10 Best Holiday Movies to Get You In the Christmas Spirit

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Christmas just wouldn’t be the same without a favorite Christmas film or two. While you’ve got some downtime this Christmas, take some time to enjoy one of these favorite Christmas movies. Whether you’re looking for romance, Christmas magic or comedy, our list of top Christmas movies has a little something for everyone.

  1. “It’s a Wonderful Life” The classic of classic Christmas films that reminds us what life is really all about. (And it’s not the gifts under the tree or the money in your bank account.) No matter how many times you’ve seen “It’s a Wonderful Life,” it’s worth another watch this Christmas.
  2. “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” We’ve all had that neighbor—the one who goes above and beyond to make his house an utterly obnoxious mess of Christmas lights and decorations. In this story, Clark Griswold plans a big family Christmas despite his family’s attempts at thwarting his plans.
  3. “Elf” What happens when a human baby sneaks into Santa’s bag and ends up at the North Pole? You’ll find out in this film, which chronicles the journey of the ever-so-charming Buddy the Elf as he travels back to the Big Apple to find his real family after being raised by elves. Chances are that you’ll feel a little more Christmas spirit after watching this film.
  4. “Miracle on 34th Street” Originally filmed as a love story more than a Christmas story, “Miracle on 34th Street” has become a classic Christmas film. When a young girl loses her sense of wonder and belief, Santa shows up in a way that will reignite the magic of Christmas magic for people of all ages.
  5. “A Christmas Story” Another classic Christmas comedy, “A Christmas Story” is the oddly delightful tale of Ralphie, a young boy who gets the BB gun he always wanted for Christmas, and his eccentric parents. Ever wondered what’s with the leg lamps that seem to appear this time of year? You’ll find out in “A Christmas Story.”
  6. “A Christmas Carol” The 1951 version of the Charles Dickens classic is the truest adaptation of the book to film. In the story, Ebenezer Scrooge—a wealthy, selfish old man—is visited by the spirits of Christmases Past, Present and Yet to Come. Scrooge comes to realize what he could have had in life had be been a bit more generous, and what his future could hold if only he could let go of the greed that turned him into a Christmas ogre.
  7. “Holiday Inn” A musical doesn’t get much better than the one that features Irving Berlin, Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire. This delightful 1942 film covers all the holidays, but at its heart, it’s about Christmas. It also happens to be the musical that launched the hit Christmas film “White Christmas.”
  8. “White Christmas” After returning from World War II, two men team up to form a song and dance act. After meeting another song and dance duo—two sisters—who travel to a Vermont lodge to perform a Christmas show, the two groups team up to help the men’s former commander, General Waverly, who happens to be the lodge owner. A delightful mix of romance, comedy and music (also featuring Bing Crosby), White Christmas is another classic film you just can’t miss.
  9. “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas” In the whimsical land of Whoville live the Christmas-loving Whos. Just outside Whoville lives the Grinch, who, by contrast, does not love Christmas, and who plans to steal the Christmas joy from Whoville. Young Cindy Lou Who intervenes with a plan to befriend the Grinch and teach him an important lesson: that it’s worth believing in the magic of Christmas.
  10. “Home Alone” It’s every parent’s nightmare: somehow leaving your child at home in the rush to get to the airport in time to make your Christmas flight. That nightmare becomes reality for the McAllister family, which boards a flight to France for Christmas only to realize that their 8-year-old son Kevin has been left behind. As his parents struggle to find the fastest way home as possible, Kevin must defend the family’s home against a pair of idiotic burglars.

4 Tips for Decorating a Small Space for Christmas

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Are your trees trimmed, stockings hung and halls decked for Christmas? Or are you still trying to figure out just how to decorate for most wonderful time of the year when you’re short on space? Don’t fret! There is still time to get your home decorated in time for Christmas.

Although you may think that a bigger home may be easier to decorate for the holidays, that’s not always the case. Think about it: the more space you have, the more decorations you need to fill that space. On the other hand, decorating a small space is simply about finding ways to creatively use the open areas and surfaces you do have. Here are four tips to help decorate your apartment or other small space for Christmas.

1. Look up. Utilize wall space for decorations, rather than taking up floor space. For example, hang your Christmas cards on the wall, and spice up the look with a few pieces of fresh greenery. Another way to use your vertical wall space is to hang a Christmas tree wall decal instead of filling floor space with an artificial or live Christmas tree. Hang ornaments, family pictures or Christmas cards on the wall in the shape of a Christmas tree, topped with a star. You can even hang a strand of Christmas lights on your wall in the shape of a tree.

2. Think in fractions. Did you know you can buy half of a Christmas tree? Many stores selling artificial trees have half trees, where one side is flat so the tree takes up less space when set up against a wall. You can even purchase a quarter of a tree to tuck into a corner. If you prefer live trees, but don’t know where to put one, collect branches from a live Christmas tree, place them in a vase on a table and decorate the branches, instead of the whole tree. Just because you live in a small space doesn’t mean you need to miss out on having a Christmas tree!

3. Use unexpected surfaces. If you don’t have a mantle to hang your stockings, hang them from a bookshelf, or cabinet instead. Decorate the tops of your kitchen cabinets (if there is space between the ceiling and the top of the cabinet) with your favorite Christmas collectables. Create a centerpiece on your table using your Nativity.

4. Layer it on. It is possible to place more than one of your favorite Christmas decorations in one space or on one surface, without creating clutter. It’s called layering, and it’s a trick used in interior design to create depth in one area. Start by choosing a few of your favorite Christmas pieces. Varying sizes is best. For example, if you have a large piece of Christmas art, place it against the wall in the back. In front of the art, add a tall vase with greenery, finally position your snowmen figurines or Christmas angles as the final layer in front.

Decorating a small space isn’t impossible, but it does take some creativity — especially if you are used to decorating a larger home. While you may not be able to find a place for all of your Christmas decorations, with these tips, you can decorate with your favorite pieces in an elegant and unexpected way.

How to Prevent Slips and Falls This Winter

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Slips and falls are the most common cause of injuries among people older than 65. According to the CDC, more than two million older adults are treated for fall injuries each year, and more than half a million of those are hospitalized.

Slipping and falling can result in hip fractures, head lacerations and head trauma. In some cases, a fall can trigger a fatal spiral of health-related events.

There are likely fall hazards lurking around every corner in your home, and with winter on the way, the risk of falls outside the home will only get higher. Whether you are a senior adult yourself or you’re caring for a senior, there are safety measures you can take to help prevent falls outside your home this winter.

Preventing Falls Outside and On Ice

  • Recognize the potential hazards for a fall. If there is ice or snow outside, first decide how necessary it is to check the mail or run that errand. Can it wait until the ice is melted?
  • Keep your porch, steps, sidewalk and driveway clear. Sprinkle these areas with salt or sand when you know a winter storm is headed your way to prevent ice buildup. If you are physically unable to do this yourself—or to shovel snow or scrape ice from these surfaces—consider finding a family member, friend or hired help to keep the areas outside your home as safe as possible.
  • Wear boots or shoes with tread on the soles. Shoes with a smooth bottom surface only increase your risk of slipping.
  • Walk cautiously. Know the risks, and take it slow. The more rushed you are, the more likely you are to fall. Avoid carrying heavy loads when walking outside on an icy or wet surface, as that load may cause you to become unbalanced.
  • When walking on icy surfaces, take small, shuffled steps. Keep your toes curled under and walk flatfooted, rather than landing on your toes or heels first.
  • Use handrails, or walk closely to a building or another stable object to give you more stability. Keeping your hands on another object (or a friend) will give you more balance and help reduce your risk of falling.

Preventing Injuries from Falls

Even if you practice these safety tips, you may still find yourself in a situation where you slip and fall. There are a few things you can do to help prevent serious injury.

First, when you begin to feel yourself fall, buckle your knees. This will lower the distance that your upper body falls, reducing the impact when you hit the ground. If you are falling backward, buckle your knees and tuck your head to your chest—try to turn yourself into a ball.

Avoid trying to catch yourself with your hands—doing so will most likely result in a broken wrist or arm. Instead, throw one arm across your chest with enough force that your body turns to one side. Then rotate the rest of your body in that same direction. With enough rotation, you will land on your backside, rather than on a hip.

Most importantly, keep your head forward or up to avoid hitting it on the ground when you land. Head injuries from falls can be very serious, so protect your head as much as possible.

Sometimes slipping and falling simply cannot be avoided. Think twice before stepping outside onto an icy or wet surface this winter—you may be saving yourself a trip to the hospital and preventing a serious injury.

Bring a piece autumn indoors

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Fall is such a beautiful season; it’s hard not to want to bring it inside. The leaves are turning gorgeous shades of orange, yellow and brown, and they crunch delightfully beneath your feet. The cooler weather hasn’t quite killed the grass, so there is still a natural green backdrop for your outdoor walks and activities. And the cool, crisp weather that comes with fall is perfect for spending as much time lounging outside as possible.

You can’t spend all of your time outdoors, but you can certainly bring Mother Nature’s piece of art inside with you.

Open the Windows

On days when it isn’t too cool, open your windows to blur the line between inside and out. Feeling the fall breeze and listening to the rustling of the leaves is the perfect way to welcome fall into your home. And better yet, opening your windows and shutting off your AC will save you a little money and keep your living space at a comfortable temp. However, if you have fall allergies, you may want to consider closing the windows at night. Nothing is worse than not being able to smell the cool, crisp air because your nose is stuffed up. 

Get Some Fall Scented Candles or Wax Burners

What smells like fall to you? Pumpkin spice? Apple pie? Find a candle of your favorite fall scent and keep it lit whenever you’re at home and awake. Your sense of smell is a highly sensitive way to create, store and evoke memories. Choose a signature scent for the fall and see how it impacts your mood, memory and even your sleep—just blow out that candle before you doze off! Fall scents tend to be warmer smells like nuts, coffee or cinnamon. Have pets or small grandchildren around? You may want to avoid keeping an open flame out, so a wax burner is just the ticket for you. These warming plates melt scented wax cubes, which spread their scent throughout the room.

Make a Fall Wreath

Wreaths are decorations highly associated with fall and winter, and the fall wreath allows you to incorporate all of those different oranges, yellows and browns of the season into your home. You can either go to a home decor store and purchase one or you can make one on your own. Some wreaths are even themed around fall holidays, like Halloween or Thanksgiving.

Bring the Outdoors In

Use the treasures of Mother Nature to decorate your home for the fall season. For example, you can make a centerpiece out of fallen twigs and sticks you might find outside, or perhaps bring in some freshly fallen leaves to spread across a mantel or table. Some other natural accents we love include jars or clear bowls full of acorns and pinecones wrapped in ribbon. The possibilities are endless!

How to repurpose old belongings

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Old pieces of junk no longer have to lie around your home or garage and take up space anymore, you can repurpose them into imaginative and often times beautifully functional creations. With a little elbow grease and imagination these useless items can become the focal point of your home and the talk of your friends and guests leaving you with a prideful smile on your face.

Old Ladders

There is not just one, but two ways to make an old, wooden ladder into a shelf. The odds are you haven’t thought about doing much with a ladder except climb one or avoid walking under one for fear of bad luck. Now a ladder can become a decorative storage piece in your home.

The first way to turn a ladder into a shelf is simply to take the ladder and mount it to the wall. If the ladder is too long, simply cut it off leaving the bottom cut at a 45-degree angle. You then can mount the divided ladder across a corner providing even more storage space for books and odds and ends.

The second way is to stand the A-frame ladder up and use pieces of plywood, cut to fit from one rung to the other on the opposite side of the frame. You then can paint or stain the ladder to match. Fasten the plywood down with wood screws and you’re ready to stack books, pictures, movies, CDs and much more on your improvised shelving unit.

Old Cans, Pots and Pans

This is probably the simplest item to repurpose and has the most variety for functions. Simply taking an old pot, pan or can and drilling some small holes in the bottom can make them a great decorative piece for planting in the garden. You could even place them in a kitchen window seal to grow your own herbs and spices. Because you have many choices to choose from you could collect the same brand of can from across many years, like trying to get all of the different Folders Coffee can designs. The continuity will add a nice touch.

Drill a hole large enough for an electrical cord through and you could have a hanging can light. Just make sure when you hang it that it is out of reach of children or the range of hitting your head as they will become very hot.

Old Chairs

An Old folding chair can help you do laundry and a few of them can help you do even more laundry. Wood folding chairs will probably work the best. Drill a hole through the top, back portion of the chair large enough for a hook mounted to the wall to hold. Hang the chair on the wall, when you want a shelf unfold it you have a shelf and hanging rack for the clothes in your laundry room

How to make a small space feel big

 

18049012_mFeeling crowded and cramped? If you live in a small apartment, condo or retirement, it’s easy to collect clutter, which can make a small space feel claustrophobic and difficult to navigate and clean. Here are a few tips for making your small space feel a bit larger.

Get rid of excess clutter

An important—and sometimes difficult—part of the de-cluttering processes is to get rid of a significant amount of your possessions. Some things that clutter your home may just be garbage, like stacks of old newspapers or magazines you keep telling yourself you’ll get around to reading. Other things may still be useful and in good condition, and you should consider reselling them or donating them to a shelter or charity of your choosing. If you haven’t used or worn something in six months to a year, the truth is that you’re not using it anyway. Why not give it to someone who actually needs it? Obviously, keep the items that hold sentimental value, but find a good place to store them or display them. Everything in a small room or living space should have a purpose.

Organize

Organization not only helps you to become more efficient, but it also creates a significant amount of space in your home. Consider creative uses of objects and items as storage solutions. For example, purchase storage that is not only decorative, but can also easily be stacked and put away. These items will allow your organization to become part of the decor, but can also be stored away when they’re not in use. Decorative storage also includes shelves or cabinets that allow you to store and display items in an organized fashion without seeming out of place.

One design principle to follow is to store like items together. For example, it seems obvious to place books or trinkets on a shelf together, but have you ever tried placing items of similar shape, size or color together on the shelf? The congruity of the objects tricks the eye and creates the appearance of more space.

Arrange furniture to best fit a space

Too many pieces of furniture in a small space can be challenge to arrange. First, make sure there are enough spaces for the people who live there to sit, plus a couple of guests. You may have to weed out the number of side tables or other superfluous pieces of furniture to create enough space. Try to place seating in an L-shape, with the back of the couch along the longest wall of the room and the second seating (chair or loveseat) along the adjacent wall. You’ll want to avoid blocking the door, as this will cut the room in half. This arrangement will help keep the room open. Choose brighter colors for artwork and paint to create an airy feeling.

How to pick the perfect gift for your grandchild

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Sure, it’s not even November yet, but before you know it, holiday gift-giving season will be here in full force. Finding the perfect gifts for your grandchildren can be tough in this day and age—kids today are so technologically sophisticated, it can be difficult for grandparents to know what’s in and what’s out. Here are a few ways to delight your grandkids with every gift you give them, whether it be for Christmas, their birthday or just because you want to make them smile.

Go Electronic

Electronic gadgets are now popular toys for children as young as pre-school age. They’re playing with tablets packed with games helping them to master reading, math and even some geography. If you would like to get your grandchild a tablet, look into the Nabi Tablet for children. It is a sturdy tablet that runs a simplified operating system just for kids. You can also purchase interactive toys that work with existing electronics, like the Disney Pixar Cars 2 Appmates, which interact with iPad tablets. The kids can borrow mom or dad’s tablet and go tractor-tipping without ever leaving the living room.

Go Simple

Sometimes it’s simple gifts that are the most special. For example, the wooden track train sets that have been around for decades will still get boys giddy with excitement, and girls still love baby dolls to play house or school. Remember those gigantic Styrofoam airplanes? Kids still love those to this day. High-tech gadgets will never replace classic toys like blocks, planes, trains or dolls, especially for younger kids.

Tweens and Teens

As your grandkids enter their teenage years, it seems like gift shopping for them just gets more difficult. Sometimes the best solution is to find them a flexible gift that teens and tweens can use as they like. Get them movie passes or a gift certificate to their favorite store. Or pick up a Visa gift card loaded with cash that your grandkids can spend wherever they like. If you’re not the type to give gift cards or money, consider fun items like headphones or unusual bedroom decor. You can also buy accessories for electronics they already own, like a case or cover for a phone, tablet or electronic reader. When in doubt, it’s sometimes just best to ask teens and tweens what they’d like to receive.

Classic movies every football fan needs to see

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As the air turns crisp and cool and the Friday night lights hum over stadiums across the country, there’s no mistaking that football season is in the air. Football is ingrained in our country’s culture, so it’s no surprise that many of our favorite movies center on the sport. Here are our football film picks for your next movie night.

RudyA movie responsible for making many grown men cry, Rudy’s short-statured title character dreams of joining Notre Dame’s Fighting Irish football team. Unfortunately, he didn’t have the money or the grades to go to Notre Dame. After some help from some kind folks along the way, Rudy learns he has dyslexia, but continues working his job at the stadium. The end of the movie will leave you chanting Rudy’s name.

Remember The Titans: A strong-willed coach, portrayed by Denzel Washington, forces a newly-integrated high school football team of white and African American students to learn to work together and play together. A brotherhood forms between the players, but not without some serious struggles along the way.

The Replacements: When the Washington Sentinels goes on strike, the NFL puts together a ragtag team of players led by Falco, a star player portrayed by Keanu Reeves. He pulls together a team including a gangster, a SWAT leader, a deaf player and a convict on a work release program. The movie follows the key characters through challenges of playing professional football and their newfound fame.

Friday Night Lights: In this film, the racially and economically divided town of Odessa, Texas unites over one thing—high school football. The team experiences some struggles along the way, but finds their only way to state championship is to be undefeated in their highly competitive environment. The most important thing the team learns is to work together and support one another.

Jerry Maguire: Released in 1996, this movie takes on football from a different angle: that of the agent. Jerry (played by Tom Cruise) is a sports agent who loses his job and most of his clients when he experiences a moral dilemma and is fired for doing what he believed to be the right thing. He experiments with the one player who stayed with him and finds success.

How to organize a small space

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Small spaces and clutter do not mix. If you live in an apartment or retirement community and you have a hard time getting rid of things, you’ll quickly find yourself feeling closed-in, frazzled and constantly tripping over things in your way. If you’re downsizing from a home into a smaller place for retirement, you’ll need to use the little space you have to your advantage. Here are a few ways how:

Do a purge: Remember that one of the benefits of downsizing is that you’re responsible for less space and less stuff. But to enjoy that freedom, you actually have to get rid of some things! Do a thorough inventory of your possessions and decide what’s absolutely necessary to keep—and be honest with yourself. Keep the essentials and sell or donate the rest.

Use vertical space: Don’t forget to utilize the most abundant space in your home: vertical space. Vertical shelving and organization units don’t have to be unsightly—they can also double as decor. Many stores sell decorative shelving units that allow you to store books, magazines, trinkets, photos or even bowls or dishes again an aesthetically pleasing way. Use pegboards to hang closet items like scarves, belts, jewelry or ties to free up the closet shelves or bars for hanging clothes.

Seek out functional décor: Keep a lookout for furniture that comes with ample built-in storage. For example, if you purchase a console or entertainment center, opt for one that has plenty of shelf or cabinet space. You can also find ottomans with hollow middles, which allow you to store items inside. 

Create the illusion of space: Keep your living space feeling open and organized through design. Consider the fact that dark colors make a room feel smaller, while lighter colors create the illusion of a larger room. Hang plenty of mirrors—they instantly make any room feel bigger. Another important touch is lighting. While table lamps are nice, they also limit the amount of light cast into the room. Instead, opt for floor lamps, which cast the light up overhead, making the room feel larger and taller.

 

How to digitally store old photographs

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You likely have many boxes or albums of old photographs stored in a closet for safekeeping, but what if they disintegrate or become yellowed over time? Or, even worse, what if they become damaged due to a natural disaster? One way to preserve your photographs for generations to come is to scan and save them onto a computerized hard drive.

Don’t be intimidated by the technology used to convert photos into digital files. If you’re tech-savvy enough to read this blog, you’re likely skilled enough to save digital copies of your photo collection. If you’re pressed for time or you don’t think you’ll be able to manage the project on your own, consider recruiting a computer-literate friend or grandchild to help you with the project. You’re sure to learn a new skill or two.

If you’d like to scan and store the photos yourself, you’ll be better off purchasing an external storage drive to use exclusively for storing photos. External drives plug into your computer’s USB drive and function as extra digital “space” independent from your desktop or laptop computer. You can organize the storage drive just like you would organize other files on your computer. Once you plug the external hard drive into your computer, you can view and organize the files that are saved on the device.

After you’ve organized your external device with the appropriate folders to sort the files (perhaps by decade), you may begin scanning the files using a photo scanner and saving them to the hard drive.

If you’d rather pay for someone to scan, save and organize all your photos for you, consider using a service like ScanMyPhotos.com, which will send you a box to send your photos in. Once you’ve sent off your photos, ScanMyPhotos will send back your original photos along with a DVD or thumb drive containing the digital files. If you choose to receive a thumb drive, you can then transfer the files onto your dedicated external hard drive. This service is especially useful and cost-effective if you have an extensive photo collection.