Tuesday, December 13, 2011

No Holds Barred Drama on The X Factor

After last week's performance show, I was pretty sure who was going home. Despite the fact the Chris Rene turned in a sincere performance with his original song titled, "Where Do We Go From Here", I was sure that he was going home. His collective performances were just not strong enough in comparison with the remaining contestants: Rachel Crow, Melanie Amaro, Josh Krajcik, and Marcus Canty. I felt Melanie and Marcus both turned in two strong performances, Josh's second performance was powerful, and Rachel was her usual charming self despite a questionable song choice for her second song. She chose Music & Me continuing last week's Michael Jackson theme.

Then came elimination day, and Chris Rene was the first person announced to be safe for next week's semi-finals. There went my theory, and there left me wondering, who is the American public voting for and why? Josh Krajcik was announced as safe next, and then a nervous Melanie Amaro found out that she too would be coming back next week.

Once again, Marcus Canty was in the bottom two, for the third week in a row. My question is, what is this boy doing wrong? In my eyes, he has been working harder than everyone else, and putting more emotion into his performances than anyone else. You cannot ask for more than that. Also sitting in the bottom two was the sweet and panicked Rachel Crow, who at the age of 13 is the youngest contestant in this competition. Marcus is used to being in this spot now, and he has always delivered on his "save me" song. This week would be no exception, Marcus sang "I'm Going Down" by Mary J. Blige, and he really controlled his voice well in this performance. Rachel sang "I'd Rather Be Blind", and I must admit she really knocked this performance out. However, if I was judging it based on the previous night's performances, Marcus was the stronger contestant.

When it came down to the judges votes, L.A. stayed loyal to his guy Marcus, Simon stayed true to Rachel, Paula picked Rachel to stay, and the vote came down to Nicole who said she loved both of these contestants and couldn't possibly choose which one to send home. She confirmed that she wanted to go to a deadlock, and Rachel was sent home. She collapsed onto the stage crying and calling for her mother, Nicole began crying, and Marcus Canty leaned down to try and console Rachel.

Following this decision, there was so much backlash, people hated Nicole blaming her for Rachel being sent home. Marcus Canty received lots of nasty posts on his twitter and Facebook, prompting the Maryland native to seriously consider dropping out of the competition. I want to say how disgusted I am with how people acted following these results. First of all, these were the results of the people who voted, so how can people be mad at Nicole for how they decided to vote? How can people be mad at Marcus Canty? Just like Rachel, he is a contestant who got on that stage week after week and competed like a warrior for your votes! Just like everyone else left in this competition, he deserves to be there, he earned his spot. It is immature for people to act like this when these contestants are working so hard and enduring so much.

On a side note, is it just a rumor, or is Chris Rene using again, there was some controversy last week when a post on Twitter sent chills up the spines of twitterers everywhere. Was it true? I have no clue. I am not going to post it here, if anyone is interested you can look it up for yourselves. M.J.'s Big Blog has a story on it.

Until next time. ;-)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

We're Down to Five on The X Factor

So, which two acts went home after last week's Michael Jackson tribute? I must admit I was rather surprised, but at the end of last week's results show, Astro and Drew were sent packing. What happened? Who knows.

What I loved about the performance night is that several members of the Jackson Family were in attendance. It is always difficult to sing Michael Jackson songs, and it was surprising that some of his more known hits did not make their way into the show. No one sang Human Nature, You Are Not Alone, or Beat It. In fact, some of the song selections were rather obscure.

Josh Krajcik, one of the most talented voices in this competition sang Dirty Diana. He has a great voice, but this was the wrong song for him, I didn't like the arrangement, and Josh seemed uncomfortable. Luckily, the past weeks have redeemed him this week.

Astro took on Michael's Black and White, and while I certainly appreciate Astro's creativity it would have been great had he sang Michael's lyrics, I think it would have been more powerful. Even though Astro was voted off, I predict he will have a presence on the rap scene, but will he compete with Jay Z, Kanye, Drake, or Wayne remains unproven to me.

Drew sang Billie Jean and while her vocals were on point, the other judges questioned whether or not Drew should have sang another slowed down song. She was also sitting in a chair, some argued that this made the performance more powerful because she would have to harness her emotions more, while some said it took away from what the performance could have been which was rousing. It turned out to be the wrong move for Drew as she was sent home after her save me performance against Marcus Canty.

Simon picked the song Can You Feel It for Rachel Crow which confused me a bit. Why was she singing this? It's not like there weren't any better Michael Jackson songs to choose from. I can see not wanting to choose something like ABC, but this was kind of a disaster, I am a bit surprised Rachel wasn't eliminated.

Marcus performed an over the top version of PYT. I didn't like the way they rearranged the background music for the song. It took a lot of the natural soul out of the song, there was the beat to Usher's D.J.'s Got Us Falling in Love in the background. I understand that maybe L.A. was trying to modernize this version, but this didn't work. Marcus has a classic R&B voice and therefore that's how the song should have been sung. The way he sang his save me song is the way he should always sing. He shouldn't leave any doubt of his passion for music, anything he does have should be left on the stage.

Chris Rene sang I'll Be There; this was not good. In short, I want to say that I love Chris, I admire what he has overcome, but I think he should have gone home.

Melanie Amaro blew me away with her rendition of Earth Song. There was lots of power behind it, and Melanie remains my favorite to win this competition. Nicole even went as far as saying that it was her favorite performance of the entire competition so far.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Paula's groups are no more on The X Factor

Last week was all about being "thankful", who would no longer be thankful once the results show took place? It was anyone's guess. This was surprisingly a week where I believe everyone turned in a strong performance on an individual level. Many contestants turned in a performance that was their personal best thus far in the competition.

It was also a double elimination week which was unfair because everyone was just starting to get in their zones.


How crazy was it hearing Rachel Crow's story, apparently her biological mom was a crack addict and therefore when Rachel was born she had an addiction to the drug. Rachel did a good job with her performance, but it wasn't the right song choice. Simon? What is going on?

I loved Marcus Canty singing "A Song for Mama" by Boyz II Men for his mom. I felt it was the most real emotion he has shown since he started on the show. Simon agreed saying he felt that this most connected he felt to him. Apparently viewers didn't feel that way saying Marcus was under pitch and his voice cracked. Sometimes it's more about the emotion and less about having perfect vocals. Viewers take note.

LeRoy Bell performed a sincere, stripped down version of "Angel" by Sara McLachlan in memory of his mom who passed away. Mr. Bell, your mom would be so extremely proud of you. Simon even congratulated LeRoy on a fantastic tribute to his mom. I couldn't agree more.

Last, but certainly not least, to perform on the night of giving thanks was Josh Krajcik. He absolutely stunned me with his rendition of "Wild Horses" by The Rolling Stones which he dedicated to his daughter. I literally found myself getting goosebumps in addition to tears coming to my eyes. Josh received the ultimate praise from each judge; he was without a doubt: breathtaking and powerful.


Who knew that Melanie Amaro was from The Virgin Islands and that she had that crazy sexy Rihanna accent? Is there anything that we won't like about this girl? I really don't think so. She is probably the most consistent performer in this group in terms of her voice. She never misses, even when she had laryngitis.

It was so ridiculous that Astro came up with this completely original song, and his attitude was totally 180 from last week. If he continues acting like this and continues being unique and pushing himself, he may just make it into the top three or four. I loved that his song sampled "Show Me What You Got" by Jay Z, great beat and background for his song to be built around.

This performance was amazing, but what was ridiculous was L.A.'s comments about Drew's performance. Drew sang the very poignant "Skyscraper" by young rising star Demi Lovato. L.A. tried to argue that this song was too old for the teenage Drew, well that doesn't really make sense because Lovato appeals directly to Drew's age group. Actually, I thought his comments was so strange that I need to quote M.J. from M.J.'s Big Blog: LA Reid decided to actually “critique” a performance, and what he had to say had me feeling second hand embarrassment for him. It’s hard to believe that a record executive has no idea that “Skyscraper” was recorded by a teenager for fellow teenagers. Drew, completely out of character, began arguing with LA about the song. By this time, the show was completely off the rails.LA: He tells Drew he thinks she’s a great singer but that her mentor is giving her songs for people who are 40. WHAT? Is it possible that LA has no idea that an actual teenager–Demi Lovato–recorded the song? Teenagers LOVE this song. I’m feeling second hand embarrassment for LA. Drew talks back to him, uncharacteristically angry. She’s probably as taken aback by his stupidity as everyone else.

Not So Good:

Chris Rene's rendition of "Let It Be" had a good reason behind it, but at the end of this week on competition, his vocals were all over the place. I had the impression that after this, he may be in trouble in terms of votes.

Lakoda Rayne had the right song with "You Belong With Me" by Taylor Swift, but their harmonies were painful at times. I am confident that in a couple of years, these ladies will be the new Dixie Chicks.

The Results:

And in the end, Lakoda Rayne was eliminated with the least number of votes, knocking Paula Abdul out of the competition as a mentor. LeRoy Bell and Marcus Canty
faced off to sing for their lives. Although the judges agreed that Leroy gave the better performance that night, Marcus was better overall. L.A. voted to send Leroy Home, Nicole voted to send Marcus home, Paula voted to send Marcus home, and the vote came down to Simon who chose to send LeRoy home bringing this decision to a deadlock. The person with the actual number of votes would be sent home and it was LeRoy.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Lakoda Rayne Moves On, While Astro Just Loses It on The X Factor

Last week was "ROCK" week on The X Factor which meant that each contestant had to sing a rock song, not necessarily sing it in a rock style. L.A. Reid, I just wanted to clear that up for you since you seemed to question how everyone chose to sing their rock song with the exception of your boys, two of whom rapped.

LeRoy Bell sang "Why Don't You Stay" by Bob Seger-- He was up first last week, which I initially thought would be the kiss of death; however, it actually turned out to be good for him. This was one of his strongest performances ever; I think it was because it sat in that comfy zone of his voice. It utilized that Michael Bolton like rasp that I just find to be irresistible. With the exception of Nicole, the judges thought that LeRoy needed to find more connection with the audience, and "be" more like a star.

Rachel Crowe sang "I Can't Get No Satisfaction" by The Rolling Stones-- While all the judges seemed to think this was a great performance and gave Rachel a standing ovation, I think it has been the weakest of all her performances thus far. I appreciate Rachel's effort always, but this was not the right song for her.

Chris Rene sang "No Woman No Cry" by Bob Marley-- It wasn't my favorite but I hated the fact that the judges debated whether or not this was a rock song because it was one of the best rock songs ever written. I wish Chris would try to be a little more consistent in staying true to his hip hop roots.

Stacy Francis sang "It's All Coming Back to Me Now" by Meatloaf-- For me, this was the weakest performance of the night which is why I think Stacy ultimately went home. After her first audition, everything started to feel overdone.

Melanie Amaro sang "Everybody Hurts" by REM-- I felt like this was a brilliant choice of song for Melanie. It showed a vulnerable side of her but a part of her remains guarded. I hope that in the coming weeks, she lets her guard down as Paula noted and that she opens herself to her fans.

Josh Krajcik sang "The Pretenders" by The Foo Fighters-- Josh has a unique voice, so much so that it will carry him far beyond this competition. He's so special, so low key, yet when he hits the stage it's unparalleled. I liked several performances on this night, but this was the only true rock performance.

Astro rapped to "I'll Be Missing You" by Puff Daddy, Faith Evans, and 112-- I have to say that it's impressive for this 14 year old kid come on every week, and to be doing an original rap with samples of popular singles. He has loads of creativity, but he struggled personally and emotionally when he was in the bottom two with Stacy Francis. Simon exchanged words with Astro after he felt it was unnecessary to come out and sing for his survival. Simon told him that he didn't like his attitude and that he was being disrespectful to his mom and the show.

Lakoda Rayne sang "Go Your Own Way" by Fleetwood Mac-- It would have been great if they would have come out a little bit stronger than the breadth of this performance but these girls come out and improve every week. If they continue growing like this, they may stay in this competition longer than expected. This was a bit mediocre with harmonies that could have been stronger.

Drew sang "With or Without You" by U2-- Drew always turns in a stunning performance and this particular one was no exception. I do agree with the comment that several judges gave which was that it would be great if Drew could sing an uptempo song just to show some versatility.

Marcus Canty sang "Piece of My Heart" by Janis Joplin-- Marcus is the ultimate performer in this competition, it's clear that he belongs on a stage. However, I don't think that this was the right song for him, and I didn't like how they sexed up the song. Simon recognized it and said it was him pretending to be someone else.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Poor Paula, She's down to her final group on The X Factor

Maybe it's the fact that groups are just harder to embrace than a solo singer, but Paula Abdul is down to one group left to mentor on The X Factor. At least one thing is for certain, if Lakoda Rayne falls into the bottom two, she will not be the only judge with an act in jeopardy. Last week, The Stereo Hogzz were eliminated in a suspenseful results show in which Abdul initially refused to vote, saying she did not want to be responsible for sending another one of her acts home, she said it was just too hard.

I believe with the proper management, both groups that have been voted off so far, InTENsity and The Stereo Hoggz could flourish and have successful careers.

Last week was songs from the movies, which proved to be a difficult category for some who just couldn't find their groove.

My vote for the weakest performance of the night went to Stacy Francis who failed to impress me with her Whitney Houston impression. Francis sang "Queen of the Night" from The Bodyguard, and it had nothing to do with her song selection, I actually like that song. I just felt that her performance was weak at best.

My favorite performances of the night came from the oldest performer and the two youngest performers, Leroy Bell, Astro, and Rachel Crowe respectively. Bell performed "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" by U2 and his voice just really sat well in that song. It was clearly his best performance since he started. Astro sang a mixed version of Eminem's inspirational "Lose Yourself"; he changed some of the lyrics to his own; Eminem must be a real Astro fan! Rachel Crowe sang a soulful and touching rendition of Etta Jame's "I'd Rather Go Blind". She just really pulled this off, and I think this makes her a contender once again. Truthfully, after almost a week, I can say those are the three performances that stuck out for me.

Will the other contestants step up and level themselves up to these three standouts?
Will Lakoda Rayne be eliminated leaving Paula with no one?
Will Stacy Francis finally get voted off as she should have last week?
Which judges will have contestants in the bottom two?

Monday, November 7, 2011

The X Factor Continues a Steady Course, But When Will it Dazzle Us?

The Top 12 performed this past week on The X Factor and once again I was left wanting more. Am I expecting too much from this show? Did I want it to be better than American Idol, and now I'm left disappointed?

Of course, there were some solid performances, but the majority left me wanting more. These contestants are without a doubt talented, but no one blew me away.


I love Rachel Crowe but I didn't love this performance. Although Rachel has more charisma than money can buy, the cheesiness of the song choice negated all that.

Lakoda Rayne's rendition of "Landslide" reminded me of girl's night out at a karaoke bar. I didn't think the harmonies worked in this, despite different thoughts by some of the judges. The outfits, which did look like prom dresses, were too mature for such young women.

I am not being a hater, but I have heard many other singers sing this song better than Stacy. She needs to keep her eye on the prize, and not act like she has won already. There is plenty more work to be done as far as I'm concerned.


For a singer who is one of the best natural talents in the competition, Nicole has really made it difficult for LeRoy Bell to do well. The only reason he hasn't been eliminated is really a testament to his voice and how well loved he is by the public. Nicole, if you're listening, please, a decent song for the man this week.

Astro needs to watch his back or he may find himself being the first boy to be eliminated from this competition. "Hip Hop Hooray" was just not the right jam for him to be taking on.

InTENsity was not the worst this round, but yet, they found themselves eliminated on Thursday night after their performance of "Kids In America" and Party Rock" fell short for America. I believe these kids actually did work hard, and I think they could do well in a setting like The Disney Company.


Stereo Hoggz are probably the strongest group left, "Rhythm Nation" was the best group performance this week, but they need to step it up or they will find themselves in the bottom two again!

Chris Rene was the most improved contestant from last week. His rendition of Superstar was solid considering that this is such a difficult song to pull off. What didn't work was the "fire" background, and I agreed with Simon saying, L.A. really sent you to hell Chris. He will have to continue to work hard because Marcus Canty is building a real fan base.

As cheesy as the song choice was, Melanie Amaro is destined for stardom. She displayed great poise and maturity for someone who hasn't had musical experience.


Josh Krajcik's version of "Jar of Hearts" was a big risk that paid off big time; it was soul stirring and Josh is so good that when he sings a song well, no one can beat him.

Probably the most interesting song choice of the week, Drew took on "Just a Dream" by Nelly. This girl is a natural born star, and I think she may be the surprise winner of this competition. She just reminds me of that singer with the great voice, and the very free spirit. Simon said, “I’m seeing a star emerge in front of me…she’s my mentor now. I shouldn’t be telling you what to do. You are doing an incredible job.”

Marcus Canty, as many say, could just be a dark horse in this competition. He is, as I said last week, the complete package who can sing, dance, and act. His vocals on "Every Little Step" were spot on, and I applaud L.A. for choosing this song for Marcus. He does have a natural charm about him that makes fans relate to him.

Corny Song Choices: Nicole choosing "I'm Already There" for LeRoy Bell, woah, way cheesy!.... Simon changing Rachel Crowe's lyrics from "I'm Walkin' on Sunshine" to "You're My Sunshine". I don't really understand what the lyric change was supposed to do.... "Landslide" was a real landslide by Lakoda Rayne who would have done better with a more contemporary country song. Paula, quit trying to turn each girl into a season, no one gets it.... "Desperado" for Melanie Amaro was a desperate attempt to make her look non Celine or Whitney when the soul part of her voice should be what's played up.... "Up to The Mountain" for Stacy Francis was just a tad too gimmicky, there are so many other people who have sang this better than her.

Bottom two who sang for survival were TheStereo Hoggz and InTENsity; InTENsity was eliminated.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

My Favorite Things: November 2011 Edition

I cannot get Jason Derulo out of my head, he has produced hit after hit since his debut at the end of 2009: Whatcha Say, In My Head, Ridin' Solo, Don't Wanna Go Home, What If, and It Girl (which I cannot help but hit the replay button for). At just 22 years of age, Derulo has written hits for major artists like Danity Kane, Cassie, Sean Kingston, Pitbull, and Lil Wayne just to name a few. He has established himself as a triple threat dancing, singing, and acting. I think he's the more talented, more mature version of someone like say, Chris Brown. Derulo has class, drive, and he wants to make a good cross section of music that everyone can listen to, and frankly, he has succeeded.

He really embodies the title of his new album, Future History!

I'm in love with the new Oval Paperweights from Felix Doolittle; these would be a perfect holiday gift for just about anyone. The $35 price is more than reasonable, especially considering that it's high quality. In fact, I almost guarantee that your only issue will be deciding which image most inspires you. I am currently deciding between Blue Bird, Jolly Tortoise, Mountain Lion, and Raven of Truth.

The CMA's! Country music's biggest night is live on Wednesday November 9th at 8pm on ABC with hosts Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley once again doing the honors. Check out the nominees, make your predictions, and maybe I will even share mine.


Entertainer of the Year

Jason Aldean
Brad Paisley
Blake Shelton
Taylor Swift
Keith Urban

Female Vocalist of the Year

Sara Evans
Miranda Lambert
Martina McBride
Taylor Swift
Carrie Underwood

Male Vocalist of the Year

Jason Aldean
Kenny Chesney
Brad Paisley
Blake Shelton
Keith Urban

New Artist

The Band Perry
Luke Bryan
Eric Church
Thompson Square
Chris Young

Vocal Group

Lady Antebellum
Little Big Town
Rascal Flatts
The Band Perry
Zac Brown Band

Vocal Duo

The Civil Wars
Montgomery Gentry
Steel Magnolia
Thompson Square

Album of the Year
(Award goes to artist and producer)

'All About Tonight'
Blake Shelton
Produced by Scott Hendricks

'My Kinda Party'
Jason Aldean
Produced by Michael Knox

'Speak Now'
Taylor Swift
Produced by Nathan Chapman and Taylor Swift

'This Is Country Music'
Brad Paisley
Produced by Frank Rogers

'You Get What You Give'
Zac Brown Band
Produced by Keith Stegall and Zac Brown

Single of the Year
(Award goes to artist and producer)

'A Little Bit Stronger'
Sara Evans
Produced by Tony Brown

'Colder Weather'
Zac Brown Band
Produced by Keith Stegall and Zac Brown

'Don't You Wanna Stay'
Jason Aldean with Kelly Clarkson
Produced by Michael Knox

'Honey Bee'
Blake Shelton
Produced by Scott Hendricks

'If I Die Young'
The Band Perry
Produced by Paul Worley

Song of the Year
(Award goes to songwriters)

'Colder Weather'
Zac Brown, Wyatt Durrette, Levi Lowrey, and Coy Bowles

'Dirt Road Anthem'
Brantley Gilbert and Colt Ford

'If I Die Young'
Kimberly Perry

Taylor Swift

'You and Tequila'
Matraca Berg and Deana Carter

Musical Event of the Year

'As She's Walking Away'
Zac Brown Band featuring Alan Jackson

'Coal Miner's Daughter'
Loretta Lynn, Sheryl Crow, and Miranda Lambert

'Don't You Wanna Stay'
Jason Aldean with Kelly Clarkson

'Old Alabama'
Brad Paisley featuring Alabama

'You and Tequila'
Kenny Chesney featuring Grace Potter

Music Video
(Award goes to artist and director)

'Honey Bee'
Blake Shelton
Directed by Trey Fanjoy

'If I Die Young'
The Band Perry
Directed by David McClister

Taylor Swift
Directed by Declan Whitebloom

'Old Alabama'
Brad Paisley featuring Alabama
Directed by Jim Shea

'You and Tequila'
Kenny Chesney featuring Grace Potter
Directed by Shaun Silva


Sam Bush - Mandolin
Jerry Douglas - Dobro
Paul Franklin - Steel Guitar
Dann Huff - Guitar
Mac McAnally - Guitar

Ladies, I discovered a fun, new clothing website, and I love their unusual selection of clothing and accessories. Based out of Brighton, the site started when the owner was looking for something special to wear for a social event, and couldn't find anything unique. She describes herself as independent, fun, fearless, and creative, and that really comes across as I browse through her site. If one or more of those words describe you as well, head over to Lace Affair!

Avocado Tree Baking Co.
is a new venture of mine, and I am certain you've never had some of the things being created by our chef. On the "to die for" list: Rum Cake, Tres Leches Cupcakes, Mocha Cupcakes, Boston Cream Pie Cupcakes, and a Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting! Yum!

If you live in the Boston area please feel free to email us and place an order. Thanksgiving is just three weeks away and we're doing two seasonal cupcakes for the month of November:

The Vermonter-- our maple walnut cupcake made with real Vermont maple syrup and topped with walnuts $3.00
Sweet Potato Pie with Candied Pecans-- a.k.a the Thanksgiving special, our sweet potato cupcake with marshmallow frosting and topped with candied pecans $3.00

Avocado Tree Baking Co. is a boutique bakery with lots of heart; we use the finest ingredients in all of our baked goods. We look forward to bringing you cakes and cupcakes that you cannot and will not find or taste anywhere else. We look forward to serving you and although our Grand Opening is not until November 3rd, we hope you will place your orders now. Please email us at avocadotreebakingco@gmail.com for more information.



Choose a cake:
Chocolate-- please indicate if you would like us to add nuts to this cake $20.00
Yellow-- $20.00
Choose a frosting:
Chocolate Buttercream
Cream Cheese
Vanilla Buttercream
(color and additional flavors for your Buttercream frosting available upon request)

Bundt Cakes:
Angel-- Our angel cake is light and soft, dusted on top with confectioners’ sugar $10.00
Lemon-- Our lovely lemon bundt cake is moist and dense, dusted on top with confectioners’ sugar $10.00
Rum-- Our special rum cake, the recipe is such a secret that only we know it $15.00

Special Cakes:
Bislon-- An Italian teacake (round with a hole in the middle), so unusually delicious, we guarantee you’ve never had anything like it $20.00
Carrot-- Our moist carrot cake with some secret ingredients and our cream cheese frosting $21.00
Heart Shaped-- A vanilla sandwich cake with fresh cream and raspberries in the center, perfect for any special occasion or just because $20.00

Special Order Cakes:

Is this cake for a special occasion? Do you need something written on the cake? Please let us know. There is no additional cost for writing something on your cake. Do you need a theme cake? Theme cakes are special order and we are more than happy to hear your requests.

Please know that theme cakes do have additional costs and Avocado Tree Baking Co. reserves the right to refuse any special order.

CUPCAKES (n.b. prices below are per cupcake, please see specs. on ordering below)

Our 7 Core Cupcakes
The Bostonian-- Boston Cream Pie, our vanilla cupcake filled with vanilla cream and topped with chocolate ganache $2.50
The Dutchman-- Red Velvet, our Dutch cocoa cupcake topped with cream cheese frosting $2.50
The Evil One-- Devil’s Food, a chocolate cupcake topped with chocolate buttercream $2.50
The Latino-- Tres Leches, our cupcake based on the famous Latin dessert $3.00
Mocha-- Coffee lovers take note, our mocha cupcake comes packed with a shot of espresso and topped with mocha frosting $3.00
The Natural-- Vanilla cupcake with vanilla or chocolate buttercream $2.50
The Pick Me Up-- Tiramisu, our cupcake based on the famous Italian dessert $2.50

Our 2 Seasonal Cupcakes
Every month we will offer two seasonal cupcakes, please call or email us for information on them. We promise you will not be disappointed.

Our cupcakes aim to satisfy! ;-)
The way for us to assure that statement is to tell you that the early bird gets the worm.
Because we are a small private catering company just beginning, we can only make a maximum of 60 cupcakes in one day! We recommend placing your orders in advance.
Here are some specifics:
We require a minimum order of 4 cupcakes per flavor per person.
All orders of 24 (or 2 dozen) or more must be made five business days in advance due to the freshness and quality standards of our product.
The sooner you place your order the more likely we can guarantee your request.

Here is one of our special order cakes:

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The X Factor: Some of the Judges Need Mentoring Lessons

It took me several days to digest this past Tuesday's episode of The X Factor. I like this show, but even I agree that 150 minutes of it in one sitting may be too much. I found the judge's to be aggressively mean to judge Simon Cowell, calling him out, unjustifiably, on many decisions he made about his five contestants. First of all judges, out of all of you, Simon did the most impressive job mentoring his contestants.

In order of most impressive mentoring, here is my ranking of the judges:

1. Simon Cowell --- The Girls, I found it difficult to pick who the two eliminated should be because these girls all shined. I saw why Simon saw potential in them, even if I didn't originally like them. I found myself liking Simone Battle for the first time, and even routing for her after she was voted off; I see shades of Beyonce and Amerie. Melanie Amaro clearly emerged as a favorite to win the entire competition with Drew right on her heels. Drew reminds me of Taylor Swift in a way, there is something about her personality, she sings with such abandon and sincerity. Rachel Crowe, as the youngest contestant, needs to continue to grow and remember to act her age. Tiah really grew on me and she clearly did work on her vocals, I could actually see her doing some acting in the future. If Simon believes in her as much as he portrayed, maybe he will even help her get her career started.
2. Paula Abdul --- The Groups, The groups grew on me although I still believe that 4 Shore and The Anser should have been here. I was satisfied with at least two of the groups Paula kept, Lakoda Rayne and The Stereo Hogzz. Both groups have a lot more potential than they showed, however, you can tell Abdul clearly worked hard with these groups. The Stereo Hogzz need to develop the other singers in the group; the lead singer is excellent but you cannot just rely on your lead. Lakoda Rayne will hopefully continue to grow with every passing week that they are together as a group; It's already amazing that they have done as well as they have, considering that they were just recently put together by the judges.
3. Nicole Scherzinger --- The Over 30's, Nicole is a hard worker and I believe her when she says she spent tons of time mentoring these people, but Nicole, your song choices overall, were not very good. Stacy Francis and Dexter Haygood(poor guy) in particular were not good choices. The reason that LeRoy Bell and Josh Krajcik shone so brightly is a testament to their talent, and not necessarily the songs they sang.
I would have given Dexter a Rolling Stones song to sing, some Michael Bolton or Tevin Campbell for LeRoy, and Stacy could have sang some Whitney Houston from the Preacher's Wife soundtrack.
4. L.A. Reid --- The Boys, Overall, I am sorry but this was disappointing. I did not like any of the song choices, I thought they were awful. They did not showcase the abilities of these young male talents. I was most impressed with Marcus Canty who made the best of a not so good situation. I think I was so impressed because he has the biggest personality, and he's a triple threat. We could potentially see him singing, dancing, and acting for years to come, if he is managed by the right people. Poor, poor Phillip Lomax, I feel horribly that he was given that dreadful, "I'm a Believer" song. Chris Rene was extremely pitchy, and the song did not showcase his sweet vocals. Astro also could have benefited from a better song choice considering his concise rap skills.
I would have given Marcus some Usher or New Edition to slay, some Justin Timberlake for Chris Rene, a little bit of Michael Buble for Phillip, and maybe some Bow Wow or J. Cole for Astro. L.A., please take note, and don't embarrass these talents again, you're supposed to be the expert.

I hope that this coming week's episode is more impressive than this one was. Fingers crossed! I look forward to seeing the top 12.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The X Factor reveals the 16 finalists..... or is it 17?

I watched last night in horror as Simon sent Melanie Amaro home to Florida. He told her he was genuinely sorry, but that she did not made his final four. I thought to myself, how could he let the best natural singer in this competition walk away?

He wasn't the only judge in my opinion who made mistakes last night, L.A. Reid shouldn't have let Tim Cifers go, there is a niche for someone like him. I'm not sure who I would have traded for Tim, but I think he should have been able to have America judge him.

Paula let two amazing groups go, clear favorites, The Anser and 4 Shore, in favor of keeping two groups who had been together for maybe two weeks, Lacoda Rayne and InTENsity. 4 Shore, were clearly the best technical singers in the group category.

Nicole, I believe, was faced with the hardest job of all, because for the over 30s, this is the last stop for most of them.

In a shocking turn of events, Simon realized at the end of the day that he had made a mistake sending Melanie home, and that he would never forgive himself if he didn't seek her out to apologize and ask her to return to the competition. Melanie seemed genuinely surprised to see Simon standing in her family's living room. Simon apologized saying he had let the young singer down and that he wouldn't do it again.

So here are the final 17

Simon's Girls
Simon Battle
Drew Ryniewicz
Tiah Tolliver
Rachel Crowe
Melanie Amaro

L.A.'s Boys
Brian "Astro" Bradley
Phillip Lomax
Chris Rene
Marcus Canty

Nicole's Over 30's
Josh Krajcik
Dexter Haygood
LeRoy Bell
Stacy Francis

Paula's Groups
Brewer Boys
Lakoda Rayne
The Stereo Hogzz

My favorite part of the show was the very end when the 17 finalists were announced. They all looked so glamorous dressed up and beautified for the cameras. Check out some of their photos

M.J. also has a great photo galley as well as social media links on her blog, be sure to check it out--- http://www.mjsbigblog.com/x-factor-top-17-photo-gallery.htm

Friday, October 14, 2011

Celebrating Boyz II Men

They are what legends are made of, compared often to The Temptations, The Four Tops, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, and mentioned in the company of Elvis Presley, The Beatles, and Mariah Carey; Boyz II Men are the epitome of soul. The best selling R&B group of all time, Boyz II Men will release their first album containing new material in nine years on October 24th. The album is entitled Twenty, it contains twenty tracks and celebrates the 20th anniversary of when they released their first album, Cooleyhighharmony. The album will contain rerecorded tracks of their previous hits as well as new music which anyone who is a Boyz II Men fan is beyond excited to hear.

Boyz II Men is Nathan Morris, Wanya Morris (no relation), and Shawn Stockman. Michael "Bass" McCrary, an original member of the group retired in 2003 as a result of his ongoing battle with scoliosis. They all grew up in the city of Philadelphia, and all were raised by their mothers with the involvement of their fathers being inconsistent. Many of them talk about losing friends to the streets, some being killed, some going to jail. Going to the High School of Creative and Performing Arts in Philadelphia was a Godsend. It saved their lives, and it turned them into music stars.

Many artists who have followed Boyz II Men have been inspired by them, they've sung their songs and been influenced by their stories. They met in high school and although they started singing together, they weren't all friends at first, but music was the common bond, and ultimately, it's what brought them together. How exactly did they get their record deal? They snuck backstage at a Bell Biv DeVoe concert, bumped into Michael Bivins and sang for him. He told them he was going to try to do whatever he could to get them a record deal.

Their big break came when they recorded End of the Road written by Babyface, L.A. Reid, and Daryl Simmons for the Boomerang soundtrack. That song became one of the biggest selling singles of all time and Boyz II Men's first number one single in 1992. The song remained at number one for 13 weeks breaking a record previously held by Elvis Presley.

Boyz II Men later broke their own record with One Sweet Day, a duet they did with close friend Mariah Carey. One Sweet Day still holds the record for the most consecutive weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 for 16 weeks!

With singles off their II album, I'll Make Love to You and On Bended Knee both reaching the number one spot on the Billboard Hot 100, Boyz II Men became the third artist (the other two are The Beatles and Elvis) to replace themselves at the number one position on the Billboard Hot 100. Because of this, Boyz II Men are the only artists that have stayed at the number one spot cumulatively 50 times, just fourth behind Elvis Presley, The Beatles, and Mariah Carey. They also hold the numbers one, three and four spots for 3 of the longest running singles in music history with One Sweet Day, I'll Make Love To You and End of the Road. These achievements were enough to earn Boyz II Men recognition as Billboard Magazine's most successful musical group of the 1990s.

In a business where artists come and go, Boyz II Men have continually proven to fans and critics that they are here to stay. Those who are not Boyz II Men fans may look at what I have written here as a shameless plug, and maybe it is. However, what I will say is that for all those out there who aspire to sing, look at Boyz II Men and be truly proud that music is something you want to be a part of. These men are more than just musicians but they are role models to anyone who has a dream. Dreams come true. Dreams are not free; there are many sacrifices that go along with them. Being in the music business for 20 years and still being relevant is what makes them so special. Years from now, Boyz II Men will be remembered and not just for the music, but for who they are as people. So I just want them to know that as a longtime fan, I congratulate them on 20 years and here's to 20 more. They are proof that nice guys really can finish first.

This is a preview of what you will be able to find on Twenty; go pick it up on October 24th.

My Boyz II Men Playlist:

It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday
Uhh Ahh

End of the Road

In the Still of the Nite
Let it Snow
You're Not Alone

I'll Make Love to You
On Bended Knee

One Sweet Day w/ Mariah Carey
Water Runs Dry
Hey Lover w/ LL Cool J
Brokenhearted Brandy and Wanya Morris

4 Seasons of Loneliness
A Song for Mama
Can You Stand the Rain

Pass You By

The Color of Love

Monday, October 10, 2011

32 Reasons Why You Need to Watch the X Factor this Week

Here are the 32 acts that have made the X Factor worth watching so far, but within two weeks, half of them will be cut, and the top 16 will perform live on stage. They'll be one step closer to a five million dollar recording contract with Sony music. Check out who's who if you missed the show so far, refresh your memory, or hit the replay button and watch all your favorites again.


Skyelor Anderson
Hometown: Memphis, TN
Currently Resides: Southaven, MS
Age: 16

Skyelor blew me away with his maturity. His talent is real talent because on his first audition when the music stopped, he kept going, and in key too! He's also unique because he isn't the stereotype for the kind of music he is interested in performing. I loved Paula's comment, and I agree 100%, I think he has some things to work on, but I believe in him because he is so passionate about what he wants.

Brian Bradley
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY
Currently Resides: Brooklyn, NY
Age: 15

I think Brian is crazy talented, and I do believe that someday this kid could be big, if he doesn't allow that big, fat, ole, ego of his to get in the way. I did not like the attitude that he gave, especially in the next round when he didn't want to dance like the other contestants, because "m.c.'s don't dance". Confidence is good, but cockiness is downright unappealing. Brian could stand to take some lessons from Skyelor (Brian, hope you're reading). Also, you may not want to tread on Jay-Z and Kanye when they are two people who could help you. ;-) Just a few tips, if you make it past this round that is. Major props though son for coming out with your own original song.

Marcus Canty
Hometown: Bowie, MD
Currently Resides: Bowie, MD
Age: 20

Marcus Canty has a personality bigger than anyone else in this category, arguably this competition. He is rainbows, sunshine, kittens, and all that good stuff. He just makes you smile with his positive energy, and I believe the sky is the limit for this young man. ALthough Marcus has dreams, he is humble on the stage, and leaves everything he has there. L.A. compares him to Bobby Brown and Simon compares him to his idol, Usher. I definitely see Marcus as a threat in this competition.

Tim Cifers
Hometown: Granville County, NC
Currently Resides: Willow Spring, NC
Age: 30

Wow, where did Tim Cifers come from? This guy, as Simon said following his bootcamp performance, is a star. He completely stands out, and his voice is solid. He shows a lot of potential, promise, and passion when he sings. I think country music and music in general would totally embrace someone like him.

Brennin Hunt
Hometown: Harrah, OK
Currently Resides: Nashville, TN
Age: 26

Brennin is a little bit full of himself, he does need to eat some humble pie, but that being said, he is talented. I will also say that unlike Brian, he did not take his cockiness onto the stage, and I think that just comes with maturity. I appreciate that he wrote his own song, it's always a big risk to do something like that. His voice is special without doubt, and again, this is someone who could potentially be big in the country music market.

Phillip Lomax
Hometown: Seattle, WA
Currently Resides: Seattle, WA
Age: 22

Phillip's persona is a throwback to another time when The Rat Pack ruled the world. Out of all eight guys in this group, he probably has the most work to do in terms of his voice. He has to work on really listening to the judges because he gets so excited that he forgets that this is a competition. What sets him apart is his stage presence.

Chris Rene
Hometown: Santa Cruz, CA
Currently Resides: Santa Cruz, CA
Age: 28

Chris Rene has been to hell and back so this competition should be no sweat. Chris has a gift that people in the music business spend their lives searching for. He's a bright light and I am so happy and excited that he found this show at this time, and more importantly, thank goodness that the judges said yes. I cannot wait to see the next chapters in his life unfold, truly one to watch. I think Chris is someone who would truly be grateful for his success.

Nick Voss
Hometown: Hialeah, FL
Currently Resides: Hialeah, FL
Age: 22

Nick Voss is unusual, I have yet to see a performer like him. He is like a combination of all the male singers/ performers that I like. Nick's passion, as Simon pointed out, is undeniable. I think he needs to focus on showing us his real voice, pure and uncorrupted by anything else.

My picks on the top 4 for the live shows: Marcus, Tim, Chris, and Nick .... can I switch Nick for Brian?


Melanie Amaro
Hometown: Tortola, British Virgin Islands
Currently Resides: Coral Springs, FL
Age: 19

Her voice is stunning, she sang "Listen" by Beyonce and unassumingly blew away all the judges with not just her voice but her heart. I felt every single note that Melanie sang. Regardless of a win, she will be a huge star, and I will go out on a limb and say I predict a top five finish for her in this competition.

Simone Battle
Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
Currently Resides: Los Angeles, CA
Age: 22

She needs to get real good, real quick, or she is going to be out of this competition. It is not good enough to believe in yourself and say how good you are, but not back it up. Her performances of When I Grow Up and Bulletproof were really just sub-par, to be honest I have no idea how she got through. Rumor has it, she makes it to the live rounds (me: rolling eyes).

Rachel Crow
Hometown: Longmont, CO
Currently Resides: Burbank, CA
Age: 13

The best things come in small packages, and if that's true, then Rachel Crow is pretty great. This young girl can compete with the most seasoned singers on the X Factor stage. She is humble beyond belief, but she believes in herself and her own talent with every fiber of her being. If Rachel doesn't win, I don't care, I'm still buying the album that she will definitely record.

Caitlin Koch
Hometown: Orchard Park, NY
Currently Resides: Orchard Park, NY
Age: 21

Caitlin is special because she's a little off beat. She has this creativity and originality that some other contestants in this competition try to possess but to no avail (Simone Battle, cough cough, ahem.... ahem). I like people who are talented, but don't really realize just how good they are. I wish her only the best in this competition because being consistently original is hard work.

Jazzlyn Little
Hometown: Cape Coral, FL
Currently Resides: Cape Coral, FL
Age: 16

Jazzlyn is someone who is chock full of potential but needs to have more self belief. She is too afraid of disappointing the judges, the audience, her family, and herself. There isn't enough time to think about those things; she clearly has a special gift, and she needs to step up or these other girls are going to walk all over her. She sang I'm Going Down for her first audition, that is a tough song to sing, and she sang it like a pro.

Drew Ryniewicz
Hometown: Chino Valley, AZ
Currently Resides: Chino Valley, AZ
Age: 14

Drew was a surprise to me because I thought she was just a girl who wanted to become famous in an effort to meet Justin Bieber. Little did I know that she would upstage him by singing his own song better than him. Drew took this song and completely stripped it down and made is pure and made it her own. I agree with Simon saying that people her age would buy her version of that song. I am 15 years older and I would buy her version of that song before I buy Justin Bieber's. I hope she continues growing in this competition.

Tiah Tolliver
Hometown: Chula Vista, CA
Currently Resides: Bremerton, WA
Age: 20

Tiah caused some major drama when she first auditioned because Simon was the only judge behind her. While he quickly convinced L.A. to put her through, Paula and Nicole were much more difficult to convince. It was actually the most drama I saw between the judges all season. As for Tiah, I do see some natural talent and some personality, it's just that she does need to work on her voice, and staying on key.

Tora Woloshin
Hometown: Tucson, AZ
Currently Resides: Tucson, AZ
Age: 22

She has a cool, funky, fearless, sassy vibe with a strong soulful voice. Beyond all that, Tora is just different, and I love it. She completely embraces what this competition is supposed to be about. Tora, which I am told means "tiger", is a for sure contender in this category and in the entire competition. Her tone is strong and unique and if she is consistent, she'll go far.

My picks on the top 4 for the live shows: Melanie, Tora, Rachel, and Tiah or Jazzlyn


LeRoy Bell
Hometown: Tacoma, WA
Currently Resides: Edmonds, WA
Age: 60

LeRoy Bell, the man who looks like he is 30 but instead is 60, has a strong voice, and like several of the men in this over 30s category sounds a little like Michael Bolton. I love his tone, and I definitely want to know what water he is drinking so I can get some.

Tiger Budbill
Hometown: Seattle/White Center, WA
Currently Resides: Bothell, WA
Age: 42

Tiger is definitely a fighter, and I can tell when I watch him perform and when I listen to him that he really does want to be a performer. I question whether or not he is strong enough with his other peers in this category, but I know he won't give up.

Christa Collins
Hometown: Burlington, IA
Currently Resides: Los Angeles, CA
Age: 32

Christa is one of the contestants that I don't know much about, the video above is the only one I could find of her. She has a rock vibe to her voice.

Stacy Francis
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY
Currently Resides: Los Angeles, CA
Age: 42

Stacy is a little bit rough around the edges and is clearly one of those singers who could benefit from formal training but she has a lot of potential, so if you're smart you will not count this single mother out. Stacy is a fighter who has a strong spirit, lots of heart, and a stunning voice. She's that singer that needs to be tamed and polished up and once that happens she is going to sparkle.

Elaine Gibbs
Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
Currently Resides: Los Angeles, CA
Age: 53

Elaine has a Gladys Knight/ Aretha Franklin kind of voice, and because she is a wedding singer, she has experience that money cannot buy.

Dexter Haygood
Hometown: Memphis, TN
Currently Resides: Chicago, IL
Age: 49

Dexter Haygood made me cry on his first audition and not just because he sang, "This is a Man's World", but because this is someone who has had the same dream for most of his life and not given up on it. I know there are tons of people out there who say, it's not about how heartfelt the story is, it's whether or not they can carry a tune. Well, what if they can do both? Dexter stirs my spirit when he sings, I feel like I am back in the times of Motown, he is not a revival act, he is the real thing, an original. Dexter will go far in this competition, and not just because he's good, but because he deserves it.

James Kenney
Hometown: Portland, OR
Currently Resides: West Hollywood, CA
Age: 34

James is another contestant I am not that familiar with, but I do look forward to getting to know him in the next round. He is also one of the rock voices in the competition.

Josh Krajcik
Hometown: Wooster, OH
Currently Resides: Columbus, OH
Age: 30

John impressed me from the very first audition. I love the rasp in his voice, I love how honest he is as a performer. I looked at him, and I didn't expect that voice to come out of him, but it did, and then the performance became so real and so comfortable. The amazing thing about someone like Josh is that he is one of those people who could win the whole competition and not change who he is. He is that humble.

My picks on the top 4 for the live shows: Leroy, Stacy, Dexter, and Josh


Liza Forero Age: 27 Hometown: Edison, NJ Resides: Miami, FL
Deveraux Lavinia Age: 27 Hometown: Miami, FL
Abighail Mary Age: 28 Hometown: Miami, FL Resides: Pembroke Pines, FL
Aimee Santos Age: 25 Hometown: Quebec, Canada Resides: Miramar, FL

These four ladies from Florida take me back to the times of classic R&B groups like En Vogue. Their costumes and look could use some polish, but the sound and the talent is all there.

Allynn Walker Bey Age: 23 Hometown: Virginia Beach, VA
Jessie Nunn III Age: 21 Hometown: Virginia Beach, VA
Daijreous Poole Age: 21 Hometown: Virginia Beach, VA
Brandon Showell Age: 21 Hometown: Virginia Beach, VA

"4 Shore" this group is going to go far in this competition. They are risk takers, they sang End of the Road for the first audition, a song that was written by L.A. Reid himself and sung by Boyz II Men the most successful R&B group ever! That takes guts. Their harmonies were fierce and on point, I felt much like Nicole did; I felt like I was at a concert listening to a favorite group sing my favorite song. I cannot wait to see the stops these young men pull out in the next round.

The Anser
Gray Aydelott Age: 22 Hometown: Kaysville, UT Resides: Orem, UT
Jarrett Burns Age: 27 Hometown: Orem, UT
PJ Schwartz Age: 21 Hometown: Bountiful, UT

Another guy group that totally has it together, I loved the Anser. I love it when a group like this comes out to audition, knows what they are going to do, sticks to a plan, and executes it perfectly. These guys have a great sound, and I could see them doing pop, rock, and even a little bit of R&B, so Paula can mold them to where they are best suited. The Anser is going to go far in this competition.

Brewer Boys
Justin Brewer Age: 17 Hometown: Temecula, CA
Nathan Brewer Age: 14 Hometown: Temecula, CA

Unfortunately, X Fsctor did not upload a video for these two brothers, but I was able to pull up some bootleg videos to hear them sing. I think they sound good, but they aren't right for this competition.

Lazaro Chavez Age: 26 Hometown: Hialeah, FL
Ahmed Jaime Age: 26 Hometown: Miami, FL
Richard Mason Age: 26 Hometown: Hialeah, FL

Illusion/ Confusion is another group I did not hear sing individually, I will be interested in hearing their sound. They do appear in the video above. Feel free to take a look but know that Rachel Crow and 4 Shore steal the show.

Nick Dean Age: 15 Hometown: Rochester, NY
Francesca Duncan Age: 17 Hometown: Orange Co., NY Resides: Brockport, NY
John Lindahl Age: 14 Hometown: Travuco Canyon, CA
Emily Michalak Age: 13 Hometown: Pine Brook, NJ
Arin Ray Age: 16 Hometown: Cincinnati, OH
Lauren Ashley Redmond Age: 17 Hometown: Houston, TX Resides: DeSoto, TX
Ellona Santiago Age: 15 Hometown: San Lorenzo, CA
Ma’at Bingham Shango Age: 12 Hometown: Houston, TX
Austin Percario Age: 15 Hometown: Warren, NJ
Emily Wilson Age: 15 Hometown: Warren, NJ

The group above was made up at Bootcamp by the judges of individual contestants who were going to be sent home. Rumor has it that they do make it through to the round of 16, so it will be interesting hearing them together for the first time and seeing if something like this can actually work. Watch for Nick Dean and Ellona Santiago to step up as lead vocalists, that is, if I had my way.

Lakoda Rayne
Cari Fletcher Age: 17 Hometown: Wall Township, NJ
Dani Knights Age: 22 Hometown: Santa Clarita, CA
Paige Ogle Age: 18 Hometown: Baltimore, MD
Hayley Orrantia Age: 17 Hometown: Highland Village, TX

This is another group made up by the judges. What happened? Did not enough groups audition or were individual performers that good that they deserved a second chance. You can see three of the four girls above. It seems like they would be a good country group, maybe they could be like The Dixie Chicks. You can see Hayley Orrantia one video up from this one.

Stereo Hogzz
Kregg Gibson Age: 25 Hometown: Houston, TX
Jonathan Glenn Age: 25 Hometown: Houston, TX
George Jenkins III Age: 25 Hometown: Houston, TX
Justin Williams Age: 25 Hometown: Houston, TX
Leeland Stephenson Age: 24 Hometown: Houston, TX

I like Stereo Hoggz; I like how they take pride in each performance from the singing down to the dancing. Simon pointed something out though that needs to be noted; they lack consistency. Their first audition was passable, but it wasn't great; singing an original song is not something every contestant should do. Their performance at Bootcamp was great; it was like seeing a completely different group, so I have chosen to show you that performance. You can look up the other one if you so choose.

My picks on the top 4 for the live shows: 4 Shore, The Anser, The Stereo Hoggz, and Lakoda Rayne or 2 Squar'd

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

My Favorite Things: October 2011 Edition

I have found so much to talk about that I now have a running list, so if anyone who reads my blog would like to suggest an item for "My Favorite Things" please comment on my Facebook page and we'll talk. Just about nothing is off limits and your favorite thing which may become one of "My Favorite Things" may be featured in an upcoming entry.

*Number one this month goes to the cast and crew of One Life to Live who have signed on to do the online version which should begin airing online in January of 2012.

Here is the list so far (actors are in alphabetical order by last name):

Melissa Archer --- Natalie Buchanan Banks
Kassie DePaiva --- Blair Kramer
Michael Easton --- Detective John McBain
Ted King --- Tomas Delgado
Kelley Missal --- Daniella Manning
Sean Ringgold --- Sean Evans
Erika Slezak --- Victoria Lord Davidson
Andrew Trischitta --- Jack Manning
Jerry VerDorn --- Clint Buchanan

Head writer Ron Carlivati has also agreed to a deal to continue as the head writer for the online version of the show. It's really nice to see One Life to Live and Prospect Park sticking it to ABC. I have to say, there are very few shows that I watch on ABC now; three prime time series to be exact: Revenge, Desperate Housewives, and Pan Am. I have barely watched Dancing with the Stars this Season, and I know you all want to know, why am I not watching Modern Family, Grey's Anatomy, and Private Practice? Modern Family.... I never really got into it, I know I should, everyone talks about how wonderful it is, maybe I will rent the DVD set of the first season and see how I feel. Grey's Anatomy to me has weakened over the years; it is not the strong series it was when it first started. I'm not saying I don't like Shonda Rhimes, I actually like her very much. As for Private Practice, I don't have many excuses, I am a huge Taye Diggs fan, maybe there is just something else I want to watch more in that time slot.

I have gone completely off topic, back to One Life to Live. I am so proud and so inspired by each person from the cast and crew that signs on to do the online version. It confirms that the daytime television that we all know and love will not go down without a fight.

*Number two is Posie, Rosy Little Things, Felt Ornament Craft Kits (homemade), by Alicia Paulson-- Besides Alicia having her own blog, Rosy Little Things, she also takes the time to make all these wonderful arts and crafts related items and kits. She is truly good at everything. When I stumbled upon, almost by accident, these adorable felt ornament craft kits that you can make at home yourself, I knew I needed to show them. I know what you're thinking, Miss V., it's October, but how can you not be in the holiday spirit already. The weather is getting colder, they're serving pumpkin spice coffee at Dunkin', and retailers already have their holiday merchandise out. Also, there are a limited number available and they do take a little bit of time to make so if you want one, you should order it as soon as possible; I figure that is as good a reason as any to feature these beauties.

This years collection is called Sweet Home, but you should look at some of the collections from the other years as well.....

Last year's Snow Day

2009's Walk in the Woods

and finally, 2008's Ice Skating Afternoon

The kits retail for $30 each and these are keepsakes, sweet ornaments, that you will have and pass down in your family for many years to come. Choose your favorite, or choose them all, and most importantly, have fun!

*Number three is the Rifle Paper Co,'s Fall Holiday Collection-- Halloween and Thanksgiving, unlike the December holidays, literally are just around the corner. Anna Bond continues to surprise even her biggest competition in the stationery world with overwhelmingly endearing cards, papers, notebooks, and gifts. This fall's collection is unlike that of the many year's past. Bond takes it to a new level, and I couldn't be more giddy. Take a look....

*Number four is Lady Antebellum's new album Own the Night-- It's no lie that I have been a Lady A fan since Need You Now literally took over the radio waves and my heart. I should have been a fan from their debut album, one before that, which featured the country hit, I Run to You, an uplifting single about people just trying to be good to one another. Own the Night is full of passion from the title track to the new hit ballad Just A Kiss. I dare you to take a listen, even if you aren't a country music fan; I do guarantee that no matter what, you will be hooked.

*Number five is Bridesmaids on DVD-- It's the movie I regret not seeing this summer, and I think one of my birthday gifts to myself will be buying myself a copy of this on DVD. I have not heard one complaint or negative word about this laugh out loud ladies comedy. With a rounded out cast that includes Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Rose Byrne, newly crowned Emmy winner Melissa McCarthy, Wendy Mclendon Covey, and Ellie Kemper, the movie centers around the maid of a honor (Wiig) planning the wedding of her best friend (Rudolph).

*Bonus is Andy Rooney's final regular segment on 60 Minutes. For 33 years, he entertained us with his sometimes crotchety ways, but we loved him regardless. He had the guts to say exactly what was on his mind, it was often what was on our minds too, and for that I am relieved. Relieved, because Journalists like Andy Rooney are the same reason I decided to study Journalism in the first place. I wish there were more Journalists like Andy Rooney, they don't care whether or not what they say makes them popular or not. They care not about pushing their own motives, but rather, about telling the truth. I am so grateful that I lived in this time, I am so happy that my life has been filled with Andy's amazing rhetoric. And Andy, I do promise I won't ever bother you while you are eating your dinner, but I will tell you, you were a conversation piece during many of mine.

His final piece is a must watch if I do say so myself: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cKvRPh5QXUg

Monday, October 3, 2011

Miss V's Kitchen

Last week, I put a question on my Facebook page for my blog about what all of my readers wanted me to write about next, and food was the winner. You asked, and now I have delivered. I've been thinking about Fall for the past few weeks, it is now beginning to feel undeniably like Fall in New England. Something about this season makes me feel like getting into the kitchen and cooking something. There's a certain warmth to the kitchen, it's a gathering place for family and friends, complete with delicious food and drinks, well thought conversations and laughter.

Being raised in a predominantly Italian family, I, more than most people, understand the importance of the use of a food as a means of not just evoking the smiles of those gathered around the table, but really, as a means of bringing people together. I have always said the best meals are the ones that are home cooked or taste home cooked.

So besides Fall coming in full force, it's also time to think about the upcoming holidays (i.e. Thanksgiving, Chanukah, Christmas). I have often thought of making my own jams, jellies, preserves, relishes, chutneys, pickles, sauces, etc., but I have never actually done it. Making my own canned/ jarred goods is on my to do list before the year is up. Please make sure that if you do decide to make your own of any of the above list that you consult the National Center for Home Food Preservation.

I also love this website because there are illustrations that show you how the canning process works: Canning Fun!

Now to some recipes you may want to try:

I love the recipes on the Diabetic Lifestyle Page, especially for those who cannot or do not want to have a lot of sugar in their diets.

If you like Southern Food, there is a whole listing of recipes here that will surely make your mouth water.

The All Recipes website will give you a daily canning recipe of some sort so you'll never be without something to make, and guess what? The recipes are brought to you by Ball who makes those great jar and lids that you can use for canning, and they're submitted by other canners from all over the country!

Happy canning everyone! If you have a recipe that you'd like to share please go to my Miss V's Voice Facebook Page and post it, I may share it on my blog. Most importantly, can with a family member or friend, it's great fun, or so it appears to be. ;-)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Favorite Fall 2011 Celebrity Clothing Line

Favorite Fall 2011 Celebrity Clothing Collection

Maxi dress
$60 - kohls.com

Embellished top
$41 - kohls.com

Bootcut jeans
$54 - kohls.com

Thigh boots
$90 - kohls.com

Drop earrings
$17 - kohls.com

A lot of celebrities have clothing lines from Hilary Duff to Gwen Stefani to Jessica Simpson to Justin Timberlake. I decided though, at the end of the day that Jennifer Lopez has turned into a multi-talented mogul. What can't this woman do, she is smart, sexy, she sings, dances, acts, and she's one of the major reasons American Idol was so good last year. Lopez has also had a unique and flawless sense of style that has consistently made her one of the best dressed celebrity women in the business.

This fall she has unveiled her clothing line for Kohl's, her ex-husband Marc Anthony is also sporting his own Men's Clothing Line doe Kohl's. What I love about Lopez's line is that she has truly captured herself in each piece, and the clothing and accessories is all affordable, you won't break the bank, but you'll look good. Now, I want to say that normally I am not a Kohl's person at all, I think I have been into a Kohn's maybe two times in my existence. I decided in the set above that I wanted to show several styles and outfits. I particularly love the outfit that Jennifer is wearing. You can find the full line at Kohl's online

Monday, September 19, 2011

More Fall Fashion Trends for 2011

This particular set is comprised of several fall fashion trends... As you can see the skinny jean is still in style. Some people think that anyone can wear skinny jeans but I disagree. I have a problem getting into skinny jeans and I usually tend to go for a flare or boot cut. I love the trend of gray denim this year, I think it's fabulous and I cannot wait to find myself a pair of non skinny gray jeans this year.

The flare is back and better than ever this season, and most brands are offering a flare jean. This is the influence of the 70's style which is prevalent throughout the fall fashion trends this year.

Animal prints are the craze this year particularly in shirts, sweaters, and dresses. I will include a separate set of some fave animal print clothing and accessories. I love this sweater below, it's from the Mad Men Collection at Banana Republic. I can see Cristina Hendricks from Mad Men in that sweater right now.

Stripes are also back in a big way, especially in shirts and sweaters. I love this one below from Hollister, it's light weight and you can wear a layering tee under it. I am also a huge fan of the dolman sweater from loft with several striped combinations.

The look in the center is entirely from loft. I love the grid sweater, it's slightly cropped so you can see the neon pink belt which really gives the outfit some pop. The gray jeans give it a retro yet modern look.

Lastly, the big trend in nail polish this year is simply blue. Blue nail polish, especially in dark shades of blue is the new black. Black was the trend a few years ago and now it's blue. Dior and Chanel have both come out with new shades of blue specifically for the fall season. Chanel actually came out with a blue trio for Fashion's Night Out. They're available for a limited time, at least through the end of the month, http://www.chanel.com/en_US/fragrance-beauty/Makeup-Nails-89313

More Fall Fashion Trends

Banana Republic animal print top
$90 - bananarepublic.com

LOFT print cardigan
$55 - loft.com

Brooks striped sweater
$18 - hollisterco.com

All Saints super skinny jeans
$120 - allsaints.com

LOFT skinny jeans
$70 - loft.com

Old Navy wide leg jeans
$40 - oldnavy.gap.com

LOFT skinny belt
$25 - loft.com

Sunday, September 18, 2011

High School Whatever

Before I start writing this, I want to note that I am not writing any of this because I am hung up on something that happened many years ago. It is completely because I hope that it teaches people something, particularly our younger people in society. Life in and of itself is hard enough that we need to care more about one another. When we have the opportunity to reach out to people, to make them feel good about themselves, to give them comfort, to make them feel like they are a part of something, that they are someone, etc. we need to take the opportunity.

This past weekend, I found out that two people that I graduated from high school with are engaged to be married; I suppose that makes them high school sweethearts. I remember both of them, I was in classes with both of them. I never hated them, hate is such a strong word, and I think it's reserved for people who have really wronged you, and I think it's reserved for people you really know. I didn't know them, and all evidence supported the theory that they didn't want to know me. They didn't want to know anyone outside of their little group.

I went to Catholic School from kindergarten to 8th grade, and my education during those nine years is something I am immensely proud of. I believe it shaped me to be the person that I am today. When I graduated from 8th grade and it was time to go to high school, my parents didn't have the money to send me to a private high school and instead I attended Wellesley High School, nothing to be ashamed of, it's one of the best high schools in the state. The only problem was that I did not know anyone going to Wellesley High School; I was always shy growing up, very awkward, private; I found it difficult to talk to people and even more difficult to make friends. I don't know what to attribute the social awkwardness that I had to. I think I had so many friendships that I thought were real and actually weren't that I became overly guarded.

I think the thing that bothered me most about high school is how overrated it was. This year will be my tenth year reunion. I see no reason to go. I knew all of maybe ten people in my class of over 200. I am probably better off, but then again, I may never know. High school was overrated in the sense that it was fun for the so called popular kids who were so self involved that they didn't see past the crowd they associated with. If they weren't self involved, they were scared; I understand being scared and I understand insecurity which directly results in being scared and I understand it first hand. I spent many years being insecure.

I admire people who believe in something and believe it with their whole heart. I admire people who have the courage and the guts to take a stand.

You know what would have been really nice in high school? It would have been nice if the popular kids had made an effort to reach out to those who knew no one, to those who were socially awkward. The high school sweethearts, they had all the things that kids in high school want, respectable grades, each other, a clique, but most of all, they were accepted.

It seems that at the end of the day, acceptance is the thing most people are seeking, not just in high school, but in life. Of all the people I attended high school with I can honestly say that I only keep in contact with about four people. I decided a couple of years after high school was over that since so many people didn't care to get to know me, why should I feel so bad, so guilty about not knowing them? Those feelings come because I am a good person, and I care about people other than myself. How I feel is nothing personal, I just happen to feel like maybe those who were more socially fortunate than I should have come down from high atop their pedestal and tried to make high school a better place for everyone. I am not by any means saying it was their responsibility, but it would have been the right thing to do. And not only would they have been doing something nice for others, but it would have made them feel good about themselves.

The sad part of all of this is that most of the people who are popular in high school don't even know how much their actions hurt those around them. It's as if consequences and possessing a conscience does not apply to them. Since I have graduated from high school, the bullying has worsened, the ignoring of others to the point that they don't even feel like they're there has worsened, and the suicide rate of high schoolers has increased. All of those facts are scary.

I'm afraid that the only hope I hold onto is that if these high school sweethearts decide to have children that they will teach their children to be better and kinder to others than they were in high school.

As I have moved forward into my adult life, I have experienced both sides of the coin. There are places I worked where I was well known and well liked, and I made every effort to reach out to new people who I worked with and in influencing others to do the same. I have also worked in places where I knew no one and was just trying to do my job to the best of my ability and go home at the end of the day. I know what it's like, and I know how much easier it is to be that person who is well known and well liked. I say all of this, not to make anyone feel bad, but more to open the eyes of those who had trouble seeing this issue that majorly effects all of us.

Here are some lessons I took away from high school:

Be confident in who you are as a person and be proud of who you are.

You should not care what those who don't care about you think about you.

Real friendship lasts a lifetime.

Treat others the way that you would want to be treated.

Never believe everything that you hear.

Hard work truly does pay off.

Follow your dreams because dreams can come true if you work for it.

If someone hurts you, use it as a learning experience.

No matter how many times you fall down, keep getting back up.

Trust is something that someone has to earn, it is not just given.

Be the change that you want to see in the world.

Remember that it can all start with you, you control your destiny.