7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 197)

November 23, 2012 | 51 comments

— 1 —

It’s that time of year again: time for Joe and I to watch our annual movie! We didn’t get it done in 2011, so I think it’s actually been two years since we’ve watched one together. (And the last time we went out to a movie theater together was 2004, to see Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle. We have not returned to a theater since then because, obviously, that was the very pinnacle of the human moviegoing experience, and it could only be downhill from there.) We’re looking for something fun to watch while I do Christmas cards this weekend. What do you suggest? To give you an idea of my tastes (and my personality in general), my all-time favorite movies are Office Space, Galaxy Quest, and The Bourne Identity.

— 2 —

DID SOMEONE SAY CHRISTMAS CARDS?!?!?!?! I am now morphing from my regular, human form into a cyborg-robot automaton whose sole mission is to become a Christmas-card-creating machine. As I have mentioned before, 100% of my motivation and skills in the domestic arts realm are concentrated in this one area. I consider scooting crushed Cheerios out of the walkway on the floor to be roughly equivalent to sweeping, I am able to live with the fact that our white carpet looks exactly like what you would think a white carpet would look like in a house with five young kids, my fitted sheets get stuffed into the linen closet in a wad because I have utterly given up on trying to fold them, but, by Grabthar’s Hammer, I do Christmas cards, and I do them right! Each Thanksgiving I ruin everyone’s lives (including my own) by insisting on a group photo with every family member present, I spend hours on our annual letter to try to format it perfectly and make it fun to read, I relish writing a personalized note at the end of each one, and I usually have the last card in the mail by Gaudete Sunday. Then I get to kick back and drink eggnog while I read everyone else’s as they come in!

I realize that this is not everyone’s thing, and that many folks are content to send out a Merry Christmas text with an attached photo and call it a day. I get that. I take that route in pretty much every other area of life. But for whatever reason, Christmas cards are MY THING.

— 3 —

Just in time for the holiday season, here’s a heartwarming update about Malcolm, the special little boy whom YOU helped find a family! His new mom and dad went to meet him recently, and when they arrived he was so overjoyed that he began packing his toys to leave.

Unfortunately, he can’t go home with them yet since the adoption is not finalized, so he had to unpack those toys. His parents-to-be are so, so close to bringing their new son home, but, as you can see from this daunting list of expenses, this kind of international special needs adoption usually runs over $40, 000. They need some financial assistance to get the rest of the funds together to get their little boy out of the orphanage and bring him home. Would you consider offering a donation, perhaps as a Christmas gift to Malcolm and his new family? If so, you can do so here. THANK YOU!

— 4 —

We’re on a very tight, very specific budget for Christmas gifts this year. We always need to watch what we spend, but I at least normally walk around with a false sense of confidence that as long as I look out for discounts and don’t buy too much and don’t look at my bank balance at all during the month of December, it should be fine (usually followed by Despair January, when the statements start rolling in). This year there’s no room for error, so I’m carefully adding up every penny I spend to make sure I don’t go over budget. And I have to say, it’s oddly refreshing. First of all, it’s awakened my creative side to pour all my energy into how I can get inexpensive gifts that will delight each kid. I’m actually going to get crafty and create some stuff myself using supplies from arts and crafts stores.

But the best part has been that I no longer have to drag around feelings of guilt and worries about money all through Advent. When I first realized I’d have to carefully track everything I spend, I thought it would put a damper on the season and distract me from what really matters. So far, I’ve found the opposite to be true. Knowing that I don’t have any unpleasant financial surprises looming around the corner has freed up a surprising amount of mental energy; I feel more inspired to let go of worldly concerns and focus on the meaning of the season than ever before, and I think this budget has a lot to do with it.

— 5 —

Well, as I suppose you have guessed by now, I survived my flights back from the Pacific Northwest. Though I had thought that I would be able to exercise a little more self control, I did have to resort to #TWEETSONAPLANE!!!! to keep myself sane.

But by far the coolest part of the airline wifi was that, thanks to Google Cloud Print, I was able to print a bunch of documents on my home printer from my tablet. Did you hear that, internet?! I could make my PRINTER, AT HOME, DO STUFF, from a TABLET, while I was 30, 000 FEET IN THE SKY!!!!! I just about passed out from nerd ecstasy when I walked in the house and saw my documents in a neat stack in front of the printer and was all like, “I DID THAT FROM A PLANE!”

— 6 —

If anyone is feeling slightly overwhelmed by the fact that Advent begins in a matter of hours, check out this post with 24 super simple ideas for celebrating Advent (put together from wise reader advice, which was solicited after a few years in a row of Epic Advent Fails on my part).

— 7 —

One of my favorite gifts is to make custom calendars with favorite family pictures from the year. The grandparents absolutely love these things, and they’re simple to create. Each year Shutterfly has big sales on calendars the weekend after Thanksgiving, so you can get them at great deals if you do them now! I don’t get any compensation for plugging this (read: I was too incompetent to sign up for Shutterfly’s affiliate program in time); I’m just passing it along because it’s something I like.



  1. Ashley

    Ooh… Galaxy Quest!

    I may hunt down a copy of “The Muppets Christmas Carol” and sing along as I try to track down 25 addresses we may or may not have in our family’s disorganized office.

    If we’re really lucky, I will find at least two of them and actually send out more than one Christmas card this year!

    • Gina

      “The Muppet Christmas Carol” is FANTASTIC.

  2. nancyo

    I make shutterfly calendars every year, and they’re a big hit with everyone. My mom shows them around to her friends when she wants to show family photos; just about any viewer can handle 12 photos, lol! I also use shutterfly for my Christmas cards, which feature a religious photo from our travels on the outside (and a family photo on the inside)

  3. Katie@NFP and Me

    On the Christmas card front: Do you have a return address stamp? I got one on Etsy last year and it has made my Christmas card writing so much better! No more ugly labels that I go all OCD on getting stuck on exactly straight! Plus it looks super fancy!

  4. Leila

    Thank you so much for profiling Malcolm and his family as they make that last push towards begin fully funded!! You have been such a big help, and your readers, too! I am honored to be his godmother (once we get him home), and I am thrilled to let your wonderful readers know that there is a matching grant offered which will double their donations! So, $5 donated will turn to $10, or $25 will turn to $50, just like that!

    God bless you, and we’ll be sure to send lots of pictures when he is finally home!!!

  5. Kara

    So glad Malcolm is on here! We need to finish up his adoption so he can be home where he belongs!!

  6. jen @ Blogging for Brett

    I love Galaxy Quest. I think my dad was watching it the last time I was down visiting.

    My Quick Takes involve a giveaway to raise the last bit of money for Brett, my Reece’s Rainbow kid.

  7. Elizabeth

    Regarding the illusion “that as long as I look out for discounts and don’t buy too much and don’t look at my bank balance at all during the month of December, it should be fine,” I hear ya sister!

    Budgeting is hard work. That’s why I’m always going to do it NEXT month.

  8. Ingrid

    Some years ago I also did some quick takes during a while. Having stopt, but still loving it, I would like to do it all again, especially after rediscovering your lovely blog. The only thing is that I blog in Dutch..would you mind me writing in Dutch and perhaps posting the link here as well?

  9. Amy Welborn

    Reprieve…..Advent doesn’t start until December 2!

    • Beadgirl

      Hahaha, I specifically went to the comments hoping to see this, because I am SOOOO not ready for Advent.

      • GeekLady

        Me neither. I still have three candles to make!

      • Pam H.

        Me, too!! I was gonna say it, if no one else did.

        • Jennifer Fulwiler

          LOL! Yeah, thanks for the clarification. I eventually figured it out. 🙂

          • TheLynn

            Commenting late, but I was in church Sunday, wondering where the advent wreath was when the priest came in all in white to a hymn titled “Christ is King”. I figured out my mistake pretty quickly from there.

  10. Ute

    I just saved $82 on 6 photo wall calendars from Shutterfly. I do that every year too for the whole family, and I love their sales. And no, I’m not getting paid for saying that either 😉

  11. Ann-Marie

    On your quest for a good movie – Never give up, never surrender!

  12. Deanna

    Movie: Elf is pretty funny; but The Mission about the Jesuits in S. America is awesome:)(not for children)

  13. TheresaEH

    if you enjoyed the mini series Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth you will enjoy Bollywoods take on it by watching the movie “Bride and Prejudice”.

  14. Christina

    For a movie: Nothing to Loose — I couldn’t stop laughing and it has a “happy” ending. One “see nothing” sex scene and one almost sex scene.

    As for fitted sheets – I folded them in balls for years until my mom was exasperated with me one day and showed me how to fold them. Each of the corners has a place where the seam ends and the top begins. Place a finger at that spot on two on the same side, touch them together and then wrap the corners over each other. Do the same for the other side and bring them together so all four seams are on top of each other (you end up with a rectangleish thing with a buildup of side-fabric on two of the sides. Then use the corner as an edge and fold it down to a smaller rectangle and all that side-fabric mess is contained on the inside.

    This video shows how (although a bit neater than even I do it) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YHTyH2nuFAw

    • Pam H.

      I know how, but sometimes I won’t bother, anyway. Too much trouble.

  15. Christie Martin

    I recommend The Avengers. It is full of great one-liners for the nerd in you and action packed enough for the sleep deprivation in you.

    Another great Grandparent gift involving photos is one of those photobooks. We compiled one a few years ago via the Walmart photo store and it has been the one of the best loved gift we ever gave our parents.

  16. Tami Boesiger

    I got the wrong link the first time. Sorry, Jennifer! Feel free to delete the first one.

  17. Barbara C.

    I thought The Avengers was really boring with only two funny lines; I expected so much more from Joss Whedon.

    I was going to suggest Serenity (or the entire run of Firefly), very funny sci-fi/fantasy. Not for kids, though.

  18. Rebecca

    If you enjoyed Office Space and haven’t seen it yet, I highly recommend Idiocracy.

  19. Sarah

    Seeking a Friend for the End of the World. It’s fantastic. One disclaimer – I had to cover my eyes and ears for about 10 mins during a party scene at the beginning, but other than that, it’s wonderful.
    Moneyball was also really good (and perhaps a bit more man-friendly).
    If you haven’t seen The Help, then the discussion stops here. There is no other option!
    Enjoy! Let us know what you choose!

  20. Emily

    Not sure if you’ve heard of Advent Conspiracy, but it’s a campaign that’s attempting to get at the same values you mentioned around Christmas. Thought it might interest you: http://www.adventconspiracy.org/

  21. dweej

    Cue scary fangirl mood music: office space and the bourne identity are two of MY favorite moves of all time! So to you I pose this question- which is the work of greater cinematic acheivement, happy gilmore or billy madison? I wait in nervous anticipation…

  22. Becky

    For a wonderful movie that your kids can watch, and you can get more from as an adult every time you watch it: Lilies of the Field, with Sidney Poitier. Great movie, and it has my all time favorite line from a movie: “God has sent me a big strong man.”

    For a lighter movie, but more likely one your kids will want to watch with you: Princess Bride. You can learn the meaning of the much quoted lines “that word you keep on using. I do not think it means what you think it means.”. And ” Is this a kissing movie?” And the most famous of all “My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”

  23. Cecilia

    How about watching the second or third Bourne movies?

  24. Katie

    Hello! Been following your blog for a while now 🙂 I have to say Galaxy Quest is one of the greatest movies! Someone above mentioned The Muppet Christmas Carol – I’d second that, along with the newest muppet movie (The Muppets). The Emperor’s New Groove is also a goodie if you like animated movies.
    Also, thanks for the link to the Advent ideas. I’m in RCIA, and coming from a non-denominational background there is a lot that is new to me about the liturgical year. Looking forward to reading through those!

  25. Cassidy

    Love the Advent ideas! Thank you so much for those.

  26. Christine Dalessio

    Love, Actually. Not completely kid-friendly or with a Blaring Moral Message. But I love it anyway. Elf is usually my movie of choice for Christmas Cards. Because it’s ridiculous, and joyful, and stupid and lovely.

    And thanks for the Advent resources – my favorite season.

  27. Veronica Mitchell

    My movie suggestions, none of which are child-appropriate:
    Trollhunter (2010)
    Stranger Than Fiction (2006)
    True Grit (2010)
    To Catch a Thief (1955)
    The Ghost and the Darkness (1996)
    Adventures of Power (2008)

  28. Tammy

    Im with you on the Christmas card thing, that is my big tradition for the season. I dont cook and my decorating is done as soon as a wreath touches the door, but my cards take on a life of their own. This year we are sending a trifold custom printed card with 13 photos on it. One of my photos is unusual for a Christmas card…someone at my husbands funeral got a photo of me receiving the flag from the Marine and him saluting me…in the back you can see the beautiful lake and mountains from his lovely hometown where he was buried.

    Im pretty stoked that I got my teenage daughter the coolest gift that any teenage girl ever got in the history of the world – floor tickets to see One Direction, in London. She would rather have her dad a million times more than this gift, but if my husband could talk to me, he would tell me to go for it.

  29. Anna

    I’m bad at movie buff recommendations, but my all-time favorite is “Strictly Ballroom.” Goofy Aussie comedy along with ballroom dancing – what’s not to love? Also, if you haven’t seen “Megamind,” hubs and I both thought that one was fun.

  30. Sr Anne Flanagan

    I have a Galaxy Quest story to share, since this movie turns out to be something we have in common. (I am really not a movie person at all, even after living in community for 9 years with a movie reviewer, so I am quite content with my limited repertoire of film favorites. Galazy Quest suffices for my “comedy” slot.)

    Anyway, several years ago two of us drove down to Indianapolis to run a book exhibit for a teachers’ conference. The Franciscan sisters (Mishawaka, IN) run a hospital in the area, and graciously let us stay in the visitors’ suite. In fact, they gave each of us an entire suite to stay in for the weekend: sitting room, kitchenette, dining alcove and massive bedroom with bigscreen TV and all the channels you could want. I was really wiped out after the long car trip and the unloading and setting up of our book booth. As I settled down for the night, I looked at that big, blank, bigscreen TV.

    “You know, Jesus,” I prayed, “There’s nothing I would like more right now than to watch Galaxy Quest.”

    Idly, I gave the remote a little click.

    Guess the rest!

    • Gina

      I love that story. 🙂

  31. TracyE

    I have a mental block on ANY Christmas shopping UNTIL I complete the Annual Christmas card extravaganza. I hesitated a bit and am anxiously waiting their arrival, however, my labels are complete and my list is updated and ready to go!! I’ve already received our first card in the mail YESTERDAY so I am starting to get a little antsy now….

  32. Jenna@CallHerHappy

    I love #4. I was sitting awake last night stressing over budgets and what to get each family member. Then, I realized I just needed to be calm and let the Lord relax me. It felt nice!

  33. Tom McEwen

    I have followed you and I can only think of the words “You shall have joy”
    you have like Mary chosen the better part. (but God bless Martha)

  34. Veronica

    By Grabthar’s Hammer, you have good taste in movies! Galaxy Quest is one of the funnest (and funniest) movies I’ve ever seen.

  35. Ashley

    #4 – It’s counterintuitive but my husband and I have found the same thing to be true – we worry much less about money when we have a budget. In fact, I find it’s easier for me to spend money (without the guilt) knowing that I have money set aside for that particular purpose.

  36. Doghouse Riley

    I don’t think you can go wrong with any of Christopher Guest’s hilarious mockumentaries – “Best In Show” is our favorite, “A Mighty Wind” and “Waiting for Guffman” are very nearly as good.

  37. Ren

    A good family classic movie that we enjoyed was The Man from Snowy Mountain, recommended to us by an Episcopal priest. It has a sequel too (and maybe even a “threequel” but I can’t remember.

  38. Ren

    Oops…it’s the Man from Snowy “River”

    • Jennifer Fulwiler

      It was closed? Weird! I thought I had it set to close Monday afternoon. Hmm…

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