December 9, 2011

watch it: my 25 days of christmas

Source: via Kelly on Pinterest

White Christmas

Mickey's Christmas Carol

A Christmas Story

A Charlie Brown Christmas

For as long as I can remember, with the exception of a two-year period during my college years, my family has not had cable/satellite TV. When I did have cable at home and in my college dorm room, I greatly enjoyed ABC Family's 25 Days of Christmas. And as silly as it probably sounds, those Christmas specials are probably the number-one thing I miss about having cable TV. I just loved being able to turn on the TV on any given December evening or weekend and be bombarded by truly wonderful holiday specials. It just made the holiday season feel that much more nostalgic and fun. So this year, I decided to make my own 25 Days of Christmas list and then work my way through it. Check it out! Let me know what favorites of yours made the list, and which ones didn't that you think I should make an effort to see. The photos above feature just a few of the classics I included.

December 8, 2011

play it: 2011 holiday albums

Hello, everyone! I am sorry for my absence last week/early this week. This past weekend was the first meet for the high school swim team that I coach, so I was super busy with preparations and then catching up on the rest of my to-do list. Now that things have slowed down (slighty), I'm diving right into holiday-related posts. First up - my favorite 2011 Christmas albums!

Source: via Kelly on Pinterest

1. Christmas, Michael Bublé
Since I love Michael Bublé and his classic, big-band style, it's probably no surprise that his holiday album is my favorite new addition to my Christmas music arsenal. My favorite songs: "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," "Jingle Bells (featuring the Puppini Sisters)," "All I Want For Christmas Is You," "Blue Christmas"

Source: via Kelly on Pinterest

2. A Very She & Him Christmas, She & Him
I adore everything Zooey Deschanel does, including her indie pop duo She & Him. If you've never heard them before, their holiday album is a great introduction. My favorite songs: "Christmas Day," "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree," "Silver Bells," "Baby, It's Cold Outside"

Source: via Kelly on Pinterest

3. Under the Mistletoe, Justin Bieber
I am not the biggest Bieber fan, but I must admit I do enjoy his music whenever I hear it playing. That being said, I decided to try out his holiday album. It is pure pop fun, perfect for dancing along to while decorating or baking Christmas cookies. My favorite songs: "Only Thing I Ever Get For Christmas," "Mistletoe," "Drummer Boy," "Someday at Christmas"

Source: via Kelly on Pinterest

4. The Christmas Album Volume 2, Glee the Music
Regardless of storylines, I always love the Glee soundtrack. I adored their Christmas album last year, and wasn't disappointed with this winter's second installment. Similar to Justin Bieber's album, it puts a new spin on Christmas classics in totally upbeat, fun way. My favorite songs: "Santa Baby," "Christmas Eve with You," "Let It Snow," "Santa Claus is Coming to Town"

What 2011 Christmas albums/songs are you enjoying this year? Also, you can check out other awesome Christmas albums here.

November 25, 2011

weekly gems

November 24, 2011

things that are making me happy (and grateful!)

  • Celebrating Thanksgiving with my family, and all that celebration entails
  • Favorite Thanksgiving foods like cranberry slices from the can, mashed potatoes, gravy, biscuits, green beans, sweet potato casserole, strawberry pretzel jello, pumpkin pie (pictured above), sugar cookies shaped like turkey, and, of course, actual turkey!
  • Helping my dad put up our outdoor Christmas lights
  • Walks with my dogs during which they run through fallen leaves
  • Baking mini-muffins and cookies
  • Watching the high school swim team I coach grow closer as a group and improve athletically as we prepare for our first meet!
  • Discovering where Zumba classes are offered in my area
  • Exploring all the gift guides my favorite sites and blogs are publishing (a round-up will be coming soon!)
  • Waking up to sweet voicemails from Daniel
  • The weather being cool enough to dress in layers, scarves, and boots, but not snowy and cold enough to be an everyday challenge
  • Getting sucked into ridiculous movies my dad finds on the broadcast TV's digital sub-channels
  • Drinking big cups of tea and coffee (homemade or Starbucks holiday drinks) while curling up with a big blanket and a good book (like this one)

What is make you feel happy and grateful today? I hope lots - Happy Thanksgiving!

November 23, 2011

read it: is everyone hanging out without me? (and other concerns)

Source: via Kelly on Pinterest

Are you the type of person who has favorite celebrities? Well, I am, and Mindy Kaling is most certainly one of them. I love her on The Office (as an actress, writer, and director) and Twitter. She's always been a celebrity I wish I could have as a best friend, but her book just confirms this feeling. The book contains stories about childhood, living in New York City, her off-Broadway show Matt and Ben, living in Los Angeles, and The Office, as well as many other topics such as friendship, fad diets, and strict funeral plans, just to name a few. My favorite chapters included:
  • I Am Not an Athlete
  • Don't Peak in High School
  • Day Jobs
  • Best Friend Rights and Responsibilities
  • Guys Need to Do Almost Nothing to Be Great
  • Non-Traumatic Things That Have Made Me Cry
  • Married People Need to Step It Up
  • When You're Not Skinny, This Is What People Expect You to Wear
  • Revenge Fantasies While Jogging
Those are just the chapters whose pages I dog-earred the most. Every chapter made me laugh and just feel good about life. I definitely recommend this book if you (a) are a Mindy Kaling fan, (b) you like to laugh, (c) you appreciate both hard work and family, and/or (d) you enjoy discussing things like comedy, men, karaoke etiquette, and the ideal level of fame.

If you need more reasons to read, check out these links to articles and interviews about Mindy Kaling and her book:

November 22, 2011

use it: spotify

Source: via Kelly on Pinterest

Have you heard of Spotify? Dan's dad introduced me to it. It's an awesome new Internet-based music application that is basically Pandora meets iTunes. You can listen to radio stations, subscribe to playlists created by other users, browse new music and top hits, or search Spotify's catalogue for a specific artist/band, song, or album. While not all artists or bands put all or even some of their music on Spotify, TONS do and most of them allow their albums to be played in their entirety. Once you've found the music you were looking for, you can listen to it, "star" it, and/or add it to a playlist you're creating. The Spotify application includes a library component, where you can store music you've imported (from other places like iTunes), bought, starred, and/or added to a playlist.

Source: via Kelly on Pinterest

Something that is particularly neat about Spotify is how you can use it to share music with other people. Each song or playlist featured on Spotify is given a link, which can be sent to friends via a variety of mediums. Also, if you link Spotify to your Facebook account, the application will show you all your Facebook friends who also have Spotify and what they are listening to. You can also send them tracks or playlists by dragging and dropping them on the friend's name. The music will then appear in your friend's Spotify inbox (another component of the application) for your friend to discover the next time he/she is using Spotify.

While I haven't used the radio option on Spotify that much, I love searching for artists and listening to whole albums. Once I'm listening to an album, I can search related artists, play the artist radio to find similar music to listen to, or read the artist biography. I also really enjoy creating playlists and subscribing to playlists advertised on the brief commercials or that friends are listening to. Right now I'm loving my subscriptions to '80s Smash Hits!, Country Music Awards, Top of the Charts, and The Ultimate Holiday Playlist (as shown in the image above).

I highly recommend trying Spotify. I absolutely love it! (Note: I have the basic, free Spotify application which I use on my Mac. For information on Spotify Premium, click here. For information on Spotify Mobile, click here).

Do you use Spotify? What do you think?

November 21, 2011

things i've been meaning to blog about, watch it edition: fall movies & new tv series

After I started a job in Columbus, life got very hectic and I took an unplanned break from this blog. Since leaving that job and moving again, I've returned and recommitted to regularly blogging at Beagle & Bear. Part of that returns includes a blog series called "Things I've Been Meaning to Blog About," which is made up of posts I intended to publish in summer or early fall but haven't yet. This post is the last of that series.

Movie: 50/50 (pictured above)
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
See it if you enjoy: laughing and crying at the same time, taking a stand, friendship, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, and Anna Kendrick.

Movie: Moneyball
Rating*: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
See it if you enjoy: baseball, rooting for the underdog, true stories, and Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, and Phillip Seymour Hoffman.

Did you see either of these films? What did you think?

TV Show: 2 Broke Girls (pictured above)
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Watch it if you enjoy: strong female characters, non-stop jokes, New York City, and Kat Dennings, Beth Behrs, and Nick Zano.

TV Show: New Girl
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Watch it if you enjoy: the movie No Strings Attached (the creator of the show also wrote that film), close male-female friendships, stories about roommates, and Zooey Deschanel, Jake M. Johnson, Max Greenfield, and Lamorne Morris.

TV Show:
Up All Night (pictured above)
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Watch it if you enjoy: comedic looks at parenthood and marriage, shows like The Office or Parks and Recreation, characters with ridiculous egos, and Will Arnett, Christina Applegate, and Maya Rudolph.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Watch it if you enjoy: family-oriented sitcoms, issues and antics between sisters, the Midwest, and Tim Allen, Nancy Travis, and Hector Elizondo. (Note: I probably wouldn't watch this show if I wasn't home on Tuesday nights and had cable, but I'm glad I do! It brings me back to the glory days of Home Improvement without being exactly the same thing).

Source: via Sara on Pinterest

TV Show: Pan Am (pictured above)
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Watch it if you enjoy: anything to do with the 1960s, drama that includes both action and romance, exotic settings, and Christina Ricci, Mike Vogel, and Kelli Garner.

TV shows that have been cancelled already that I actually liked: ABC's Charlie's Angels reboot, NBC's The Playboy Club

TV shows that I've heard are good and I want to watch but haven't been able to yet: Suburgatory, Once Upon a Time, Revenge, and Whitney.

What fall shows have you been watching? What do you think?

November 19, 2011

weekly gems

November 18, 2011

reasons i'll miss regis

Today is Regis Philbin's last day on Live with Regis and Kelly. I don't know about all of you, but I am SO SAD. I have always watched this show whenever I was home and able to, and I seriously can't imagine what it is going to be like to not being able to turn on the TV and see him every morning! I'm going to miss:

  1. His snazzy suits.
  2. His catchphrases - "Got a minute?" "Incidentally..." etc.
  3. How he refers to himself in the third person.
  4. His wholehearted support of his high school and college alma maters.
  5. His attitude toward technology.
  6. His smile and laugh.
  7. How he constantly ribs on Gelmen.
  8. How the love he has for his wife and family shines through when he talks about them.
  9. How he is up for being as goofy and outrageous as possible.
  10. And, of course, host chat!

I'm going to go through withdrawal. Somebody please get me a black Live With Regis and Kelly coffee mug like the one they sip from every morning and a copy of Regis's new book, STAT.

November 15, 2011

thing i've been meaning to blog about, use it edition: amazon kindle

After I started a job in Columbus, life got very hectic and I took an unplanned break from this blog. Since leaving that job and moving again, I've returned and recommitted to regularly blogging at Beagle & Bear. Part of that returns includes a blog series called "Things I've Been Meaning to Blog About," which is made up of posts I intended to publish in summer or early fall but haven't yet. This post is part of that series.

Source: via Kelly on Pinterest

This past summer, at the recommendations of my fiancé Daniel, my friend Elizabeth, and my 88-year-old grandmother, I purchased an Amazon Kindle. I stalled on getting an e-reader for awhile for a few reasons: I like to read in the bathtub, I didn't want to continuously have to buy books in order to read them, I didn't want to contribute to the world of books dying out, etc., etc. However, after really thinking about it, I knocked out those excuses pretty quickly - I mostly read magazines in the bathtub. Public libraries are starting to lend e-books, books can be borrowed from other Kindle users, and Amazon has its own lending library. I could still buy new hard copy books by favorite authors or other interesting books from used bookstores. Etc., etc.

So after meticulously Googling information about Nooks vs. Kindles, I went to Target and got myself a Kindle (specifically, a Kindle Keyboard with Special Offers). I absolutely adore it!
  • It can hold SO MANY BOOKS.
  • It uses e-ink technology, so there is no sleep-interfering blue light like there is on a computer, phone, iPad, etc.
  • It's super light to hold. Not the biggest benefit for younger people (unless you have weaker wrists), but huge for older people like my grandma or people who read often and for long periods of time.
  • You can make the words bigger or smaller (this was big for me, as I technically need glasses to read).
  • Amazon has "Kindle Daily Deals" of the day, in which you can get a book for around $1.99 (give or take a dollar, depending on the book). I enjoy discovering new books and authors this way, and don't feel guilty about purchasing one every now and then!
  • I was really interested and excited by the concept of Kindle Singles
  • I have an account with Amazon that I use often. Connecting my e-reader to an already existing account rather than having yet another account at another website was appealing and is helpful.
  • I can lay on my side in bed reading without having to move at all except for the side of my thumb that presses the forward page button. So useful in fighting my insomnia and helping me relax/fall asleep easier!
  • There are tons of super cute Kindle cases you can buy and use! I love the Vera Bradley one that Dan got for me! (it's pictured above along with my Kindle)
If you are a book lover, I would highly recommend a Kindle (especially the keyboard edition!). It's not going to replace hard copy books in your life or make you go broke. It's just going to make your packing for trips lighter and your reading-before-bed routine sweeter.

Do you have a Kindle or another type of e-reader? What do you think?

November 14, 2011

weekend wrap-up

Friday: Dan came up to Cleveland for a visit. We went to Crocker Park, where we ate at The Cheesecake Factory and went shopping at The Gap. That evening we grabbed some Starbucks and watched reruns of Saturday Night Live via Netflix.
Saturday: Dan and I picked up donuts from our favorite local shop and pretend house-hunted around my city before he had to leave for Columbus. That afternoon I attended my dear friend Ashley's baby shower (she's expecting a little girl!). In the evening, I saw my sister Jackie star in the lead role of a new play named Pray for the Missing Girls, which was showing at Cuyahoga Community College's west campus.
Sunday: After my mom and I went to church together, I spent the rest of the day at home, doing various chores and relaxing. The relaxing portion of the day included reading Mindy Kaling's new book, which I thoroughly enjoyed. The weekend finished up with a cute Skype and ice cream date with Dan.

(Okay, full disclosure: that photo of the cheesecake is actually a pumpkin pie cheesecake from Olive Garden when I went to lunch with my sister a couple weeks ago. I forgot to take a photo of the cheesecake Dan and I shared at The Cheesecake Factory, which was chocolate chip cookie dough. Can you tell I really like cheesecake?)

All photos taken via my Instagram

November 12, 2011

weekly gems

Source: via Kelly on Pinterest

November 11, 2011

history lesson: veterans' day

I love that Veterans' Day in the U.S. is on November 11th for a couple reasons: (1) it makes November even more full of conscious reflections of gratitude and (2) it marks the anniversary of the end of WWI (also known as Armistice Day). I know there's a lot of buzz about making a wish at 11:11 on 11/11/11, which I do think is pretty neat and fun, but whenever I hear "11:11 on 11/11," I can't help but think of how WWI formally ended on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918. I challenge you at that moment, in addition to any personal wish you may be making, to also pause and think of veterans you know or veterans in general. If not at that moment, sometime throughout today. Veterans I know are in my thoughts and prayers more than usual today - my cousin and her husband, another dear cousin of mine, my best friend's sister, the man who was the best man to my maid of honor in a wedding, the man who spoke to my government students last spring, the man who spoke to one of my history classes in college, a man who grew up in Boy Scouts with my brother, two former math teachers, my grandfathers, my great-uncles, and so many others I have interacted with or heard about throughout my lifetime. To all the veterans, I thank you for all you do, have done, and will do for America and its people. You are always in my thoughts and prayers. I hope you have a beautiful day today, and every day.

November 10, 2011

things i've been meaning to blog about, cook it edition: baked salmon

After I started a job in Columbus, life got very hectic and I took an unplanned break from this blog. Since leaving that job and moving again, I've returned and recommitted regularly blogging at Beagle & Bear. Part of that returns includes a blog series called "Things I've Been Meaning to Blog About," which is made up of posts I intended to publish in summer or early fall but haven't yet. This post is part of that series.

One of my presents upon graduation this past May was a Barnes & Noble gift card. I used it to buy the cookbook I am reading in the photo above: 100 Recipes Every Woman Should Know: Engagement Chicken and 99 Other Dishes to Get You Everything You Want in Life by Cindi Leive and the editors of Glamour.

I adore this cookbook. It has the readability and fun of an issue of Glamour, and the recipes are relatively uncomplicated and delicious. The star recipe in the cookbook is a meal called Engagement Chicken, which is accompanied by an explanation, stories, and a Hall of Fame list. In addition to an introduction and the Engagement Chicken story, the recipes are categorized into the following chapters: Breakfast and Brunch, Nibbles, Drinks, Soups and Salads, Meat and Poultry, Seafood, Pizza and Pasta, Meat-Free Mains, Sides, Cheap and Easy Meals, Sweets, and Menus. All the recipes have cute and cheeky names, such as He Stayed Over Omelets, Forget the Mistake You Made At Work Margarita, Get Him to Clean the Apartment Burgers, Instant Happiness Mac and Cheese, BFF Birthday Cake, etc. Each recipe is rated on a scale of one to three high heels, printed in pink and black, and is preceded by a short story explaining the background of and/or use for the recipe.

I made my first recipe from the book late this summer. Together Dan and I made Bikini Season Baked Salmon, although we slightly altered the ingredient list for our purposes. It was easy to make, tasted wonderful, and left us feeling satisfied and healthy.

Bikini Season Baked Salmon, adapted from Glamour magazine's 100 Recipes Every Woman Should Know
Four-ounce skin-on salmon fillets
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper
Lemon salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup lemon juice

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Put the salmon skin-side down in a ceramic or glass baking pan. Rub the salmon fillets with 1 tablespoon olive oil and season generously with sea salt, lemon salt, and pepper. Let the salmon sit in the pan for 10 minutes.

2. Drizzle the white wine over the salmon. Put the pan in the oven and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the salmon fillets are opaque.

3. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix the lemon juice and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Top each salmon fillet with the lemon juice mixture and serve immediately.

November 9, 2011

things i've been meaning to blog about, bookmark it edition: food 52

After I started a job in Columbus, life got very hectic and I took an unplanned break from this blog. Since leaving that job and moving again, I've returned and recommitted regularly blogging at Beagle & Bear. Part of that returns includes a blog series called "Things I've Been Meaning to Blog About," which is made up of posts I intended to publish in summer or early fall but haven't yet. This post is part of that series.

Over the past couple years, I have become really interested in cooking and baking, as well as entertaining in the home. I love gaining more knowledge about the art of cooking and baking, whether it be by finding new recipes, learning about winepairings, or reading about sustainability. That being said, I was so excited this summer when I came across the amazing website and community Food 52. Food 52 is definitely not a new website, but it is new to me!

Food 52 was founded by Amanda and Merill (experienced food writers and the brains behind The Essential New York Times Cookbook). They wanted to bring a major part of what they love about cooking, sharing and socializing, online. Food 52 began as the vehicle for a specific project: creating the first crowd-sourced cookbook in 52 weeks. Basically, Food 52 posts themes (such as Best Beef Stew or Best Winter Cocktail) for which community members can then submit recipes. From the recipe submissions, the Food 52 staff compiles a list of recipes that the community can check out and then vote upon. The winner of that theme's challenge is included in that year's Food 52 cookbook. (A more detailed and probably less confusing explanation of the contest system can be found here). So far, Food 52 has produced two cookbooks and a holiday iPad app.

In addition to the awesome recipe contest, cookbook-building aspect of Food 52 (which has its own section on the site), the website also includes the following sections:
  • Recipes: An extended recipe section that features all Food 52's recipe articles and the options to search by category name or through a search bar
  • Articles: Detailed articles on recipes by Food 52 staff, community members, or well-known cooks, holiday/seasonal ideas, entertaining tips, wine, cookbook reviews, etc.
  • Hotline: A message board/forum section in which the Food 52 staff and community members ask and answer food and cooking questions
  • Cooks: A section of the website for community members, full of articles such as Cook Spotlight, Winner's Q& A, Latest Community Picks, etc.
  • News: The top food news stories from around the web, separated into categories
  • Shop: a Food 52-curated online shop with spotlight items and special offers
You can also sign up for Food 52's electronic newsletter to be delivered to your inbox.

I can spend literally hours on this site. It's pleasing to look at, easy to navigate, and full of information and inspiration. I highly recommend it!

All photos, Food 52

November 8, 2011

things i've been meaning to blog about, use it edition: babycakes cupcake maker

After I started a job in Columbus, life got very hectic and I took an unplanned break from this blog. Since leaving that job and moving again, I've returned and recommitted to regularly blogging at Beagle & Bear. Part of that returns includes a blog series called "Things I've Been Meaning to Blog About," which is made up of posts I intended to publish in summer or early fall but haven't yet. This post is part of that series.

In June, my wonderful friend Elizabeth got me a Babycakes cupcake maker for my birthday. It is an awesome tool for people like myself who love baking, love cupcakes, and/or love cool kitchen appliances.

The Babycakes cupcake maker bakes sweet treats in 5-8 minutes. The longer the cupcake maker is on, the faster the batter bakes (which is when your sense of smell comes in!). While the cupcake maker has non-stick coating, which makes any clean-up rather simple, it is necessary to use cupcake liners while baking. The cupcake maker can make mini-cupcakes (obviously!), mini-muffins, brownie bites, or mini-pies (additional pieces are included with and needed for the appliance in order to make mini-pies).

The first sweet treat I made with my cupcake make were simple but delicious strawberry cupcakes with pink vanilla frosting. Those cupcakes (and all the others I have made with the cupcake maker, for that matter!) taste just like cupcakes baked in a traditional manner. Plus, using the cupcake maker is really fun! I am definitely interested in other Babycakes products.

I haven't yet used my Babycakes cupcake maker to bake any mini-pies, but I certainly intend to do so this fall and winter. While I enjoy pies at any time of the year, they seem especially tasty and special throughout the holiday season. Any suggestions on what type of mini-pies I should make first (after pumpkin, of course)?

Have you ever used a cupcake maker or a Babycakes product? What do you think?

November 7, 2011

outfit envy

While Dan and I won't be getting married until mid-2013, I can't help but let wedding and marriage plans sneak into my everyday thoughts - especially after this weekend, when I went to an incredibly beautiful wedding of a dear friend from college! I've always loved the idea of gray as one of our wedding colors, and ever since we got engaged, I'm hyper-aware of how other colors pop out when paired with it. I especially love the way gray and vibrant colors are used in the outfits below:

I love how using gray and denim in the big pieces like the shirt, pants, and bag and bright orange in the scarf, shoes, and belt is both casual and stylish.

Yellow and gray is such a gorgeous, happy, and calm combo of colors, and I love the way this outfit pairs them in a professional yet pretty way.

I think this outfit is an excellent example of how the color paired with gray doesn't necessarily have to be a bright color in order to stand out. The use of light purple in the main pieces and simple gray accents is peaceful and romantic.

What do you think of the use of gray in outfits, as either the starring role or as an accent? What colors do you prefer to pair it with?

November 4, 2011

weekly gems

Source: via Kelly on Pinterest

November 3, 2011

design dreams: throw pillows on beds

Lately I have been daydreaming a lot about the home I will have someday soon with Daniel. I want our bedroom to be a safe haven: cozy, comfy, and relaxed, yet romantic, cute, and stylish. I love the idea of lettered throw pillows because they add an "extra something" to the room's style while also being functional. Check out the ones pictured below:

Source: via Kelly on Pinterest

Adorable "Mr. & Mrs." pillows are perfect for newlyweds.

They can always be switched out first initials of the husband and wife once the honeymoon phase is over ; )

Source: via Kelly on Pinterest

Or, if one wanted to emphasize atmosphere and attitude over coupledom, Scrabble letter-style pillows to spell out a well-chosen word.

Do you like the idea of lettered throw pillows? What sort of ones would you use in your home?

P.S. Check out The Aestate for a great giveaway of an instaclassic home design book, The Perfectly Imperfect Home. And while you're over there, explore the site - it's awesome!

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