Jana Says

Living life from cover to cover

Tag Archive: favorites

This week in…: Volume 12

this week

This week in saving money…Fortunately I live an hour away from many, many outlet stores and since my child decided to grow and needed everything under the sun for the spring and summer, that’s where we went shopping. While my in-laws picked up the tab for her stuff (thank you, in-laws), I bought some stuff for me. Four t-shirt and a hoodie from the Old Navy outlet for roughly $30. That totally works for me. 

This week in cooking…Awhile back, I had found a recipe for zucchini bread muffins. I had more zucchini than is necessary on hand so I gave them a try. DELICIOUS. Only this time, I didn’t have vanilla extract. So I substituted almond extract. Even more delicious. 

This week in reading…Working my way through Stolen and Mobile Library, not The One Hundred Year Old Man as planned. Full review coming this Tuesday, April 14 for Show Us Your Books.

This week in watching…Nothing new, just lots of SVU reruns and anxiously awaiting the start of Orange is the New Black and True Detective in June. Oh, and we rented The Imitation Game last weekend. Great movie but I truly don’t get everyone’s obsession with Benedict Cumberbatch. Can someone please explain?

This week in listening…I created a movie songs playlist in Spotify. I’m quite pleased with it yet I feel like something is missing. What’s your favorite song from a movie? Let me know in the comments. I’m not sure, though, that I’ll listen to the new podcast about Adnan Syed (you know, the subject of Serial). I might give it a try. Maybe.

This week in things that annoy me…People who, in public, have conversations on speaker phone. The expression “on fleek” (seriously, what the hell is that? So we’re just creating random nonsense words now and then making them things? Let’s not even discuss the fact that I had to look up what it means and the fact that the first time I saw it was on a cheer bow and the second time was on Seth Rogen’s Instagram. Let’s also not discuss how ridiculous that last sentence makes me sound). Bi-polar weather. People who play the follow/unfollow/follow game on social media. My cat.

This week in things that don’t annoy me…Leftovers for lunch. Realizing that when my parents come to visit me this weekend, my favorite bagel store, which closes during Passover, will have reopened because Passover ended the day before they come down so I get my bagels (no one will ever convince me that bagels from anywhere other than New York are worth eating)!!! My daughter having friends over because I don’t have to come up with ways to entertain her or endure 2947326 continuous hours of Victorious, iCarly, and all her other Nickelodeon shows.

This week in internet reads…I’ve got nothing this week but I do have about a dozen links saved (does anyone else abuse the Facebook “save link” feature?) so be prepared for next week’s onslaught.

This week in funnies…hrhh_humor_9_16_655a hrhh_humor_9_30_654a irritating too legit

It was an uneventful week here in Delaware and it’s shaping up to be just as uneventful of a weekend, which is just fine by me. See you all on Monday when I’ll be completely ripping off one of Kristen’s post ideas. Have a great weekend!

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Friday favorites: Child’s birthday edition

We have a special guest poster today. She’s not a blogger, although she has posted before and she often makes an appearance in my posts because without her, my source material drops by about 50%. She’s also lucky she’s cute because if she wasn’t, there’s no way I’d endure the endless drives to cheer practice, the endless loop of Nickelodeon shows, and the constant barrage of questions at inconvenient times. 

Then again, I probably would because she’s my daughter and I love her and I really don’t know how I got so lucky to have such a great kid. 

Having a kid with a birthday in December presents a whole host of challenges. Some of them are financial (I once talked about how we deal with that, although I probably should go back and update that post); some of them are logistic. It’s hard to organize a party in the middle of everyone’s holiday plans and it’s even more difficult to get people to remember her birthday is a completely separate entity from Hanukkah and Christmas. Given all of that, we make sure we do everything we possibly can to let her know her birthday is important to us and on that day (which, this year, falls on 12/13/14 and she thinks that is just the coolest thing ever), we make it all about her, even if it intersects with Hanukkah (which, this year, it does not. Last year, either. So that’s been nice). 

As part of that, I’m letting her share with you some of her favorites rather than me droning on for another week. FYI: she thought my additions were hysterical and had a phenomenal time reading the sentence that has the word “shit” in it repeatedly.

Favorite part of December

Erica says: My birthday!!!

Jana says: I was glad when she was born, too. Mostly because being pregnant sucked. But the end result was pretty good.

Favorite birthday present

Erica says: My American Girl doll!

Jana says: No shit. It’s all she’s talked about for the last two months.

Favorite family birthday tradition

Erica says: Getting to choose everything!

Jana says: I regret the day we instituted this as a family birthday rule. Although her taste is getting slightly better. And pizza is delicious. 

Favorite part of Hanukkah

Erica says: Getting the gifts!

Jana says: That’s my favorite part, too. Lighting the candles is merely an exercise in how not to set myself on fire; the symbolic and tradition part of it has become secondary.

Favorite Christmas food

Erica says: Turkey!

Jana says: There’s cookies, fudge, candy canes, hot chocolate, and all kinds of stuff filled with sugar. And my child picks turkey? What the hell? How have I failed so badly?

Favorite Christmas movie

Erica says: Charlie Brown Christmas.

Jana says: She should have responded with “A Muppet Christmas Carol”. I clearly have work to do. I blame my husband for this response.

Favorite family Christmas tradition

Erica says: Baking stuff for Santa.

Jana says: It is fun. I’ll agree with her on that one. 

Favorite part of Christmas break

Erica says: Not having to get up early!

Jana says: That’s nice, as is not having to pack lunch every day. Or snack. Or remembering to fill a water bottle. Or even getting dressed.

I’m going to end this post by sharing a few pictures of the child. They have been approved and endorsed by her.

Erica collage

Thanks for hanging out with my daughter today! She’s glad you stopped by so you could learn a little bit about her. She wants you to have a great weekend and come back and visit her mommy on Monday.

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Linking up with AmandaFriday Favorites

Friday favorites: Christmas stuff

For those who are new or who might not know, I am Jewish. Which means that growing up, I didn’t have Santa or the joy of Christmas morning or even got remotely infected with the Christmas spirit (where I grew up in New York was predominately Jewish, too). The closest I came to celebrating Christmas was my freshman year of high school when I flew to Atlanta to with 2 of my friends to visit another friend who had moved there. She wasn’t Jewish so we got to experience her tree and all that good stuff. 

I liked that.

As for my family, we had some great Christmas traditions that typically involved eating Chinese food and going to the movies on Christmas Day and also celebrating Hanukkah for eight crazy nights (and by crazy, I mean lighting candles and giving each other presents. We know how to party) because that’s what good Jews do. And I figured those would always be my traditions. 

Then I met my husband. And he’s definitely not Jewish. So we celebrate Christmas now and have different traditions and we’re probably a handful of houses that have a Star of David ornament on their Christmas tree. 

Actual ornament on our actual tree.

Actual ornament on our actual tree.

Now that we’ve been together for 19 Christmases (including this one), it’s hard to imagine a time when Christmas wasn’t part of my December. 

Christmas lights. Sure, there were houses where I grew up that decorated for Christmas, including two that went absolutely overboard (in a good, only moderately tacky way) with their outdoor light displays, but now that I celebrate Christmas, I appreciate them more. They’re just prettier for reasons I’m struggling to explain. Also included in this: home decor, Christmas scented candles, 

The food. Holy hell, THIS is what I missed out on. Fudge. Christmas cookies. Fudge. Christmas dinner which is like Thanksgiving part 2. Gingerbread houses and men with frosting and candy and assorted other deliciousness. Fudge. Sure, potato latkes are fried perfection but they pale in comparison to all the other foods.  Sugar and fatness galore. This is part of why my yoga pants are my favorite. One caveat: No, absolutely no, eggnog for me. That shit is revolting.

Bonus: Here’s an easy recipe I found on Pinterest for fudge: combine 3 cups chocolate chips and one can condensed sweetened milk in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave on medium power for one minute, stir, repeat until chocolate is dissolved in milk. Spread on wax paper in 9×13 dish, and chill for 1-2 hours. Cut into squares. Jana inspired variations: replace one cup chocolate chips with mint chips, peanut butter chips, or replace regular chocolate with white chocolate. This is mint chocolate with crushed candy canes. It tastes as delicious as it looks.


Movies. I had watched Frosty and Rudolph and the Grinch as a kid but now, as an adult with a child and as someone who actually celebrates the holiday, the movies are infinitely more enjoyable. And then there’s the whole host of Christmas movies that never meant anything when I was a kid but now I can’t imagine the holiday without: A Christmas Story (true story: I saw for the first time in 7th grade English class), Christmas Vacation, A Muppet Christmas Carol, and Emmett Otter’s Jugband Christmas (which is really just The Gift of the Magi but with Muppets. I had this epiphany last year).

School vacations. Clearly, as a kid, I loved Christmas even as a Jew because thank you, two weeks off from school. Hard to beat that. Now the two weeks off from school means no early morning fights with the child to get her to school on time, no homework to help with, no lunches to pack, no wasting my time in the afternoon pick-up line, and no wondering what mystery object or paper will come home in her backpack. It really is a wonderful time of the year.

Presents. It sounds cliche, but I definitely love buying presents for others more than I like getting them for myself. I find it enjoyable to search for stuff my family wouldn’t buy for themselves, and the look on my daughter’s face when she opens her gifts is simply priceless. We also have a family tradition of buying for Toys for Tots, and knowing that some kid somewhere else is having a similar reaction to my daughter makes me happy, knowing that I did that (if you want to read about the time doing something like this really made a difference, read this post). 

Two Christmas traditions I’m still working on: sending cards and enjoying holiday music. I’m too lazy to send cards and the music doesn’t do it for me. I typically avoid it as much as possible. However. There are some songs that I do enjoy and in two weeks, we’ll go into my favorite Christmas songs. They’re probably not what you expect.

But so you don’t think I’m totally grinchy, here’s one that I love. It’s easy to figure out why.

 What are some of your favorite things about Christmas? What recipes should I try?

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Linking up with Amanda

Friday Favorites


Friday Favorites: Celebrity Memoirs

I’m taking a break (again) from my normal Friday Favorite format (hooray for alliteration!) to bring you a special edition. This time, we’re focusing on books. Specifically celebrity memoirs. 

I love a good memoir. Not a huge fan of biographies, although I do have Jim Henson’s and Steve Jobs’s on my bookshelf, waiting to be read, but a good celebrity memoir can make for an interesting and fun read. Some are really well done. Others, not so much. It does get on my nerves a bit that we’re getting to a point that if you’re even a quasi-celebrity, you’ll write a memoir because that’s just what you do (ignoring the fact that you might not be all that interesting. Like me. If I ever become famous, I will not write a memoir because it would be the most boring one of all time. I’d call it Vanilla With Sprinkles (which, incidentally, was what I was planning on naming this blog before I came up with stand out, creatively superior “Jana Says”)). 

I don’t think everyone needs to write a memoir. Which is why I’m happy to weed out the good ones and make some recommendations. Life is too short to read crappy books.


A note before we get started: there are many, MANY celebrity memoirs I have not read so this list is culled only from ones I have read. There are a number that are on my to-read list and we’ll get to those at the end of the list. Also, there are a bunch of memoirs that I have read that I loved but are not included in the list because they were not written by celebrities but I think you should read them anyway (ex., Adam Shepard’s Scratch Beginnings: Me, $25, and the Search for the American Dream, Jenny Lawson’s Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, Dave Cicirelli’s Fakebook: A True Story. Based on Actual LiesJared Dillion’s Street Freak: Money and Madness at Lehman Brothers, Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project, Rob Sheffield’s Love Is a Mix Tape and Randy Pausch’s The Last Lecture. This is turning into quite an extensive list. Maybe it needs its own post.)

In no particular order, here are my favorite celebrity memoirs so far: 

tony danza

Tony Danza. I’d Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had. I know. Tony Danza? How could this possibly be enjoyable? But trust when I say that reading about his experience as a teacher for a year in a Philadelphia public school is time well spent.

nikki sixx

Nikki Sixx. The Heroin Diaries: A Year in the Life of a Shattered Rock Star. Every kid who takes health class should be required to read this because it’s the most accurate, honest depiction of drug addiction I have ever read. It’s amazingly engrossing and disturbing and you find yourself (often) wondering how he survived.

rick springfield

Rick Springfield. Late, Late At Night. You guys already know how much I love this book. I’ve gushed about it before and there’s no way I wasn’t including it. 

the glass castle

Jeanette Walls. The Glass Castle. I don’t know that she necessarily qualifies as a celebrity but this book was so damn fantastic I’m highlighting it. This book made me feel all the feels: sadness, anger, hope, laughter–the whole gamut. When you can hit the whole range like that, you’re a book that needs to be read. And it’s apparently in development to be a movie with Jennifer Lawrence. 

Honorable mentions: Tina Fey’s Bossypants, Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out with Me?, and Joe Pantoliano’s Asylum: A Memoir About Hollywood, Mental Illness, and Being My Mother’s Son.

Coming up: Amy Poehler’s Yes Please, Cary Elwes’s As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride, and Danielle Fishel’s Normally, This Would Be Cause for Concern

#sorrynotsorry for all the links

In addition to everything mentioned here, there are dozens of memoirs I’ve read or have marked to read and I’ll probably do a follow up post to this some time next year. 

 Which ones do you guys recommend or think I should add to my ever growing list?

Coming up on Monday: More cheer mom series. Most likely a list of what to expect when you become a cheer mom.

Have a great weekend!

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Linking up with Amanda

Friday Favorites

My podcast: 5 things you need to know

Ordinarily I share my Friday favorites and link up with Amanda and I had planned on it but a bunch of you guys wanted to know about my upcoming podcast so I figured I’ll switch gears and do a Friday Five and share 5 things about my podcast you need to know:

  1. I’m cohosting it with my friend Bobby, who blogs at 2 Minute Finance. The idea came about while we, and a group of our other blogger friends, were wandering the streets of New Orleans and as we talked, we realized we had similar ideas for a podcast. We decided it would be a good and fun idea to work on it together.
  2. The first episodes will be released in January. Right now, we’re still working out the kinks in the interview format and developing our guest wish list along with practicing how to interview, designing a logo, and writing our rapid fire Inside The Actors Studio-type questions for the end of each episode. 
  3. Even though it was founded at a financial blogger conference and Bobby is personal finance blogger, we don’t plan to have a personal finance focus at all. In fact, the nature of the podcast is everything but the blogs. As in, we’re talking to bloggers about all the stuff they love. Except their blogs. There’s enough blog talk. We want to know about the person behind the blog.
  4. It’s official name is Offline. A woman in my mastermind group came up with it so I have to give her props. It’s a kick ass name and I’m super excited about it. I just hope we have no conflicts and we don’t have to change it. So far, I think we’re good. (Off topic: remember yesterday when I didn’t know if I should italicize or use quotes for podcast titles? I looked it up. Titles are italics, episode titles are quotes. Just in case you need to know).
  5. I have no idea what I’m doing. And my interview skills are terrible and I have consciously remind myself not to curse. Thankfully Bobby is way more savvy with this stuff than I am and all I really need to do is write questions, send emails, and show up. And not curse. 

Thanks you guys for your enthusiasm and questions and I can’t wait until I have episodes to share!

Since I can’t let a Friday go without sharing at least a couple of my favorite things, here’s my favorite funnies:

 This kid is brilliant

computer guy








If you understand this, we are BFFs. 








Cow vengeance. The threat is real.








And my favorite internet reads for the week were this post on how lateness is actually extremely rude and selfish (and one of my biggest pet peeves); this post discussing that moms are people, too; this list of 18 ways people make their lives harder than they need to be; and this list of 20 unconventional date ideas (my husband and I plan to do a few of them).

Let’s end this with my favorite 90s song of the week, “Plowed” by Sponge. 
Plowed by Sponge on Grooveshark

On deck for Monday: the second post in my cheer mom series, focusing on the financial aspects of being a cheer parent.

Have a great weekend!

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