Archive for September, 2012

September 27th, 2012

Make a Pumpkin Village [Craft]

Make a pumpkin village for Halloween decoratingThis very clever and cute Halloween decoration craft is courtesy of Country Living.com

Pumpkin Village

Head on out to the pumpkin patch and gather up all the pumpkins you need for decorating, for carving and crafts. Be sure to set aside a few to make this very cute pumpkin village!

Step 1: Carve a hole in the bottom of each pumpkin, scoop out the pulp, and return the cut pieces.
Step 2: Print out these haunted house templates. Re-size on a copier if needed, scaling the images to fit your pumpkins.
Step 3: Cut out stencils as printed on the templates and affix to pumpkins with masking tape. Trace on the designs with a felt-tip pen.

Step 4: Remove stencils, then carefully carve along the drawn lines of the houses’ windows with an X-Acto knife. Fill in the designs using a fine-tip brush and black flat acrylic paint; let dry.  Affix a battery-operated votive candle in the base of each pumpkin with adhesive putty. You can find these in most dollar stores.

Operation Letter To Santa Video Site

Please be sure to visit Santa’s new family friendly video site where you can find all of your favorite holiday shorts, full length videos and holiday cartoons. Enjoy!

Visit Operation Letter To Santa

September 26th, 2012

R.I.P. Andy Williams

Sadly, Andy Williams passed away today. But his glorious voice will live on forever in our hearts and memories.

Courtesy of Andy Williams Theatre.com

Andy Williams began his amazing career in his hometown of Wall Lake, Iowa.  It was there he began singing with his three brothers in a local Presbyterian church choir that was established by his parents.  At the tender age of 8, Andy made his professional singing debut as part of the Williams Brothers Quartet.  The brothers became regulars on radio station WHO’s “Iowa’s Barn Dance Show” in Des Moines, Iowa.  From there, the brothers continued their radio days being prominently featured on national stations like WLS in Chicago and WLW in Cincinnati.

The widespread radio exposure brought the boys a considerable following which eventually caught the attention of Bing Crosby.  With Crosby, Andy and his brothers made their first professional recording, “Swinging on a Star” which became a tremendous hit in 1944.

In 1947, Andy and his brothers teamed up with comedienne Kay Thompson ( who also wrote the popular children’s book series “Eloise”) for a successful, trend setting nightclub act.  Thompson and the brothers spend the next few years performing all over the United States and in London.  But it all came to an end in 1951 as the group disbanded and each brother went their own way.  Andy chose to move to New York and continued to pursue his vocal career.

While in New York, Andy became a regular performer on Steve Allen’s “Tonight Show”.  For 2 ½ years he appeared on the “Tonight Show” which led to his first recording contract with Cadence Records.

It wasn’t long before Andy had his first top 10 hit with “Canadian Sunset”.  What followed was a string of hits that included “Butterfly”, “Lonely Street”, “The Village of St. Bernadette”, and “The Hawaiian Wedding Song” for which he received the first of his five Grammy Awards nominations.

His work in television continued during this time period with regular guest appearances on the Dinah Shore and Perry Como Shows and in 1958, for 13 weeks he presented “The Chevy Showroom with Andy Williams”.  In the summer of 1959, Andy was chosen by CBS to host a variety program that was to replace “The Gary Moore Show” for a 13 week period.  When this series of shows concluded Andy began to concentrate on one-hour television specials.  The first, “Music from Schubert Alley”, was presented by NBC on November 13, 1959.

The first event that kicked Andy’s career into high gear was the change of recording labels.  In 1962, he began his 25 year association with Columbia Records.  Almost immediately he scored his first Top 10 hit for Columbia, “Can’t Get Used to Losing You”.  Many more hits were to follow, but none would become more associated with Andy Williams than “Moon River”, the Oscar winning song from the film “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”.  This song quickly became his theme song and propelled his album, “Moon River and Other Great Movie Themes”, to the top of the charts.  The following year Andy released the album, “Days of Wine and Roses” which spent an incredible 16 weeks at #1 and stayed on the chart for over 100 weeks.  His subsequent recordings were best sellers and resulted in his receiving 18 gold and 3 platinum certified albums.

The second event that helped make Andy a superstar was the debut of his weekly television series, “The Andy Williams Show”.  Debuting on September 16, 1962, Andy premiered his new variety show on NBC that would eventually last for nine years and would win three Emmy Awards for Best Musical / Variety Series (1966, 1967 and 1969).  It was one of NBC’s top rated programs.  From this series Andy began his classic Christmas specials that featured the entire Williams family.

Live performances were still a big part of Andy’s career and in 1966, he opened Caesar’s Palace and subsequently headlined at the famed Las Vegas hotel for the next 20 years.

By the time “The Andy Williams Show” ended in 1972, Andy had become a true international superstar.  With tremendous world wide record sales and global distribution of his television show, he was just as popular in other countries as he was right her in the U.S.  This recognition prompted several tours of England, Europe, Australia, Japan and Asia, breaking attendance records wherever he appeared.

At this point in his career, most performers would have opted to sit back, relax and just make minimal concert and television appearance.  However, Andy chose another path; one that has put him in the international spotlight once again.

In 1991, Andy took a trip to Branson, Missouri to see his friend Ray Stevens who had just opened a theatre in the growing country music town and tourist destination.  Andy was so taken with the town, the people and the amazing talent the town featured that he began to make his own plans for becoming a part of the small Ozark community.

His plans to build a $12 million state of the art theatre came to fruition as the Andy Williams Moon River Theatre opened it doors on May 1, 1992.  Andy had become the first non-country performer to open a theatre in Branson.  And thanks to his ground breaking decision, other non-country performers and theme show began to move in to the tiny town that would soon be know as the live music capital of the world.

The Moon River Theatre’s design reflects the beauty and environmental integrity for the surrounding Ozark Mountains.  The 48,000 square foot structure is set among 16 acres landscaped with foliage, rock formation, waterfalls and a rippling stream.  It won the 1992 Conservation Award for Developed Land Use from the State of Missouri and is the only theatre ever to be featured in Architectural Digest.

For the interior, it was Andy’s idea to create a beautiful auditorium for live performances along with a lobby area that had a museum-like atmosphere so that he could display pieces of art from his personal collection.

Andy and his wife, Debbie, now reside in Branson just a few miles from the Theatre.  Their beautiful Country French home that they built is located on a golf course in a private local community.  The house overlooks the gorgeous Lake Taneycomo which is famous for its cool waters and trout fishing.

In the spring of 1999, Andy found himself back on the record charts once again.  In England, a commercial for the Fiat Automobile Company featured Andy’s version of “Music to Watch Girls By” which was a minor record hit for him in 1967.  The ad became so popular that the record company re-released the song as a single and this time around it was a Top 10 hit.  Because of the renewed interest in his music, Andy made his first trip to Europe in a decade touring throughout England, Ireland and Scotland.  The response from crowds of all ages was incredible.  Every theatre sold out in hours after tickets went on sale.  He is now more popular than ever and is known throughout the U.K. as the “Emperor of Cool”.

At his Moon River Theatre, Andy has shared the stage with various guest stars such as Glen Campbell, Ann-Margret, Petula Clark, and Charo.  Andy’s electrifying performances with his guests blend music and comedy into spectacular shows that are one of Branson’s most popular attractions.  The 2008-2010 fall presentations of The Andy Williams All-Star Variety Show were very reminiscent of his television show, and he felt these were the best shows he had done since he has been in Branson.

In November and December, The Andy Williams Christmas Show packs the 2000 seat Theatre with a show that recalls his classic television Christmas specials.

In addition to performing at his Theatre, Andy is also busy on other projects.  In 2007 he opened his one-of-a-kind restaurant called the Moon River Grill, which features a lot of his mother’s favorite recipes and has many works from his collection of pop art.  Andy’s autobiography titled “Moon River and Me,” published by Viking Press, was released in October, 2009.  It soon rose to #10 on the L.A. Times Best Seller List.

Andy works just as hard today as he did in the beginning.  The only difference is that he loves what he’s doing now even more than he did back then.

Click here to find Andy Williams music on Amazon.

 

September 25th, 2012

Baked Apples With Granola

Baked Apples with Granola

Baked Apples with Granola

Looking for quick fall appetizers and snacks? Think apples! Warm up the kitchen and enjoy the season's best flavors right away with this super simple and very quick microwave baked apple recipe. You can have this on the table in 10 minutes or less.

Ingredients

  • 2 large crisp apples (Fuji, Braeburn, Gala)
  • 2 Tbsp. raisins
  • 2 Tbsp. packed brown sugar
  • 4 tsp. butter
  • 2 crunchy granola bars, crushed

Instructions

  1. Cut apples in half lengthwise. Using a spoon scoop out core and make a 1 inch well in each apple half.
  2. In a microwave pie plate arrange apple halves cut side up. Fill each apple with raisins and brown sugar; dot with butter. Cover with plastic wrap and fold back one edge 1/4 inch to vent steam.
  3. Microwave on high 5 to 6 minutes or until apples are tender. Top each apple with granola.
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Don’t forget to visit Santa’s Video Site for family friendly holiday movies and cartoons.

Visit Operation Letter To Santa

September 24th, 2012

Pumpkin Seed Necklace [Craft]

Pumpkin seed necklace Halloween craft

Halloween Crafts

Halloween is just around the corner and pumpkins, gourds, and corn stalks are beginning to appear on front porches as part of the autumn decorating and the run up to Halloween. We will be seeing witches and ghosts soon!

When you head out to the fruit stand or pumpkin patch this year, pick up an extra pumpkin or two and make some of these great necklaces. This pumpkin seed necklace is a wonderful craft for children and adults alike and will make a great accessory for a witches costume.

As you will be spray painting the dried seeds, you will want to do this outside on a nice sunny day or in a covered and protected area such as your garage or carport. You definitely don’t want to to this in the house.

You will need:

  • Pumpkin seeds (roasted)
  • Spray paint (orange, black, white and green)
  • Needle and heavy black thread. (You will need a very sharp needle for this, so a new one is best)
  • New and unused kitchen sponge
  • Kitchen foil or waxed paper to put seeds on while you paint them
Instructions:
  1. After your seeds have been properly roasted (you can also purchase pumpkin seeds in most grocery or health food stores) lay them in single layers on the sheet of foil or waxed paper. You will want a sheet for each color. Let them dry for at least an hour.
  2. Check to see if they need to be turned over and painted on the other side.
  3. Once your seeds are properly painted and thoroughly dried you can begin to string them. Do this by measuring a sturdy piece of thread that is long enough to go OVER your head with at least 3-4 inches to spare as there will not be a clasp and you will need to be able to get it on and off easily. Place a knot in one end of the  string.
  4. Place 3-4 seeds at a time on your kitchen sponge in the color order you want. (See the picture). Push your needle through one seed at a time and then pull it down to the end of the thread.
  5. When your string is about two thirds full of seed, try it one to make sure it is the length you want and then tie the ends together tightly.

Visit Operation Letter To Santa

September 22nd, 2012

Pumpkin Snickerdoodle Cookies

Pumpkin Snickerdoodle Cookies

Pumpkin Snickerdoodle Cookies

Autumn is in the air and pumpkin recipes abound. These cookies are light, fluffy and mildly flavored. Yummy!

Ingredients

    For the cookies
  • 3 3/4 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree - be sure to use puree rather than Pumpkin Pie Filling
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • For the coating:
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • Dash of allspice

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Whisk together to blend. In a large bowl, beat together butter and sugars on medium speed until well combined.
  2. Next, still on medium speed, beat in pumpkin. Then, add the egg and vanilla extract.
  3. Lastly, add in the dry ingredients. Beat until combined, but do not over mix. Cover the dough, and refrigerate for one hour, until firm.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  5. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. In a small bowl, mix together the sugar and spices for the sugar coating. Scoop dough (approximately 2 1/2 tablespoons) and roll into a ball. Roll the dough ball in the sugar mixture, and place on the lined baking sheet, leaving about 2 inches between each cookie. Take a drinking glass with a flat bottom and moisten with water. Dip the glass in the sugar mixture, and use it to flatten the dough balls. Re-sugar the glass as needed.
  6. Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes. Remove when the centers of the cookies have set. Let cool on the baking pan for approximately 5 minutes, and then transfer to wire cooling racks to cool completely.
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September 19th, 2012

Getting Your Costume Ready for Halloween?

Gothika Contact Lenses for Halloween Costumes

Our favorite spooky celebration is right around the corner!

Much of the nation has had over a week of lovely fall weather, and minds are turning towards the autumn holidays, especially Halloween, which is just 6 weeks away.

Halloween decorations are already in the stores and pumpkins are beginning to appear on porches as tentative Halloween decorating gets underway. It is a lovely time of year and planning your costume and parties is almost as much fun as the actual holiday.

So what kind of costume are you planning this year? Ghost? Goblin? Zombie? Werewolf? Monster? Do you have a masquerade or costume party planned? How about a theatrical production?

Here is a quick Frankenstein Monster costume that you can make with items you probably already have around the house. And if you want to make it a real graveyard smash, add a pair of theatrical contact lenses from GothikaContactLenses.com. If you hurry, you can take advantage of their free shipping offer here.

Digging Up Clothes

  • Black pants
  • Black or dark T-shirt
  • Black or dark blazer
  • Work boots or platform shoes
  • Black nail polish
  • Mousse or hair gel
  • Black eyeliner
  • Brown eye shadow

Go on a hunt through your old drawers, the back of closets or even take a quick tip to the local Goodwill. You will need a pair of old jeans or black pants, a pair old tennis shoes, platform shoes or work boots and a dark T-shirt and blazer. Remember, the monster always looks way too big for his clothes so if you can find a jacket that has sleeves that are much too short for you, all the better!

Get green make up and Frankenstein neck bolts from a costume supply. The neck bolts can also be purchased online. You may need spirit gum to attach the bolts. Some bolts have wires that fit around your neck. We also found a pretty neat site that shows you how to make the neck bolts at home. Click here.

Cover your face, neck and hands with the green makeup. Put brown eye shadow on your upper lids and underneath your eyes. Use black eyeliner to outline and define the eyes. Draw a scar line and stitches on your forehead with the same eyeliner pencil.

Paint your nails black and be sure to slick your hair back from your face with plenty of mousse or hair gel.

Then go out and scare the bejeebers out of everybody!

Be sure to stop by Santa’s new video website to watch your favorite spooky and scary Halloween movies!

Visit Operation Letter To Santa

 

 

 

September 19th, 2012

Halloween Owl Beanbag Toss Buckets

Halloween Beanbag Toss Bucket for Halloween PartiesPlanning a Halloween party for a classroom or at home? This fun and easy craft from Better Homes and Gardens offers hours of fun from beginning the craft to playing the game.

What You’ll Need

  • Clean, empty 1-gallon paint cans (available at crafts stores)
  • Assorted scrapbooking papers, fabric ribbon, and trims
  • Solid and textured wool felt (brown and yellow)
  • Orange paper
  • Mod Podge decoupage medium
  • Glue gun and hotmelt adhesives
  • Fabric glue
  • 1-inch circle paper punch
  • Circle paper punches or circle stencils
  • Googly eyes in two different sizes
  • Number stencils

How to Make It

Note: To attach various materials to the can: Use decoupage medium to adhere paper, use a glue gun and hotmelt adhesive to secure ribbon, and use fabric glue to attach fabric pieces.

  1. Download free owl pattern. Click here.
  2. Cut two pieces of scrapbooking paper to wrap around the can. Before attaching the paper, draw around the handle of the can and punch or cut half-circles in the scrapbooking paper on each side for the handle.
  3. Adhere the paper around the can, aligning the half-circles with the handle. Glue fabric ribbons and trims around the top and bottom of the can.
  4. For the owl shape, trace the body and tail pattern onto brown felt. Cut and hot-glue ribbon along the outline of the tail; attach tail under the edge of body. From yellow felt, cut two wings; from orange paper, cut one belly. From felt or paper, cut or punch circle eye pieces. Assemble the owl, and glue different-size googly eyes on the eye pieces. From yellow and white felt, cut two irregular triangles for the beak; glue together. Glue the wings and belly to the owl body first, then layer on the eyes and beak. Cut a number from two colors of paper, making one larger than the other. Layer them together and attach to the owl tail.
  5. Glue the owl to the bucket, letting the tail hang below the bottom edge.
  6. Make five different buckets and number them 1 through 5.
  7. Line up the buckets and have players stand a short distance away on a designated line to toss the beanbags in the buckets. If a beanbag makes it into a bucket, the player receives the amount of points indicated on the owl’s tail.

Don’t forget to visit Santa’s new family friendly video site to find all of your favorite holiday videos and music!

Visit Operation Letter To Santa

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