weekend link love: february 21, 2014

link love

Is anybody else kind of relieved that it’s finally the weekend? It’s been a long week here with the weather generally ruining every plan I tried to make – which means another long week inside. Silver lining is that I have more great links to share with you guys this week.

Enjoy these links while we wait impatiently for Spring:

Your welcome.

My favorites on American Idol so far…

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We’ve finally finished Hollywood Week of American Idol‘s 13th season and I can kinda start to tell everyone apart now. It’s tough when there are still THIRTY contestants, but the producers have done a good job highlighting the front runners throughout the auditions and Hollywood Week to the point where I think we all knew who was getting in for the most part even before they told us the results. 

After watching this week’s Hollywood Results, I tried to think about who I liked at this stage – whose albums I would consider buying, who I think has that natural star appeal (and who is trying way too hard to seem like they do) and who seems like they could go the distance. I’ve been very wrong in the past – but I’ve also championed my share of winners in these shows and I like to look back and see at what point I noticed my eventual favorites.

So for the sake of posterity (or because I have a bad memory and need to write this down now before I forget) – here are my ten favorites at this point – the 5 girls and 5 guys that caught my attention in a good way.

My Top 5 Girls (so far)

  1. Kenzie Hall – Her performances seem to be hit or miss, according to the judges – but I took notice of her singer songwriter take on a Macklemore song that really brought to mind the amazing Rebecca Loebe who once semi-recently covered a Kanye West song that continues to be one of my favorite things ever (and yes I know a lot of you don’t know who I am talking about, that’s okay – I’ll forgive you if you go check out her music immediately because seriously, AMAZING… Okay, finished? Let’s move on). Has this been done before? This take a rap song and turn it on it’s nose because you are a tiny white girl? Yes of course – but she did it WELL and now I want to hear what else she can do immediately.
  2. Austin Wolfe – She is fantastic. I’ve loved her since her initial audition and continue to be a fan. She has that charismatic something that I think will make her very marketable and a voice to back it up.
  3. Jessica Meuse – She has a great, edgy voice that is going to make the judges talk about Janis Joplin a bunch and her pink streaks are super cute. Another that I  loved from the beginning – but cautiously because the drama whirlwind that surrounded her in Hollywood Week has left a somewhat bitter taste in my mouth. Hopefully none of that follows her to the live shows.
  4. Majesty York – Seriously, it’s like her parents just KNEW when she was born that this child was going places and I could almost hate on her for that except that I really like her, and she has such a strong voice. I like when nice people are talented.
  5. Bria Anai is another amazing voice with a wacky personality. Her lipstick can be distracting sometimes but she makes up for it with that voice and you know, the utter dorkiness. I like dorks.

My Top 5 Guys (so far)

  1. Maurice Townsend – He is so charismatic – I think I could watch him all day AND he can sing, too! How great is that? Loved him since his audition, continue to love. He just seems like the real deal.
  2. Malcolm Allen is another great voice, and another charismatic kinda guy. I think it’s important that a celebrity can hold an audience’s attention and also that they take the music seriously and so far I think he has both things going for him.
  3. Sam Woolf – He is a little sleepy for me personality wise but his final song really touched me and his grandfather seems to think he is the greatest guy everrrrrrr. He is sweet and he has a nice voice and I wouldn’t hate it if he won.
  4. Alex Preston – It took awhile but he is growing on me slowly. This sounds really shallow – but his overall look kinda throws me off and makes me want to lock my doors maybe, but I can’t deny that he has a great voice and also that he really seems to love music and I love that in an artist. Musically – in the way that he performs on stage – he reminds me of John Mayer which coming from me is a HUGE compliment. So there’s that.
  5. Neco Starr is coincidentally one of the two guys vying for that final coveted spot in the Top 30 and he’s the one who got my vote. I think he is like a young Bruno Mars, in that he has a similar kind of stage presence and swagger. I’m not sure if he’s up to snuff vocally compared to some of the other contestants but I see potential and definitely want to hear more from him.

Who are your favorites so far?

Weekend Link Love: February 7, 2014

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I am feeling pretty relieved that it’s Friday today – it’s been a long week of very little motivation and very cranky children (or was that cranky mommies? I’m not sure). My get up and go? Yeah, it definitely got up and went this week. Luckily the internet has been here to entertain me!

Here are some of the best things I saw online this week:

In Praise of Store-bought Valentines at Parent Hacks – Sometimes we have to remind ourselves that not everything requires us to go above and beyond the call of parenting duty. Sometimes store bought valentines are just fine – especially if you found them in the Target dollar bins!

3 Common Grammar Errors at Huffington Post – What grammar mistake is your biggest pet peeve?

Baked French Toast at Annie’s Eats – This is an old post but I just made them again this weekend and the whole family was raving. This is a recipe worth sharing!

Famous Books Recreated by Babies at BuzzFeed – In case you need a literary excuse to squeal at the cuteness of babies whose diapers you don’t have to clean.

America the Irritable at Neon Fresh – This one had me saying, “Sing it, sister!” If you wanted something of the more funny, less political statement-y variety, try Making Parent Friends is Just Like Dating – an oldie, but a goodie that makes me say, “OMG, I know, right??”

And now three videos that you must watch immediately:

Fair warning: maybe not safe for work

You didn’t think I could go a whole post without talking about Benedict Cumberbatch, did you?

Amongst my friends, if you talk about Cumberbatch, you must talk about Hiddleston also, just for good measure. Fair is fair, you know.

What’s the best thing YOU read online this week?

What I’m Into Lately: January 2014

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It’s kind of hard to believe that January 2014 is already coming to a close – like didn’t this year JUST start? Aren’t we still shakily recovering from ringing in the new year (and by that I mean, letting our children stay up WAY past our their bedtime and then being forced to get up with them the next morning only to discover that we are way too old for that crap and they annoyingly don’t seem any worse for the wear)? 31 days later and I don’t know about you, but I’m still recovering.

So while I ignore the morning in the comforts of a puffy robe and a second cup of coffee, let’s gossip about all the books, tv shows, movies, etc. that we’ve been into this month. I’m linking up again with Leigh Kramer to share what I’m into lately.

What I’ve Been Reading:

I read four books this month, which for me is like a major deal, but to be fair, two of them were awfully short – though still really great reads:

  1. Freakonomics by Steven Levitt (January Book Club) – I enjoyed this book a lot more than I thought I would. Very interesting, whether you agree with them and their findings or not. – Full Review –
  2. Beauty Queens by Libba Bray – I thought the premise of this book was fascinating and the plot kept me intrigued throughout. I also felt the book was attempting to do an AWFUL lot and that it occasionally read as cheesy, over done and sometimes predictable, but being a young adult novel I can kind of over look the predictable aspects. All in all, I think it was a very funny and satirical look at the commercialism and typical coming of age issues that young girls are faced with, in the midst of a very atypical story.
  3. Fortunately, The Milk by Neil Gaiman – This was such a fun, quick read. terrific illustrations also. I’m looking forward to sharing it with the kids.
  4. A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle – I don’t know if I would have enjoyed this story as much if I weren’t such a huge fan of the BBC series, Sherlock, but since I can’t (yet) go back in time and unsee the show, I’ll just have to base my feelings of the book around the fact that I’ve seen the show also and thus knew the major plot points. However, the original story is actually quite a bit different from the tv show’s version and there were things I genuinely liked about each. I didn’t really care for the middle part of the book where they leave Sherlock and Watson to further explain the back story of characters that I won’t name here, cause you know, spoilers. But at the same time, I think the backstory was necessary so overall, I did enjoy the book and I’ll definitely be reading more of Doyle’s Sherlock stories soon.

Right now I’m kind of reading three books at once but mostly just one. I got randomly sucked into Witches of East End by Melissa de la Cruz, which the show on LIFETIME was based on, somewhat loosely. This may be one of the rare instances where the tv show is a bit better or at least feels more cohesive and thought out, but maybe that’s because I saw it first? Not sure, either way I cannot seem to put the book down in a guilty pleasure sort of way.

Movies We’ve Watched:

Most of the movies we’ve been watching lately are old school children’s movies of the past – we’ve been doing a lot of family movie nights with the aim of giving our kids a “proper education” – i.e. Mary Poppins, Shrek, The Emperor’s New Groove, Night at the Museum – all massive hits and massively enjoyable. In particular it was really cool to see Dick Van Dyke dress up and act like a an old guy in Mary Poppins and then see him actually be an old guy in Night at the Museum. He is always such a great actor to enjoy in general.

TV Shows I’m Fangirling Hard:

I don’t feel I can properly begin this segment without squealing uncontrollably over Sherlock. This may be the best show on television which makes it all the more brutal that we get just three episodes a season and then seemingly ages in between said seasons. Like everyone else in the world, I’ve really been enjoying this season – just as massively enjoyable as the previous ones. I’ve been spending a lot of time with this coffee mug:

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I know, right?

When I’m not being utterly and thoroughly Sherlocked, I’ve also been enjoying:

American Idol – Is anyone else so, so, so pleasantly surprised with this season of American Idol so far and we’re still in the audition round which I usually delete because I just cannot deal with all the  drama. They’ve done such a good job keeping that to a minimum and the judges are just so amusing and wonderful to watch. I feel like they really took to heart the major complaints that I guess I wasn’t the only one making and are really delivering an upbeat, honest, funny show.

Under the Gunn – I’m still on the fence about this show but I enjoy the mentors they’ve chosen and well Tim Gunn and I think I’m a big enough Project Runway fan in general that I’m likely to stay interested in keeping watching the show even if the premise is a bit dubious to me. It kind of feels like Project Runway: The People Who Couldn’t Make It Onto the Actual Show but it’s still fun to watch.

I know Doctor Who isn’t actually on yet but I’ve really been enjoying the snippets and teasers we’ve gotten so far online and I’m preemptively really excited about the next season. We’ve also been watching more of the Tom Baker era series on Netflix and I continue to adore him.

Other shows I’m still watching and loving: Castle, Bones, Melissa & Joey (they’re finally together!!!), Reign, Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother (love the mother), New Girl, 2 Broke Girls (so funny), The Mindy Project (OMG!!!!!) and probably other stuff, too.

Awesome Stuff I Read Online:

These are the things I would have mentioned in a Weekend Link Love roundup today aka I spent a lot of time on buzzfeed this week:

Time-Traveling Amazon Reviews of Next Season’s Doctor Who – Are there any better fans than Doctor Who fans? I think not.

The Sherlock Guide to the UK – Makes me want to take a field trip like immediately.

Literary Valentines for the Romantic Reader – I kind of adored these madly.

Peter Capaldi used to be in a punk band with Craig Ferguson – this made my week.

Little Girls Design Amazing Super Hero Costumes – this is just amazing.

Lastly some videos that are must sees:

Weekend Link Love: June 24, 2014

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Can I just say how grateful I am that it is finally Friday? This has been a long, trying week for me – stuck at home most of the time with a sprained foot and too much time on my hands, unable to really get much done. The upside to this is that I’ve read a lot of cool things online this week in between ice packs, pain killers and constantly trying to do too much too soon.

Here are some of the best things I’ve read this week:

Nursing home makes calendar of residents posing as iconic movie roles – this is kind of breath taking and really cool.

Stop the Mommy Wars: An empowering photo series – Do you think the “Mommy Wars” are still a thing?

Aerie gets real and stops photoshopping it’s models – Such a great, empowering first step towards giving young girls more realistic role models, though I think we still have a LONG way to go.

This interview with Harry Connick Jr. at EW is a perfect example of why I adore him so and why this season of American Idol is the best I’ve ever seen (so far). I think the simple statement that “I’ve been enjoying watching the audition shows for American idol and not deleting them immediately” really says it all.

59 Slang Phrases from the 1920’s that we should start using again – This article is just darb. I wonder what my local coffee shop would think of me if I went in and asked for some noodle juice? I’m guessing they’d think I was a pretty Dumb Dora!

The 7 Phases of Taking Kids out in the Snow – Per usual, Mommy Shorts pretty much nails this one. Funny and oh so true.

We’ve got a big road trip coming up this summer (I hope) – this printable travel game at The Art of Simple looks like a must have boredom buster!

Need more? How about 100 years of fashion in 100 seconds?

Lastly, there are no shortage of funny spoofs on Frozen, but this one found at *Very Clean* Funny Pics pretty much sums it all up perfectly:

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What I’m Into (December 2013)

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There are two days left in December – two days left in 2013! Ack!! As we all collectively freak out over that information, let’s take a look back at the past month. I’m linking up again with Leigh Kramer and sharing things that I’ve been into this month – kind of like a bunch of little mini reviews of all the media, food and other stuff I’ve been enjoying.

Books:

I’ve read four books this month! This may not sound like much but it’s kind of a record for me so don’t mind me while I cheer myself on. Here are the books I read and a mini review of each.

  1. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson (Nov/Dec Book Club Pick) – Finished December 9, 2013 – How do I even begin to describe this book? This book was intense and complicated and fantastic and occasionally awful, but not in a literary way so much as a “how many times are we going to torture, kill and humiliate this person?” kind of way. They say that a good author torments their characters? Well by that definition (and many others) Kate Atkinson is a VERY good author.Imagine if you could go back and relive your life over and over again – what things would you change and do differently? This is sort of the premise of the book and in the beginning the main character seems to just keep on dying every ten minutes in awful ways that made my mother heart hurt. But gradually she lives longer and longer and it oscillates between feeling like a story about all the ways you can die / be hurt / suffer and feeling like a story about all the ways we can survive / overcome / be better. It’s hopeful and despondent all at the same time. Make of that what you will! – Full Review –
  2. Christmas at Copper Mountain by Jane Porter – Finished December 10, 2013 – This was a love story that required the tiniest suspension of disbelief as looking at it face-on, it’s pretty unrealistic. However, it’s Jane Porter so the writing is stellar and the characters really suck you in and I’ll admit that I finished the book in basically 2 sittings, unable to put it down.
  3. Wish You Were Eyre by Heather Vogel Frederick – Finished December 23, 2013 – I thought this was a nice end to a really great series. It had a lot of the usual hijinx that we’ve come to expect from the mother daughter book club and some clever story lines that did a good job of tying everything together by the end. I’ll miss checking in on the Mother Daughter Book Club but I also felt like they ended it on a good note.
  4. Daddy-long-legs by Jean Webster – Finished December 27, 2013 – This book sucked me in from page one. The main character is so amiable, interesting and intelligent and the writing style so inviting. It felt like talking to a very good friend and made for a book that was read quickly and deeply enjoyed. It’s hard to believe it was written 100 years ago, it easily could have been written today. – Full Review –

Right now I’m reading Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt which my book club will be discussing at the end of next month – I know that book came out ages ago and probably everyone and their brother already read it. Everyone and their brother except all us ladies in my book club! I’m really glad that our system of picking books allows us to read such a variety of books and that I finally have a good excuse to read this one!

Movies:

We saw two movies in the theater this month, which also rarely happens! My dad came to visit for Christmas which means we squeezed in a few extra date nights while he was in town. We saw American Hustle and The Hobbit 2.

I thought the cast in American Hustle did a really good job, but it’s kind of a strange movie so I’m hesitant to say how much I enjoyed it per say, though it was very well done.

The Hobbit 2 could easily have been an hour and a half shorter and there would have been no complaints from me, but I do get a small thrill from making fun of the Tolkein movies and this one had plenty of things to make me laugh, whether they were intentionally funny or not. My favorite thing was probably realizing an hour into the movie that Bilbo Baggins is played by Watson from the BBC Sherlock series and that Sherlock plays the giant dragon.

I bought Mean Girls on dvd this month and made my husband watch it with me so that he’d understand all the jokes and lines that I still quote many, many years later. Don’t tell anyone but he enjoyed it way more than he thought he would!

TV:

I don’t know if I have anything new to say in the world of tv. I was very happy that Alex & Sierra won the X-Factor this season and totally downloaded four of their songs on iTunes, something that I rarely do. Here’s one of my favorites:

Music:

I bought the soundtrack for Frozen finally. A month after seeing the movie, I still seem to have the songs from the movie stuck in my head and I’m not the only one in the house still humming along to Do You Want To Build a Snowman. So I used some of my Amazon gift card from Christmas to buy a copy. Looking forward to enjoying that with the kids!

Food:

My doctor and I were brainstorming ideas to curb cravings at my physical this month and one of her ideas was to drink a cup of tea at night. The warmth of the tea is relaxing and also expands your stomach to give you a sensation of being full – sounds ideal to this comfort eater who is always cold! My husband and I have added this small ritual to our evenings and really enjoy it.

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My husband surprised me on my birthday this month with a marzipan birthday cake from a local bakery. It’s one of my absolute favorite kinds of cake and he completely surprised me with it so I was thrilled to say the least!

What have you been into lately?

What I’m Into (October 2013)

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I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer today to share What I’m Into this month.

what I’m reading

Right now I’m reading Allegiant (Divergent #3) by Veronica Roth, the third book in the series. I have been obsessively hooked on this dystopian YA novel since the first book but I have to say, so far this book isn’t quite holding up and I don’t seem to be the only one who thinks so. The book is told from the main character, Tris’s point of view as well as Four’s POV but their “voices” are not super different which means that I frequently forget which one is talking until they mention the other, which is disrupting to say the least.

I’ve been downloading oodles of books onto my kindle lately that I’m eager to read soon, which means that I’m not sure when I’ll get to all those pretty books photographed above that are sitting on my nightstand. I also just won copies of The Good Wife and The Good Daughter by Jane Porter which are currently sitting right next to me being all pretty and tempting. I’m kind of in book overload right now and planning to WRITE a book next month (i.e. tomorrow) which may cut down on my reading time even more. Hold me.

what I’m watching

Anyone else watching Reign? I am seriously hooked on that show. I’m not sure how historically accurate it is but the cast is terrific and I frequently find myself wondering if it’s Thursday yet.
Another Thursday fave is Project Runway – it’s an All Star season right now and I’m hoping it will be slightly less freakishly dramatic than the season that just ended. Anyone else still reeling from all of that?
Our DVR is also in a state of seriously begging for mercy – I think it might be time to start cutting down on shows but I really don’t know where I want to begin with that task. I suppose there are worse problems to have.
Also, major shout out to Emma Approved. If you were hooked on The Lizzie Bennet Diaries (or even if you weren’t), you’ll want to check out this web show based off Austen’s Emma. I’m really enjoying it so far.

in my kitchen

My dishwasher is broken. My husband already knows the problem and can fix it (mildly disappointed about that lol) but the part he needs won’t be coming until tomorrow which means I’ve been looking for easy meals with a minimum of dishes. Hello frozen pizza!

Before that happened though, we’d been hooked on the awesome pre-prepped things at the Hy-Vee meat counter. Anyone else discovered their cowgirl chicken? I love to make it when we have company over because it feels like showing off even though all I did was put the pre-dressed chicken breasts on a frying pan and then turned them over halfway through cooking. Hy-Vee makes me feel like I know what I’m doing without making me know what I’m doing. Love that!

I did bake a really delicious bourbon apple pie from scratch this month, using a recipe from A Beautiful Mess and it was amazingly delicious. It was also my first time making pie crust from scratch and I was really thrilled with how it came out and also how easy it was to make. If you are a pie crust beginner like me, I really recommend their recipe.

pinning

How adorable are these princess dress up aprons from Giggleberry Creations? I went to the fabric store over the weekend so I can make BB some Cinderella, Rapunzel and Tiana aprons. And by, me, I mean my husband.

I want to make this cinnamon swirl coffee bread with chocolate chips immediately.

Also: brown sugar & garlic slow cooker chicken. Seriously.

What are you into lately?

What I'm Into at HopefulLeigh

Back to School Style: Their new looks for the coming school year!

The kids go back to school in just two weeks and they are ready to go back in style! We didn’t do a lot of “back to school shopping” clothing-wise as most of their clothing from last year still fits them, but we did pick up two new outfits for each of them.

Preschool Chic

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BB is starting 4K this year and it will be her first school experience. While I fret about my baby going to school and worry about transportation and separation anxiety, BB is of course super excited and more concerned about her clothes. Typical  girl, that one.

All of BB’s new clothes are from H&M. She rocks some pretty bold styles – I am kind of in love with those hot pink plaid pants (just $9.95) which pairs surprisingly well with the leopard t-shirt ($4.95 I think) and of course those gorgeous golden sandals from Payless.

I also really like the simple pink dress with tiny white polka dots. This is a nice basic piece than can be dressed up or down and with added layers she can wear it all year round – and it was only $5.95!

2nd Grade Guy Style

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MM is going into 2nd grade and hasn’t had a real growth spurt in awhile so I’m hesitant to buy too much just yet since most of his wardrobe still works for him.

The exception is pants – since he isn’t growing, he burns through the knees of his pants a lot. He really needed two more pairs to get him through the colder months coming. Because he hasn’t had a growth spurt in awhile we went up a size just to be safe. Extend-a-size tabs are all the rage these days and will help to keep the pants fitting as he grows.

He was obsessed with the neon yellow/green pants above and we decided to let him go ahead and get them in addition to a good pair of basic jeans – both pants were $9.95 at H&M. MM wears a lot of basic tees in solid colors as well as a lot of stripes and plaids. To spice up his wardrobe, I like to find some fun screen prints that show off his personality. The Kaboom shirt from H&M was only $4.95 and can really go with anything. I found that Yoda Man shirt at Old Navy on clearance and HAD to grab it for him. Star Wars is still very cool amongst MM and his peers so I know that one will be a big hit.

So both of my Big Personality Kiddos are ready for the coming school year! And I’m ready to have the house to myself for a couple of hours!

Do you buy new wardrobes for your kids each school year or just a couple of new pieces?