phillip phillips

Music Love: Phillip Phillip’s The World From the Side of the Moon

phillip phillips If you are a regular reader here, you might have picked up on the fact that I am a major fan of Phillip Phillips. I championed him fiercely during his time on American Idol and may have turned into a bit of a giddy fan girl for awhile there… and by for awhile there I mean…

I was more than a little excited when his debut CD, The World From The Side of the Moon, finally hit the shelves this month and waited only a few days before breaking down and picking up a copy at Target which boasts 5 bonus songs, two of which appear to be Target exclusives, making for a total 17 track album.

Like a good little blogger, I have been listening to the album compulsively since then and thinking about how to write my review for a CD that I was kind of set on adoring since before it came out.

I am happy to report that his debut CD did not disappoint. It’s got that gravelly, Dave Matthews feel that one would expect after following him on Idol and I was very excited to see that he wrote most of the songs on the album. I hoped that the execs wouldn’t try to get him to deviate too far from his genre and would allow him some creative control over the music and it looks like that has miraculously happened.

I know his Idol winning single, Home, has gained a lot of post-Idol popularity between being featured in the Olympics and at least one radio jingle. It remains a favorite of mine and I like that it’s a main stream and accessible song with easy to memorize lyrics and beautiful instrumentals. The CD has both a studio and live version of the song, both very good. As much as I personally adore his less mainstream side, I think it’s important to have a few radio friendly tracks and this album has several.

Some new songs that I am particularly fond of include Gone, Gone, Gone ; Man on the Moon ; Get Up, Get Down and Where We Came From. I’d list more but that would turn into me just naming all of the tracks, because honestly this CD gets the Entire Album is Really Good seal of approval from me, which I don’t give lightly. I hate buying an album only to discover that only 2 or 3 songs are very good – with the ability to download single tracks on Amazon or iTunes, sometimes buying a whole CD isn’t worth it, but my gamble on P. Phillips debut album definitely paid off so fans, buy confidently and enjoy!

I’ve had Gone, Gone, Gone stuck in my head for days now – and I have to say, I don’t mind at all! What song has been stuck in your head lately? Got an artist or album you think I should check out? Tell me about it in the comments section below!

The main difference between my children:

MM
MM, like me, is a people pleaser. He at least tries to do what is asked of him and to make people happy. He feels remorse when he knows he’s disappointed someone and tries harder next time. When he doesn’t pick up his toys, it’s because he forgot – or managed his time poorly. Like his father, he tends to exist largely in his own world – swimming in a sea of big ideas and projects. But once back on earth, he tries to do what is expected of him and make us happy. He doesn’t always follow through, but it’s not for lack of trying.
BB
BB, on the other hand, operates entirely on her own agenda and aims to please herself first and foremost. Whether this is just a typical toddler / preschool trait or her actual personality remains to be seen but when she doesn’t pick up her toys it’s because she doesn’t want to – and if you ask her to she will, without hesitating, simply say “no” and continue doing what she’s doing. She is a free spirit and refuses to be tied down by petty demands like “wear appropriate shoes” or “pick up your toys” or “take a nap.” And if this upsets you, she doesn’t care at all.
And I love them both, maddeningly so.

book review: the geography of bliss by eric weiner

 The Geography of Bliss: One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places in the World by Eric Weiner Description from Goodreads.com:

“What makes people happy? Is it the freedom of the West or the myriad restrictions of Singapore? The simple ashrams of India or the glittering shopping malls of Qatar? From the youthful drunkenness of Iceland to the despond of Slough, a sad but resilient town in Heathrow’s flight path, Weiner offers wry yet profound observations about the way people relate to circumstance and fate.”

What makes you happy? This is a question a lot of us ask ourselves often. But author Eric Weiner posed a different question, “Where makes you happy?” Or rather, are there places where people are happier – countries whose laws and culture and lifestyle make people happier and would we be happier if we moved there?

I thought this was a really interesting premise for a sort of travel memoir / self help book. I have a pretty serious case of wanderlust teemed with an inability to live in the moment, always planning for the next big thing. Perhaps it’s a case of the American Pioneering Spirit or a side effect from a childhood spent moving often – maybe it’s just part of what makes me human. Regardless, I was very interested to see the result of his travels – to perhaps discover the Magic Land of Happiness. Instead I think I learned a few lessons about being happy where I am – and finding happiness through people instead of places or objects.

Apart from reading about different cultures and lifestyles, I really enjoyed Weiner’s writing style. He may be a self professed grump but he’s also terrifically funny and his writing was easy to digest. Stories from his life and observations made during his travels were always poignant and fun even when they maybe shouldn’t have been. A relatively light hearted read with a lot of really fascinating information – I can recommend this one safely to anyone interested in happiness or travel.

Is there a place you’ve visited or lived that you found made you happier? If you could move anywhere tomorrow, where would you go?

Nightstand: November 2012

What's On Your Nightstand @ 5 Minutes for BooksCan you believe November is almost over? I hope you all had a nice Thanksgiving weekend filled with lots of good food and good books! I am nearly finished reading The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner which my book club will be discussing in November, the last book club pick for 2012 since we take December off each year.

This past month I managed to read three books:

  1. The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir by Kao Kalia Yang (October Book Club Pick) – Finished October 23, 2012 – I really loved this book – I knew next to nothing about the Hmong people and their struggles and found this book to be an excellent way of learning about them. Yang’s writing is vibrant and compelling, her story and the story of her ancestors was fascinating. There were a few moments in this book that just struck me as odd, but on the whole I really enjoyed it. Yet another example of a book I might never have read if not for my book club, that I’m really really glad I got the chance to read.
  2. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams – finished October 28, 2012 – I definitely liked the book, but I’m not sure I loved it as much as I was expecting to – I had a hard time settling into the story if that makes any sense. Maybe because of the constant changing of topic and the many, many made up words. Which I understand the reason for, I just personally struggled with it. I definitely plan to keep reading the series though and I definitely found it really funny.
  3. How To Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran – Finished November 6, 2012 – This book had a lot of Laugh of Loud moments and a truly insightful look into the world of women, feminism and life. There were also a lot of uncomfortable, pervy, crass moments. Caitlin Moran tells it like it is and has nothing to hide – so brace yourself. But on the whole, I did really enjoy this book and would recommend it with caution to anyone who is or will be a woman.

Once I’ve finished reading my book club pick I will have read 7 out of 10 books for my Fall into Reading Challenge. With less than one month to go, will I be able to finish 3 more books before Winter starts? I hope so!

The books I am planning to finish out the challenge with are three of the following:

Buddha: A Story of Enlightenment by Deepak Chopra

The Story Sisters by Alice Hoffman

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

If You Were Here by Jen Lancaster

What’s on your nightstand these days? If you are playing along, make sure to link up at 5 Minutes For Books!

5 things I’m loving on Tuesday: Holiday Edition

How was your Thanksgiving weekend? We had a five day weekend filled with delicious food, major cleaning projects and a trip to the movies with the kids. The week before was less fun with a nasty stomach bug that worked it’s way through the family – which I’m using an excuse for the lack of posts her lately.

I have some legitimate review posts planned to go up soon, including a review of Eric Weiner’s The Geography of Bliss and Phillip Phillip’s debut album, The World From the Side of the Moon. But for today, here are 5 things I’m loving lately:

silly outtakes

1. It’s that time of year again – time for dressing our kids up in their cutest outfits to take pictures for Holiday cards. I tried to snap some cute pictures of the kids on Thanksgiving, but it took awhile to work through a serious case of the sillies. I love the outtakes though, I think they show the kids in their natural state of being and a lot of times these outtakes make it to the final card! How about you? Do you prefer a perfectly posed holiday photo or silly and sweet?

2. Peppermint mochas are back at Starbucks and this makes me a happy, happy momma. I know a lot of people are all about the Pumpkin Lattes in the fall, but my sweet tooth holds out for the winter flavors and peppermint mocha is one of my favorites. That said, not all the coffee shops have nailed the perfect peppermint mocha – I tried one from Dunkin Donuts this weekend and was pretty disappointed. What’s your favorite seasonal treat?

3. Mommas, don’t hate me, but I’m almost done with my Christmas shopping. Thanks to the internet, I have been scoping gift ideas for months and last week I started making my official purchases – gifts for my husband and kids are done, photo calendars have been ordered and shipped to grandparents and great grandparents and I’ve started working on stocking stuffers and extended family gifts (which we don’t buy a lot of in general). I still need to figure out my holiday cards and finish stuffing those stockings (handknit by my grandmother which I love, but all four stockings are gigantic – I’m thinking big puffy socks and scarves). My go to websites for holiday shopping are Amazon.com, ThinkGeek.com and Shutterfly – what are your favorite e-retailers?

4. What is Santa bringing your kids for Christmas (or alternatively, what are the kids getting for Hanukkah or Kwanzaa)? My daughter (age 3) really wants a shopping cart so she can take her babies grocery shopping. I found one at Costco for just $20 that looks perfect and can double as toy food storage in our playroom. I also got her some mini princess figurines because she is crazy about princesses these days and a big box of duplo blocks because just like her brother, she is all about building things. My son (age 6) is getting an erector set from Costco (also $20 I think) and from Santa a toy airport set and “a garden“. My husband really wants a Mini Kreg Jig Kit. I have no idea what that means, but he asked and he’s getting one. :O) What do YOU want for Christmas? I’m hoping for some macro filters for my DSLR (a cheaper option for those wanting a big fancy Macro lens but lacking the funds for one).

5. I just finished putting together an Advent Book Box for the kids – a filing box filled with 24 holiday themed books for the kids (some classics, some chapter books and some picture books with favorite characters – most books picked up for next to nothing at a used book store, some purchased at my son’s book fair, etc.). I was going to wrap them all individually, but I thought that seemed like a lot of unnecessary work so I went for the put them all in a big box route instead. Then, this week my step mother sent a beautiful handmade advent calendar with 24 little pockets filled with little treats for the kids. In future years I could fill it with activity ideas or anything I want really. It’s gorgeous and I’m so thankful for such a thoughtful gift – the kids will be doubly spoiled this year with two advent activities a day – I’m thinking one in the morning at breakfast and one before bed. Do you do an advent calendar with your kids? What kind is your favorite?

What things are you loving today? Tell me about them in the comments section below or write your own blog post and send me the link!

Currently: November 26th

Obsessing over: my very, very full refrigerator and all of the leftovers we have to get through. After all of my worry over us not being healthy enough to get through Thanksgiving, we ended up being fully recovered by Turkey Day and spent Thursday and most of the weekend cooking away. In addition to our Thanksgiving feast we also made spoonbread, turkey soup, French Toast and bread pudding this weekend.

Feeling: excited about the upcoming holiday season and even somewhat on top of things.I’ve already finished shopping for Dan and the kids for the most part (still need to fill stockings, always the last straggling item) and ordered photo calendars for the grandparents and great-grandparents.

This weekend we are planning to put up our Christmas tree and I’ve got an advent book box all set to go (I’ve seen a lot of variations on this idea, mine is just a cardboard box filled with 24 Christmas stories of varying kinds – some old classics, some picture books with favorite characters and a few chapter books for MM). I was going to individually wrap them all but that sounded like a lot of unnecessary work.

So apart from stocking stuffers that pretty much leaves Christmas cards, some craft projects and holiday baking – and maybe a gift for MM’s teacher and some friends and neighbors. And again, I really am trying to keep it small this year. Remind me of that over the coming month when I turn into a holiday crazed mommy!

Working on: cleaning out my office and the basement, trying to organize some things that have gone ignored for awhile now and rethinking how we organize some areas that aren’t really working. Basically, my in-laws are coming to visit next month and I’d really like to have a home I’m semi-proud of before they get here.

Thinking about: bluray players – we picked up a rather inexpensive one several months ago and for the most part we’re happy with it, but it does seem a bit on the clunky side. The remote has never worked well and it makes odd clunking sounds when it is loading videos. Dan tried to tinker with the player to get the remote to work better and for the first time in at least 6 1/2 years he actually made it worse. This is unprecedented and frankly I blame the player. He has a few more tricks up his sleeve to try out but I’m seriously considering saving up for a better bluray player or perhaps getting him the PS3 that he has wanted for years now which also plays blurays. Anyone have a bluray recommendation or experience with the PS3?

Currently Reading: Our November book club pick, The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner. I am nearly finished and stand a chance of finishing before our meeting on Wednesday but I’ll need to leave myself plenty of reading time for the next two nights if I want to finish and sleep at night. I really like the author’s sense of humor and writing style and found the concept of the book fascinating. I think it should make for an interesting book club discussion.

Listening to: Pocahontas in the background, one of BB’s new favorite movies (in addition to Tinker Bell, Snow White and Sofia the First – have you seen this on Disney yet? It is absolutely adorable and apparently it will be a new series in 2013 – very much looking forward to that, I recommend it for all your little princess lovers).

Pinning (The Holidays Edition): 

peppermint snow pie * how to tie a necktie * hot cocoa bar for Xmas morning * easy paper wreath

Dog Days.

My beautiful darling daughter has discovered… her own agenda. And by discovered it, I mean she’s always known she’s had one and often pushes it in favor of anyone else’s wants and needs and desires. But that these days, often has become pretty much always.

She’s occasionally a happy, loving daughter who has the ability to go with the flow and sweetly lavish you with hugs and cuddles and kisses – she’ll roll with the punches of the day and go along with whatever you have in mind, convincing herself that it’s what she’s always wanted.

Occasionally. The rest of the time, you are just going to have to deal with whatever she has in mind about how the day should be going. Because maybe it’s not naptime after all, but rather 30 second dance party time (I do love 30 second dance parties). Maybe it’s not time to leave quite yet for that appointment that you are in danger of being late for, because right now we have to focus on the fact that she wants to wear three pairs of socks.at.once.

Or she wants to wear THAT jacket that isn’t weather appropriate and completely clashes with her outfit, but she insists on having her way about this because she’s a Princess, mommy. And being a princess apparently means wearing something pretty and always getting her way. I think. The rules change a lot.

So if I’m ten minutes late again… or looking a little frazzled and sounding a little grumpier than usual, be patient with me and maybe offer me some coffee. These are trying times for mommies and Princesses, but we’re getting through it one temper tantrum at a time – and might I say, looking pretty fabulous while we’re at it.

Loving her new dress? Me, too – I just got it on sale at Old Navy. That isn’t a sponsored detail, I’m just in a sharing kind of mood.

Currently: November 13th

The MM Edition

Typically my posts are just a smorgasboard of BB pictures since I’m home with her all week while the boys are at work and school, so I thought I’d mix things up and make the extra effort to take more pictures of MM and share them with you in this here “Currently” post – since, you know, these are the only things I seem to write these days.

little artist. on 365 Project

Obsessing over: how behind I am on NaNoWriMo. I started out strong the first week and then completely dropped the ball. I literally haven’t written at all in like a week and barely even felt guilty about it. The thing is, it’s not like I lost interest in the story, I just sort of rebelliously was like, “shut up, I don’t want to write every day and you can’t make me.” And then nobody made me. I wrote a couple hundred words today but it was hard to focus with my children yelping like wild animals in the next room and when they are not making noise, writing is like the last thing I want to do ironically. I think I need to divorce my DVR and Facebook if I intend to meet my word count. But then I thought? Imagine if I decided to be a rebel and write during OTHER months of the year, too, instead of stock piling all of my creative energies for one month of the year?

Feeling: the desire to start getting a little more active. No grand proclamations here, but it sure would be nice to make it to a yoga class this week and maybe get in some walking – though with the temperature drop this week, it’ll likely be an indoor walk. Baby, it’s cold outside!

Working on: my resume and dipping a toe into the job hunting world. I have been toying with the idea of looking for a part time writing / editing job or something similar, if I can find something in the telecommuting arena that uses my English Major Type Skills while allowing me to stay home with Small Child. I know that’s a pretty long shot, but since we aren’t hard up for money and I’m unwilling to put the Little Miss in daycare, I don’t mind being a bit picky. But cross your fingers and toes for me that I might actually find something that fits the bill.

Popcorn delivery! on 365 Project

Thinking about: the upcoming holidays and trying to keep it simple. I picked up “the big present” for each kid at Costco this weekend because they actually had the two things I had in mind. Dan and I are planning one similarly sized gift for each of us and then I’m thinking I’ll focus on stocking stuffers and some nice PJs / maybe robes and slippers to open on Christmas Eve. In previous years I’ve made the mistake of starting my shopping too soon and then continuing to shop all season whenever there were good deals. So I’m really going to focus on knowing when we’re done and not going overboard. I’m also not going to buy anything else until the kids write their letters to Santa sometime after Thanksgiving – we wouldn’t want to steal Santa’s thunder now, would we?

Currently Reading: Our November book club pick, The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner. I’m a couple chapters in and really enjoying the author’s sense of humor and writing. He may be a self proclaimed “grump” but I find him very funny and clever – I’m enjoying the book a lot and I love getting to read about all these different countries he’s visiting – vicariously vacationing through other people is much cheaper than going to all those places myself.

Listening to: the kids building towers and being ridiculously noisy in the process. Is it bedtime yet?

Pinning (The Delicious Edition): 

almond cloud cookies by Joy the Baker * peppermint snow pie * salted whiskey caramels

A cold morning at the bus stop. on 365 Project

Obligatory Post-Election Post

I voted!

Yesterday my three year old daughter stood outside in line for an hour with my husband and I so that we could vote in the presidential election. She got a cookie and sticker and some apple sauce out of the deal, so it wasn’t a total waste of time for her.

Here are some political-type things that made me happy yesterday, as well as thankful and proud:

  1. The people waiting in line with us were all very understanding of BB’s frequent outbursts and temper tantrums. She tried to be patient with us but it was a very long line and her parents kept asking her to wear mittens. Seriously.
  2. Free cookies from, I’m assuming, the staff at Meriter hospital. Just when we stepped inside and saw that there was still a pretty long line ahead of us indoors, we were greeted by a table of cookies that smelled and tasted delicious – and kept little BB happy for another ten minutes!
  3. We went to volunteer in my son’s classroom later that morning and his teacher was doing a mock election in the classroom. I supervised fifteen six and seven year olds as they elected their choice of president. I explained how their vote should be anonymous and “blind” as in, don’t tell me who you are voting for or ask me who you should vote for. Afterwards the teacher opened the ballot box and we counted the votes and marked each vote with a tally mark on a big sheet of paper. My son, MM, got to mark the tallies. So of the sixteen votes (the teacher let my daughter vote, too), fourteen kids voted for Barack Obama (or Oomabooma as my six year old sometimes calls him) and two voted for Romney. I found out later that both of those votes were my own children. Now being an Obama supporter you might think this would bother me, but one – I’m proud of my children for making their own choices and not being swayed by the few political decisions they have heard in the house this year. Two, my six year old’s reasoning was simply that Obama (Oomabooma) has already been president and he thinks someone else should get a turn now. How can I be upset with my son advocating sharing and taking turns? And three, my three year old cannot read and just drew a happy face next to one of the names – it happened to be Mitt Romney. I watched her do it and decided to let my ego go and embrace her right to free speech.
  4. I woke up this morning to the news that Mr. President had won the election and now has another four years to finish what he’s started (for better or worse some may say). Congratulations to Barack Obama and his family and administration – make us proud!
  5. I’d also like to congratulate Tammy Baldwin who was elected Wisconsin’s first openly gay senator. “I didn’t run to make history,” said Baldwin in her victory speech. “I ran to make a difference, a difference in the lives of families struggling to find work and pay the bills.” (quote from Yahoo News and Baldwin’s victory speech)
  6. Lastly, I am very thankful that (pretty soon) there will be an end to all of the political discussion. Now we can focus on more important things like the upcoming holidays, whether it’s snowing or not and who should win X-Factor this season!

This is likely the first post I’ve written on politics on this blog and the last one you should expect to see anytime in the foreseeable future, likely until the next major election. Happy Wednesday everyone!

Currently: November 7th

Obsessing over: how maybe in a couple of days my Facebook feed will not be flooded with political posts. I have a lot of passionately political friends, but for the past couple of days it’s been verging on ridiculous. Hopefully maybe tomorrow we will all find something else to talk about.

That said, Congratulations Mr. President on another 4 years. My daughter stood outside in the cold for an hour in line with mommy and daddy to vote for you. Make her cold fingers worth it, please, and make us all proud!

Feeling: the holiday season start to swing into action. Halloween has come and gone, and now Turkey Day and Christmas feel right around the corner. I’ve been slowly planning both for awhile now but pretty soon I’ll have to actually decide which presents to buy and start wrapping. Not for awhile longer though, right?

Last weekend the kids went to Home Depot with daddy and grandpa who was in town visiting and made these adorable Turkey napkin holders at the Kids Workshop. This was BB’s first time at the workshop and apparently she LOVED it. We now have two orange aproned cuties eager to pick up the hammer and scare me half to death.

Working on: the photo book and calendar still. I am now up to July in the calendar and getting ready to start June in the photo book. I keep going back and forth about Christmas cards this year. I am thinking about going really old school and using regular old greeting cards and maybe printing out a cute picture of the kids, cause I did get some really cute ones with the Doctor Who costumes last month.

Thinking about: how low my word count is so far in NaNoWriMo. I’m at 7,230 right now, but should have hit 10,000 last night. It’s pretty hard fitting in writing time, keeping up with a 3 year old and 6 year old, keeping the house clean and family fed and finding some down time with my DVR. And I really really need to get rid of some of the clutter in the toy room aka Too Many Toys before Christmas comes and cripples me. Time for a purge! And oh yes, writing. Must write more. The good news is, I like how the story is going much better this year. I might actually finish it, it just might take me longer than 30 days.

Just Finished Reading: How To Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran, who is like the snarky, pervy UK version of Tina Fey. I really enjoyed a lot of her book and mostly enjoyed the rest. It’s a lot like the Bloggess’s book in that she holds NOTHING back, period, for better or worse. So read with caution, but by all means, read it. Tonight I’ll start our November book club pick, The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner.

Listening to: the hum of the heater keeping my home blessedly warm on another brisk November morning, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse keeping my daughter blessedly entertained so I can update my blog for once. I know, I’ve been a bad Bloggy Mommy. Did I mention I’m trying to write a novel and keep my children alive?

Pinning (The Turkey Day Edition): 

pumpkin bread * 20 things to do with the kids this month * pumpkin cream pie * Thankful Placemat