Friday, December 23, 2016

Have You Heard? // Pentatonix - "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy"

Happy Friday Friends!

Since I've been posting about Christmas music every Friday, all of you have been raving about Pentatonix... and I was hesitant... but I do really like a lot of it!


This is by far my favorite track, and it's perfect timing... because we're heading to The Nutcracker at the Kauffman this weekend!



I always love modern takes on this classic piece, and this one is super fun!

Does anyone else love The Nutcracker?!

I know you all love Pentatonix!

I hope that you all have a LOVELY holiday and a happy new year. I'll be posting off and on, so if you're around stop by!

XO,

Alexandra

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

San Francisco PL Pages // 6X8 Travel Mini Album

I usually do a travel post on Wednesday... but I've wrapped up Vegas and all the travel we have left for the year is a quick weekend trip to Tulsa. So.... today I'm avoiding that post again... haha sharing my second section of my FIRST project life mini travel album!

I learned about PL in the last few years, it's a fun style of scrapbooking that has divided pockets and page protectors. You can buy kits to fit in the pockets (usually 4 X 6 and 3 X 4 cards and matching stickers, etc.) and it kind of gives you some limitations and different formats on how you can scrapbook. I really like it, but I am enjoying this approach a little more than the few times I have played with the kits. It's easy but it still lets me be creative. A win win in my book! :)

I started this back in July and I've been having so much fun with it! I shared my first PL video a few weeks ago, it showed my Houston & Galveston pages, check that out, here. To learn about the process, supplies, etc. for my first section, you can watch my video. :)












What do you guys think?

Have you done any scrapbooking or project life albums? 

Have you been to San Francisco or any part of California?

I would love to hear about it!

XO,

Alexandra

Monday, December 19, 2016

The Edge of Seventeen // Indie Movie Night

Hello! I hope that you all had a great weekend! Ours was pretty productive and relaxed!

It's been a while since I have posted a movie review... as in ... like once per year... maybe... (?) but here we go!

Have you seen previews for Edge of Seventeen?



It's been compared to Clueless and Mean Girls (possibly The Breakfast Club... for those of us who remember that one ... which I say being a child of the '90's...) Well, I thought it looked kind of funny... and we felt like going to a movie... and it apparently had/s a 94%  on Rotten Tomatoes. Wow. That's pretty good.

Anyhow, we bought tickets, and I am really glad that we went! The movie has a lot of heart, it seems "real" enough without being too depressing, or being over-the-top... and it's funny! I was really pleased with it actually!

The movie follows Darlene, a 17 year old girl with exactly one friend, a mom who loves her brother most, and her brother is Mr. Popular. When her best friend starts dating her brother... her world is turned upside down. (This doesn't sound earth shattering... ) Along the way she learns a lot about herself, she grows a lot, and makes at least one new friend.


Ok, this still doesn't sound earth shattering... but I promise, it's really good!

If you're in the mood for a coming of age movie, and want something that's rated R without being overly raunchy or violent (but still seems real)... this could be the movie for you.


Woody Harrelson plays one of Darlene's teachers, and he is just hilarious and sarcastic. I loved her interactions with him.


I also really loved Erwin, this extremely socially awkward character. He was so funny! I read an article about the actor and how he was excited to have a bigger part as a male lead being Asian. That doesn't happen a lot in the entertainment industry, so that was pretty cool! Not something I think about a ton, but I should! I always like diversity in actors and characters, and I support efforts to see bigger roles filled by minority actors of all kinds! His was such an enjoyable character in this movie, and he played the part really well. I hope to see him in more films in the future!

I would say as far as teen indie movies go... this one is a more accurate picture of what it's like. It's not rose colored, it's not TEEN PARTY MOVIE, it's just what it is. I found that pretty refreshing and real. Again, I didn't feel like I was watching a movie for teens. I also loved that the characters were so quirky! :)

Has anyone else seen this? Or is anyone else thinking about seeing this?

Other movies we've seen recently(ish)... that I did not post about....:

Bridget Jones's Baby - HILARIOUS!!
Magnificent Seven - Chris Pratt... though... he's not the most convincing cowboy (not cowboy movie connoisseur...)
Edward Scissorhands (on the big screen) - *sobs* so good!
Dr. Strange - was worried (American accent... mustache....) ... but kind of loved it!! (not usually a super hero movie person!)
Saved (on the big screen) - just as relevant/hilarious as ever (if not more)
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them - GO SEE IT NOW! SO SO SO SO GOOD!!
Moana - Lovely animation! Cute! :)

Other Indie Movie Night Posts: About Time, Wish I Was Here, and What If (< a KC fave).

Have you seen any good movies lately?

XO,


Alexandra

Friday, December 16, 2016

Have You Heard? // Straight No Chaser - "The 12 Days of Christmas"

Happy Friday Friends! I hope that you each had a lovely week, and have an even lovelier weekend! :)

Today I am sharing another Christmas Album that KC and I love. This one is by Straight No Chaser. They are this super fun group of guys who often sing acapella. Their 12 Days of Christmas is super funny, yes I promise, really... just watch the whole thing.... Here's the original video from 1998! :)



Their albums are super fun to listen to, and I think KC extra loves them because he was a choir fella back in the day. :)

Do you like Straight No Chaser? Is there anyone who hadn't seen this one before?!

Other Christmas music posts: My Favorite Christmas Albums, '90's - '00's Poptart Xmas, and Celtic Woman Christmas.

What are you guys up to this weekend?

I have no idea what we'll be up to... probably another round of chores and wrapping! :)

I participated in Olya and Mattie's Holiday Blogger Exchange, my mystery gift is being shipped from far away, so I get to hold onto that fun anticipation for a bit longer! Check out Olya's post on my gift to her, here.

Other Posts This Week: November Reads & 12 Ways To Give Back This Holiday Season.

XO,

Alexandra

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

12 Ways To Give Back This Holiday Season


Whew, once again I find myself completely terrified of the news, and feeling pretty hopeless on how to help. I guess that's a hard thing about the way our media works. Between violent crises in Aleppo, and the Philippines, wildfires in Tennessee, the oil spill right from the Standing Rock (related) pipeline... and all of the usual hurts of the world it's hard to know how to help. I know that many folks have felt very nervous about how things will go within the US post-election as well... 

KC and I decided to when we got married to give back every Christmas in some way or another. This year we've been feeling the need to do more, to find a way to "give back" in meaningful ways as much as we can through the end of the year. In order to keep it measurable, we decided to do one thing per-week between Thanksgiving and the end of the year. 

If you are also feeling helpless, but like you want to try to do something, perhaps there is an idea in this post for you. I tried to give a big variety, many of which we have done so far during this time period! A lot of these would make great family or group/party activities! I'd love to hear your ideas as well, so leave them in the comments!

1) Give Holiday Meals to local families in need.

Our local food pantry does an awesome job raising funds throughout the year. They hold a Food Truck Festival in May that I have yet to miss... but this Thanksgiving they also had a promotion going with local grocery stores and online where you could donate $15 for a Thanksgiving for a family of 4! That's an incredible gift for just $15. I noticed that they are doing it again for Christmas, if you live near us, you can donate here! If you live elsewhere, check with your local food pantries to see if they are doing something similar! If not, I am sure they have other ways you can help out this holiday season!

2) Donate to Water Preservers at Standing Rock

If you haven't been reading the news related to Standing Rock, here is a good intro article for you. Basically, Bismark, ND rejected a pipeline being built near them for fear of a spill contaminating their drinking water, and so the oil company has decided to build it across Native American sacred burial lands, also crossing a river used by natives for drinking water (twice). The Sioux tribe, and many others have been protesting (peacefully!) for months, and many members of the military, etc. have come out to act as human shields. There have been some pretty awful attacks on the folks there to get them to leave. But they haven't. If you've been following the news, you'll know that they have temporarily stopped the pipeline, and say they are not going to build there. However, there is not any way to ensure that, and when the administration changes, it seems very unlikely that the progress there will be kept. We heard that a friend of a friend was headed up there, so we purchased a Menard's giftcard (for shelter building supplies), some hot hands, and threw in some wool socks, old thermal shirts, kleenex, chapstick, etc. If you don't know someone who is headed that direction, you can donate directly to the Sioux tribe, here. It makes me sick that after months of protest, the pipeline DID spill, and though it is not right at Standing Rock, it's still hurting the surrounding areas. There is so much reason for this cause!

3) Donate to Syrian Rescue Workers 

The situation in Syria is absolutely terrifying. Donate directly to the "White Helmets" Rescue Worker fund. These folks are right in the action saving lives and protecting people every day. You can pick your own amount or donate a designated amount via card or paypal. Donate here.

4) Send a Water Filter to Flint, Michigan

If you've heard about the water crisis in Flint, you'll know that it's absolutely appalling. As it turns out, even more places in the US are coming forward and saying, that their drinking water is of the same quality. That's terrible, and while we wait for the local governments to improve the water quality ... we can give them filters. I am so glad that a friend posted this (via a group in our city who is headed up there) ... because holy cow is it easy, and DIRECTLY helps a person or family in need. All for just $15 + shipping. Order this shower filter, and ship it to: 

C/O Glenda Gates
3502 Lapeer Rd
Flint, MI 48503


5) Switch Your Energy to Clean Energy

Wait, you can do this?! Yes indeed you can! Call or log on to your energy company's website and switch to wind or solar energy. If you don't know your options, contact your company's customer service folks! Often the price is the same, or very close... and it's investing in a cleaner future. These companies really need this support right now, we know that environmental causes are not part of the new administration's high priorities. 

6) Donate Your Time to An Organization You Care About

The thing is... there are so many great organizations out there, so many great causes... it's impossible to know about all of the issues, to donate to every one. If there is one that you care about specifically consider giving a monetary gift or your volunteered time! We all make goals from time to time, but it's pretty clear that the world could use more love! Donating your time would be a great way to help your community in a way that is meaningful to you! Pick a place and go for it!

Creative Ways to Donate!

When I worked at a preschool, I was amazed by the ways that people gave to our organization and how we gave to our organization. It was so incredible, tons of things I never would have thought of! 

7) Organize Birthday Party Kits

Our preschool families all fell into a low SES, and we knew that many of our families struggled to provide holiday meals, birthday parties, etc. etc. We received the loveliest gift of "birthday party kits" once, and I thought that it was the coolest idea! Each bag contained a cake mix, a container of frosting, plates, cups, napkins, etc. They varied there were some specifically for boys or girls, but they were all so thoughtful! I loved this idea, and it would be a great party to have and everyone could bring a kit. They could then be donated to a local school/preschool, food pantry, etc. What a great gift to give a family or child!

8) Make Homelessness Kits and Give Them Out

Have you seen these on pinterest?! So cool and creative. If you live in an area with homeless populations it would be great to make these out and hand them out to folks you see who might need them. Or you could drop off a batch at the local shelter for distribution.

9) Give A Meal Kit to A Neighbor or Friend

Often times when someone new moves to your area they might be given some food from their neighbors, when new moms come home from the hospital they are often given casseroles, but what about all the other situations? What about those new moms two months in? What about the family who is struggling through a tough season? Your lonely neighbor? A student who isn't able to go home for the holidays? Making a meal kit and dropping it for them is a great way to show that you care. Or, invite them over for a dinner! :) Ideas for Make Ahead Meal Kits: here, here, here & here.

10) Donate Your Bras to A Shelter

Did you know that bras are one of the most-needed items in shelters? If you have a pile that is still in wearing shape, but doesn't fit or you don't wear.... box them up and call shelters (domestic violence and homeless) to see if they are in need of bras. If not, you can always drop them by a Goodwill or Salvation Army. & bonus for you: your closet is that much cleaner!

11) Make a Free Little Library or Free Little Pantry

Holiday breaks or vacations are good times for projects. So are weekends! If you are looking for a family project consider building a free little library or donation station for your yard or local organization. We have Free Little Libraries all over our city, but these Little Blessing Boxes and Free Little Pantries are also SUCH a great idea! :) Read more about those here: Library & Pantry. These would be fabulous family projects, and a great time to teach your kids to give. :) 

12) Make a Care Package for a Friend or Family Member Far Away

Perhaps you know a student who is out of state, someone who just moved far away, someone in the military or working overseas... it can often be lonely and a little bit of snail mail could brighten their day. I know when I was a student (not that far from home!) I always appreciated little care packages from my grandma. Even if it's just a small note, a gift card, a book, a whole box of groceries... it would be so appreciated. Again, spreading the spirit of giving.

So there you have it, 12 ways to give back this holiday season.

Looking for more ways to spread love and giving? Check out 12 Small Things You Can Do To Make The World A Better Place.

Do you or your family give back during the holidays or throughout the year?

If so, how? I would love to hear!

What are your ideas? Have you ever tried any of these?

Does anyone have a goal to give back more in 2017?

Happy Giving!

Alexandra

Monday, December 12, 2016

November Reads // Feast or Famine

From about October 25 - November 21 I read NO books. Then I read two in a day, another one that week, and another one the week after... talk about feast or famine over here. Still, with November being the busiest ever... I feel good about checking some books off my TBR. :)




Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

4.5 Stars - I highly recommend this book if you enjoy fantasy. I picked it up, and I couldn't put it down. I especially recommend this if you like books that center around a competition (The Hunger Games, The Selection, HP - Goblet of Fire, GOT, etc.). This just came out and will eventually be a series.

In every generation on this island a set of triplet queens is born. Each has a special gift, there is a poisoner (able to tolerate and mix poisons), a naturalist who can grow plants and control animals, and a elemental who can control the elements. The triplets are separated and raised to hone their gifts. For when they come of age, they battle to the death, and the last queen alive is the true ruler. The trouble is, two of the sisters have no gift at all. Arsinoe is unable to control any plants or animals, and Katharine is poisoned and cannot tolerate it. Mirabella controls the elements with ease, but doesn't want to kill her sisters. This book is full of intrigue, betrayal, adventure, and magic.

I really enjoyed Anna Dressed in Blood, so I thought I would read this book as well. I didn't read the synopsis of this book before reading it... so I just dove right in and couldn't stop reading. I thought that the premise of this book was really interesting, and I liked that it was split up and different chapters were told from the point of view of different sisters. Overall I like how the plot, setting, etc. were very complex, and I didn't see everything coming that happened. The one thing that was a little strange to me was that The Poisoner gift seemed to be a lot more interesting than the others. Perhaps because it is a less common idea? I'm not sure but the other two gifts seemed kind of boring by comparison. Either way the plot was interesting, and the ending was twisty! This is set up to become a series, I can't wait to see where it goes next.

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

4 Stars - I recommend if you have read Anna and the French Kiss, and you enjoy YA and romance novels. Again, Perkins perfectly captures what it's like to be a teenage girl! 

This book follows Lola, a quirky and artistic teenager living in San Francisco with her two dads. She's 17 and dating a 22 year old, and her parents are NOT pleased. One day she notices that the house next door is being moved in to... and it's her ex-nemesis Calliope Bell, and her twin brother Cricket. Lola and Cricket started a relationship before he moved away, what will happen now that he's back?

Yet again, Perkins perfectly captures what it's like to be a teenage girl (in my experience). Lola is independent, but she's so young. She doesn't know what she wants... and she's growing up quickly. I think that even though this was my least favorite of the three books I really loved this. Cricket is such a quirky character, as is Lola, and I loved reading this book. I would say though, that Lola is the least mature of the three characters in my opinion, so maybe that is why I related to this book less? I don't know, either way, after being in San Francisco recently the book captured the spirit of the city pretty well! There's not much I can go into detail on, but I really liked this, and I am glad that Anna & Etienne were in this book as well. 

Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

4.5 Stars - I highly recommend this one if you like YA and romance novels, and have read the other two books. You go Stephanie Perkins... still writing so accurately from the teen girl perspective.

This story is about Isla (eye-lah) who meets her school crush Josh (from Anna and the...) over summer break, she talks with him, she has a great time, and then she falls asleep at the table. She'll be mortified the next day when she remembers this whole situation happened while she was on pain medication after getting her wisdom teeth removed. (OMG I LAUGHED SO HARD!) He says he'll meet her the next night, but he never shows up. When they get back to Paris for school she tries hard to avoid Josh... but has no such luck. Why did he avoid her? Can she put her multi-year crush out of her head?

Ok, this was by far my favorite of the three (don't get me wrong, they were all super good!)! I don't know if it's because the beginning is SO FUNNY and SO AWKWARD... or because I can kind of relate to Isla.... or because I think Josh is WAY dreamer than Etienne or Cricket... I just thought this book was great. It also doesn't hurt that Josh is an artist, and they do some Euro traveling, and that they seem a little older than the other characters in the other books. Also, I think there is less wishy-washy-ness. They just KNOW they want to be together. He's a lot more assertive, and the relationship just seems more "grown up"... I don't know guys, but I loved this. The conflict was a little meh, but also I was like.... but please just be togetherrrrr! I definitely stayed up until 1:30 am reading this before getting up at 5 am for GG. (thoughts on that here). I can't wait to read more Stephanie Perkins books. I got My True Love Gave to Me at that HUGE bookstore in Nashville... and I can't wait to read those short stories soon! 'Tis the season! 

Speaking of 'Tis the Season....

I am a sucker for those stupid holiday romance books. They're so predictable, but I have a soft spot for them! hehe

12 Days of Christmas by Debbie Macomber*

3 Stars - I recommend this book if you enjoy these light-hearted, somewhat silly Christmas romance novels as well. However, this is my least favorite of all of the Macomber ones I have read.

This book follows Julia who is way too perky for her neighbor Cain. She's all "woohoo xmas!!" and he's more like "bah humbug". He's irritated with her morning elevator chatter, and she gets mad. Her friend suggests "killing him with kindness" - and blogging about it to win a social media job she is after. She starts the project, at first with little success, but lots of blogging success. Eventually Cain warms up a little, but he's still a grumpy guy. As their relationship develops she realizes why he's so grumpy, and that she just might be in love with Ebeneezer Scrooge himself.

This book was fluffy and predictable as expected. I really really liked it up until the conflict, which kind of killed it for me. We all know that Cain will be upset when he finds out about the project and the blog, but that's so ridiculous. He gets really mad, and that's just not realistic to me. Also, no way can you get blog hits just by blogging. Sorry, that's not how it works. I did love Cain's grandpa though, he was a cute character. Overall it was pretty good, but it just seemed so over the top. And yes, I realize what genre this is.

Currently Reading:




A Fork in the RoadBe Your Own Fairytale, and The Bear and The Nightingale. I finally removed Possession and War and Peace... because I just don't feel like reading them right now, and I was getting stressed out seeing them on goodreads all the time!

On Deck:




Linking up with Jana and Steph for Show Us Your Books tomorrow. :) 

Life According to Steph

What have you guys been reading? 

Have you read any of these? What did you think?

Let's be friends on Goodreads!

XO,

Alexandra

* Asterisks denote titles that I was given advance access to by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. These reviews are my own opinion, and based on the edition of the book I was given at the time. Thank you Netgalley!

Friday, December 9, 2016

Have You Heard? // 90's & 00's Poptart Xmas Albums // Throwback

Happy Friday Friends!

A few years ago, I shared my favorite Christmas albums here on the blog. I'm starting to think about listening to Christmas music around the house since it's December now... so I thought I would share a few of my favorites throughout the next few weeks. See last week's post: Celtic Woman Christmas Albums. :) 

If you've been reading this blog for a while you'll know that I post a lot of alternative music on here... but that doesn't mean that it's all I listen to! I LOVE so many genres. This week I wanted to do a throwback Christmas music post! These are some of my favorites from my childhood! :)

N'Sync. Oh, N'Sync. We miss you. Full of classics and original tunes to groove to. Actually, this album gets boring for me.... but some of the songs are great! In the sense of cheesy 90's music! :) Under my tree is sneakily so dirty... guessing none of us caught that back in the '90's. Well, no one my age during the '90's. :P





Xtina. Oh boy, I don't know about you guys...but I always kind of liked Xtina better. Of course when I was 14 and she was wearing assless chaps... that wasn't my idea of the classiest.. but she makes her own choices, and she can seriously sing. :) So you know, still team Xtina. This album has so many vocal fourishes... but it's still great.





Hilary Duff's Santa Claus Lane - this album is SO cheesy, but it's the ONLY Christmas album that I actually owned as a kid. I didn't get allowance, etc. and who wants to ask for a Christmas album FOR Christmas? (not this kid) Anyhow, I still rock out to this H-duff album from time to time. And you really can't beat the Lil' Romeo collab. I mean... "thanks for the video games and the bling bling"?! A '00's classic. LOL





Ah, Aly and AJ. Another '00's classic (for me). Aly was super cute as Keely on Phil of the Future, and so of course, she and her sister became Disney darlings... and luckily we got a Christmas album out of that! Most of this is pretty calm and relatively acoustic performances of these classic songs. You'll also get two original (more rock-like) songs, and an amped up performance of Little Drummer Boy. < that cannot be missed. Also, they just look like angels on this cover. 





So there you  have a few of my favorite Christmas songs, I'll share more in the next few weeks.

Are you listening to Christmas music yet? What are some of your favorites?

Are you doing anything fun this weekend? We are going to an Xmas PJ party. :)

XO,

Alexandra

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

So... I've Started Doing Project Life.... // 6X8 Travel Mini Album

I usually do a travel post on Wednesday... but I've wrapped up Vegas and all the travel we have left for the year is a quick weekend trip to Tulsa. So.... today I'm sharing my first section of my FIRST project life mini travel album!



I learned about PL in the last few years, it's a fun style of scrapbooking that has divided pockets and page protectors. You can buy kits to fit in the pockets (usually 4 X 6 and 3 X 4 cards and matching stickers, etc.) and it kind of gives you some limitations and different formats on how you can scrapbook. I really like it, but I am enjoying this approach a little more than the few times I have played with the kits. It's easy but it still lets me be creative. A win win in my book! :)

I started this back in July and I've been having so much fun with it! To learn about the process, supplies, etc. for my first section, you can watch my video. :)








What do you guys think?

Have you done any scrapbooking or project life albums?

I would love to hear about it!

XO,

Alexandra

Monday, December 5, 2016

Let's Talk About the Gilmore Girls Revival... // Hidden Spoilers



Wow... have you watched the Gilmore Girls revival? If so, you probably have a lot of feelings... so let's discuss. (please keep in mind... 1) I'm still processing.. and probably need to re-watch it... but I don't *want* to yet, 2) I have seen the original show MANY time, many, many times, it's my favorite - so I might get a little intense/detailed...)

I will type the big spoilers in white... so you'll have to highlight them to read... I HATE spoilers... so if you want them... you have to work for it!

It's going to be so hard to organize this post...

How I felt when we started watching:





First... can we talk about how sad these episodes were? Obviously, with Mr. Gilmore passing away in real life and subsequently in the show, there were going to be some sad parts. Emily has to figure out how to be a widow, and what that means for her. Lorelai and Rory have to figure out how their family dynamic works without Richard. Etc. I expected that... (however, I don't think that the portrait of Richard needed to be a mistake, I think it could have just been how she wanted it.. but whatever....)

....aside from that ... wow....

Rory and Lorelai were SO broken. So so broken, to the point where I didn't even recognize Rory anymore. She was meticulous, intense, bright, and at least eventually recognized the error of her (spoilery) ways.... but here she is. At the most basic not knowing where her underwear is... at the most complicated sleeping with Logan... ENGAGED Logan. Did she learn nothing in season 5?



And while we are on that topic... when did Lorelai stop telling Rory when she is being an idiot?! Sure she's 32 now... but Lorelai was quick to tell Rory how it was when she strung along Dean during her infatuation with Jess... but not now with Paul? - I found that confusing. Also, she had some VERY clear thoughts on  Rory's relationship with married Dean... but not engaged Logan...? Why not now?! Lane Kim is the only one I was proud of, yelling at him on the phone like that. Oh my. At the very least... Rory should still be a meticulous packer, an organized go-getter, and honest with herself. At the most I was completely disappointed in her decision to sleep with engaged Logan ... repeatedly. I really thought she would at least have moments where she *knew* that what she was going was wrong... but I didn't see that remorse anywhere. How on earth could she really have digressed SO MUCH in the last 9 years? It doesn't really make sense to me. She didn't seem like Rory at all anymore to me.

... also ...



WOW were Paris, April, and plenty of others (even Taylor! - that makes no sense!) super jaded. Paris has always been intense and a little bit insecure... but her intensity usually wins out, she has a goal, she goes for it, and she's fine. Seeing her so bent out of shape was also really unsettling to me. Especially partially over people like Tristan and Francie. That's ridiculous.



The part where she kicked the door though, made my life.

...

They were all jaded except Sophie.. who was always grumpy... but was now cheerful?! What?!

I wish that there would have been less additional sadness in Sookie being absent for most of the show, and in Michele wanting to leave The Dragonfly. Also, Michele was barely snarky. I love his snark. Do we need more sad things? Really?



How I felt after the first few episodes:



While we are on the topic of Sookie... I know they couldn't get her on the show for long, and that makes sense... but researching how foods grow and how soil tastes.. etc. etc. just didn't seem like Sookie to me. Maybe Jackson... but I didn't like it. That doesn't seem like her thing to me. It was nice when she came back... but yeah... it was weird. Couldn't they  have taken her to a restaurant or school in another country?

Lane and the band were not in it enough for me... Lane and the band are some of my favorite plot points and in my opinon some of the best characters... but where were they?



I was so sad about that. ASP said in an interview that she was dissapointed that Lane and Zach had kids in season 7... and that she couldn't do as much with their characters because of it. Unacceptable.
:( Having kids is not the end of people-dom. Having kids is not a reason that they couldn't have a more intersting or involved plot.

My Reaction to that comment ^^ : (Lane deserved more!)



....but we had 15 straight minutes on the mostly confusing Starshollow Musical. (why wasn't this broken into chunks?! Or just shorter?!) A few parts seemed like something Taylor would do ala The Starshollow Museum... but the rest was dark and strange... and didn't seem Taylor-like to me. I can't imagine the old Taylor writing a depressing short story or play or whatever about an abusive relationship. It makes no sense to me. Also... why wasn't Miss Patty involved..? I only saw her helping with the casting... Confusion abounds.



When did men become so unimportant? I get that this show is about the Gilmore GIRLS. I get that it doesn't matter who they end up with, if they end up with anyone, etc. etc. I'm totally fine with that... but these episodes kind of made it seem like men really don't matter AT ALL. Did anyone else get that vibe? Paul, what the hell was with that? That's so incredibly rude, that whole situation. And Mr. Kim just being there... after all this time.. I read an interview where ASP was saying that she liked that he'd been there the whole time but no one noticed. What? Why? This isn't funny to me, it's kinda sad. It was even that way with Emily's new boyfriend or friend, but to a lesser extent. I also get that the ladies of the show shouldn't make all of their decisions around men, etc. But Lorelai and Luke have been together for 9 YEARS! At what point does Lorelai take him into consideration?! That's how relationships work! I even felt like overall Luke (a MAJOR character) was taking a BIG backseat as far as the show and giving his input as a male character went ... Michele and Jess briefly get listened to... but beyond that... it was like... let's not listen to the lowly men. Weird.

I talked with KC about this and we came up with this idea: at any given point the original GG, characters would not care about someone (because they were mad), etc. etc. but we NEVER got the impression that they actually didn't care about others. This was a whole different level of people being disposable, and I didn't like it. It's sad and cold... and it doesn't remind me of the characters I watched for 7 seasons.



I sort of like that the Life & Death Brigade made an appearance... but it was also super random. Why were they walking around Starshollow? What was with that weird club? I don't know... it all felt a bit like a theatrical performance instead of a big event... it was just kind of odd and whimsical. It really broke up the flow of the episode for me. I did appreciate the back to back Wizard of Oz and Elizabethtown references... though WHY would Logan know anything about Elizabethtown...?

The wedding scene was also really theatrical... parts of it didn't bother me.., but it was also just kind of random. I guess there was not a lot of stuff like that in the original 7 seasons... so it was just a weird shift. It was so dream-like and whimsical. I don't mind that in general... but it just was kind of disruptive to the flow of the show I thought.



Jess & Luke are adorable.



Can we talk about how we knew Jess would be an amazing guy all along? Please. We all knew it, even if you're not #teamjess . I like that his story progresses through the original series, and that his character MAKES SENSE in the new episodes too. He's there, giving Luke advice. That was extremely endearing. Also, oh my did we all melt when Rory ran out with her book and squealed?! And then he peeked back through the window!! Just adorable. I wish more of the characters would have developed in a more rational way... but whatever.



Dean is the cutest. I know that Dean has his flaws (season 4/5)... but I think that most of the things people don't like about him (aside from that...) is that he was possessive and jealous. Ok, sure, he indeed was, but he was also 17. He was a kid, and Rory wasn't treating him well. He also grew up in the Midwest, with this wholesome traditional family, and values that reflected that... and people were offended by it. (Donna Reed episode...) but I don't think he ever meant to be offensive, and I think that he realized that wasn't the only way, or the right way, but just that he thought it was nice. I think people really overreact on that one. He's 17 guys, cut him some slack. I can't condone what he does later in the series... that's a whole different thing. Let's be real, he never should have married Lindsay. And he definitely should not have had an affair with Rory. Anyhow, Dean as an adult is kind of adorable. Jared Padalecki is just the cutest nicest person (or so he seems). I love that he ended up happy, that he's probably in a healthy relationship now, and that he was friendly to Rory. His story also makes sense to me.


The camping stuff was oddly great. I saw that in the preview... and I was like Lorelai would NEVER go hiking. EVER. EVER. Just, no. However, once I got to those scenes it made sense to me. Lorelai runs away, which is totally her, but she is kind of responsible about it for once... and she goes, and she grows. Her trying to pack and unpack her backpack is hilarious and true to character. And I loved the Wild pop culture reference, and all the other ladies who were there. That was super funny! Also, the "ah ha" moment was so emotional, and it makes sense how it happens randomly, and of course I sobbed when she called Emily and told her the story. I love that she never actually makes it to the trail, it seems right that way, haha



I know that Lorelai is yawning in this scene ^, but I'm using it in a "shock*" kind of way....

*sarcasm*

Logan... is an asshat to the 16th degree. I have times in the original series where I really like him, but I felt like the last bit makes a lot of sense as to how his character is. He's still entitled, he's still going to assume the position in the family business, he's still a playboy, he's still immature... so why does Rory want ANYTHING to do with him? We could have used that background ASP! How did this come to be?! How did they run into each other, and make the decision to have this relationship? It would have made A LOT more sense as a one-night-stand. Then Rory finds out he is engaged... and says, "I've done this before.. I'm out." She could still end up pregnant in that situation... whether or not it is his baby... but it would seem a lot more "Rory."  So I guess I wasn't surprised at all by him. This is what I expected from him. I did expect better from Rory. Poor Odette. I can only hope that she is the female equivalent of him... and this is an obligation marriage.



One other thing that was kind of bugging me is how the show has always approached geek culture. I get it, it's a stereotype, and stereotypes are fun to make fun of. I get that. Maybe it's just because a lot of folks in my life are a big part of geek culture... but I kind of hate the way the Gilmore Girls make fun of it so frequently. Over the years it's been Star Trek, Star Wars, AV Geeks, Dungeons & Dragons, etc. etc. that they make fun of. But I though that the "line" story and the "I slept with a wookie!" thing took it too far. What on earth Rory?! 1) that's not you, 2) why does it matter that he's a wookie? I don't know, this isn't a huge deal, but it kind of irks me. Geek culture exists, and it's actually kind of cool, just accept it.

Some of the pop culture references were great, others were like, what?! And some of my friends made a good point... it seemed like a bit of overkill... too many references. And only 1 GOT reference... kind of funny.



I really would have loved to see more of the band (already said that), but also Kirk & Lulu, Liz and TJ, I wanted Brian to end up with Lane's exchange student/cousin, I would have loved to see Glenn - though it would have been super random. I wish Doyle would have had a bigger part, but I get it. Also that was super meta what they did with his character.



Rory's job stuff was the only part of her plot struggle that I "got". It makes sense to me that she would be struggling in her career, especially since it's journalism. I can understand her being a mess in that sense. Being unsure, needing to figure things out. The rest of it I don't get. I didn't really like the part where she was meeting with the woman in London to write her bio. It was kind of strange, with super long scenes, and it seemed out of place with the rest of the flow of the show. Her other meetings were ok, but the Sandee Says stuff was just strange. I get her frustration in waiting for the Conde Nast folks to get back to her. Whatever happened to Mitchum's call? Taking over the Starshollow Gazette was a cute plot point... but honestly can't go anywhere... so it was kind of confusing. Unless there was a plan going forward it doesn't really make sense for her to take that on. She knows she's not going to stay. The part I did like, was Jess suggesting she write the book. Obviously, Jess is great. But that's not the point. I loved the book idea, it's SO Little Women! When she walked through Emily's house to write it, and sat in the study, I sobbed.



 I don't completely get why Lorelai wasn't ok with it... but I'm glad Rory did it anyhow, and that Lorelai softened to the idea, and that she wanted to tell Jess that she did it. That was all really great.

The Last 4 words:



Oh my, was I shocked!! I'm so glad that I did not expect that and did not have any spoilers. I find the whole thing a little frustrating, as most do, because that's a very cliffhanger ending to something that so far has no plans to continue. I DO think it will continue... but we shall see. I understand ASP's goal in creating symmetry in Lorelai and Rory's story lines. I like that. I actually like that those were the words, and that is what is happening. But of course I don't want it to END that way, as in forever. What irks me most about this ending (aside from the possibility of it never resolving) is that ASP meant for this to be Rory's 22 year old ending, not her 32 year old ending. Is this the whole reason her plot was so un-Rory-like? Just so the show could result in an unplanned (unknown father) pregnancy? What a waste. She's not 22, she's 32. Can't she just have an unknown, unplanned pregnancy with a bit less crappiness as a character?! I think they could have done that.



Oy vey.



I understand how everyone feels about Bella Swan now. Except for the fact that I ultra-loved and identified with Rory Gilmore as a character.



Emily's plot was heartbreaking but also hilarious. Where she went as a character was a bit unexpected, but so very well done. I think the Marie Kondo (Life Changing Magic) makes total sense with the place that she is in her life, and I don't know why it gets scrapped along the way.... it seems like she continues with it regardless. But that's just my $0.02. Kelly Bishop is brilliant, and Emily's story line was great. I wished there had been a tad less of the wordless thinking scenes... because I wanted to know what Emily was thinking and feeling, but I still loved it. Working at the whaling museum was really really random... but I guess that's ok. I don't know... I mean whaling is atrocious.. so ... I wasn't a fan of that. But I like that she moved on.



I talked a bit above how it was strange to me that Lorelai was so lost. I understand that she misses Sookie, and that life is different without her dad.. but I don't understand what else happened in that 9 years to make her quite so unsettled. I'm glad that she worked through it. I think it makes sense for the way she ended up. I'm happy that she ends up with Luke and I hope that she learns to actually include him in her life... because that's what marriage is... lol I'm also really glad about the ending that she is going to buy another building to expand the inn. I like to think if they do more episodes later Michele will still be there and Sookie will be back.

How I felt when we finished watching:



v



Um... so there are a lot of my random thoughts.

Again, a second watch is probably in order... but I am not up to it yet.

What did you guys think?!

Did anyone else have similar or different thoughts?!

XO,

Alexandra

Friday, December 2, 2016

Have You Heard? // Celtic Woman Christmas Albums

Hi Friends! Can you believe it's December?!?!? - it's insane.

A few years ago, I shared my favorite Christmas albums here on the blog. I'm starting to think about listening to Christmas music around the house since it's December now... so I thought I would share a few of my favorites throughout the next few weeks.

If you've been reading this blog for a while you'll know that I love Celtic Woman. I don't know if it's because I was a choir kid, or because it's just lovely and soothing... but I can't help it, they are my favorite!

These two Christmas albums are very different (one is with a symphony) but I love both so much!

Here are a few of my favorite tracks... and most of them are just the freaking gorgeous ones...

A Christmas Celebration:







Home for Christmas





So there you  have a few of my favorite Christmas songs, I'll share more in the next few weeks.

Are you listening to Christmas music yet? What are some of your favorites?

Are you doing anything fun this weekend? We so far have NO plans other than decorating!

XO,

Alexandra

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Eleven Months In // 2016 Goal Progress

In order to keep up with my goals for 2016 a little better, I have been trying to do monthly mini goals. :) See my 2016 goals here

November Goals: 

1) Read 5 Books - keep crushing my Netgalley queue

Nope - I read NOTHING starting the last week of October - 11/21. On 11/23 I finished two books in a day! And then another book that week. Wow. Then a another one last week... Lol, it's feast of famine over here! Read those reviews on Monday in my November Reads post. One of these books was from Netgalley, the others were from the library... not doing so well on that book ban. haha!

2) Keep my dental appointment and finish out scheduling as necessary

Nope - I wrote last month's post before I actually made the appointment, even though I meant to. Big fat fail.

3) Do yoga 3Xs per week + at least one extra workout on Tuesday

Nope - I need to figure out a new strategy in 2017... 

4) Watch 3 Disney Movies (including Moana - hopefully!)


Nope - I watched Cinderella with KC. We were exhausted so Jaq Jaq and Gus Gus's antics were especially hilarious. We made it to see Moana with two good friends. It was really cute, I would recommend seeing it if you have been considering it. :) It wasn't perfect but it was very beautiful and entertaining!

5) Crush Jess's baby showers!


Check! - Jess's first baby shower went super well! We had tons of friends and family there. It was so exciting to see all the sweet little baby things she got, and how excited everyone is! :) Jess's second baby shower was good too! I was a lot less the host in this situation, so I focused mainly on the invites, games, and paper type products in prep. #obvs This shower was family dominated and right after Thanksgiving. It was nice to have so many friends and family in one place! Jess was spoiled again, I'm sure they are feeling much more prepared for Baby Moore to make his or her appearance in February! If you'd like to see more click here and here.

6) Do some type of gratitude project

Check! - KC and I are wrestling with the results of the election, and more-so what we've seen demonstrated in people we know (and don't know) since the election has ended. There's a lot of hate out there right now, and it's extremely disheartening. Not to mention the things that were already happening (terrorism, natural disasters, etc. etc.). It goes back to that post where we were all discussing small things we can do when things seem like they are falling apart. Read that, here. ANYHOW, KC and I decided to "give back" in some way every week between 11/21 and the end of the year. I'll post more specifically about this soon, but it has been a good way for us to know we are making a small good thing happen - when we can't control the big things.

7) Focus on healthy meal prep in November - self care while busy!


Check (ish)? - We did ok at making sure we had food around the house, and making sure to eat up leftovers, and leftover bits of ingredients ... I will tell you again, freezing things in ice cube trays is the bomb dot com. Adobo chiles, you will never be wasted again! Beef broth! Be used! bahah KC has taken to making scrambled eggs and sometimes bacon for breakfast.. not really healthy... but it's real food, and it's coming from our house (not a restaurant or bakery!) - which is something that we struggle with breakfast-wise. We also lived off the meat, cheese, cracker, veggie, and fruit tray leftovers from Jess's first shower for about a WEEK afterward! haha Feeling good about all of that. We did eat quite a lot of veggies and fruit with our not so healthy but real meals this month. Even if we weren't eating broth-based soups and mason jar salads daily, I feel pretty good about our eating at home during a busy time!

8) Get a jump on holiday prep!


Check (ish)!- We went a little crazy in the Target "wondershop" ... and we got a lot of decorations for our tree this year. We try to do a different decoration set every year - mixing and matching what we own with new things as needed. This year is going to be non-traditional which is super fun! We have a ton of wrapping paper, and I am almost done with our gifts for people. Still trying to figure out activities I want to do, if we want to have a Christmas party, and any new cookies that I want to make. :) Not too bad considering all the bdays and events in Nov!


9) Work on Simply Alexandra Stationery holiday cards & giveaways!

Check! - After I finished up some weddings this summer/fall... I've been in a bit of a lull. I'm trying not to take it too personally... ha and use the down time to get nice photos, and all my etsy stuff ready to go. I'm not there yet, but I am making progress! :) All that being said, I did enjoy doing invites and save the dates for my SIL and my sister! That all "counts" and gives me good templates for my etsy shop later. I am also doing a few sets of holiday cards, and I am looking forward to ordering foiling online! Ooh, shiny! I need to get going on some giveaways.. .but did offer one special promotion in November.

10) Start working on KC and I's holiday Cards!

Nope - Ummm.. no. I have a pretty clear idea in my head, but I have not put it into action in Illustrator yet. 

Bonus: 

11) Watch Gilmore Girls!!!!


Check! - We managed to keep both of our Gilmore nights with friends this month! Woot! & we watched the Thanksgiving episode as well.. of course! We made plans to get up early and watch straight through until our second Thanksgiving on Friday... and it worked pretty well.... or it would have until I stayed up SUPER late reading... so I slept from 1-5am... and then proceeded to binge watch, and then do Thanksgiving. Let's just say I was super tired!! (&  maybe dizzy.....) I have so many feelings... they are all in a separate post coming soon (I hope!)! :) (I promise to make anything spoiler-y white text so you can't read it. :) ) 

12) Watch a lot of Hallmark Christmas Movies! - guiltiest pleasure - see my silly tweet about each by following me.

Check! - Ha, I started doing this... and I kind of puttered out... I don't know.. it just wasn't keeping me interested. Too much party prep, and project lifeing I think. Which I'm not complaining about. Makes me feel like I will probably be super happy to drop cable in 2017 though! :) Yay for saving money!

Overall Total: 7/12

Overall November was INSANELY busy as I expected it to be. With two baby showers, 3+ movie dates, 1 crafting day, 1 game night, two birthday celebrations, 1 Norwex party, the election, and a musical...... it was a lot. But it actually was not "as bad" as I thought it would be. I started to dread a few of these plans... sorry guys... but it all went better than I thought I would. I was able to pull some social extrovertedness out of the dark, dust it off, and enjoy group plans more than expected. Perhaps this is because I tried to sleep a lot, and still have some time for myself and also just for me and KC? I'm not sure, but I'm happy to report that it was a really busy, but really good November. Which if you read this blog, is historically NOT commmon. I'll take it!! 

December Goals:

1) Finish Christmas Gifts (planning, purchasing, wrapping,  sending/delivering)
2) Do some reflecting on 2016 goals, and set goals for next year!
3) Decide what project life size and method I want to do next year
4) Watch 2 Disney Movies - almost there!!
5) Get an essential oil diffuser
6) Decide if we want to buy a new bed or not....
7) Read some fairy tales! 
8) Find a way to celebrate the holidays with our friends. :)
9) Work on Simply Alexandra Stationery holiday cards & giveaways!
10) Finish KC and I's holiday Cards!

What have you guys been up to in November? Did you meet any of your goals? 

What are you hoping to do this holiday season? - where has 2016 gone?!?!

Are there any goals that you are really slacking on so far in 2016? What are your plans to tackle them before 2017?

Anyone else doing a 101 in 1,001 list? Check out my 2 year progress HERE.

Linking up with Kristen and Gretch for, What's New With You?

What's New With You

XO,

Alexandra