January 27, 2012

weekly gems

*If for some reason you are having trouble leaving a comment, please e-mail me at beagleandbear@yahoo.com or leave me a comment on Beagle and Bear's Facebook page. Thanks for your help with this issue!

January 26, 2012

etsy round-up, gift guide edition: valentine's day cards

A lot of people don't like Valentine's Day, noting that it is mostly just an over-commercialized holiday that puts a lot of pressure on people to have some sort of big romantic night. I don't care about those points; I love Valentine's Day anyway. I always have, even when I was little and Valentine's Day was just about collecting Pokemon and Snoopy cards from your classmates. I love the idea of a day that is devoted to romantic love, but that can also be used to celebrate the love you have for your family and friends in a cute and goofy way. PLUS Valentine's Day always means chocolate, fluffy stuffed animals, mushy movies, and yummy meals. What's not to like? ; )

Aside from the above reasons to love the day, my favorite part of Valentine's Day is still the plethora of sweet and funny cards available to send to the special people in your life (although my tastes have upgraded a bit from elementary school when I would send out the entirety of my Disney-themed perforated 24 pack). While I do admire cards by big brands such as Papyrus, American Greetings, Hallmark and online top dog Minted, I always enjoy perusing Etsy for creative cards. Here are my favorite Etsy cards for this Valentine's Day (a bit aways from the actual day, in case you decide to buy and send one):

Source: etsy.com via Kelly on Pinterest

"Heart Strings" card by Wild Beanlore

Source: etsy.com via Kelly on Pinterest

"I Love You More Than Ice Cream" card by Oh Geez Design

Source: etsy.com via Kelly on Pinterest

Valentine's Day Peacock card by My Zoetrope

Source: etsy.com via Kelly on Pinterest

"Home Is Wherever I'm With You" card by JulieAnnArt

Source: etsy.com via Kelly on Pinterest

"You're Perfect" card by HEN & CO.

Source: etsy.com via Kelly on Pinterest

"I Just Want to Eat You Up" card by Abbey Jay Handmade

Source: etsy.com via Kelly on Pinterest

"Love Roses Kraft White" card by Champagne Press

Source: etsy.com via Kelly on Pinterest

"Obi Wan" card by adelynSTONE

Which of these cards do you like best? Have you found any other cards on Etsy or a different website that you are enjoying for Valentine's Day this year?

*If for some reason you are having trouble leaving a comment, please e-mail me at beagleandbear@yahoo.com or leave me a comment on Beagle and Bear's Facebook page. Thanks for your help with this issue!

January 25, 2012

the 84th academy awards nominations

Yesterday was the day that movie and award show lovers alike were waiting for: the 84th Academy Award nominations were announced! I haven't seen all the movies and/or performances that were nominated (a list of 2011 movies I saw and my ratings of them can be found here), but I still had plenty of thoughts on the nominations as I read through them:

Source: imdb.com via Kelly on Pinterest

Why was Moneyball nominated for so many awards?
Don't get me wrong, I saw Moneyball and thoroughly enjoyed it. The acting was certainly of a high quality and the story was compelling (at least if you enjoy baseball, sports movies, underdog stories, or any combination of the three). However, I did not leave the theater thinking, "WOW, Brad Pitt's acting in Moneyball was just AMAZING! Jonah Hill, he was just UNBELIEVABLE! Overall, that picture was OUTSTANDING!" In fact, if I was texting someone my opinion of the movie right after seeing it, I would not have written any adjectives in all-caps. Like I said, I did like Moneyball, and I do think Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill are great actors. I am just incredibly surprised Moneyball is being nominated for as many awards as it is. (As for film editing, I don't know much about that to know if Moneyball deserves it, and the same for sound mixing, but I'm guessing it probably does since there were a great deal of baseball-games-in-action scenes).

Source: imdb.com via Kelly on Pinterest

Cars 2 wasn't nominated for Best Animated Feature.
I have no opinion on whether or not Cars 2 is a good film; I haven't seen it yet. I just found it very interesting that this was the first Pixar movie in what seems like forever that wasn't nominated for the big award.

Source: imdb.com via Kelly on Pinterest

I apparently need to watch The Help again, because my memory must not be serving me well.
I LOVED The Help and think it deserves all the awards it can get (well, clearly, since I'm using all-caps to declare my adoration for it). I am beyond thrilled that Viola Davis is nominated and so is Octavia Spencer (in photo above). While I felt like the entire cast was fantastic and worked together beautifully, I did not expect anyone else to be nominated for an acting award. I'm surprised Jessica Chastain (in photo above) keeps getting nominated as well, over stellar performances by Bryce Dallas Howard, Allison Janney, and Sissy Spacek (who's role was much too small to be nominated, but still well done). I also didn't expect Emma Stone to be nominated for Best Actress or necessarily think she deserved a nomination over the actual nominees, but I do think she deserves as much recognition for her performance in that film as Jessica Chastain does for hers.

Source: imdb.com via Kelly on Pinterest

There are some serious sins of omission here.
How did Jonah Hill receive a Best Supporting Actor nomination for Moneyball over the great Alan Rickman (photo above) in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II? And if Jonah Hill's performance was deemed Oscar-worthy, how in the world was Joseph Gordon-Levitt's performance in 50/50 not Oscar-worthy? How was Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II not nominated for Best Picture when it was highly praised by critics and audiences alike, whereas a film like Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close has gotten lackluster reviews? Harry Potter should have, at the very least, been nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay in addition to the nominations it did receive. I was also greatly disappointed Super 8 was not nominated for a single Oscar, even though visual effects, film editing, sound mixing, etc., (though I don't know much about those categories to rate their quality) greatly contributed to the overall impressiveness of the movie.

Source: imdb.com via Kelly on Pinterest

The Academy did a decent job this year of recognizing comedy that deserves its attention.
I am mega-pleased that Melissa McCarthy was nominated for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for Bridesmaids (pictured above). Believe me, I love everything about that movie, but Melissa McCarthy definitely stole the show. Whether or not she deserves an Oscar over Octavia Spencer in The Help is yet to be seen. I guess it will boil down to whether the Academy wants to give this year's honors to an outstanding comedic performance or to an outstanding dramatic performance. That being said, I'm also psyched Bridesmaids was nominated for Best Original Screenplay. Lastly, I love that "Man or Muppet" (from The Muppets, of course!) was nominated for Best Original Song. The Muppets was quite possibly the best family, hands-down feel-good movie I saw all year (if not in the past few years) and it deserves some recognition. And recognition in the form of my favorite song from it, all the better! Plus, Jason Segel possibly performing it at the Oscars...with MUPPETS? Yes please!!

Which nominations do you support? What were your sins of omissions?

*If for some reason you are having trouble leaving a comment, please e-mail me at beagleandbear@yahoo.com or leave me a comment on Beagle and Bear's Facebook page. Thanks for your help with this issue!

January 24, 2012

things I've been meaning to blog about, watch it edition: 2011 movies

Today the 84th Academy Award Nominations were announced. Full of opinions, I went to write a blog post about my thoughts when I realized I had not done a full recap of the movies I had seen in 2011 and my overall rating of them (like I did for 2010). Better late than never, right? Especially since some of these have been nominated for an Oscar and a lot of them have or will be released on DVD soon. So, without further delay, today I'm posting about my favorite 2011 movies, and tomorrow I'll be discussing the Oscar nominations. Here we go!

My Top Movies of 2011*
(three instead of five because I saw
less movies this year than in 2010)

Source: imdb.com via Kelly on Pinterest

Bridesmaids - This movie will always be one of my all-time favorite films. It makes me laugh, cry, and cry from laughing no matter how many times I see it. It is an excellent story about female friendships, the ridiculousness of weddings, and believing in yourself. Awesome writing and amazing acting (my full review can be found here)!

Source: imdb.com via Kelly on Pinterest

The Help - First of all, if you haven't read The Help, then you need to stop what you're doing and start right now. Once you've finished reading it, you then need to watch the movie immediately. The acting in this film was truly outstanding. Octavia Spencer and Viola Davis certainly give the knockout performances, but Emma Stone, Allison Janney, Bryce Dallas Howard, Sissy Spacek, and Jessica Chastain are all superb. The film tells an important and compelling story that everyone needs to hear, and does so with both hilarity and dignity.

Source: imdb.com via Kelly on Pinterest

Super 8 - I feel as though this movie was highly praised when it was released and then quickly forgotten, and I can't understand why. It takes place in the 1970s and is presented in a way that it really does feel like a classic Steven Spielberg sci-fi adventure movie (the best comparison I can say is that Super 8 is like a higher-quality The Goonies). The young actors were wonderful and their adult counterparts provided the perfect balance. It has everything a movie should: suspense, humor, action, love, friendship, family, mystery, stretches of the imagination, etc. Definitely worth a viewing - or a few!

Close contenders: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II, 50/50, and The Muppets

*All the 2011 Movies I Have Seen & My Ratings
(five star movies are in bold and were the only
consideration for the my top three movies of the year list)

No Strings Attached ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Take Me Home Tonight ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Your Highness ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Bridesmaids ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Thor ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
X-Men: First Class ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Super 8 ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Bad Teacher ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Green Lantern ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Transformers: The Dark of the Moon ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Captain America: The First Avenger ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Cowboys and Aliens ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Horrible Bosses ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
The Help ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
30 Minutes or Less ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
50/50 ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Moneyball ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
The Muppets ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

What movies did you see in 2011, and which were your favorite?

*If for some reason you are having trouble leaving a comment, please e-mail me at beagleandbear@yahoo.com or leave me a comment on Beagle and Bear's Facebook page. Thanks for your help with this issue!

January 23, 2012

things that are making me happy

  • The screenshot above - it cracks me up every time I read it!
  • Watching wild animal segments on my favorite morning shows (like Good Morning America and Live with Kelly)
  • Nights spent simply chatting with hilarious and supportive friends
  • Curling up with my Kindle and a big cup of tea
  • Going to pick up my wedding dress, trying it on, and having to order the next size down instead : )
  • Delicious meals at my favorite local restaurants (like here and here)
  • Awesome performances by my swimmers at an invitational meet this past Saturday
  • A new pair of gray boots and a gray and white jacket from my fiancĂ©
  • Hearing favorite songs on the radio
  • Breaks in the crazy winter weather that make it easier to walk the dogs

What's been making you happy lately?

*If for some reason you are having trouble leaving a comment, please e-mail me at beagleandbear@yahoo.com or leave me a comment on Beagle and Bear's Facebook page. Thanks for your help with this issue!

January 20, 2012

LOL: the bark side

Happy Friday : )

*If for some reason you are having trouble leaving a comment, please e-mail me at beagleandbear@yahoo.com or leave me a comment on Beagle and Bear's Facebook page. Thanks for your help with this issue!

January 18, 2012

outfit envy: stylish sweatshirts

It's finally starting snowing significantly on a regular basis in Cleveland. Mother Nature seems to want to catch up on all the snow she didn't send earlier this winter, and when it's not snowing, it's either raining or super windy. All this cold and messy weather makes me want to curl up with a good book (like all seven Harry Potter novels for the millionth time) and a cup of tea (like this), while decked out in one these comfy but stylish sweatshirts:

Source: ae.com via Kelly on Pinterest

Source: beauxx.com via Kelly on Pinterest

Anyone else take to hibernating when the weather gets gross? What do you do when you are lounging around your house, and what comfy clothes have you had your eye on?

*If for some reason you are having trouble leaving a comment, please e-mail me at beagleandbear@yahoo.com or leave me a comment on Beagle and Bear's Facebook page. Thanks for your help with this issue!

January 10, 2012

my life: i need a haircut

It has been way too long since my last haircut. As a result, my hair has had plenty of time to grow past it's usual "time to get a trim" mark and is longer than it has been in a few years. I can't decide if I should commit to having long hair or revert back to my medium-length ways. My hair is a dark blonde color with some light streaks from the sun (although I do plan on highlighting it once I decide on a cut). My hair is naturally wavy, tends to get a bit frizzy in humidity, and is of medium-thickness, though more thin than thick. I do tend to wear my hair up a lot when I am running around for work, but enjoy styling it and wearing it down when relaxing.

Should I try out one of these stylish medium-length styles...

Source: google.com via Kelly on Pinterest

...or stick to long hair, but possibly add some long layers
and long swingy bangs?

Source: twitter.com via Kelly on Pinterest

Source: google.com via Kelly on Pinterest

Let me know what you think!* I could definitely use some advice...I'm not the best with picking out the right styles for myself. And I promise I'll post photos of the final choice! : )

*If for some reason you are having trouble leaving a comment, please e-mail me at beagleandbear@yahoo.com or leave me a comment on Beagle and Bear's Facebook page. Thanks for your help with this issue!

January 9, 2012

use it: usps 2012 stamps

Hello, everyone! How was your weekend? Mine was pretty great! I had Starbucks with a friend Friday night, spent literally all of the day Saturday at the conference championship meet with my swimmers (who did AWESOME!), and went to a bridal fair on Sunday.

I really enjoy "snail mail," for various reasons, and this week I plan on sending several cards and letters. Have you seen any of the United States Postal Service's 2012 stamps? I'm excited to head down to the post office and pick up some. My favorite ones are:

Cherry Blossom Centennial

Dogs at Work

Mail a Smile (Disney Pixar)


Earthscapes: Natural

William H. Johnson

Heart Health

Frank Capra

The War of 1812: USS Constitution

Santa and Sleigh

Do you enjoy sending cards and letters to friends? Which of these stamps or other ones listed at the link above do you like?

January 6, 2012

weekly gems (and a wish for the world)

January 5, 2012

concert bucket list

I love music. I love making playlists, listening to albums by my favorite artists and bands, and discovering new (or new-to-me) artists and bands. I don't care how I listen to music - my iPod, Pandora, Spotify, traditional radio - I just love listening to it. However, I'm not a big concert goer whatsoever. I hope to change that over the new few years. So much so that I've made a bucket list of artists and bands that I someday want to see live in concert. Check it out (the artists/bands in bold are the ones I want to see the most):

Have you ever seen any of the artists/bands on my list in concert? What's the best concert you've ever been to? What bands/artists would make it on your concert bucket list?

January 4, 2012

my life: a present from grandma

My maternal grandma is my personal hero. She grew up in southern Arizona as the only girl in her family, began nursing school, met my Air Force captain grandpa at a dance, then eloped with him despite the fact that doing so would mean being kicked out of school. She moved to Cleveland (where, post-WWII, my grandpa worked in his family's business), began a home with my grandpa, and raised 12 kids - 9 girls, 3 boys. Then she went back to nursing school, completed the education she'd always planned on getting, and worked as - what else? - a maternity ward nurse. At 88, she is now grandmother and great-grandmother to over 80 grandkids and great-grandkids, and is the wisest, kindest, and sweetest person I've ever met.

My siblings and I were visiting her last week when my aunt was making chicken a la king. My aunt couldn't find the recipe in my grandma's recipe box, so my sister called my house and got the recipe. My grandma insisted the recipe being used was not the right one, and went searching for her Betty Crocker's Good and Easy Cookbook (1978 edition). I helped her find the cookbook and sat with her while she found the recipe. My grandma kept pointing out good recipes, tips and skills featured in the book. She mentioned multiple times that the cookbook was full of "good and easy recipes to make when you are first married and working a lot." Once she found the chicken a la king recipe in the cookbook and made sure it was the recipe she had in mind, she turned to me and said, "Here, you can keep this book if you want to." I was very excited and touched that my grandma was giving me a cookbook she greatly liked with the intention of helping me build a strong home with my future husband. I cannot wait to start trying out the recipes in it! The first one I'm going to try? Chicken a la king, of course : )

Have you ever had a cookbook passed onto you from a close relative or friend? Which one, and what's your favorite recipe from it?

January 3, 2012

new year's all year challenge (new and improved 2012 edition)

Hello, everyone! I hope you had a great holiday season - I sure did! I spent plenty of time with family and friends, decorated my heart out, watched plenty of Christmas movies and specials, and constantly sang and danced to my favorite holiday music.

Source: imgfave.com via Kelly on Pinterest

If you are a longtime reader of this blog, you may remember last year I began a challenge called New Year's, All Year. You may also remember, after a crazy first half of the year, I ended up scaling back my challenge.

I'm the type of person who is always making goals. This year I also want to the be person who is always achieving them. I'm not making a ton of super specific goals in a year-long format and then pulling them back throughout the year due to unexpected challenges. Instead, I'm approaching this year step by step.

First, I recognized the major areas of my life: health, finances, relationships, career, wedding planning, and self-enrichment. Second, I made "endpoint" goals for each of these areas - basically, how I would like to end the year in regards to each area. From there, at the beginning of every month, I will make one or two goals in each area that, when reached, will bring me closer to my endpoint goals. Since I am making these monthly goals throughout the year, I will be able to take into account any new obstacles and then set realistic, measurable objectives (while I will always write out my objectives in a detailed manner, I may not always share all the specifics on this blog, for privacy reasons). The one aspect of last year's New Year's, All Year Challenge that I would like to keep is sharing my journey with YOU!

My 2012 endpoint goals are:
  • Health: live an overall healthier lifestyle
  • Finances: be more organized, balanced, and responsible
  • Relationships: maintain mutually supportive relationships that are in balance with one another
  • Wedding: have location and date set and all major vendors booked
  • Career: aggressively pursue full-time teaching position; develop my coaching skills and knowledge while also developing the school's swimming program further
  • Self-enrichment: allow "me" time without overindulging; actively participate in passions, hobbies, interests, etc. further
My January goals are:
  • Health: track food daily; workout three times a week
  • Finances: save specific percentage of all paychecks
  • Relationships: e-mail out-of-town friends; prepare for Dan and I's three year anniversary
  • Wedding: research vendors in the two locations where Dan and I are interested in holding our wedding
  • Career: prepare for the end of swim season and substitute frequently
  • Self-enrichment: blog much more often

I feel like in 2011, among all the fun, love, and laughter, and despite the stress, self-doubt, and hardships, I learned a great deal about living life in a balanced and positive way. I am very excited to put those lessons to use this year, and to share my experiences with you. If any of you would like to join me in the new and improved New Year's, All Year Challenge, leave a comment and let me know! 2012 is definitely going to be a wonderful year : )

January 2, 2012

things that are making me happy, new year's edition

Source: flickr.com via Kelly on Pinterest

Things that made me happy in 2011:
  • Student teaching
  • Crazy snow adventures
  • Celebrating two years with my love
  • Seeing awesome college theater productions
  • Getting my second tattoo
  • Visiting my future mother-in-law's hometown
  • Lifeguarding and teaching swim lessons
  • Trying out Jillian Michaels DVDs
  • Attending my cousin's at-home wedding reception
  • Going to Cleveland Indians games
  • Trivia at my favorite local bar with hilarious friends
  • Seeing the last Harry Potter film
  • Getting my first job
  • Watching Dan's soccer games
  • Seeing my sister star in her two biggest theater roles yet
  • Being a bridesmaid in a close friend's wedding
  • Admitting my first job wasn't a good fit and leaving it
  • Coaching high school swimming at my high school alma mater
  • Seeing Million Dollar Quartet
  • Attending another close friend's wedding
  • Trying out Zumba
  • Substitute teaching at my high school alma mater
  • One of my closest friends and her husband welcoming their first child
  • Endless, amazing support from my family and friends
  • And tons of little things, like: trips to local ice cream stores, rocking out to music in the car, movie nights (at home or at the theater), coffee or lunch dates, walks with Madison, curling up with a good book, trying out new recipes, shopping trips, long phone chats, eating out at both favorite places and new-to-me places, nights at home spent painting my nails and reading magazines, celebrating holidays and birthdays, visits with my grandma, laughing over board games, blogging, etc., etc.

Things that will make me happy in 2012:
  • More of the above
  • Other exciting adventures both known and unknown

Happy New Year's, everyone : )

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