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---

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:

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. ;-)