
  54. The Village

I’m sure you can tell I’m not big on the gory side of the horror movie genre. You won’t find me watching slasher flicks or movies intended to give you full-on nightmares. I’d never sleep again! But I like suspense and some tamer horror, along with a lot of fun. Last year I watched several of the Goosebumps movies that were on Netflix, and I’m sure I’ll tumble down some b-movie holes a few times over the next few months.

What are your favorite movies for this time of year? Any must-sees that I’ve left off my list, above?

12 Days of Blogmas: Holiday Movies

Just for Fun

There are a LOT of holiday movies out there and I thought I’d actually have trouble narrowing it down to just 6 for today’s post, but it turns out that I’m pickier about movies than I thought and coming up with 6 strong favorites actually took a little thought!


Classic Holiday Movies

The first movie I watched this holiday season was White Christmas. It’s one of my favorites because of the comedic elements as well as the overall message: doing something good for an old friend just because it’s the right thing to do. Bing Crosby is always a pleasure to listen to, after all, and the movie is just so beautiful to watch. I always get choked up at the end.

My other classic favorite is Meet Me In St. Louis. Now, it might not seem like a true Christmas movie since it covers an entire year of the Smith family and lacks a lot of the holiday movie hallmarks, but the Christmas/Winter arc is really the meat of the story, so I consider it a Christmas movie. It also happens to be great Victorian home eye-candy and a fabulous Judy Garland musical.

Animated Holiday Movies

There are tons of retellings of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, but my favorite version, hands down, is Mickey’s Christmas Carol. Todd and I were chatting last night and I wondered aloud about whether Scrooge McDuck was created first for Mickey’s Christmas Carol but, no, he first appeared in “Christmas on Bear Mountain” though he was, yes, created in the image of Ebeneezer Scrooge. I remember we’d taped it off television back when I was a kid (so there’s a nostalgia angle) and would watch it frequently over the holidays and then I had to hunt down, as an adult, which Christmas set it was part of in the days of DVDs. Plus it’s Disney and, say what you may about some of their practices, they make pretty movies. Even the short ones.

Nightmare Before Christmas is another favorite; though some argue whether it’s a Halloween movie or a Christmas movie. We consider it both, actually, but since it specifically deals with the ruining (even if through good intentions) and rescue of Christmas, I think it meets the benchmarks of a holiday movie. It’s fun, quirky, a little dark at times, with amazing music and a pretty good message, too (let’s not cross the holiday streams, it doesn’t end well).

And while I’d really love to have 2, 2, and 2, I just couldn’t NOT include How the Grinch Stole Christmas! I mean, really, I couldn’t. While I actually don’t mind the Jim Carey, live-action version (he was well-suited to the role and I appreciated the delving into the Grinch’s backstory), there’s something about the classic cartoon with the iconic song.

Holiday Rom-Com

Finally, a more modern (though it’s 12 years old, now–what?!) holiday movie favorite is definitely Love, Actually. Between the charm of the interwoven stories, the amazing characters, and the intelligent humor of it all, it is an often-watched movie at our house (and not just at Christmas).


Last week the fine folks at Casper (the foam mattress company, not the ghost) reach out and offered a custom movie night essentials checklist. I’m not being compensated for posting this (though if they wanted to send me a queen-sized mattress to review, I’d be hard-pressed to say no), it’s just something fun that I can totally get behind. Granted, most of our movie nights are spent on the sofa, but the idea of cuddling up and watching Love, Actually in bed with cookies and cocoa? Doesn’t sound too shabby, now does it?

The 12 Days of Blogmas is a link-up hosted by The Coastie Couple and The Petite Mrs. Check out either of their blogs to see what everyone else has to say on today’s topic!

The 12 Days of Blogmas is a link-up hosted by The Coastie Couple and The Petite Mrs. Check out either of their blogs to see what everyone else has to say on today’s topic!

Movies I Need to See

Just for Fun


The other night while doing laundry, Feed the Birds from Mary Poppins popped into my head for reasons I cannot even begin to fathom. Nonetheless, it reminded me that I still haven’t gotten around to seeing Saving Mr. Banks and that’s a shame, because I dearly love Emma Thompson movies. So that’s today’s Free for All Friday: the movies that I never seem to make time to sit down and watch already!

(In no particular order, as brought to you by my Amazon Watch List)

  1. Saving Mr. Banks
  2. Iron Man 3
  3. The Croods
  4. The Purge
  5. Monsters University
  6. Planes
  7. Despicable Me 2
  8. Austenland
  9. The Book Theif
  10. Frozen
  11. Brave
  12. Beautiful Creatures

Yes, I realize some of them have been out ridiculously long. I also realize that I’m in danger of losing my Disney fan card for not seeing Brave or Frozen yet. I’ve also heard that Beautiful Creatures was less than many hoped for, but it still looks like a nice popcorn flick if nothing else.

The strange thing is that I watch stuff all the time–but I’m usually multitasking while whatever is going on in the background and the majority of the movies on that list are ones I really want to just watch and enjoy. And that means making time for them when I don’t have a bunch of other things pulling at my attention.

Obviously I need to set up some sort of reward system to be able to catch up on my movie viewing. Maybe if I feel like I’ve “earned it” I can convince myself to slow down and take a movie break?

What movies are on your must-see list?

AlcHOLidays | National Bluebird of Happiness Day | Pursuit of Happiness


Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, you say? Notice that it’s only the pursuit of happiness we’re guaranteed, not the finding or attainment.

In the 1940 film The Blue Bird (starring Shirley Temple, speaking of drinks), the bird in question is given as a selfless gift, and then escapes. The moral being that the bluebird of happiness is always to be pursued, not captured. And from the 1934 song,

be like I, hold your head up high,
’til you see a ray of light and cheer

and so remember this, life is no abyss
somewhere there’s a bluebird of happiness

Bluebird of Happiness, Harmati & Heyman

All this to say, September 24 (that’s this coming Monday) has become known as the National Bluebird of Happiness Day. Now, you can take that as a challenge to always look for the silver lining, to keep optimistic as the days get shorter and the weather turns brisk (which is a plus in my book), or to go out of your way to spread a little happiness for someone else; essentially being a bluebird of happiness yourself!

And if you’re into old movies but not feeling the Shirley Temple vibe, watch Hitchcock’s The Birds, instead. I’m certainly not going to judge what makes you happy.

Pursuit of Happiness Cocktail for National Bluebird of Happiness Day, September 24

Part of what makes me happy, of course, is creating fun cocktails for any and all reasons. Historically, there is a cocktail known as the Blue Bird, using either gin or vodka, triple sec (ptoo!) or curacao, and bitters. I suppose gin would make sense for the era (Vodka didn’t get a good foothold in the US until mid-century, after all), but my thought process was veering a bit more tropical, plus I’ve been wanting to use this new Denizen Aged White Rum from Holland (look for a full review forthcoming), so rum and blue curacao (of course) means pineapple isn’t very far behind. Then I decided to try and see what the difference would be between pineapple juice and pineapple soda. Just because.

Pursuit of Happiness

2 oz Pineapple Juice
1 oz Aged White Rum (like Denizen)
3/4 oz Blue Curacao
garnish of a slice of Pineapple with or without a little bluebird pick

Combine the juice, rum, and curacao over ice and shake til you’re feeling happy. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a slice of pineapple.

Making little themed picks from a bird stamp, blue ink, and toothpicks is totally optional but fun!

So, I tried this both ways: with pineapple soda and pineapple juice. No surprise that the juice version won out, really, it’s only to be expected. The soda just didn’t have enough oomph to blend well and stand up to the two alcohols, while the juice gave the drink some body and you really got more pineapple flavor. Now, if you wanted to, I’m sure you could cut it half and half and be fine, but I was feeling more all or nothing last night.

And for those who might wonder if the Cruzan Vanilla Rum I reviewed a while back might not go lovely in this drink, it’s too sweet. I know, is that really possible? But yes. The aged white rum has depth without being harsh, the vanilla would be a bit cloying. That said, if you were inclined to combine the pineapple juice and the pineapple soda and then lace it with a bit of that Cruzan Vanilla Rum, what you would have would be more than a little reminiscent of pineapple upside down cake.

And there’s nothing wrong with that!

And because this is one of my favorite TMBG songs and actually has ties to the original Bluebird of Happiness (bluebird of friendliness, anyone?), I have to close with Birdhouse in Your Soul.

(Direct link for the Feed Readers: Birdhouse in Your Soul by TMBG)


50 Shots of America: North Dakota


In our continuing journey across the US via cocktail, we head almost to Canada, today, with a look at either the 39th or 40th state…


Rose Red

Rose Red

There’s some confusion as to which state rightfully comes next in our tour of the states by date of statehood. You see, North and South Dakota both came up for statehood at the same time (as part of the Enabling Act of 1889) and President Harrison knew there was quite the rivalry between the two as to which would be first. So, to remain completely neutral, he had his aid shuffle the petitions and did not look at which was which when he signed them. No one really knows which was #39 and which was #40, but North Dakota comes up first alphabetically, so that’s the way it’s usually listed.

Of course, when I think of North Dakota, I think of Fargo. Not the city, the movie, of course. And the infamous wood-chipper scene. I realize that it’s probably not the way most Dakotans (which means friend or ally) want to be remembered, but pop culture has it’s way. Still, if you’re planning a Fargo-themed movie night (for which I’d include Drop Dead Gorgeous even if it is set in Minnesota–there’s some cultural similarities thanks to strong Norwegian influences of both), this drink might be right up your alley:

Rose Red

1.25 oz Vodka
.25 oz Rosewater
few drops Grenadine

Combine the vodka and rosewater in a mixing glass with ice and stir until thoroughly chilled (30 seconds to a minute). Strain into a chilled cordial glass and drop in a bit of grenadine for effect. Garnish with a broken toothpick.

The wild prairie rose is the state flower of North Dakota and they are a leading producer of potatoes, among other agricultural pursuits, so that’s where the flavor notes for this drink comes from. If you can get a potato-vodka, even better, but any of your favorites will do.

There’s one other story I found fascinating about this week’s state: While Bismarck is, in fact, the capital of North Dakota, shortly after statehood was achieved, Jamestown was the preferred choice of many. Except those in Bismarck. A band of residents actually stole the state records from Jamestown, returned to Bismarck and refused to release them until the legislators came back to Bismarck. Realizing the move was more hassle than they wanted to deal with, the powers that be agreed to leave the capital as Bismarck but refused to official declare, proclaim or vote it into historical record.

Not bad, North Dakota, not bad at all.


Predictably enough, our next stop on the cocktail express (well, it’s more of a local with all the starts and stops) is just a smidgen south in the Black Hills of South Dakota.