Thursday, January 30, 2014

Oscar Review: Captain Phillips

Oscar Nominations:
Best Picture
Supporting Actor (Barkhad Abdi)
My Review:
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I was excited about seeing Captain Phillips from the first preview I saw way before the film was released.  I love Tom Hanks (and met him last more here!) so I had plans to see this one without even realizing it would have a shot at Best Picture.  To be honest, I didn't think it was quite Best Picture quality, but it was a fabulous edge of your seat flick.  Since it is a true tale, I was soaking up every minute.  I never got bored or distracted throughout the entire movie.  There were so many times particularly early on when I really wasn't sure how the Captain and crew were gonna survive the situation at hand.  I don't want to give away too much in case you haven't seen it, but there are some scenes that really have you holding your breath.  I would recommend that you all go rent this movie tonight!  I promise you won't regret it!
Have you seen Captain Phillips?  What did you think?

Andrea :)

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Oscar Review: American Hustle

Oscar Nominations:
Best Picture
Actor (Christian Bale)
Actress (Amy Adams)
Supporting Actor (Bradley Cooper)
Supporting Actress (Jennifer Lawrence)
Directing (David O. Russell)

My Review:
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American Hustle recieved a lot of mixed least from family and friends that saw it before I did.  In a strange way, I think this made me like it more than I would have otherwise because I didn't have high expectations going into it.  Chris didn't like it near as much as I did...and I didn't love it, but I did like it.  Given the cast of characters and Oscar nominations, I was expecting to be blown away.  I definitely wasn't.  The acting was top notch, but the plot/storyline was really slow.  If the film had moved just a tad faster or had a bit more action, I think I would have really liked it.  I can see why each of the main actors/actresses were nominated as they all performed extremely well.  My favorite character was the lead actor - Christian Bale.  He was great!  He had such a tough time keeping his mistress (Amy Adams) and his wife (Jennifer Lawrence) in line...and that really kept me entertained.  Definitely not an ideal double life!  I also enjoyed that the movie was based on true events.  Those movies are my favorite.  (And the Oscar nominees are full of them this year!)  In the end, I would recommend seeing this one, but definitely wait until you can get it for $1 at RedBox.  Being on the big screen didn't add a thing to this one.  Be prepared for some laughs along the way, but don't watch it when you're sleepy because it does drag quite a bit at various times. 

Have you seen American Hustle?  What did you think?

Andrea :)

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Mini of the Month: January

If you know me at all, you know I love cupcakes!  This year, I am planning to taste test the mini of the month from Baked by Melissa each month.  These cupcakes are bite sized (and only roughly 80 calories!) so I don't feel so bad indulging on these once a month!

Ingredients: Cotton Candy Cake, Green Vanilla Icing, Rainbow Crunch Topping

The mini for January is Cotton Candy.  It was originally introduced in March 2012, but Melissa allows facebook fans to vote on the mini for January and August and the fans voted to bring this one back for the third time.  At least according to the cashier at the store I visited.  I'll have to remember to get in on the voting fun in June!  The other 10 months Melissa works her creative magic to bake a totally new flavor!  I'm excited to see what she comes up with this year!

I wasn't too sure I'd like this tiny treat when I saw it, but it turned out to be quite tasty.  Chris didn't care for it as much, but I have a much sweeter tooth than he does.  I was surprised how much it actually tasted like cotton candy, too!  I would definitely get it again sometime.

Andrea :)

Monday, January 20, 2014

Motown: The Musical

This weekend, Chris' cousin, aunt, and mom came into the city for a fun night on Broadway with us.  We couldn't have picked a better show!  Chris and I had our eye on this show for quite some time!  Chris isn't a huge musical fan.  He prefers plays, but he really got into this one.  He said it's because he actually knew the songs in advance.  I guess that does help!

We all had a great time hearing some of the best music of the Motown label over the years.  There were SO many hits!  The Supremes, Jackson 5, Miracles, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Commodores, and the list just goes on and on.  The actors and actresses were amazingly talented.  And always in character, no matter which character they were playing at the moment.  It was non-stop action as we followed Berry Gordy as he flashed back through his journey creating the Motown record label as well as his successes and failures along the way.

If you are in New York City and have a chance to see one musical, I would suggest this one.  Well, maybe right after Wicked, but this one is VERY good!

Andrea :)

Friday, January 17, 2014

Five on Friday


We are making some progress on the wedding planning!  We are set on making this happen in Kentucky so I have spent the past few weeks researching some venues and discusing ideas with Christopher.  This week we booked a trip to back to Kentucky to check out our top venues in early February!  We are excited to lock down a place and secure our date! 

In a very short window, the Bengals have lost both their offensive and defensive coordinators. This wasn't a surprise as they were both likely to leave this year.  I am particularly concerned by the loss on defense with Zimmer going to Minnesota. However, what is most concerning is that they filled the positions from within the current coaching staff rather than seeking some new faces with fresh ideas. Not sure I'm loving that choice....

Yesterday, I got some great news!  I was selected in the lottery to run the NYC Half Marathon in March!  I am most excited about this because it will give me the motivation I am needing to get myself back into running shape!  It's less that two months away, but I'm determined to have a great training and race day experience!


The Oscar nominees were announced this week!  I was SO excited that I had seen nearly all of the Best Picture nominees already.  And I had plans to see those remaining.  I added Blue Jasmine (which is set to be at RedBox next week...yay for saving money!) and August: Osage County to my list to see before the big night in early March though!


Finally, I am very much looking forward to this long weekend ahead.  It will be jam packed with fun as well as relaxation.  Exactly what I need before I head to New Jersey for Super Bowl next week!

Hope you all have a fabulous weekend!!

Andrea :)

Monday, January 13, 2014

Change is Good

For the past five years, I've spent this week in an NFL city preparing for either the AFC or NFC Championship game that is to come this weekend. 

I've had fun in Arizona, New Orleans, Pittsburgh and the New England area twice, but I decided to stay back in New York this year.  It helped that Super Bowl is here meaning I would be cutting out a significant amount of travel time for myself, but mostly I just needed a change.  And, of course, I'm plenty busy with our other programs as they keep expanding from Spring/Summer programs to year round ventures.  So...this week I'll be having lots of fun with Christopher instead of living out of a suitcase at a hotel! 

We are halfway through Breaking Bad.  And I can't get enough of Walt and Jesse.  I may or may not be addicted!  Such a great show!!  We are hoping to finish it before I leave for Super Bowl.

We are going to see American Hustle tomorrow.  We *think* we have seen most of the potential nominees for Best Picture, but I'm looking forward to seeing who made the cut on Thursday.

We have bible study on Wednesday.  We are only one week into our study of Esther, but so far I am finding it very interesting.

And finally, we have plans to see Motown on Broadway with Chris' mom, aunt, and cousin this weekend.  I am so excited!!  I have heard great things about this show!

Let's just say I don't think I'll mind too much that I'm not going to be in Denver or Seattle this week.  Even though I could have knocked out another stadium on my bucket list, I must admit that change is good.

Andrea :)

Friday, January 3, 2014

It's a New Year...

As you may have read here in my 2013 recap and here when I announced BIG news yesterday, I had one incredibly amazing year!  Somehow, I am still expecting this new one will exceed the old one.  I am very excited about all that 2014 is sure to hold!  I am most excited about marrying Christopher and starting our life together as husband and wife, but that surely won't be the only wonderful thing to happen in the coming twelve months! 

Instead of making resolutions, I prefer to set goals for myself.  Some on this list will prove more challenging than others, but I am hoping to accomplish them all by the time the ball drops on New Year's Eve!  Please hold me accountable and keep me honest on these goals as we make our way through this new year together...

1 - Read through the Bible!  I am hoping the third time is a charm on this one.

*This simply did not happen.  Didn't even really try this year.  Major fail.

2 - Finish all outstanding scrapbooks!  I have our year three laid out, but not put together.  I need to finish it and then complete year four (considering ending this one with the engagement at the end of 2013, but haven't totally decided yet)! And I want to put together one from our European Adventure...and from my NYC Marathon experience.  Lots of scrapbooking is in my future!!

*This did not happen in the way I imagined it would, but I did put together online scrapbooks for all our our years together.  I have a little scrapbook cove in our new apartment so hopefully the actual old school scrapbooks will be completed soon.

3 - Plan our wedding together!!  I am so very excited that I am able to include this on my list now :)

*Check plus on this one.  It took over much of my year, but we planned a celebration that absolutely everyone enjoyed.  It was a blast!  I look forward to recounting all the planning on the blog in 2015.

4 - Clean out my closets and just the apartment generally!  Lots of stuff here that could stand to be donated or thrown out.  Plus, it's the only way to make room for more useful things!

*Done.  Moving helping usher along this process.  And I'm sure there is still much more that could go, but I did get rid of quite a bit.  Progress is always positive.

5 - Take better care of myself.  Let's face it, I'm not getting any younger and I need to start treating my body accordingly!  I want to make better choices and keep better records of those choices.  I may try to incorporate that into the blog as well.  I could most certainly use some accountability here!

*I think I went the total opposite direction on this one.  I didn't keep up with this at all on the blog.  And I didn't do a very good job of making positive choices for my body either.  I felt it, too. :(

6 - Enjoy this time in my life!  Do some things that have been on my list to do.  Read more.  Establish a better waking/sleeping pattern.  Have fun. And worry less about the (much) farther down the road future.  Those times will come and when they do I want to be ready for them because I made the most of every moment now.

*I'd say I was 50/50 here.  I did enjoy many things about this season in my life, but I also worried FAR too much as well.  I've done considerably better on getting to bed at a decent time and waking up earlier.  I have Chris to thank for that.  I read some, but hope to do more in the coming year now that the wedding planning is OVER!

What are your goals for 2014?

Andrea :)

*Goals updated on December 31, 2014.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

We're Engaged!

I had all sorts of ideas about how and when Christopher would propose.  I thought he might do it when my family was in NYC and I ran the marathon at the beginning of November.  I thought he would do it when we scheduled a winter trip to Vermont.  I thought he might do it for Christmas (even though I'd given strict instructions that I wanted the proposal to be separate from the holiday).  So when all these events occurred and he didn't propose, I started joking with him about how it might never happen.  He had me convinced I would have to wait for 2014.

I had been back in Kentucky for a little over a week celebrating Christmas with my family so when I returned and Chris suggested we go out for dinner on Monday night, I didn't think too much about it. We had plans to go to dinner and celebrate the New Year since I live near Times Square and it is impossible to do anything but stay in (which is what we did!) or go out and spend a small fortune on New Year's Eve.

That morning when I was getting ready for work, I thought in the back of my mind that he MIGHT propose at dinner.  But I dismissed it without too much thought especially since we are headed to Vermont this weekend and I was almost sure he would do it then.  Our original early December trip was cancelled due to a huge winter storm so we had rescheduled for the first weekend of 2014.  Everything was adding up for a proposal then!  So when dinner ended and he hadn't proposed, I just assumed that it would happen another time.  We ran a few errands before heading back to my apt where he told me that he had a surprise for me from my favorite bakery - Sprinkles!

I was still clueless and even as I opened the box to reveal a dozen mini cupcakes with engagement ring decor on them, I thought he was just joking around.

I looked up at him and was about to say, "Oh, that's a funny joke!" when he said, "Well, those are fake, but this one is real..."  I was SHOCKED!!  I could not even believe he was really proposing!  He got the ring out of the box in his pocket and got on his knee and proposed.  He said a few things to me then, but kept it short which is good because neither of us remember much about what he actually said at that point.  I was still not believing it was all happening!

I was very surprised and very happy!  The ring is exactly what I was hoping to receive, and Christopher was very thoughtful with the whole proposal.

It was fun to hear lots of details from him later that night after we made some calls to family and friends to share the good news!   He had originally planned to ask me to marry him on our Vermont trip in early December.  He had even spoken with my parents prior to the trip and everything.  When it was cancelled, he then had plans to propose before I left for Kentucky but there was one little issue of the ring not arriving in time.  I couldn't believe that my parents and brothers knew about this the whole time I was home and never let it slip out!  Once the ring arrived last week, Christopher said he knew he wanted to propose on December 30.  I'll share more about the ring itself soon as he did a wonderful job selecting it and had a great experience with the company he used.  We are very excited about this wonderful time in our lives! 

Andrea :)