Tag Archives: Favorite

My Christmas Soundtrack

4 Dec

Red-Christmas-Decorations-ChristmasIt’s that time of year again where the only type of music that fills my ears is holiday-inspired. (Besides the ’80s tunes that I require during my shower time. Hello, Mr. Big.) I do not discriminate, well I do, but my playlists are filled with many artists I wouldn’t usually listen to on a daily basis, like Mannheim Steamroller, Amy Grant, and Harry Connick, Jr (but never Jessica Simpson or the like. Never.) I actually look forward to going to work, knowing I will be listening to my Christmas soundtrack on Spotify on the way – which is always uplifting, no matter the circumstances.

So here are my top six tunes this year, the ones that I gravitate toward walking to and fro. Some have been on my favorites list for years, while others have moved up the ladder in the last couple weeks.

1) Pennies From Heaven – Louis Prima

This is not a Christmas song. It has been recorded by the likes of Frank Sinatra and Andy Williams, but I think he has the perfect voice for this song. Louis’s gravely, gritty voice plus the fast-paced beat makes it the perfect listen to while walking down the crazed streets of NYC. It doesn’t hurt that it was featured on Elf and now I believe it is a holiday song. I feel like I’m in a soundtrack to my own holiday-themed movie when this pops on.This song isn’t really a Christmas anthem, but it sure has made the rounds on the radio stations like this number has:

I Believe – Frank Sinatra

But I would never consider Annie Lennox’s version of “My Favorite Things” a holiday tune. No, that’s just freakin’ creepy, like Elf On A Shelf. Save that shit for Halloween.

2) Same Old Lang Syne – Dan Fogelberg

This song has been my go-to Christmas tune since high school. I love, love Dan Fogelberg’s work, and this song is just gorgeous. Like many of his songs, it is autobiographical, and the lyrics just paint such a sad, lovely picture that many people can relate to. The fact that it was written about a meeting between him and his high school sweetheart in their hometown of Peoria, IL and that they both kept it a secret from the public for such a long time, so damn beautiful.

3) The River – Rachael Yamagata

Yes, the Joni Mitchell original version ranks supreme. But I love, love, love Rachael Yamagata. I own all of her records and absolutely love her voice quality. And as much as I love Joni, I hate to admit that I like this version even more. It’s so sad, so relatable, and just so wonderful.

4) Wishlist – Pearl Jam

Yes. Just yes. Pearl Jam is probably one of the top bands that pop up regularly on my Spotify playlists. We actually made a wedding playlist CD as party favors (which I will post next week), and Pearl Jam made the list with love song “Just Breathe”. Vedder sings of all the things he wishes for, but ends it with the line “I wish I was as fortunate, as fortunate as me.” What we should be thinking about at this time of year.

5) Winter Song – Sara Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson

Damn beautiful. That’s all I can say about this song. “Is love alive?” and this stanza “This is my winter song/December never felt so wrong/Cause you’re not where you belong/Inside my arms”. I listen to this song in remembrance of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. I think of the families, the community, and the extremely sad loss.

6) Still, Still, Still – Mannheim Steamroller

I remember singing this Austrian lullaby in middle school and loving the melody ever since. Whenever I hear it being played, I close my eyes and imagine it being dark at night, with the snow falling and twinkling lights nearby. I instantly get transported back to my childhood.

And while I’m not including all of my favorites, I cannot stop listening to Sting’s If On A Winter Night album and Sarah McLachlan’s Wintersong. Both just delicious bites of the season.

Oh, Christmas.

I Heart MST3K

21 Oct

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I bought a stockpile of “classic” Halloween movies a week ago. Unfortunately, I accidentally shipped them to my parents’ house in Iowa.

So I guess I won’t be seeing them until after the fact. Last year, I was too broke to consider purchasing “The Addams Family” movies, “Hocus Pocus”, “Beetlejuice”, or my sister’s favorite television show “The Munsters”. I couldn’t fathom spending a few bucks on a pre-owned copy of the ’80s magic that is “Teen Witch”, without thinking about my empty bank account.

So what’s a girl to do without these masterpiece videos? Netflix, of course. For a thrill, we’ve gone through Hitchcock’s classic “Psycho”, delved into “Paranormal Activity” for a sleepless night, and “Blair Witch Project”-ed myself.

But what about the humorous, the lighthearted that my trick-or-treating self enjoyed so much in earlier days? I looked no further than what is absolutely near-and-dear to my heart: MST3K. For those of you non-nerds that haven’t immersed yourself in a 24-hour extravaganza of Mystery Science Theater 3000, you are missing out.

Introduced by my dad, we never could get enough of this Minneapolis-based show when it first appeared on Comedy Central. The Thanksgiving holiday wasn’t devoted just to turkey, no, it was also about “Gamera”, “Zombie Nightmare” and other D-rate movies. Listening to robots and humans make fun of the horrors of cinema made us have such gut-wrenching belly laughs, there was nothing like it. We had quite a few of them dubbed on VHS tapes, and after school or on Saturday afternoons, my two siblings and I would spend hours rewinding the parts we found the funniest. It got to the point where we would find old movies on television and try our hand at sarcasm – sending us in a fit of hysterics over our own humor.

The best were the shorts – 15-minute films that were obviously shown to the youth of the ’60s in P.E. class. My personal favorite was a half-hour black and white promotional flick from Iowa State University. In an effort to recruit the female persuasion to their home ec studies program, the college created one of the most sexist and hilarious films of all time. Add in the snark of Tom Servo and Crow T. Robot, and you have got just the best thing around.

My fiancee has been subjected to my family’s humor time and time again, and he has been forced to watch a couple of our all-time favorite episodes. Instead of watching a traditional holiday movie last Christmas Eve, we chose “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians” – it just seemed fitting.

We were able to find a few of the episodes on Netflix a couple nights ago. We chose “The Final Sacrifice” on Saturday evening. On Sunday, neither one of us could stop repeating some of the more memorable lines from the show. So imagine my surprise, when Nate and I sat down to watch an hour of TV and he suggested, “Um, could we watch another one of those?” I didn’t even suggest the beloved series, he did it all on his own. How ’bout that?

I knew I picked the right guy.

Dress Weather … holla!

9 May
Basically, anyone should wear dresses if they feel like it. Anyone. And I think anyone is absolutely fab in 'em.

Basically, anyone should wear dresses if they feel like it. Anyone. And I think all ya ladies look absolutely fab in ‘em.

I’m pretty jazzed for the warmer season and dress weather. Yeah, totally wear ‘em in cold weather, but always with leggings. So that’s a bummer and a half. Why? Why, love dress weather? Why not, I ask. Here are my main beefs with wearing other kinds of clothes and why I prefer dresses y’all.

Can sleep in
Will be the first to admit it. When allowed, I am the laziest, most worthless human being alive. Meaning, I will lay (never sitting, always lying down) on the couch and finish off a few seasons of Gilmore Girls in a day. A weekend if nothing is happening. I will get off said couch only to reach for more chocolate, cream cheese or nachos. Perhaps if the pizza delivery guy needs paid. Maybe. So girl needs comfy pajamas. And sometimes this girl doesn’t want to change out of work clothes for this whole day extravaganza. So my cotton work dresses can sometimes pull double duty as lounge wear. And as a handy drool cloth. Not ashamed.

Can go to the bathroom in
Did I mention I am extremely lazy? Yeah, when it’s spring/summer-time, I can skip that whole unzip the pants business. So much easier. Again, not sorry if this is TMI, but public restrooms in NYC are scary and the less time I spend in them, the better.

One stop shop
I like to wake up and be out the door in 20 minutes. I seriously don’t like “getting ready” to interfere with my slumbers. There are freaky weird dreams going on, and they don’t need to be messed up by a stupid alarm clock. So I get out of the shower, pull a dress off a hanger and done. No, I really don’t like accessorizing. So the dress is enough. And the makeup from the night before on my face is all the fancy-fying I need.

Less expense
I always guffaw (yes, GUFFAW because that is a word I don’t use frequently but feel I must!) when someone complains about the price of a dress. In the back of my mind, I’m thinking “so?” It’s probably cheaper than the outfit you put together. Don’t need no scarves, no leggings, no pants (NO PANTS), no shirts, no necklaces, nothing else. You can put the dress on, zip, and wala! A whole outfit. Stop complaining.

Pants can go… just go. Hate pants.  
Maybe you have gained a few pounds. Pants suck. Perhaps you lost a few. Still kinda suck. I mean, it’s nice to be able to feel the room in between the fabric and the skin … but hey, let’s get back to putting on some weight. Pants can seriously suck an egg. All they want to do is make you feel bad about yourself. And if you decide to wear those tight things, you are reminded of that weight gain all day long by that damn waistband leaving red marks on your skin. Eff pants. At least with dresses, the ones that I like, they are forgiving, nice and could care less that you ate a couple boxes of crab rangoons last night.

• Another thing about PANTS. Repeat, hate pants. When it’s cold, rainy and wet outside, the cuffs of your pants always get wet, rub grossly on your skin, and yeah. Did I mention I really hate pants hard?

Oh, yeah, that whole time thing again
Another bonus about wearing a dress is that people, for some reason, think that when you are wearing it, that you spent a whole lotta extra time getting ready. Like you were trying to look super great. Lies, I tell you, lies! For me, most likely it’s not true, it was just the easiest, simplest solution. But hey, got to get those compliments when you can!

Classic, classic, classic
With dresses, I try pretty hard to buy ones that won’t go out of style in the next few years. So plain colors, plain styles – very classic and clean. With other types of outfits, it’s really hard to buy something that isn’t trendy. Five years from now, if I have kept a dress in good condition, I can wear it and still get someone to say, “You look nice today.” Well, MAYBE.

My teeny dress problems:
•Since these are complete, whole outfits for me, I have to be careful of what kind of material I get. Sure, I have tons of dry-clean-only dresses, but I rarely wear them. That’s why my closet is fully loaded with Calvin Klein cotton dresses. Throw in the wash with like-colored clothes. Easy peasy.
• I have a problem sitting lady-like. Basically always. So I have to constantly remind myself (or be reminded by someone else) to sit properly while wearing a short dress. It’s like being in that scene in A League Of Their Own where they have to go through Miss Manners classes, but all the time.

Anyways, dresses. Love them. That’s all.

Best of Omaha

8 May

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I used to despise Omaha. I didn’t care if it was a pretty town or that it was close to home, it just wasn’t the big city I wanted to live in. So when I would make my 3-hour trek (it was exactly 3 hours, no more – no less), I would hem and haw about having to spend more time in a place that I had already determined was awful. But here’s the thing: It isn’t. It’s actually pretty awesome. The reason I had such a dilemma with the city was that my boyfriend (who lived there) tried his damnedest to convince me that I wanted to live there too. And like a small child, I would argue the opposite until I was blue in the face. It’s just in my nature to be that immature. And while I pretended that I would rather be anywhere else, I secretly enjoyed being there. In fact, I’ve even suggested moving to said city if he were to get a teaching job at his alma mater (University of Nebraska). Of course, his jaw dropped.

Wells people, since I spent almost every other weekend there for three years (THREE YEARS? My poor car.) I have some advice on some of the coolest places to visit in Omaha. Well, the places I enjoyed exploring, anyways.

STORES

Scout Dry Goods & Trade – 5019 Underwood Ave. http://ilovescout.com/

Guys, I have a serious second-hand clothing store addiction. And honestly, I haven’t been super happy with the selection in NYC. Yeah, blasphemous, I know. But, it is all because of this store. It spoiled me. I like a store that is going to sell amazing vintage/fancy brands/at a decent price. You can find the first two, but not the third. Most of the second-hand stores here (like the one that they featured on a TV show) are way too expensive for what they provide. And people go bananas for it. BANANAS. But this store has it all. I also bought my first Theory skirt here for $50. Yeah, it’s that awesome. Every weekend, there was a new awesome selection (they are very picky with the product that comes through their doors). My meager paycheck went basically to car payments and this store. Oh, and for all that gas to drive to said establishment. Anyways, go to this store. I miss it so.

The Afternoon – 10000 California St. www.theafternoon.com

There are actually two locations for this store in Omaha. This just so happens to be the one I enjoy going to the most. It’s a store of knickknacks, a hodgepodge of great things that you don’t realize you need until you get in the store. I got my more quirky presents for people exclusively at this place. There is also one in the Mall of America, if you are thinking to yourself “Hey! I think I know that store, but you are thinking the wrong location!” No, my friends. I’ve been to three of them so far. All deliciously wonderful.

Homer’s Music – 1210 Howard St. www.homersmusic.com

My first trip to Omaha was memorable. Nate and I were completely unsure why I was there. Were we dating? Maybe, who knows, can’t keep track. But I knew one thing. When I saw this record shop, I had to go in. If you love music (good music), for the love of God go in. ‘Murica.

RESTAURANTS/PUBS/BARS

Bangkok Cuisine - 1905 Farnam St.

Um, I have a confession. I have tried a lot of Asian food in NYC (Chinatown, Midtown, East Village, many other places), and I have yet to find a place that will beat this restaurant. I’m not even joking or exaggerating even a tiny bit. We have been to many restaurants and bars in Omaha (that’s just our favorite form of entertainment, eating). We basically ate here almost every weekend I visited. The first time, after going on a major Urbanspoon kick, we took the recommendations and went. We went round and round the block, because there is not actually a well-lit sign or anything. Just a bright yellow door. And while the ambiance of the restaurant might be lacking, it is the best Asian cuisine I have ever had. We have even half-joked about flying to Omaha just to get some Tom Yum Gai soup. Oh, and the prices are unbelievably cheap. So, yeah, GO.

Dundee Dell - 5007 Underwood Ave.

Awesome pub. And surprise, it’s a few stores away from Scout. So, double plus! The entire Dundee neighborhood is just pretty bad ass. Warren Buffet lives there. We loved to go look at Christmas lights in the Dundee district, where houses are located on cobblestone roads. It’s pretty beautiful. Back to the pub. Try their Philly Cheesesteak Po Boy. Num-num.

Crescent Moon Ale House - 3578 Farnam St.

Sticking with the pub theme a couple more rounds. This place is boss. Their food, their drinks – we just freakin’ loved this place. In the afternoon, in the evening. Whenever. Try their soup menu. So great. Also, they are right next to Beertopia, a beer heaven.

Upstream Brewing Company - 514 S 11th St.

Because I don’t want to seem like I just hang out in bars (kinda true), I’ll put a couple in this one entry. Just if you go to the Old Market, which is beautiful, check out this brewery. Again, this is sad, but I have not found a beer I like more than one of their house beers, the Firehouse Red. I get excited when I find something that somewhat rivals it – but it still loses. Okay, I also give shout-outs to Jake’s Cigars & Spirits (crazy mixed drinks) and Old Mattress Factory Bar (great atmosphere).

Rick’s Cafe Boatyard - 514 S 11th St.

This restaurant is located right on the Missouri River (that’s the right one…I think…). Although the food is just alright, it’s the atmosphere and being right on the water that gives this location a top vote.

COFFEE

Crane Coffee - 5923 Center St.

Besides eating out, we like to go get coffee. A lot. And there are some great options in Omaha: Caffeine Dreams, Blue Line Cafe, Scooter’s – we just really enjoyed Crane Coffee. There are a couple of locations, and it just seemed to be our go-to place.

MOVIE THEATERS

Aksarben Theater - 2110 S 67th St.

Hold on to your britches, because I have four favorites in this category. Besides eating lots of food and drinking copious amounts of liquids, we like to watch a ton of movies, children. Yeah, we’s gots favorites. We go to a lot of movies, and it was super important for us to find some great theaters in our area when we moved to Jersey City. It took awhile, and we learned that just because there is a movie theater in a mall close to us, it doesn’t mean we should go there. Like ever. Anyhoo, this theater is super clean, hip (has a full bar), and just great. This was our go-to mainstream theater that shows blockbuster films.

Marcus Midtown Cinema - 3201 Farnam St.

I brag about my experiences at Marcus basically anywhere I go. We Love Marcus Midtown. Okay, so you go up a couple escalators. And then you buy your ticket, I mean your seat. You can pay for standard seats, or leather, or the creamy leather Oh-my-god awesome seats. In the upgraded seats, you can ring a buzzer and ask a waiter to bring you food and drinks. It’s basically one of the best things I have ever discovered. The prices are not unreasonable for dinner and a movie, and it’s just a lot of fun. Oh, and the quality of the screen and sound are pretty spectacular.

Film Streams - 1340 Mike Fahey St.

We admit it. We see a lot of films. We can be big movie snobs. And so we sometimes like to go to snobby films. This is that place we can enjoy said movies. With other people with turned-up noses.

Dundee Theatre - 4952 Dodge St.

This theater is disgusting, dirty, and very old. And very beautiful. It’s so grand and lovely with chandeliers, but you go there for the midnight showings. Whether it is The Rocky Horror Picture Show or something completely hideous, you can heckle the crap out of a movie with many other young adults. It helps if you have drank a few.

NATURE-Y THINGS and such

Fontenelle Forest - 1111 Bellevue Blvd N. www.fontenelleforest.org

We have gone to many parks in Omaha. We have also visited many of the trails, and while this is a bit outside of the city, it’s definitely a must-see. This forest has many winding bridges, and is just a real green beauty.

Heartland of America Park - 800 Douglas St.

This man-made park was a place we spent a lot of time at. Mostly to watch the geese around the lake, because we were cool like that. Honestly, many important conversations were had at this lake while we were busy making sure we weren’t sitting on goose poop. “Should we break up?” “No, don’t sit there. Goose poop!” “Thanks for that, so should we?” “Nah. Eh, maybe.”

Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge - 705 Riverfront Dr.

Kind of one of those must-dos in Omaha. I always grudgingly trudged to the bridge, but enjoyed being there when I was finally on it. Especially when it was lit up at night.

THOSE OTHER GREAT THINGS

Old Market

If you are going to visit Omaha, more than likely you have heard of the Old Market. It’s a cobblestone shopping mecca filled with restaurants, eclectic stores, and other attractions. There are hidden stores in back allies that I super enjoyed and it’s just a place that will put a smile on your face. If you like that sort of thing.

Henry Doorly Zoo - 3701 S 10th St.

Okay. You aren’t from Nebraska. You are definitely, most likely going to the zoo. Or to the airport. In any case, you won’t be disappointed (I mean the airport is nice :)). We should have bought yearly passes for the money we plunked down to watch penguins and gorillas. The aquarium is wonderful, the desert dome is wonderful, it’s all just a happy-happy-joy-joy kind of place. Tip: Go on a weekday. And if you are going, get there when it opens. It gets crowded fast and parking is free, but finding a spot isn’t always the easiest.

So there. A few of my favorite places in good ole Omaha. I look forward to seeing this city again someday. I also look forward to driving a car, seeing green spaces, friendly Midwesterners … okay, done grumbling.

BYE!

Classic Books From My Past

24 Apr

Books have been an integral part of my life. I despised, repeat despised, any kind of forced sport in the summer, and would rather spend my time curled up in my air-conditioned local library (shout-out to Kendall Young, seriously the best library I have EVER been in). If I wasn’t there, I was sitting on my bed with my Little Debbie Oatmeal Pies and any number of books. My bookshelf was always overflowing, and I never just checked out two or three books at a time. I was fortunate, in that my mother gave me $5 each month for my Scholastic book order. I was overjoyed when I received the thin-sheeted catalog and always stretched that money and bought the cheaper books. When a book sale came to school, I was given money there too. Sheer excitement for any and every book.

Now, I still read books meant for middle-school readers and have recently begun to restock my library as I had gotten rid of many over the years (why???). Here are a few (or more than a few) that helped shape my literary world and became quite dog-eared in the process.

(Note: Haven’t included board books or The American Girl classics from my past … OR a list of my absolute FAVE Sweet Valley Twins, those all seem like longer lists for another day. Also, these are just the ones I remember at the moment. I’m sure tonight, there will be a ton of other ones I wish I had mentioned.)

Interstellar Pig

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I never thought of myself as someone who enjoyed the science fiction genre, but this one just kicked serious behind. A boy goes on vacation, gets bored, starts playing games … with ALIENS. It’s pretty great.

The Giver

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What is not to love about this book? I still read it at least twice a year, and feel that it is the best Dystopian novel that I have ever read. Oh, I love The Hunger Games, The Handmaid’s Tale, The Road, and stories like The Lottery – this one is just the best. Each time, I come away with a different conclusion.

Tuck Everlasting

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This was, for me, my Where The Red Fern Grows. That book made me cry just a bit too much. I became too emotionally invested in this book, and had to step away from it for awhile. (It was always a bit hard to separate fantasy from reality for me as a kid.)

Blubber

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This is the actual book cover of the one in my collection when I was younger, which I find somewhat disturbing now. It was my first Judy Blume book. And while it is an older read, I really find this book to be a great learning tool for children to prevent bullying. The main character isn’t exactly a nice person, and I really enjoyed having a non-hero as the story’s teller.

The Long Winter

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I never got rid of any of my Laura Ingalls Wilder books. That might have been blasphemous. And while I count all of her novels as “favorites,” this was my go-to. Every winter, without fail, I’d cozy up and learn about the plight of the Ingalls family and all of their neighbors during a horrible blizzard.

The Wish Giver

9780590420402Amazing. One of my absolute faves. After attending a local fair, four people are left with “wish cards.” Unfortunately, three of their wishes do not go as planned. SOOO GOOD!

The Indian In The Cupboard

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Going to be honest: If any doll or toy becomes real, I will instantly love it. There is one book, Melony, Melody, I don’t know, it starts with an ‘M’, about a mean fashion doll becoming real. The copy that my sister and I owned was in absolute pieces from the amount of times we read that sucker.

Charlotte’s Web

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“That’ll do, pig.” This book is just a classic. So sad, so poetic, so wonderful.

The Best Loved Doll

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I’m getting into more younger book territory here, but I have continuously read this book throughout the years. A little girl brings her favorite doll to a party. She could pick one of her more fancy dolls, something impressive, but she chooses to bring the one she loves best. It’s ratty and torn, but very loved. The Store Bought Doll and Corduroy come to mind when thinking of this book.

From The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

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Oh, wow, this book is so good. Two children decide to run away from home to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. And live there. What is not to like about this story?

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH

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Rats helping Mrs. Frisby (a mouse) and her family escape from spring plowing. It is such a beautiful tale, and it makes me cry every time.

The Baby-Sitters Club: Baby-Sitters On Board!

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I honestly wasn’t a huge TBC fan. I had a few of these on my bookshelf, but they were far outnumbered by the Sweet Valley Twins. Yet, I had one that I would read constantly, and this was it. The club goes on a cruise and to Disneyland (some have to work, while others can breeze on through the vacation, which I felt was unfair) but it tells the tale from multiple viewpoints (like the other books, but this one just worked even better). I wanted to be on that trip with them. I wanted to be Stacey (without diabetes) or Claudia (who was just plain awesome). Not Kristy, though. Never Kristy. She scared me.

Little Women

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I read this very early in my career as a reader. First, with one of those easy-to-read versions and moving on to the real thing. If it is not my favorite book, it is definitely in the top 3 of all time.

The Devil’s Arithmetic

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I have had the pleasure of seeing Jane Yolen speak on a few occasions. One of these days, I’m going to thank her for writing this book. During a Passover Seder supper, Hannah (who is Jewish) is transported to Poland in 1942, where she is sent to a Nazi concentration camp. It is an absolutely attention-grabbing read, and led to many, many other books on the subject of World War II. At the time period that I first read this novel, I was only buying books that told of tales from the Holocaust. I was pretty young, and I remember my parents taking away my WWII books because I couldn’t sleep at night. This is a book I recommend ANYONE read.

The Secret Garden

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This was not the book jacket of the book I own (to this day). Mine is beautiful, and I would stare at it for a long time before opening because of its breathtaking artwork. I would pretend that I had a secret garden, which was actually an outdoor art studio in my neighborhood. No one knew about it, except for obviously the photographer and his family, but I pretended it was all mine.

tumblr_m8tnl4nalC1qzgrn9o1_400R.L. Stine really should be mentioned because he was my gateway author to Christopher Pike. I mean, I read all of their books, reiterate ALL, but this is the book I will still read. A girl runs away from home and her problems, and ends up picking up a couple of hitchhikers. She reveals more and more of her back story, and it is just an absolutely wild tale. This one isn’t just a horror novel, it is one that makes you think. After reading this book, I was ready for the world that Stephen King offered.

Sweet Valley Twins: The Magic Christmas

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Ask any of my family members (extended, even) what my favorite books from yesteryear include, and they will say “Sweet Valley Twins.” I have them all. Every single one of them. I have read them all more than four or five times each. And when I was packing away my life’s belongings to move to NYC, this is the box of items I left at home for safe storage. I will never sell them. And while I love all of the books and specials, The Magic Christmas is my absolute favorite. After arguing and fighting on Christmas Day, the girls are transported along with their dolls to a magical land. I wanted to be one of the twins most of the time, but never more than in this novel. I still read it every Christmas.

I could have listed young adult or middle school books that I read now, like the Harry Potter and The Hunger Games series, but I didn’t discover those until I was out of grade school. And there are so many other books I could list that I so enjoyed, like the Pick Your Own Adventure series, but these are the few I will still go to every once and awhile and get to remember what I was like as a kid. Reading these remind me of certain moments of my life and how I felt at those times. And so while I enjoy these books for the texts contained in them, I also read them to cherish my childhood once more.

Carrie’s makeup must-haves

9 Apr

Perhaps no one cares, but I thought it would be fun to list out my favorite beauty must-haves. Yes, this is really girly, but I’m a girl, so that works. And while I like to pretend sometimes that I am a no-nonsense, easy-peasy kind of girl, that is far from the truth. My boyfriend and family members can vouch for that. I like makeup … a lot.  One, again, I’m a girly-girl; and two, I’m a pasty-white ghost. Thank you to my very Irish heritage for that one. So makeup is kind of a must if I don’t want to look like the walking dead. Another disclaimer, I’m really, really picky in this category.

I wish I could give a list of my favorite makeup items that could just be picked up at Target or another box chain store, but no, I kind of have to go to other places (Sephora, cough, cough) to get all of my tools.

So here are a few things that Carrie must have at all times:

I’m a five-minute face gal. But that doesn’t mean I have three items in my disposal to work with. No, I do the whole enchilada every day. And when it’s a special occasion, I just make that enchilada extra loaded. I just complete the whole beauty routine super quickly – it’s down to a science.

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First, face moisturizer. I don’t have a specific go-to, but I have been using Simple Vital Vitamin Day Cream. I have used Kiehl’s, Aveeno, and others – as long as it is light, not heavy and with an SPF of at least 15, I’m usually okay.

TARTE-CLEAN-SLATE-PORELESS-12-HOUR-PERFECTING-PRIMER

Primer. Yeah, I’m a huge fan of primer. There has been a big hoopla over BB cream (sunblock, moisturizer, foundation, serum, etc.), and I have tried it. But I have a better face result with separate products. I’ve used Sephora and Stila brands, but I have been happy with Tarte lately.

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Sometimes I put on serum, eye primer, and foundation – but most of the time I just add a tinted moisturizer. Stila is my absolute favorite. I can get the right shade and I have more moisturized skin and SPF. (Yeah, I like to load it all on.) My skin isn’t super oily and I don’t have huge skin problems – so this works for me.

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Concealer. If I have a zit, I’ll use some kind of light cream concealer. But my major problem is the dark black pits of despair known as my under-eye circles. With my porcelain yellow-white skin, they show like a mother. And there is only one concealer that I have been happy with. Cover Girl stick concealer. It’s heavy-duty, thick and stays put. It works, so I don’t have any reason to try something super expensive.

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Then them there eyes. I love shadows from Benefit and Stila, but I like trying multiple colors – so again no preference. I usually try to work with my brows, but yeah, I’m not picky here either. And eyeliner is my big thing – and I have at least 10 liners in my stash constantly. Again, I try them all – department and chain store. But when it comes to mascara, there is only one that I deem worthy. Lancôme Hypnose. My eyelashes suck. They are light brown and need some thickness, and this is absolutely perfect. You can plump them up multiple times without feeling like your eyelashes have just become gobs of black goo. I will never, ever try another product ever. Seriously.

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Blush, yeah I wear it sometimes. But I am much more into highlighters and cheek stains. Mary Kay Cheek Stain in Pomegranate is totally awesome, as is Benefit’s Fine One One (this is a brightening color for cheeks and lips). I’m not a fan of powdery substances, so both of these are winners in my book.

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For the highlighter, I usually go with High Beam by Benefit, but I also have a shimmer stick in my purse from Pixi Beauty, which is pretty fab.

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Lip gloss. Frick, I have loads of these. I really like any color of Stila Lip Glaze, as well as the new tinted lip gloss tubes by Burt’s Bees.

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And because I’m so transparent in color, I love me some lipstick. Preferably of the red variety. My collection varies, but I love, love, love anything by NARS, Stila or MAC.

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Afterwards, I usually put on some kind of powder (sparingly, because I hate it). Usually I have Clean and Clear blotting papers in my disposal. Which I find necessary (especially in the afternoon.)

Other things I love that are necessary to my beauty routine?

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Aveeno Sunblock Spray. I never leave home without it. I have learned my lessons well to protect my fair skin. (There was a couple-year stint in high school where I tried to tan my skin to a different color, but only ended up with moles that needed removed because of it.) A dermatologist warned me about the effects of skin damage (shout out to Dr. Ernst-Woodhouse!), and I take her advice seriously. I love this formula because if I don’t have face sunblock on hand, I can spray this without fear of breakouts or super oily skin. The very light scent is another point in its favor.

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Secret Clinical Strength deodorant. If you haven’t switched over, do it. Even if you don’t have seriously stinky armpits, I still recommend it. I bought it after learning that walking a mile to work each day is just not an odor-friendly activity. Still, I use it every day and notice how much better it is than the regular formula.

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LUSH BIG shampoo. Amazing. So awesome. It smells like the beach, is gritty like the beach – basically its sand for your hair in a cup. The texture gave me pause when I first started using it, but man, it has become my favorite hair product. For fine hair, like mine, it’s also a great friend. The only must when using it is to apply conditioner as well, otherwise your hair may come out a bit dry feeling.

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Origins Ginger Essence perfume. I love to smell like a clean hippy. That is why I use this. That is the only way I can describe it.

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And my absolute must: Philosophy Miracle Worker Miraculous Anti-Aging Retinoid Eye Repair. This is a bit pricey, but it’s a bit of a necessity for me. Again, I’m pro-anything-that-keeps-your-skin-awesome, and was told by a skin doctor that retinoid can be pretty super spectacular (pretty sure they used other words, so I’m paraphrasing.) The first couple weeks can make you second guess the product (the skin under your eyes may get red and dry), but hold on. If you hold on for one more day, things’ll go your way. FO’ SURE!

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And last but not least, if you don’t have tons of money to spend on makeup supplies, or you just like to be a cheap ass like me sometimes – try out Pixi Beauty Cosmetics. Ohmigod, these products are great. Seriously, I can only say great things about this line. Even before looking at Sephora or other brands of products, go to Target and give them a try. Totally worth it.

So there you go. Too many words on what I use. Now you can mock me and tell me that I’m doing it wrong or spending too much money or tell me that the routine is not working or blabbidy-blah-blah. Don’t care. But that is life.

Nickelodeon favorites of the ’90s

20 Feb

Warning: I was going to list my favorite television shows of Nickelodeon. Can’t do. Too much stuff to list off. Was going to list off favorite middle school programming. Uh, again, a lot to list. So this is just one segment of my favorite 30-minute to hour-long shows of childhood past.

I can hear the "splat" sound right now.

I can hear the “splat” sound right now.

I watched a lot of television growing up. A lot. Some of it was educational, but a lot of the time it was just crazy garbage. Jerry Springer accidentally getting hit in the face by a baby mama or a woman gladiator in a spandex suit swinging on a rope.

But the Nickelodeon programs that were geared toward middle-school children, now that was some good stuff.

During the summer, if it were too hot, I’d turn on some Nickelodeon and tune in to their programming.

I had a lot of babysitting gigs. So a lot of times I would turn on the TV and see this:

RIP Face

RIP Face

He would get things moving right along. Not only that, but he was quite entertaining to the two-year-old twins that were in my care.

Now, babysitting in the summer while all my friends were at the pool wasn’t a favorite thing of mine. So I compromised with the kids. We’d watch one of their boring shows as long as I could catch at least an hour of Steve and Blue.

Everybody love's Blue's Clues. EVERYBODY.

Everybody love’s Blue’s Clues. EVERYBODY.

If there were ever a job opening and the main requirement was to recite all the songs from Blue’s Clues, I’d be in like flint. I even carried a lunch box in the shape of Steve’s notebook (complete with large green crayon!) with me in high school. In homage.

Alright, early in the afternoon they would sometimes show re-runs of this favorite. I just wanted to go down the tongue slide so bad. I also wanted that green slime to run down my back. I imagined it smelled like a mixture of plastic and Play-Doh.

My brother and I would have creamed the other contestants. I am absolutely sure of it.

My brother and I would have creamed the other contestants. I am absolutely sure of it.

This enjoyable team competition show was quickly overshadowed by my favorite-ist of all time game shows. THE LEGENDS OF THE HIDDEN TEMPLE. GET IT, GET IT.

When this came on. I shut up and listened, and then started shouting obscenities at the screen.

When this came on I shut up and listened, and then started shouting obscenities at the screen.

Damn, I wanted to be on this show soooo bad. I was always rooting for the red or purple team at the beginning. But the entire time, I was just waiting in anticipation for the last team to run through the temple. BUT WHY IN GOD’S NAME COULD NO ONE EVER PUT THE FREAKIN’ SILVER MONKEY TOGETHER? WHY? And why did they always run into the temple guards when it was so obvious where they were stationed? Also, their mouth guards were obscenely huge. AMIRIGHT?

I could have entered the Shrine of the Silver Monkey and nailed that task. Nailed it.

I could have entered the Shrine of the Silver Monkey and nailed that task. Nailed it.

You may have been at the pool or T-balling it up. I was instead catching up on my favorite-ist show ever. SALUTE YOUR SHORTS. Budnick and Donkey Lips were seriously so cool. I was always ticked off that Budnick always got a bad rap and I secretly had a huge crush on the redhead. Also, I wanted to be Z.Z. and hang out with Telly and Dina in our cabin.

Camp Anawanna, we hold you in our hearts ...

Camp Anawanna, we hold you in our hearts …

Was anyone else super happy when they replaced Michael with pransker Ronnie? And did anyone know that the super hottie became lead guitarist of Rilo Kiley?

Usually, this show aired before Salute Your Shorts. And I loved it.

Hey Dude, and dude, and dude, and dude, and dude.

Hey Dude, and dude, and dude, and dude, and dude.

I wanted to visit the Bar None and hang out with Ben Stiller’s wife Melody and date Ted. He was hot, hot, hot. I just never want to wear shorts down to my ankles. The girls seemed to dig those.

While these shows were great afternoon exploits, what I most enjoyed was SNICK (Saturday Night Nickelodeon).

Snick_2610That was when the quality programming came out to play.

Over the years, the shows changed, but here are a few of my favorites.

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The Secret World of Alex Mack. Yes.

I love me some Pete & Pete. I still find this to be a brilliantly written show.

I love me some Pete & Pete. I still find this to be a brilliantly written show.

The irreverent characters of Ren & Stimpy. They made me cringe and laugh all at once. Does anyone remember the episode where they were scraping a tongue for a good minute?

The irreverent characters of Ren & Stimpy. They made me cringe and laugh all at once. Does anyone remember the episode where they were scraping a tongue for a good minute?

I needed Clarissa to explain it all. Someone had to.

I needed Clarissa to explain it all. Someone had to.

I have seen each and every episode, and I want to take home Chuckie Finster and be his surrogate mommy.

I have seen each and every episode, and I want to take home Chuckie Finster and be his surrogate mommy.

oug's theme song was the catchiest thing ever written. And I loved every character. Doug was like a middle-aged balding man stuck in a cartoon teenager's body.

Doug’s theme song was the catchiest thing ever written. And I loved every character. Doug was like a middle-aged balding man stuck in a cartoon teenager’s body.

And last, but definitely not least, is the best show ever made for teenagers (in my opinion). This show can still freak the ba-jeez-us out of me. I catch it every once and a while on YouTube. Are You Afraid of the Dark? was my go-to, and I looked forward to every weekend that a marathon was playing. I have two favorite episodes. The first was where a babysitter and the two kids she took care of get trapped in an old mansion in the middle of nowhere. The second was about a kid obsessed with video games, and he gets stuck in an arcade game in a mall where he has to save the princess. SOOOO GOOD!

I am deathly afraid of the dark, and still can't watch this show before bedtime.

I am deathly afraid of the dark, and still can’t watch this show before bedtime.

What were your favorite Nickelodeon shows of the ’90s? Was it Keenan and Kel? Or All That? I just named a few of my favorites. Next up will be Saturday morning cartoons. And then a look back at TGIF. Because we all need to ride that rollercoaster of life that was the beginning of every Step By Step episode.

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