weekly gems

Happy New Year’s Eve! What do you have planned for tonight? I’ll just be playing it low-key with some of my favorite people, eating tasty food, chatting, and maybe watching some movies/playing some board games. I also want to take today to thank you for reading! Thank you all of my readers! I started this blog a couple months ago and I am totally in love with it. Your support means the world to me and I love hearing from you : ) Be sure to check in on Monday for a great new series – I’m super excited about it!! In the meantime, weekly gems!

  • New Year’s essentials from Matchbook Magazine. SO EXCITED for its launch in January!
  • Admire this idea of an intentional holiday.
  • This post dedicated to tea made my day. Tea drinkers, unite! : )
  • Totally in love with this wedding that took place at an inn decorated by Vera Bradley!!
  • These photos make me want to go to Idaho.
  • Love these snow day ideas.
  • Check out this awesome post with a recipe for southern-fried egg rolls (yum!) with a story behind the tradition of eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s.
  • These New Year’s cupcakes look fantastic! (also could be great 4th of July cupcakes, no?) Also adoring these Harry Potter cupcakes.

watch it: movies of 2010

Hello, everyone! How are you? Finalizing your New Year’s Eve plans? I am excited to ring in 2011! For many reasons…one of which, for me as a big film fan, is the arrival of awards show season and a whole new year of movies! In the meantime, I present to you my Overview of 2010 Movies : )

My Top Five Best Movies of 2010*

The Social Network
Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake, Armie Hammer, Brenda Song, Rooney Mara, Rashida Jones

I saw this movie in theaters twice – and I rarely see movies in theaters more than once. I love this movie about the creation of Facebook and the legal conflicts that ensued. The writing is outstanding, expertly telling a story that is both funny and serious through flashbacks and deposition scenes. The acting is top-rate – every actor is perfect in their role, expertly handling and executing the light-hearted and heavy parts of the story. The music and cinematography are so well-done, they’re like more supporting characters – adding to the story in a way that it wouldn’t be the same if they were gone, but they don’t overwhelm you or take your attention away from where it should be. Amazing, amazing, amazing. This movie deserves every award it’s nominated for. (picture source)
Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack

As People magazine pointed out, Toy Story 3 proves, if anything, that Pixar simply cannot make movies anymore. They make instant classics, masterpieces of the film world, not just of the animation and children/family genres. As a young woman who was just beginning elementary school when the first Toy Story arrived in theaters and is currently in college, this movie was especially poignant for me. Andy is about to leave for college and is trying to decide what toys to give away, which to keep, and which to take to college with him when the toys accidentally get dropped off at a day care center. This movie made me cry three times. THREE TIMES. And I still want to watch it over and over. A must-see for people of all ages. (picture source)

Easy A
Emma Stone, Penn Bagdley, Amanda Bynes, Aly Michalka, Stanley Tucci, Patricia Clarkson

I know this movie is classified as a teen comedy/romantic comedy, which generally aren’t critically acclaimed and don’t make top “movies of the year” lists, but this isn’t a typical teen or romantic comedy. It’s not just funny, it’s super witty and its brand of funniness is of an irresistible, off-beat nature. The story is basically an unique, modern-day retelling of The Scarlet Letter, going beyond the basic boy-and-girl, party-scene formula so many teen movies fall upon. Emma Stone is fantastic, excelling at both humor and more dramatic scenes (so good, in fact, she’s been nominated for a Golden Globe). The supporting cast is superb, adding to the humor and drama without overpowering Stone’s lead. I highly recommend seeing this film. (picture source)
Date Night
Tina Fey, Steve Carell, Mark Wahlberg,
James Franco, Mila Kunis, Taraji P.

Again, I realize that comedies are usually not placed on “top movies of the year” lists very often, nor are movies that were released in the first half of the calendar year, but Date Night was awesome. It starred two of the funniest actors today, Steve Carell and Tina Fey, who rocked the humorous, action-packed, and sensitive parts of the film and provided the audience with the believable chemistry of a couple who’s been married for some time. The supporting cast did a great job, especially stand-outs James Franco, Mila Kunis, and Mark Wahlberg. The story is crazy and of course unlikely, but extremely fun. I highly recommend it to fans of Carell and Fey and to those in search of a fun movie night. (picture source)

Shutter Island
Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley,
Michelle Williams

I have to admit, I struggled quite a bit in choosing my final top movie pick – I was debating between Shutter Island and Inception, and I was not going to pick both and have two mind-twisting, Leo thrillers on my list. I ultimately chose Shutter Island because (a) I’m a sucker for the underdog and (b) it was UNBELIEVABLE. Don’t get me wrong, Inception was mind-blowing as well and most definitely a must-see, but I was highly impressed by Shutter Island. As someone who is in no way a fan of the scary movie genre, I was surprised at my ability to handle the story of Shutter Island – it’s more a suspenseful thriller. I appreciated the acting of Leonardo DiCaprio and the always-wonderful Mark Ruffalo, as well as the direction of the great Martin Scorsese. The end is moving, terrifying, and mega-intriguing all at once. Not a movie to watch by yourself or super late at night, but definitely one to see. (picture source)

*All the 2010 Movies I Have Seen & My Ratings
(five star movies are highlighted purple and were the only
consideration for the my top five movies of the year list)

When in Rome ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Daybreakers ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Dear John ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
Valentine’s Day ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Shutter Island ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Cop Out ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Alice in Wonderland ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Green Zone ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Bounty Hunter ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Hot Tub Time Machine ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
How to Train Your Dragon ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Date Night ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Kick-Ass ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Back-Up Plan ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
Iron Man 2 ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Letters to Juliet ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Get Him to the Greek ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Killers ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Toy Story 3 ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Eclipse ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
The Last Airbender ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Despicable Me ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Inception ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

The Other Guys ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Eat Pray Love ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Going the Distance ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Easy A ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
The Social Network ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Due Date ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Unstoppable ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Harry Potter 7 Part I ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Love and Other Drugs ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Tangled ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
TRON: Legacy ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
True Grit ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Full 2010 movie list found here
Some other Top Movies of 2010 lists:
MSN, NY Times, Chicago Tribune, Moviefone

What movies that you saw in 2010 were your favorite? Your least favorite?

my life: becoming brunette

my brown hair

I have been a natural blonde my whole life, until a week ago. As I’ve gotten older, my hair has gotten darker and darker blonde, and highly dependent on the sun to lighten up a bunch in the summer. This was no problem since I did sports and worked outside for the past several years. However, two years ago I began to chop my hair off: a couple inches at one point, a few more inches a few months later, and even more inches several months later. It got to the point where all my really blonde, sun-induced natural highlights had been chopped off and I was left with dark blonde hair, just light enough in places to be considered blonde but dark enough elsewhere to be mistaken for light brown.

I have been dissatisfied with this dark blonde state of my hair. I was so used to having clearlyblonde hair, that I felt weird with this in-between state. I started debating dying my hair brown. Not really dark brown, but a light brown. I couldn’t bring myself to do it, though. I’m a blonde! I’ve always been blonde! I need to take pride in and embrace my blonde-ness! It’s part of who I am!

I chickened out. It will get blonde again in the summer, anyway, I thought. But it didn’t. And I still felt stuck in a rut. That’s how I found myself in front of the hair dye aisle in Rite-Aid a week ago, holding a blonde highlighting kit in one hand and a light brown hair dye box in the other. I bought both and went home. I sat on the couch, still holding them, debating. I talked it over with my mom. I told her how I was thinking about dying it brown for a year, and how this was just a light brown, maybe a shade or two darker than the darkest tones in my hair. My mom said, “If you been thinking about it for a year and you bought the dye, just do it!” I was still scared, so she said, “You have to take risks in life.”

So I did it. I took the risk that’s not that big of a risk anyway. I dyed my dark blonde hair light brown. It’s a subtle difference, nothing drastic, but noticeable to those I see on a frequent basis – and most importantly, to me. I feel more put-together. I feel neater. I feel more confident. I don’t feel like I’m hovering in an in-between state.

About two years ago, my sophomore year of college, I went through a lot of different, difficult situations in a short time span. It was unlike anything I had been through before. I recently realized I’ve spent the past couple years attempting to recover from everything that happened. I feel like I lost key parts of who I am and who I was becoming, and I’m still working hard to regain them, if it’s even possible. This past spring and summer I got really complacent about my life, so to speak, and this past fall I think I finally started to regain the motivation and optimism for life I used to have. That I finally started to prioritize, organize, take action, and move out of the in-between state I was in.

My hair color doesn’t define me. My anxiety doesn’t define me. My grades don’t define me. Over the past few years, I’ve learned so much about what really defines a person, about what matters in life, about what I want from life and what I have to give. I’m not the same person I was when I started college, but I am confident, optimistic, and stable-feeling again. I was blonde. I was in-between. And now I’m brunette.

watch it: movie marathon

Hi, everyone! I hope you had a wonderful holiday weekend. I sure did! Over the past several days, I’ve spent time cuddling up next to the boyfriend and watching some movies – one of the best activities for snowy vacation days, in my opinion. I would like to give you a brief round-up review of the movies we watched (I’ll use Netflix‘s rating system: 1 star = hated it, 2 stars = didn’t like it, 3 stars = liked it, 4 stars = really liked it, 5 stars = loved it). Here you go!

TRON: Legacy (2010)
Starring Jeff Bridges, Garrett Hedlund, Olivia Wilde
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

I took the boyfriend to see this movie as part of his Christmas present, as he is a huge fan of the original Tron. He LOVED this movie (he’d give it 5 stars). I enjoyed it. The special effects were super cool (especially in 3D), the music was great and appropriate, and the acting was well-done, especially by the always-outstanding Jeff Bridges. I was just a bit confused by some of the plot points (but less confused than I would have been if I had not been given a summary of the original Tron before seeing Tron: Legacy). Overall, I would recommend seeing it if you’re up for something fun and exciting. (Picture source)
Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Julianne Moore, Steve Buscemi
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Generally speaking, I am a sort of Coen brothers fan. I have also been wanting to see this movie for sometime. That being said, I really enjoyed this movie. Jeff Bridges, of course, was excellent, as was John Goodman. The supporting cast members did well in their roles. The story was a bit odd, but isn’t that the point with the Coen brothers? It was funny and also somewhat sad. I’d recommend it to fans of Fargo and movies like it. (Picture source)

Away We Go (2009)
John Krasinski, Maya Rudolph
★ ★ ★ ★ ★

The boyfriend got me this on DVD for Christmas. I was super excited because it has been in my Netflix queue for months. Turns out, it was an excellent gift since this movie is now one of my all-time favorites. It is AMAZING, just laugh-out loud hilarious, romantic, sad, and poignant. It is beautifully written and wonderfully executed – great chemistry between Krasinski and Rudolph, and awesome supporting characters. This movie is a must-see for anyone who has or wants “a family of their own” someday. It also has an excellent soundtrack. (Picture source)
True Grit (2010)

Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Hailee Steinfeld
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Okay, so it was kind of a Jeff Bridges weekend with a side of Coen brothers. In my defense, True Grit is an excellent movie. I discussed the movie with my mom, who has seen the John Wayne original, and apparently it has adapted to a large extent. I’m guessing the changes were successful in large part to the actors chosen for the film – Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon are hilarious, tough, smug, and sensitive, and Hailee Steinfeld is all-around OUTSTANDING (if you don’t believe me, just check out all the awards and nominations she’s receiving). The movie itself is much more violent than I expected for a PG-13 rating, and more sad than I expected. However, the acting definitely makes it worth seeing. (Picture source)

Did you watch any movies over the past few days? What did you think? Stay tuned later this week for my Best Movies of 2010 post! : )

things that are making me happy (holiday edition)

Christmas Eve on Santa’s lap (played by my dad!)

Christmas pancake breakfast using Star Wars pancake molds & a Darth Vader spatula
Watching holiday specials I haven’t seen in years with my family and boyfriend
Carrying on and out family traditions like potluck buffet dinner & Santa gifts
Cuddling with the dog while wearing a big fluffy robe
Watching the smiles on my family and friends’ faces as they open their Christmas presents
Having Glee and Coen brother movie marathons (The Big Lebowski, True Grit)
Trader Joe’s Lacey cookies
Yummy coffee drinks from Java’s
Blue skies and snowy streets
New music to jam to for the drive home

What things made you happy this holiday?

weekly gems (a day early)

My family’s house decked to the nines last Christmas : )

I so wish I went to this holiday party!
100% in love with the room in the first photo.
Favorite weddings of the week number one, number two, and number three.
I want to hang this on the wall in my room.
These cupcakes are so adorably festive.
What awesome holiday mobiles.
After this post, these cookies made me laugh (and look yummy!)

Hello everyone! I hope your week is going well. I’m going to be taking off from posting until early next week. I hope you have a wonderful holiday! I’ll be celebrating with my family and my boyfriend’s family, watching Christmas movies, eating cookies, singing, and generally enjoying myself.

does anyone else…

…adore 90s sitcoms?
…leave gift wrapping until the last minute?
…drink as much hot chocolate as possible in the winter?
…decorate their mantle with a light up Christmas village (complete with fake snow)?
…make fun of infomercials but get tempted to buy some products?
…actually don’t mind fake Christmas trees?
…wish your car and the roads would magically be free of snow, but snow be everywhere else?
…love eating Christmas cookies more than they love baking them?

Because I definitely relate to all of those!
Happy Wednesday : )

gift guide #4: the cooker/baker

If you’re like me, you put off a good portion of your holiday shopping until the last minute – not always because you’re procrastinating, but because this time of year can be so busy! Well, never fear. This week I present to you a series of gift guides for the last-minute shopper in all of us.

Gift Guide #4: Ideas for the Cooker/Baker in Your Life

The Very Best Recipes for Health (one of 2010’s best cookbooks), Amazon

Fun Message-in-Cookie Cutters, Williams-Sonoma

Bella Cucina donut maker, Macy’s

300 Slow Cooker Favorites (for yummy dinners on little work time), Amazon

Sunny mixing bowls, Williams-Sonoma

Martha Stewart’s Cookies, Amazon

Pyrex storage set, Target

What ideas do you have for cooking/baking lovers?

gift guide #3: fitness buff

If you’re like me, you put off a good portion of your holiday shopping until the last minute – not because you’re procrastinating, but because this time of year can be so busy! Well, never fear. This week I present to you a series of gift guides for the last minute shopper in all of us.

Gift Guide #3: Ideas for the Fitness Buff in Your Life

Zumba DVD set, Amazon

Spill-proof, BPA free water bottle, Camelbak

Subscription to fitness magazine, ex. Self

Yoga For Beginners DVD, Amazon

Nike + iPod Sport Kit to record runs, Apple

Stability ball, Target

Kettlebells, Target

What are some idea you have for fitness lovers?

guide guide #2: book-lover

If you’re like me, you put off a good portion of your holiday shopping until the last minute -not always because you’re procrastinating, but because this time of year can be so busy! Well, never fear. This week I present to you a series of gift-guides for the last minute shopper in all of us.

Gift Guide #2: For the Book-Lover in Your Life

A list of books to read, Amazon

Book light, Amazon

The Millennium Trilogy to read before the American movies are released, Amazon

A comfy reading pillow, Amazon

Gift card, Half Price Books

Canvas tote bag for library trips, Lands’ End

One of the best books of 2010, Amazon

What ideas do you have for book lovers?