Monthly Archives: December 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Goals/Resolutions for 2015

Welllllll it’s that time of year.  The time when everyone vows to stop smoking, lose weight, and make all of the typical resolutions.  Sure, I’d like to lose some weight and I don’t plan to start smoking, but I’ve got some other resolutions, too, but hopefully they’re slightly different than the ones that you see on most lists.

1.  See all of the movies nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture.

Honestly, I say this every year, and the cheaper I get, the less likely I am to see all of the movies.  But because of the glories of Netflix and Redbox, I should be able to catch up on any that I don’t see in the theatres.  If the nominees for the Golden Globes are any indication of what the Oscar nominees will be, then I am 1 for 10.  And to be fair, there’s still one that I haven’t even heard of…

2. Audition for a musical.

I used to be quite the actress.  Okay, I wasn’t fabulous, but I was pretty good and I loved being onstage in musicals.  I know that they’re going to be performing Fiddler on the Roof near me in the not too distant future–maybe that will be my comeback show!

3. Blog more.

I would love to say that I have a good excuse for being such an infrequent blogger as of late, and while I think that the holidays and a new job are good excuses, they’re not great excuses, so I resolve to blog at least 3 days a week starting in 2015.

4. Visit 3 new zoos.

This may seem weird, but go with me on this.  You may or may not know of my obsession for zoos–I love them.  It may be because I secretly dream of breaking into the cages and snuggling with the snuggly animals, but regardless, I need to see more of them.  I think I can at least work in the Philadelphia Zoo and the Bronx Zoo this year, but maybe one more?

5. Finish my planned quilts.

I’m really great at planning to make quilts and am really bad at finding the time to quilt.  This year, I need to finish the Storm at Sea quilt for our bed, the jellyfish wall hanging for our bedroom, a couple of baby quilts and a couple of quilts for friends.

6. See at least 2 Broadway shows.

My brother lives in New York, so you’d think that I’d be seeing Broadway shows all the time. Unfortunately, he’s not much a musicals guy, but my mom is a musicals gal, so she and I can pretend to visit my brother, but really we’ll go to see a musical.  Okay fine, we’ll see my brother, too.

7. Become a better knitter

In my quest to become Laura Ingalls Wilder, I have taken on the task of learning to knit.  Unfortunately I’m not great yet, but I have an excellent teacher who I know will have me knitting adorable sweaters for my dogs in no time.

8. Collect all the Pokemon

Is this an important resolution?  Not really, but my boyfriend got me a Pokemon video game for Christmas, and isn’t the point to catch them all?

9. Cook or bake something that truly surprises my boyfriend

My boyfriend is the one in our relationship with the culinary skills.  I’m the one with the eating skills.  In 2015, however, I want to acquire at least a small amount of the culinary skills, even if it means making the best peanut butter toast of all time.

10. Meet John Krasinski

My brother is in the movie business.  He should make this happen.

What are some of your resolutions?

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Memory Monday: A Magical Surprise

When I was 7 years old, my mom took my brother and me to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.  I don’t remember most of the trip, but I knew that I loved it and wanted to go back someday.  It turns out that “someday” was going to be Christmas of 9th grade.

By December of 9th grade, my mom had been dating my now stepfather for a few months.  We were all spending Christmas morning together, and I was coming out pretty well in the gift department.  Finally, my brother and I got to the last gift.  As we opened the box, we saw brochures for Disney World!  We were going to Disney World!

My mom asked if we were excited and said, “When do you want to go?”

I jokingly replied, “How about now?”

And then my mom said the best word ever–“Okay!”

I was shocked.  I looked at my brother, who also appeared to be flabbergasted.  I turned back to my mom and said, “Okay, seriously, when are we going?”

Mom’s smile widened.  “We’re going today!” she announced.  “The car is already packed!”

The rest of the trip was so much fun–staying at Fort Wilderness, seeing the Spectromagic Parade (still my favorite parade of all time), and riding Big Thunder Mountain Railroad again and again.  But what I will remember the most is getting the biggest surprise ever for Christmas, when I heard that one word–“OKAY!”

Have you ever had an amazing holiday surprise?  Feel free to share below!

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It’s Not Just the Ears

I’m kind of nerdy, and I’m kind of okay with it.  One of the things that I’m semi-nerdy about is The Lord of the Rings.

Image via fanpop.com

I didn’t obsess over the books or make sure that I was first in line to see the movies, but I did like all of the movies, and today I got to see the last of the The Hobbit series, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.  Yes, the movie was great, but far and away my favorite part was Legolas.

Legolas is played by the incredibly beautiful Orlando Bloom.  Beautiful is really the only word to describe this man who looks just as good as a pirate in Pirates of the Caribbean as he does as an elf in The Lord of the Rings movies.  He’s got flawless skin, piercing eyes (although I’m sure those aren’t his natural baby blues) and a gorgeous smile.  Yes, I still love my boyfriend, but that doesn’t stop the fact that Orlando Bloom is beautiful.
Legolas isn’t only my favorite because of his looks.  He is also the smartest fighter in all of the five armies.  He knows how to use the resources around him to succeed in battle, and I think that even his opponents are appropriately impressed.  You would think this would impress Kate from LOST more, but hey, she never exactly plays characters that make sense (sorry for the semi-spoiler).
Did you see the movie?  Did you have a favorite part?  Feel free to comment below!
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Top 10 Tuesday: Top 10 Books I Read This Year

Is it REALLY the 16th of December?  Nope, not possibly.  We’ve got months of 2014 left, right?  No?  Well then, I guess it’s time for me to go out and get the “Best and Worst of 2014” issue of US Weekly (don’t judge) and let you know my top 10 books of the year and why I loved them!  As per usual, they are in no particular order.

1. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Why: An amazing story of love, strength and bravery.  I recommend listening on audiobook as the readers are fantastic.

Image via Wikipedia.org
2. Yes, Please by Amy Poehler
Why: It’s incredibly honest and very, very funny.  Again, get the audiobook with special guest stars!
Image via NBC News
3. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (and Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling
Why: Stories from The Office?!  Yes please!  (oh wait, that’s the other book)

Image via Amazon.com
4. Bossypants by Tina Fey
Why: There’s way more to this funny lady than impersonating Sarah Palin.
Image via Wikipedia.org
5. This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen
Why: I liked imagining the male lead in the teen romance as Jess from Gilmore Girls.
Image via Goodreads
6. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Why: While there were parts that were disturbing, I did enjoy trying to figure out what exactly was going on with the main character.
Image via Wikipedia.org
7. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Why: Beautiful.  Just amazingly, beautifully sad.
Image via Wikipedia.org
8. Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh
Why: Allie Brosh’s dog stories are HYSTERICAL!
9. Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult
Why: Even if she’s a little predictable, Jodi Picoult is always solid.
Image via JodiPicoult.com
10. Let’s Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir) by Jenny Lawson
Why: Both funny and sad, and most importantly, it taught me that fancy gun cabinets aren’t strange.
Image via Thebloggess.com
What are you favorites from 2014?
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Memory Monday: The Pecan Pie Explosion

Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite holiday.  This has been the case since I was a little girl, and it was also when I was a little girl when I realized that I should not help with the making of Thanksgiving dinner.

Who remembers the Mini Page from The Washington Post?  Well, when I was 6 years old, I read this recipe in the Mini Page and decided to make it:

I was sure that I could do it and that everyone would love it!  I mean, just look at those animals in Rookie Cookie’s kitchen–they’re dying for a slice of pecan pie!
My mom helped me to put the recipe together, although I was pretty adamant about doing most of it myself.  I put it in the oven and soon the house started to smell like the sweetness of corn syrup and pecans…until the explosion.
I thought that I had heard something in the kitchen, so I went to look in the oven.  Sigh…the pie had exploded.  All over the oven.  Now, if this had happened today, I would have felt terrible over the fact that now the oven would have to be cleaned and this was going to impede other foods from being baked right away, but no.  All I could think about was that my dessert was ruined.  I was no Rookie Cookie.
Everyone (except me) still ate the pie and said that it was delicious.  I sat at the table with my arms crossed and my lip pouting.  For years, I was sure that they were lying–there is no way that exploded pie could be good.  But I started to believe the story last year, after butter was left out of a pecan pie and it was still really good.  I guess it’s not worth crying over exploded pie.
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Top 5 Holiday Songs That Make Me Want to Stay in My Car Until They’re Over

Why yes, this is a oddly specific list.  Why not just Top 5 Holiday Songs?  Well, lots of holiday songs are great, but there are some that you know you could pick up and leave and others that give you SO MANY FEELINGS that you have to stay and listen to the rest.

Here are my top 5 (in no particular order):

1. “Underneath the Tree” by Kelly Clarkson

I consider Kelly Clarkson’s music to be the epitome of the “jump up and down the whole time” genre.  With “Underneath the Tree,” there is no exception–even though I’m in the car, I want to jump up and down.  I don’t, of course, but there might be a little car dancing 😉

2. “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” by Darren Criss and Chris Colfer

This isn’t a version of “Baby” that’s typically played on the radio, but you can be sure that it is on my Pandora and Spotify lists, which sometimes take precedence over the local Christmas music station.  Anyway, the first time that I heard these two gentlemen sing this duet, I was completely enamored.  As an off-and-on Glee fan, I knew that in the storyline, Colfer’s character was in love with Criss, and even though they weren’t together yet, the beginnings of their chemistry were there.  And I must admit, I sing along with Chris Colfer and imagine that Darren Criss is singing to me…

Image via fanpop.com
3. “Oh Holy Night” by Josh Groban
This song literally makes my heart tingle–it’s so incredibly beautiful.  Josh Groban’s singing is always glorious, but when he belts out the final “Noels” in the song, I find it hard to breathe.
4. “I Wanna Hippopotamus for Christmas” by Gayla Peevey
This song is adorable and (let’s be honest) hilarious, but it also holds nostalgic powers over me.  When I was in college, I worked in the catalog department of a family-run bookstore during my senior year.  During the Christmas holiday, this song played multiple times in our office, and every time we would stop what we were doing and sing along.  One of my favorite people that I worked with is about to have her first baby, and I can only hope that she sings this song to her little one next Christmas.
5. “Merry Christmas, Darling” by Karen Carpenter
I love this song because of my mom.  It’s her favorite, and when my family would be in the car over the holidays, she would always have this song on the CD player.  Every time I hear the song, I think of Mom <3
Image via TCM
Do you have any favorite Christmas songs?  Comment below!
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Top 10 Tuesday: 10 New Authors I’ve Been Introduced to in 2014

Thanks to the long commute that I have mentioned in previous posts, I have gotten quite a bit more reading done this year than I have in past years.  Because of this, I have encountered some new authors that hopefully will entice you, too!  Keep in mind, I read a lot of autobiographies, so some of these authors may only be writing this book about themselves, but still—don’t miss out!
1. Stephen Chbosky: I had been meaning to read The Perks of Being a Wallflower for some time, and the book did not disappoint.  Unfortunately, this is his only novel (for now), so come on Stephen, give us another one!

2. Gayle Forman: If I Stay was a lovely (yet incredibly sad) story.  I’m excited to get into some of her other books to see what else she has to offer.
3. Atul Gawande: Dr. Atul Gawande wrote The Checklist Manifesto which I thought was only going to be about why I need to make more checklists, but it really gave me a lot of information processes and events that I would have never known otherwise.  Did you know that the World Trade Center collapsed because the metal in the building wasn’t prepped to be fire-resistant?  Well, now you do.
4. Jonathan Safran Foer: Several years ago, my friends told me that I needed to watch the movie Everything is Illuminated, which is based on the book by Mr. Foer.  I did not watch it.  However, when the movie based on Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close was nominated for an Oscar, I thought it might be time to look into his work.  It was a pretty good book, and maybe I should give Everything is Illuminated a chance.
5. Mindy Kaling: I love Mindy Kaling. I love her, I love her, I love her.  And if you don’t go out RIGHT NOW and read her book, then you’re a moron.  Okay, that wasn’t nice, but seriously, go read Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?  And Mindy, please, write another book. 
Side note: Holy smokes, I just saw that you can buy a copy of the play she wrote about Matt Damon and Ben Affleck.  Someone get it for me for Christmas.
Side side note: It’s currently out of stock, so you can buy it for me when it’s back in stock.  Okay, thanks.
6. Tina Fey: One of my students bought me the book Bossypants a few years ago, but I never got a chance to read it.  And then in a moment of poverty, I sold it to a local bookstore.  Not to worry, though, because my local public library had a copy of Tina Fey reading the book HERSELF on CD, and that experience was much more joyful than the one of me trying to read with her voice in my head.  Much like the Mindy Kaling book, although without me calling you a moron, go read Bossypants.
7. Jay Asher: My foray back into the world of young adult lit began in January when I read Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why.  A sad, sad story but one that I absolutely adored.  It reminded me why I took 3 young adult lit courses in graduate school because if you do young adult lit PROPERLY, then it’s just wonderful.
8. Allie Brosh: Okay, technically, I’ve read her stuff before.  I very much enjoy Allie Brosh’s Hyperbole and a Half blog, but I’m going to count this, since this is the first time her work has been in the form of a book!  She tackles serious topics like depression in a human manner, but my favorite chapters are the ones about her dogs because seriously, I can relate to having a dog who would just lie under a blanket instead of making her way out from under it.
9. Jenny Lawson: Jenny Lawson’s book Let’s Pretend This Never Happened is hilarious.  But I would like to personally thank her for letting me know how normal to have an ornate gun cabinet because I now know some people who have some, and my very liberal upbringing had not prepared me for that.
10. Kathryn Stockett: I know that these are in no particular order, but Kathryn Stockett’s The Help is now my absolute favorite book.  Of all time.  If you haven’t read it, go read it now.  I’m not going to call you a moron or berate you if you haven’t read it, since it took me a while to get to it, but once you read it, you’ll be filled with a love for these characters and will be ever grateful for being introduced to them.
What new authors have you been introduced to this year?
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Happy Holidays…for my Coffee

I love me some coffee.  It’s kind of a necessary evil of mine, and I’m really not sure what I’m going to do someday when I can’t have caffeine.  But until that day, I will happily consume my 1 to 3 cups.  Around the holidays, however, my coffee experience just gets AWESOME.  

First of all, around mid-Novemberish, Starbucks sends me a carrier pigeon to let me know that CARAMEL BRULEE LATTE IS BACK!!!!!!
Image via Starbucks.com
The Caramel Brulee Latte is like heaven in your mouth.  It’s even better than my own (sort of) creation, the Caramel Mocha.  This drink is so delectable that my friend and I would drive 20 minutes from our houses to get it.  Okay, there was a Starbucks that was like 3 minutes from our houses, but the one 20 minutes away had a drive-thru, and frankly, we were just lazy.
Even though Starbucks drinks are ridiculously delicious, the costs will add up, and if you’re hoping to buy anyone holiday gifts this year, you can’t get one every day.  That’s when the flavored creamers come in!  International Delights, Coffeemate and many other companies have donned their gay apparel and joined in on the holiday flavor fun.  My current favorite is the Frosted Sugar Cookie creamer from International Delights–a great tasting and great smelling addition to my morning coffee.  I bought a bottle and brought it into my office.  I emailed my coworkers about it, and I could tell when each person opened his or her email because I would hear “Yummmmm” coming from different areas of the room.  
Do you have a favorite holiday drink?
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KTP: A Most Relaxing Combination

Here in the chilly month of December in rural Maryland, there isn’t much to do past 6:00 pm.  It’s dark and cold, so I don’t want to take the dogs on long walks (especially when they HEAR the cows but can’t SEE the cows and therefore lose their damn minds trying to EAT the cows), and once I’m in my warm house, it’s very difficult to encourage me to get back in the car and go anywhere.  And this is why, I have started allowing myself to spend my evenings with my new addiction: KTP.  No, this isn’t some new designer drug–it stands for three amazing things: Knitting, Tea and Parenthood.

I started knitting when I was young.  Let me rephrase, I thought that I was knitting when I was young, but apparently I was doing it very, very wrong.  For some reason, I could not knit a scarf with sides that are even, and there would always be holes in the middle that would look so ugly that I would throw my needles down (carefully) and give up.  This year on my birthday, however, I was given an amazing gift: one of my mom’s friends (and someone that I consider to be a friend myself) offered to give me knitting lessons.  Technically, I’ve only had one so far, but I already feel like I have a better grip on a couple basic stitches.  I will hopefully at least have enough knowledge to finish the hat that I’m working on.
I’m a coffee addict, but coffee in the evening is a super bad idea.  It doesn’t really feel comforting to me either–it makes me feel as though I need to wake up and get some work done.  In the evenings, I drink tea, and not just any tea: fancy tea.  Well, my boyfriend is a huge fan of tea, and so you won’t find Lipton bags in our house.  In fact, most of his tea is loose tea, but I still prefer to have my tea already bagged so that I don’t have pieces of it floating around in my mug.  The latest tea that I’ve been drinking is from the Republic of Tea, and it’s called Caramel Vanilla Cuppa Cake.
And then the newest addition to my addiction: Parenthood.  Blog goddess Macy told me about the show and insisted that I should watch it, since I would apparently love it.  Typically, when people say this, they are right, but I remembered trying to watch the show when it first aired and then stopped for some reason.  I’m not entirely sure why I stopped, but SERIOUSLY!  WHY DID I STOP?!  It’s an incredibly poignant, funny and sweet show.  I keep thinking that I have a favorite character, and then that favorite changes a thousand times throughout the episode.  I do have a fondness for Joel and Julia though:
How are you keeping warm on these chilly winter evenings?
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Wedding Wednesday: Lucas and Peyton

Last week, my friend Macy commented that her favorite TV wedding was Nathan and Haley’s from One Tree Hill.  While I had to agree that both of their weddings were just beautiful, it wasn’t my favorite from the show–that title went to Lucas and Peyton.

A little background:  Lucas Scott and Peyton Sawyer both went to high school in Tree Hill.  When Lucas first started at the school, Peyton was dating his half-brother, Nathan.  Throughout their high school years, the pair was off and on, surviving everything from a school shooting to a psycho fake brother (only on The CW, folks).

Image via OTH-Caps.com

Finally, after years went by, Peyton and Lucas finally are together for good.  And THAT’S when Peyton finds out that she is really sick.  Oh, and pregnant.  And did I mention that having this baby could kill her?  Because yeah, that’s an issue, too.

Regardless of this, Peyton decides to have the baby, but just in case, she and Lucas decide to get married before their little girl enters the world.  Haley is the officiant, which is a decision made by Lucas just hours before the ceremony.  It’s sweet, simple and beautiful.

Image via Buddytv.com
Oh, and SPOILER ALERT!  The baby and Peyton are both fine 🙂
Were you a One Tree Hill fan?  Any favorites on the show?
Like my BFF Macy, I’m linking up with Chits and Giggles for:

Wedding Wednesday
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