Friday, May 31, 2013

Summer Cinema.


Ferosh.
No particular reason, but I am in love with that zebra. That fabulous, (fake?) neon zebra.
Anyyywayyyss... HAPPY FRIDAY my friends! Just in time for these warm summer nights, I thought I'd send you off into the weekend with a list of some of my most favorite summer movies (plus 2 to get excited about seeing in theaters). So when the sun goes down, you've finished admiring the fireflys and you're basking in the gloriousness that is air conditioning, consider one of these fabulous flicks. Have a great weekend!!!

* Wet Hot American Summer (Trailer HERE)
Wet Hot American Summer
This is one of my favorite movies of all time. Set on the last day of camp in 1981, "Wet Hot American Summer" follows a group of counselors (Janeane Garofalo, Paul Rudd, Michael Showalter, Molly Shannon, Amy Poehler, Bradley Cooper and Christopher Meloni in what is arguably his greatest role... EVER) each trying to complete "unfinished business" before the day ends. Totally inappropriate and completely hysterical, this is a Merry Meri must watch for summer.



* Moonrise Kingdom (Trailer HERE)
Moonrise Kingdom
Though it only came out last summer, this endearing Wes Andersen black comedy sky rocketed to top of my favorites list immediately. Set on an island off of New England in the 60s, a young boy and girl fall in love and run away together. Concerned parents Bill Murray and Frances McDormand enlist local law enforcement Bruce Willis to search for their daughter while fearless khaki scout leader Edward Norton searches for the boy. And even with that cast, the most brilliant performances come from the kids... watch and love. 


* Almost Famous (Trailer HERE)
Almost Famous
This story of a teenaged aspiring writer who is "kidnapped by rock stars" is pure brilliance. Originally released in 2000 (with a killer soundtrack and gorgeous newcomer Kate Hudson!), Almost Famous is a semi-autobiographical tale (writer/director Cameron Crowe was a teenage writer for Rolling Stone) about coming of age during the tumultuous 1970s. Amazingly, life lessons about growing up, falling in love and the glamorous (rock n' roll) life will be relateable to people from every generation.



* Caddyshack (Trailer HERE)
Caddyshack
This movie is like a right of passage... every human on earth simply must see it. When an exclusive golf course (think rich old members and young, pathetic caddies) has to deal with a crass new member (Rodney Dangerfield) and a destructive dancing gopher (leave that to Bill Murray) classic 80s comedic hilarity ensues. From the infamous "doodie" scene to Chevy Chase's pursuit of prize money on the course, Caddyshack is a must see.




* Vicky Christina Barcelona (Trailer HERE)
Vicky Christina Barcelona
Another visit inside the brilliance that is Woody Allen's brain, I absolutely adore Vicky Christina Barcelona. The 2008 romantic dram-edy tells the story of two American women, who spend a summer in Barcelona and meet a sexy artist, (hell-o Javier Bardem!), who is attracted to them both and still in love with his mentally and emotionally unstable ex-wife (Penelope Cruz at her best). Charming, perfectly cast and set in gorgeous Spain, VCB is summer perfection. Bonus - the soundtrack is awesome as well! (Woody Allen runner up... Midnight in Paris


And to wrap this post up, (because blog formatting is a pain in the ass and I do have a full time job to contend with):
* Jaws (Trailer HERE). This movie absolutely terrifies me (still), but it's a summer classic and truly one of Spielberg's best. 
* Dazed and Confused (Trailer HERE). Before there was Wet Hot, there was Dazed and Confused. Anyone who has ever lived through the last day of school (1976 or otherwise) will love watching Matthew McConaughey, Parker Posey, Milla Jovovich and Ben Affleck play out the infamous day.

And two newbies getting much buzz for summer 2013:
The Way Way Back - From the creators of Little Miss Sunshine, with a stellar cast (and plenty of cameos) the Trailer for this Sundance darling had me cracking up! Can't wait to see it!
The Kings of Summer - Another film festival favorite, this movie is being compared to another summer classic, Stand by Me (which I must confess I've never seen... it's on the "to do list"!) Plus, anything with Ron Swanson in full beard deserves a shot. Trailer HERE.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Take me out to the ballgame (& other awesome summer activities)

Hello Summer!
Perfectly timed to the arrival of today's genuinely summery weather (hello 90 degrees in midtown Manhattan!) Dr. H has surprised me with two tickets to tonight's Mets v. Yankees game (what a guy:) I can't think of a better way to welcome my most favorite season than by watching David Wright's booty hover over third base with a hot dog and cold beer in my hands! Though many look to escape NYC during the dog days of summer, I absolutely LOVE it here (except for the sauna that is the subway, nobody can love that sweat box). Here to help you join me in NYC summer lovin are a few of my most favorite activities for soaking up sun in the city (and click HERE for some suggestions from the pros over at NY Magazine!)

* Check out a baseball game. NYC has 4 great teams to entertain you, the Mets, Yankees, Brooklyn Cyclones and Staten Island Yankees. While the majors are always exciting, a trip across the river on the (FREE!) Staten Island Ferry means an awesomely intimate and affordable ball game (check out THIS all-you-can eat deal for just $22) or maybe a date night of Brooklyn baseball and a ride on the Wonder Wheel is more your style? (Don't forget about Nathan's!)
* Dip your toes (or your entire body) in the Washington Square Park fountain. The water is filtered and treated so it's clean and ready for splashing!
* Drink al fresco. Click HERE for some oldies but goodies... Or use THIS guide and head up to the roof!
* Eat some Mr. Softee. The trucks are on every freakin corner... good luck resisting temptation!
* Visit the Central Park Zoo! With a small footprint inside Central Park, the zoo is extremely manageable for people with little kids (plus there's a great petting zoo) and you'll feel miles away from the city as you watch the sea lions, snow leopards and penguins do their thing (Note: Gus the Polar Bear hangs out in his air conditioning when it gets too hot!) 
* Walk along Hudson River Park. This park, spanning from Battery Park City to the George Washington Bridge is such a treat. There's lots of green space for lounging, a bike and running path, piers with playgrounds and water toys, free kayaking, mini golf, bike rentals and more! The park also hosts tons of events throughout the summer including free concerts, movies and fitness classes!
* Visit the Cloisters. This one is on my to do list, as I've never been to the Met's outpost near the northern tip of Manhattan island (on a hill overlooking the Hudson River!) Created through a Rockefellar grant, the art collection is housed in five French cloistered abbeys and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Hump Day Distractions

Nothin wrong with a little Junk in your Trunk!
Best feeling ever = sitting on the couch and realizing that tomorrow is not Tuesday, but already Wednesday! Thank you 3-day weekend for last night's joyous moment (even if you were unwelcomingly cold and rainy). Here to take you to the other side of this short week are some kickass distractions... enjoy!

* 100 hysterical reasons you should be watching the new episodes of Arrested Development on Netflix.
* For all you eye-patch wearing, sea fairing types... Ahoy matey!
* A new funky place to shop online (the "for him" section has me thinking Father's Day)
* Perfect for my imaginary summer house by the sea.
* Dr. H and I are planning a trip!!
* 14 photographers documenting how they see their children.
* And speaking of the kiddos, mine will definitely need a ton of THESE
* Wouldn't mind seeing this beauty on one of my fingers!
* How to be a rockstar host(ess) [via exPress-o]
* Some warm fuzzies for your Wednesday.
* What is with all these amazingly talented and creative spouses!?
* Can you imagine being in the car immediately behind THIS unmarked truck?
* Architectural FAIL.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

On Having a Bucket List.

Babs the Brave.

Yesterday my Mom went skydiving. Yes that's right, skydiving, as in voluntarily jumped out of a perfectly well-functioning airplane at 13,500 feet, only to fall fast and then glide slow all the way back down to earth. Fearless. Which is ironic, because my Mom is not typically the thrill-seeking type (a woman who once opted out of a family zip-lining trip in Costa Rica, she has certainly done a high-five worthy about face!) On this particular occasion however, Mom seized the gift certificate her daughters had purchased for her (after over a year of hearing "I'd love to go skydiving" we thought it was time to give her a nudge) and she jumped out of an airplane. Her exhilaration upon landing was adorable, endearing, exciting and empowering. "Just check this off my bucket list!" she exclaimed while making a gigantic check mark gesture... I think I was as proud of her as she was of herself. 

It was in this moment that I realized that bucket lists, or the pursuit of an adventure, experience, destination or challenge beyond our ordinary, are good for the soul. When looking at my mom's post-jump smile, I could tell she felt a truly unique sense of satisfaction - the type that only comes from accomplishing a seriously special task. And though it's much easier to come up with reasons not to pursue our lofty, silly or death-defying wish list items, life is simply too short not to shock even yourself every once in a while. So... what's on your bucket list?

Friday, May 24, 2013

Have a wonderful weekend!

In my mind, this is precisely what the weekend has in store
I am in complete denial. That little biotch Mother Nature appears to have a mostly grey and chilly few days in store for the New York area, but forecast be damned, I packed for 3 days of glorious 80 and sunny weather. My wedges and parrot print romper brilliance waits for no one (<-- actual outfit I plan to wear this weekend). Annnnyways... it's Memorial Day Weekend which means the (un)official start of summer (first fireworks of the season WOO!) So no matter the weather, I say bust out your white pants, throw another shrimp on the bar-be (hehe) and enjoy these bits and biddies from around the web on your way out the door. Happy Friday!!

* Cooked THIS recipe for dinner last night and it legit rocked my world (note: I sauteed some shrimp with salt, pepper and olive oil, then added them for a bit of protein)
* Friend of the blog Laur thinks we should ALL be making THESE for dessert this weekend. (Thanks Laur!)

Red White & Blue

Doesn't get much easier than sand in a pretty jar with some party-store purchases propped out the top.


Raspberry Ice Cubes

Add to a glass of white wine, put your pedicured toesies up and Ommm...

Gold Honey Bear Vase DIY from A Beautiful Mess
Honey Bear Flower Vase!
Learn how to make these adorable honey bear flower vases from your old honey bottles along with 51 other "Insanely Easy Ways to Transform Everyday Things" (Cue the "why didn't I think of thats" now!)

Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Healthy Habit of the Month V.

Would you like to get a closer look Ryan!?
This post is the fifth installment of SeektobeMerry's "Healthy Habit of the Month" series. Sourced from my bff's at Weight Watchers, online articles and my own efforts to keep fit and trim, throughout 2013, I will attempt to integrate one new healthy habit into my life each month. Join me!

How are we doing my fit and healthy friends? Five months into our "Healthy Habit of the Month" series, I hope you're all still with me because I'm actually starting to feel a bit fitter and healthier! Last month's challenge to "Keep Track" has had a huge impact on my activity and sleep habits (just ask Dr. H who had to endure me walking in circles in our living room at 11:30 last night - had to reach that daily step goal!) and though my accountability buddy and I need to rekindle our relationship, I'm still nailing it with at least once weekly workouts and kicking it up a notch in the fruits and veggies department. Tiny changes are starting to make a big difference and it feels really good! So what are we up to this month you ask?

Healthy Habit of the Month #5: Challenge yourself.
Last night I finished my first ever 30-day fitness challenge. Over the past month I adhered to THIS totally do-able 30-day Squat Challenge and holy crap... RESULTS!! In taking on the challenge, I decided that instead of trying to totally revamp my workout routine or suddenly commit to an aggressive fitness plan, the squat challenge seemed achievable and easy to squeeze into my normal day (because it's totally normal to be doing a quick 25 squats in the bathroom stall at work, I swear!) All kidding aside, these 30-day challenges which are all OVER Pinterest are really worth a try because they're do-able and the results are tangible. You can do anything for just 30 days and with 4th of July weekend just over one month away, its the perfect time to go for those  stronger, slimmer thighs and a tighter, higher booty!
30-day Squat Challenge HERE
30-day Crunch Challenge HERE (on Pinterest HERE)
30-day Burpee Challenge HERE (and how to do a proper burpee HERE)
30-day Squat/Crunch/Plank Challenge HERE (this is my next one, whose with me!?)
30-day Pushup/Squat/Plank Challenge HERE

And for previous Healthy Habit of the Month posts, click HEREHEREHERE and HERE!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Hump Day Distractions

Happy Birthday buddy!
Today is Wednesday. Not Thursday or Friday, but thankfully not Monday or Tuesday. We take what we can get right!? Let's cut to the chase and be distracted:

* How to make your very own Chipotle burrito bowl
* Did you know that children are our nation's poorest age group, with almost 25 percent of children under 5 living below the federal poverty level? Sad, but true. Learn more HERE.
* Oh man... I'm pissed off just watching this guy!
* Real estate gems from the Big Apple.
* The most beautiful places to get your yogi on.
* Some super chic sporty/swimy clothing from a recently discovered brand, perfect for all that scenic yoga you'll be doing (via exPress-o)
* My muffin tin never felt so essential.
* Sassy nails are even easier than you think!
* Just when you though Zach Galifianakis couldn't be any more amazing...
* So... this pole dancer just blew my mind (it gets good around the 1:20 mark)
* I am pretty sure I NEED this.
* I'll take the super pooper if it means I get to have that woman's body 
* These doggies are here to make you smile.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Celebri-quette.

Celeb Sighting.
On my recent flight to Atlanta, I had an encounter with greatness. Actually, it was with one-fifth of greatness, but greatness nevertheless. Sitting there in first class (as I wiggled my way past to coach) was Brian Littrell. I froze... I was in the presence of a Backstreet Boy. Heart racing, I made it to my seat and I made a decision. I tore out a blank page from the back of the book I was reading, found a pen and declared "I am going to get his autograph for J" (J being my bestest girl and someone who spent many years of her life certain that she would one day be Mrs. Brian Littrell). Dr. H was legitimately horrified. "That is wrong. So inappropriate. You CANNOT do that."

Perturbed by his response, I mulled it over. You see, New Yorkers pride themselves on a certain level of celebrity etiquette. The "knowing smile" is completely acceptable, even a quick "I'm a big fan of your work" is permitted, but making a scene, interrupting, requesting photos... that's something we leave to the amateurs (LA:). In NYC, we're not supposed to be too impressed, or maybe we're just keen to let celebs live their glamorous lives beside us because that makes everyone feel cool. I don't know where our "rules" come from, but what I did know was that I'd NEVER approached a celebrity requesting an autograph before and this was a faux pas I was willing to make. I wanted it that way and Dr. H was going to have to quit playing games with my heart.

So twice during the flight I made my way to the first class bathroom (curtain be damned!) with my book and pen in hand, but both times all I could do was gaze at Brian's angelic sleeping face. When we de-planed I hustled to baggage claim, willing Bri Guy (of course) to be waiting for some oversized bag, but alas he flew carry-on only (sorry J!) Now, much to Dr. H's approval, I'm back to my NYC etiquette, admiring stars only from afar... unless of course I encounter another member of BSB (ohmygod they're back agaaaaain), then all bets are off.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Just Dip It.

Let BBQ season commence!
Happy Monday my merry friends! I'm fresh off a great work/family combo visit to Atlanta and hoping you all enjoyed meeting the lovely (parent)thetically speaking while I was gone (and that your homes are now all filled with thick and chewy chocolate chip cookies!) Even though it's still an entire work week away, I'm already thinking about the gloriousness that is Memorial Day Weekend - early Friday office closure, Monday off, BBQ, swimming pool and all. A serious summer lover, NYC's recent cooler weather has distracted me from just how close my favorite season really is. And what better way to prep for your first official BBQ weekend of summer than by checking out a few dip recipes perfect for wow'ing your guests (or making you the MVP "I brought that appetizer" BBQ attendee)? Dip it here and waiting for that first tray of burgers and dogs to come off the grill won't be a big deal at all!

Dip numero uno.
Titled "Out of this World Corn Dip" this recipe requires only a few basic ingredients and makes a "ginormous" serving size. Plus, with the suggested vehicle of Frito Scoops instead of the expected potato or corn chip, I think it's safe to say this dip will blow minds. Click HERE for Pinterest and HERE for the full recipe.

Dip 2
Hot dips can definitely be tricky for a summer BBQ, but the "lighter" ingredients of this  ricotta-based baked dip (in particular the always summery lemon) make this a perfect pre-dinner treat. Enjoy with some whole grain crackers or a fresh baguette before moving on to grilled strip steak and vegetables (just a suggestion!) Pinterest HERE, full recipe HERE.

Still dipping!
I must confess, whenever I serve queso, it comes right out of a jar, but this simple queso blanco dip seems like some seriously next level cheesy goodness. The extra effort will be worth it when people are licking the inside of the serving bowl clean (not that I've ever done that before!) On Pinterest HERE and full recipe HERE.

Veggie delight
Lastly, I thought I'd share this basic serving idea as an alternative to the standard crudite tray. Though not exactly environmentally friendly, these individual veggie-and-dip cups mean people don't have to linger near a platter and double dipping is a complete non-issue. Leave a tray of naked veggies and more dip next to these pre-made cups so people can easily come back for refills!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Cookie Quest (more like a day trip)

When I found out I was pregnant, 2 (apparently pregnancy made me very specific) concerns crossed my mind after the initial crying, hugging and excitement – I’m going to have to get this baby out and if I’m going to be a mom I have to have a recipe for super yummy chocolate chip cookies. I had 7ish months to worry about labor, so I pushed (ha!) that thought way down deep. That left the cookies. Cookies I could do. So I set out to find the perfect recipe.

Now, nothing against Nesley Tollouze (Phoebe anyone?!) but those cookies just don’t do it for me. I wanted something soft and chewy, with some height to it. I let Google be my guide, recipe comments and reviews narrowed down the field of contenders. The first one I decided to try was from a cookbook, Baking Illustrated, published by Cooks Illustrated. Side note, as a baker (I use this term loosely) I love this cookbook. It’s full of information (the difference between all the types of flour, why baking soda is important, what brown sugar does for a recipe vs. white sugar) and when you take the dust jacket off, the cover is smooth and soft, it makes me want to run my hands over it constantly, but then I’m just alone in my kitchen, caressing a book, so maybe that’s not the best thing.

Long story short (too late!) – this recipe was perfection. There were a few steps that seemed a little high maintenance but these steps proved to be vital to the outcome. I felt a little conflicted that my quest for the perfect cookie was over so quickly, but it was, and I had a tray full of warm cookies, so I got over it just as quickly. Gooey and chewy with mounds of chocolate chips, after starting a bite, it actually takes a few seconds for your teeth to meet again. They are the opposite of the flat, crisp cookies B.P.R. (Before Perfect Recipe). Milk is an absolute requirement – but dunking is a personal preference, these cookies need no softening agent. (for me, milk is such an important part of cookie-eating that at our wedding we had cookies served with milk in shot glasses). These cookies are requested anytime I offer to bring dessert, or for such important occasions as It’s a Wednesday Night. 

The recipe is below (do it) – if you decide to try them (do it), I hope that you eat them all right away and then make them again to share.

Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies - For Full Recipe, CLICK HERE

This post brought to you by the fabulous (parent)thetically speaking. 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Introducing...

Meet Ms. (parent)thetically speaking!!
Friends… today is a most exciting day! After nearly 17 months and somewhere around 365 posts from Ms. Merry Meri alone, I thought it was about time I brought in some fabulous friends to share in the fun. Now this idea is somewhat self-serving (5 posts a week is A LOT I tell ya!) but it’s mostly all for you – a chance to hear more voices and share this happy little space with a few ladies who can bring new and exciting things to Seek to be Merry. So, without further ado, I would like to introduce my dear friend E, also known as (parent)thetically speaking who will be stopping by once a month to share some merriment with all of you. Today we’ll have a little “meet n greet” and tomorrow you’ll get your first taste (literally) of guest blogger goodness! Enjoy!!

Hi! I’m E and I’m married to my high school sweetheart A and we have 2 really, quite adorable children, J and H (I am totally biased, but it’s still the truth). In the past 5 years, I’ve gotten engaged, married, moved 5 times, left my job, had a baby, bought a house, and had another baby (so take that, job interviewer circa 2006 – that’s where I see myself in 5 years!). I get stupidly happy when I make a yummy meal, or bake a treat, or decorate (some days I settle for straightening) a room, or manage to keep a plant alive, or re-read a Harry Potter book, or wear stripes, or dream about going to Paris or watch The West Wing. My true joy though lies with J and H, and it’s ridiculous how many clich├ęs come to mind when I think about them (my greatest accomplishments, happiest moments of my life, heart walking around outside my body, blah blah blah, it’s gross). I’ll be sharing little snippets of the things that make me happy (merry, if you will) – hope you enjoy.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Hump Day Distractions

Just keep swimming, just keep swimming...
...what do we do? We swim, swim, swim! All the way to Friday right!? Another weekly grind, another hearty serving of Hump Day Distractions for your clicking pleasure. PLUS, there's something new and totally freaking awesome coming to the blog tomorrow, so get excited and until then, distract yourself here: 

* THIS Mom totally rocks my socks off.
* 12 hours in ______. (everything you need to know)
* As if being an astronaut wasn't awesome enough, THIS dude is taking space travel to the next level of cool.
* Game on breakfast.
* For your favorite "Face Farmer" and his offspring (bookmarked for an eventual lil merry kiddo of course).
* Don't let your desk job drag your fitness routine down!
* If I ever have to leave NYC, at least I will know where to go.
* I am a size 7.5 and my birthday is in July. Who's buying?
* Thanks to Sis for sending this dance-tastic routine my way.
* The world is such an incredibly beautiful place.
* This one has made the rounds, but just in case you missed it, these parents are my heroes.
* I'd like to think that Dr. H and I would handle THIS the exact same way (but we'd be singing Journey of course!)

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Book Club for Cool Kids

Reading is cool!
When I tell people I’m in a book club, I’m almost always met with skeptical faces. It’s like I’m being challenged to prove that book clubs aren’t just for dorks. I assure you, they aren’t, and while I’ve always thought that reading is cool, here are 5 ways to ensure your book club is a most awesome good time: 

(1) Rotate who hosts and who picks the books. One of my favorite things about my book club is that each month someone different hosts and the host gets to select the book we read. This ensures that no one has to travel to an inconvenient location all the time and that different tastes determine our monthly read.
(2) Bring thematic food (and drink!). Any time you add snacks and a glass of wine, conversation is sure to pick up a notch, but a thematic meal takes the fun even further. Try selecting a theme which matches the book somehow, whether it be culturally, seasonally or related to a character, and fill your plates potluck style - with each member committing in advance to bring something different. Doing this, I’ve enjoyed everything from Middle Eastern cuisine to “circus treats”.
(3) Try to mix genres. Maybe your book club wants to read exclusively science fiction. If so, awesome, but for many clubs, variety is going to be key.  Not only does my club rotate “book-selector”, but we’ve read everything from the classics to diatribes by comedians. We intentionally mix it up to suit moods, workloads and the time of year (a 500-page historical novel might not be the best pick for July!)
(4) Talk about the book, but not too much. Most people don’t want to feel like they’re doing homework when preparing for book club. Though you want to discuss the book you’ve read (thanks to Google, finding book club discussion questions has never been easier) make sure you aren’t so fixated on the book that people don’t have a chance to catch up and enjoy one another’s company.
(5) Pick the right people. Putting together a cool book club requires cool people, whatever your definition of “cool” may be. Throwing together people with nothing in common may make it tough to enjoy your monthly meetings or it may make discussion vibrant and interesting. Whoever you choose, make sure they fit the vibe of the book club you’re trying to create and can be counted on to attend with some regularity. Just like most other things in life, reading is always better if you can do it with friends.

Monday, May 13, 2013

There's an App for that.

Apps for evvvvverything
I got my first iPhone about 6 months ago and I'm still amazed by the seeming limitlessness of the tiny computer I'm carrying around in my purse. With one swipe of my finger I can feed my social media addiction, while consulting a map and checking the weather, asking google a question and buying movie tickets. My phone is like a portal to the entire freaking universe (literally, that time I had it showing me star maps by holding it up to the sky blew.my.mind.) so I thought I'd share with you some of my most favorite free Apps.

Yahoo! Weather
Yahoo! Weather
Everyone's iPhone comes with the little Apple weather icon pre-loaded, but the Yahoo! Weather App blows Apple's out of the water. With more detailed forecasts, a small blurb, radar, wind and sun rise/set times all embedded into the app, this is the next best thing to having Al Roker in your pocket.

*Google Search
Google Search
This app is what I imagined using Siri would be like (Siri ends up just searching Google for 90% of what I ask anyway). Simply click open the app and type or speak ANYTHING for an instant google search. This app also direct links to Google Maps (way better than Apple Maps) for easy navigation anywhere with cell service.

* Pic Stitch
Pic Stitch
Want to make a bunch of your iPhone photos into a nifty little collage!? Pic Stitch has a ton of basic layouts to choose from and plenty of filters, effects and editing tools ideal for perfecting your images. Collages can be emailed or uploaded to any type of social media so get sharing!

* RunKeeper
RunKeeper
I freaking LOVE this app. The basic function of RunKeeper is a gps tracker and stopwatch for your workouts. After logging a workout, the app provides a comprehensive summary of your route and pace for each mile traveled (total and splits). Perfect for training for a race, mapping out new runs or simply monitoring your speed, RunKeeper is an app all fitness fanatics should have on their phone.

* Flashlight
Flashlight
It's a flashlight, in  your pocket, ALL the time. Why not?

* Bloglovin
Bloglovin
If you're a multiple-blogs-a-day reader like myself, then you need to be using Bloglovin. This app (affiliated with www.bloglovin.com) is an aggregator of all the blogs you tell it to follow.  New posts show up in your personalized feed and mobile-friendly formatting makes reading a pleasure. 

* Netflix/HBOGo 
Both of these apps can be a real data-suck, so be sure you're connected to wifi when using, but other than that, holy crap are these guys GREAT. After logging into your personal accounts, stream ANY tv show or movie available on Netflix or HBO OnDemand and never worry about being bored again.

* Fandango
Fandango.
I use this app way more than I'd ever have expected. Locate the theater closest to your current location or a selected zip code, see what's playing, buy tickets (skip printing at the theater, the barcode loads right to your phone!) read reviews... this app does everything but pop your popcorn.

Honorable Mentions: Goodreads (see what friends are reading (and what their review) by browsing this awesome book sharing app); FlyDelta (Not too shabby for an airline, this app is perfect for tracking your flight, loading a mobile boarding pass and receiving personalized travel updates); OneKingsLane, Etsy, Urban Outfitters (shopping so easy it's dangerous); Soundhound/Shazam (all you have to do is open the app and let it listen, then you'll never have to ask "what song is this?" again); Sporkle (trivia games in your pocket); Bump (transfer photos from your phone to computer or to another phone simply by tapping your phone against the space bar/other phone); Also, obviously Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest for all your social media distracting pleasure.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Hey Mama!

Grace.
Audrey.
Jackie.
To the glamorous, devoted, loving and kind; to my Mom, my Nanny, my Mom-in-Laws and our Nana; to young Mamas just getting the hang of things and seasoned pros whose babies now have babies of their own... Thank you. 
A most Happy Mother's Day to you all.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Hair, there and everywhere

Rain rain go away.
Today is (another) one of those days when having hair, like, at all, is a pain in the patooty. I have literally gone through 3 different styles (bun was too flat, pony was too poufy, messy and down is just right?!) desperate to make something presentable out of the pouring rain, humid, misty mess on my head. Though I generally love my hair (It never puts on weight! It can always be changed!) my naturally curly(ish) coif ends up frizzy and lifeless when the weather does not cooperate. Since I know I'm not alone in my quest to keep my mane looking good, I thought I would share some favorite products and styles with my merry friends.
Bumble and bumble - Surf Spray
Beach in a bottle
This product is the best addition to my hair regime that I've had in a long time. Bumble and Bumble Surf Spray is applied to your hair right out of the shower (you don't even need to brush it, just towel dry) and the instructions are literally like "apply, crunch around, stand in wind". I'm amazed at the genuinely beachy look this product gives my hair and it is perfect to use when you're in a rush, or on a day like today when wet weather renders styling useless. 
Pros: Gives hair great body, creates a convincingly post-day-at-the-beach style perfect for summer (also rainy days) and requires less than 5 minutes styling time
Cons: The spray is salt-water based, so your hair does feel a bit dry after use. I wouldn't recommend daily application

Tons of products to choose from
Growing up, I used Biosilk to tame fly-aways and give my hair extra shine, but I've recently become a Moroccan Oil convert. Moroccan Oil smells amazing, and the tiniest amount (literally, less than dime sized for my mid-back length hair) reduces frizz and creates gorgeous shine. I apply the basic oil treatment after straightening for a glossy finish or after making barrel or kinky-curls to reduced the fuzz/flyaway halo that humidity or wind can create.
Pros: Gives hair gorgeous shine, an amazing smell (that lasts ALL day) and reduces frizz without creating oily hair (also, lasts FOREVER because you need so little per use)
Cons: VERY easy to overdo it. The little glass bottles don't have a dispenser meaning the oil sometimes flows out in amounts far larger than what's needed. DO NOT use too much or you'll look greasy

Knot Hairstyle (with photo instructions!)
Style-a-knot
Having a few go-to updo's for your hair is an awesome way to avoid ponytail fatigue. I've found that the key to these "everyday" styles is that they must be genuinely easy to execute otherwise you'll get frustrated/run late for work/never even attempt them. I LOVE the "knots" style featured above as well as the messy buns looks pictured below (just divide your hair into 2-3 sections and secure 2-3 messy buns with bobby pins in the back). Tricks to remember - when styling your hair, brushes are the enemy. If your hair is too smooth or clean, it won't hold a style as well (making easy updos a great option for non-wash days). I also sometimes cheat and use damp hair because it's so NOT smooth that it's easier to secure. Check out a few other fun/easy styles HERE, HERE and HERE
Pros: Unique (compliments abound on updo days), easy and fast
Cons: Practice makes perfect. Definitely take a new updo for a test drive BEFORE the morning you want to pull it off.

You accessorize your neck, ears, fingers and wrists, why not your hair!? I'm amazed at how a boring high bun or ponytail takes on new life by simply applying a colorful flower, hairband, scarf or pretty clip. Small accessories can add so much to your outfit and low-price point options abound at places like H&M and Forever 21. Next time you're desperate to get your hair from blah to beautiful, clip in a little something fun!