36 Birthday Favorites, and a Prize!

Hey, Friends! It’s that time again – this week is my birthday, and it’s tradition around here to share everything I’m loving right now, and the things that have made this last year enjoyable/delicious/successful/positive in any way.:)

For the past two years, I’ve made this a month long thing, which ended up feeling very…long..to me. It kept me from blogging about other things I enjoy writing about, so we’re going to do it a bit differently this year. I’ll do a week of favorites, and we’ll still end with a prize – every time you comment and share your favorites with me, your name will get entered in a draw, and I’ll announce the winner next Monday.

The prize: I’ll share my birthday money with you, and buy you something on my list of favorites! The last two years, it’s been a book, because that is my most favorite thing to get, but we’ll see what I’m in the mood for this year.;)

So, let’s get started!

We’re going with an “Entertainment” theme today! Here are my first five favorites:

1) Movie

As I’ve explained before, I don’t watch a ton of movies. Once our girlies are in bed, it feels kind of late to start a movie, so Ben and I prefer watching an episode from a favorite TV show instead, but I really do love a good movie. The story-teller in me still craves this form of entertainment – and it is such a relief to watch something that doesn’t leave you in suspense at the end! TV shows are the worst for that!

So although I didn’t watch a lot of movies this year, I would have to say that “Saving Mr. Banks” was the best one I saw. I didn’t have very high expectations for it – how can you make a movie about making a movie??! What is the point?

Saving Mr. Bankssource

Oh, there is so much of a point! That movie is just beautiful. Humongous lump in my throat for most of it. The author’s life story is beautifully and painfully portrayed, and the connections between her real life, and the writing of Mary Poppins ensure I will never view that old movie in the same way again. Loved it.

2) TV Show

We’ve still stayed true to our old favorite, “Once Upon a Time”, although Ben did get very, very frustrated with the writing during this third season! He felt it was much weaker than it has been in the past, and yet we still keep coming back for more!:)

Once Upon a Timesource

But we definitely also enjoyed the Canadian version of “Amazing Race” last summer, and are eagerly anticipating the beginning of the new season tomorrow night! But who could ever replace Jet and Dave??!

3) Book


This is an easy choice – Switch on Your Brain was life-changing. Seriously. I wrote about the book in this post, and I have gone through three different 21 day brain detox cycles since first reading the book, just starting my fourth round. I cannot believe how this book works. I have battled some intense, deep-rooted issues in my thought habits, and absolutely love how the steps described in this book have brought me freedom.

Because it is most effective to only work on one negative thought/issue at a time, and each cycle takes three weeks, it is a bit time consuming, but completely worth it. Painful situations from the past that I thought I would carry with me for the rest of life have finally been brought to a place of peace.

I could just go to a counselor, and have someone walk me through it, but from my counseling experience in the past, I learned that I still needed to do the hard work myself – I needed the discipline to change my thoughts, and nobody could do that for me but me. I think it would still be super beneficial to go for counseling, and a book doesn’t replace that, but for this season of my life, exciting things are happening from the changes I am making with the help of this book.

4) Fun Song

Love this one! Tragically, Anika informed me she doesn’t like it anymore. We must have played it too many times!

5) Serious Song

This one was a bit harder to choose! I had two songs that carried me through December – I must have listened to both of them every single morning for a month straight. I shared the other one in this blog post, so I’ll share the second one today:

And now it’s your turn! I want to hear your favorites! Any awesome books, movies, or music I need to know about?

35 Days of Favorites: Movies and Meat

Ben and I have decided we must be getting old, because we are no longer willing to stay up late for the sake of finishing a movie. We much prefer watching a 45 minute TV episode instead of a two hour movie.

As a result, I have never watched as few movies as I did in this last year. I had a really difficult time even remembering what I had watched, but when I thought really hard about it, I realized there was one movie in particular which impacted me enough to remember it a year later.

It’s called Food, Inc., and it’s a documentary about how food is produced. It’s described as “…An unflattering look inside America’s corporate controlled food industry.” (source)

Food, Inc.I would not describe it as pleasurable viewing, but if you want something to change your life, then you’ve got the right movie.

I don’t think I’ll ever be able to feel the same way about grocery shopping again. Especially about buying meat.

It came at the perfect time, really, because I’d known for awhile that we should start buying different meat, but nothing had motivated me enough to take the plunge.

My body does not deal well with antibiotics, and so it makes sense that I should also be avoiding meat which has been pumped full of antibiotics. Knowing this, and actually doing something about it were two different things.

But then Ben and I watched this documentary, and saw a lot of things we had never wished to see. It was so eye-opening, we never ate regular meat again. I cooked meatless meals for a few days, until we could figure out where to get our hands on some organic meat, and we’ve never gone back.

If you are like me, and you would like to be eating healthier meat, but don’t know where to buy it, I can tell you what I know:

Chicken: Make connections with a Hutterite colony and buy a bunch of whole chickens. Apparently that’s the cheapest option. It’s the only one we’ve tried so far.

Beef: We love getting beef from Bouw Farm. We’re about to get another big box of delicious beef, and I can’t wait to start barbequing!

Other: While we’ve been waiting for our cow to get butchered, we picked up some beef, as well as a few chicken breasts for barbequing this summer, from Marcello’s Meats. It’s more expensive than the other two options I mentioned, but it’s convenient, and you don’t have to buy large amounts.

Vita Health also sells organic meat, but I’ve never tried any.

Along with encouraging us to change our meat-buying habits, this documentary also motivated me to think more about gardening and farmer’s markets – knowing where my food comes from, and buying stuff close to home. I took Anika and Kaylia to the St. Norbert Farmer’s Market for the first time a few weeks ago, and everybody had such a good time. There wasn’t a lot of fresh produce at that point yet, but I was able to pick up some lettuce, spinach, rhubarb, and honey. We all want to go back again sometime soon!

That’s a lot of change from one documentary. Watch it at your own risk!;)]

Any good movies you’ve seen recently? Something good enough to stay up past my bedtime to watch?!


34 Days of Favorites: Movie

We don’t watch a lot of movies around here anymore. Ben says we’re getting old – bedtime ends up being too late when we watch a movie in the evening, so we usually opt for a TV show instead – one hour long, and you’re good to go!

And we are very loyal TV watchers. We pick a show, and enjoy one episode each week, with commitment – no channel flipping for us!

We’re also picky about what movies we watch. We always read reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, which is a great rating site is you want to find out how much other people enjoyed the movie, and we love using Preview Online, a Christian reviewing site, to find out if the movie is clean enough to be filling our minds for an entire evening.

We do our research.:)

But I do enjoy a good movie. It’s the story-teller in me.

Here are some of the movies we enjoyed this last year:

The Guardian – I cry every time. Seriously, when the mentor says to the younger man, “I have high hopes for you,” I just lose it. Ben actually had to watch this one as an assignment for his Master’s program, because of it’s emphasis on mentoring and leadership.

Penelope – Totally different flavour, but extremely enjoyable! It’s a sweet story about accepting yourself  for who you are. It’s a very wholesome chick flick!

Becoming Jane – Quite lovely, as well. It’s the story of how Jane Austin…became Jane Austin! She had such a sad life, but somehow, the movie makes it beautiful and real, and you feel happy at the end.

Jane Eyre -So good! I loved it. I read the book with Anika – just a children’s classic version, so I’ve never read “the real thing”, but I knew the story. Usually, reading the book first and then watching the movie is a big disappointment, but not this time! I thought it was very well done.

But my very favorite of the year would have to be The King’s Speech.


Absolutely loved it. Sorry, Mom! (She does not like the parts where he goes off on a massive swearing streak! But other than that, this movie is very clean.)

There were a number of reasons why I loved it. Besides the fact that it’s just a solid movie, very well done, I would have to say the cinematography is incredible. This movie is beautiful. And I’m a sucker for off-centre framing – I’ve seen a ton of it in photos, but not in a movie. Loved it.

And then there’s the story. I love it that it’s true, and one of the reasons I found it super interesting was because I watched “The Woman He Loved” many years ago, which is the story of how King Edward VIII gives up the throne to marry a divorced woman.

The main character in “The King’s Speech”is Edward’s younger brother,Albert, and I loved seeing the story from a totally different point of view. This story is about how Albert has to overcome insecurities, including a speech impediment, to become king when Edward abdicates the throne.

Albert does not want to become king. His struggle to communicate, and the deep roots behind his problem are heartbreaking. There’s one line in this movie, as well, which completely undoes me. It’s when Albert is so frustrated, so angry, because people won’t listen to him, and he finally bursts out with, “I HAVE A VOICE!” It’s this powerful moment of him realizing his value and worth, even though he struggles to communicate his true thoughts.

Oh, who doesn’t need a voice?! The freedom to be, to express, to participate, to instigate change. Love it, love it, love it. Such profound life lessons touched on in this movie – the power of words, the impact of family, the ability to rise above one’s weaknesses.

Any fantastic movie suggestions out there? Anyone else who loved “The King’s Speech”?

(To find out more about “34 Days of Favorites”, click here.)