Countdown begins for Christmas 2014!

COuntdown CalToday the Yule Log begins our countdown to Christmas 2014.  With Christmas 2013 fresh in everyone’s memory, we begin our look forward to next Christmas.  We enter our next cycle of countdown ready to better the experience for all our loyal readers.  We are award-winning tree designers now, so the stakes are high!  We have made plans for this next year and are excited to share with all of you.  There is so much exciting Christmas news and adventures to share.

To help keep you up to date we have set a regular schedule for our blog posts and podcasts.  We will share a new post every Monday and Thursday as we countdown for 2014.  New podcasts will be uploaded on the 12th and the 24th of each month.  Stay tuned as we try to capture more Christmas spirit, attempt to start an app, plan a Christmas in July adventure, and return to the Festival of Trees.  Merry Christmas to all!!

Find your Christmas Spirit on Pinterest

If you are feeling the dog days of summer, or you are in the dumps about school starting in just two weeks, now if the time to start following The Yule Log 365 on Pinterest. We’ve been collecting inspiration, and visiting the boards of ideas we’ve saved–Christmas trees, wreaths, gifts, and more–reminds us that Christmas is only months away (4+ if you are counting with us). I got some inspiration from Thrift My House for recycled sweater balls.

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I felt I could tackle these babies. No problem. My results are mediocre compared to the original design, but I’m pleased to say that I used what I had on hand.  On Saturday, I made a trip to the thrift store for a white sweater, but Shirley spotted a two-dollar white scarf instead (and paid for it so, in essence, it was free).  Ready to try again!

Sweater Ball 1

Podcast #54- 244 Days to Go!

callaway  Podcast #54- Click to listen to this week’s podcast- Where are the Lights?

This week we are thinking forward to actual plans for the weeks before Christmas.  It’s more than six months away but it’s time to PLAN that special outing, event, or trip with your family.  We discuss how to get the family on board now to secure the special date.  Do you KNOW where in the world you can find the best holiday light displays?  Listen in to hear about the top site in America.  WE close with a nod to Earth Day and what you can DO to bring a little reuse and recycling to your Christmas decor.  OH! We also officially announce the theme for our 2013 Festival of Trees entry.  You have to listen to know!

callaway tree

 

Podcast #53- 259 Days to Go!

angels1Podcast #53- Click here to listen to this week’s podcast- Recycled Angels and Famous Santas!

Natalie and Jeremy are back!  It’s been over a month since we last did a recording.  Far too long!  We have both decided that the new method of posting and recording isn’t really working for us.  We don’t do well with the every few days and every couple of weeks Christmas fun.  We need the daily Christmas joy and excitement to keep the spirit alive.  This week’s podcast starts with something to DO: make angels out of recycled soda cans.  Natalie found the plans and we tried them out today.  Hear how we did it and listen to our  opinions of the craft.  Next we get to things we need to PLAN: like our very own Festival of Trees.  Listen in to see how we are planning to bring this activity to our own place of work.  We challenge you to plan a way now to increase the joy of Christmas with others this year.  Finally we close out our recording with something to KNOW: your introduction to the International Santa Claus Hall of Fame.  Wet your appetite for interesting Santa tidbits.  Find out why Mickey Rooney was inducted into the Hall in 2012.  We will be posting more on this topic in the coming days but this is a good start.  Merry Christmas!

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Some Great Christmas Stories

story timeDuring our podcast yesterday Natalie and I briefly discussed some great classic Christmas stories. Some of them connect well with possible Valentine’s Day plans.  I read a few more of the stories and it really sparked my Christmas spirit.  This got me to thinking of another great idea for the holidays (well many actually).  These short reads could really inspire just about anyone to embrace Christmas throughout the year.  I’m start to work on some plans on how best to share the story ideas I have.  SO look for more about great Christmas stories in the near future.  I’m already thinking about a story of the month!  To get you started in my same line of thinking on the reads just get started on this web page- 20 Famous Christmas Stories.  My favorite new discovery out of this list is the one by Pearl Buck, Christmas Day in the Morning.  It’s a great little tale about a son learning about love from his father, a dedicated and hard-working farmer.  If you liked the Super Bowl commercial about the American Farmer, then this story will do it for you!

 

Marching Band is for Christmas, Right?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis week I started planning my fall calendar and that means making time for one of my favorite activities, marching band.  I have been involved in the activity in one way or another every season since 1985!  Most see the activity as something for the heat of the summer and the football games of the fall.  This is mostly true other than the occasional Christmas parade.  I’m guessing many people view marching band as what happens when you go for your hotdog at a football game, what plays behind the commentators for a college game, or the music you hear in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. There are some decent marching band versions of most upbeat Christmas songs for bands to use for parades.  These are usually tags to the end of a season and worked in amongst the prep for the Winter concert.  During the regular season the bands work continually on their show, centered on some type of theme.  I’d never really considered if a band might choose Christmas music for that show theme.  Why the heck not?  There is so much potential!  A typical show usually has a powerful opening song, a ballad, a feature of some type, and a strong closing anthem with tons of variations possible.  Just thinking of all the possible musical combinations got my head spinning.  Add to that all the varied visual looks that could come from the color guard!  You can just imagine my excitement.

cadets2012When marching bands want to see the top-level of the marching art they regularly turn to Drum Corps International, DCI.  DCI is a summer activity that pulls together young musicians to join a corps and spend many months working 10-12 hours a day on a single 10-12 minute performance.  These are performers that are the pinnacle of the activity.  They compete all across the country throughout the summer months.  Last summer one of the corps, the Cadets, had a show titled “12.25”.  You guessed it- a Christmas themed show!  The arrangements they share with us are strong versions of many of the Christmas classics we all know and love.  There are many videos of the Cadets show on YouTube.  Check out a full performance or a full run rehearsal.  Either way you can see for yourself just how awesome a Christmas marching show can be.  Like what you see?  You can check out some links about the overall activity at www.dci.org.  If you have a marching band fan in your circle of family and friends you might get some good gift ideas there too.   Without a doubt marching band is connected in many ways to Christmas, so maybe the question might be better asked “Christmas is for marching band, right?”

Walking in a Winter Wonderland (literally)

WTD 13This Saturday, January 12th, is Winter Trails Day 2013.  This special day is a national event hosted at hundreds of resorts and nordic centers across the US.  The purpose of the event is to introduce people to the winter sports of snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.  Last year over 10,000 people participated in Winter Trails Day 2012.  The great part about the event is that it’s free!  Each site will have the experts and equipment on hand to help you get started on your new winter activity. Follow the links at www.wintertrails.org to find out all the information you need to get started.

CC skisThe closest location to Frederick is Liberty Mountain Resort in nearby Carroll Valley, PA.  The events at Liberty run from 10:00 am- 2:00 pm.  No registration is required, although pre-registration will save time when you arrive.  Liberty only offers snowshoeing, no cross-country skiing.  They will have 6 educational stations for you to visit as you take a walk on the snow.  Check out www.libertymountainresort.com for all the details.  They also have a great listing of all the fitness benefits of snowshoeing.  If you want to try the cross-country skiing, you can drive a little further to the west to McHenry, MD.  Wisp Resort will offer both activities on Saturday from 9:00 am- 5:00 pm.  You are limited to a 2-hour time to try things out.  They have some fun activities like a kids snowshoe race, a cross-country skiing scavenger hunt, and a bonfire.  For all the specifics on the day head to www.wispresort.com.

SnowshoesSome quick facts before you head out for your first experience:  Anyone can snowshoe.  There is no fancy equipment or techniques to learn, you can start immediately.  You burn 45% more calories snowshoeing than walking or running at the same speed, 46% of snowshoers are women, 12% are ages 7-17, 55% are under 45 years old, and over 1.4 million participate in the activity annually in the US.   It is a peaceful and serene activity- perfect for the mind, body and soul!

If you always wanted to find a fun winter activity that the whole family could do, this is it (and generally no ski lifts).  All ages can participate and it’s a great workout.  It could also be the start to a great Christmas idea for 2013.  New, or slightly used, equipment and gear can be picked up fairly cheap at an end of season sale or swap this spring.  You can plan now for some travel or outings in winter 2013.  Think of the smiles when the gifts are unwrapped and everyone has a ticket to or a coupon for a family winter fun weekend with snowshoeing and cross-country skiing!