Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Monthly Medley: January 2017

With the exception of maintaining the blog, I wrote absolutely nothing but Variety Show line-ups and stage crew notes throughout the entire month of January. (More on the Variety Show in Friday's post!) Now that the curtain has fallen on the 2017 Variety Show, I can spend the month of February settling in at my computer once again. I have a new and exciting project coming up, and I have two pitches to work on as well!

Is anyone else in a reading rut? A stack of books sits gathering dust on my nightstand, and while I have found each one interesting in one way or another, I have yet to make it past page 40 in any of them.

We crammed a heck of a lot of movie watching into the first week in January, which was also the last week of winter break.
  • The kids and I loved the sweet storyline, relatable characters (they could connect all of the animals with a specific human with similar characteristics, likes, dislikes, and/or talents in their lives), and catchy music in Sing
  • After introducing Will to the original Ghostbusters in December, we watched the new Ghostbusters with both kids. I'd heard mixed reviews of the film, and while I acknowledge that no remake could ever replace its original, we all enjoyed this version and I appreciated being able to show Hallie a film in which women save the day.
  • Tom and I both like heist movies, and we've recently realized that Will shares this interest with us. I suggested we try Now You See Me and Now You See Me 2 (my third or fourth time watching both) and Will absolutely loved them; like a good heist movie, both left him asking questions and eagerly looking forward to a second viewing.
  • Tom and I saw Passengers - in our movie theater's brand new luxury seats, none the less - on our anniversary night out. I have long supported any and all Jennifer Lawrence movies, and I felt like both she and Chris Pratt excelled at the difficult job of carrying a movie with few cast members. Most importantly, the writers/directors/producers "tied up" what could have been an open-ended ending; I can't stand it when I leave the movie theater with unknowns hanging over my head.
  • More than a year ago I bought an inexpensive copy of Troop Beverly Hills, one of my all-time favorite movies as a tween. I knew Hallie and I would one day watch it together and she would come to adore it as much as I do...that day came and it was as glorious as I had hoped.

Listening To
A few years back I began following a blog called Young House Love. I checked in to read about the husband and wife writing team's adventures in home remodeling, decorating, and design almost every day, so when they decided to take a break from blogging - seemingly out of the blue - I legitimately missed them. But at the beginning of January I discovered they'd returned to blogging...and introduced a podcast to their platform. I have listened to about 12 of their podcasts thus far, and I enjoy their advice, interviews, and banter as much as I enjoyed their blog.

While working at my desk I often need to check the date and/or day of the week. I could of course pull up the calendar on my computer or phone, but I decided it would be more fun to display a small monthly calendar. Since the New Year had already come and gone I knew I could find one on sale, but everything online - while lovely - still cost more than I was willing to spend. So when I stumbled upon this set of monthly calendar cards at Target...for $1...they went into my cart immediately. I had the black stand already ($5.99 at Hobby Lobby), and when partnered with the cards they make a lovely and functional addition to my desk.

I'm not using it just yet, but I hope to soon use this fabulous wreath. Wouldn't it look beautiful on my bright yellow front door?

We tried out our area's new trampoline park a couple of weeks ago, and while playing and jumping cost an arm and a leg, the kids had a blast and can't wait to return. I didn't partake in the fun this time around (I repeat, it costs an arm and a leg to play and jump), but those trampolines were calling my name and it's only a matter of time before I give in and join the kids.

My mom bought these fabulous rain boots 30+ years ago and rarely wore them, so she gifted them to me during our visit to Wisconsin. I can't wait to once again splash around in puddles with the kids!

I tend to do more in the kitchen during the winter months, as the cold(er) weather makes me want to serve hot and hearty comfort foods like soups, stews, casseroles, stroganoffs, chili, and of course, rich, indulgent desserts. Only one of the five new dinner entrees made the cut (the other four were "fine", but not worth saving for the future), but all three new desserts have been bookmarked!
  • Chicken and Mushroom Stroganoff I used used 4 oz. rather than 8 oz. of cream cheese, added the spices found in dry onion soup mix individually (rather than using the packet of spices), and added dried parsley to the sauce rather than using fresh parsley as a garnish. Even Hallie ate a few bites!
  • Strawberry Shortcake Bars These bars were easy to make - a perfect baking project to do with kids - and tasted like thumbprint cookies, a dessert I enjoy but struggle to make correctly. Per the recipe I used jelly, but next time I might try preserves or jam instead.
  • Coconut Cupcakes This recipe for the Barefoot Contessa's coconut cake works just as beautifully as cupcakes. I knew Tom and I couldn't didn't need to eat an entire cake by ourselves, so I halved the recipe and baked cupcakes instead. I also cut the sugar from 2 c. to 1.5 c. and in no way missed the extra sweetness. 
  • Almond Joy Cupcakes A friend of mine asked for Almond Joy cupcakes for her January birthday, and after reading through at least 15 different recipes, I decided on this one because I liked the way it seemed to layer the flavors. I made a few adjustments - I didn't use a cake mix with pudding, I used butter instead of shortening in the frosting, I toasted the coconut used as a garnish, and I didn't stick Almond Joy candy bars on top of the cupcakes - and I think they turned out remarkably well. If/when I make them again I might cut the coffee to 1/4 c., but other than that detail these cupcakes were divine!


What's new, good, and/or interesting in your life this month? Please share!

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