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Posted by on Dec 31, 2011 in Books, Featured, Food and Drink, Products, Reviews and Giveaways, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Best of 2011

Best of 2011

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Last year I had some fun posting about my “Top 5” ‘s in books, movies, recipes, and products. Ever since I watched the movie, “High Fidelity” I have been a tad bit obsessed with “Top 5’s.” (Fun sidetrack…Check out this list of all the Top 5’s from the movie thanks to Music Snobbery.)I also love giving people recommendations and pointing people towards new things. This post is extra fun for me as I get to recommend things specifically for my peers….Usually when I write up a review, 99% of the time, it is something geared towards a child. While I adore getting that opportunity, there is something to be said for sharing the things you love with your friends. So, take these lists as a version of  “Bekki’s Favorite Things” and just pretend that we’re sitting at a cozy table inside a Starbucks sipping almond lattes and relishing that we’re out while our husbands are putting the kids to bed….These are the things I would tell my friends about…the books I’d make them check out at the library…the movies I’d have them put in their Netflix queue…the things I’d tell them to put in their shopping cart….the food I’d prepare for them at a party….This is Chasing Supermom unplugged….There are no sponsors…no obligations…no keywords to mention or websites to push…These are simply the things I loved the most from the past year, and I’m happy to share them with you. Enjoy!!

Books

1. Matched by Ally Condie

This is the first book in a three part trilogy. (I also LOVED the second book, Crossed. The third sadly, is not yet named and will not be released until November of next year…augh the agony of waiting for good books!) While geared towards the young adult audience, if you were at all a fan of The Hunger Games, The Uglies series, or any other type of utopian/dystopian fiction, you will really enjoy this trilogy.

 

2. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

I’ll admit that I have a thing for utopian/dystopian society books, and this falls right into that category. The book centers around Offred, a handmaid to the Commander. She is allowed to leave her home once a day, and must hope and pray each month that the Commander makes her pregnant. Used only as vessels of fertility, the handmaids are forbidden from free communication, and do not have access to books, leisure activities, etc. Society has become totalitarian in nature, and the former system of government is no more. Offred (Of Fred) remembers her life prior to becoming a handmaid, and the husband and child she had to give up. What makes this story even more compelling, was that it was not set in the distant past or the far-off future…The society discussed in the book is during a time period not vastly different than our own. A very compelling and thought-provoking read.

3. Bossypants by Tina Fey

Sometimes, we just need a light and enjoyable read…We need to laugh. We need to be able to read for five  minutes and just find a spot of humor…I laughed out loud several times throughout the book, and found Tina’s stories and anecdotes to be interesting and amusing. While I think that fans of 30 Rock or Saturday Night Live will enjoy this book more than the average reader (simply due to a large portion of the book centering around stories from those parts of her life), I think anyone that wants a quick and enjoyable read would like this book. I also enjoyed Tina’s honesty as a woman and a mother…adopting much of the philosophy I try to promote here at Chasing Supermom…that how you parent is okay, no  matter what that looks like. She is honest and open about motherhood, and much of the book reads like one of my The Confessional posts.

4.In Their Own Way by Thomas Armstrong

Earlier this year, about the only books I was reading were books that related to my professional certification in teaching (a hoop and 9 credits of tedious coursework teachers graduating after 1999 must complete in order to keep their license.) I focused part of my studies on the theory of multiple intelligence, made popular by Dr. Howard Gardner. This book makes the theory relatable and understandable for everyone, and helps parents discover what unique giftings and intelligences their own child possesses. Gardner and Armstrong posit that society is wrong in their view of intelligence, meaning that there is NOT just one way to “be smart.” There are 8 different intelligences, and while we all have a part of each, each of us is stronger in one or two of the areas. This book will help you discover your child’s strengths and teach you how to develop them. There are lots of great resources for parents, and this is definitely worth a read.

 5. The Giver by Lois Lowry

I still cannot believe that I waited until age 30 to read this book…especially being a teacher! Yes, this book falls into the utopian/dystopian genre, but I understand now why this is considered a light-classic, or a “must-read” for young adults (or regular adults in my opinion.) While I wasn’t thrilled with the last third of the book, I find this book has much to offer in the way of perspective shifting and reflection. This is definitely a book ripe with discussion questions, and well worth the read. The book centers around Jonas, who lives in a society free of pain, but also free of choice…of real love…Each person is given a specific role within the community, and the role Jonas is given will not only change his life, but could also change his community.

Products

1. Johnson’s Vapor Bath

I cannot say enough good things about this product. When little ones get a cold, there isn’t much you can do. When babies and children are stuffed up, aside from putting a humidifier in their room and feeding them lots of hot soup and orange juice, we as mothers can end up feeling pretty helpless.  When I discovered Johnson’s Vapor Bath, I was thrilled. Just pouring some of this vapor bath in with the warm bath water does wonders…You can literally feel  the difference instantly. The vapor bath is packed with soothing menthol and eucalyptus and REALLY helps open up those stuffy noses. My kids love their “medicine baths” and I love that such a small thing can actually bring some relief. Try it!

2.Baby Mum Mums

I will be mentioning these again shortly in my favorite baby products post, but I cannot tell you how much I love these little crunchy baby snacks. I wish I had known about these before I got to baby #3! These are rice crackers that are very easily dissolved, yet also great for babies who are teething. My favorite thing about Baby Mum Mums is that it offers me a quick solution when my little one is hungry for a snack, and I’m short on time. When I don’t have time to cut up fruit or slice up some cheese, all I have to do is pull  out a pack of Mum Mums, and Harry is one happy boy. These are about $3 a box, but well worth the money in my opinion.


3. Krusteaz Muffin Mix

Muffins are a hot commodity at our house. I seriously cannot keep them around. Nearly minutes after I bake up a dozen, they will be gone. All five of us love them, and I find that they make the perfect grab and go breakfast to send with my daughter and husband on their way to school/work. I absolutely love the Krusteaz muffin mixes, due to their price, ease, speed, and flavor. I can literally wake up in the morning, take 2 minutes to mix up a batch of the mix, and have hot and fresh muffins to serve my family for breakfast. Most of the mixes only require adding water! (A few require an egg.) These are SO super simple, and taste delicious! My favorite flavors are Almond Poppyseed (tastes JUST like a Costco muffin), and Cranberry Orange. Pick up a box or two the next time you’re out!!

4. Mr. Clean with Febreze (Concentrated Bottle)

This product made my list last year as well…but what can I say? I LOVE it! Not only does this product smell amazing (seriously, your house smells awesome after you clean!), but it works! I could NOT do my 30 Minutes to a Clean Home System without it! If you buy the large bottle of concentrate, you will find that it really lasts! You can make so many bottles of amazing cleaner with it. You MUST buy this all-purpose cleaner. I use it DAILY in my kitchen, the bathroom, in my mop, on the walls….best cleaner ever.

5. Kirkland Chocolate Covered Raisins

Okay, this is a bit silly…and may be the product of a pregnant lady’s early cravings…BUT, trust me…these are THE BEST chocolate covered raisins I have EVER had. My husband bought a tub of these for my birthday, and oh.my.word. Seriously addictive and SUPER good.

 

Movies *I find myself really struggling with this category this year. We didn’t watch many movies this year, and most of the movies that we did watch were NOT released in 2011. (We NEVER get to the theater, so much of what we put in our Netflix queue is just catch-up from the year before!) Towards that end, I don’t feel comfortable suggesting five movies to you…I’ve been through my rental history, asked my husband, and really…there just aren’t any real stand-outs for me. I will give you my list of movies I did enjoy….though most are not from 2011.

 1. The Help

This book made my list of Top 5 books last year (and is currently in my Top 5 of all time list), and I was delighted with the movie. Rarely do I find that a movie even comes close to doing a book justice, but I found this movie to be amazingly well done. I laughed. I cried. I found myself falling in love with all of the characters all over again. Here’s my advice. First, READ THE BOOK. Then, head out and watch this movie!!

Others

As I browsed through my Netflix rental history, there were a few movies we watched this year that I really enjoyed more than others…Some are fairly old and those of you much more on the pulse of current movies will think this is old news…

The Social Network, Inglorious Basterds (which I always thought would be boring, or just plain terrible since I’m not a Tarantino fan, but really…this was just plain good…deserved to win the Oscar), Due Date (although since I am a pastor’s wife, I feel like I should forewarn you that there is a fair amount of bad language), and The Next Three Days….There were a few other movies we REALLY loved right up until the end…Source Code, Up in the Air, and The Adjustment Bureau were all really compelling and interesting…We just didn’t care for the endings…

Recipes
1. “Olive Garden”Fettuccine

Yum. Holy buttery, so-bad-for-you, deliciousness. I was so delighted that this copy-cat recipe actually tasted pretty darn close to the real thing (and it was easy to make!) This was seriously amazing, and just re-visiting the recipe is making me hungry…You must make this…(and then become friends with your treadmill.) (PS- It’s worth it.)

2. Grilled Summer Succotash

I whipped out my grilling skills this past fourth of July and made this oh so good succotash. I was not disappointed. This is the perfect summer recipe and an awesome way to showcase fresh garden veggies. I am always looking for ways to use my squash and corn, and LOVED the smoky grill flavor coupled with the fresh taste of summer produce.

3. Soft Herbed Potato Roll

This was the grand prize winner from the Idahoan Cooking Challenge I hosted on my blog earlier in 2011. I have a slight obsession with bread and roll recipes, and have made dozens. These rolls were seriously some of the best I have ever made. I loved the subtle herb and garlic flavor and the soft buttery consistency of these tasty little yeast rolls. I hope you will add these to your recipe collection and make them for someone you love this year!

4. Home-made Doughnuts

I have ALWAYS wanted to make my own doughnuts. (When I was little,  I briefly wanted to be a “doughnut shop lady.”) I always thought doughnuts would be really hard, or that they wouldn’t come out quite right. When I tried this recipe, I was blown away…Not only did this recipe make A TON, but these doughnuts were SO good…I mean, addictingly good. Krispy Kreme needs to watch it’s back…

5. Ciabatta Cheese Bread

I honestly think about this bread often….(sad I know..) This is so amazingly delicious, and such a crowd-pleaser. This is quick to put together, and yet, so very tasty. Seriously, how can you go wrong with good bread, butter, garlic, and cheese??!

 

Thank you SO much for another great year! I look forward to sharing with you in 2012!!!

 

*Top graphic courtesy of tunedr.blogspot.com

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