Weekend Links / / January Days


It’s been rather cold and gloomy in Nashville this week, but my weather app is showing signs of 50º F in the next few days! I’m still not accustomed to the idea that winter here ends in February. Are you all feeling settled into January? I still feel a bit jostled from the bustle of holiday season, but hopefully a new routine will fall into place soon! I’ve been spending time planning out our calendar and goals for the year. It’s also been nice to be able to catch up with a couple girlfriends this week.

/ / After watching the Golden Globes on Sunday and reading the Oscar nominations, I am ready for Rebecca’s Oscars Movie Challenge. I am a bit bitter about The Lego Movie’s Oscar snub, but I’m excited to follow a long and watch the 2014 movies I missed.

/ / Jordan is adamant on protecting our shoes for winter. As soon as brand new shoe box is opened, he immediately layers them with a weather resistant spray. A Beautiful Mess explains how to properly maintain the shoes we prepped for rain/snow. Now that we live in Nashville, it’s been really nice to come home without a thin layer of salt on all of my shoes!

/ / My repertoire of pasta dishes went extinct when I gave up gluten, but my soup collection has expanded! Bev compiled her favorite soup dishes from last year and I already made the White Bean, Kale and Italian Sausage Soup and bought ingredients for the Slow Cooker Smoky White Bean Soup.

/ / Each week Lisa interviews infertility survivors. She compiled 21 poignant quotes from recent conversations. This one from Audra really spoke to me, “I was given this life for a reason and although I may not have a complete peace with it now, I am certain that God will get me through it and that His plan is better than mine.”

/ / I share something from Minimalist Baker almost every week, but I can’t help it, they just know what they are doing! Besides easy and healthy recipes, Dana and John have a plethora of blogging resources on their site. They created a “how-to” for an editorial calendar and it was extremely helpful. I found it reassuring when Dana mentioned it takes her 8-10 hours per post. I’ve seen bloggers write that they can churn out a weeks worth of content in one day and that is just not me!

/ / Chelsea just celebrated her two-year blogging anniversary (yay!) and shared why you should start a blog. This really rang true for me, “There are only so many common things you can blog about … A normal work day turns into a chance to find some blog content, and suddenly, you’re looking at things through a much more creative lens.”

Happy Weekend!

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/ / Linking with Meagan.

Favorites of 2014: Movies


As each year passes, I find it increasingly challenging to keep up with movie releases. Not only are most “prestige” films limited releases in the fall/winter (to qualify for awards season), but now their wide releases are pushed to the following January. So, technically a movie will be released in one year but it won’t become available to a large audience until the next year. In the end, they become available but it’s a bit frustrating for year-end list creators like me to keep on track.

With all of the business that comes for a major move, Jordan and I didn’t get to see as many movies this year, so my year-end list is a bit smaller this time around. I’m excited to catch up with several 2014 films once they are released on DVD.

That being said, here are a few of my favorites from 2014.

Boyhood | Richard Linklater, 2014
To the untrained eye, Boyhood could be seen as only a gimmick: one movie, filmed for a handful of days over the course of 12 years. And with a lesser filmmaker than Richard Linklater, it might have been not only a gimmick but also a complete mess. The good news is that it isn’t either of those. It’s incredible. Boyhood follows Mason, his sister Samantha, mother and semi-estranged father over the course of 12 years as they encounter the many ups and downs that life brings us.

Unlike films that use different actors to carry a child through adolescence, the framework of Boyhood allows us to actually follow Mason growing up before our eyes. It’s beautiful and sad to realize how quickly time passes and the only thing we can do about it is to enjoy the ride and hold our love ones close.

Gone Girl | David Fincher, 2014
I finished reading Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl earlier this year. I knew David Fincher was slated to direct the movie and wanted to read the novel first. I don’t read many suspense novels, but I was instantly drawn into the mystery of what happened to Amy Dunne. Many movie-to-film adaptations fall short. Studios know that the public will purchase tickets based off of the popularity of the novel and sometimes quality suffers, but I was thoroughly pleased with this movie. I sat gripped to the edge of my chair (or Jordan’s arm!) despite knowing how it would end.

Rosamund Pike has been one of my favorite actresses ever since she played Jane in Pride & Prejudice and while her performance might not win a Golden Globe or Oscar, I think she needs to be recognized.

The Grand Budapest Hotel | Wes Anderson, 2014
Wes Anderson is one of our favorite directors. Jordan and I anticipate seeing his movies, regardless of premise, strictly on his name alone. I love Anderson’s attention to visual detail and combination of comedy and tragedy. His use of miniatures for different set pieces in The Grand Budapest Hotel is quite impressive.

Anderson has an army of actors that pop up repeatedly in his movies (Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman, Owen Wilson, Anjelica Huston, Adrien Brody, etc.) but it’s always exciting to see what actors he brings into his coterie. Saoirse Ronan’s acting is truly captivating on-screen and I would love to see her used again.

Into The Woods | Rob Marshall, 2014
Picture 13-year-old Catherine, searching out a VHS copy of the original broadway recording of Into the Woods to watch for the first time and becoming mesmerized by Stephen Sondheim’s fantastical world. I spent a certain period of time in high school, immersing myself into Broadway musicals. Watching any film adaptations I could find or at least listening to sound cast recordings. 

When I heard that Into the Woods was finally going to be made into a movie, I was extremely concerned. I’ve always had an obsession with Bernadette Peters (Hello, Annie!) and her portrayal of the Witch is incredible. Meryl Streep can (almost) do no wrong, but her singing in Mama Mia was a little lacking. My fears subsided once the official trailer was released and I realized everyone was singing…and singing well! 

Meryl brought the gravitas needed for the Witch and as Susan Wloszczyna put it, “…[Meryl] knows how to make an entrance and an exit as if she were an unwelcome weather event.”

I was delightfully entertained and moved, just as I hoped.

WildJean-Marc Vallée, 2014
Reese Witherspoon had quite the year. She produced Gone Girl and Wild, two well-received movies. I devoured Cheryl Stayed’s memoir this summer and thankfully as I hoped, the movie delivered. We all have a story to tell, but some people have more mountains to climb than others: Cheryl being one of them. Her life story doesn’t even seem plausible and I bet many people will leave the theatre believing some of her circumstances are fictional.

Wild takes you on a journey of self-discovery and leaves you thankful to be sitting in a temperature controlled room drinking lots of water.

What were some of your favorite movies you saw in 2014?

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Weekend Links / / LeBlanc & Friends


Nashville is experiencing a mini polar vortex. Currently, it’s 19° but the windchill makes it feel like 9°. Locals don’t quite know how to handle it. 🙂 One of my favorite aspects about winter is the abundance of citrus fruit available: clementines and grapefruits are always stocked in our fridge. Not only do they look bright and cheery, I actually feel bright and awake after eating them!

/ / Abby reviewed Lena Dunham’s memoir and it’s on point with exactly how I felt while reading Not That Kind of Girl (I actually still have a few chapters left). She compared and contrasted it to Amy Poehler’s memoir, Yes, Please. Which reminds me, I still need to buy it!

What is everyone reading? I need a good novel to dive into.

/ / Erin’s quick breakfast tostado is one of those go-to meals I like to make on busy nights. Breakfast for dinner regularly happens in our house. Put an egg on it, is what I always say.

/ / I enjoyed following Anne’s fall capsule wardrobe and I’m glad she is continuing into winter. Winter is a hard season to be creative. All I want to wear is giant sweaters and fuzzy socks!

/ / Emily shared a few observations on living in the south, which were very similar to my own. I’m not sure when “y’all” will become my greeting. “You, guys” just comes far too naturally!

/ / The amount of television Jordan and I watch has drastically decreased ever since we got rid of cable. It’s impossible to keep track week to week without a DVR, so we utilize our libraries DVD selection a lot. We enjoy watching a show together, but after finishing the entire run of, How I Met Your Mother nothing clicked.

That is until we began watching Episodes. The show follows two show runners of a British sitcom after they move to LA to create an american version. It stars Matt LeBlanc as a fictitious version of himself, which is very fitting since Friends was recently released on Netflix. I love the witty banter and gentle industry mocking.

Happy Weekend!

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/ / Linking with Meagan.

Currently / / January


Planning / / Jordan and I spent January 1st going over vacation and concert plans for the year. I don’t want to get too ahead of myself, but 2015 is already looking to be a fun-filled year!

Hoping / /  My skin and I have been fighting an uphill battle with one another for over two years and it’s been extremely frustrating trying to resolve the problem. To help with some scarring, I had a facial last week and I’m beginning to see results. I hope my skin continues to heal and respond well to all of the dietary changes I made last year. There better be a good reason I gave up my beloved grilled cheese sandwiches! 😉

Baking / / I am not baking nearly as much since giving up gluten, but I still make granola regularly. It’s so handy for a quick snack or breakfast.

Wearing / / This long sweater from Abercrombie & Fitch. It’s like wearing a blanket, but far more stylish. Thankfully, Abercrombie & Fitch stopped putting their logo on everything and I’ve really been able to find great pieces. It’s not the same A&F I grew up with and I like it!

Resolving / / That I need to focus less on circumstances outside of my control.

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/ / Linking with Anne and Jenna.

Favorites of 2014: Music


There was a brief moment in time this year when I worried I wouldn’t have enough albums to constitute a “Best of” list. Boy, was I wrong! This was a great year in music, albeit quite different from years past.

One thought I had while narrowing down the choices was, do I compare one album against an artist’s entire catalogue or just among what was released that year? Lana Del Ray for instance, I really enjoyed her first album but her latest did nothing for me (it did show up on a few different lists, so I could be wrong). Would I have liked it on its own, without any expectations? I’m not sure.

As with last year’s selection, these albums are listed alphabetically not by preference. My favorite new discovery this year was the band, Alvvays. You can listen to all of my favorite songs (except those from T-Swizzle) on my handy Spotify playlist.

Alvvays | Alvvays
Jordan stumbled upon this album while casually searching the New Release section of Spotify. The album art stood out and he clicked for a listen. He liked what he heard and had to share with me. I have a thing for lovelorn/angsty/90s throwback music, ala The Cranberries. Alvvays hits the spot. I love the little production details on this record: like where Molly Rankin’s voice literally feels a little distant, muffled as though it’s being heard from an old record.

Favorite Song: “Archie, Marry Me” | iTunes

Amy Stroup | Tunnel
You might not know Amy Stroup by name, but you most certainly have heard her songs on CW television shows, national jewelry commercials or as Sugar in Sugar & The Hi-Lows. Amy quietly released Tunnel earlier this year and it’s the perfect blend of singer/songwriter honesty and dream pop stylings. “Sugar Amy” kills it.

Favorite Song: “Backburner” | iTunes

Ariana Grande | My Everything
Ariana Grande may be compared to Mariah Carey on a daily basis, but the girl has chops of her own. My Everything gifts us soulful pop songs that showcase Ariana’s powerful voice. It’s impossible not to sing along! Guilty pleasure? No, a straight-up pleasure.

Favorite Song: “Love Me Harder” | iTunes

Coldplay | Ghost Stories
From the first listen of Ghost Stories, filled with brooding songs of sadness and hope, I was mesmerized. Coldplay’s records have carried me through teenage angst all the way through present day. Can we just ignore the recent news that Coldplay is retiring after their next album. I am just glad that I’ve seen them live twice.

Favorite Song: “Midnight” | iTunes

Colony House | When I Was Younger
Some music I listen to strictly for the beat, sort of pushing the lyrics aside. Colony House is not one of those bands. Their music and lyrics are beautiful. For a debut rock album, I am continually drawn into the stories weaved throughout the album.

“Nothing is perfect, for that there’s no cure. So don’t you start to bury the good with the bad, and the ugly.” – “Silhouettes”

Favorite Song: “Caught Me By Surprise” | iTunes

Future Islands | Singles
Jordan and I went to see Future Islands right before we moved to Nashville. They put on one of the best shows I’ve seen in quite a while. Frontman Samual T. Herring’s persona has a level of energy that is beautiful and powerful all at once. The emotion behind the lyrics comes through the performance

Jeremy Larson from Pitchfork explains it this way, “His [Samual T. Herring] words are the sort of thing that would tumble out of your mouth if you were told to write a love poem right now in eight seconds. “She looks like the moon/ So close and yet so far” or “My sun every morning/ My star of the evening” are just two couplets that look slightly sappy on the page but sound so impulsively romantic when he sings them.”

Favorite Song: “Sun in the Morning” | iTunes

Jenny Lewis | The Voyager
Back before Spotify and legal digital downloads, I used to put CDs on my birthday wish list. I specifically remember the year I received More Adventurous. Jenny Lewis was the epitome of an effortless, chic California girl. It’s been six years since Jenny last put out a solo album. The Voyager is an album full of nostalgia, adventure and self-discovery.

“I never thought I would ever be here/ Looking out on my life as if there was no there there.” – “Head Underwater”

Favorite Song: “She’s Not Me” | iTunes

St. Vincent | St. Vincent
St. Vincent (aka. Annie Clark) has a very controlled, precise stage presence. At first this might be a bit off-putting, but the more I listen to her music the more she is a storyteller. This self-titled album is actually her fourth solo venture (previously she toured with Sufjan Stevens and as a member of The Polyphonic Spree) and is an exercise in pure Avant Garde rock. At first listen it might be difficult to embrace the controlled sound, but her lyrics tell a story worth hearing.

“Morning pry the windows open, Let in what’s so terrifying. Summer is as faded as a lone cicada call. Memories so bright I gotta squint just to recall. Regret the words I’ve bitten more than the ones I ever said.” – “Regret”

Favorite Song: “Regret” | iTunes

Sylvan Esso | Sylvan Esso
The man/woman duo to the 2000s+ has been what the 1990s was to boy band/girl band; a rat race, each trying to capitalize on their predecessor. Sylvan Esso (Amelia Meath and Nick Sanborn) managed to create their own mix of electric/pop/folk that sounds fresh, amongst crowded airwaves. This album just gets better and better with each listen.

“…and when it comes time to throw on something at a summer gathering that’ll make people feel slightly hipper than they were when they arrived, Sylvan Esso will be a go-to.” Ian Cohen at Pitchfork.

Favorite Song: “Coffee” | iTunes

Taylor Swift | 1989
I have a confession to make. (Sigh) here it goes: In the recent past, I wasn’t the biggest Taylor Swift fan. I respected her artistry and career arc, but country music just isn’t my thing (minus my junior high obsession with Shania Twain). 1989 is my kind of Taylor: personal lyrics + pop tunes. Also, any girl who figures out a way to work with Imogene Heap is a winner in my eyes (she produced the song, “Clean”). Ms. Swift has finally won me over and I thank her for her persistence.

Favorite Song: “Blank Space” | iTunes

The War on Drugs | Lost in The Dream
The first few times Jordan put this record on, I found myself trying to figure out what it was exactly. At first listen, Lost in The Dream, sounds like a soundtrack to a road-trip movie. Once Adam Granduciel’s voice kicks in, I realize of course it isn’t a soundtrack. This album is not what you listen to while on a run, but it is exactly the type of record to listen to while pondering the meaning of life.

Favorite Song: “Red Eyes” | iTunes

TV On The Radio | Seeds
TV On The Radio reminds me of being young and in love (okay, I’m not exactly old yet!). Dear Science was released six months after we got married and was on constant rotation in our apartment. Anytime I hear a TOTR song, I am immediately transported to those car rides and apartment dance parties. 🙂 Seeds is TOTR’s fifth studio film and their modern rock n’ roll sound is still fresh and new.

Favorite Song: “Winter” | iTunes

Did any of your favorite albums of the year make my list?

/ / Here’s my playlist of favorite songs!

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Weekend Links / / New Year


How are we all feeling about January 2015? So far, I like it much better than January 2014, mainly because Nashville isn’t in the middle of a polar vortex. Two thumbs up for Southern living!

I received the sweetest package from Kelsey and Erica, the hosts of one of my favorite podcasts: The Girl Next Door Podcast. They ran a giveaway in honor of their shared birthday and I actually won! They filled my box with their latest obsessions. The mulled cider candle left the whole box smelling like Christmas.

Vegan Green Bean Casserole / / I will be saving this for Thanksgiving next year. I’m assuming I could simply sub out all-purpose flour for GF flour? Anyone tried that before?

DIY Candles / / Allie shows us step by step how to create our own candles. I love how she recycled an old Anthropologie Volcano jar for the finished product.

Gilmore Guys / / Jordan and I have been in another Gilmore Girl’s marathon recently. This happens almost every year (you can’t just watch one) and I am not complaining! I never tire of Stars Hallow. The Lorelai’s were on my brain when I discovered the Gilmore Guys podcast. It’s interesting to hear a guy’s perspective on the show. It’s just too much fun.

Explore / / Katie’s perspective on exploring locally, completely aligns with how Jordan and I like to live. Out of state travel can sometimes put a dent in the budget, but we’ve always tried to take advantage of local spots to satisfy our adventurous spirit in between larger trips.

Happy Weekend, all!

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/ / Linking with Meagan.

Weekend Links / / Gluten Make Up


/ / I did a little gluten-free baking this week: chocolate chip cookies and banana bread. I was pretty proud of myself for how they each turned out. Baking is really all about the recipe you choose to use, so the originators get all of the credit. I still have several more bananas that need to be used, so I think Minimalist Baker’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Bread is next on my list.

/ / My photography journey has been trial, error and a bit of luck. I have found that using food as my subject allows me to try different angles, settings, and locations without the fear that the item will walk away. Elizabeth shared several great tips that I’m excited to begin working on.

/ / Serial Parody on Funny or Die.

/ / Make up and hair tips for glasses wearers. My favorite look is a top knot with a bold lip.

/ / Five, easy, DIY garlands from A Beautiful Mess. I’ll be visiting after Christmas sales to purchase bauble ornaments to make one of these!

/ / Bek wrote beautifully on Advent.

“This is what Christmas is. It set the stage for how He would save the world. Joy & pain. Faithful & forsaken. Silence & angels. Darkness & light. Loved & hated. Miracles occurring & treks across deserts. Fully man & fully God. Death gives birth to life.” 

Wishing you a beautiful and relaxing weekend.

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/ / Linking with Meagan.

Weekend Links / / Eggscussions


/ / Are you caught up on the Serial podcast? The penultimate episode was released yesterday morning and last night Sarah Koenig appeared on The Colbert Report. She gave insights to why she decided to tell this specific story in a serial format.

/ / My friend, Kate, shared several wintry photos on her blog last week. Chicago during Christmastime is extra magical. I’m not exactly going to miss the harsh weather realities of January and February (and March and April), but I will miss the extra glow illuminating the city streets from the twinkle lights.

/ / I love listening/watching people being interviewed about their craft. During each awards season, The Hollywood Reporter gathers actors, writers, directors, and producers together into groups for roundtable discussions. These conversations are interesting, candid and remind me that no one is living without challenges (even big Hollywood stars). Did you know that the writers for Dallas Buyers Club began working on that screenplay 20 years before the movie was green lit to be filmed?!? I’m pretty sure I would have given up. Assuming that if my script wasn’t selling it must not be good. Talk about perseverance!

/ / After eliminating dairy (except butter) and gluten from my diet, I have become hyperaware of people who live with severe allergies/intolerances. I won’t break out in hives or be admitted into the hospital if I eat bread (I’ll just wake up with a new pimple) but I know people who will. I’ve become all too familiar with vegan recipes and generally flax seeds are the replacement for eggs. When Amy shared her cornstarch version I was really intrigued. Have any of you experimented with flax or cornstarch “eggs”?

Happy Weekend, all!

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/ / Linking with Meagan.

Currently / / December


Making / / Granola (this & this), chili and my grocery list.

Listening / / Christmas music of course, but also Colony House. I listened to their album four times in a row the other night!

Wrapping / / More like purchasing the presents to be wrapped. I always have intentions to be more organized, but somehow time slips away from me! 🙂

Watching / / Jordan stayed in Illinois longer than I was able to after Thanksgiving, so I rented The Fault in Our Stars while I had a few free evenings. I read TFIOS earlier this year, so I wasn’t expecting to get emotional. Wrong! I was totally that girl crying on the couch alone.

Anticipating / / Cuddling on the couch watching holiday movies with Jordan, decorating our apartment for Christmas, and fresh starts after a busy and challenging year.

What are you currently doing/making/enjoying?

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/ / Linking with Anne and Jenna.