Christmas movies: Love it or Leave it

What Christmas movies do I like?

Hello there fellow winterlings! Apparently winter is coming AND here simultaneously. There’s still technically two more days of pumpkin spice everything, colorful leaves, and other fall things UNLESS you live somewhere that’s already gotten snow, rainy days, and temps below 40 degrees. I think Mother Nature caught a cold early this year just like I did. I lost my voice two days ago and have been nursing it back through a self-prescribed order of rest, Christmas movies, and tea…

Tea of the day: Lemon Zinger
Brand:
 Celestial Seasonings
Color: For a lemon tea, this is a medium brownish color. Probably from the rosehips. My surprise comes from knowing other Celestial Zingers are very brightly colored in accordance with their fruit flavor.
Taste: The lemon is not overpowering, which I like. It’s almost like I squeezed some lemon juice into a cup of English Breakfast. Perfectly balanced in my opinion.
Ideas for next time I have this: Well, more how have I been drinking this for the last few days. I’ve added some honey and Apple Cider Vinegar to help ease my sore throat and bring my voice back. The ACV brings so tartness but the lemon and honey soften that so the bite isn’t too strong. Two days in and my throat is almost pain free!

Between it being cold outside and not feeling the greatest, I’ve taken the time to watch quite a few Christmas movies on Netflix.

1. A Wish for Christmas – If you’re really bored, it’s sweet

This movie brought to you by Hallmark! Who would have guessed!? It stars Lacey Chabert (the girl that didn’t make fetch happen) in the lead role of Sara. Santa grants her a wish so she asks for more confidence to stand up for herself. Once her wish is granted, she gets the opportunity to pitch her marketing proposal for a company… and find love?

This movie is your classic Hallmark cliché movie where the main character finds love around Christmas time in an unexpected way. For general enjoyment, I’d watch this movie again. It definitely has a good lesson in confidence and how it can be beneficial. That’s the biggest takeaway for me from this movie. #spoileralert Can we please get away from the boss-employee romances though? The lesson here is that those should be avoided.

2. Christmas Inheritance – just… don’t

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When the party heiress to a multi-million dollar company acts irresponsibly, what can save her? Oh, delivering a family Christmas card to her father’s friend with only $100 in hand and being restricted from letting anyone in Snow Falls know who she really is. Ellen leaves to deliver said Christmas card to small town Snow Falls but the recipient Zeke is off and away with no known return in sight. Frustrated, Ellen sticks around and gets into the Christmas spirit by lying to her host about who she is, because she’s supposed to. One townee knows the truth because Ellen resembles her mother, but doesn’t spoil the secret publicly. THAT would have been interesting. Does she deliver the card?! You’ll have to drink a lot of coffee before watching this to stay awake to find the answer.

Netflix is trying to cash in on Hallmark’s Christmas romance monopoly with this flick. Christmas Inheritance loses points for being ridiculously annoying and incredibly unrealistic to its target audience. Yes, I understand these Christmas romances aren’t realistic ever, but this is just beyond me. She can’t make it back to her boyfriend’s work Christmas party because 1) Zeke is still who knows where and 2) a storm is rolling in. So said boyfriends magically gets a flight to Snow Falls to surprise her. If she can’t get out, how does he get in!? Also, the attempt at flirty banter between Ellen and her taxi-driving host had my eyes rolling the entire time. Save yourself, skip this movie, and mail your Christmas cards next time.

3. El Camino Christmas – maybe it just wasn’t my taste

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This movie destroyed my hopes and dreams of what it could be! To me, it has an all-star cast. Tim Allen, Dax Shepard, Jessica Alba, and Kurtwood Smith. I’ll tell you what… Red from That 70s Show would have told this movie to stick itself up its own ass. Then I realized, “Oh, none of those people have been in much recently.” Granted, maybe it’s just not my style movie but I just could not get into it. And the Christmas element that I desire in a movie that has Christmas in the title was largely lacking. This is one of those movies that someone wrote and they said, “It’s missing something. Let’s have it set at Christmas!” NO!!!!!!!

Eric, the protagonist but not really, is searching for his father and manages to hold up a liquor store in the middle of nowhere. Deputy and Sheriff are outside trying to neutralize the situation outside. Eventually, there’s shots fired everywhere, a kid in danger (why didn’t Deputy Dumbass and Sheriff Stupidhead work harder to get him out first?), and deaths that have no meaning EXCEPT #spoileralert the long last father sacrifices himself! Give it a watch and tell me what you think.

4. A Christmas Prince – I hope they make a sequel!

achristmasprince-rosemciversource-2 Yes!! Netflix scored with this one! I was SO pleasantly surprised, and I see what you did there Netflix, leaving that ending wide open for a sequel. You better deliver! I won’t be the only disappointed person if you don’t.

Amber, played by Rose McIver (if you haven’t, check her out in iZombie), is an aspiring journalist sent to cover a press conference regarding the throne ascension of the Aldovian royal family. The press conference is canceled and she somehow becomes the tutor to the young princess to attempt to uncover some scandal lurking amongst the family regarding Prince Richard. #spoileralert A few plot twists later, Amber gets what would have been a GREAT story, saves the throne for Prince Richard, and gets him as a fiancé.

Alright, I gave some grief before about lack of realism, but this is too good to pass up. It’s like The Princess Diaries, but Mia is split into two people, Amber and Prince Richard. Prince Richard is the royal part, and Amber gets the makeover. I enjoyed seeing Amber actually getting close to the royal family while providing legitimate help (I hope since she didn’t get fired as a tutor) instead of just skeezing around offering excuses for why she wasn’t tutoring on some given day.

The acting was cheesy but not as cheesy as Christmas Inheritance, so in the battle for which Netflix holiday movie is best, the winner is… A Christmas Prince.

5. The Spirit of Christmas – Totally watching again!

Kate is a lawyer sent to oversee the appraisal and selling of an inn just before the holidays. She begrudgingly goes and has to deal with a slew of appraisers and townsfolk claiming the inn is haunted. Despite the inn closing the day she arrives, she stays as the current executor. The first night, a man enters the inn in the middle of the night and knows the security code! Gasp! When the innkeeper returns, he informs Kate that the man, Daniel, is the ghost who materializes for a few times each year right before Christmas. Kate sticks around and attempts to uncover the reason behind Daniel’s lack of “moving on.” Does she find love in the meantime?

Alright, another highly unrealistic Christmas romance BUT it is the most original storyline that I’ve watched in a long time. It tickles my paranormal romance bone so nicely. Daniel struts around in a very Darcy-esque way (any Pride and Prejudice lovers out there?) to keep Kate off his love-stricken scent, but the audience knows better. Kate catches on and you see their romance start to develop despite the odds that Daniel IS a ghost.

I’m not going to spoil this one. You MUST watch it! I know I will be a few more times.

What Christmas movies do you like? Leave your own reviews in the comments!

*SOME LINKS ARE AMAZON AFFILIATES LINKS AND I MIGHT MAKE A LITTLE BIT IF YOU PURCHASE SOMETHING.

Top 5 Technology Things I’m Getting Used To

How’s living in Italy?

Welcome to a special Thursday edition of Tuesday Tea. There will not be a tea review for this post because I’m trapped on the couch surrounded by the cold and if I leave this spot I might die of frostbite. I’m also experiencing some mild Feline Paralysis.

While living in Italy isn’t entirely different than living in the US when it comes to technology, there are certain adjustments that I have had to make in getting used to how things are here. I’m not talking about a lack of WiFi or kerosene lamps or anything like that, but everything on this list is technically technology. So here goes!!

1. 220v outlets

If you didn’t know, the majority of appliances in the US can be plugged in to 110v outlets. In Italy, all of the outlets in our home are 220v. Luckily, the Navy offers appliances that are this voltage so we don’t have to get too crafty. Also, being in Italy, those appliances are available anyway.

One of the best decisions I’ve made is getting a hair dryer that is 220v instead of the risk of sacrificing my beloved hair dryer.

But it’s not always THAT easy. Some plugs have two prongs and others have three, just like in the US. And some two-pronged plugs only fit in certain outlets so we STILL need to use an adapter to plug it in. Or we need to convert a two-pronged plug to fit a three-pronged outlet, like below.

2. Transformers to Convert Electricity

As Americans, we are used to certain items in our homes and have already acquired them. Most of these are small kitchen appliances and gaming consoles.

Who really wants to purchase everything again though? That’s a lot of money!

Bring in the transformer! This delightful piece of technology converts electricity so my 110v Kuerig doesn’t die a painful death when it’s plugged into a 220v outlet.

These puppies weigh about 20 lbs and have two plugs. You can buy them in a variety of voltages to plug in more/larger appliances. There is a small fuse that can blow if it’s overloaded but they are relatively inexpensive to replace.

The one in the picture is our “kitchen transformer.” Imagine only being able to have two things plugged in at a time. Let’s just say I spend a lot more time cooking on the stove or in the crockpot now, and plan cooking more since everything can’t be plugged in at once.

Our “living room transformer” can handle a higher voltage and it’s quite the elaborate set up that includes a power strip. So yeah… welcome to Italy!

The best part is doing what I like to call the Fuse Box Dance. That’s when the transformer gets plugged in, trips the fuse in the house so you get up to flip it on, the fuse in the transformer gets tripped so then you reset the box which causes he house fuse to trip… and back and forth and back and forth. I think the record for the Fuse Box Dance is somewhere in the 20s.

3. Doing Laundry… in different rooms

Most Italians opt to hang their laundry outside or on drying racks rather than purchasing a dryer like we have in the US. However, this is another appliance we can opt in for from the Navy to make life a little more convenient. Or is it?

In our first home, the washer and dryer were in the same room but only one could be plugged in at a time because there was only one outlet.

Where we are now, we have the washer in the bathroom, which I believe is fairly appropriate…

And the dryer is in the…. wait for it… kitchen. Because there is minimal counter space, it also plays home to the microwave.

The positive side of having the dryer in the kitchen is it warms that room quite a bit when it’s running, which leads me to my next point.

4. Radiators and heating

Italian homes are heated by radiators, and it takes forever! We choose to not use them because they use a lot of gas to heat the water the runs through the pipes to heat a room.

A quick google search taught me that radiators increase the room temperature one degree per 45 minutes. Well, when it’s 40-something degrees Fahrenheit, that’s a looooong time and you really start to miss central heating and timed thermostats.

My new best friend, and I think Maya’s and Ariel’s too, is this little space heater that I’ve been literally dragging around from room to room with me when blankets just aren’t cutting it.

5. Gas Oven

Baking here can require a tad bit more effort and time than back in the states.

For one, the oven is gas so it can take longer to heat up to the desired cooking or baking temperature.

Secondly, our oven doesn’t have any indicator that it has reached said desired cooking or baking temperature, so we usually just wait 20-30 minutes and hope for the best.

Thirdly, make sure it’s actually lit. The last thing you want is for the gas to be going without the flame so you have a stinky kitchen, fire hazard, and a cold oven on your hands.

I will say, this oven is about twice the size of the one in our first home here and was large enough to comfortably fit a 25 lb. turkey.

Overall, it’s really not that bad. Just takes some getting used to. It is nice to have a lot of the conveniences of home with the transformers and it’s not like we have dirty clothes all the time. It certainly is putting things into perspective when it comes to how homes are built back in America.

What are some other questions you have about the differences of living in Italy?