One of my neighbors really loves to go all out when lighting their home for the holidays. They don't just throw up a half dozen strings of light and call it good. Oh, certainly not. I can only believe they used the home from National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation for inspiration and took the idea two (or ten) steps further. The home is truly a sight to behold. It puts my own house (and every other house in the neighborhood) to shame.
Fair warning: you may need sunglasses.
Starting back in September, the family starts preparing the holiday lights. They begin building frames out of wood and pvc pipe to string with lights. Gradually over the weeks, more and more frames start popping up in the yard and, though the lights remain unlit, you can feel the festive storm begin to brew.
As Christmas approaches, the lights start to sparkle. Almost daily, the sheer amount of lights seem to double as the family rushes to get as many strings up as they can. The Chmielewski family truly expresses and wants to share the Christmas spirit with everyone they meet. They don't go through all of the months of work to set up the display just for themselves. Their wish is very simple. They just want to bring a little more holiday magic to everyone who takes a walk by their brightly lit home.
What these photos don't show you: the lights are far brighter than my camera could ever capture, the flashing and flickering of lights on everything from the roof to the evergreen trees, the rotating Ferris wheel as it spins around carrying stuffed versions of our favorite holiday characters, the Christmas music singing loudly as it fills the air, the miniature bake shop selling everything from your favorite holiday cookies and bars to steaming cups of hot cocoa and warm hot dogs, a holly jolly Santa Claus greeting everyone who comes along to visit, and the friendly smiles and awe-struck faces of the small children walking through the sidewalk wonderland.
The home is perhaps the one and only home to ever feature three yeti (one of which is larger than life). It hosts half a dozen Kris Kringles and spans all holiday genres from Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer to The Little Drummer Boy. I love how the Bethlehem star not only guides the wise men to the multiple nativity scenes they have set up in the yard, but it brings in the holiday visitors from miles around as the star leads them to this special place. Is it garish? Certainly. But I can't deny it had me (and everyone else) smiling from ear to ear.
And my favorite part? They take donations for charity in a lovely, well-lit box. Upon first glance, I wondered if the charity might be their own electric bill but, after asking a few questions, I found out just the opposite. Last year the money they collected went to help local residents who can't quite afford to keep their own lights (and heat) on during the winter season.
I can't imagine a more fitting cause.
This Candy Cane Popcorn snack mix is as addictive as it is colorful. Popcorn, by nature, has more protein than any other cereal grain, more iron than spinach, more phosphorous than pretzels, and almost as much fiber as bran flakes. It's a super food. By simply coating the popcorn with a drizzle of white and dark chocolate and a sprinkling of crushed candy canes, it turns the popcorn into a decadent tasting sweet that's good for you at the same time! This is the ideal 100 calorie snack to zap your chocolate cravings without indulging in something you may regret later. It's also a perfect dish to bring to parties!
One Year Ago: Chocolate Truffles
Candy Cane Popcorn
Yields 12 1-cup servings
12 cups fresh air-popped popcorn (or no butter/low fat alternative)
2 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, melted
2 ounces white chocolate, melted
4 full-size candy canes, crushed
In a large mixing bowl, drizzle popcorn with 3/4 of the melted semi-sweet and white chocolate. Sprinkle on 3/4 of the crushed candy canes. Mix together and spread out the popcorn on a large serving platter and drizzle the remaining chocolate and candy canes over the top for best appearance.