Best of 2011

What a year! I have to admit, 2011 didn't start out that great for me, but boy did it certainly end up being a good one. This was also a fab year for music and movies. I had a very hard time coming up with my year-end list of favorites, so in a few instances I listed a couple favs, because why not! Having too many good things to choose from is an awesome problem.

FAVORITE MOVIE: The Muppets! I don't think I've ever had a grin on my face the entire time I watched a movie. The Muppets were my childhood. I had a Miss Piggy doll, one of those magnetic books, even a Muppet cookbook! I was so excited for this movie and it did not disappoint! I even brought my Beaker doll to the movie theater. Yep, I brought a doll. This how I roll. The movie had heart, laughter, joy, and the greatest cameo of all time. I couldn't find a photo of said cameo, but this photo will give you a big hint:

I still giggle thinking about Dave's cameo and pretty much the entire movie. I will forever be grateful to Jason Segel for not only bringing the Muppets back for my generation to enjoy, but for introducing Beaker and Co. to a new crop of Muppetheads. 

FAVORITE MOVIE FROM A SERIES: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 I had to include this movie as well because it was absolutely brilliant from start to finish. I cried four times watching the final movie in a series that I have extremely fond memories of. I think it's safe to say that, without question, the cast of this series is the best cast ever assembled. Period. We've watched these actors grow up before our eyes and they've done us proud. I think this EW cover sums it up best.

OTHER AMAZING MOVIES: Crazy, Stupid Love; 50/50; The Beginners; War Horse

FAVORITE NEW TV SHOW: New Girl - I got to see a screening of the pilot this summer. Within the first 30 seconds I turned to my friend and said, "I LOVE THIS SHOW." That's how long it took me to fall for Zooey Deschanel's quirky Jess. I've been looking forward to each new episode and they haven't disappointed. It has some of my favorite lines of a TV show, ever. Just a little sample:

FAVORITE TV SHOW YOU MIGHT NOT BE WATCHING: Parks & Recreation - I'll admit it, I didn't really love this show during its first season. And I think a lot of people gave up on it, but they shouldn't. The ensemble cast is hilarious, lead by a brilliant Amy Poehler. The additions of Rob Lowe and Adam Scott (who is yummerz) last season has made the show even better. And there are days I just want to run up to Ron Swanson and give him a kiss on the cheek, which he would NOT like at all. If you aren't watching this show, watch it. NOW.

FAVORITE BROADWAY SHOW: Book of Mormon - I got to see this in previews before the reviews and Tony Awards. It was hysterical. I spent most of the second half either laughing or covering my mouth in horror/shock. I've seen a lot of Broadway shows this year, Wicked should probably tie for my favorite (can't believe it took me so long to see), and, of course, I got to see Kiefer Sutherland in That Champtionship Season, which was a nice talking point when I met  him

FAVORITE CD: I'm doing a three-way tie on this one because I can. Adele's 21, Florence + the Machine's Ceremonials and K. Clark's Stronger. Three amazing women, three amazing albums. Fav songs would be: Adele - Set Fire to the Rain, Florence - Shake it Out, and Kelly - Stronger. Other fav albums of the year: The Black Keys, El Camino; Death Cab for Cutie, Codes & Keys; Foo Fighters, Wasting Light; Foster the People, Torches; Blind Pilot, We are the Tide; Oh Land, self-titled; Bon Iver, self-titled; Marketa Irglova, Anar. 

FAVORITE CONCERT: This one was easy (and shouldn't come as a surprise): Sir Paul. If this wasn't a Sir Paul year, the honor would definitely belong to Foo Fighters who put on an absolutely spectacular show at Madison Square Garden just a few weeks ago. 

I honestly couldn't come up with a favorite book. I read a lot of wonderful books, but to be honest, many are by friends so I feel like I might offend someone if I choose a favorite. So at least for this year, I'm not going to include a favorite book. BUT! I am going to do something special for the books I'll read in 2012, so stay tuned for that.

What were some of your favs of the year?

To a wonderful 2012 filled with lots of good books, music, movies, and memories! XO, Elizabeth

The Greatest Christmas Story I Ever Told

Happy Holidays all!

I should preface this post by saying that it could get me into trouble. Last year, I asked my mom if she'd be okay if I blogged about this story and she wasn't too pleased. But I just HAD to share it as it has become one of my favorite stories, ever. But I can understand why she doesn't like it since she technically called her youngest child a "Nazi" in her annual holiday card.

Yep, you read that right.

Every year, my parents send out of those holiday letters with news about the family, including their four kids. For years, my siblings and I each had to submit four sentences about our year. It was a little sad that as I got older it became harder to do. "Elizabeth's STILL at her same job, STILL lives in the same place..." The only thing that was ever really different was where I went on vacation that year. It was all kind of boring, but I'd prefer boring over being defamed.

My senior year of college, I arrive home during winter break. I looked at that year's Christmas letter and read everybody's part. Then I got to mine. Now, I went to the Newhouse School at Syracuse University. That's Newhouse: N-E-W-H-O-U-S-E. But according to that year's letter it said:

"Elizabeth's finishing her last year at the Nazi School at Syracuse University."

I lost it. "Is this some kind of joke?" I screamed in our kitchen. When my parents realized why I was upset, they were both horrified. And, of course, the letters had already been sent out to Dad's list. So, I spent the next day crossing out "Nazi" and writing out "Newhouse" on Mom's pile.

My mom blames the accident on spellcheck, although I have spelled Newhouse many different ways and Nazi has never come up as an option. But it didn't really matter, the damage had been done.

I worked at my dad's clothing store over that break. Anytime any of his friend's came in, I was on the defensive. The following happened more than once:

DAD'S FRIEND: Hi, Elizabeth!


DAD'S FRIEND: Um, okay. Could I get this gift wrapped?

So to clarify, a) I am not a Nazi, and b) my mom didn't do it on purpose. Oh, and a little friendly advice: always have someone proof your Christmas letter before you send it out.

While I was horrified at the time, in the end it was one of the best gifts I ever received. Because I do love a good story, and nothing can top, "Hey, did I ever tell you about the time my mom called me a Nazi in our Christmas letter?" Comic gold!

May your days me merry and bright...and without any slander in your holiday card!

XO, Elizabeth

The Christmas Card Challenge

Seasons greetings! I used to send out the kind of Christmas cards to my friends and family that required me to write a little note in them. I always enjoyed that, even though my hand would cramp up by the fourth card.

But in 2008 everything changed. I met the New Kids on the Block. And there was no way I wasn't going to do a funny Christmas card with a photo of me and the boys. So I present to you, the greatest Christmas card of all time. 

I have friends that still have this on their refrigerators. I felt pretty proud of myself for this. Until I realized that I've now set the bar pretty high for myself and my future Christmas cards.

Fortunately, the end of 2009 was the publication of my first novel, The Lonely Hearts Club. So I used this opportunity to not only spoof birth announcements, but to do a little publicity on it's upcoming publication.

But then all last year, I was stressed out over what to do for my Christmas card. I could've done something with Prom & Prejudice, but that seemed expected (Seriously, who spends this much time thinking about holiday cards?). So last year on Halloween, I went to see the Packers play the Jets in New Jersey. I was told by a few people to be careful and that the Jets fans might not appreciate my Packer gear. And that gave me the idea for 2010's Christmas card.

And yes, I did go up to complete strangers in Jets gear and say, "Hey, can you pretend to beat me up for my Christmas card photo?" I have no shame. I'd also like to point out that the Packers won the Super Bowl last year, so... You're welcome, Green Bay.  ;-)

This year was the worst. I had an idea, but couldn't pull off getting the picture taken (Thanks for never returning my e-mail, Debbie Gibson's publicist!). I was going to make a joke about me being too busy being in Ireland to think of something clever, but that didn't really seem Christmas card worthy. Time was running out. But then I was off to my friend Chris's annual holiday party (also knows as my favorite party of the year). I would be in a room with about eighty guys. So pretty much this year's card wrote itself.

So this is my Christmas card to all of you. Thank you for an amazing year. I hope you all have a fab 2012!

And now I'm off to figure out next year's card. It never ends.

XOXO, Elizabeth

Wicked Awesome PLUS Prom & Prejudice giveaway!

Hello all! What I'm about to say may seem shocking to some of you. I finally saw the musical Wicked for the first time. I know, I know... What took me so long? I have no idea. But I do know one thing: It. Was. Awesome.

I was able to score front row seats through the Wicked lottery. Basically several Broadway shows hold lotteries a few hours before curtain. You put your name in, and if you're lucky, you get selected for generally amazing seats for super cheap (in our case, it was $25 for front row!). Thursday was the second time I tried for the lottery and I just knew we were going to get it this time. I kept telling my cousin Susan that we were definitely winning. When I put my name in, I said to the guy in charge, "I'm so excited to see the show tonight, because I just KNOW I'm winning." And I did!

I've never been in the front row of a show before. I was really excited, then I started to remember how much the Wicked Witch and her monkeys freaked me out as a child. Then I started to get nervous. Was I going to get scared?

And of course, what was the first thing that came out once the show started? The monkeys. Right in front of me. I turned to Susan and said, "I do not like this." But fortunately, I started acting like an adult and became totally mesmerized with the show. Being close-up you really get an appreciation for everything from the intricacies of the costumes to the background players staying in character the entire time. And of course, there's the music. I knew a few songs (mostly thanks to Glee) and bought the soundtrack the second I got home.

I also loved how the story of The Wizard of Oz, something we all grew up with, was re-imagined thanks to Gregory Maguire who wrote the book that the musical was based on. I love origin stories and the author in me was super jealous of his brilliance. Looks like I've got another book to add to my ever growing to-read pile.

I highly recommend Wicked to anybody who comes to NYC or if the traveling show comes to your town. You will NOT be disappointed!

GIVEAWAY TIME! As some of you may have noticed, my comments have been shut down for some time. First, I was getting too much spam, then I wasn't getting legit comments. BUT! I've called in the Big Guns (aka my friends Laura and Kevin) to fix it and we think we got it to work. So what better way to celebrate (and make sure it's working) by holding a contest to win a signed copy of Prom & Prejudice! All you have to do to enter is to post a comment below. That's it. It's open WORLDWIDE too! I'll pick a winner by Tuesday, December 13 by 6:00 pm EST.

Please note, I will be approving comments, so your comment will be held for moderation. I'll be in and out on Sunday, so don't worry if it takes me a few hours to approve.

Good luck! XO, Elizabeth