Friday, November 21, 2014

Friday Coffee

Remember back in the day when I had a Friday Faves post every week just listing my favorite images I'd come across? Well, I've decided to bring it back but a tad different. With the exception of today, each Friday morning moving forward I'll post "Friday Coffee." This is going to be a compilation of content that I've come across in the last week: links, food, celebrity news, etc. I'll also include some events coming up in the next week that I think are fun and interesting. I've been thinking about doing something like this for a while so I'm really excited to officially kick it off. Grab a cup of coffee for that afternoon energy kick and read on!


Links
Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash from Heat Oven to 350
A Guide to Hashtags, Every Day of the Week from PopSugar
What to Splurge on in Europe from World of Wanderlust
5 Ways I've Increased My Blog Traffic from The Daily Tay
Thanksgiving Side Dish Round Up from Beneath the Chandelier
Christmas is in the Air Linkup Is Back from Southern Beauty Guide

Happenings
Chicago: The BMO Harris Bank Magnificent Mile Lights Festival is this Saturday! I have a lot of memories from this event. It's the perfect way to kick off the holidays. The Tree Lighting Parade will be from 5:30pm - 7:30pm Saturday, 11/22 on Michigan Avenue from Oak Street to Wacker Drive.

ChicagoThe Chicago Italian Film Festival starts today and goes through Thanksgiving. Visit the website for pricing information and a schedule of screenings. Being the Italian I am, I'm planning on catching at least one of these films.

St. Charles, IL: The Harvest Restaurant at Pheasant Run Inn and Resort is hosting a Sparkling Wine Dinner every Thursday through December 18th. See the menu here. I was lucky enough to enjoy their beer pairing menu in October and I'm hoping to try and make it out for the Sparkling Wine Dinner as well. The dinner is a 4 course meal priced at $35 not including tax and tip. Please call to make a reservation: 800-4-PHEASANT

Celebs & Hollywood
Selena Gomez had two songs leak this week! Both are reportedly about Justin Bieber but I honestly don't see how that's a surprise since he's been such a huge part of your life. You can't help who you love. "Do It" is super processed and I'm not a huge fan but "My Dilemma 2.0 (For You)" is freaking amazing! Listen to the latter below:
Source: E! News


Britney Spears appeared in Part 8 of "Celebrities Read Mean Tweets" on Jimmy Kimmel and cracks up reading a pretty insulting tweet. I love her. This video is hilarious so I recommend letting yourself have a laugh.
Source; ABC News

The Pitch Perfect 2 Trailer is finally out and you should all be pumped!


If you have any "Happenings" that you'd like to be included in future Friday Faves, feel free to email me at lifewithasideofcoffee {at} gmail {dot} com for consideration.

Christmas Is In the Air With Southern Beauty Guide and Me!!

Happy Friday! If you've been following me for a while you know two things. I'm really good friend with Chelsee from Southern Beauty Guide and I love Christmas. You may have even participated in our link up last year. For those that are new, here is a bit of history on this linkup! This started last year due to our Christmas spirit, we texted back and forth and both fell in love with the idea of this linkup. I don't host a ton of link ups but I am so excited to bring it back for a second year. 

Starting next week, we are encouraging all of you to link up in four posts with special themes or topics. We decided to start this linkup a week early this year so that we would not have a linkup week that landed that closely to Christmas. Are you going to join?? I know we can't wait to read all of your posts!
Linkup

Let's start with the themes and dates. The link up will begin on the date listed for that week (all are Wednesdays) but feel free to link up when you have a free day:

Week 1 - November 26th: Holiday Gift Guide. Whether it's your own personal wish list or ideas for people you'll be gifting to this year, put together a fun gift guide for this holiday season.

Week 2 - December 3rd: Holiday Movies. Share your favorite holiday movies. Include pictures, clips, whatever you'd like.

Week 3 - December 10th: A Foodie's Christmas. Share a recipe you'll be making for the holidays or share what a typical Christmas dinner looks like for you. 

Week 4 - December 17th: Christmas Beauty or Fashion. Share makeup and fashion that you will be wearing for Christmas.

And now for the rules:
1. Follow Life With A Side Of Coffee and Southern Beauty Guide
2. Write a post that goes along with the theme of the week and link up with us.
3. Visit a few other linked up posts. Share the love people!
4. Make a new friend. That's the best part of these anyway. This is more of a perk than a rule :)


So are you going to join Chelsee and I? Grab the button above to share in your posts. 
The link up starts next week! We hope to see all of you there!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Fall TV Finale: State of Affairs

source: Google Images
source: Google Images - TVLine
A few weeks ago, I was going crazy with a Fall TV series. Premieres were debuting constantly and I could barely keep up with them to give reviews within just a few days. Monday marked the final show premiere. I can't believe fall is pretty much over! It was so much fun though and I can't wait to do it again next year. The final show I'll be recapping is State of Affairs with Katherine Heigl. I'm so glad to have her back on TV. Izzy leaving Grey's Anatomy was a low blow but it gave us a string of fun, romantic comedies that varied from sexy to downright cheesy. State of Affairs is a whole new role for her and she plays it well.

Charlie Tucker is an ex-CIA field agent who recently experienced a traumatic business trip gone wrong. Her finance, also the President's son, was murdered by a terrorist group when their convoy was brought under attack. We don't know all of the details of that night but we're beginning to learn. Charlie is now the daily briefer to the President and targets the most critical threats the country is facing each day. She has impeccable decision making skills. If there is a person who has this job in real life, I do not envy them their responsibility. In the year since the attack, Charlie has gained respect in her position at work but has also taken on irresponsible behaviors out of the office. To deal with the memories she's repressed, she drinks, parties and sleeps around to numb the pain. 
source: Google Images - TV Equals

It's safe to say that this season we will walk with Charlie through her destructive path, see her begin to recover from it all while kicking ass in the office. There will be ups and downs and a lot of drama and danger. She's getting text messages from someone who seems to know what happened the night of the attack and I'm interested to find out who it is and more importantly, what happened. She has a lot of connections and and a lot of people that come out of the woodwork. This is the only political show that I watch currently and I'm happy I chose this one to be it. Katherine Heigl is amazing as Charlie Tucker and Alfre Woodward is a hardballer as President of the United States. Two great women, one great show.

Are you watching State of Affairs? What do you think?



Here is a recap of all the premieres I reviewed this fall:
Constantine

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Nick Jonas' Self-Titled Album Review

source: Google Images - Wikipedia
I'm going to completely fangirl out today. Remember like seven years ago when the Jonas Brothers were "the" band and everyone was head over heels in love with them? Well, I was one of those girls and still am. I just love their music and they're super cute. There's nothing else to it sadly. A few years ago, Joe Jonas came out with his solo album and recently Nick Jonas followed suit. He's been heavily promoting this baby for a while and I have been ever so patiently awaiting. I'm sure I'm not the only one who's been enjoying the promo photos of him either. If he never puts a shirt on again, I'm sure every girl will be happy. I want to quickly take you through the album. It's actually really, really good.

When Joe Jonas released Fastlife, it was similar to the music he recorded with his brothers but it had an edgier feel to it. It was pop rock and a great album even if it didn't get a ton of attention. Several of the songs are on my workout playlists and a I had a few on Chill playlists too. To be honest, I was expecting the same thing from Nick. I was pleasantly surprised to discover his album was much more soulful. I would still call it pop but with a very heavy lean towards R&B especially songs like "Chains" and "Numb." I love that he went out of the box with the gospel version of "Jealous" too. That's not on the album but you have to watch the video. The original song is upbeat, catchy and a great song for a workout playlist.



Other more upbeat songs that I enjoy are "Teacher" which has a somewhat classic feel to it. It sounds something from the 80s or early 90s which is really interesting. "Wilderness" is really catchy and had a great beat. "I Want You" is the typical, upbeat love song on the album and "Take Over" is perfect for a girls' night playlist. It's a great dance song and it shows off his falsetto. I would say this is a great radio song too. Summer 2015! The ballads on the album are "Warning," "Push," "Avalanche," "Nothing Would Be Better," "Santa Barbara" and "Closer." I love the refrain on "Warning." The song is about breaking some one's walls down to get inside and be open. "Push" is a little less easy-going. It's heartfelt but subtly angry. You can feel the frustration in his voice. "Nothing Would Be Better" is about broken love and has a great climactic ending. Most of the song is pretty soft so the ending gives you goosebumps. "Santa Barbara" is super laid back and sounds almost fully acoustic. It's very simple and stripped which I love and admire. I wish more artists would do songs like this. Last but not least, "Avalanche." This is my absolute favorite song off the album. It's a duet with Demi Lovato who I am also a huge fan of. Their voices together are pure gold. This song leans more towards the pop spectrum compared to the rest of the album but their voices are crystal clear. It gives me butterflies in my stomach just talking about this song.



Have you heard Nick Jonas' new self-titled album? What do you think? Any albums dropping soon that you're excited for?

Monday, November 17, 2014

Pairing Wine & Movies: Part 2 - 2013 Relevé Rosé

*This post contains referral links
Last week, I introduced you guys to a new series that I'm doing, Movie and Wine Pairings! This has become, by far, one of my most favorite projects in blogging history. I love blending pop culture with anything I can think of and what better than wine? This week I drank the second bottle in my first ClubW box, a rosé. I immediately felt that a blush wine should be paired with a romantic comedy but the question was, which one. There are so many really great romcoms out there. My Zia Tia suggested Something's Gotta Give which was going to be the winner until I found Crazy Stupid Love under my bed. There was no going back from there. This was a match made in heaven.
Let's talk about the wine now. The rosé I received was a 2013 Relevé Rosé from Costières de Nîmes, France with a Strawberry Signature Scent. ClubW says, "If there's one thing the French have mastered, it's the delicious pink drink that is Rosé - and this bottle is the epitome of their chic style. Graceful and refined, Relevé Rosé will rise to any daytime occasion and offer up a taste of Costières de Nîmes' classic Grenache-Syrah blend in lovely peony pink. Take Relevé for a pirouette around the glass and experience a beautiful blend of strawberry, white cranberry and bubblegum flavors while admiring as she gracefully balances with juicy, full-flavored texture with the characteristically bone-dry French finale. Why you'll love it: While the est of France was witnessing the weather's destruction of their 2013 Grenache harvest (a very important grape for Southern Rhône wines), Costières de Nîmes was favored with perfect growing conditions. This is a classic French-style rosé made out of a classic Southern French blend of grapes.

I liked this wine a lot better than the Sauvignon Blanc from last week. It was a bit sweeter with a clean finish. To be fair though, I've been on a rosé kick lately. It's been my wine of choice. Anyway, this was very well-balanced. There was a very strong flavor from the white cranberries and a subtle finish with the strawberry. I don't see where they get bubblegum flavors but they were dead on with the other two. It was very smooth and paired really well with a chocolate brownie. I couldn't resist a treat. This was a great drink for a lazy Sunday afternoon while it was freezing outside and snowing. It paired perfectly with the movie, just as I predicted. I have a feeling that anytime I watch a romcom from now on, I'll be drinking a glass of rosé. What about you?


Let me know what your suggestions are for a Spanish Red Wine next week! I have a few ideas but I want to see what all of you think. I'll be giving shout-outs to my favorite ideas! Join ClubW today to get a box of really great wines like I do.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Love With Food October Review: Monster Mash

I am literally writing this little intro and running. We're about to go out for a family brunch. Anyway, last month's Love With Food Box was interesting to say the least. I have no idea what the title of the box has to do with the actual snacks but hey, I'm not complaining. there was only one snack in last month's box that I didn't like and that was no surprise considering I can't stand jelly beans. Bravo Love With Food! This is definitely one of your best boxes yet. What did you guys think of October's box? 
Organic Jelly Beans by Surf Sweets @SurfSweets
What LVF Says: Trick or Treat! These jelly beans are packed with Vitamin C and real fruit flavor. (Gluten Free, Non-GMO, Organic) 

What I Say: To be honest, I don't like jelly beans. Everything from the super sweetness to the texture grosses me out. I tried each color in this bag but I only thought one was decent. 

Honey Almond Nut Butter by Justin's @Justins
What LVF Says: Any witch's brew that includes the protein packed Justin's Honey Almond Butter is bound to make even Dracula smile! (Gluten Free, Organic)

What I Say: I love Justin's. Their butters are fresh, packed with flavor and made with only good ingredients. I like being able to eat their peanut butter out of the jar without having to be conscious about the calories and preservatives.


Cinnamon and Sugar Bananinha Banana Bar by Nutryvitta
What LVF Says: Trick or treat...Go bananas with this banana, cinnamon and sugar bar. We think it tastes better than candy! (Non-GMO, Organic)
What I Say: I didn't like this snack at all. I don't typically like banana anything unless it's a straight up banana. This was no exception. The actual bar was pretty bland with a sweet aftertaste. It was weird. I wasn't a fan.

Organic Original Falafel Chips by Flamous @FlamousBrands
What LVF Says: We hear that the blend of tumeric, onion, garlic, spinach, carrot, red pepper, tomato and green bell pepper in these falafel chips will ward off any vampire! (Gluten Free, Organic, Non-GMO)

What I Say: I really enjoyed these! I wasn't sure I would because falafel chips don't exactly sound appetizing but they were delicious. They tasted almost exactly like a falafel, only crunchy. I'd love to have these again and maybe try them with some hummus.

Buttery Shortbread Squares by Clairesquares @clairesquares
What LVF Says: These rich buttery, Irish shortbread squares are great solo - or pipe on an icing design of your favorite monster for a Halloween twist. 

What I Say: I love shortbread cookies. They're so delicious and buttery and just melt in your mouth. I love the simpleness of them. These were no different. I want more!

Chocolate Almond Nut Butter by Justin's @Justins
What LVF Says: With 3g of Fiber and 5g of Protein, this Chocolage Almond Butter is a graveyard smash! (Gluten Free, Organic)

What I Say: This is a great alternative to Nutella and so much more healthy. Don't get me wrong, I love Nutella but snacking on one of Justin's chocolate nut butters is so much more guilt-free.


Original Cheese Straws by J&M 
What LVF Says: If the full moon is made of cheese, we hope it is as tasty as the real cheese with a hint of cayenne found in these cheese straws! (Non-GMO)

What I Say: These were delicious! I loved them. I was really surprised to find the straws dense like crackers and not puffs. It was a welcome surprise because they ended up being a very satisfying snack. The cayenne pepper was a nice twist too because it added a little kick but very subtle.

Snapea Crisps by Calbee @HarvestSnaps
What LVF Says: These Snapea Crisps are so tasty. Be careful you may want to to the mash...the monster mash! (Non-GMO)

What I Say: I was not expecting to like these at all. I mean, crunchy snapea crisps? Who would've thought? I did like them though. I was really surprised at how much I enjoyed them. The snapeas are a bit sweet which was the perfect combination with the saltiness. Get what I'm saying?

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Mad Style Boutique With Windy City Bloggers

Two weeks ago, I went to a fun, or should I say chic, event with Windy City Bloggers at Mad Style Boutique in Wicker Park to check out their great store and get to know the designer. I'm really glad this event introduced me to the shop because it houses a lot of great designs. I found a lot of items I would actually wear rather than just admire. They had a huge selection of sweaters and scarves which I am still dreaming about. Luckily, I have some Mad Money so I'll definitely be heading back. I saw a ton of Christmas gift ideas too. Here is a peak at just a few of the items you can get at Mad Styles Boutique.
This photo above is the cute gift bag we received for attending the event. I've already worn that scarf several times. It's a very thin fabric but it's dense and there's a lot of it so when you wrap it, it's surprisingly warm yet still light. The bracelet, which I have a better picture of below is absolutely gorgeous. The stone isn't well represented in these photos unfortunately. I couldn't get the lighting quite right. It's actually a dark pink stone. So pretty and great to include in gift bags for the holidays.
Something really impressive to me about Mad Style Boutique is the pricing. For a boutique with very limited numbers of items, their items are incredibly affordable. Handbags and cardigans are sold for as low as $40 and scarves are as low as $15. If you don't believe me, you can check out their prices online. The quality of the items are great as well. Some items are even made in Italy! Between the prices and so many great items, I'll definitely be returning for some Christmas shopping. 
Finally, these three items above are a few goodies I purchased on my own. The beige scarf and comfy socks are going to be Christmas gifts and the pink scarf I'm still debating if I want to keep it for myself. I love it so much! They're both super soft too. Warm and soft...perfect for the winter we're already in. Mad Styles Boutique also has a great men's collection. That's a spot I'm definitely hitting up for Christmas shopping. I spotted several things that would make great gifts. 

What are some boutiques that you love? Have you stopped at Mad Styls Boutique in Chicago?
Mad Style Boutique is located on 1754 West Division Street in Wicker Park.


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

A Trusty Pair Of Sunnies

*Disclaimer: I received this product complimentary for review but the opinion expressed below is my own
One thing I never leave the house without is a pair of sunglasses. I am such a baby when it comes to the sun or light of any kind. I prefer darkness which some people find ridiculous but if you battle frequent migraines, you'd understand. Another really great thing about sunglasses is that they're an easy accessory. The pair of black frames is classic but it's fun to mix it up sometimes. Insert Firmoo.com. Firmoo.com is the world's most popular online eyeglasses store. Years of expertise in optical industry enable Firmoo.com to offer varieties of prescription eye wear to the consuming public in high quality yet at extremely affordable prices.
I was lucky enough to receive a pair of non-prescription sunglasses to review. I could have reviewed a pair of regular frames and had a second pair of eyeglasses on hand but I wear bifocals and that prescription is just way too complicated for me to pass on without screwing it up. I'm glad I got to review their sunglasses though because I feel like it's a quality they have but aren't necessarily as popular for. Their sunglasses can easily come in prescription form as well. I got a leopard print pair I'm obsessed with. I love wide frames because they give you ultimate protection from light and they make me feel like a movie star. The tint is perfect, not too dark but dark enough so you're not still squinting at the sun. My favorite part of these sunnies? The sides are slightly bendy which makes it easy to tighten these if you need to and it also leaves them a little more resistant to breaking. I've had sunnies fall apart while they were on my head. I have a feeling these won't do that.
My Firmoo sunglasses additionally came with a really great case (as you can see on the left of both pictures above). From now on, my sunnies will no longer get scratched up from me throwing them in my bag. Yes, I'm super careless when it comes to some things. It also came with a mini screwdriver to fix the glasses if they happened to break or come loose. This is awesome because it also works on the tiny screws on my laptop and my actual glasses that are always falling off my face. 
Before you check out, I want to make sure you guys know about a really great deal that Firmoo.com has for first time users. Get your first frame free! This includes a pair of glasses, a case like the one in my photos, a cleaning cloth and other accessories. You only pay for the lens and shipping. It's a great deal if you ask me! Check out some of their options here. If you are not thrilled with your glasses for one reason or another, they offer full refunds as well. I guarantee you'll enjoy them though.

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