weekend link love: march 14, 2014

link love

This morning I slipped and fell on the sidewalk on the way home from the bus stop and all I could think was, “Seriously? Again? I am so over this winter.” It was by far my least serious fall this winter but just…. I’m  just so over it, you know? March feels like the longest month ever because February just sort of rolls into it at some point in a blurry moment of defeat and your pretty sure it has been March since like November at this point – and this week? Has there been a week this winter where I’ve said, “This week was awesome! I wish it wasn’t over already!!!” I think not.

But luckily it is almost over, this week. While I attempt to make it through the rest of the afternoon without hurting myself, let’s talk about all the great distractions of the internet right now, shall we?

I just discovered this new web series from the folks at Shipwrecked called Kissing in the Rain which stars Mary Kate Wiles aka The Lydia Bennet. Kissing in the Rain tells this story of two sets of actors who keep finding themselves kissing in the rain, all while grappling with their off-camera feelings between takes. It’s kind of amazing and there has only been one episode so far.

But while I fell down that rabbit hole, I discovered the other webseries that Shipwrecked has done, A Tell Tale Vlog, and it’s kind of amazing.

I’m officially hooked on the world of webseries, especially when they are based on famous literature. Particularly The Lizzie Bennet Diaries and Emma Approved are both excellent for killing a long afternoon that feels like it will never end. Also known as my preschooler has totally given up napping.

Okay – for those of you are all thanks but do you have any suggestions that don’t require me to watch videos because I need something to do that’s quieter, mkay? Here you go:

The Most Downloaded Books in Each State via BuzzFeed – Like my tbr pile needed any help

St Patricks Day Around the World via Little Passports – great to share with the kids

Inside a Woman’s Mind at Target via Thought Catalog – I think we can all relate to this

Which Veronica Mars Character Are You? Sherlock? Modern Family? I could go on.

Okay, I’ll leave you with this picture that kinda just completes me:

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I don’t know the original source but it’s kinda perfect, no?

What I’m Into Lately: February 2014

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It’s finally Friday guys! And it’s the last day of the month. This feels like cause for celebration or at the very least a bit of introspection and reflection. So sit down, pour yourself a cuppa’ and let’s talk about what we’ve been into lately – what are you reading? What are you watching? What is making you fangirl hard? I’m linking up again with the lovely Leigh Kramer to share all those things and more!

Firstly…

What I’ve Been Reading:

  1. Witches of East End by Melissa de la Cruz  Finished February 4, 2014 – It’s hard to judge this book fairly having already seen the Lifetime tv show based on the book, however loosely. There are some things about the show I liked better and some things I liked in the book, but having seen the show first I couldn’t help but prefer it. I found the characters on the show to be more fully fleshed out and well rounded and a little more likable to boot, but there were aspects to the book that I found really interesting and I love how it intersected with another of Cruz’s series, the Blue Blood books. The cliff hanger ending has me intrigued to read more, but maybe not right away.
  2. The Red Tent by Anita Diamant (February Book Club) – Finished February 17, 2014 – I’m glad I finally took the time to read this book – I started it once years ago and left it unfinished, balking at the complexity of the many stories being told in one book. I think appreciated it now more than I would have back then anyway. This is a fantastic story that touches on a lot of subjects that anyone can relate to – from being a mother to a daughter, a sister, a wife – hardships faced, adapting to new cultures and continually learning to pick up the pieces of our lives and start anew when needed. I think this will be a book that stays with me for a long time.
  3. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell – Finished February 19, 2014 – I read this book basically in one day – it was a mad, crazy, obsessive daylong reading spree in which putting the book down felt painful and wrong until I’d finished. My apologies to the children, husband and pets neglected on February 19, 2014.In many small ways, it felt like this book was written exactly for me – like the author had captured a piece of my soul and put it on paper. While I can’t necessarily relate to the WHOLE story (don’t have a twin sister or a psychologically diagnosed mental illness – also don’t write fanfiction and am significantly older than 18) – so much of it I could definitely relate to and I quickly found myself rooting for Cath and waiting for certain plot events to come about. I, simply put, loved this book and kinda wish I could read it all over again today. – Full Review –

Right now I’m 2/3rds of the way through The Last Word by Lisa Lutz and entering that reading phase where you are torn between the impulse to read frantically until it’s done or maybe savor it so that it will last just a little longer. Which urge will win? Only time will tell!

Movies We’ve Watched:

The big one is that we took the kids to see the LEGO Movie and we all loved it even more than we were expecting to. I guess I honestly had no expectations going in at all other than that the previews were cute and my son likes LEGOS a lot (duh) but it was a truly terrific movie and “fun for the whole family” as they say – with a surprise ending that I didn’t see coming and a song that will be stuck in my head forever.

We also watched An Extremely Goofy Movie on Netflix which was cute – Goofy’s son Max goes away to college and the Goof takes it pretty hard and of course hilarity ensues, as it does. I’ll admit, it made me cry at least once – but I’m becoming a pretty easy crier so that isn’t saying much.

TV Shows I’m Fangirling Hard:

So American Idol is back on for Season 13 and I continue to be really pleased with all the changes they’ve made and how the contestants have done and how awesome Harry is. I wasn’t sure how I felt about the incredibly sped up process of getting to the Top 13 but I think they have cleverly let us get to know the contestants all along without making it too obvious and I’ve already begun to root for a couple of the singers and can see my ideal Top 3 beginning to take shape – Majesty and Alex would definitely be in there for me right now, how about you?

Anyone else watching Under the Gunn? It’s so interesting to see how each of the mentors approach their role on the show and what it means for each of the contestants. I still much prefer the classic Project Runway, but I am enjoying the show so far.

And guys, I’m still totally fangirling over the Shamy kiss on Big Bang Theory? Did anybody else head to the internet to watch it just one more time or was that just me? I really loved this week’s episode, too. Who would think that buying a kitchen table would be that catastrophic? Everyone.

Aside from all our other usual television habits (which I won’t name because that would turn into a long, embarrassing paragraph) we’ve been watching the original Star Trek series on Netflix lately along with Parks and Recreation and the last of the classic Doctor Who episodes. We’re all caught up now with everything Netflix Instant has to offer us and stuck waiting until the fall for New Who. Between that and the lack of Sherlock in my life, I’m likely to go into Brit Withdrawals soon.

Oh and online I’m still madly loving on Emma Approved and by that I mean Alex Knightly of course. Did anybody else notice him in a commercial on tv recently? I think it was for taco bell but I’m honestly not sure. Apparently I need to stop fast forwarding through those occasionally.

Awesome Stuff I Read Online:

Here are a few fun links that I might have shared in a Weekend Links post that I’ll share here instead I don’t have to post twice today.

I didn’t read this so much as see it online and squeal and shriek and email a link to my husband because, seriously. I want one now. (for Whovian friends)

The 50 Best Read Aloud Chapter Books for Kids at My Mommy Style

Greek Yogurt Cheesecake with Pomegranate Syrup? Yes please.

Lastly some videos that are must sees:

Jim Parsons SNL Promo (sorry, can’t embed this one but it’s worth it to click over!)

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.

Are you a speed reader? Find out now!

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Source: Staples eReader Department

How fast can you read? Take this short speed reader test designed by the folks at Staples and see how you compare to the average person – and how fast you could read War and Peace! Turns out I’m only a 10% faster reader than the average adult, only mildly faster than your average 8th grader and quite a bit slower than a college student or a speed reader.

I’m actually totally okay with this – I would like to (perhaps naively) think that I’m focusing on quality over quantity, taking the time to actually understand what I am reading and soak it in – and if that means it takes me longer, I guess that’s okay. Also, this probably explains why I get in about 30 books a year reading nearly every night when I know other people who can read 100+ books a year with ease. I’m just slow – or at least slightly above average.

How fast can you read?

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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Weekend Link Love: January 3rd

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I’ve got a special delivery of Weekend Link Love for you to enjoy on this frigidly cold Friday (well it’s frigidly cold where I am, maybe you are lucky and enjoying more moderate temperatures – you lucky ducks, you!).

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So grab your favorite cuppa, pull up a chair and enjoy these links to some of the best stuff I read / saw / loved online this week.

Is anyone else as nerdily excited about the Veronica Mars movie? Another reason for me to gaze at my calendar wistfully wishing for Spring.

Hawaii is set to ban plastic grocery bags – Would you be happy or disappointed if the rest of the world followed suit? I personally would be all for this.

The Purple Resolution Smoothies at Pioneer Woman look insanely delicious – are you resolving to drink more smoothies in 2014?

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Speaking of resolutions, here are 17 New Year’s Resolutions Every Homebody Should Make from Buzzfeed. I don’t think I realized how much of a homebody I was before reading this!

According to PolicyMic, this US map redrawn as 50 states with equal populations could solve all of America’s Problems. I loved all the names for the new states – funny stuff and honestly pretty intriguing.

Still bored? Olive Us is sharing some fun tongue twisters in their newest video – sure to entertain you and the kids!

Have a great weekend guys and if you are “enjoying” the same weather as me, stay warm and stay inside!

crafty love: triangle doodle trees

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Looking for a quick and easy holiday craft to keep the little ones busy on these cold winter days? Make and Takes has these adorable printable triangle doodle trees that were a big hit with my kids. The idea is pretty simple: just print out a few pages and have everyone put different little doodles in each triangle.

I’m always on the lookout for crafts that encourage open ended creativity rather than strictly cookie cutter results – I was very pleased with the very different results of each of our finished products, each beautiful in their own unique ways.

My son, age 7, had a lot of fun trying to come up with different doodle ideas for his tree – taking some cues from me but also coming up with a lot of great ideas on his own. My daughter, age 4, was more interested in simply coloring each triangle a different color and drawing “a beautiful purple sparkly star” on top. I tried to go for classic doodles that I remembered doing a lot in middle / high school and kept it strictly black and white. I loved the end results!

doodle trees

What I’m Into (November)

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I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer a bit late (but better late than never, right?) to share the things I’ve been into for the past month.

what I’m reading

Right now I’m reading Life After Life by Kate Atkinson. My book club is discussing it next week (ack!) and the odds of me finishing on time are a bit iffy but I’m going to try. This book is 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.

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. So it’s fascinating and I’m enjoying it as much as you can enjoy that kind of book, but I’m taking for freaking ever to finish it.

Some nights I’m just too spent from my own realities to deal with such a heavy book and on those nights I’ve been reading As You Do by Richard Hammond (of Top Gear fame) instead. This book reads as though Hammond is actually standing next to you talking. His writing style is VERY similar to his talking style which I suppose could be a good thing or a bad thing but I consider it a good thing. I’m not super far into the book as I’ve been trying to be more diligent about getting through the book club pick but I am really enjoying this one so far. It’s a collection of stories from his adventures on Top Gear and other ventures. I actually bought this book for my husband and he LOVED it so much that I felt inclined to read it myself. So far so good…

what I’m watching (tv)

Anyone else still going a little bit spastic inside over the Doctor Who 50th anniversary episode? My husband and I watched it that night and kept squealing like fan girls and theorizing little bits and pieces to death (Emergency Awesome has some fun easter egg /hidden references from the episode) . The next afternoon we watched it with the kids (we always give the new episodes a trial run before letting the kids watch, just to be on the safe side) and squealed all over again. I’m both anxiously looking forward to the Christmas special and apprehensively dreading the end of the 11th’s tenure. I hope Peter Capaldi is amazing, I’m sure I’ll get used to him eventually as I did the others.

Can you believe the contestants that have been eliminated on X-Factor so far these past couple weeks? The results have been surreal to me and I’m not sure if it’s because I am just not the same target audience as the people that are voting or what, but I mourned the loss of another Top Fave last week. ::sniff:: I doubt that my vote would have made much of a difference but I do sometimes wish that people who DVR and watch the show later were given a chance to vote. Do you think the results would have been different if everyone who watches could vote and not just the people who watch it live?

what I’m watching (movies)

We took the kids to see Frozen the day after Thanksgiving (otherwise known as stab each other for video games day) and I think the whole family fell in love. I was jonsing for a good “Princess Movie” and this totally hit the spot. BB of course now wants Anna and Elsa everything and I can’t say I’m bothered by this very much. We may have to buy the DVD when it comes out and possibly the sound track because I cannot stop singing, “Do you want to build a snowman?” Such a great movie.

in my kitchen

This year for Thanksgiving I was basically the Queen of Desserts. I made:

My MIL’s famous rum cake and a delicious apple pie (this recipe’s crust was the first pie crust I’ve ever made and I think I’m going to go ahead and officially swear by it) as well as a peanut butter dip which was basically a peanut butter pie (I loosely followed this recipe) minus the crust with a bunch of sliced apples to dip in it (though I confess my favorite thing to dip in it is a spoon!) and a sweet potato casserole (this recipe has become a staple for me, this was my third year using it and I can’t imagine straying from it now).

The peanut butter pie dip that I made ended up being so far from the original that I feel the need to share what I actually made and pretend that I can call it a “recipe”

Jen’s Deviously Good Peanut Butter Pie Dip

  • 1 pint (16 oz) of heavy whipping cream
  • 1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
  • most of a 16 oz container of creamy peanut butter, we’ll say 12-14 oz. (I just used what was left of my barely touched container, you could probably use a full 16 oz container or less if necessary).
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Beat a pint of heavy whipping cream in your mixer until it’s thickened enough – I don’t think I ever got mine truly “whipped cream”ish but I was starting to get bored so after awhile I moved on to the rest of the recipe.
  2. Beat the cream cheese, peanut butter, sugar, butter and vanilla in a large bowl until smooth. Fold in the “whipped cream”. Gently spoon into a large bowl and refrigerate until ready to eat. If you can control yourself. Yield: 8-10 servings.

On a non-recipe note, can I mention again how obsessed I am with the orange clove scented counter top spray from Mrs. Meyers? I may have snagged a bottle of the orange clover dish soap and a scented candle at Target today…

stuff I loved online

the entire ‘Doctor Who’ history in one amazing tapestry (awesome)

after a year of parenting, one thing is certain (sweet)

Moms: OK is good enough (amen)

So what have you been into lately?