June 9, 2017

friday favorites #34: week of june 9, 2017


Why yes, I do still have this blog! I haven't written in forever, but today deserves celebration—I submitted my yearbook today!!! I hope to blog a little more regularly now that my school year has officially officially wrapped up.

Here are some of the things that have made me happy recently:

1. Finishing the Yearbook

See that little purple circle on the screen? It represents the yearbook. It's a pie chart where the colors show the progress on the book. Purple represents "submitted." And now it's all purple! This was like the yearbook that would never end; the only time it ever took me longer than this to finish was 2012, when I had my gallbladder removed the week after school got out, and I didn't touch the yearbook for more than a week. Contrast that with this year, when most of my working hours since school got out have been devoted to yearbook, and I've worked well over 40 hours each week. But now it's been sent off to the printer, and I don't plan to read one bit of it after it's printed!

2. Free Music!

Tonight, in the middle of my marathon yearbook submission, I got an email from Ticketmaster saying my recent purchase of Lady Antebellum tickets included a download of their new album, Heart Break. I had no idea when I bought the tickets—I got in on a sweet $20 sale and didn't really pay attention to anything else—but I'll never turn down free music!

3. Wonder Woman

If you haven't seen Wonder Woman yet, what are you waiting for? My mom and I saw it last weekend, and it was amazing! Also, I got in free, and my mom got free popcorn and pop, thanks to a promotion one of our local theaters was running. (The fact that I just said "one of our local theaters" still astounds me. I live in a town of 3000, yet we have two movie theaters. Just over a year ago, we had none. Currently, both theaters are showing Wonder Woman. Small town politics.)

Anyway, Wonder Woman. Hands down the best DC movie I've seen, and it beats a lot of the Marvel ones, too. Forget the tortured "hero" who does decidedly anti-heroic things. Diana fights for those who can't fight for themselves. She is firmly on the side of good, and she values others above herself. Diana is the type of woman we should want our daughters to emulate.

4. The Cubs

It's true that the Cubs are having a rough go of it. As of today, their record is 30-30, they're second in the NL Central, and they recently went 0-3 vs. the Padres (RIP, Pitch!). But I am so enjoying following their games and watching the few that I can get on TV. Apparently (and I never knew this before because I didn't care), I live in Royals country. Pretty much every Royals game is on TV and on the radio. Where's the love for the Cubbies???

Anyway, I'm learning a ton about baseball, and I'm really enjoying it! I'm also enjoying this, which is admittedly a couple months old, but I still get a kick out of it every time I see it: 


5. Jane of Austin by Hillary Manton Lodge

I've been eagerly anticipating this book for a while, and my review copy came today! It's a take on Sense & Sensibility, and you know I'm a sucker for all the Austen adaptations! I have a few other books I have to read first—after all, I've read virtually nothing but yearbook pages for a month—but I can't wait to pick it up.

So that's what's been making me happy recently. I'd love to know what's making you happy, too! 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received the book mentioned in this post free for review. The opinions expressed are my own. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

March 24, 2017

friday favorites #33: week of march 24, 2017


Well, it's been forever since I participated in a Friday Favorites ... or even posted anything on this blog! I'm coming to you on my third—yes, third—sick day in a row. Influenza has been going around, but I'm pretty sure I just have a really (really, really) nasty cold. I spent the first two days flat on the couch, but today has been a bit better. I actually feel like reading and blogging, whereas during the first two days, I watched a lot of TV and Netflix. Let me save you some time if you find yourself home with a cold that makes your head fuzzy and you want to watch something. Say yes to Hallmark's Home & Family (I'm as surprised as you are!), Monk, Diagnosis Murder, Fuller House, and Army Wives. Say no to ... every single movie I started watching: Your Sister's Sister (did not finish), The Brothers (did not finish), October Gale (finished and wish I hadn't), and Blind Date (did not finish). (To be fair, Blind Date may be wonderful ... but it's a French film, and no way was my brain capable of following subtitles while in the throes of a cold!)

Anyway, on to the favorites!

1. March Madness

I love, love, this time of year! As I type this, I'm watching UCLA and Kentucky battle it out in the Sweet Sixteen. I wrote about the roots of my March Madness love a few years ago:
 I was bit by the MM bug in 1995, when I watched the UCLA Bruins win the National Championship. The fact that I still remember (a) the names Ed O'Bannon and Tyus Edney and (b) that the TV coverage of the event began with a montage of tournament moments set to "I Just Can't Wait To Be King" from the Lion King is perhaps pathetic, but it shows how much that game impacted me. 
I've really been enjoying this tournament, especially since Kansas is still in it! If they play like they played in the last 12 minutes of last night's game against Purdue, I think they're unstoppable. The problem is that it takes them a while to really get rolling!
In this tournament, it's always about KU!
Besides the basketball, my favorite aspect is the Capital One commercials with Charles Barkley, Samuel L. Jackson, and Spike Lee. This year's are all pretty good, but my favorite by far is this one:


Cracks me up every time! (I do love "Snack Hoodie" and "Clapper," too.)

I'd be remiss if I didn't show you my favorite one they've ever done. This is from 2015. A classic:

2. The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

 I started watching these when I was packing to move in 2013. I watched the first 20 or so, and then I just kind of forgot about it. I rediscovered them today, and I powered through about 40 before stopping for basketball. (It's not as bad as it sounds--each episode is only four or five minutes long.) I wish I would have thought to stream these two days ago ... I could have saved myself from some terrible Netflix movies :-)

3. Lentil chips

I recently began eating lentils. They're a great source of fiber, and they don't have much taste—so they mix into things well. At first, I was just eating lentils, but then I found lentil pasta at Trader Joe's, and then ... lentil chips! I bought these from Amazon. They totally remind me of Bugles (remember those?)! They make a great semi-healthy, low-guilt snack.

4. Time after Time


I mean, it's like this show was tailor made for me. H.G. Wells. Time travel. Romance. Of course I'm gonna love it!

It's based on the 1979 film of the same name (which I never saw). After H.G. Wells invents a time machine, he discovers his friend John is Jack the Ripper. Conveniently, H.G. has just explained the time machine to John, so when the police come looking for him, John hijacks the time machine. Because of some science thing I can't remember, the time machine returns to H.G., who then follows John ... to 2017 New York City. 

One thing about this show—it's violent, which you would expect from a show where one of the main characters is Jack the Ripper. So I do close my eyes and mute the TV at times, but I'm really enjoying the story.

5. For Love and Honor


If you like medieval fiction or YA romance, then you need to check out Jody Hedlund's An Uncertain Choice trilogy! For Love and Honor is the final book (maybe ... Hedlund has hinted that there may be another story about a minor character in the works), and it's definitely my favorite. Sir Bennet, one of the three knights featured in the series, finally gets his love story, and it's a great one! (See my review.)

So that's what's been making me happy recently. What have you been enjoying lately? Are you as crazy for March Madness as I am? Let me know!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received the book mentioned in this post free for review. The opinions expressed are my own. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

January 23, 2017

movie mondays: pixl movie channel


Do you love clean romance movies, like what Hallmark puts out? You know I do ... I'm such a sucker for a good Hallmark movie. Recently, one of my blogging buddies wrote about a movie she watched on PixL. I'd never heard of the channel before, so I did some investigating.

PixL is a movie channel that you might be able to find through your cable or satellite provider, but it also has a YouTube channel, and that's how I've checked it out.

For a small fee (currently $1.99/month or $14.99/year), you can get access to a whole slew of movies. Some are PixL originals (I think—it's kind of hard to tell), but the majority aired on the Hallmark Channel, sometimes under different names.

One of my favorite Hallmark Christmas movies, Matchmaker Santa, which has never released on DVD, is on PixL. So are all of the Love Comes Softly movies (not my cup of tea, but I know many people loved them).

I decided to sign up for a 14-day free trial, and I selected the yearly plan for if I choose to stay. (That's my one complaint—when you sign up for the trial period, you have to choose which plan you want.)

Last night, I watched Twist of Fate (aka Rescue Me—see what I mean about the multiple titles?). I know for a fact it's not a Hallmark movie, as I am totally on top of Hallmark's releases, but it might as well have been. The production values and acting were good, and it was full of faces you'll recognize if you've watched much Hallmark.

Twist of Fate was fairly predictable, though there was one twist (ha, ha) at the end that I didn't anticipate. Still, we don't watch romance movies to be surprised, do we? I look forward to checking out more of PixL's offerings soon.

I can't tell you if I'll power through the PixL movies I've not seen in the next two weeks and then cancel or if I'll stick with it for the year. But I'm certainly glad to know about it.

Have you heard of PixL before? What's your favorite Hallmark-ish movie?

December 23, 2016

friday favorites #32: top 5 tv shows of 2016

Today's Friday Favorites is a little different—I'm talking about my five favorite shows of 2016. With all the TV watching I do, I can't believe I've never done a "best of TV" post before! These shows were all airing new episodes in 2016 (which is why One Tree Hill isn't on the list 😁).

1. Pitch

Pitch is one of two new dramas created by Dan Fogelman this season. It's the less famous, less critically acclaimed of the two, but it's my favorite. The only reason it never made it into my Friday Favorites until this special edition is because I've become such a slacker about posting, but trust me, it's a favorite.

Pitch stars Kylie Bunbury as pitcher Ginny Baker, the first female to play in the Major Leagues. It also stars a nearly-unrecognizable (until you know it's him) Mark-Paul Gosselaar as Mike Lawson, Ginny's catcher. It took me about one episode to be all in on this show.

It's only 10 episodes long, and all 10 have already aired and are available on Hulu. Remember how I said that Pitch isn't nearly as famous or acclaimed as Fogelman's other show? Well, it's apparently a bubble show, meaning it could go either way as far as cancellation or renewal. Here's hoping FOX doesn't pull the trigger and gives us a second season of "Bawson"! (Terrible name, I know. But what other option was there? Gike? Minny? Laker? All awful.)

2. This Is Us

I have actually written about This Is Us before. This Is Us is the other new show from Dan Fogelman. 

If you haven't watched and plan to, stop reading now and skip to #3. If you don't, you might feel the same anger for me that I felt for EW's social media handler when I came across a post on Facebook that said, "Now that Rory is _______, what's next?" (I left that blank in case you don't know what happens on the Gilmore Girls reboot.)
 
This Is Us follows the Pearson siblings, beginning on their 36th birthday. Kevin is a moderately successful yet deeply unhappy actor, Kate is morbidly obese and lets her weight completely define her, and Randall is a successful businessman with a beautiful family who just reconnected with his dying birth father. The present story is interspersed with stories from the past, from when the siblings' parents Jack and Rebecca were raising them. It is simply fascinating—especially the stories surrounding Randall (the 36-year-old Randall is played by the magnificent Sterling K. Brown). 

Side note: In my opinion, the biggest snub from this year's Golden Globes nominations was the exclusion of Brown for his portrayal of Randall (he was nominated for his portrayal of Chris Darden in The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, a role he won an Emmy for earlier this year). The Screen Actor's Guild got it right, though, nominating Brown for both This Is Us and People v. O.J.

3. The Flash

Apparently I talk about The Flash a lot. While I enjoy all of the DC shows on the CW (well, I have a love/hate relationship with Arrow), The Flash is by far my favorite. It's so much fun! This season, I've enjoyed that a) "Flashpoint" (when Barry went back and changed the timeline to save his mother) didn't last forever and b) there are major repercussions for his actions. I also love that Tom Cavanagh is portraying a third version of Harrison Wells. This season's version, H.R., just might be my favorite yet.  

4. Fuller House

Critics hate Fuller House. In fact, I just saw it on a list of worst shows of 2016. But I really enjoy it! Season one pushed all the right nostalgia buttons, and, while I've only seen the first two episodes of season two so far, I assume I'll like it just as much. And I'm still 100% Team Steve.

5. The People v. OJ Simpson: American Crime Story

When I heard that Ryan Murphy (Glee, American Horror Story) was making a series about the O.J. Simpson trial, I was skeptical. But I was curious enough to tune in for the first episode, and I was immediately hooked. This series is done so well! I watched every episode, and I can't stop telling people how good it is. Seriously. If you haven't watched it, do it as soon as it hits Netflix!

I do have two complaints: I think John Travolta as Robert Shapiro and Cuba Gooding Jr. as O.J. Simpson were a bit miscast. But everything else was absolutely spot on!

There's my list ... but why no Gilmore Girls? Because I haven't watched it yet. (And I also hear that people hated the 2nd and 3rd installments.) I think I'm one of two Gilmore fans in the world who hasn't watched yet...the other being my sister. But we're going to remedy that this weekend!

What are your favorite shows of 2016?

December 2, 2016

friday favorites #31: week of dec. 2, 2016 + giveaway


I haven't done a Friday Favorites in forever (OK, it was really September 23, but that's like forever in blog time), so this Friday Favorites will encompass my world over the last two months. So don't be mad that my #1 happened a month ago, OK?

1. The Cubbies!!!

Though the Chicago Cubs have always had a special place in my heart, I never really paid attention to baseball until this postseason. In fact, I thought baseball was one of the most boring sports on the planet. But in the midst of the Cubs' postseason run and World Series victory, I became a raving fan. We'll see if that carries through to next season, but for now, I'm still loving all things Cubs. In fact, the World Series movie (is that what you call it?) is on FS1 tonight, and I can't wait to watch and relive the greatness! (I've talked about the Cubbies a lot on Christian Chick's Thoughts recently, so here it is if you're interested.)

Also, I'll just leave this here ...


2. The CW's DC Crossover Extravaganza

I haven't actually watched the whole crossover yet—I had choir practice last night so missed Legends of Tomorrow. But I greatly enjoyed The Flash and Arrow this week. (Supergirl was good, too, but it wasn't much of a crossover—Barry and Cisco just showed up at the very end.) I loved seeing the characters interact, and it got me to watch Arrow, a show I checked out of a long time ago. (So dark, that Arrow. I prefer the lightness of the other three shows.) I hope the CW keeps doing these crossover events, 'cause they're so fun!

Speaking of fun, if you're a fan of The Flash, check out this Honest Trailer.

3. Austentatious


The other day, I stumbled across Austentatious on Amazon Prime. As a sucker for all things Austen, I couldn't help but start watching.

Emma Woodhouse, Lizzie Bennett, Elinor and Marianne Dashwood, and Grant Knightly are all friends living in the same city. Will Darcy works at the same law firm as Emma, and he gets realtor Lizzie to help him find a house (which, of course, ends up being for his sister Georgiana). Nurse Brandon falls for Marianne, who is oblivious, and accountant Elinor has a flirtation with IRS agent Edward Ferrars. The real Austen-like plots kick into gear around episode seven, and nothing is resolved by the end of the final episode. So far, there's only one season of ten episodes, but I hope that more will come!

The production value is ... not very good, and the acting is just serviceable. (The notable exceptions here are Elise Groves as Lizzie and Kristen Marie Jensen as Elinor.) But I still really enjoyed it!

Also of note is that this show is one of the cleanest made-for-adults series I've ever seen. No swearing, no innuendo, nothing. Totally G-rated, which is nice for a change. While your kids would probably be bored out of their minds, you could watch this without fear of what content may pop up.

If you have Prime, you can watch for free here. It's also available on DVD.

4. Christmas Music

I love, love, love Christmas music! With the advent of Spotify and Amazon Prime music, I'm able to listen to almost any Christmas music I want ... and I can pick and choose songs, rather than listening to whole albums. One of my favorite songs to play is *NSYNC's "Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays"—it never fails to brighten my mood! (If you've never seen the video before, do yourself a favor and watch it now. It pretty much screams 90's!)

In between my Michael W. Smith-athons (seriously, the man makes amazing Christmas albums!) and repeated playings of "All I Want for Christmas Is You" (both the original and Bieber versions. Yes, Bieber.), I've also been enjoying Amy Grant's new album, Tennessee Christmas. It's more mellow and melancholy than I anticipated, but it's also very good. I reviewed it here, and I have a copy to give away! Enter below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

(Rules: Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win. Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification. Contest is open in the US only. Winner will be selected at random using Rafflecopter.com and will have 48 hours to respond to email notification, or another winner will be chosen.)

5. The Thirteenth Chance


I debated whether I should really make this a favorite today, but then I found out about a crazy-good sale on Amazon, and I knew I needed to do it! The Thirteenth Chance is going to make my best of list for 2016, no question. It's engaging, romantic, and funny ... and, for a limited time, really cheap! The Kindle version is currently 99¢, and the paperback is just $4.99! (See my full review.)

So that's what's been making me happy over the last couple months. As usual, I'm linking up with Erika, Christina, and Karli. What are some things you've been enjoying lately?

THE GOOD LIFE BLOG

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received some of the products mentioned in this post free for review. The opinions expressed are my own. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

November 15, 2016

top ten tuesday: made for tv christmas movies

I've been doing my Top Ten Tuesday posts over on Christian Chick's Thoughts for a while now, but I thought you might be interested in today's post, which is all about Christmas movies (something I've talked about here on Coffee & Conversation at length). So head on over and check out what I think are the best made for TV Christmas movies: Christian Chick's Thoughts: top ten tuesday: made for tv christmas movies

October 12, 2016

stranded: halloween candy edition

I haven't done a "Stranded With" post since June ... oops! But I actually remembered today's post in time to get something posted, so here you go!

Today's topic, in honor of the month, is Halloween candy. Because of my rather restrictive diet, I can't eat much candy anymore, but I'm going to say that in this scenario, I would magically no longer need to avoid gluten!

1. Twix
Twix has been my favorite candy for as long as I can remember. That crispy shortbread cookie and gooey caramel wrapped in milk chocolate ... well, the thought of it is making my mouth water! A gigantic supply of Twix would definitely make any deserted island stay a lot happier.

2. M&M's
Here's the thing—I don't crave M&M's. I don't even like them that much. But once I start eating them, I. Cannot. Stop. Especially when I'm driving. I should never have M&M's when I travel, but they always seem to find their way into my cart when I'm shopping for a trip. So, if I ever became stranded, chances are good I actually would have some M&M's on me!

3. Reese's Peanut Butter Cups
It would be a sad day indeed if I ever had to stop eating peanut butter. Peanut Butter Cups—especially frozen ones—are so good! Plus, peanut butter has protein, so Peanut Butter Cups could maybe pass for a meal on a deserted island ...

Speaking of Peanut Butter Cups...
I've had to change my diet drastically over the past few years as I fight Hashimoto's and reclaim my health. I still eat M&M's sometimes (even though I shouldn't), and I haven't yet found a good replacement for Twix, but I found the best peanut butter cup recipe! I make it far too often, and the flavor is pretty close to the real thing.

What Halloween candy would you want to have on a deserted island? Let me know in the comments, or leave a link to your own post so I can visit your blog!

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