Tuesday, November 25, 2014

So Much To Do!

Started off a very busy day with breakfast and Winnie the Pooh: Seasons of Giving. This direct-to-video movie has two episodes of The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh together with the Pooh Thanksgiving special and some new linking material. In the first story, Piglet is recruited as a groundhog to tell the others when spring is. In the second, Rabbit's attempt at a "traditional" Thanksgiving doesn't go nearly as well as he'd hoped. It's Pooh who reminds the bossy yellow bunny that Thanksgiving is about sharing what we have with others, whether what we have is turkey and stuffing or honey and haycorns. Rabbit is also in the spotlight in the third story. He adopts a little girl bird, but has a hard time letting go when she's old enough to fly south for the winter.

I did the Cranberry Bread while Pooh was on. Every year, I bring at least one loaf of bread to Mom's house for Thanksgiving. This tradition dates back to when I was in college. Bread was pretty much the only thing I had time to make between classes, and it was easy to bake in a small dorm oven and bring home. I used Pillsbury bread mixes in college. Nowadays, I just make them from scratch. I'll do the Pumpkin Bread tomorrow.

Switched to Arthur's Perfect Christmas as I gave the bathroom a much-needed scrubbing. Arthur Read is a normal, good-natured aardvark kid who is looking forward to a perfect holiday of snow, big meals, and lots of presents. Meanwhile, his friend Brain is preparing for Kwanzaa, Muffy is upset because her best friend Francine went to her family's Hanukkah party instead of her big Christmas bash, and Buster's mother keeps getting him up early because she's worried he won't have a good Christmas without his father. Arthur and the other kids finally discover that perfection is in the eye of the beholder...and the holidays can be a lot of fun, whether they're perfect or not.

As soon as the bread was out of the oven and all the cleaning supplies were put away, I hurried out. I badly needed to get to Haddonfield to get the bike fixed. It wasn't the nicest day for a walk, but at least the precipitation held off for now. It was cloudy and damp, cooler than yesterday but not too cold. I picked up the PATCO in Collingswood. The train station in Haddonfield is a block from the Free Ride Bike Shop. Thankfully, they were mainly doing inventory and had the time to fix my bike. I bought a new tire and two inner tubes, one as a spare. They also tightened my chain gear and recommended I get a new chain as soon as I can get up to Haddonfield again, which will probably be in January.

The moment I got out, I raced home. Quickly finished out The First Christmas Snow as I ate and changed into work clothes. More lesser-known Rankin-Bass takes us to a church in a warm climate. When Lucas, a sheopard boy, is struck by lightning, he loses his sight. The nuns in the church take him in. He becomes especially fond of gentle Sister Teresa (Angela Landsbury, who also narrates), but worries that the priest (Cyril Ritchard) will send him to an orphanage. He finally decides to give Sister Teresa his sheep for Christmas, but what he really wants is to see snow, just as the kindly nun has described it to him.

I got to work right on time. Good thing, too. It was insane for almost the entire night. Thanksgiving preparations crossed with snow jitters (we may be getting one or two inches mixed with some rain tomorrow) added up to a mess right until around 7, and even after that, it was still steady. It did slow down enough by 8 that I was able to leave quickly without a relief.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Autumn Was Warm

I can't believe how warm it was when I got up this morning! It was sunny, windy, and at least in the 70s. I didn't need a sweater or even long sleeves, never mind a coat. I was even able to open the windows and air out the apartment.

I had my usual cereal for breakfast while enjoying one of my favorite lesser-known Rankin-Bass specials, The Stingiest Man In Town. This late-70s adaptation of a 1950s live-action musical Christmas Carol has some really lovely music; my favorite songs are "An Old Fashioned Christmas" for Nephew Fred and "Yes, There Is a Santa Claus" for Martha Cratchit to sing to her brother Tiny Tim. The cast is nice, too. Walter Matthau is the older Scrooge. Robert Morse is Scrooge in his younger years. Tom Bosley narrates as insect B.A.H Humbug. This marked Dennis Day's last TV performance as an especially good Nephew Fred.

Ran to the laundromat after the show ended and I made my bed and changed my sheets. Needless to say, they weren't that busy on such a nice day. I listened to The Price Is Right and did my small load. Even with the sheets, it took less than an hour to get it all done.

When I got home, I ran another, more unusual version of A Christmas Carol as I put away my clothes and linens and made chicken burgers, broccoli, and Cranberry Flummery for lunch. An American Christmas Carol takes us to 1933 New Hampshire, where Benedict Slade (Henry Winkler in a pile of aging makeup) rules the small town with an iron fist. He ruthlessly repossesses the treasures of its citizens, then fires his assistant on Christmas Eve. Needless to say, a visit by three spirits makes him rethink his views on charity, forgiveness, and kindness. Not great, but not bad either. Interesting if you're a fan of Winkler or want to try a different kind of Carol.

I hurried downstairs around twelve after 2 to head to work. I got quite a shock when I got to the path. The back tire of my bike had gone flat. Again. After Richard fixed it. It was perfectly fine this morning when I went to the laundromat! I tried and tried to pump it, but it just wouldn't stay. I ultimately accepted a ride from a kindly neighbor and just barely made it to work on time. I felt bad about making such a fuss, but I had no choice. I had to get to work. She had to go grocery shopping anyway and ended up driving me home as well.

Maybe it's just as well. Work was crazy for most of the afternoon, especially during rush hour. Snow jitters (we're supposed to get snow mixed with rain on Wednesday) coupled with this being three days before the biggest food holiday of the year equaled noisy panic. We still don't have enough help to deal with it, either, even with the hours increased. Thankfully, it died rather quickly by 7:30. I had no problems shutting down without a relief.

I have no choice. I'm going to have to get to the bike shop in Haddonfield tomorrow. I'll walk to the PATCO and take a train to Haddonfield, then ride back as soon as they finish with the bike. Good thing I don't work until 2 tomorrow and the rain isn't supposed to start until nightfall. I have the time.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Happy Holidays Dolls

Started a sunny, somewhat warmer day with Christmas music and Banana Spice Pancakes for breakfast. I love my Happy Holidays sets. True Value Hardware has sold these collections since at least the 1960s. I have volumes 28 and 29 on cassette and 30 through 35 plus 39 on CD. I remember my family having one Happy Holidays record from the late 80s with Bing Crosby on it. It was the first time I heard Bing sing "White Christmas" anywhere but the radio and the movie of that title. There was a True Value Hardware in Cape May for years, and that's where I bought these (and likely where Mom picked up the record in the 80s).They switched to Ace Hardware (which I believe they remain to this day) by the early 2000s and I was no longer able to get them. They were some of my first Christmas music. Volume 39 and the CD version of Volume 30 were yard sale finds.

Work was a nut house for most of the day. Not only is it the Sunday before Thanksgiving and a day when the Eagles were playing at 1 PM, but we're supposed to have some bad weather early this week. A little bit of rain tomorrow shouldn't be a concern, but there's a possibility of snow mixed with rain on Wednesday. People were acting like it was just going to be snow! It's not like we're going to get snowed in. It's supposed to be sunny and in the mid-40s by Thanksgiving.

I couldn't wait to hurry out of there. I went straight to Dad's. I heard all day long, from employees and customers, that the Eagles were handing the Tennessee Titans their rears. They were indeed. By the time I arrived at Dad's around quarter after 4, the score was 40 to 24. The Eagles pushed in one more field goal to make the final score 43 to 24. 

I ate pulled pork sandwiches, potato salad, cole slaw, and a cherry pastry for dinner as Dad switched around to other games. Jodie, Jessa, and Mark were the only other ones there. Dad's other favorite team is the Miami Dolphins. They had the unenviable task of playing the red-hot Denver Broncos today in Mile High City; the Broncos haven't lost at home in ages. Even as Dad was complaining about them, they got a touchdown. It was 7 to 3 when I got tired of listening to Dad complain and left. For all of Dad's fussing, they ended up holding their own, just barely losing 39-36.

I spent the rest of the evening dressing the American Girl and Sailor Moon dolls for the holidays. Samantha wears her original Cranberry Christmas Dress, complete with wide white ribbon and ribbed stockings. Josefina looks lovely in her yellow Christmas Dress and Mantilla. Molly wears her Evergreen Velvet Dress with Springfield Collection socks and Samantha's new "meet" Mary Janes. Felicity sports her lovely bright blue Christmas Ball Gown and Josefina's Heirloom Accessories choker. Jessa's in the Chinese New Year outfit from the late 90s modern line. I gave Whitney the deep blue Snowflake Ball Gown with the velvet bodice Lauren sent me last year. Whitney wears black tights, a black jacket from a Springfield Collection dress, the glittery clip from the Sparkle Sequin Outfit, and a pair of black mules borrowed from Josefina.

The Sailor Soldiers wear vintage Barbie gowns bought from yard sales and a couple of dresses from dollar stores. Sailor Mars' regular velvet gown has a hole that needs to be fixed. She's wearing a ruffly, sparkly orange-red skirt with a hand-made knitted white sweater-leotard I bought from a yard sale about three years ago.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Last Call for the Fall Harvest

Started off another sunny, cold, windy morning with a couple of Christmas cartoons. Bugs Bunny's Christmas Tales is an anthology of three Chuck Jones shorts done directly for TV. The first is a condensed Christmas Carol with Yosemite Sam as Scrooge and Bugs as Nephew Fred. The second is a snow-themed Coyote/Roadrunner chase. The third has Taz in a Santa suit end up in Bugs' home on Christmas Eve.

Did a couple of Disney snow and Christmas-themed shorts next. "Once Upon a Wintertime" is a sweet featurette from one of Disney's 40s anthology movies. Two lovers and two rabbits have a scary adventure while out skating. "Santa's Workshop" and "The Night Before Christmas" tell just what Santa does before he heads out on Christmas Eve, and what happens when he arrives at the last house of his rounds. "On Ice" shows the Disney gang's ice skating and fishing fun...and how Mickey helps Donald out when his messing around with Pluto gets him into trouble. Donald has even more frozen trouble in "Donald's Snow Fight." When he ruins the Nephews' snowman, they decide that this means war! The ultimate snowball toss is on, but it may leave Donald with that sinking feeling.

Headed out to the last Collingswood Farm Market of the year around 9:30. They were very busy with people ignoring the cold long enough to buy their produce for Thanksgiving. It took me a while to find everything I wanted. More than half the booths were selling knit accessories and mosaic guitars instead of produce. There were enough booths left for me to buy grapefruit, a bag of baby spinach, cranberries for bread to bring to Mom's next week, broccoli, a small organic cauliflower (all of the non-organic cauliflower was way too big for me), and my favorite small apples.

When I got home, I switched to two winter-themed first season Sailor Moon episodes as I put everything away and got ready for work. Serena's feeling those "Ski Bunny Blues" when she finds herself competing against Raye in a skiing pageant at a major resort. The course gets a lot rougher than either imagined when it all turns out to be a Negaverse plot. And in "Ice Princess," Lita catches the eye of a handsome figure skater, which doesn't amuse his partner - or the Negaverse - one bit.

I left early for work. Today is the Acme's Thanksgiving Luncheon. They always have an enormous spread, and this year was no exception. I saw turkey with gravy, a green bean casserole, stuffing, macaroni and cheese, pasta salad, ham (brought by my manager Sam, which lead to lots of "Sam I Ham" jokes), meatballs, hot dogs and beans in barbecue sauce, corn, pretzels, and deviled eggs. Desserts included a big container of Lifesavers Wint-O-Mints and Hershey's mini-chocolates, two chocolate cakes, two fruit cheesecakes (blueberry and cherry), one plain cheesecake, pumpkin bread, butter thumbprint cookies with jam in the middles, chocolate chip cookies from the bakery, and my Apricot Honey Bread. I had turkey (salty but not bad), green bean casserole (delicious), mini Hershey's Special Dark bars (I love dark chocolate), the corn (pretty basic defrosted frozen corn, but I wanted a vegetable that wasn't drowning in mushroom soup), and two deviled eggs. Tried the thumbprint cookies later (crunchy with a sticky jam middle - not bad).

Work actually wasn't bad when I got in. It was on-and-off steady through about 2:30-3 PM, after which things picked up considerably. Other than I had one of those people who somehow think they can buy 150 dollars worth of groceries with a 90 dollar budget and held up the line putting it all back, there were no major problems. It was slowing down a little when I hurried out.

I called Dad earlier in the day. He said last week that Jodie is finally moving in with him. With her son and his girlfriend taking the apartment attached to Dad's house, Jodie's selling her house and getting rid of most of her furnishings and dishes. I rode over to Dad's as soon as I got home and got changed. When I arrived, he and Jodie took me a few doors down to Jodie's old house.

I ended up with a tall, slender wood hutch that Jodie's dad made himself, a "dry sink" (a counter with shelves and drawers under it intended to be used in the kitchen), a beautiful bench, some Christmas-themed dishes, and a computer chair that was Dad's. The hutch and dry sink will replace the baker's rack in my living room. The baker's rack is a cheap piece I picked up from the Ames in North Cape May shortly before they went out of business, probably about 12 years ago. The bottom of the drawer I use for silverware has been popping out for ages, and it really doesn't have the room for all of my cookbooks.

The bench will hold my AG and Disney Toddler dolls, and possibly some of the smaller stuffed animals currently on my bed. I've been looking for a bench or a chair for them at yard sales for years. It'll free up a shelf for books or smaller dolls and allow me to find another place for the AG bed besides in front of mine.

The computer chair in my bedroom is shot. Rose and Craig bought it from Wal-Mart as a homecoming present a few days after I moved here in February 2006. While it still rolls pretty well, the lining on the chair part is ripped so badly, I can't sit on it anymore. I have thick towels over the seat so I can actually sit in it. It's also too big for my current roll-top desk. Doesn't really fit around it at all.

It was sprinkling when we went to Jodie's. By the time I headed home, the rain was gone, allowing me to get back dry. When I got in, I decided to try a project. I never liked the red stained wood IKEA shelf in the music area. The one in the entertainment area next to the TV is fine. It holds my movie and animation books and acts as a stand for the DVD recorder. The one in the music area did hold my music, stage, and radio history books...but it also didn't work with records. I need more record storage. I finally moved the IKEA shelf to the entertainment area, along with the music and radio books. It'll probably be moved again when the dry sink comes, but it's ok next to the baker's rack for now. The crates that were on top of it and next to it now replace it in the music area. I like that much better. More room, less fuss.

Ran the 1957 version of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella while I organized, and later as I ate the last of the leftover chicken soup for dinner. This was the duo's only venture into TV musicals. Other than the fairy godmother (Edie Adams) is a bit younger than in most retellings, this is a pretty straightforward fairy tale. The title lass (Julie Andrews) wants to go to the ball and meet Prince Christopher (Jon Cypher), but her stepmother (Ilka Chase) and stepsisters (Kaye Ballard and Alice Ghostly) insist this is impossible. Maybe not so impossible, as her fairy godmother reminds her. Will all her dreams come true...or will it all end by the stroke of midnight?

The version you end up with depends on what cast you prefer, and whether or not pictorial quality is an issue. The ladies here are the winners - Andrews (coming off her long-running stint in My Fair Lady on Broadway) simply glows as Cinderella. However, this was originally a one-time-only live broadcast. It was considered lost before a kinetoscope of a technical rehearsal was found in the early 2000s, which means that the picture is less than stellar and often blurry. What's there is frequently enchanting, though, especially a vibrant "A Lovely Night."

Incidentally, if you enjoy this, there's two more TV versions (with Leslie Ann Warren in 1965 and Brandy in 1997) and a stage version that'll be on Broadway until January. No two are exactly alike. The 60s version added one more song for the Prince; the 90s one threw in a Rodgers and Hart number for the Stepmother and a song by Rodgers alone for Cinderella.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Wishing For Tomorrow

Ugh. My day mostly didn't go well. First of all, I overslept. I did finish Wishing for Tomorrow, though, which I very much enjoyed. This sequel to A Little Princess focuses on the the girls who lived at Miss Minchin's school with Sara and remained behind when she left. Poor Ermengarde feels abandoned. Snooty Lavinia throws herself further into her studies, especially after a new boy whose sisters went to Oxford moves next-door. Lottie makes a friend in the new maid, no-nonsense Alice. Miss Minchin takes less and less interest in teaching anyone but Lavinia and worries that she may lose more students. Ermengarde finally learns that she may not be a princess, but she, Lavinia, and all of them have their own special qualities...ones that'll help them when disaster strikes the school.

I was getting ready to go when there was a knock on the door. It was my neighbor's son. The windows and doors were here. They were going to start installing them downstairs today. Already? I thought they weren't doing that until spring. Oh, well. At least the house will be warmer this winter and that cracked window will finally be gone.

Much to my frustration, when I got downstairs, I discovered the back tire was going flat. I just pumped it two days ago! I guess it did have a slow leak. I was hoping it didn't. I can change the front tire pretty quickly, but I usually need help with the back. At any rate, I didn't have the time to change anything. I just rode the bike to work and was almost late.

Oddly enough, work was the opposite of how it's been for the past few weeks - crazy when I came in, not too bad when I left. I must have just  hit the noon rush hour. I guess everyone was leaving early to start getting ready for Thanksgiving. Most of the afternoon was steady-to-quiet. By the time it was picking up again, I was done. My relief was late; another college kid came in for me.

I got my schedule first. For the first time in months, it's almost entirely evening work. The only time I work during the day is Sunday...which of course, means I'll miss the Eagles game. On the other hand, I have a lot more hours than the last few weeks, I'll be able to get a lot of cleaning and baking done at my apartment, and I'll get to see Collingswood's Christmas Parade in full next Saturday. And yes, I did get Thanksgiving and Black Friday off for our trip to Mom's.

I didn't have a ton of shopping to do, at any rate. It was mostly restocking the larder. I was completely out of sugar, eggs, chocolate pudding mix, and parchment paper. Replaced the cake mix I used last week. They had more of those tasty small turkey tenderloins with three dollar off manager's coupons on them - I grabbed two. Bought honey and orange juice to use for holiday recipes this week and next week. Also grabbed my annual advent calender with the cheap chocolate. It always tastes terrible, but the pictures on the front are usually cute - this year's has Santa delivering two teddy bears who are very much enjoying the ride.

I ended up walking the bike home. At least it was a nice day for it. It was cold again, probably in the mid-30s, and still windy, but sunny and cloudless as well. The sun was setting in a soft glow of pink and orange as I arrived at my apartment. I tried to fix the back wheel on the porch downstairs, or at least what I could get of it with all the new windows and doors in their boxes laying there. I just couldn't get the bolts off! I ultimately asked my next-door neighbor Richard for help with it.

I spent the rest of the night upstairs at my place. I made that yummy Apricot-Honey Bread for the Acme's Thanksgiving Luncheon tomorrow while dubbing Red Skelton's Christmas Jollies. This was an 80s collection of skits from Red's shows, mostly the ones from the 50s and early 60s if the black and white and slightly fuzzy picture were any indication. Actually, my favorite segment was one of the last ones. Red's "silent spot" was his hilarious miming of a man who has just come home from New Year's Eve with the world's most monumental hangover. He gets stuck in the window trying to get fresh air, can't find his alarm clock, and his butler has a really hard time getting him back to bed!

I switched to cartoons as I had a quick chicken soup dinner. The Berenstein Bears' Christmas Tree is the tale of how Papa Bear is determined that he and Brother and Sister will get a real, perfect tree from the wilderness, not some tree lot. What they don't realize is that other animals need home for the holidays, too. They keep picking trees that are already occupied. When they do finally get back to town, the animals whose homes they spared have a big surprise for them at their tree house.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Getting Organized

I awoke to a phone call. Yes, it was the Acme. They wanted me to come in two hours early, at noon. No problem. I was only working four hours today, and I need the extra hours. I didn't have too much planned for this morning, either.

In fact, the only thing I really had planned for today was some organizing in my bedroom. I wanted to make room for the Ever After High dolls, clear off the top of the printer (which tends to accumulate everything from receipts to old phone messages), and clear all of the printer paper out of a drawer in my desk and off the top of the crate holding oversized comic books. I recycled the receipts and moved everything else that was on top of the printer but the phone and the phone book into the drawer. The printer paper was moved to the top of the printer. Fancier paper and lined paper were switched to the shelf under the printer. The box holding my stationary went under the phone. I moved Gram Bear and Tenderheart over to the top of the comic books crate. (Tenderheart may not stay. He doesn't fit well with plump Gram and Polite Panda.) That leaves space for Cerise and Briar on the children's hardback books shelf, appropriately under the Sailor Moon dolls.

Ran March of the Toy Soldiers as I worked. This is the renamed 1934 Babes In Toyland with Laurel and Hardy as the fat and thin comic relief, this time on the right side of the law. Once again, nasty Barnaby comes between two Mother Goose lovers, here Little Bo Peep (Charlotte Henry) and Tom Piper (Felix Knight). Stan and Ollie first have to help Bo Peep and her mother, the Old Woman Who Lived In a Shoe, get the mortgage on the shoe from Barnaby. Though they get into trouble for it, they do ultimately manage to get things right. After that, Barnaby outright gets Tom exiled. Bo Peep and the boys don't believe it and, after the boys prove his innocence, travel into Bogey Land to rescue him.

The Babes you go for depends on which cast you prefer and how big of a fan of Laurel and Hardy's antics you are. I honestly like them both. Though I grew up on the Disney version, I do like Laurel and Hardy, and there's much that's charming about this one, too.

The March of the Toy Soldiers DVD is filled with public domain extras culled from here, there, and everywhere. I ran a few of them as I had a quick lunch and prepared for work. At least 15 years before Rankin-Bass did their version, Paramount put out a very sweet (and somewhat more accurate to the original story) Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer animated short that's been a staple in Christmas-themed public domain sets for years. Two shorts were also rather sweet. One, Christmas Toy Shop, has Santa telling all about his toys to two wide-awake youngsters. The other was a more traditional telling of The Night Before Christmas.

Though it wasn't bad when I came in, by about 2:30, we were absolutely swamped with people buying things for Thanksgiving and for relatives visiting next week. We still don't have enough help to deal with them all, either. There were long lines all day - we'd call stock people and bakers to deal with them, and then they'd go back to their section...and then we'd have to call them again when the lines would get long again. This went on all evening. I was tired and got so stressed! Thankfully, they had one of the college boys come in for me, instead of going into stocking; I originally didn't have a relief.

When I got home, I had leftovers for dinner and quickly ran a Backyardigans episode to unwind. Uniqua is a librarian in Veja, California, who loves her job more than anything. When a book goes missing, she becomes "The Masked Retriever" to bring it back to the library! Don Austin has a book he refuses to return. The Masked Retriever chases him across the California and Mexican countryside to get him to renew it.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Chilled November

Started out another sunny but cold day with some Backyardigans. "The Action Elves Save Christmas Eve" pit elves Tasha, Uniqua, and Pablo against abominable snowcritters Austin and Tyrone, who accidentally took Santa's magic sack. If they can't get it back, Santa won't be able to give out toys for Christmas! Uniqua and Pablo run "The Big Dipper Diner," the finest hash house in deep space. Their favorite customer is a sweet little alien named Hugs. Cops Tasha and Tyrone mistake Hugs for the Blarg, a nasty little alien who shrinks everything in sight! Hugs has a surprise for everyone when she teaches all of the kids about the word "no."

My first stop of the day was the Oaklyn Library. There were baskets, baskets, and more baskets everywhere, filled with everything from beauty products to toys to food. The librarian and one of the Friends of the Oaklyn Library were preparing the baskets for the auction at the American Legion building a few doors down on Saturday. I organized DVDs and listened to the Weather Channel report about the heavy snow in the Midwest (and people think it's cold here - at least it's also sunny and cloudless), heading out after about a half-hour.

My next stop was the Haddon Township Library. I had one last video and book donation to make for this year, along with books and DVDs to return. Surprisingly, there weren't that many DVDs to put away. The children's shelves were still overloaded, but not as much as they have been. (And they need to start pulling doubles again.) I continued working on the paperback romance novels as well. The M and N titles were fine, but P, Q, and R needed work. Good thing more than half the R titles were by Nora Roberts - made it easier to organize. I read her stuff on rare occasions myself, when the emphasis is more on action than romance.

(And I didn't take anything out this week. I probably won't have the time to return them next week. I did take Cranberry Thanksgiving out of the Oaklyn Library - I bring Grandma's Cranberry Bread to Mom's house for a hostess gift.)

Made two quick stops on the way home. Dollar Tree was busy, but I just needed Thanksgiving cards. WaWa was even busier with people on their way home from work and school. I ordered The Gobbler turkey sandwich again for a very late lunch.

When I got home, I had my lunch, then made a Mint Devil's Food Cake while watching the 1961 Babes In Toyland. Mary Contrary (Annette Funicello) is set to marry Tom Piper (Tommy Sands)...but not if the wicked Barnaby (Ray Bolger) has anything to do with it! When sending his men to eliminate Tom doesn't work, he steals Mary's sheep. Mary's siblings go after them, and Tom and Mary go after the kids. They all end up in Toyland, trying to help the goofy Toymaker (Ed Wynn) and his beleaguered assistant Grumio (Tommy Kirk) with the Christmas deadline. Barnaby is still on their trail, though...

Colorful and cute version of the ever-popular early 1900s operetta. Bolger in particular is having a blast playing against type - check out his "Castle In Spain" dance.

Stuck with music and fantasy as I moved to DuBarry Was a Lady. Red Skelton is Louie, a hat-check boy at a nightclub who wins a fortune. He hopes to convince beautiful singer May Daly (Lucile Ball) to love him. She really loves the club's MC and dancer (Gene Kelly), but has convinced herself that it's more practical to marry for money. When Louie accidentally takes a drugged drink, he dreams that he's the King of France, May is the scandalous title lady, and Kelly is the revolutionary she loves.  Nice if you're a fan of the cast, the World War II era, or big band music (Tommy Dorsey has a couple of extraneous numbers); ok time-waster if you ever run into it on TCM otherwise.

Oh, and I ordered myself the first dolls I'm buying in a series I've had my eye on for a while from Amazon.com. Ever After High details the adventures of the offspring of famous fairy tale and fantasy story characters. Some want to follow in their parents' footsteps and keep the stories exactly the way they've always been; others, especially villains, want to change the stories and re-write their own happy endings. I never really paid much attention to its sister line, Monster High. Those dolls always seemed too bright and campy, even for me, and I'm not into horror. Fairy tale characters who wanted to re-write their stories were something else again, and the dolls and their designs were exquisite.

It took me ages to decide, but I finally decided to start with Cerise Hood and Briar Beauty. Cerise is the mysterious daughter of Little Red Riding Hood whose back story isn't exactly the same as the original. Briar is the party girl daughter of Sleeping Beauty who is having too much fun to sleep for a 100 years. I love Cerise's different mold and her beautiful red outfit, including the famous hood, not to mention her back story. I always did like beasts. I also like Briar's outfit, and while her party-hearty persona is a little shallow, the doll itself is one of the prettiest from the first wave. (And they were both more than half-off. I couldn't resist a bargain.)

I'm really only interested in the "basic" original versions of the dolls - no fancy Thronecoming gowns or beach outfits or pajamas, please! I'm hoping to pick up the hippie daughter of Cinderella, Ashlynn, and her swain Hunter the Huntsman in their original 2-pack for Christmas. I'll probably get Madeline Hatter, the nutty, lovable daughter of the Mad Hatter, along with them. After that, I'll grab either Cedar Wood (the daughter of Pinocchio who literally can't lie) or Blondie Locks (the gossipy daughter of Goldilocks) with tax return money in February.