Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Laura Loves {November 2011}

Wow…well November flew by…but I expected that. November is always one of the shorter months with all the holidays starting up. This month was also really busy with houseguests and trips so in combination with a bunch of short work weeks…November has passed by in a flash! But that means it’s once again time for Laura Loves!

Florence + The Machine – Ceremonials
A few weeks back I posted about how I had discovered my love for Florence + The Machine. Since then her second album, Ceremonials, was released which includes the song I posted “Shake It Out.” I decided to buy the entire new album and this month I have been listening to it constantly!

Ceremonials

I have to admit…some of the songs were a bit strange to me at first but I have honestly grown to love the entire album in full. I still have my favorites including the song “No Light, No Light” which I think she decided to make her second single…(the video is a little odd but the song is soooo good!)….

I have learned over this past year that in this day in age of being able to buy any single song that we love, I miss the days when you really had to take more chances on entire albums from an artist you liked. Besides the few select published singles, if you liked an artist, you had to take the chance on the CD. Ceremonials is the third album I can think of this year where I took a risk on the entire album, and so far I haven’t been disappointed…growing to like each entire album. I think I’m going to start doing that even more often this coming year.

Smart Pretty & Awkward
A few months back I found this cute blog written by Molly Ford! Each day she posts tips on how to be smarter, prettier, and (less) awkward. The tips are usually pretty simple and I often come away thinking “why didn’t I think of that?” It’s a really cute and simple blog that is a fun quick read and I love it!

Enjoying the Small Things
Another amazing blog I found recently is not quite as short of a read as the one above…but it is just as sweet! Kelle Hampton is a photographer and stay at home mom of two of the cutest little blondie girls, one of which (Nella) has Down Syndrome. The pictures she takes are absolutely stunning! Her blog can be a fun read but if I don’t have time to read though it all…I love just looking at the pictures! I have to admit that I love the pictures even more than the blog…and she makes sure each post is full of them!

She also wrote a very moving post about when Nella was born (she is almost 2 years old now). The pictures are beautiful and the post is very touching and very real. It is a great post to read when you first visit the blog. Then the other posts are just full of fun and lovely pictures!

This Australian Ad…and a wedding!

I don’t mean to get terribly political but I think I have made it clear in a previous Laura Loves how I feel about the topic of gay marriage. I think the above ad does a great job of showing how the road to marriage is the same for both straight and gay couples. (Also…the guy is pretty easy on the eyes…oh and also…I recognize a few of those places from Sydney! FUN!).

This month I had the privilege of being part of my friend Paul’s wedding to his (now) husband Grady. It was honestly one of the most beautiful wedding ceremonies I’ve ever witnessed. I find it hard to believe that anyone who saw the ceremony would believe that their love was any less deserving of equal treatment in our society. I just can’t wait for the day when this is no longer a political issue. If you’d like to see some photos from the wedding weekend you can enjoy them {here}! (Photos were taken by various members of my family and mostly with my parents’ fancy new camera!)

(Ok stepping off my soapbox now)….but I still loved both the ad and their wedding!

Marcel the Shell
On a lighter note…I’d like to introduce you to Marcel, the shell with shoes on…

I was first introduced to Marcel by Rebecca on her blog…but this month, a year after we first originally met him, Marcel is finally back to tell us more about his little life…and well…I just love it!

He makes me smile a lot!

Milo Loves – Ruff Dawg Stick
Milo got a new toy over Thanksgiving from Mom (she likes to spoil him!). The truth is I think she has quite a knack for picking out dog toys…Milo always loves the ones she gets. Over Thanksgiving weekend she got him the Ruff Dawg Stick and Milo cannot get enough.

Ruff Dawg Stick Dog Toy, Assorted Colors
{Source}

He loves to fetch it, chew it, and tug it…it is easily his favorite toy at the moment. It’s also hollow so I can try to get a snack stuck in there or put some peanut butter on the end for an extra treat! (Or even just play mind games with him by making noises through it!) And the best part is that the rubber is both flexible and durable. Milo is a pretty strong chewer…and so far this thing is holding up.

It was really cute over the weekend when we would come home and let him outside…he’d come out to greet us and then go right back inside to grab his new stick to bring outside to play.

Milo got the yellow version but it comes in a few colors and can be found on Amazon if you can’t find it at your local pet supply store! It also comes in a smaller version (the Twig) if your dog isn’t quite as big as my 80 lb goofball…

Well that’s all I have this month! Check back at the end of December for another edition of Laura Loves!!!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I love the feeling of everyone coming together to celebrate great food and being thankful for a wonderful year and being together! 

This year I am very thankful for:

My amazing family and friends!

My dog who showers me with the very definition of unconditional love…even when I’m grumpy…but especially when I’ve had a rough day…

Old friends who I can chat with as if we spoke yesterday…even though we haven’t had time to catch up in awhile.

Getting VERY lucky and finding my ideal apartment!

AND

Knowing I can always go home Smile.

Today I am with my parents in NJ and we will most likely be making 2 stops to celebrate the holiday this year to see as much family as possible! I can’t wait to celebrate the day with everyone  and eat all the yummy food!!

I hope everyone has a very Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Friday, November 18, 2011

What I’m Watching Fall 2011 {Official Rundown}

I have had a busy busy busy few weeks! Pumpkin carving, birthday fun, and some Savannah nuptuals have kept me away from my blog…but more on those things in another post! I wanted to FINALLY give my offical rundown of what I ended up watching (and not watching) this fall! Since this is a whole week at once I’ll try to be quick with my thoughts!

Mondays
The Sing-Off (NBC) – I actually haven’t been too loyal to The Sing Off…I DVR it and then I “watch” it while I do chores…aka I love the music and they are all really talented…but I enjoy listening more than paying a lot of attention.

Dancing with the Stars (ABC) – I mainly watch Dancing on Mondays. I really enjoy the choreography and watching the stars get better. The season is already ending this coming week! I think I want either J.R. Martinez or Rob Kardiashian to win!

Tuesdays
Glee (FOX) – Glee has been alright this season. The first season is still the best but a few numbers have been awesome like this past week’s mashup of Adele (the music & dancing is one of my main reasons for watching this show Winking smile). I think this is my favorite performance from the season so far…

Dancing Results (ABC) – I have to see who is getting the boot! Plus they usually bring on some impressive professional dancers from different genres which I love!

Parenthood (NBC) – Still one of my favorite shows of the week…that’s all I really have to say about that…

New Girl (FOX) – I know I said I wasn’t going to watch this show but then I discovered that my cable company offers a LOT of prime time shows On Demand so I decided to give it a shot. It is not my favorite sitcom…the main character as suspected is a little over silly for me…but not nearly as bad as I thought they were going to make her. And I was glad to see that the guys are all quirky in their own ways too. I like the show more than I thought I would…so it will stick around.

Wednesdays
Survivor (CBS) – I enjoy Survivor…although lately its become a bit predictable…it has been a decent season so far with no one dominant tribe (until recently) and some usual crazy people to watch haha…

Up All Night (NBC) – As expected this is a cute sitcom about first time parents. Christina Applegate is great as is Will Arnett…its cute and funny. One of the better new sitcoms in my opinion…but not as good as my Wednesday night on ABC Winking smile.

The Middle (ABC) – This sitcom is absolutely one of my favorites…it unfortunately gets a bit overshadowed by Modern Family but if you aren’t watching this show it really is worth checking out!

Suburgotory (ABC) – I have mixed feelings about this show. I think it can be funny, especially the main girl and the dad…but at the same time the picture of suburbia that they are portraying is not one I can relate to…especially since they are specifically speaking of NYC suburbs….ones that I sort of grew up in…its not really relatable to me…but I’m watching it for now.

Modern Family (ABC) – Hands down my favorite sitcom…and this season has not disappointed! It is a must watch for me…

Happy Endings (ABC) – This is another well written ABC sitcom…always good for a laugh and I highly recommend it. Sort of a new version of Friends without the laugh track.

Thursdays
Project Runway (Lifetime) – This show started mid summer and recently ended (a relief to my Thursday nights). I like watching Runway mainly to see what the designers come up with at the end of the show…

Parks & Recreation (NBC) – This show just gets funnier and funnier. I love Amy Poehler and each character is so unique. This show isn’t getting cut from my watch list any time soon.

The Office (NBC) – I like the office…and it has had some great episodes already this season (which I was skeptical about since Steve Carell left). But it has been pretty entertaining this season.

Grey’s Anatomy (ABC) – With this show it’s basically a loyalty thing. I mean there have been some good episodes and stuff but some of the storylines are getting a little crazy. I usually have a few of these to catch up with on the DVR…similar with…

Private Practice (ABC) – see above….same deal…crazy storylines…but I guess that’s what makes these dramas “dramatic”…

Fridays
Nothing! If I don’t have plans with friends Fridays are usually when I play catch up with the DVR or On Demand.

Saturdays
SNL (NBC) – Ya know…I still enjoy SNL…but I usually watch it via DVR so I can fast forward through the many commercial breaks (understandable for a live show) annnnd sometimes the music artists…

Sundays
Amazing Race (CBS) – I love this reality show…it is the one I think I’d love to be on…anyone want to audition with me? Who wouldn’t love a free trip around the world doing cool stuff along the way?!?

Once Upon A Time (ABC) – This show started late in the season but I have to say I really love it! I was skeptical about this show because it seemed like it could easily get really cheesy…ya know with all the fairy tails. But it is actually really interesting. It is written by the same people who wrote Lost…and the way the real world and fairy tale world are connected is really well done but has tons of mysteries…aka it is easy to tell haha. I HIGHLY recommend this show. I don’t want to give too much away…but hurry go and catch up with this show on ABC.com!! (As of this post all episodes aired so far are still up…but that could change very soon!!!)

Pan Am (ABC) – This is not the best new drama of the season…but I really have been enjoying this show. I love the wardrobe and different situations they find themselves while passing through various cities. And watching a show set in the past is sort of refreshing. Last week’s episode was a little weak…but generally I think they have been pretty good…

Sister Wives (TLC) – I really love this show…I find it fascinating to learn about their polygamist lifestyle and just see the issues they deal with as a family.

Long Island Medium (TLC) – This show had a very very very brief season on TLC as most of those shows do at first and unfortunately it is already over…but I thought it was really interesting. I wasn’t planning on watching but found it coming on after Sister Wives. This woman constantly channels people who have “passed on” and typically will read people in her daily life. What she does is impressive (whether it’s real or fake…she is at least talented at being convincing). I am definitely a skeptic but…only because of my own logic…I can’t really see what she is doing to pick up on some of the specific things she does…it’s really very interesting.

Dropped
Ringer (CW) – The pilot of this show was not so great…bad special effects and sort of a weird storyline. I don’t think the acting was all that stellar either. I thought about giving it a second chance…but the first episode was not good enough and I had other things I really wanted to watch. It got picked up for an entire season though so…maybe it did get better…but it didn’t really impress me so it got dropped.

Grimm (NBC) – This show had potential with me but it wound up being too gross. Its action is really suspenseful and stuff but ugh the creatures that they make people turn into are so weird (and not always fairy tale monsters like I thought they were supposed to be). Plus the storylines are a little silly I think. I gave it a few episodes but I think I’m calling it quits on this one. I could see how some might like it but….its just not for me.

Whitney (NBC) – This is a little bit of a lie b/c if there is nothing else that I want to watch and there are new episodes of Whitney On Demand I will turn it on. But I’m not the biggest fan of the show. The show has some serious haters out there but NBC seems to love it ordering a full season. I sort of can’t stand the laugh track and sometimes the jokes fall a bit flat for my taste. Sometimes its funny but…its not a show I get excited about watching…I have seen most of the episodes but because I don’t put a ton of effort into keeping up with it I will count it as dropped…

Desperate Housewives (ABC) – I didn’t think I was going to drop this show but with CBS usually running late with football I had a conflict with recording and figured I would catch up with Desperate online or On Demand….but I don’t really feel like it. I sort of dislike where some of the characters are now and all the crazy storylines…I really would love to see how it ends since I watched most of the seasons but watching it isn’t exciting to me anymore….so even with the loyalty I thought I had to watch it….it’s fading for me…and I’ve missed my opportunity to catch up with most episodes so….I guess it’s officially dropped.

Well there you have it! The official list of what I’m watching for the Fall 2011 TV Season…Do you watch any of these shows? Have any new or old favorites or recommendations? Which shows are you disappointed with? Let me know in the comments! I hear a lot of people like Revenge but I never even thought to give that a try and don’t have a ton of time to catch up…it might be one that I catch up with on DVD next year.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

It's My Birthday!

Welp…I’m another year older and hopefully a year wiser! Last year I started the tradition of asking myself a few annual questions on my birthday as sort of a reflection of the past year and thinking about what I’d like to make of the coming year. I thought it was a good exercise so I want to keep it up!

Age?
27

Location?

Alexandria, VA

What are some of the highlights of the past year?

  • Making some new friends at work and catching up with old pals that now live in the area!
  • Successfully completing the largest off the cuff/random craft project that I've ever casually attempted haha...I won't ever stop being proud of the palm tree lamp...
  • Experimenting with a few new hobbies including expanding on my sewing and becoming an Oscar snob!
  • Enjoying some really great reads and rediscovering a the joy of losing myself in a book.
  • Falling in love with my Fitbit and losing some extra padding this spring/summer!
  • The Royal Wedding!
  • Truckeroo!
  • A great weekend catching up with old friends!
  • Great family beach vacation in Ortley Beach, NJ and even running into the cast of Jersey Shore!
  • Scoring Mia Hamm's autograph on the family's Mia Hamm Jersey!! :-)
  • Finding my dream apartment in Alexandria!
  • Experiencing an earthquake!
  • Taking a few baby steps out of my comfort zone...with hopefully bigger steps to come!

What life lessons have you learned this past year?

  • Losing weight is easier than you'd think when you find something that truly motivates you.
  • Similarly...reading is a lot more fun than you'd think (or remember) when you find books that really captivate you...aka...its ALRIGHT to give up a book when reading it feels like a chore.
  • My next large furniture purchase will be a couch...happening either when I save up to get one I like (and pay to have it delivered and this one removed)...OR the next time I move...it is not coming with me again.
  • Apartments with non-white walls feel more homey :-)...its even better when you don't have to pain them yourself
  • People can only give you advice from their personal experiences and their own preferences. So while it is good to listen and take advice, its also perfectly fine to follow a different path if the advice doesn't seem to work for your own path and preferences.

Did you accomplish your goals from last year?

  • Being responsible and start contributing to my TSP - YES! Check and Check!
  • Keep focused on staying on top of my budget - I wasn't as on top of this one as I wanted to be, but did alright for myself this year, especially with the additional expenses of moving this summer.
  • Consolidate my student loans - Didn't do this...moving it into next year!
  • Go to more National's games - Well not only did I go to more games this year but I even brought the mutt with me and had a blast!
  • Be better about clutter in my room…try not to let papers pile up on my desk - Touch and go with this one but the papers aren't as bad as they used to be.
  • Cut back on the amount of TV I record/watch - I actually did do this in the spring and cut waaaay back...but with the fall season I'm watching more TV again. But ya know...I've realized that I really enjoy TV and that is A-OK...so this goal is getting scratched.

What are you looking forward to in the coming year?

  • This is the year of weddings...starting with one next week! I have 3 more scheduled this coming spring already! I can't wait for all the dancing!
  • My car payment is ending this coming year....I'm counting the months!
  • Finding more activities to do with friends!
  • Apparently according to one of my summer TV reality stars…27 is supposed to be some sort of epic age of realization or change or self awareness or something….I’m forgetting what she said exactly haha but I’d like to see if I have some crazy realization like that this year haha!

What do you want to change about your life/yourself in the next year?

  • Consolidate my student loans (yup its back on the list).
  • Be better at keeping in touch with friends and family in different places.
  • Be more open to doing activities on my own.
  • Find a new primary care doctor...I'm a bit overdue on this one.
  • Be sure to do things in the city despite having moved outside of it.
  • Complete weight loss goal #1 (almost there!) and hopefully put a dent in goal #2!

How are you celebrating your birthday this year?
My sister is coming to town to spend the weekend with me...plus she will be seeing my new apartment for the first time! I can't wait for her to see it! As a bonus we will be meeting some friends out to play some pool and perhaps some other games while enjoying happy hour! It should be a great time!