It’s already a couple of days after Christmas, but it’s still the Christmas holidays and I wanted to finish my 12 Posts of Christmas (wow, lot’s of Christmas’s in that sentence). Here are my favourite Christmas songs: 

5. Oh Holy Night

This is one of those songs I wished I could sing properly. I still don’t have the right technique to sing it without paining others. Here’s one version from Josh Groban:

[Watch the video on YouTube]

4. Where Are You Christmas?

I love this song, but I never realized how cheesy the clip (unintentionally?) is:

[Watch the video on YouTube]

3. Christmas Is All Around Us

“I feel in in my fingers… I feel it in my toes… Christmas is all around us… And so the feeling grows”. One of the main reasons I love Love Actually:

[Watch the video on YouTube]

2. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

This is one of those songs that so many artists redo, most people won’t even know from who the original is.So, for your continuing education: it first appeared in Meet Me In St. Louis starring Judy Garland. Here’s a clip from the movie with her singing it:

[Watch the video on YouTube]

1. White Christmas

I love the Bing Crosby version, but the one from the movie White Christmas with the whole cast singing always brings me that much more into the Christmas spirit:

[Watch the video on YouTube]

Ugh, December has just been too busy! Too many events, meet-ups, trips and other stuff to go to; I’ve been swamped with busyness. 

I’ve been to a couple of London Bloggers meet-ups now and I like the format of them. This time it was sponsored by a couple of winery bloggers, who each donated a bottle of their wine for some wine tasting. Robert McIntosh from WineConversation.com organized it all, and also gave a little presentation about wine and how the one thing he wanted to achieve with this evening was to get people talking and thinking about wine.

London Bloggers Meet-up 9-12-08

Now I’m horrible with wine; the names, grapes, everything. Most of the time I let Cristiano choose, cause I really don’t know the difference between the types (or I’ll just order a sweet white wine or something down that lines). This evening hasn’t really helped me yet, but I think I should read up a bit more about wines and figure out what I exactly like.

That evening I tried seven of the ten wines they had and a couple really stood out to me. I started with the wine I liked the most: the Riesling Auslese 2003. It was a nice fruity white wine, very light and sweet and easy to drink. The second white wine I tried was a Riesling Kabinett 2007, which was much drier and less tasty in my opinion than the first one I tried, but still way better than the usual fair I have. The final white wine I tried was a Vivanco Viura, but that too was quite dry compared to my first one.

From the red wines, none of them really spoke to me. I tend to prefer white over red, but this time all the red wines (at least the two that I tried) were slightly too heavy for me. Those were the Cortes de Cima Syrah, and the Dinastia Vivanco. Looking at the blog posts from others at the meet-up, I think I should have tried Higuerela wine or the Morellino de Scansano.

London Bloggers Meet-up 9-12-08

The last two wines I tried were a port and a sherry. The port was a Quevedo Reserva Tawny Port and I really the nice strong taste of this wine. As I expected, I didn’t like the sherry; it’s just not a taste I can appreciate (my Spanish flat mates come from the Sherry region in Spain and brought us one of their wines last year. Never finished that bottle, cause I really didn’t like it).

Here’s the complete list of wines at the tasting:

  1. Vivanco Viura/Malvasia 2007, Bodegas Dinastia Vivanco –  thirstforrioja.co.uk
  2. Riesling Kabinett Trocken 2007, Weingut Clauer - winzerblog.de
  3. Higueruela 2007, from Sta. Quiteria - tintoralba.com
  4. Dinastia Vivanco Crianza 2004, Bodegas Dinastia Vivanco - thirstforrioja.co.uk
  5. Bellamarsilia 2007, Poggio Argentiera - poggioargentiera.com
  6. CVP 2007, La Casa de las Vides - casavides.com
  7. Syrah 2004, Cortes de Cima - cortesdecima.com
  8. Antique Oloroso Sherry from Fernando de Castilla - jerez-xerez-sherry.blogspot.com
  9. Special Reserve Tawny Port, Quevedo Port – Quevedoportwine.com
Thanks to Robert from WineConversation.com and all the winery blogs for creating such an interesting and fun evening. Hopefully I can learn a bit more about wine in the future!

Photo 4 from my Liverpool walk. I loved the architecture in Liverpool, especially all the different sculptures you could find everywhere. This angel stood out to me though, and I like how I’ve captured it partly in the darkness. You can’t exactly see it in detail, but the silhouette is gorgeous.

Angel of Winter

Interesting links for December 4th through December 18th:

I’ve already finished all my Christmas shopping for this year, so I thought I’d give my best tips.

1. Don’t Wait Until The Last Minute

My best has to be: not to wait until the last minute. Don’t go the day before Christmas to find your presents. For starters, you’re not the only person with the same idea; it will be one of busiest days in the high street. Plus, there’s less chance you’ll find what you are searching for.

2. Don’t See It As A Chore

If there is another thing you shouldn’t do, it’s this. Seeing Christmas shopping as a chore will only make you postpone it, and thus, leaving it to the last minute. I always like to see it as a challenge, as a puzzle, trying to figure out what present is suitable for which person. 

3. Don’t Give Gift Vouchers, Money, Ties or Socks

In my book, a big no no. Unless they are cute knee high black-and-white striped socks, this is just an easy way out. Just think about it: if everyone started doing this, what’s the point of exchanging presents? I’d be much happier with a smaller gift that’s worth maybe less than a gift voucher with no real thought behind it. (Mind you, I am talking about direct family present exchange here. If it’s a not too close friend or a distant family member, it should be fine)

Christmas In Circles

4. Pay Attention Throughout The Entire Year

So how do you get someone a gift that he/she really wants? Now the best way is just to pay attention throughout the year. Be aware and keep note of what the person says when they want something. Also handy: drill people two months before Christmas about what they want. If you do it right (meaning sneaky and not too suspect), you’ll end up with loads of ideas. Plus you can’t really do it a couple of days before Christmas, cause then the person will know what it’s all about.

5. Analyze Your Subject

If getting tips from the person doesn’t help, you’ll have to figure it out all by your lonesome. So: analyze your subject. What does this person like to do? What hobbies? TV shows, sports? The really geeky way is to make a mind map out of it all, and just write everything down that pops into your mind.

6. Keep Your Receipts 

I actually don’t always do this myself, not with all receipts at least. But there are a couple which you definitely should keep: 1. clothing (in case it doesn’t fit), 2. gadgets/electronics (often the receipt is also the guarantee), 3. cd/dvd/book (in case the person has it already, unless you think you’ll always be able to flog it to someone else).

Nightmare Before Christmas Presents 2

7. Remember What You Bought (And Wrapped Up)

You should always write down and keep a list of all the stuff you’ve bought, with how much everything had cost. Next time you go shopping, take that list with you, so you know who you still have to get something for. Then what I always do is wrap stuff up without remembering what was in it; always handy to keep track of this too.

8. Shop Online

Every time I mention to someone that I do a lot of my shopping online, they stare at me and tell me that’s cheating. Cheating?!? How does me knowing what I want to get and order it a place I know that has it classify as ‘cheating’? How is that worse than you buying socks the day before Christmas? The thing you have to keep in mind with online shopping is that you shouldn’t go for the ‘top 10′ lists and stuff like that. You have to KNOW what you want to get.  

9. Try To Avoid Weekend Shopping

Easier said than done, right? Cause when you can otherwise shop. Well, (and I know this isn’t perfect) a lot of stores are open to quite late, especially in such malls like Westfield (they’re open till 11pm on week days).  

Christmas Shopping in Oxford Street

10. Create A Present “Diary”

Yeah, so this isn’t really a tip for now, but one for next year. Remember tip 4 “Pay Attention The Entire Year”? Do this next year. And take it one step further. Write it down when someone mentions they want something or when they mention they’re looking for a certain item. What I mainly do is keep track of the stuff I see in stores, always shelving certain items in a mental bookshelf as possible gift ideas for one person.

Any tips you can give me that I’ve left out?

As I said in one of my previous posts, up until Christmas I’ll be featuring some “geeky” presents, to get for the geeks in your life (or to put on your own wish list). First up, is Dr Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog!

I’ve professed my love for this Joss Whedon web series many times on this blog. Neil Patrick Harris stars (and sings) as Billy aka Dr Horrible, an “evil” villain who is in love with Penny (Felicia Day from The Guild), the girl from the laundromat.  All he wants to do is get the girl, join the Evil League of Evil, and rule the world, but his arch-nemesis Captain Hammer (Nathan Fillion) is standing in his way.

Dr Horrible

The soundtrack has been available for some time now on iTunes and Amazon, but the actual CD
and DVD are coming out this month, with all sorts of extras on it. The most note worthy of those extras is Commentary! The Musical, an extra 42 minutes of songs as the commentary, sung by the whole ‘gang’ (writers, actors, etc).

The DVD is available for $9.99 on Amazon.com and will be released on the 19th of December. This means that (if you pick the right shipping) for US residents it should arrive on time before Christmas, but for everyone else it will be way too late. Still: it is a great Christmas present and I know most people would gladly wait a couple of days to get their hands on it.

What: Dr Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog
Where:
Amazon.com
Price: $9.99
Notes: Region-free
Special Features: Commentary! The Musical, Commentary by the cast and crew, Evil League of Evil application videos, Making-of featurettes, Subtitles: English, Spanish, French, German, Chinese, Japanese 

Photo 3 from my Liverpool walk. I love how it plays with the shadow and sunlight.

Me and My Shadow

Only now realising that the title doesn’t make sense. It’s not “Me” and “My Shadow”, it’s only “My Shadow”.

I had to cancel our trip to the V&A Cold War Modern exhibition yesterday. There were too many other events going on, and there just weren’t enough people available to make it. Cristiano and I had planned to go this afternoon instead, but completely forgot about it. We’ll have to go some time after our trip to the Netherlands for Christmas, but with us coming back on the 5th and the exhibition ending on the 11th finding another date might be tricky.

Thanks to 1000heads though I had gotten some more free tickets to the Cold War Modern exhibition, so I’m giving 2 x 2 tickets away here on this blog as Christmas presents!

All you have to do is leave a comment behind here with what your favourite Miss Geeky post was this past year. Entries must be left behind before Wednesday 14:00 and is open for UK residents only. I’ll email the winners on Wednesday afternoon.

Update: The contest is now closed and the winners have been notified.

This is the first of a series of 12 Christmas posts I’ll try to write in the next couple of days/weeks (up until a couple of days after Christmas). Besides that there’ll be a couple more Holiday themed posts: Geeky Christmas Gifts, Christmassy Videos and 5 Giveaway Contests, where you can win some cool presents!

To get us all in the Christmas spirit, here’s a list with my favourite Christmas movies. Now this list is pretty personal; there’ll be a lot of movies some of you will miss on it (some things I’ve never seen before like It’s A Wonderful Life, others I just hated, like Bad Santa). 

12. Miracle on 34th Street

I’m talking about the newer 1997 version here with Elizabeth Perkins and Dylan McDermott (I’ve never seen the original 1947 version, so I can’t compare the two). It may be a little bit cheesy, but it’s still one of the better kids films with a Santa Claus in it.

11. Jingle All The Way

Arnie! In a Christmas movie! Yes, it got plenty of cheese and silliness, but I just can’t help liking this movie. It’s about a father who forgets to by his son the ultimate Christmas present of that year: a Turbo Man. He then proceeds to do anything on the eve of Christmas to get his hands on one.

10. The Long Kiss Goodnight

Not your typical Christmas movie and one of my favourite action movies. How can you not love a kick-ass heroine like Geena Davis? A woman with 8 years of amnesia suddenly start remembering things from her past, including wielding a knife and loading a gun.

9. Home Alone

This was the Christmas kids movie when I was growing up (although some might say I’m not completely grown up yet, lol). It has influenced me a lot though; so many of my plans and ideas of booby trapping have their roots in this movie.

8. Die Hard

The ultimate action movie! Bruce Willis plays John McClane, the New York cop who tries to stop terrorists taking over a building. Alan Rickman is perfect as Hans Gruber, the German terrorist.  

7. Trading Places

I think this was the Christmas movie my family would watch every single year. A snobbish investor (Dan Akroyd) and a wily street con artist (Eddie Murphy) find their positions reversed as part of a bet by two callous millionaires.

6. While You Were Sleeping

Also another not really known Christmas movie. Sandra Bullock plays Lucy, a ticket collector for the subway, who is smitten with one of the commuters that passes her till everyday. When he’s mugged and pushed off the platform, she manages to save him, but he lands in a coma and she is somehow mistaken for his fiance. 

5. Bridget Jones’ Diary

I’m not keen on this movie as other girls are, but it’s still an enjoyable movie. I love how Hugh Grant is just such an arrogant bastard here, but that Colin Firth remains his sweet, yet uptight self.

4. The Muppet Christmas Carol

The traditional Dickens story but with a Muppet twist! Michael Caine is perfectly cast as old Ebenezer Scrooge, who despises everything about Christmas. Then the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future (all muppets of course) come to visit him. 

3. White Christmas

Not many people know that the famous Christmas song was the main song in the 1954 movie of the same name. Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye play a successful song-and-dance act, who team up with a sister duo (and of course fall in love with them) to save the failing inn of their former commanding general. Besides the well-known White Christmas song, there are a couple of other beauties in this classic.

2. The Nightmare Before Christmas

I remember I was about 8 when I saw the trailer for this movie and I was completely scared by it. I truly thought it was some horror movie. It was only years later that I actually sat down, watched and discovered the wonderful songs and story of The Nightmare Before Christmas. It’s also the first movie where I fell in love with Danny Elfman’s music (why, oh, why, doesn’t he sing more often? He’s got a great voice).

1. Love Actually

I know some people hate this movie, but ever since it was released it’s been my number one Christmas movie. I have to watch it every single year. And who can ever get enough of Hugh Grant’s hilarious gyrating and Bill Nighy’s singing? Plus it’s got one of the greatest scores (just listen to the PM’s Love Theme with your eyes closed).

Care to share your favourite Christmas movie with me?

Another of my Liverpool walk photos.

Fellow geocachers watching the sun set. Loving the lensflare :)

Sunset

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