Curl up with a holiday classic

A scene from Love Actually a quirky, modern holiday classicIf the stress of the season or recent events is getting to you, try what I do darlings: curl up with a classic. Never underestimate the feel-good factor of a fabulous holiday movie. A well-chosen one really can lift your spirits. You may think the airwaves are chock-a-block full of holiday specials. They are. So if Charlie Brown, The Simpsons, and Lifetime movies warm your heart – by all means have at it. What I am suggesting, however, is building your own library of old and new classics to get you through the season in style.
 
One of my husband’s holiday favourites is the Frank Capra classic, It’s a Wonderful Life, starring Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed. If you haven’t seen it, darlings, you don’t know what you are missing. This bittersweet story has been remade, but the new versions can’t come close to the original’s charm. It is a timeless story of goodness and giving. A quirky angel shows a compassionate but frustrated man how great he was, and how different the world would have been without him. 
 
Jimmy Stewart plays small-town boy George Bailey. He dreams of making his fortune around the world, but he is forced to sacrifice his ambitions to stay home and help his family and his town. He marries Mary Hatch, his high school sweetheart, played by the lovely Donna Reed. Events bring George to the brink of despair one cold Christmas Eve, but he is saved by Angel Second Class Clarence Oddbody.
 
This black-and-white tale is grittier than most Christmas movies made today. George Bailey’s life was wonderful, but he had a miserable slog realizing it. Indeed, George goes through an earthly hell before the bells ring and the angel earns his wings. Maybe that’s why the film flopped at the box office when it was released in 1946. It found its true and loyal audience in the 1970s, when the ownership rights to the movie lapsed, and local TV stations broadcast it over and over because it cost them so little. That helped the film get rediscovered, and it became a classic because its characters and issues are timeless and unforgettable. It is at times hilarious and heartbreaking, an emotional roller coaster that would remind even a non-believer of the true message of Christmas. In many ways this shameless tearjerker has never been more powerful or relevant.
 
My must-see holiday movie isn’t that old. Love Actually was made in 2003 by director Richard Curtis. He also made the now-classic romantic comedy Four Weddings and a Funeral. Love Actually has that same wonderful quirky feeling and the same wry writing.  I fell madly in love with it the first time I saw it. I love the soundtrack and the song, All I Want for Christmas is You. It gives me a chill. It’s romantic and fun. This movie makes me laugh, cry, and feel exactly the way I think Christmas should feel – warm and delicious. It is the perfect movie for an unabashed romantic.
 
The cast is fabulous with Keira KnightleyHugh GrantLiam Neeson and Emma Thompson. It’s a compilation of stories that intersect the month before Christmas in London. The stories all involve love, loss, and renewal. It is an enchanting film for a magical season, made with uncommon grace and humour. 
 
A friend recently longed for a quiet afternoon with A House Without a Christmas Tree. This movie stars Jason Robards. Set in 1946, a young girl in Nebraska longs for a Christmas tree. The tree and holiday celebration are things her bitter widowed father won’t give her. My friend decorates fabulously for the holidays. She finds a way to bring joy to the most mundane situations. I can see why this is among her favourites.
 
I also have a fondness for Nancy Meyer’s Holiday with Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet. Nancy Meyer makes smart chick flicks. She also made the wise and wry, It’s Complicated. In Holiday, Cameron and Kate are two heartbroken women who trade places. English editor Kate comes to sunny L.A. to escape her romantic disillusionment. High-powered Hollywood film producer Cameron lands in the icy cold Cotswold’s to recover from a broken romance. It is a delightful and well-written romantic comedy that’s all the more magical for the holiday setting.
 
Another favourite, The Diary of Bridget Jones, is not strictly a holiday movie, but it ends with a grand holiday finale. Renee Zellweger stars in this thinly-disguised modern take on a Jane Austen tale. Bridget struggles with her work, weight, and (self) worth. Then she has to choose between an honourable man and a romantic scallywag. It’s also lovely to watch Hugh Grant and Colin Firth co-star.
 
I also never miss the old musical Holiday Inn when it is on. I love the picture-perfect New England inn, snowy sleigh rides, and old show tunes. Corny?  You bet, and I love it.  After all, I like all the hoopla, holly, and silver bells of the holidays.
 
This is my list darlings. It is missing many classics that you may enjoy. My list is heavy on romance; for that I make no apologies. You may enjoy: A Christmas Story, Miracle on 34th Street, White Christmas, or Scrooged. I know someone who likes to watch The Walton’s Christmas Special, because that is what her family did. If you start to look into it, you may be astounded by the number of holiday movies available. I was.
 
The holidays shouldn’t be spectator sport – heaven forbid! But sometimes it’s good to curl up, relax, and enjoy a little holiday cheer, Hollywood-style.
 
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Burn off holiday calories!

You may have seen the pert and perky Dr. Lisa on the popular show The Doctors. Now she brings her own accessible, but effective blend of yoga, cardio, and strength-building stretches to Dr. Lisa Yoga Blast.
 
Dr. Lisa is a TV personality, gynecologist, and mother. She is a busy woman and she has created this DVD to be a quick fitness fix for the woman who may be having trouble getting to the gym.
 
On the DVD she works out with trainer Elise Joan.
 
There are three separate workouts. The DVD offers adjustments for different fitness levels and is very accessible and friendly in its tone.
 
This is not a traditional yoga DVD, but rather a hybrid of dance cardio and yoga that will appeal to women looking to get a time effective fat-burning and stretching work out with a cheerful, familiar personality.
 
This is the perfect gift for any friend or family member who has vowed to get in shape in the New Year.



 
www.acacialifestyle.com has a fabulous selection of fitness and yoga DVDs available.
 
 
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Beauty-lovers stocking stuffers

Darlings let’s face it, many “Secret Santa, “Grab” gifts, and stocking stuffers are useless! Why not give a gift that will be used and loved? We love good brushes and never have enough. A quick, unscientific survey confirmed most women are tired of gimmicky gifts that end up in trash.
 
These brushes from John Frieda make great gifts. They look sleek and come in many styles from the Paddle Brush Sleek Finish with shine-enhancing silicone bristles, natural ION to the Porcupine Round Brush Volume Curls with nylon and boar bristles designed to distribute the scalp’s natural oils for added shine and smoothness. Prices are affordable, ranging from $12.99 to $14.99.
 
Combine one of these brushes and a bottle of John Frieda Shine Serum and you have the makings of well-stuffed stocking!   
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Exotic fragrance from the east

 
If you are looking for a gift for an exotic lady on your list, or perhaps you are craving a new scent for the winter months, a vial of previous Amber oil from Nemat International may be just what you are seeking.
 
Amber is the warm, seductive base note of many famous fragrances.
Nemat international has a selection of Amber oil blends. The Amber oil from Nemat International that I tried is pure, subtle and light. A small vial that will last for months is priced at $25.15.
 
Nemat international’s fragrances are made by the Attarwala family, who have been making fragrances for 160 years from the natural extracts of flowers, herbs, and wood.
 
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For the hard-to-buy-for

 
For the hard-to-buy one on your list, consider a gift of handcrafted organic body products from 80 Acres made with organic oil.
 
80 Acres products are infused with vitamin-rich plant extracts and botanicals inspired by the beautiful McEvoy Ranch. It produces the organic olive oil contained in all the products.
 
There are three scents. The signature scent, Verde is a fresh green garden scent with the essential oils of lavender, ylang ylang, lemon and lime. Lavender contains citrus essential oils and hints of Neroli, vetiver and jasmine. Blood Orange has the refreshing aroma of citrus groves and wild jasmine. The products are paraben free and never tested and animals. All the ingredients are 89 percent organic and elegantly presented in environmentally friendly packaging.
 
Priced from $ 9 for lip balm to $145 for a deluxe gift basket. These are gifts that will delight the most discerning beauty mavens.
 
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Shimmer naturally through the season!

There is nothing prettier or sexier than a shimmery lip, especially with season’s trendy smoky eye. Pacific Illusions Beauty mineral lip glosses give lips a long-lasting shine as they soften and condition them.
 
The line comes in a full palate of shades, so there is one to suit everyone. $25 to $28.
 
They also are paraben-free and never tested on animals.
 
They make perfect little gifts or stocking stuffers for all the beauties on your list!
 
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The Feminist and the Cowboy

The Feminist and the Cowboy: An Unlikely Love Story
by Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez  is a real life love story that will give hope to single women over 35 who are still looking for love in all the wrong places.
 
Smart and sassy, the bestselling author of The Dirty Girl Social Club books ends up moving home with her divorced father when she hits a dry spell. She is forced to sell her Lexus and pricy home when she hits a “financial dry spell,” as she puts it. She and her young son move back home with her semi-retired professor father.
 
Finally, at age 42, Alisa is forced to confront the demons in her past when she decides to date again. She falls for a man who seems to be the antithesis of all her feminist values. Unable and unwilling to deny her attraction to a tall, handsome cowboy who is unmistakably attracted to her, Alisa must explore her past as an angry, man-hating, feminist who denied her own womanhood.
 
Valdes often digresses from her personal narrative to expound on the roles of feminism and gender roles in romantic relationships. However, by sharing her own story, she articulates a common conflict many women feel today between their desire for a strong masculine romantic partner and intellectual and economic equality.
 
She endearingly admits to a guilty desire to be pretty and sexy while also wanting to be a sassy, intellectual bad ass.
 
The Cowboy and The Feminist is a fascinating personal memoir as well as an interesting discourse on finding love in the new millennium.
 
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Sexier than 50 Shades…

If you are looking for a little light reading to spice up your nights and curl your toes, look no further than bestselling author Sylvia Day’s sexy saga. Gideon Cross and Eva Trammell are rich, gorgeous, damaged characters in two sizzling novels, Bared to You and Reflected in You.
 
Gideon and Eva are instantly attracted to each other and soon enter into a sexual game of cat and mouse. They are taken by surprised when it turns into true passion that exposes their deepest secrets and vulnerabilities.
 
Bared to you and Reflected in You are sophisticated, well-written adult novels with compelling characters and hot, steamy sex. The issues that propel the plot are contemporary and could have been ripped from the headlines.
 
If you are looking a way to warm up a cold winter night, try some well-written fiction by Sylvia Day.
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