things I’ve been meaning to blog about, watch it edition: 2011 movies

Today the 84th Academy Award Nominations were announced. Full of opinions, I went to write a blog post about my thoughts when I realized I had not done a full recap of the movies I had seen in 2011 and my overall rating of them (like I did for 2010). Better late than never, right? Especially since some of these have been nominated for an Oscar and a lot of them have or will be released on DVD soon. So, without further delay, today I’m posting about my favorite 2011 movies, and tomorrow I’ll be discussing the Oscar nominations. Here we go!

My Top Movies of 2011*
(three instead of five because I saw
less movies this year than in 2010)

Source: imdb.com via Kelly on Pinterest

Bridesmaids – This movie will always be one of my all-time favorite films. It makes me laugh, cry, and cry from laughing no matter how many times I see it. It is an excellent story about female friendships, the ridiculousness of weddings, and believing in yourself. Awesome writing and amazing acting (my full review can be found here)!

Source: imdb.com via Kelly on Pinterest

The HelpFirst of all, if you haven’t read The Help, then you need to stop what you’re doing and start right now. Once you’ve finished reading it, you then need to watch the movie immediately. The acting in this film was truly outstanding. Octavia Spencer and Viola Davis certainly give the knockout performances, but Emma Stone, Allison Janney, Bryce Dallas Howard, Sissy Spacek, and Jessica Chastain are all superb. The film tells an important and compelling story that everyone needs to hear, and does so with both hilarity and dignity.

Source: imdb.com via Kelly on Pinterest

Super 8 – I feel as though this movie was highly praised when it was released and then quickly forgotten, and I can’t understand why. It takes place in the 1970s and is presented in a way that it really does feel like a classic Steven Spielberg sci-fi adventure movie (the best comparison I can say is that Super 8 is like a higher-quality The Goonies). The young actors were wonderful and their adult counterparts provided the perfect balance. It has everything a movie should: suspense, humor, action, love, friendship, family, mystery, stretches of the imagination, etc. Definitely worth a viewing – or a few!
Close contenders: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II, 50/50, and The Muppets
*All the 2011 Movies I Have Seen & My Ratings
(five star movies are in bold and were the only
consideration for the my top three movies of the year list)

No Strings Attached ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Take Me Home Tonight ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Your Highness ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Bridesmaids ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Thor ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
X-Men: First Class ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Super 8 ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Bad Teacher ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Green Lantern ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Transformers: The Dark of the Moon ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Captain America: The First Avenger ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Cowboys and Aliens ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Horrible Bosses ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
The Help ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
30 Minutes or Less ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
50/50 ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Moneyball ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
The Muppets ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
What movies did you see in 2011, and which were your favorite?
*If for some reason you are having trouble leaving a comment, please e-mail me at beagleandbear@yahoo.com or leave me a comment on Beagle and Bear’s Facebook page. Thanks for your help with this issue!
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things i’ve been meaning to blog about, watch it edition: fall movies & new tv series

After I started a job in Columbus, life got very hectic and I took an unplanned break from this blog. Since leaving that job and moving again, I’ve returned and recommitted to regularly blogging at Beagle & Bear. Part of that returns includes a blog series called “Things I’ve Been Meaning to Blog About,” which is made up of posts I intended to publish in summer or early fall but haven’t yet. This post is the last of that series.









Movie: 50/50 (pictured above)
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
See it if you enjoy: laughing and crying at the same time, taking a stand, friendship, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, and Anna Kendrick.

Movie: Moneyball
Rating*: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
See it if you enjoy: baseball, rooting for the underdog, true stories, and Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, and Phillip Seymour Hoffman.

Did you see either of these films? What did you think?






TV Show: 2 Broke Girls (pictured above)
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Watch it if you enjoy: strong female characters, non-stop jokes, New York City, and Kat Dennings, Beth Behrs, and Nick Zano.
TV Show: New Girl
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Watch it if you enjoy: the movie No Strings Attached (the creator of the show also wrote that film), close male-female friendships, stories about roommates, and Zooey Deschanel, Jake M. Johnson, Max Greenfield, and Lamorne Morris.





TV Show:
Up All Night (pictured above)
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Watch it if you enjoy: comedic looks at parenthood and marriage, shows like The Office or Parks and Recreation, characters with ridiculous egos, and Will Arnett, Christina Applegate, and Maya Rudolph.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Watch it if you enjoy: family-oriented sitcoms, issues and antics between sisters, the Midwest, and Tim Allen, Nancy Travis, and Hector Elizondo. (Note: I probably wouldn’t watch this show if I wasn’t home on Tuesday nights and had cable, but I’m glad I do! It brings me back to the glory days of Home Improvement without being exactly the same thing).


Source: google.com via Sara on Pinterest




TV Show: Pan Am (pictured above)
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Watch it if you enjoy: anything to do with the 1960s, drama that includes both action and romance, exotic settings, and Christina Ricci, Mike Vogel, and Kelli Garner.
TV shows that have been cancelled already that I actually liked: ABC’s Charlie’s Angels reboot, NBC’s The Playboy Club
TV shows that I’ve heard are good and I want to watch but haven’t been able to yet: Suburgatory, Once Upon a Time, Revenge, and Whitney.
What fall shows have you been watching? What do you think?

thing i’ve been meaning to blog about, use it edition: amazon kindle

After I started a job in Columbus, life got very hectic and I took an unplanned break from this blog. Since leaving that job and moving again, I’ve returned and recommitted to regularly blogging at Beagle & Bear. Part of that returns includes a blog series called “Things I’ve Been Meaning to Blog About,” which is made up of posts I intended to publish in summer or early fall but haven’t yet. This post is part of that series.






Source: instagr.am via Kelly on Pinterest


This past summer, at the recommendations of my fiancé Daniel, my friend Elizabeth, and my 88-year-old grandmother, I purchased an Amazon Kindle. I stalled on getting an e-reader for awhile for a few reasons: I like to read in the bathtub, I didn’t want to continuously have to buy books in order to read them, I didn’t want to contribute to the world of books dying out, etc., etc. However, after really thinking about it, I knocked out those excuses pretty quickly – I mostly read magazines in the bathtub. Public libraries are starting to lend e-books, books can be borrowed from other Kindle users, and Amazon has its own lending library. I could still buy new hard copy books by favorite authors or other interesting books from used bookstores. Etc., etc.

So after meticulously Googling information about Nooks vs. Kindles, I went to Target and got myself a Kindle (specifically, a Kindle Keyboard with Special Offers). I absolutely adore it!
  • It can hold SO MANY BOOKS.
  • It uses e-ink technology, so there is no sleep-interfering blue light like there is on a computer, phone, iPad, etc.
  • It’s super light to hold. Not the biggest benefit for younger people (unless you have weaker wrists), but huge for older people like my grandma or people who read often and for long periods of time.
  • You can make the words bigger or smaller (this was big for me, as I technically need glasses to read).
  • Amazon has “Kindle Daily Deals” of the day, in which you can get a book for around $1.99 (give or take a dollar, depending on the book). I enjoy discovering new books and authors this way, and don’t feel guilty about purchasing one every now and then!
  • I was really interested and excited by the concept of Kindle Singles
  • I have an account with Amazon that I use often. Connecting my e-reader to an already existing account rather than having yet another account at another website was appealing and is helpful.
  • I can lay on my side in bed reading without having to move at all except for the side of my thumb that presses the forward page button. So useful in fighting my insomnia and helping me relax/fall asleep easier!
  • There are tons of super cute Kindle cases you can buy and use! I love the Vera Bradley one that Dan got for me! (it’s pictured above along with my Kindle)
If you are a book lover, I would highly recommend a Kindle (especially the keyboard edition!). It’s not going to replace hard copy books in your life or make you go broke. It’s just going to make your packing for trips lighter and your reading-before-bed routine sweeter.
Do you have a Kindle or another type of e-reader? What do you think?


things i’ve been meaning to blog about, cook it edition: baked salmon


After I started a job in Columbus, life got very hectic and I took an unplanned break from this blog. Since leaving that job and moving again, I’ve returned and recommitted regularly blogging at Beagle & Bear. Part of that returns includes a blog series called “Things I’ve Been Meaning to Blog About,” which is made up of posts I intended to publish in summer or early fall but haven’t yet. This post is part of that series.
One of my presents upon graduation this past May was a Barnes & Noble gift card. I used it to buy the cookbook I am reading in the photo above: 100 Recipes Every Woman Should Know: Engagement Chicken and 99 Other Dishes to Get You Everything You Want in Life by Cindi Leive and the editors of Glamour.
I adore this cookbook. It has the readability and fun of an issue of Glamour, and the recipes are relatively uncomplicated and delicious. The star recipe in the cookbook is a meal called Engagement Chicken, which is accompanied by an explanation, stories, and a Hall of Fame list. In addition to an introduction and the Engagement Chicken story, the recipes are categorized into the following chapters: Breakfast and Brunch, Nibbles, Drinks, Soups and Salads, Meat and Poultry, Seafood, Pizza and Pasta, Meat-Free Mains, Sides, Cheap and Easy Meals, Sweets, and Menus. All the recipes have cute and cheeky names, such as He Stayed Over Omelets, Forget the Mistake You Made At Work Margarita, Get Him to Clean the Apartment Burgers, Instant Happiness Mac and Cheese, BFF Birthday Cake, etc. Each recipe is rated on a scale of one to three high heels, printed in pink and black, and is preceded by a short story explaining the background of and/or use for the recipe.
I made my first recipe from the book late this summer. Together Dan and I made Bikini Season Baked Salmon, although we slightly altered the ingredient list for our purposes. It was easy to make, tasted wonderful, and left us feeling satisfied and healthy.

Bikini Season Baked Salmon, adapted from Glamour magazine’s 100 Recipes Every Woman Should Know

Ingredients
Four-ounce skin-on salmon fillets
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper
Lemon salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup lemon juice
Instructions
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Put the salmon skin-side down in a ceramic or glass baking pan. Rub the salmon fillets with 1 tablespoon olive oil and season generously with sea salt, lemon salt, and pepper. Let the salmon sit in the pan for 10 minutes.

2. Drizzle the white wine over the salmon. Put the pan in the oven and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the salmon fillets are opaque.
3. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix the lemon juice and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Top each salmon fillet with the lemon juice mixture and serve immediately.

things i’ve been meaning to blog about, bookmark it edition: food 52

After I started a job in Columbus, life got very hectic and I took an unplanned break from this blog. Since leaving that job and moving again, I’ve returned and recommitted regularly blogging at Beagle & Bear. Part of that returns includes a blog series called “Things I’ve Been Meaning to Blog About,” which is made up of posts I intended to publish in summer or early fall but haven’t yet. This post is part of that series.

Over the past couple years, I have become really interested in cooking and baking, as well as entertaining in the home. I love gaining more knowledge about the art of cooking and baking, whether it be by finding new recipes, learning about winepairings, or reading about sustainability. That being said, I was so excited this summer when I came across the amazing website and community Food 52. Food 52 is definitely not a new website, but it is new to me!

Food 52 was founded by Amanda and Merill (experienced food writers and the brains behind The Essential New York Times Cookbook). They wanted to bring a major part of what they love about cooking, sharing and socializing, online. Food 52 began as the vehicle for a specific project: creating the first crowd-sourced cookbook in 52 weeks. Basically, Food 52 posts themes (such as Best Beef Stew or Best Winter Cocktail) for which community members can then submit recipes. From the recipe submissions, the Food 52 staff compiles a list of recipes that the community can check out and then vote upon. The winner of that theme’s challenge is included in that year’s Food 52 cookbook. (A more detailed and probably less confusing explanation of the contest system can be found here). So far, Food 52 has produced two cookbooks and a holiday iPad app.
In addition to the awesome recipe contest, cookbook-building aspect of Food 52 (which has its own section on the site), the website also includes the following sections:
  • Recipes: An extended recipe section that features all Food 52’s recipe articles and the options to search by category name or through a search bar
  • Articles: Detailed articles on recipes by Food 52 staff, community members, or well-known cooks, holiday/seasonal ideas, entertaining tips, wine, cookbook reviews, etc.
  • Hotline: A message board/forum section in which the Food 52 staff and community members ask and answer food and cooking questions
  • Cooks: A section of the website for community members, full of articles such as Cook Spotlight, Winner’s Q& A, Latest Community Picks, etc.
  • News: The top food news stories from around the web, separated into categories
  • Shop: a Food 52-curated online shop with spotlight items and special offers
You can also sign up for Food 52’s electronic newsletter to be delivered to your inbox.
I can spend literally hours on this site. It’s pleasing to look at, easy to navigate, and full of information and inspiration. I highly recommend it!
All photos, Food 52

things i’ve been meaning to blog about, use it edition: babycakes cupcake maker

After I started a job in Columbus, life got very hectic and I took an unplanned break from this blog. Since leaving that job and moving again, I’ve returned and recommitted to regularly blogging at Beagle & Bear. Part of that returns includes a blog series called “Things I’ve Been Meaning to Blog About,” which is made up of posts I intended to publish in summer or early fall but haven’t yet. This post is part of that series.

In June, my wonderful friend Elizabeth got me a Babycakes cupcake maker for my birthday. It is an awesome tool for people like myself who love baking, love cupcakes, and/or love cool kitchen appliances.
The Babycakes cupcake maker bakes sweet treats in 5-8 minutes. The longer the cupcake maker is on, the faster the batter bakes (which is when your sense of smell comes in!). While the cupcake maker has non-stick coating, which makes any clean-up rather simple, it is necessary to use cupcake liners while baking. The cupcake maker can make mini-cupcakes (obviously!), mini-muffins, brownie bites, or mini-pies (additional pieces are included with and needed for the appliance in order to make mini-pies).
The first sweet treat I made with my cupcake make were simple but delicious strawberry cupcakes with pink vanilla frosting. Those cupcakes (and all the others I have made with the cupcake maker, for that matter!) taste just like cupcakes baked in a traditional manner. Plus, using the cupcake maker is really fun! I am definitely interested in other Babycakes products.
I haven’t yet used my Babycakes cupcake maker to bake any mini-pies, but I certainly intend to do so this fall and winter. While I enjoy pies at any time of the year, they seem especially tasty and special throughout the holiday season. Any suggestions on what type of mini-pies I should make first (after pumpkin, of course)?
Have you ever used a cupcake maker or a Babycakes product? What do you think?


things i’ve been meaning to blog about & watch it: movies i saw this summer

Source: google.com.au via Holly on Pinterest





Movie: Bad Teacher

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
See it if you enjoy: ridiculously inappropriate humor, characters with no moral qualms, and Cameron Diaz, Jason Segel, and Justin Timberlake
Movie: Captain America

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
See it if you enjoy: superheroes, the WWII-era, hopeless romanticism, and Chris Evans, Tommy Lee Jones, and Stanley Tucci
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
See it if you enjoy: alien encounters, the Wild West, mystery, and Olivia Wilde, Daniel Craig, and Harrison Ford
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
See it if you enjoy: superheroes, alien encounters, special effects, and Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
See it if you enjoy: the Harry Potter series, coming-of-age stories, British accents, and Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint
Movie: The Help
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
See it if you enjoy: women’s issues, the U.S. civil rights movement of the 1960s, stories focused on families, and Emma Stone, Viola Davis, and Bryce Dallas Howard
Movie: Super 8
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
See it if you enjoy: the 1970s, alien encounters, The Goonies, Kyle Chandler, and fresh faces
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
See it if you enjoy: the Transformers franchise, extended action sequences, conspiracy theories, and Shia LaBeouf, Patrick Dempsey, and Josh Duhamel
Early in the summer I wrote full reviews of the following movies: Thor, Bridesmaids, and X-Men First Class.
Did you see any of the movies on my summer movie list? What ones, and what did you think?



things i’ve been missing: this blog

Well, hi there.
Long time since I’ve been on here, I know. I have greatly missed this blog and building connections with everyone who reads it. A TON has happened in the past month or so that has taken up pretty much all my energy and time (like having a full-time job for the first time, traveling for events with family and friends, a four week on-and-off sickness, a broken phone, a broken car window, and a bunch of other minor time-sucking issues). Hence the photo above – it describes how my life has felt the past several weeks (if I was Tina Fey and had a baby, that is).
Here’s the thing, though: I LOVE blogging. I love producing my own blog, I love reading my favorite blogs, I love chatting through comments, I just love everything that blogging incorporates. And I really miss how all those activities leave me feeling relaxed, energized, inspired, and hopeful.
So I’m back! I might miss a day or two here or there, but I am going to do my best to blog again on a regular basis, like I enjoy doing. I’ve had so little free time lately (during which I wasn’t sick or sleeping) that I have been prioritizing quality time for family and friends and not any for myself. It’s all about balance, though, so I need to readjust and allow myself some “me time,” and for me that definitely includes blogging. I’m going to kick-off my pseudo-comeback by writing several posts that I have been planning on writing, but haven’t yet (a series I’m creatively calling “Things I’ve Been Meaning to Blog About”).
I hope you’ve all been well! Glad to be back with you all again : )