family fun

Just Checking In. (2/24/17)

What’s new in your world? I haven’t had time lately to share all of the little things going on and I thought I’d share a quick list of recent things. Tell me what you are reading, watching, planning, doing, loving etc. in the comments section.

J28765613ust Read: Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult with my book club. I got a lot more out of this book than I was expecting to. The varied narrators forced me to get inside the minds of people from many different walks of life, even when I didn’t want to, even when it was uncomfortable. I liked that every person in this story was coming from a different place, had different things going for them or against them, but none of them were perfect, none of them felt like they had the upper hand in life. This is an emotional and uncomfortable story about racism in America – a timely topic that I was hesitant to read but I’m so glad that I read it.

Just Bought: new cutting boards. I’ve been cooking recipes with fresh produce a lot more lately – which entails a lot of cutting board action. My old tiny cutting boards were not really cutting it and it was making dinner harder than it needed to be. Rather than fall back on old habits, I went to Target yesterday and bought larger, sturdier cutting boards (this one and two of these) and I can already tell a difference just after cooking one meal with them.

Just Cooked: fajitas last night from Hello Fresh. So far I am still loving this meal delivery service. It’s a little pricey (about $30 a 4 person meal) but the meals are all healthy and we’ve enjoyed just about every meal we’ve cooked. I’m getting more comfortable cooking meals that are outside of my comfort zone and learning how easy some foods are to cook that I assumed would be more complicated. I’ve fallen hard for kale, mastered meatloaf, made my own Italian Wedding Soup and I’ve even noticed my kids trying new foods that I wouldn’t have expected them to enjoy. If you are in a cooking rut or want to sharpen your cooking skills, I highly recommend trying it out.

Just Celebrated: my son’s crossover ceremony from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts. I cannot stop marveling over how big and grownup he is getting. He also went skiing for the first time this month (without me there to say “Be Careful!” every five minutes) and he had such a great time. One of my good friends was chaperoning and took the pic above and reported that he was a total natural. He’s been purposely trying a lot more sports this year than in previous years and I’m so proud of him.

Just Finished Watching: Awkward, an MTV show that is streaming on Hulu and Amazon Prime. The show centers around a girl named Jenna who begins her Sophomore year of high school feeling invisible and suddenly finds herself the center of attention but not for reasons anyone would want. It’s a fresh, funny comedy that feels very real – the cast of characters is eclectic and the writing is sharp. I fell for it hard and fast and watched all six seasons in about a month. Which means I’m now in major withdrawals.

51rcearazqlJust Started Watching: Victoria on PBS which we’ve been recording since it premiered in August. It stars Jenna Coleman from Doctor Who and I have to say it’s fantastic so far. Dramatic without being gut wrenching, it’s pretty perfect. This afternoon I watched the first episode of Big Little Lies on HBO (which I’m subscribing to via Amazon Channels for anyone following along on my Cord Cutting Journey). Big Little Lies is based on a novel by Liane Moriarty. It’s a murder mystery set in the middle of suburbia and the mini series is starring some big names like Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Adam Scott and Shailene Woodley. I started to read the book but had to put it down for a book club pick awhile back and never got back to it. So I have no idea whodunnit or even who it was done to – I’m looking forward to finding out.

Just Planned: a quick spring break excursion to make up for our summer plans being thrown into the air like confetti. We’re going to get in a little indoor water park fun and hopefully some paintball and frozen yogurt. Also busy planning several small camping trips to keep us from going stir crazy this summer.

What have you been up to lately?

family fun, inexplicable

5 Things I’d Want On a Desert Island

weather

We’ve been having the world’s weirdest warm snap that I’m not even complaining about. But when it’s 65 degrees in Wisconsin in February, it bears mentioning, you know? Anyway, being t-shirt weather outside has me dreaming of summer when I won’t be looking behind my back for another cold snap. And thinking about summer can lead to thinking about relaxing on an island, or being deserted on one.

I was reading this list of 50 blog post ideas at Wear Daisy Went and one of the prompts was Desert island beauty products. That list would be really short for me – sunscreen and a hat. But the whole concept of “what things would you hope you had if stranded on a desert island” is an oldie and a goodie so I thought I’d play along in a more generic sense. Here are 5 things I’d want on me if I somehow tripped and fell on a desert island, minus children and husband because obviously I’d want company if possible.

  1. A good book. At first I was thinking my kindle with loads of books on it, but on the off chance that I’m stranded long enough for batteries to die, I’d better rely on something a little longer lasting. And it needs to be a favorite that is always enjoyable to pick up even when you have already read it. Something like Pride and Prejudice or Harry Potter comes to mind.
  2. A journal and something to write with. I’m going to be pretty bored and have fairly unlimited writing time so something to write on would be ideal. I can wax poetic about Island Life and all the deep thoughts that come to me when I have too much time on my hands like “if a blogger screams on an island but no one is around to comment, did she really make a sound?” and “what good is prime shipping if you are stranded on a desert island?”
  3. One of those water bottles that can filter ocean water to make it drinkable. That’s gotta be a thing, right? It makes sense to stay hydrated while working on my tan. Add to this list of sensible items the aforementioned hat and sunscreen.
  4. Also a Swiss army knife seems like it could be useful. I can go all Girl Scouts of America and make my own shelter out of bamboo and leaves and sticks and stuff. I can crack open coconuts and carve my initials into all the trees so that everyone knows I was there. Posterity, you know.
  5. A deck of playing cards. Solitaire for the win, you know? In a pinch I could pretend the coconuts are friends and totally own them in a game of Poker.

Frivolous add-ons: good sunglasses, a cell phone so I can play some games until my battery dies (I assume there won’t be cell service otherwise I’d have called for help or posted my dilemma on Facebook), a magical button that makes Starbucks iced coffee appear in my hand, pizza delivery, cabana service, a camera (so I can photograph my magic button coffee and pictures of the sunset)

What 5 items would you want on a desert island?

family fun

Happy Valentine’s Day!

12592212_482387131946894_988612925959414865_n

An oldie but a goodie. 🙂 Just wanted to take a quick minute to say Happy Valentines Day to all my readers. I hope you get exactly the kind of chocolate you were hoping for and that your kitchens clean themselves tonight.

In honor of Saint Valentine, here is a list of things I love, in no particular order.

  1. My husband – he has to be first on the list because he puts up with my nonsense every day and looks cute while doing it.
  2. My adorable children who manage to drive me insane while being the best children in the world at the same time. Clever, funny, kind – we’re raising them right.
  3. Coffee. It helps me do the things.
  4. Apple cider vinegar – because I just remembered how good it is for cold and flu season.
  5. My new dog groomer because they keep the pooch smelling less terrible and I don’t have to be involved in the process.
  6. My new glittery water bottle – it makes hydration look fashionable.
  7. Awesome friends who laugh at my terrible jokes and remind me not to hide inside every day.
  8. Frozen chopped onions – they save me from the horrible onion tears and speed up dinner time.
  9. Nadine West for perking up my jewelry collection and consistently sending me shirts that simply fit like that isn’t a difficult thing to achieve.
  10. Books – all the books – losing myself in a story is basically my favorite hobby.

That’s all for now – I have a class Valentines Day party to throw in half an hour. Wish me luck and have a great day!

family fun, movies

3 Movies Your Kids Won’t Stop Singing Along To.

We’ve seen three movies in theater over the last few months that were all good enough to gush about but I’ve been busy so I haven’t had a chance to give you guys the skinny. I thought I’d do a quick review of all three of them with some feedback from their primary target audience, my seven year old daughter and 10 year old son.

MOANA

“I love it so much that I listen to the radio music a lot! Moana’s adventure was very mysterious! I also loved Moana’s grandmother  because she cheered Moana up in every way she could.” – BB, Age 7

When I saw the trailers for this one I was kind of ambivalent – they honestly just don’t do it justice. I think a way better taste for this movie is this clip of one of the best songs in the movie:

But honestly, all the songs are fantastic. Like, ‘I bought the soundtrack and listen to it on my own sometimes’ fantastic. Add to this information a heartwarming ‘bring your tissues’ story that isn’t focused on a girl winning a guy’s heart / mixed with ridiculously funny characters and antics and you can kind of understand why our entire family became obsessed with this movie after seeing it in theater over Christmas vacation.  The love affair is still going strong and I’m anxiously awaiting the DVD release.

“Moana is cunning and adventurous. No matter what she faced, she didn’t give up. And Maui was funny and crazy!” – MM, Age 10

SING

“I enjoyed it. I loved Ash, the Porcupine. She was my favorite character.” – BB, Age 7

How about a star studded spectacular in which a group of rag tag singers with modest dreams audition for a singing competition that seems failed from the start? Both my kids loved this one and I was really into it also. I liked that it balanced hopefulness with reality and wasn’t too stereotypical. Great music to be found in a very balanced mix of genres so no worries that this will be all pop music / no substance. A killer soundtrack and a good story.

TROLLS

“I loved it a lot! Music made the trolls happy because music was one of their favorite things to do and it spread on all trolls.” – BB, Age 7

I took my daughter to see this at the budget second run theater over the weekend when the boys were off on a cub scout sledding trip. It was so good that we rented it on DVD the next night so the whole family could watch it. Again, the music is excellent. My daughter has not stopped singing since. My husband was very pleasantly surprised that the movie wasn’t sugary sweet fluff but had a real story and plenty of humor and self awareness. The back and forth between the main characters, Poppy (Anna Kendrick) and Branch (Justin Timberlake), is basically magic.

“I really liked how Poppy was always happy about everything. I loved the “I’ll Just Get Back Up Again” song! That was a really funny song.” – MM, Age 10

entertainment, movies

5 Romantic Comedies To Netflix & Chill

top5romcoms

First of all, I want to state one more time for the record that I reject the pervy connotations of the phrase Netflix & Chill. I’m a grown ass woman so if I tell you I want to stay home and watch Netflix, I promise you I’m being 100% literal about my intentions. Real women don’t need innuendo.

But we all need a good Netflix rom com binge from time to time. My favorite romantic comedies honestly haven’t changed much since the nineties so be prepared for some throwback nostalgia. Or for you young folk reading, some like super old movies your mom used to watch.

These 5 movies all bear the honor of being movies I would literally sit down and watch any day, any time.

Clueless

maxresdefault

This movie has everything – it’s a ridiculously funny Jane Austen modern adaptation with great clothes, catch phrases you’ll remember for the rest of your life and Paul Rudd at the beginning of his Paul Ruddiness. The stairs scene above still makes me feel like a weak kneed teenager every time I watch it.

10 Things I Hate About You

rehost%2f2016%2f9%2f13%2f94bedbef-3c30-445b-922c-ce179ccbd597

Another classic adaptation, this one is a modern interpretation of Taming of the Shrew. You could also call it Heath Ledger’s Dimples and OMG Joseph Gorden Levitt when he was young and adorkable. Come for the serenade on the football field and stay for the white girl rapping. And if you don’t cry when she reads that poem at the end, you have no soul.

Amelie

amelie-pic.png

If you want to feel more cultured about your rom com binge, I recommend this French film that absolutely purchased my heart the first time I saw it. Introverted girls everywhere realized that Amelie is our Kindred Spirit Queen when this movie came out and it still gets me every time. If subtitles put you off, I urge you to reconsider for this one – the movie is beautiful and funny and about halfway through I forget I’m reading the subtitles at all. Fair warning, this one is R rated for a reason – don’t watch it with your teens.

The Decoy Bride

p94-the-decoy-bride-1038x576

This is one of my more recent romantic comedy obsessions and it’s a must watch for all my Whovian friends because David Tennant in some rather fetching plaid pants happens.

giphy

More than that, though, is the utter charm of Kelly Macdonald and the ridiculously funny but heart warming story. It takes place on the fictional Scottish island of Hegg where a celebrity couple has secretly traveled to in an attempt to get married without the paparazzi but that all goes awry (of course) and Macdonald’s character gets subbed in when the bride goes AWOL and much confusion, comedy and eventual romance ensues. If you like Scottish accents and awkward but awesome heroines, this one is for you.

You’ve Got Mail

mailhed

Okay so this is the only movie on my list that isn’t streaming on Netflix right now but I couldn’t leave it off because it’s classic Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks, it pretty much started my fantasy of owning a bookstore someday and the early days of the internet are so much nostalgia it hurts a little. If you haven’t seen this one yet, oh my gosh you need to fix that immediately and it’s only a few dollars to stream it on Amazon. #worthit

What are your favorite romantic comedies?

Mama’s Losin’ ItI’m linking up with Mama Kat’s weekly Writer’s Workshop – you should, too!