What I’m Into: December 2017

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It’s been a busy month here – we’ve been enjoying Christmas Tree farms, piano recitals, cookie baking, parties with friends and all the usual fun stuff that goes into a month. Aside from the family fun, here are some of the things that have been keeping me occupied in those in between moments.

On My Bookshelf

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I’ve been reading Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick this month and really enjoying it. I’ve always loved Anna’s movies and her amazeballs singing voice but reading the book and getting to know her as her actual person has been so fun. I’m only mostly delusional when I say that OMG we could totally be BFFs in real life!!

In My Kitchen

 I’ve been baking up a small winter storm as one tends to do around Christmas. Not everything was a winner but these three recipes need to be in your life.

This FUDGE recipe is so easy it almost feels like cheating. You only need three ingredients aside from salt and no candy thermometer or savvy candy making skills are required. You really just need the patience to let it set on your counter without eating it before it’s ready. I made the same recipe using peanut butter chips and that came out awesome, too. My waist line is fearful about how easy this was.

I made these RUM BALLS for my husband and he cannot stop eating them. They are potent as heck and way too delicious. Also super easy to make. These taste better the longer they chill out in your fridge so I recommend making them a couple of days before you need them. Because you definitely need them.

Okay if you are feeling like you want to step up your cookie baking game, I made these FRUIT CAKE SHORTBREAD COOKIES from Martha Stewart’s website and mylanta. This isn’t a difficult recipe but there are a lot more steps involved than I normally willingly get myself into. You’ll be chopping dried fruits, macerating them in terrific smelling booziness for a few hours, softening two sticks of butter and then making the cookie dough and shaping it into a triangular log. Then letting the dough chill for an hour in the fridge. Then slicing the log into super cute cookies and baking them. Then the hard part – not eating them all before your guests arrive. Real bakers probably read this and thought it all sounded easy but my fellow half assers know what I’m talking about. This recipe was a real test in will power and commitment but oh so worth it because:

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So good.

On My TV

THE MIDDLE’S FAREWELL SEASON has been stringing me along all fall. Somehow this season turned me into a squealing fangirl shipper when it comes to Sue. Wasn’t she an awkward little tweenie bopper like a minute ago? I’m going to miss this show when it’s over but I also do think they are ending at the right time. What family sitcom should I pick up next?

AUSTRALIA’S NEXT TOP MODEL is streaming on Hulu and it’s filling the void that Tyra Banks left in my life when America’s Next Top Model ended. The formula is pretty similar but a bit different and the Aussie slang is kind of giving me life right now.

STRANGER THINGS SEASON 2 was all the things that season one delivered and maybe even just a little more. We probably waited longer to finish it than most people but it was still one of the best shows Dan and I watched this fall and I’m already missing it like crazy.

On My Phone

I’ve downloaded a few new to me games worth mentioning recently like:

DRACONIUS GO which is basically the same premise as Pokemon Go but it actually runs on my phone. My husband got me hooked on this one and it has resulted in a lot of family walks and drives around town looking for arenas. Yeah, we’re those people.

KNITTENS! is only available as a prerelease app right now but it shows a lot of promise. It’s a match three game that has you collecting yarn and patterns to “knit” outfits for your in app kitten. Seriously. It’s the most adorable game ever.

BACKPACKER is a kind of Travel Trivia geography game that tests your knowledge of the world as your character backpacks around the world, picking up odd jobs and doing favors, answering trivia questions and more. I’m far, far too into this game.

What have you been up to lately?

What John Mayer Album Do You Need Right Now?

John Mayer just released a new album so you know it is living in my car and my kids are gradually learning every word to every song. Basically nothing has changed because over the years John Mayer has always been the background music to my life. In between fads and new favorite artists, he was always there to help me through whatever relationship stage I found myself in.

Fast forward to today and I’ve been happily married for ten years. John hasn’t caught up to me yet so now it’s more like we’re reminiscing together about the relationship stages of years past. I was thinking the other day about the sort of singular feeling that you can find in each of his albums. They all tell a pretty clear story in my opinion and they each serve their own purpose. Depending on what kind of relationship or break up you are in right now, John has an album for you.

For instance…

If you are in those warm and fuzzy days of new love you need:

Room for Squares

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An oldie but a goodie. Your relationship will resonate well with some of the top hits like Your Body Is a Wonderland, City Love, Great Indoors or Why Georgia.

Also consider: Some of his live albums like As/Is or Any Given Thursday. If you aren’t listening to the live albums, you have barely cracked the surface of John. Come for the audience interaction and stay for the guitar solos.

If you are thinking it might be time to break up, you need:

Battle Studies

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This album is like an ode to love gone wrong with angsty tracks like Heartbreak Warfare, All We Ever Do Is Say Goodbye and Friends, Lovers or Nothing. Let it fuel your resolution to move on or perhaps make you go, “Oh never mind. We’re nothing like that. I must just need a Snickers bar.”

When you are licking the wounds from an ugly breakup, you need:

Where The Light Is

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This is my favorite of his live albums and in my opinion you need it regardless of breakup stage but if you are in this way there is no album better to rage against the audacity of a horrible ex. Who Did You Think I Was, Out of My Mind, Vultures, Everyday I Have The Blues, Slow Dancing in a Burning Room. This is two discs of perfection that will soothe your heart and distract you from the desire to go key your exes car. Cheaper than therapy.

When you need to literally reinvent your whole life, it was that bad, you need:

Born & Raised

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Get a hair cut, start listening to a new genre of music, maybe change towns all together. John has got you. This album has more of a country western vibe but it’s still the John Mayer you know and love. Shadow Days, Walt Grace’s Submarine Test, Queen of California, Whiskey Whiskey Whiskey. Whether you are tucking in your tail because you know your behaviors were prettttty bad or maybe you are in witness protection program and you are hiding in Florida with a new name and a longing for home (remember that episode of Brooklyn 99?) Whatever is causing this need to reinvent yourself, this album should do the trick.

When you are just working on yourself and trying not to think about relationships at all, you need:

Heavier Things

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You have more important things to do than think about some ex. You are jamming out to Clarity, New Deep, Bigger Than My Body, Something’s Missing. You are busy and I totally respect that. For added measure, grab a copy of Waiting on the World to Change and get on with your bad self.

When you are second guessing that breakup and missing someone in a bad way, you need:

The Search for Everything

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This is John’s newest album and it’s retrospective and quiet in places but a little dancey and a little different. It’s got this vibe that makes you kind of pump your shoulders up and down involuntarily and feel sad in an almost good way. There’s no anger here, no venom. A little regret maybe but also kind of a serene calm that feels like acceptance and hope. It feels like full circle. Still Feel Like Your Man, Moving on and Getting Over, Changing, and Emoji of a Wave are all great places to start.

So what album do you need when you are happily married and kind of on the other side of all this business?

That’s easy, you need all of them. You won the war, you deserve half a dozen quality albums to reminisce with and memorize to the chagrin of your spouse and children.

What Comedy Special Should I Watch Next? 5 of My Favorites

There are so many excellent comedy specials that you can watch on streaming services like Amazon or Netflix. I’ve discovered several favorites this way but I’ve barely scratched the surface and it’s almost overwhelming trying to decide what to watch next.

Because let’s be real, not all comedians are created equal. I’m a little picky – they have to have good comedic timing and they should be edgy without being raunchy. I want to relate to them but they don’t need to all be soccer moms obsessed with young adult books and lattes.

Here are 5 comedy specials that I loved.

If you are looking for a good laugh, I totally recommend all of these and by recommend I mean OMG WATCH THESE RIGHT NOW! Then come back and tell me some of your favorites that I should try next, okay?

Freezing Hot by Iliza Schlesinger started my whole obsession with her. This is still my favorite of her comedy specials, it’s just filled to the brim with comedy gold that I reference constantly to like everybody. I think women everywhere can relate to her but even my husband loved this one. NETFLIX

Michael Che Matters I love him on SNL and it’s kind of cruel that  he usually only talks for like 3 minutes and it’s the best shit that gets said for the whole night. His comedy special finally gives us the other 47 minutes we’ve been waiting for. I almost spit out my drink at one point, it was that good. NETFLIX

 

What I Should Have Said Was Nothing by Mike Birbiglia is like my new favorite comedy special that I keep trying to push on other people. I love him especially because he’s from the neighborhood where my husband and I grew up but everything about his material is relateable and hilarious. NETFLIX

Just Being Honest by Craig Ferguson If you loved his Late Late Show, this will be the comedy special that scratches that itch that has been bugging you since he left. My husband and I reference his Kenny G material constantly. AMAZON PRIME

Jo Koy Live From Seattle I just watched this one recently because a friend was raving about it. Definitely funny stuff. His voice impressions are way too funny and his stories are just about life and growing up and honestly sometimes that’s the best stuff to laugh about. NETFLIX

Who are your favorite comedians?

What comedy special should I watch next?

 

5 Favorite Musicians… Then and Now.

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This week for Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop I’ve decided to answer the following prompt:

Write a list of your 5 favorite singers growing up…do they still make your top 5 list?

I grew up in the Oregon Trail generation – I probably first started noticing music in the late eighties and started forming real opinions on the subject in the early nineties. The first CD I remember playing on repeat was Paula Abdul’s Forever Your Girl. I probably started listening to her because my father liked her music, but I quickly became hooked and would play the songs over and over until I’d memorized every line of every song.

Some other musicians that I adored growing up, in addition to Paula Abdul, include:

  • The Backstreet Boys: We all chose a side in the war of the Boy Bands in the nineties. I was firmly on team Backstreet and remain an ardent fan. It is a bitter pill to swallow to admit that the lead singer of NSYNC clearly made out with the best music career.
  • Matchbox 20: I loved this group more for the music than the love sick obsession. I can’t name a single member of the band but I still know basically every word to every song on Yourself or Someone Like You. I don’t know that I’d call them a favorite band today but that album is still heavily present on my Best Of playlist on my phone, unlike most of the other musicians in this list.
  • New Kids on The Block honestly came out a little early for me. I was on the young end of their fan spectrum, but I loved them. When they appeared on Fuller House this season I was shocked at how much they have aged and had a hard time mustering enthusiasm at their cameos on the episode UNTIL they started singing one of their songs in the concert at the end of the episode and I audibly squealed and had the world’s tiniest conniption fit.
  • John Mayer: The love affair began in college which is a little bit on the end of the growing up spectrum, but I still maintain that it counts because of the level of enthusiasm that my fandom took. This was my last Backstreet Boys Level Obsession and anyone who knows me well knows that it hasn’t actually ended. I still buy all of his music, no questions asked. His concert that I attended back in 2005 or so continues to be one of my favorite concerts that I’ve ever attended. I put up with a lot of Rock Star Personality and let all the antics slide because he is still probably my favorite musician.

Honorable mentions must go to LL Cool J, The Goo Goo Dolls, Barenaked Ladies, Ani Difranco, Usher, Britney Spears, Boys II Men, No Doubt, Sublime, J Lo, Maroon 5, Snoop Dogg and Sugar Ray.

My current list of Top 5 Musicians would be…

  1. John Mayer – see, even now as a grown ass woman he continues to hold that #1 spot.
  2. Rebecca Loebe – she was on The Voice very briefly but I’ve known her since college when she came to sing at my school’s coffee house.
  3. Taylor Swift – we’re big Swifties here – my daughter and I are especially obsessed with 1989.
  4. Adele because that voice. She’s basically my Paula Abdul of the 2000s.
  5. The Beatles because they are timeless and it feels wrong for them not to be on this list, honestly. There is never a bad moment to listen to a Beatles song.

Of course I could go on, my music taste continues to be eclectic and vast. But I think this is a pretty solid representation of my music habits.

Twinsies or Nah? Mila Kunis & Valerie Harper

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You know when you notice that two celebrities look really similar and then you cannot unsee the similarities? I’ve got a major case of the Time Travel Twinsies right now and I need to get this off my chest so that I can think about something else. Mila Kunis and Valerie Harper circa the 1970s – serious twinsies!!

I’ve been binge watching old episodes of The Mary Tyler Moore Show on Hulu and noticed that Valerie Harper, who played Rhoda, was the spitting image of Mila Kunis. It’s not even just looks though, her voice and mannerisms were giving me major That 70s Show flashbacks to the point where I looked up Harper online to see if there was any chance they were mother and daughter or cousins or anything. The internet assures me this isn’t the case.

Similarities worth noting, apart from their facial features:

  • Both girls starred in tv shows that take place in the 1970s.
  • They are both known for being loud, talkative, spunky girls in said sitcoms.
  • They both play girls that you kind of like in spite of yourself. Flawed, funny, fearless women.

What do you think? Could Valerie / Mila be the female Doctor Who, traveling across time in awesome bell bottoms and floral prints, starring in beloved tv shows and dating handsome men?

Twinsies or Nah?

 

March Madness: The Bracket of Guys

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If you read The Lazy Genius regularly you know allllllll about the Bracket of Guys and you’ve been hyperventilating for days now. After months of choosing our favorite Matt, Steve, John, Joe and every other male name on the planet, we’re now pitting them all against each other in the hottest March Madness tournament known to woman.

I spent a significant amount of time filling out my brackets (I made one for my heart of hearts and one that attempts to read the minds of strangers), screaming into throw pillows about the insanity of choosing between people like Chris Pratt and Robert Downey Jr. or David Tennant and Benedict Cumberbatch (you cannot do that to a geek! YOU CAN’T!!!!). In a strange twist, both of my brackets ended at the same name. My head and my heart seem to be in agreement that Chris Pratt is the pinnacle of everything.

Today we started voting in the first round of the East Hot Region. That’s a technical term that stands for eight of the hottest and brightest actors as determined by the readers of The Lazy Genius. So if you have a strong opinion about Harrison Ford, Colin Firth, Rob Lowe, Adam Levine, David Tennant, Ryan Gosling, Jimmy Fallon, Michael Fassbender, Will Smith and like a whole bunch of other dudes – it’s time to vote. Make your voice heard. Be a part of the process. It’s your civic duty. Or something.

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