Maleficent Surprises….

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As a little girl the witch in Disney’s Sleeping beauty was probably hands down the scariest for me. I don’t know if it was the horns or the dark high collared cape or the fact that she turns into a dragon, but whatever it was she terrified me! From what I recall about Disney’s animated version of Sleeping Beauty we never knew why Maleficent was so evil, other than  she wasn’t invited to the princess’ christening.

I really was happy when I heard that they were going to tell this villain’s story in a non animated feature with Angelina Jolie as the lead. I mean really who else could we see in this role. Angelina has a presence to her and I feel that she was perfectly casted. Without revealing too much, I was really surprised with the twists and turns Maleficent took. It was nice to find out her origin and why she turns so dark. In the end though it seems that the tale we have known all along leaves some important parts out. As a production the movie is FANTASTIC, the sets are beautiful, the costumes are amazing and the effects are great.   I didn’t take the boys I think some parts would have scared my 6-year-old, but I will probably take my almost 11-year-old if I get the chance. If you haven’t seen it I urge you to go see it. You will not be disappointed.

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My Holiday To Do List

It really has been one busy fall for our family and for the first time in a while it  looks like it will calm down this holiday season. For one thing we are not traveling, we are having family and then friends coming over for Christmas and then for New Years. This is a first for us, because normally we do make a trip somewhere during this season. I am so looking forward to my kids Christmas break. I am craving some quality time with my family. In the craziness of this past fall I have really felt that I have been distracted and disconnected from them. I was just going through the motions and really not enjoying the moment, because I was anticipating the next thing in our busy agenda. Fun mommy is coming back  for the holidays and I really hope she over stays  her welcome. With all that being said here is a list of what I want to accomplish with my family and friends this holiday season.

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1) Play with my boys. I really want to keep the electronics at bay this break. I am not crazy we will all be connected, but I want to keep it to a minimum and this includes me as well. I am looking forward to extensive games of Monopoly, Clue, Nerf gun wars and even the possible jog around the neighborhood since both boys have had an increased interest in running. I feel like, it is these activities that make the memories that they will remember when they are older. We are due for some memories like these.

2) Try out some new recipes. Just from a quick search on Pinterest I have found a few new recipes that I do want to try out. Here are some of them:

Lemon Chicken Romano click here for recipe

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Snowman Pizza click here for recipe

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Rudolf Pancakes which are perfect for Christmas Morning!! Click here for recipe.

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Beef Tenderloin, believe it or not I have never roasted a whole beef tenderloin before. I am not sure if I will make it with this port sauce or just make chimichurri sauce. I will be making this along with some shrimp, asparagus and my mom’s special Christmas rice for our Christmas Eve dinner.  Click here for tenderloin recipe.

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3) I want to FLY!!! Our dear friends the Barsotti’s are coming to visit us to ring in the new year. They also have 2 kids around the same age as my boys. On one of the days they are here we are going to go to Defy Gravity. Defy Gravity is a trampoline sports arena, it is advertised as fun for the entire family.  I am pretty sure we are all going to have fun!!

4) Craft and Bake: I really want to make this wreath

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It looks so easy and it’s something my younger son can help me with. Click here for directions. I also want to bake cookies I am by no means a baker, but my youngest enjoys it. So I think this year we will make Santa some sugar cookies. Nothing crazy, but just something that we can do together.

5) Go to see some movies. We haven’t gone to the movies that much this fall, but I for sure would love to go see The Wolf of Wall Street, American Hustle, Anchorman 2 and so many others, but those 3 are ones I am willing to pay theatre prices for. My oldest wants to see The Hobbit and I am sure I will take them to see Frozen sooner than later.

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6) I want to be happy and merry! Most importantly I  just want be and enjoy the moment. School is out next Friday, presents are bought, the bulk of food will be bought next week, so there is no reason to just BE PRESENT and ENJOY!!

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My Favorite Things- Fall Edition

Happy Fall to everyone! This is my favorite time of year and I love that in my area the weather is getting a little cooler. Definitely helps to get into the mood of the season. I don’t know about everyone else, but fall also commences a busy time in our family. Always, seems our weekends are jammed packed with activities. With that said, I know I have neglected my blog a little bit so I decided to make a post that included a lot of things I have been wanting to write about.

12 ways to wear a scarf

In recent years I have embraced using scarves as an accessory. It really adds a pop to any outfit and also adds a finishing touch to a basic jeans and t-shirt ensemble. So if you don’t use scarves as an accessory I urge you to try it out. You can get fun scarves for under $10, just look at Old Navy or Target.

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Yes, I know this ‘anthology’ is on its third season, but the first episode of The Coven saga has left me blind sided. First of all I don’t know how Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk come up with creepy amazing twisted tales time and time again. American Horror Story is scary story telling at its best. One thing that stands true from the past two seasons is that the show always has strong amazing characters. They have a habit of leaving a mark on our minds and striking a chord with our deepest darkest fears.  I also love that the actors come back to play different roles each season. For example, Jessica Lange has been a creepy intrusive next door neighbor, an unrelenting Mother Superior and asylum warden and currently Supreme Witch. The Coven also boasts an all star-cast, Kathy Bates, Angela Basset and Jessica Lange to just name a few. This season will take us through the lore of witchcraft and voodoo of New Orleans.  If you haven’t I suggest you tune in, just remember to keep the lights on while you watch.

BACK ROW: HAYLEY ORRANTIA, GEORGE SEGAL, TROY GENTILE; FRONT ROW: SEAN GIAMBRONE, JEFF GARLIN, WENDI MCLENDON-COVEY I don’t know if it is, because I grew up in the 1980’s, but I find this show hilarious. I have a been a long time fan of Jeff Garlin ever since his Curb Your Enthusiasm days. It also reminds me a lot of my husband’s family. Not that I know how their family life was in the 80s, but it is how I imagined it. My husband has also commented that, its like watching his childhood at times. I wonder if the whole 1980’s setting will get old, but we will wait and see. I have really enjoyed the first few episodes and hope to see more.

Movie_4127_706If you haven’t seen Rush yet, run to the movie theater as soon a possible. It is the best movie I have seen all year.  Rush (directed by Ron Howard) is based on the true life 1970s rivalry of Formula One drivers James Hunt and Nicky Lauda. The movie depicts this rivalry very well. Nicky Lauda is played by Daniel Bruhl. I feel that he gives an award-winning performance. James Hunt is portrayed by Chris Hemsworth not only is he so nice to look a  but, he brings the sexy effortless swagger that James embodied perfectly. The driving sequences are pretty intense and well done, but also the human aspect of the film is just as good. Even if you don’t like car racing you will like this film. There is suspense, romance, action and some laughs. It has it all, go see it.

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Lastly, but certainly not least I want to give a shout out to my in-laws John and Joella on their 50th wedding anniversary! We had the pleasure of celebrating this momentous milestone with them and all our family this past weekend. It was really nice to see everyone and especially to have our kiddos hang out with their cousins for a weekend. Congratulations Mom and Dad!

I hope you all have a good rest of the week and remember even if life gets a little hectic, take the time to enjoy the present!

My Emmy Predictions

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It’s TV biggest night on Sunday! TV this past year was amazing and the categories are chock full of talent. There are a few categories that it is really hard to predict who the winner is. Well, here are my humble predictions in a few of the major categories.

LEAD ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES:

Hugh Bonneville, Downton Abbey, PBS

Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad, AMC

Jeff Daniels, The Newsroom, HBO

Jon Hamm, Mad Men, AMC

Damian Lewis, Homeland, Showtime

Kevin Spacey, House of Cards, Netflix

This category is the hardest to predict. We have Damian Lewis who won last year and had another great performance this year as SGT. Brody.  As this is Breaking Bad’s last year, will they give it to Bryan Cranston?  Jon Hamm nominated every year since Mad Men started, but has never taken home the gold. Even though I wish he would win, I think this years Emmy will go to House of Card’s Kevin Spacey. If you haven’t seen it, get Netflix and start binge watching. He is so good as the Machiavellian Congressman Francis Underwood.

LEAD ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES:

Connie Britton, Nashville, ABC

Claire Danes, Homeland, Showtime

Michelle Dockery, Downton Abbey, PBS

Vera Farmiga, Bates Motel, A&E

Elisabeth Moss, Mad Men, AMC

Kerry Washington, Scandal, ABC

Robin Wright, House of Cards, Netflix

In my heart I hope Kerry Washington would win, because I am definitely one of Olivia Pope’s gladiators, but Robin Wright Penn’s portrayal as Clair Underwood in House of Cards is unstoppable. Again, binge watch if you can.  

COMEDY SERIES:

The Big Bang Theory, CBS

Girls, HBO

Louie, FX

Modern Family, ABC

30 Rock, NBC

Veep, HBO

I think the fact that I feel really awkward watching certain scenes of Girls is a testament to its realistic grit.  My husband thinks it will go to “30 Rock” as a capstone gesture.  We’ll see…

LEAD ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES:

Jason Bateman, Arrested Development, Netflix

Louis C.K., Louie, FX

Don Cheadle, House of Lies, Showtime

Matt LeBlanc, Episodes, Showtime

Jim Parsons, Big Bang Theory, CBS

Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock, NBC 

I really don’t know about this category. I am going to say Jim Parson. I have heard BBT has had a good season.

LEAD ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES:

Lena Dunham, Girls, HBO

Laura Dern, Enlightened, HBO

Tiny Fey, 30 Rock, NBC

Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation, NBC

Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep, HBO

Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie, Showtime

Julia Louis-Dreyfus IS that show and steals every scene!

SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES:

Adam Driver, Girls, HBO

Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Modern Family, ABC

Ed O’Neill, Modern Family, ABC

Ty BurrellModern Family, ABC

Bill Hader, Saturday Night Live, NBC

Tony HaleVeep, HBO

Adam Driver also steals every scene he is in, and his performance either makes you laugh or makes your jaw drop.  Keep your eye on this actor’s career.

DRAMA SERIES:

Breaking Bad, AMC

Downton AbbeyPBS

HomelandShowtime

Game of ThronesHBO

House of CardsNetflix

Mad MenAMC

Ugh this is one that I just don’t know. I think it will be between House of Cards, Game of Thrones (Red Wedding anyone?) or Breaking Bad.  Categories like this underscore televisions high-quality productions, as opposed to yet another dreadful “Expendables” installment in theaters.  TV is definitely where it’s at.

SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES:

Bobby Cannavale, Boardwalk EmpireHBO

Jonathan BanksBreaking BadAMC

Aaron Paul, Breaking BadAMC

Jim Carter, Downton AbbeyPBS

Peter Dinklage, Game of ThronesHBO

Mandy PatinkinHomelandShowtime

Another hard one.  Though I may be wrong, going to give this one to Mandy Patinkin.

SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES:

Anna GunnBreaking BadAMC

Maggie SmithDownton AbbeyPBS

Emilia ClarkeGame of ThronesHBO

Christine BaranskiThe Good WifeCBS

Morena BaccarinHomelandShowtime

Christina Hendricks, Mad MenAMC

Kalesi hands down. This was her year. I hope she brings her dragons.  

LEAD ACTOR IN A MINISERIES OR MOVIE:

Michael DouglasBehind The CandelabraHBO

Matt Damon, Behind The CandelabraHBO

Toby Jones, The GirlHBO

Benedict CumberbatchParade’s EndHBO

Al PacinoPhil SpectorHBO

I really wish Michael Douglas and Matt Damon could share this award. I just hope they do not split the vote.

LEAD ACTRESS IN A MINISERIES OR MOVIE:

Jessica LangeAmerican Horror StoryFX

Laura LinneyThe Big C: HereafterShowtime

Helen Mirren, Phil Spector, HBO

Sigourney Weaver, Political Animals, USA

Elisabeth Moss, Top of the Lake, Sundance Channel

American Horror Story: Asylum was revetting and terrifying. Jessica Lange was a huge reason why. Her performance  defines “Emmy worthy.”  

MINISERIES OR MOVIE:

American Horror Story: Asylum, FX

Behind the Candelabra, HBO

Phil Spector, HBO

Political Animals, USA

The Bible, History

Top of the Lake, Sundance Channel

I am torn between Behind The Candelabra and American Horror Story: Asylum. Both are so different, but both were equally excellent in their respective genre.

SUPPORTING ACTOR IN MINISERIES OR MOVIE:

James Cromwell, American Horror Story: Asylum, FX

Zachary Quinto, American Horror Story: Asylum, FX

Scott Bakula, Behind The Candelabra, HBO

John Benjamin Hickey, The Big C: Hereafter, Showtime

Peter Mullan, Top of the Lake, Sundance Channel

Zachary Quinto was amazing. I cannot divulge more without giving out spoilers.

SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN MINISERIES OR MOVIE:

Sarah Paulson, American Horror Story: Asylum, FX

Imelda Staunton, The Girl, HBO

Charlotte Rampling, Restless, Sundance Channel

Alfre Woodard, Steel Magnolias, Lifetime

Again, I cannot divulge too much without giving out spoilers, but she was great especially when they fas forward a few decades.

I am really excited to see how this all unfolds on Sunday night! Will you be watching? What are some of your favorites?

 

“Yeah, REALLY SCARY!”….

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I had been intrigued by The Conjuring since I read an article about the movie and Lorraine Warren in Entertainment Weekly. In the article, Lorraine stresses that of all the cases she and her husband Ed investigated, this is one of the most terrifying for her. To me, that means a lot. She and her husband have seen thousands of cases over the years. If you do not know about Lorraine and Ed Warren, they are a paranormal investigators. Ed was a demonologist (he passed away in 2006 ) and Lorraine is a clairvoyant. If you had a haunting, they were the people to have come and investigate (I would call a priest first, but you know that is just me). They also have a famous occult museum. They have kept many items from their investigations and they figure the items are best under their care then out in the world.  Click here to take a tour of the museum.

The Conjuring is based on a true story. The Perron family moves into an idyllic farm-house in Rhode Island. Little did they know is that there was a very dark history that came along with their dream home. You all can figure out the rest.  The trailer freaked me out from the beginning and when I heard from people who said the scariest parts were not even in the trailer I for sure had to go and check it out. I love a good genuine scare.

So this past Tuesday I gathered two brave souls (thanks for coming with me Meagan and Jen) and we went to the 7:40 pm showing. I asked the teenager selling concession if he had seen it. He was like, “Yeah it’s really scary.” I was like, “Really? “He said, “Yeah REALLY SCARY!” So now I was scared. The three of us walked to the theater, which was relatively empty, but thankfully it filled up by show time. We were nervously eating our popcorn, and once the movie started we were all huddled up in little balls. I can say I watched half the movie through my fingers and I screamed about 5 times (I wasn’t the only one screaming). At one point I had Jen’s knee in a death grip. The movie moves at a fast pace. The acting is good and the writing and direction is great. It’s not just one scare, it is  like five at once, and then you move on to the next scare and get 5 more! It’s a roller coaster of scary. There is no gore. This movie is scary because it conjures up things that we are all scared of. It messes with our feelings and our senses.  I could go more in detail, but I don’t want to give anything away. I will say one thing: being a mother I can see how Lorraine Warren (who was a mom herself at the point of this haunting) believes this is one of the more disturbing case they investigated.

Bottom line, if you like a good scare, go see this movie (It is up there now  in my top 5 scariest movies). It’s just a straight up terrifying ghost story. This story will stick with you, so be ready to sleep with your rosary and/or Bible and the lights on. Also, if you wake up in the middle of the night, don’t check the time!

Fav Things July 15-19

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Let me start by saying that the above picture is NOT my laundry room. That is the laundry room I wish I had! So this week I starting adding a few drops of essential oil to my laundry soap when I run a linens load (towels, bed sheets). My friend Brit told me she did that and it would take away any musty smell, especially out of towels. It would add a nice subtle scent of whatever type of oil she used. Who doesn’t want to smell a little bit of lavender on their bed before they go to sleep? Just put about 3-4 drops of an essential oil (best to use one that is naturally antibacterial like lavender, peppermint, bergamot, lemon grass, tea tree). I used a blend (lavender and tea tree)I had from the California Baby line. If you haven’t tried this I suggest you do. It is especially a good way to get those pool and beach towels to smell fresher and cleaner.

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Old Bay Lemon and Herb Baked Shrimp (serves 4)

1 1/4lb of fresh shrimp (de-shelled and deveined), 5 garlic cloves sliced, olive oil, Old Bay Lemon and Herb (OBLH) seasoning (or any lemon seasoning) and lemon

1) De-shell and devein shrimp place in large mixing bowl. Add a couple of glugs of olive oil and the OBLH seasoning until shrimp are lightly covered (then a few more shakes for good measure). Finally mix in the garlic.

2) Let shrimp sit in fridge for an hour or so.

3) Preheat oven at 400 degrees. Spray cookie sheet with a little bit of cooking spray. Arrange shrimp on cookie sheet in one layer. Once oven is ready place shrimp in oven and cook for 8-10 minutes (no turning over required). Once they are pink juicy they are ready. Add a the juice of one lemon to the shrimp when they are right out of oven.

4) Enjoy!

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We became owners of an Apple TV this week. I love it because, it’s so cute and it is so much easier to navigate than our blu-ray is. It is a box that provides access to popular streaming services (Netflix, Hulu). If you already own iTunes products it enables you to stream everything through your Mac.

That is all for this week. I hope you all have a great weekend!

My Fav Things July 8-14

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I received a sample of Miss Jessie’s Jelly Soft Curls gel in my Birchbox last month. Over the past few years I have grown to embrace my curls, letting them loose more often (especially during the summer). Everyone’s curls are different and I normally don’t go the gel route; my curls are light and gel usually made them heavy and crunchy. Miss Jessie has changed that for me. This gel will leave your curls so light and shapely. I love it! To learn more about this product click here.

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The other day my husband brought these home from the grocery. I was at first skeptical. I love their other products (hot dogs and cold cuts), but every time I have bought a healthier version of chicken nuggets they don’t taste good, prompting a regrettable return  to the Yummy brand dino-shaped nuggets. I thought the Yummy brand was a healthier choice over Tysons and Perdue, but after reading this report, I am so glad I found the Applegate nuggets. The kids loved them! They are very tasty and have a lot of chicken meat. They really taste homemade. I have made homemade nuggets, but those have always been met with negative review from my boys.  During the summer, I feel like I am always in the kitchen making food. Weekday lunches have to be fast and easy, but somewhat nutritional. I urge you to change your home nuggets if you are buying the other crap (lets face it, its crap). If you aren’t making your own nuggets, give these a try. They are fantastic!

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Thank you to Vanessa for suggesting this show to us. During the summer, my hubby and I like to watch shows we didn’t discover in the regular season. I heard through the grape-vine that this show was great, so I am glad we have finally started to watch it. House of Cards is a political drama based off a BBC miniseries of the same name. Both are based off a novel by Michael Dobbs. House of Cards is set in modern-day Washington D.C. and follows the revenge path of scorned Congressman Frank Underwood, sublimely played by Kevin Spacey.  Along the way we meet his wife, Claire, played by Robin Penn Wright  who runs a non-profit; a young ambitious journalist Zoe, played by Kate Mara; and a down-on- his-luck Congressman Peter Russo, played by Corey Stoll. The acting is phenomenal. I encourage all of you who like political dramas to give this one a shot. You will not be surprised if you over stay your welcome in the House of Cards; you will leave wanting more! It is a Netflix original series, but I believe now you can get it on DVD. If you have Netflix streaming, you can access it with ease.

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I just love when you step out of your car when getting to the beach and getting that first whiff of sea salt air. I wish I could bottle that scent. This past Sunday my family spent a glorious day at Kure Beach in North Carolina. I would like to thank my friends (well, really they are like family) Vanessa and Matt and their families for opening up their beach house to us. There is nothing better than spending a day on the beach with loved ones, good food, drinks, and laughs.

This past week was a little hectic, so I am sorry I wasn’t able to post it on Friday. I hope you all have a great week! What some of your favorite things you have discovered recently?