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David Hooper's

David Hooper Office: 423-639-9050

Dear Friends,

It's that most wonderful time of the year! Snow is falling, carols are being sung, frenzied shoppers are out hunting for that perfect gift and families are coming home for the holidays! Set out the nativity, whip up some gingerbread, bust out your tutu and The Nutcracker Ballet! Join with us in a holiday cheer, Christmas time is here! This month in Welcome Home magazine learn how to put on a spectacular light show that will be the pride of the neighborhood! Finally figure out how to get your home organized for the season and check out our nifty guide to gift giving that won't have you still hiding from your boss come spring because of a gifting faux pas! Last but not least, help your children rediscover the true meaning of Christmas and learn to take joy from giving, not getting for Christmas. Merry Christmas and may your home be filled with joy and cheer this very special season! Please enjoy this issue of the magazine! Have a very merry December, and as always, Welcome Home! If you have comments or suggestions please email us at, we would love to hear from you! Also if there is a subject that you would like to see covered, let us know! We look forward to hearing from you!

David Hooper 423-639-9050

Welcome Home! Gingerbread Snowflake Cookies

Welcome Home is for entertainment purposes only. This magazine is not intended to solicit other brokersʼ listings. If you are currently working with another broker, please disregard this information. All pictures courtesy of unless otherwise noted.

Ingredients • • • • • • • • • • • •

1 cup  butter or margarine, softened 1  cup  sugar 1/4  cup  water 1 1/2  teaspoons  baking soda 1  cup  molasses 5  cups  all-purpose flour 1/4  teaspoon  salt 1 1/2  tablespoons  ground ginger 1/2  teaspoon  ground allspice 1 1/2  teaspoons  ground cinnamon Royal Icing White sparkling sugar (optional)

Preparation Beat butter and sugar at medium speed with a mixer until fluffy. Stir together 1/4 cup water and soda until dissolved; stir in molasses. Combine flour and next 4 ingredients. Add to butter mixture alternately with molasses mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Shape mixture into a ball; cover and chill 1 hour. Roll to 1/4-inch thickness on a lightly floured surface. Cut with a 7 1/2-inch snowflake cookie cutter. Place 2 inches apart on parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Cut out designs in snowflakes using 1/4- to 1/2-inch cutters, and remove. Bake at 350° for 12 to 15 minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool.

Royal Icing • • •

1 (16-ounce) package powdered sugar 3  tablespoons  meringue powder 6  to 8 tablespoons warm water

Beat all ingredients at low speed with a mixer until blended. Beat at high speed 4 minutes or until stiff peaks form. If needed, add water, 1/4 teaspoon at a time, until desired consistency. Spoon icing into a small heavy-duty zip-top plastic bag. Snip a tiny hole in 1 corner of bag; pipe around edges of cookies. Sprinkle icing with sugar, if desired.

Southern Living, DECEMBER 1998

Editor in Chief - Phly Jambor The information provided in this publication of Welcome Home or on any website maintained by U.S. Cybertek, INC. or any of its subsidiaries, divisions, affiliates, agents, representatives, licensors, licensees or employees (collectively Publisher) is intended as a general guide illustrating common methods of common practices, and the publisher makes no warranty or guarantee whatsoever of the safety, effectiveness, or other characteristic of any methods or products described herein. Neither does the Publisher assume any liability for information published in any website or other publication to which reference may be made herein. Readers are cautioned to review and comply with all written instructions, safety bulletins, and other materials provided in connection with any of the products mentioned herein and all products used in connection with any of the methods described. Neither Published nor any of its subsidiaries, divisions, affiliates, agents, representatives, licensors, licensees or employees shall in any case be liable to you or anyone else for any loss or injury or any direct, indirect, incidental, consequential, special punitive or similar damages arising out of your use of or failure to use any of the methods and/ or products described in this publication or any other publication or websites to which reference may be made herein. Publisher disclaims all warranties, and any warranty or guarantee of safety, merchantability, or fitness for any particular purpose lies solely with the manufacture(s) of any product described or recommended or used used in connection with any methods described or recommended.

Organizing Your Home

for the Christmas Season

The holiday season is swiftly approaching, bringing with it great fun and family events. As you are preparing for this great season, it is important to plan accordingly. The friends and family you invite into your home bring plenty of warmth and cheer, but can also create quite a mess. For this reason, organizing your home for the Christmas season is very important, to anyone who wishes their home to stay as clean as the freshly fallen snow outside.

Organizing your home entails assembling a good number of storage containers for everything from sugar cookies to Christmas lights and ornaments. The tree can create a mess as well, and if you choose an artificial tree, it will also need to be stored. When it comes to getting yourself and your home ready for this Christmas season, challenges abound. Getting started early, even before Thanksgiving, is a good way to thwart the coming stress of December. While one may not want to start decorating until after Thanksgiving, there is no real reason to not prepare for decoration. This is where organization can become an issue. The first thing you need to do is to begin cleaning your entire house. All of your non-seasonal knick-knacks need to go. Throw rugs and blankets may need to be replaced as well. Boxes of all sizes are invaluable for holiday storage and organization. This starts with storing your non-holiday items in order to make room for the Christmas tree and more. Label the boxes by room, and begin filling them up with the items that you are getting replacing. When a box is full move it into storage. Once your home is thoroughly desolate and devoid of decorative flair you can begin to think of your Christmas decorations. Getting your actual decorations out can be a major hassle. This is the year to overhaul your storage system. Get rid of those cardboard boxes and replace them with plastic containers. Plastic is sturdier, stacks more easily, protects your items better and can simplify your storage process. Furthermore, plastic containers have been tweaked to fit any purpose. Many boxes can easily fit up to sixteen ornaments in safe individual compartments. The boxes come in three snap together trays that can, when put together, can safely store twenty-seven or twenty-eight ornaments. You no longer have to worry about losing precious keepsakes when you store your ornaments. Furthermore, you can avoid the waste of time that comes with wrapping ornaments in layer after layer of newspaper. These simple boxes provide perfect protection for all of your tree trimmings. They also can work wonderfully to stow bows, ribbons and other wrapping accessories.

all of the wrapping paper and ribbon. Keeping these items stored without damage can be a significant challenge. It始s a good idea to store all your gift-wrapping supplies in one location. Hang them on a door for storage, so they don始t get crushed. This can help you keep the rest of your house organized for Christmas. A final crucial step for getting your house organized for Christmas is to prepare your kitchen. The Christmas holiday season can easily be referred to as baking season, and if you plan on doing a lot of work in your kitchen, then you better be ready. Forget your spring cleaning routine, now is the time to get that kitchen cleaned out. Get your spice rack organized, move those pots to the most accessible location, and get your appliances reorganized to fit your baking needs. For most of the year your kitchen should be organized to meet your day to day needs. But during the holidays, your day to day necessities are thrown aside. Rather then focusing on the meat and potatoes of mealtime you may find yourself emphasizing the cookies and cakes during this time of year. One of the largest organizational disasters that come along with Christmas is trying to work around a kitchen that is not built for baking. You need to rework this room, or your sanity is going to be tested throughout the entire season. Getting ready for the Christmas holiday season should start just before Thanksgiving. Even if you are one who refuses to decorate until after Thanksgiving, there is work to be done and the benefits can be very rewarding. Begin your organizational work now, and you can be well on your way to a more relaxed holiday season around the house or apartment. However, if you procrastinate, things can quickly become quite hectic and stressful. Invest in the proper storage materials, deal with the problem of wrapping paper and overhaul your kitchen. These steps should set you well on your way to a happy and peaceful Christmas holiday season.

Another frequent organizational nightmare associated with preparing for the Christmas season is dealing with

Written by Nick Kakolowski. Article courtesy of

How To Have A

Merry Christmas

On A Budget

With many Americans now facing greater financial challenges than they were a year ago, the upcoming holiday season may leave us with more feelings of dread than excitement. After all, the holidays are an expensive time of year.  There are gifts to purchase, meals to prepare, and family members to host and entertain.  In spite of all this, it is still possible to have a wonderful holiday season while sticking to a budget.  We'll explain how by breaking things down into the five main areas where our holiday dollars are spent. Gifts: Christmas gift shopping often takes up the largest part of a family's holiday budget.  If you want to save money on gifts, planning is key.  First, create a budget, outlining how much you have to spend and what you want to buy for each person.  Next, watch the sale ads in your local newspaper and check prices online.  Don't forget to keep an eye out for discount coupons or rebate offers that can also add up to additional savings.  Buying online is also a good way to save gas money and valuable time, and it can cut down on impulse purchases, too, since you won't be at a mall, tempted by lots of other things you don't need.  Another great money-saving idea is to make homemade gifts for everyone.  If you aren't very crafty, remember that your time is also a very valuable gift.  Coupon books for services like babysitting, handyman repairs, or yard work are also well received and appreciated. Food: There are many ways you can save money on food at the holidays.  If you are hosting a large dinner, consider making it a potluck where each person contributes a dish to the meal.  This allows everyone to share in the cost and also creates a varied meal where many families' specialties can be sampled.  Another way you can save money on large family meals is by breaking tradition.  Perhaps everyone would enjoy chicken or pasta on Christmas Eve rather than ham or beef tenderloin.  Another alternative to an expensive dinner is to do a low-key brunch on Christmas morning after opening gifts.  This can be a refreshing change for family members who are traveling and need to get on the road early.  If traveling is in your plans, be sure to pack some healthy snacks and drinks for the car.  This will cut down on the expense of fast food at gas stations and restaurants. Entertainment: It's usually easy to cut back on spending for entertainment, if you simply take advantage of free family activities.  For example, take your children to see Santa Claus at the mall, or if you don't have kids, go watch other children tell Santa what they want for Christmas.  If you live in a cold weather climate, participate in outdoor activities like sledding at the park, ice skating on a frozen pond, or building a snowman in the backyard.  Instead of going to the movies, just watch some holiday programs that are broadcast on television during the month of December, or better yet, attend a free holiday play or concert at your local church, community center, or school. Decorations: The best way to save money on holiday decorations is by making do with what you already have.  If you simply must buy some different items, consider buying used decorations from garage sales, auctions, or online sites like Craigslist.  If you can make yourself wait until after Christmas, stock up for the following year by taking advantage of post-Christmas sales.  On December 26 and after, most holiday items can be bought for half or a quarter of the original price. Contributions: Even on the sparsest budget, it is still possible to give back to the community at the holidays.  Many charities and organizations value your time even more than a monetary contribution.  Consider donating some gently used clothing or other items to a homeless shelter, or volunteering your time to serve dinner at a soup kitchen.  Other options might include answering phones at a call center or ringing a bell to solicit donations at a local grocery store or mall.  These are all great ways to give back without dipping into your bank account. With all of these suggestions, we hope you'll realize that it's not impossible to stick to a budget at the holidays.  With a little careful planning and a few minor changes in your activities, you will hopefully find yourself at the end of the season with plenty of good memories, a warm feeling in your heart, and some money left in your pocket. Written by Ellen Bell. Courtesy of

Outside Christmas Decorations

How to Make:

A Christmas

Light Show

The ultimate goal of anyone who loves to decorate their yard for Christmas is to set up a full light show that includes music. These shows can be difficult to set up, but they are spectacular to see and are well worth the effort. Here are some steps to get your started on creating your own show:

Do your Research: Before going any further, be aware that setting up a Christmas light show as part of your outside Christmas decorations take a lot of time and patience. It can be a great hobby, but it始s not as easy as plugging some lights in flipping a switch. So, if you are ready, keep reading. You are going to need a few items to make this work: 1. A computer to do the programming. 2. A light controller with multiple channels. This is what controls the lights. 3. A software program to program the light controller. This will define when the lights turn on and off in relation to the music. 4. An FM transmitter to broadcast your music. Another option is a pair of speakers on your front porch, but it is unlikely that the neighbors appreciate the same song playing over and over again. 5. The lights! For a complete effect, this should include not just regular lights, but icicle lights, net lights and yard displays.

Organize and Plan: Now you are getting down to the fun part. To make the show work, you will need to sit down with pencil and paper and design your system. Decide what music you want to play (preferably something that has to do with Christmas), and where the decorations will be. Your plan should include a drawing of your front yard, with sketches and notes on how the show will work.

Buy Your Equipment and Decorations: Now that you have your plan, you are ready to buy your decorations. This can get expensive fast, so do some research to make sure you aren始t overpaying. I suggest going through the internet for the software and control box for the lights. A search in Google or Yahoo should yield several results and allow you to compare several options.

Test, Test, and Test! It始s important enough to say again: Test, Test, and Test! The first thing you should do is set up your controller for a single set of lights and make sure you can get it to turn on and off. Then get it to turn on and off to music. Then add a second set of lights and make sure you can get that one to turn on and off. See why this takes so long? It can be tedious, but the results are well worth it.

Set It All Up: After everything is programmed, it始s just a matter of setting it up. Hang the lights, set up the displays, and plug it in. Now, all you have left to do is sip hot cocoa and watch your neighbors scramble to get their decorations looking half as good as yours! Good Luck and Merry Christmas!

Written by Ryan Harris. Courtesy of

s a e d I Gift

7 Gift Giving Do's and Don'ts Just as a well planned gift can patch up a festering relationship; an ill-planned gift can puncture it. Here are the seven golden gift giving do's and don'ts that, if followed, will ensure a mutually pleasurable gift-giving experience. The Do's - gift ideas worth considering: 1. If you are intending to give gifts within an organization, then DO spend some time catching up on the company's giftgiving policy. By the same token, if you are giving gifts to members of a certain community, then DO find out what's acceptable within that community and what's not - example: gifting a bottle of Champaign to your Muslim neighbor is not the smartest of gift ideas. 2. When coming up with gift ideas, it's imperative to thoroughly think through what you should gift while keeping the recipient in mind. Try to make the gift as personalized as possible by catering to the hobbies and interests of the recipient. 3. Any of the gift ideas that promote sharing are a definite DO. There is nothing like a gift that can be shared among office colleagues or family members - example: plants. 4. Wrapping and presentation is everything. A very expensive and thoughtful gift can lose considerable value if its not packed and presented the way it should. On the other hand, a less expensive gift can appreciate in value in the eyes of the recipient if it's packed and presented well. In order to add some icing to the proverbial cake and to take this gift idea further, try throwing in something extra to complement the gift - example: if you have bought someone a book, buy him a fancy bookmark as well. 5. Donating to charity on the recipient's behalf is a definite DO. However, this gift idea should come with a pinch of precaution - do not donate to a charity which the recipient probably believes is a non-worthy cause. Before donating the money, DO a little digging to find out what kind of charities the recipient believes in. 6. Throw in the gift's receipt along with the gift. This is a controversial gift idea but the reality is that most people prefer to be able to exchange a gift rather than to be stuck with something they don't like and have no use for. 7. Last but not least, if you are giving gifts within the organization then DO keep the whole process discreet. Even if you are giving everyone one a gift, it's always a good idea to keep it hush-hush - it keeps you safe from lethal gossip circles. The theory is also applicable if you are giving gifts to families - even though you maybe close to one or two members of the family, it's always advisable to gift something to everyone in the family.

The Don'ts - gift ideas worth staying away from: 1. In an office setting, don't gift something to someone (especially the boss) just because he/she is your senior and is responsible for your performance appraisal. Yes, gifts are a social lubricant but it should not be (mis)used to get into someone's good books. Historically gifts have been used as an expression of gratitude and appreciation - it's a good idea to try to keep it that way. 2. Don't make the fatal mistake of thinking that the recipient would share your taste in something (like perfume, clothes and books). 3. Do not gift items that make religious, cultural or sexual statements. Gifting lingerie to your female co-worker is probably the worst gift idea of all. 4. Do not feel obligated to return an outrageously expensive gift with an equally outrageously expensive one - this is even truer if you can't afford to do so. 5. Do not postpone buying the gift until the last moment. Think in advance and give yourself time to buy the right gifts for each person. 6. Do not go for the "one-gift-for-all" strategy. This strategy will fail probably eleven out of ten times. It will fail in an office setting and as well as in a family setting. 7. Don't ignore your finances. Giving an over priced gift will not only throw you off balance financially, but it will also send the wrong message to the recipient. An expensive gift to your manager could be perceived as a bribe and an expensive gift to friends and family will put pressure on them to reciprocate the expensive gift. Obviously a gift should not be too cheap either - we all know what kind of message that sends. In summary, the gift-giving process should be a personal one and relegating it to a mechanical process is a disservice to the gift-giving tradition. As Kahlil Gibran beautifully put it, "You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give". Written by Ray Horner. Courtesy of Photographs courtesy of SXC.HU

Stop The Freeze-out! Easy Ways To Retain The Heat In Your Home

Many people find cold winters almost unbearable, and if you have a cold house it can be awful and uncomfortable. Many people hate turning up the heat due to increasing energy costs, but it seems the only alternative is to suffer. No so. Your home may be either producing heat inefficiently or it may be allowing heat to escape. Keeping your house toasty and warm may be easier than you think. If you always seem to have the heat cranked in your home, but its chilly anyways, you could have air leaks that are letting the heat out and the cold in. Check in each room of your house to see if some are colder than others are. If you notice they are, then check around any doors that lead to the outside as well as the windows in the room. There exist many low cost options that address the problem of draft. Options such as rope caulk and door sweeps are cost effective and fix the problem speedily. Rope caulk is used to seal up windows and door sweeps address the issue of draft that may be entering from underneath the door. Both are very economical yet very effective tools. If the doors and windows don't seem to be the culprit, check out your chimney. If your chimney is open all winter long, you are allowing heat escape and cold air to seep in. When your fireplace isn't in use be sure to close the chimney flue up - you will notice a big difference right away. The sun is a free source of heat energy. With cooking and heating implements in the market that are run on solar power - why should we not use this great source to heat the home. Therefore, if the sun is shining open up curtains to let it in and see the amount of heat that is generated by such a simple thing.

If rising energy costs are a concern but you still want a toasty warm house, consider purchasing a programmable thermostat. These inventions are brilliant. With a simple setting you can automatically program the thermostat to lower the temperature at night when you are in bed with blankets. Then, program it to rise right before you wake up. This way your house is nice and cozy, but you save a lot on your heating bill. The cost of the new thermostat will pay for itself in heat savings. If you have an unfinished basement, that too can be a source of heat loss. Despite being isolated from the house, the basement may lose heat through the unprotected water heater that is placed there. The heater is working inefficiently when it looses heat even before it gets to the house. It may be losing heat before it even gets into the rest of your house. The solution would be an inexpensive outer casing to protect this heat loss. If you have tried all the easy tricks and your house still feels like a tomb, it may be time to get your insulation checked. Of course, no one wants to hear this. Ask for a couple of consultations to see if the insulation is doing its job. If its necessary to replace it, check carefully and shop around for different installers. You may be surprised by a lower cost than you originally anticipated. Besides, in the long run these changes may result in reduced heating costs. No one likes to be uncomfortable or cold in the winter, but keeping your home cozy and warm doesn't have to bankrupt you each year. Try these suggestions and you may be surprised at the difference it makes. Written by Stuart Fendor. Courtesy of

Five Simple Ways: To Teach your Children Giving at Christmas

1. Read the Christmas story: Take some time to sit down and read the biblical Christmas story with your kids. Use this opportunity to share with them how our Lord gave of Himself to come to earth as a lowly babe in a manager. The wise men's gifts to Jesus in this story are another picture of giving at Christmas. In our family, we've often used this as a way to explain to our children why we give gifts to one another at Christmastime. We explain that just as the wise men gave precious gifts to Jesus to celebrate His birth, we give gifts to one another to remember His birthday. In all the excitement about presents and Santa, kids sometimes need a reminder of what Christmas is really about. 2. Let your children pick out gifts for each family member: Allowing children to pick out the gifts they will give is a good way to get them excited about giving. It helps them to experience the joy of giving when their loved ones are opening gifts they picked out. If your child is old enough to receive an allowance or hold a job, you can deepen the experience for them by encouraging them to spend their own money. Even very young children can begin to understand the meaning behind Christmas presents. The year our daughter was two, I took her to one of the dollar stores in town and allowed her to pick out items to give her father and grandparents. Christmas morning she was almost more excited about handing out the presents she was giving than she was about the gifts she was receiving. 3. Volunteer: Giving is something that children can learn not only at home, but out in the community as well. Christmas is a good time to volunteer at a local homeless shelter, soup kitchen or church. Seeing others that are less fortunate and being able to reach out and help is a good lesson for kids to learn at any age. 4. Provide Christmas for a Needy Family : Another way to show your children the joy of giving is to allow them to help you gather gifts, food and other necessities for a family in need. There are many ministries such as Angel Tree and Operation Christmas child that can help you connect with others that may not be able to afford Christmas presents. You can also check with your church to see if there are any local families that may have suffered a job loss or tragedy and need help this Christmas. 5. Collect non-perishables for local charities: Some local charities rely on Christmastime donations to get them though the year. This is a great way to get the kids active and show them what giving is really all about. It is important for kids to understand that sometimes giving isn't about expensive gifts; it's about giving time and going out of their way for others. The lesson of giving, when consistently taught, will last your child a lifetime. It's a lesson that compounds annually as it touches countless lives and is a beautiful reflection of what God gave each of us so many years ago, the gift of His only Son. Written by Jill Hart. Courtesy of, Art by Simon Dewey

Products To Love In December Trying to figure out what to get that person in your life that has everything? The Twelve Days of Christmas Tower for Harry & David is sure to please anyone! Luscious chocolates, crisp tasty apples and pears, divine cookies and preserves, to die for baklava and Moose Munch! Oh glorious Moose Munch, and in dark chocolate! But as we this season we know that not only will the lucky receiver of this lovely gift be massively pleased, but since 5% of the purchase price is donated to St. Judeʼs Childrenʼs Research Hospital, you are sure to make Santaʼs Nice list this year. And ours too! Please visit for more information.

Oh no! Your family is getting ready for the holidays when, disaster! Your spouse is carefully helping you get down that huge box of priceless vintage ornaments so you wonʼt drop it, only to have the bottom fall out. Well, you can keep this holiday nightmare from happening with these nifty Sterilite Christmas Ornament Storage Containers. These lovely innovations will keep your christmas treasures intact while making organization a snap! Please visit for more information.

Tired of all the materialistic indulgences and selfish thoughtlessness that is becoming Christmas? Really want to make a difference with your gifts this year? Check out this ultra cool way to satisfy both your need to help and your gilt at giving “just more stuff”. The FEED 5 bear, provides Plumpy'nut® to 5 severely malnourished children in East Africa. This amazing food product requires no refrigeration or extra water and has a 95% success rate in saving lives! Momʼs can give it to the children at home making it more effective than hospital care. Then thereʼs actual bear himself! His name is Plumpy, and he is made of organic cotton and natural burlap, and is about 16" tall. Do something for the children of the world this Christmas, buy a friend a bear. Please visit for more information.

City Spotlight

BRECKENRIDGE, CO While many people think of the amazing winter activities that abound in Breckenridge, Colorado, this gorgeous resort town is actually a year-round vacation hot spot. If the thought of blazing down the ski slopes makes your heart melt or the image of rafting down the Colorado River raises your blood pressure, make your way to Breckenridge for an action-packed adventure among the Rocky Mountains. When traveling to Breckenridge for a winter excursion, the numerous ski slopes of varying difficulty will provide the perfect remedy for the winter blahs. Whether you prefer the stability of skis or the excitement of snowboards, you will certainly find some slopes that meet your level and allow for a thrilling weekend. For an amazing expedition across 10 miles of snowcapped peaks, make your way to the Breckenridge Ski Resort where you will find plenty of space to feel the rush of the cool mountain air against your face. The Breckenridge Ski Resort is the place to go for the ultimate winter adventure. Here you will find four mountain peeks that are stuffed to the gills with world class half pipes, huge kickers, and various terrain features so your cruise down the mountain is never boring. Moguls abound on some runs so the skilled can display their speed and accuracy while a drop off the side of the mountain is always a possibility for those who need to feel their heart beating a little faster. While hitting the slopes and working on your skiing and snowboarding skills is a great way to spend a winter day in Breckenridge, the scenic beauty of this area should always be enjoyed. Consider a cross-country ski tour on the Continental Divide for a more slow-paced yet difficult workout that is rewarding with its breathtaking sights. Snowshoeing and snowmobiling are other great and active ways to take in your surroundings, while a horse-drawn carriage ride is the perfect

entertainment option for those who want a scenic and relaxing journey around this gorgeous town. The beauty of Breckenridge does not fade out after the winter months but only becomes more vibrant and inviting to summer visitors of this Colorado resort town. With whitewater rafting trips available from late April to late August, summer is the perfect time to head to Breckenridge for an exhilarating quest down the Colorado River. Whether you want a cozy, half-day thrill or a challenging, multi-day adventure, there are numerous companies around Breckenridge that can meet your needs and give you the most memorable experience of your vacation. If hiking and sightseeing are on your itinerary, then the Colorado Trail can certainly fit the bill as an accommodating host. This trail provides a backcountry route through the forests and mountains of the area so you can surround yourself with the pristine beauty and invigorating mountain air that is associated with Colorado. For those times when you need a relaxing day amid towering elegance, head over to the Breckenridge Golf Club to play on 27 Jack Nicklaus-designed holes. Sitting in a gorgeous mountain valley, you will be able to hit the ball farther and straighter than every before, allowing for a less stressful but still challenging test of skill and mettle. No matter which time of year you decide to visit Breckenridge, you are going to find an abundance of outdoor activities that will energize and revitalize your spirit and help you forget the stresses you have left behind. For the best in year-round accommodations, look into Breckenridge vacation rentals for your next trip to this Colorado getaway destination. You can enjoy all the amenities of home while surrounding yourself with the amazing mountain and forest scenery that completes any Breckenridge vacation. Written by Jen W., courtesy of

Random Facts

This month's random fact has to do with that yearly visit from the big jolly man himself, that's right, Santa Clause! Or rather is has to do with his magically gifted flight team, the reindeer. There has been much speculation as to how they fly: magnetic polarization, super aerodynamics, fairy dust and even voodoo have been suggested in aiding their amazing yearly journey. But that's not what we want to talk about either. What we do want to talk about is Santa's hiring habits, namely the practice of hiring a girls only flight staff.

That's right! You read that last line right. Santa's legendary flying helpers are probably female! Male reindeer usually lose their antlers right after breeding season, which according to our friends at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game means the guys usually lose their antlers in late October! Smaller bulls and females, however, usually keep theirs until April and pregnant females keep theirs until June. While it is possible that Santa's reindeer are male, we really doubt it. I mean, honestly, have you ever heard of someone finding a lost antler from one of Santa's reindeer on their roof? No. It makes sense if you think about it. Santa, not wanting to get sued by some poor schmuck that got beaned by a falling antler, only hires the females! Score one for the ladies!

So now that we have totally traumatized you for life by destroying your entire Christmas paradigm, we feel it is our duty to completely eradicate your last tiny glimmer of hope for its redemption by telling you this: The fact that some one has a "guy" name, does not make them automatically male. Seriously, just think about how many girls there are out there named Alex, Kyle and Drew. Sorry guys, most likely, Blitzen is a chick. Merry Christmas and may Santa and his bevy of reindeer beauties bring you something super cool this year.

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