Current Faves: Spring Has Sprung Edition

Happy Official Spring, everyone!

Unlike Technically But Not Really Spring (March and April), May is here with its warm weather and green grass and blooming trees and WE ARE READY.

Over here we have our happy chickens roaming free, giving us fresh eggs every day (as long as we win the fun game of Let's Find Their New Secret Laying Spot) and our precious kittens are bouncing around, doing cute kitteny things all day.

This one likes being cradled like a baby and I'm thinking about buying a new crib and painting a nursery for her.

Oh and then there's the fifty baby chicks in our garage.


Funnily enough, the kittens and the chicks have somehow lived together harmoniously in our garage for the past week or two now, with no hunting incidents whatsoever!

And with all the fresh air, fresh eggs, fresh kittens, and fresh baby chicks, I also have fresh recommendations for you to refresh your life even more:

1.) The Greatest Showman Soundtrack

Ever since The Greatest Showman hit theatres, I was hearing praises for it ALL THE TIME.
It amazed me that everyone who saw it not only loved it and raved about it, but they were going to the theatre multiple times to see it.
To which I thought 'Ummm ok, well I guess I went to see The Dark Knight like 4 or 5 times in the theatre, sooo I suppose I get that, but.... it looks like X-Men meets High School Musical. I don't doubt that it's good, but is it really that good?'

Answer: Turns out... YES IT IS!

When I finally got around to renting it on Redbox, I went into it optimistic (based on all the great reviews) and from that first epic intro...

"Ladies and Gents, this is the moment you've waited for."

...I was pretty hooked.
I was definitely drawn in and entertained with the initial character development, with the songs A Million Dreams and Come Alive, but I swear you guys, as soon as Zac Efron and Hugh Jackman started singing to the beat of slamming shot glasses during The Other Side, I WAS IN ALL THE WAY.
I think my jaw just dropped and was probably open the entire rest of the movie.

(Although in spite of the amazing rhythm and their suave tap dancing, all I could think was that they needed to go straight to the ER because after that many shots you most definitely have alcohol poisoning and should probably have your stomach pumped POST HASTE.)

And then when the character Jenny Lind sang Never Enough (which I thought was a beautifully dark metaphor of the slippery slope that our lovable main character, Wolverine, was going through when finally tasting fame and fortune), I had chills running up my spine.
It was stunning and glorious.

Zac Efron and Zendaya went on to Rewrite The Stars while doing crazy acrobatics and you guys... I had TEARS STREAMING DOWN MY FACE. 
Their story of these two people from opposite side of the tracks who are commiserating over not being able to have each other was intimate and exquisite and took my breath away.
(We should be angry at them for being given an excess amount of talent, except they're so stinkin' cute, we just wouldn't even be able to stay mad.)

The whole story wrapped up beautifully, there was redemption and courage and love, which made it all the more incredible to me. I honestly have not experienced music written and sung in such an electrifying way since Moulin Rouge. (And not enduring the heartbreak of a deathly-ill woman who was being sexually trafficked was a plus.)

Since I watched it, I have been listening to the soundtrack NON-STOP. I can't get enough of it and I talk with as many people as I can about it. I even recommended it to my dentist while he was gassing me with nitrous oxide and I'm pretty sure I had talked him into getting it right before he said "you really need to stop talking and take deep breaths for this to work."  Or something like that. Who knows.

Unfortunately, it's gotten to the point where my husband is almost ready to pack his bags and move out. He's over it. And I have sympathy for that, I do, but I just really don't see an end to this obsession in sight. 
(Honey, if you're reading this... please don't leave. I promise to watch more John Wayne movies with you and make apple pie more often. I just really need you to accept me for the crazy fan-girl I am right now. xoxo Love, Elise)

You have to see the movie first (because you really won't feel the depth of the story in every song unless you do) but then you haaaaaave to buy the soundtrack.

You can buy it HERE on Amazon. 
(Consumer Warning: It does NOT come with free Marriage Counseling. Purchase at your own risk.)

2.) Magnolia Table

My Mom came from Colorado for a visit for my daughter's birthday, and we both had gotten each other early Mother's Day gifts (I'll give you a hint what I got for her: It has incredible music and it's ruining my marriage. Any guesses?) and what she got me was Joanna's new amazing cookbook.

Like every other woman in America, I wanted this cookbook from the second it was released.
Let's face it, Chip and Jo could come out with a line of jewelry made out of foil-wrapped dog turds, and they would be flying off the shelves in seconds. But the cookbook really is gorgeous, even its canvas binding is so expressive of her style. It feels like you're holding a piece of sacred shiplap.
 Although I'm not gonna lie, I had no idea what I would be getting into as far as her cooking style.
I mean...What does our magnificent, ethnically-ambiguous goddess EVEN EAT?
Is everything going to require truffle oil and quail eggs and saffron-infused ghee?!

Answer: No. She eats normal food.


I've already made the Havarti, Tomato, and Basil Sandwiches (Shown above. And yes, they do taste as heavenly as they look.) and her Grilled Raspberry Chipotle Pork Tenderloin (also amazing) and I'm super excited to try the rest of her recipes.

I love her really balanced take on cooking.
It's a lot like her way of doing things on Fixer Upper. You know how she mostly has a reasonably high standard for quality of material and decor she uses, but then at some point during every episode she walks into an old antique store, picks out the ugliest piece of crap, usually a hideous lamp or moldy piece of driftwood, slaps it somewhere in their newly renovated house, and it has somehow magically transformed the room into the image of elegance and charm?
Leaving us all shaking our heads at our TV's with baffled expressions... "How do you even do this?"

Anyway I find her cooking to be a similar eclectic mix, of both quality, homemade ingredients AND store-bought/convenience foods. She knows the value of making things from scratch, but she is also not above using boxed rice mixes or crescent roll dough to get the job done.
 Which makes for a cookbook filled with delicious, creative, but low-maintenance recipes that we can all actually use and our families will love.
Just when we thought we couldn't love you any more, Jojo.

Buy Magnolia Table at pretty much any store or on Amazon HERE.

3.) Food: A Love Story

I'm not gonna to lie to you, this is one of my favorite books of all time.

I just read it for the second time, the first time was on an airplane on the way to my brother's wedding a couple years ago. I was traveling by myself, excited for this opportunity to have some dignified alone time, and ended up curled up in my window seat, silently but uncontrollably laughing with tears streaming down my face.
Multiple people actually asked me if I was ok.

Dignified, indeed.

I enjoy Jim Gaffigan as a comedian because you can watch his stuff, get a good laugh at his self-deprecating humor (usually about food or parenting), and not feel like you have to go pray and shower and call your mom crying afterwards. Clean Comedy, if you will.
And then he wrote a book about my favorite thing in the world, so of course I was in.

With chapters like Bacon: The Candy of Meat, Doughnuts: The Circle of Life, Nobody Really Likes Fruit, Even Fewer People Like Vegetables, and Breakfast: A Reason To Get Out of Bed you will laugh until your sides hurt and you've been humiliated in front of an airplane full of strangers.
(Even if you do like fruit.)

Get it on Amazon HERE.

4.) Cupcake Chardonnay

With the weather becoming beautiful, we are spending more time outside and that sometimes will call for a refreshing beverage to go with. Cupcake Chardonnay has been one of my favorite whites for years. Not too sweet, not too dry, it's full and buttery and bright and I love it.

It's sold at most liquor stores and costs anywhere from $8-$12, depending on where you live, making it a great middle-of-the-road wine whether you are giving it as a gift or just staying in.

Have a glass along with a bowl of Fettuccine Alfredo or Strawberry Angel Food Cake with whipped cream. (like I had on Mother's Day. Yum.)

That's all for now. Happy Wednesday, friends!


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