2016 In Review - Everything Else

Well, I read some books, watched some movies, reviewed some celebrity fashion, and revamped the kitchen; but we did a whole lot of other stuff last year too. Let's take a look.

In January, I wished you all a Happy New Year, and recapped the last year (Books, Vegetable of the Month, Movies, Celebrity Fashion, and Everything Else). We went to a Phoenix Suns game, which was the kids first professional sports experience. I talked about some new TV shows and movies I was looking forward to seeing. We went to California for a mini-vacation and checked out Huntington Beach and Balboa Island. Finally, in preparation for Valentine's Day, I put together a handy Gift Guide for Women and a Gift Guide for Men too.

In February, I talked about my favorite chili recipe. Then, I decorated for Valentine's Day. I made a fun craftdecorated the mantel, and shared how I decorated the kitchen and couch as well as our powder room and dining room too. I also shared a tutorial to make yummy candy heart cookies

I started off March fangirling about my excitement for the return of Outlander. We celebrated Seamus' third birthday with a trip to the aquarium. For Spring Break, we headed to the Grand Canyon - lots about that here and here. We finally put up Bill's hammock. I did another baking tutorial, this time a Lamb Cake! Finally, I gave you a recap of how we spent our Easter holiday.

In April, I showed you how to make a diaper cake, which then inspired me to put together a New Baby Gift Guide. I jumped on the white canvas sneaker trend. Next, I shared a cute children's book and a list of toddler shows that aren't too annoying. We took a day trip to Sedona. I talked about this and that, and put together a Mother's Day Gift Guide. I shared a recurring dream I continually have and discussed the ever-so-important question - do I like orange?

I fangirled some more in May, this time about Gilmore Girls. We spent Mother's Day at the Musical Instrument Museum and took some family photos. I talked about high-waisted jeans and how I organized my clothes using the KonMari Method. I put together a round-up of beautiful brooches then ended the month sharing how we tore up the walkway in our backyard.

I started June talking about my favorite toddler flip-flops. Madeleine graduated from Kindergarten. Then, I shared a Father's Day Gift Guide. We got an awesome indoor bouncy house for the kids to work out all their energy during the hot summer months. I shared a few new TV shows I had started watching and talked about how much I love rainbows!

In July I was obsessing over Hamilton. Then, I shared our little 4th of July celebration. I got a good start decorating Seamus' room with a camp theme. I let you in on a cute children's book I found and more of this and that. I did some more organizing using the KonMari Method, this time with my books. Then, I ended the month talking about Gilmore Girls again!

I started August with a little time to myself, found a cute dress (didn't look good on me though, boo), and Madeleine started 1st Grade. I was digging this new song, and I shared how to make a fun summer treat, frozen bananas. Seamus started preschool. Then, I shared a yummy macaroni and cheese recipe. I shared my love of coloring books and my solution to getting to sleep faster.

In September I shared a binge-worthy TV show. We checked out the new aquarium in Scottsdale. I re-purposed stools into tables for Seamus' room. I checked off another movie for my Disney Project. I finally made Madeleines and talked about some new fall TV shows I was looking forward to seeing.


I started November recapping the kids's Halloween costumes. We celebrated Madeleine's 6th birthday and took a family trip to Pennsylvania. I tried a new-to-me framing service. We did some landscaping in the backyard. I shared another TV show I was curious to watch. We went home to the Midwest for Thanksgiving where we visited the Milwaukee Domes and did our annual Turkey-Trot. I ended the month sharing some things I wanted for Christmas.

In December, after such a long wait, I finally watched and shared what I thought of the Gilmore Girls revival. I talked about my top 10 Christmas movies. I finally got my white Christmas tree and shared how we decorated the house for Christmas - interior and exterior. I shared our Christmas card, visited Santa, and our annual Elf-Yourself video. We ended the year visiting the Phoenix Zoo for ZooLights and one final trip to Sedona. (see here)

Wow, what a year! As great as it was though, I'm ready to put it to bed. Bring it on, 2017!! 


2016 In Review - The Kitchen Refresh

Our big house project of the year was The Great Kitchen Refresh of 2016. Not a complete renovation; we spruced up the existing kitchen by paining the cabinets and switching the backsplash.  I wish I could say we 100% completed the kitchen in 2016, but there's still a handful of items I have yet to mark off the to-do list before declaring it done. It's definitely come a long way from where it started on move-in day though.
It was functional, but basic. I knew we could improve it with a little paint and a lot of elbow grease.

First, I found my inspiration - light grey cabinets with gold hardware:  I'm Dreaming Of A Grey Kitchen.
Work began by demoing the current backsplash: Bye-Bye Backsplash.
Then, we prepped for paint by sanding all the cabinet doors and bases: Prepping For Paint - Part 1.
And we primed everything too: Prepping For Paint - Part 2.
Before we could paint though, we had to pick a paint color: Three Shades of Grey.
And finally, the cabinets were painted and put back together: Yay For Grey!
Next, I scoured the internet for the perfect gold hardware: Can You Handle It?
We repaired the wall in preparation for the new backsplash: Prepping For New Backsplash.
And started tiling, something we'd never done before: It Has Begun.
We added trim to the kitchen window: It's All In The Details.
Finished the tilework: Tile It Up.
And grouted: Scream and Grout
In the meantime, I scored an amazing deal on a new table: The Story of a Table.
Then, I tried and failed to pick a paint color for the walls: Picking A Paint Color.
But we did eventually make a decision, and painted the walls: Paint Procrastination.
Finally, I had a change of heart on the chairs I had originally picked out, so switched to another set: Switch-Chair-Roo.
All-in-all, I've been so happy with how the whole thing turned out. Like I said, there's a few things still left to do, which you know I'll share. We also have a big renovation plan for 2017. I can't wait to get started on that one. Care to guess what we'll be doing? Stay tuned.


2016 In Review - Celebrity Fashion

It's almost time for the 2017 Awards Season to begin; but before we get to that, let's take a look back at all the beautiful gowns we saw in 2016.

The Golden Globes started the year off. My favorite look of the night was originally Jenna Dewan Tatum's sparkling blue gown; but after a second review, I've switched it to Lady Gaga's black velvet look. I love the perfect fit and the old-time Hollywood feel of it all.
Image from here.
2016 Golden Globe Fashion - Paint It Black
2016 Golden Globe Fashion - Nude To White
2016 Golden Globe Fashion - Over The Rainbow
2016 Golden Globe Fashion - Pink To Red
2016 Golden Globe Fashion - Patterns, Peplum, and Plumage
2016 Golden Globe Fashion - Beautiful Blues

Next, came the Oscars; and my favorite look then and still now was Cate Blanchett's stunning seafoam green gown. The lovely color, combined with the intricate floral and bead work made for an unforgettable look.
Image from here.
2016 Oscars - Black And White
2016 Oscars - Jewel Tones
2016 Oscars - Pastels

When the Met Gala rolled around, it was Claire Dane's fiberoptic ballgown that was my favorite of the night. It was gorgeous, and really embodied the theme of the event.
2016 Met Gala - Nailed It!
2016 Met Gala - Honorable Mention
2016 Met Gala - Model Moment
2016 Met Gala - Resting On Pretty
2016 Met Gala - Missed The Mark

Finally, there were the Emmys, and it was Sarah Paulson's edgy green gown that won the night for me (although Kristen Bell's floral gown was a very, very close second). Great color and sparkle. Ms. Paulson looked Fierce with a capital "F".
Image from here.
2016 Emmys Fashion - Fun Florals
2016 Emmys Fashion - Black And White
2016 Emmys Fashion - Bold And Bright
2016 Emmys Fashion - Shimmer And Shine

As far as the best of 2016 though? No question about it, Cate Blanchett's Oscar gown was by far my favorite look of the year. Ethreal and romantic, she looked every inch a movie star.

P.S. Check out my 2016 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show Review for some more fun fashion.


2016 In Review - Movies

Ready to take a look at all the movies I saw in the theater this year and pick a favorite? Let's do it!

Here's what I saw...
(the below links will take you to my review of the film here on the blog)

Brooklyn - a quietly beautiful film showcasing one actresses's amazing performance.

Spotlight - the true story that brought home the Oscar last year for Best Picture.

The Revenant - a cinematic masterpiece that brought home the Golden Globe last year for Best Motion Picture - Drama.

Zootopia - a children's story that wasn't afraid to tackle some really grown-up topics.

Captain America: Civil War - an action packed summer blockbuster.

The Jungle Book - a classic re-imagined with amazing computer animation.

Finding Dory - the long-awaited sequel to one of Pixar's best.

Ghostbusters - the successful and timely reboot of a beloved classic.

Florence Foster Jenkins - a sweet tale of love and music.

The Shallows - a story of one woman's will to survive.

Hunt for the Wilderpeople - a story about creating a family in the most unexpected of ways.

War Dogs - the true story of the business of war.

A Tale of Love and Darkness - a foreign language film set in a dark and complicated time in history.

Bridget Jones's Baby - the final chapter to a favorite romantic comedy.

The Accountant - a surprisingly upbeat and funny film about a crooked accountant.

Inferno - a mystery thriller with a longtime favorite character.

Trolls - a colorful and fun film for children.

Dr. Strange - a mystical superhero film with great special effects.

Passengers - a tale of the lengths one will go to avoid loneliness.

So, many good films to choose from this year! I really loved BrooklynSpotlight, and The Revenant, but I feel like they were really carryovers from 2015 and got their much deserved accolades during the last awards season. I also enjoyed, The AccountantFlorence Foster Jenkins, and Ghostbusters. All were fun and funny in very different ways.

However, if I had to pick one, it has to be Hunt for the Wilderpeople. It was quirky and fun, but really sweet and touching too. Great performances from Sam Neill and newcomer Julian Dennison. The whole film felt fresh and new, and was simply delightful from beginning to end. I highly recommend checking this one out (it's currently streaming on Hulu).

What was your favorite film of the year? I can't wait for awards season! The Golden Globes are the first weekend in January, and Oscar nominations are right around the corner.


2016 In Review - Books

I'm taking this week to recap all that went on here at Pretty Handsome in 2016. Let's start with books!

I was a little light on the number of books read this year, at least for me - only 15.

1 - Styled: Secrets for Arranging Rooms, from Tabletops to Bookshelves by Emily Henderson

2 - The Light of the Fireflies by Paul Pen

3 - Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

4 - Star Sand by Roger Pulvers

5 - The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchison

6 - The Moonlit Garden by Corina Bomann

7 - Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs

8 - Charlotte's Web by E.B. White

9 - Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

10 - Intrusion by Mary McCluskey

11 - Grave of Hummingbirds by Jennifer Skutelsky

12 - Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

13 - Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by John Tiffany

14 - The Daughter of Union County by Francine Thomas Howard

15 - The Nordic Theory of Everything: In Search of a Better Life by Anu Partanen

Again, I decided to pick both a favorite fiction and non-fiction book, and here they are!
Favorite Fiction of 2016 - Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Favorite Non-Fiction of 2016 - The Nordic Theory of Everything: In Search of a Better Life by Anu Partanen

They were both just so very interesting, and I learned a ton from both. I feel Homegoing is a book they'll be teaching in schools one day, it's that caliber of good. Then, The Nordic Theory of Everything should be a must read for every American. I can't wait to tell you more about it.

What was your favorite book you read this year?

The links above will take you to my review of the book here on the blog. I didn't get to reviewing all of them yet, but will update this post with the links when I do.

P.S. 2015 In Review - Books
P.P.S. I keep track of all my books on the great site/app Goodreads. If you're an avid reader it's a lot of fun. You can totally friend me on there too!



Let's Go To The Movies - Passengers

The last movie I saw in the theaters this year was Passengers.

WARNING: This post contains major plot spoilers. I usually try my best not to give anything away in my reviews, but I just couldn't with this one. My feelings for the film could not be adequately expressed without revealing major plot points for reference. So, stop reading now if you don't want to know the details.

Aboard the space ship Avalon, Jim Preston (Chris Pratt) and Aurora Lane (Jennifer Lawrence) find they've been awaken out of hibernation 90 years before their scheduled arrival on the far off planet, Homestead II. When the Avalon starts malfunctioning, the two risk their lives in an attempt to fix the ship and save the additional 5,000 helpless passengers still in slumber.

Okay, where to start with this one.

This movie made me mad. Seriously, the more and more I watched the more pissed off I became until I was basically fuming by the time I got home. I don't think I've ever had such a visceral reaction to a film before.

This film was pure male fantasy, and here's why.


He frigging WOKE...HER...UP!

You see, it is only Jim that gets accidentally awakened. After over a year in isolation on the ship, he's rightfully sort of losing it, and starts focusing in on sleeping passenger, Aurora. Naming the character Aurora only solidifies their intent she be his Sleeping Beauty. When he realizes he knows how to wake her up (he's an engineer, of course), to his credit he does suffer quite the crisis of conscious on whether or not to do it. However, he does, and with that decision I was out.

You see, this movie only works (and I use that term loosely) because it's Chris Pratt waking her up, and they, of course, fall in love. He's an attractive guy, so they're hoping you think, who wouldn't want to be stranded alone on a spaceship with Chris Pratt?

But I just kept thinking, what if it wasn't him. What if it was you and some gross old dude woke you up instead? Can you just imagine for a second how that would feel? If he was only looking for companionship, he could have woken up another man to play basketball and video games with. No, he woke her up because he wanted female companionship, if you know what I mean. The ramifications of being woken up too early on this ship means they will die on the ship. So, waking her up was essentially murdering her. It's just another situation of a man trying to make major life decisions for a woman without her consent. Even worse, they wrapped it up and delivered it to us in the form of so-called "entertainment."

This movie could have been saved though. It actually could have been really good. The concept was interesting, the cast good, and the special effects were cool. The scene where the gravity goes out while Jennifer Lawrence is in the pool was awesome. All they had to do to fix the film, and it's so obvious a solution, was to reverse the roles.

You see, Aurora doesn't even get to do anything spectacular to help save the ship. It's all Jim - he's the engineer. She's a writer, and of course, writes about the whole experience after the fact. Wait, I'm sorry, she does use her fine make-up skills to fix up their robot bartender's face after it gets damaged.

But wouldn't it have been such an interesting twist if Aurora was the engineer who decides to wake Jim up to be her personal play thing, and she's the one who saves the day instead. That's the story I would have liked to see, and one that should be, but alas, has yet to be told.


Santa Claus Is Coming To...Phoenix

The kids were super excited to see Santa this year. They had a lot of questions about where at the mall Santa parked his sled and reindeer. You should have heard some of the theories they came up with.

Here's their official 2016 picture, and I love it!
I had started trying to get Seamus to smile "normal", but he wouldn't budge from this expression. Eventually, I just started cracking up and went with it. It so perfectly captures his personality. He'll cooperate, but always on his own terms this one.

Madeleine is looking crazy gown-up now. Six seems to be agreeing with her.

How did your pictures with Santa turn out this year?

P.S. If you want to see how the kids have grown, check our our Santa pictures from the last two years.


Another Christmas, Another Christmas Card

I barely scraped together a holiday card this year, but here she is. Madeleine's school had offered some fall family photos if you donated a certain dollar amount to the PTO, so we took advantage. I tried to crop out all the "fall" stuff, although you can still see a pumpkin peeking out from behind each of the kiddos.
Then, I used Shutterfly again this year. I'm a fan of their selection, prices, and they always have great coupon codes.

And with that, another item marked off the ole Christmas To-Do List.

Just for the record, this was not a paid for or sponsored post (I wish).  I think this is a good product, so I just wanted to share.


2016 Exterior Christmas Decorations

We've talked about the glorious white Christmas tree and all the interior Christmas decorations. Now let's head outside.

For the last three years I've been trying to find the perfect lights for the house, and every year I end up returning them. This year I did a little bit of research, and ultimately decided that colored icicle lights was what I really wanted. I finally pulled the trigger on a set of lights (these here), and I'm actually really happy with them!
Then, I picked up the lighted potted palm on clearance a few years ago (similar here), and the lighted presents were new this year from Target (these here).

I think it's a pretty good start. I really want to line the roof of the second story next year. Also, I want a big lighted wreath, like super big, on our bedroom window.

Here's a more glow-in-the-dark look. I'm still trying to figure out the best way to take photos of lights in the dark.
And zoomed in for a little bit more detail.
So, that's it for our exterior Christmas decorations. How do you decorate your house? Are you a classic white light kind of person, or do you go full-on Clark Griswold? I definitely lean towards Clark Griswold. Our subdivision is very brown, so this is my one time of year to bring the color. Give me a few more years and I'll be blinding the neighbors each Christmas.


2016 Interior Christmas Decor

The wondrous white Christmas tree wasn't the only holiday decoration in the house. I tried to put little touches of Christmas all throughout to give us all a bit more holiday cheer this season.

The family room got our green artificial tree that we used to put in the living room. It's funny because it always looked so small in the living room, but in the family room it suddenly looked huge. I didn't realize how wide it was. We made it work though, and ended up putting it where our brown leather chair usually resides. The chair got moved to the other side of the room by the fire place.
This tree has no theme. It's a mix of all my ornaments: Hallmark, Old World Christmas, gifts, and even the homemade ones from the kids. The tree skirt was made by my mom decades ago. It was the one we always used on our trees while I was growing up.
I added my mercury trees that I've had forever along with a few snow globes on top of the chest next to the tree. The white and red bottomed globes came from Target last year, but the one in the middle I got from Gump's and gave to Madeleine on her very first Christmas.
Moving left around the room, I flanked the TV with some small poinsettias and my snowflake lanterns I've had forever.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, and that's about it over here. I got the trees covered, but surprisingly, I don't have a whole lot of decorations for the rest of the home. I love the kids's stockings though (they're from here). The nutcracker was a gift from my mom and dad ages ago, and I picked up the glittery gold statue of the holy family last year at Target. I don't think the statue quite goes with the more woodsy look of the stockings and nutcracker, but I didn't have anywhere else to put it. I had planned to get some larger poinsettias to flank the fireplace, but alas, I forgot in the end.
Moving into the powder room, I just added a few festive hand towels I got from Kohl's a few years back. I know, really exciting stuff right here.
Then, in the kitchen, I added a few vintage stained glass MakIt&BakIt suncatcher kits I made as a kid. We also put out our Melissa & Doug Advent calendar tree here as well. The kids love putting a new ornament on it each day. 
I lined my big kitchen window with all the Christmas cards we received from family and friends. It's such a nice way to enjoy their smiling faces all season long; especially since we won't be seeing any of them this Christmas.
The oven got a couple of Christmas hand towels from Kohl's a few years back.
On the other counter top corner I added a little Santa mug and pitcher I got as a gift a few year's ago from my sister.
Finally, the pantry door was the perfect place to hang Banshee's stocking.

Moving to the living and dining rooms. I showcased the tree in my last post (see here), but that's not all that was going on in there.
We wound garland up the staircase banister, and then topped the baluster with a Santa hat.
I added my Santa cookie jar and salt and pepper shakers to my dining room table. They match the mug and pitcher set up in the kitchen.
And I set up my nativity on top of the bar, along with some Waterford crystal bells, and Bill and my childhood stockings. Bill's is the Mrs. Claus one. Funny story, it was knit by an Aunt before he was born, and she thought he was going to be a girl, so Mrs. Claus it was and still is today.
On the living room side, I added my little red Waterford crystal Christmas tree (a gift from my mom) to the round coffee table.
Finally, the entryway got a little sparkle by way of my wreath, reindeers, and tinsel trees. They're all pretty old and were bought at various times not necessarily meant to go together, but I like how it all ended up working.
So, that's what's going on inside the house this Christmas. I think parts of the living and dining room came together nicely, but I have a bit of work to do in the family room. It's a bit of a hodge-podge of different design styles in there, but you know, all in good time.
Finally, I managed a fun picture of the family room tree lit up at night too. I love how the colors are all bouncing off the walls and floor. So pretty!