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Best of the Month

Best of the Month

Best of the Month: June 2017

June has been a crazy, chaotic month around here, and it absolutely flew by. Our puppies each gained about 20 lbs, I’ve been ramping up my freelance writing, one of my best friends is about to get married, and, last but not least, it’s Pride! Time to break down the best parts of the first month of summer.

Best Thing I Read

The Handmaid’s Tale

As part of The Book Fairies organization, Emma Watson passed out copies of Margaret Atwood’s revered speculative fiction novel around Paris this month. The Handmaid’s Tale has resurfaced in a big way recently not just because of the Hulu adaptation, but because of the terrifying relevance regarding the subject matter. The suffocation of the patriarchy is touched on in a way that presents a dystopian America that could be possible if our country veered in a specific direction. Scarily enough, we don’t seem to be that far off these days. Take a look at this excerpt:

“I guess that’s how they were able to do it, in the way that they did, all at once, without anyone knowing beforehand. If there had still been portable money, it would have been more difficult. It was after the catastrophe, when they shot the president and machine-gunned the Congress and the army declared a state of emergency. They blamed it on the Islamic fanatics, at the time (…) Newspapers were censored and some were closed down, for security reasons they said.”

Chilling, no?

Best Thing I Watched

Milk

To celebrate Pride this month, my wife and I spent some time reading, listening, and watching any and everything LGBTQ related. I had never seen Milk, as I have a problem with avoiding biopics when I know the ending is devastating, so she convinced me to give it a watch. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the story, Harvey Milk was the first openly gay person to be elected into public office in California. He served on the city’s Board of Supervisors for a short period of time before being shot in cold blood in his office by his colleague Dan White, who grew angry and bitter as Harvey’s agenda of acceptance gained momentum while White’s conservative Christian politics lost a bit of steam in San Francisco.

One of Harvey Milk’s biggest platforms was the encouragement of gay people to come out of the closet, because it’s more difficult to oppress a community when you know someone you love is part of it. When Milk began received push back in the form of death threats, he famously said, “If a bullet should enter my brain, let that bullet destroy every closet door.”

Best Thing I Did

Attended Pittsburgh Pride

I couldn’t overcome my crowd anxiety quite enough to attend the parade, but my wife and I, along with one of our best friends, ventured downtown for the post-parade Pride festivities. This was the first time I had ever been part of an LGBTQ community even (aside from a vigil for the victims of the Pulse massacre), and I’ve never seen such love and positivity just radiate from a group of people. It’s magical, and I recommend everyone to put yourself in the presence of Pride every year. In the current climate in our country where all marginalized groups have begun to fear for the redaction of the rights that so many fought for, it’s a breath of fresh air to witness how many allies we really do have in this world. Shout out to McDonald’s for their rainbow fries!

Best Thing I Ate

Image via Trip Advisor

Blackened Chicken Pasta at Demo’s Restaurant

I’m still recovering and rehydrating after a long weekend celebrating the upcoming nuptials of one of my best friends, Kristen, in Nashville. This was my first time in the country music capital, but the city’s reputation for incredible food was hyped to a fever pitch before we left. On our second night we dine at the Italian restaurant Demo’s, and my food fantasies haven’t been the same since. The bachelorette advised me to order the blackened chicken pasta, so of course I complied, I don’t know what they put in the sauce for this dish, but I’m fairly certain it’s some sort of creamy, chicken crack. Go to Nashville and order it right now. You can thank me later.

So what about you? What were the best things you did, ate, saw, watched, heard, read this month? It can be anything! Let me know in the comments 🙂

 

Best of the Month

Best of the Month: May 2017

Where the hell did the month of May go? I’m sitting here jotting down my June goals in between trips to the front yard with the pups (we’re getting so close to 100% potty trained), and I am utterly dumbfounded by the disappearance of one of my favorite months. Wedding recovery, honeymoon, and jet lag induced honeymoon recovery consumed most of May, and the political nightmare we wake up to every day makes them all kind of blur together. Anyway, here are my favorite things from the month of May.

Best Thing I Watched

American Gods: “Git Gone”
     Wild, weird television is flourishing right now, and I couldn’t be happier about it. Mos people are familiar with Neil Gaiman, whether it’s his fantastical fiction or children’s stories, and American Gods is sort of his swan song. As one of those snobs who often refuses to watch something until I’ve read the book first, I promptly ordered the paperback upon reading the synopsis for this Starz show. However, when my copy arrived in the mail, the sheer massive size of the novel was daunting. So I broke my rule, shelved the book, and started watching.
     “Git Gone” is episode four of the season, and it’s the first episode in which the show gives the primary focuses to the back story of a single character. American Gods revels in its enigmatic storytelling props, revealing only half as many answer as new questions, but in this episode we learn all about the motivations behind someone who we didn’t even know was going to be present the first three episodes. I won’t go into any more detail than that to avoid spoilers, but go watch this show right this very now.

Best Thing I Ate

Image via Lonely Planet

Lisbon’s Custard Tart
     Shortly after arriving in Lisbon, Portugal, where we spent the first half of our honeymoon, Jen and I discovered that this casual, culturally robust city is known specifically for a simple, delightful pastry. Actually, we hadn’t even made it to our hotel before someone encouraged us to hit the nearest cafe and order a custard tart, otherwise known as a pastel de nata. The tart is well known for the egg based custard in the center and the crisp, flaky tart that encases it. By the time we made it to our last day in Lisbon I felt like a real local, each morning ordering a pastel de nata and shot of espresso. Cue the caffeine headaches and constant sugar crashes one we arrive back in the U.S.
Note: Portugal makes, hands down, the best food I’ve ever tasted. I’ll expand on the other fantastic eats that titillated my taste buds when I blog about my honeymoon 🙂

Best Thing I Heard

Image via Politico

“Pod Save America Takes Los Angeles”
     Kamala Harris, a United States Senator from Californa, made a guest appearance for an interview on the podcast “Pod Save America”. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Pod, it came to fruition after the 2016 election when the hosts of the podcast “Keepin’ It 1600” decided that they wanted to create a space where everyday people could learn about politics and how anyone can take part in the activism needed to make a difference during a Trump presidency.
     After listening to this interview with Senator Harris, I realized one thing: our first female president is going to be a woman of color. You know why? Because they get shit done. Kamala Harris speaks, and we all listen. She talk with the people listening not at them (unless they need it), and she’s not afraid to defy an instruction when she knows it’s not the right thing to do. On top of that, she dropped an F bomb, so what’s not to love? Take a listen to the Pod, any episode really, but also get to know Senator Harris, because she’s the real deal.

Best Thing I Read

 

     I don’t have much to say about this PBS piece that’s not contain within the body of the article, so please just read it yourself. This article delves into the political climate in the down I lived in from 10-18 years old, so it essentially helped build me as a human being. Buckhannon, West Virginia voted for Donald Trump by over a 75% margin, and those are trying to protest his fascist administration are being harassed in disgusting ways in this tiny town. Since I moved north to Pittsburgh a few years ago, I’ve been spoiled to be surrounded by progressive people who care and think about the world outside of a small town bubble.
     I’ve grown to think further than the immediate instinct to become angry that coal mining jobs are gone, instead educating myself about the alternate, more environmentally friendly ways other places create sustainable energy. To see people living in poverty who don’t understand that under this administration, Medicaid and affordable healthcare are being gutted, and public education is crumbling, is humbling indeed. At the Women’s March in Pittsburgh earlier this year, I took for granted the sheer masses of people who marched alongside me, rarely stopping to think about the spaces where it’s not as safe to make this kind of stand, where they’re in a vast minority. I’m incredibly proud of these women who are trying to spark change in Buckhannon, because the town still holds a special place, if not a slightly bruised one, in my heart.
What are the best things you experienced this month? Let me know in the comments!
Best of the Month

Best of the Month: November

This month I’m introducing a special guest who’s going to be sharing her favorites of every month as well: my wonderfully brilliant and supportive fiance Jen. So allow me to hand over the keyboard! Here she is…

Jen’s November Picks

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Hey everybody!  After an obnoxious amount of pressure, my fiancé has agreed to let me write on here!  I get to do my very own list of “Best Of’s” once a month.  I’m pretty pumped! 🙂

So, thank you so much in advance for humoring me and reading this, even though I know you’re here for the babbling blonde (I can’t blame you, she’s the most incredible writer I’ve ever read).  Here goes…

 

Best Thing I Watched: Panel Discussion: “Racism in America”

 

This amazing, thought-provoking event was part of the Heinz Hall Speaker Series and featured Michel Martin, Jason Riley, and Morris Dees.  Michel Martin and Jason Riley are both journalists (Martin for NPR and a Democrat and Riley for the Wall Street Journal and a Republican).  Both are people of color, whose perspectives were deeply personal.  Morris Dees is the founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center, and the attorney who fought and beat the Ku Klux Klan in a very famous court case.  Dees is white and a Democrat, and brought a really interesting perspective as someone who benefits from white privilege, but understands how damaging its existence is.  The talk was so timely, taking place just a week after the election.  It moved me and inspired me, and it was by far the greatest thing I watched in November.  Sidebar: I’ll go ahead and let you all know now that I’m a giant nerd who is obsessed with politics.

 

Best Thing I Read: Love Warrior, by Glennon Doyle Melton

love-warrior-fulld

 

Full disclosure, I haven’t actually finished the book yet, which Beth may tell me is cheating, but I’m counting it!  You guys, if you haven’t read this book yet, you have to.  It’s funny and heartbreaking, and so insightful.  Love Warrior is one of the most brutally honest memoirs I’ve ever read. It’s so well-written.  And Glennon and I share an alma mater, so it’s almost like we’re friends.  I mean…am I right?

 

 

Best Thing I Tasted: The Manhattan at The Summit

 

The Summit is this super hip bar on Mt. Washington in Pittsburgh that has such a cool atmosphere.  The bar has the best hardwood floors, the seats are church pews, and each table has these really cute candles.  Anyway, all of that is just bonus stuff, since this is the “Best Taste” category.  The bartenders there made me the best Manhattan I’ve ever had.  Now, I realize most of you are judging me and/or trying to guess my age.  Don’t worry about that.  Just go try it!  You won’t be sorry!

 

Well guys, it’s been really fun talking with you, but my girl tells me I have to give the blog back.  So, I guess I’ll see you next month.  Stay sexy and don’t get murdered.  Byeeee.

 

Beth’s November Picks:

Best Thing I Watched: The Crown, Netflix

We’re in a Golden Age of television right now, and the options for quality are almost on par with the options on quantity for the first time since I can remember. Post-election, Jen and I decided we wanted to escape the world of American and dive into the British monarchy for a tick or two. Now I’ll ashamedly admit (my future mother-in-law says this must be corrected pre-wedding) that I’ve never seen Downton Abbey, but I’m told by even the most diehard of fans that The Crown gives it a run for its money. I’d be acing world history classes across the board if they all presented historically accurate events in engrossing of a display.

Photo: Netflix

Photo: Netflix

Best Thing I Ate: “Just Because” Blueberry-Orange Pancakes – Home Chef

I’ve always enjoyed cooking. There’s something uniquely satisfying about filling your family’s tummies and knowing you’re responsible for providing them with something delicious. Cooking is an expression of love. However, as much as I like to cook, I’ll never claim to be particularly skilled at it. I can follow step-by-step directions, but I must use up all of my creativity on the written word, leaving none leftover for kitchen concoctions. Home Chef has been a lifesaver, allowing me to provide my girls with a variety of meal options and sending all of the perfectly portioned ingredients so I don’t waste any food. Mia loved these pancakes, and they even came with powdered sugar to sprinkle on top! You can sign up using my referral link to get a $50 free trial

That’s all for me this time around. What were your favorite things you tried in November? Let me know in the comments!

 

XO – Beth

 

Best of the Month

Best of the Month: October

Being the total nerd that I am, I love to keep track of things. Planners, lists, color coding my closet, you name it. Another thing I love is getting suggestions from others, whether it’s a place to eat, a book to read, or a movie to watch. If it makes someone else happy, I’m more than willing to try it out myself! Why not, right? I used to think no one cared about what I thought, but when I began writing movie reviews for Audiences Everywhere, I realized that I wasn’t the only one who appreciated that sense of community and vetting. So, as a regular feature to this blog, at the end of each month I will do a rundown of the best things I experienced. Here we go!

The Best Thing I Watched

Amanda Knox, Netflix

Netflix

Netflix

October, for many people, means more of a reason to seek out ways to be terrified by the creepy, mysterious, and unknown. I’m not a huge horror buff, although I do appreciate a quality scare, but I am, well, obsessed with, dare I say it, murder. When I was in college a big group of us went away to party in a cabin for the weekend, and every day I tried to bring out the board game Clue, waltzing out of my room with the box held high, proclaiming Miss Scarlet’s guilt while I sipped my screwdriver. Obviously I was vetoed in favor of a game of cards or a round of karaoke, but nevertheless, I tried.

11 months out of the year, my obsession with death might translate as a bit morbid, but in October, it’s right on trend. The beginning of this month brought with it the release of Netflix’s original Amanda Knox documentary. This story of a young woman who found herself in prison convicted of killing her roommate in Italy captivated the world. Amanda was pretty, naive, slightly quirky, and, *gasp*, sexually active. The shit storm she experienced following her accusation was exploited by the media, and it’s even more appalling to watch broken down in this documentary years later. Go watch it right now, then read my review here.

The Best Thing I Read

The Poptart Diaries – Jamie Scrimgeour

Yesterday morning while I was getting ready my fiance asked me to read an article she had stumbled across on Facebook entitled “An Open Letter To The Woman Who Accused Me Of Trying To Replace My Step-Children’s Mom“. I shrugged my shoulders and picked up her phone to skim the essay. About a minute and a half later, I was fighting off tears to keep from smudging the second coat of mascara I had so delicately just applied. Although Jen and I aren’t married yet, we’ve lived together since February and I’ve loved her daughter as my own since the moment I met her.

Not that my role as a stepmother is any more difficult than either Jen’s or her ex partner’s roles as her designated parents, but it is definitely more scrutinized by outsiders. I analyze and second guess almost every move I make. Should I stay out of this photo? Should I discipline Mia? Am I showing too much affection? Not enough? Does Jen’s ex think I’m trying to take her place? At my age I know now one else who is in this position, so it’s difficult to find those who can relate and ask them if I’m making the right decisions or worrying too much over the wrong things. Discovering this article both brings to life and calms the fears I have on a daily basis. It’s beautifully written, immensely helpful, and worth a read even for those who don’t find themselves in a blended family.

The Best Thing I Heard

A Small Foreign Faction – My Favorite Murder – Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark

Feral Audio

Feral Audio

I stumbled across the My Favorite Murder podcast several months ago while searching for something to listen to during my commute to and from work. Finally, I have discovered two hilarious humans who are equally (okay probably even more) as obsessed with murder than I am. To ease you in to this podcast where the two spent a little over an hour telling each other all of the grisly details of their selected murder of the week, I’ve recommended one episode to get you addicted. We just passed the 20th anniversary of the JonBenét Ramsey’s tragic murder, which was recognized by several revisits to the unsolved investigation. Karen and Georgia break down all we need to know about these specials, which ones are worth watching, and which theories they favor. Murderinos, unite.

That’s all for October everyone! What were your favorite things you discovered in October? Did you try out any of these? Let me know in the comments!

xo

-Beth

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