Thursday, July 16, 2015

What I'm Listening To (Podcast Edition)

Last year, I started working at my current job which is located in downtown Houston. Several days a week I arrive during the morning rush and leave during the afternoon rush, making my time on the road a total of 2 hours each day. Luckily, I found solace in the morning in The Roula and Ryan Show on 104.1KRBE. But in the afternoon, podcasts have saved me. I have become obsessed, tried different ones, and I've picked 5 that are my favorites and I always listen to.
Disclaimer: The Serial Podcast is not on my list because it has been so widely shared and recommended that I feel most people have already listened to it or heard about it. But if you haven't listened- it's amazing, so what are you doing with your life?

Movie BS with Bayer and Snider is the podcast I look forward to the most each week. These two movie reviewers are good friends and they are fun to listen to. They are not afraid to disagree with each other while still keeping things light and fun. They try to see all of the movies that come out each week, not just the big blockbusters. So if you're an indie movie person, they've got you covered. They are currently in the middle of their annual Summer Box Office Challenge, a bet where each of them picked 10 movies in May that they thought would make the most money on their opening weekends. Start your weekend off with these guys. I've been warned away from some bad films because of them, so for that, I thank them.
Episodes Air:  Every Friday morning

Not Too Deep with Grace Helbig is a randomly funny podcast hosted by Grace Helbig of the YouTube channel it'sGrace as well as the actress in Camp Takota(see Netflix) and her new show, The Grace Helbig Show on E! She is part of the Hannah Hart, Mamrie Hart, and Grace Helbig power trio on YouTube, so how could you go wrong? Here she has a guest each week, usually someone with a large internet presence, and asks them a series of random, fun questions. My favorite question she regularly asks has become, "if you could throw cold spaghetti on someone, who would you choose?" Check out her 'Ep. 1: Tyler Oakley' and 'Ep. 27- Steve Zaragoza' for my favorite funny episodes to get the vibe of her show.
Episodes Air: (usually) every Monday

TED Radio Hour (NPR) is something for you if you don't like sitting through some of those long TED talks. Or do you not know which TED talks to listen to? Maybe you just want to hear more TED talks in general. Each week the host, Guy Raz, will have a theme, and then talk to 5 people who have given talks on the TED stage about topics related to the theme. He interviews each person and plays a clip from their original TED talk. The beauty of this podcast is that you can choose to listen to only the topics that you care about. They range in subjects from technology, science, psychology, art, etc. Recently, I've particularly enjoyed listening to 'Animals and Us' and 'Shifting Time'. This podcast is so universal, because no matter your age, occupation, or interests, everyone can stand to learn something and listen to new ideas.
Episodes Air: Every Thursday or Friday

Nerdist is a podcast that I was pleasantly surprised to find, and it's one that I wish I would have discovered much earlier. The host, Chris Hardwick, is known for many things, but I know him from Talking Dead and as the host of many Comic Con panels. A range of guests come on each show from writers, actors, musicians, and comedians. There are often guests whose names I don't initially recognize, but I end up being happy I listed to the episode (such as the 'Scott Weinger' episode- who turned out to be an actor on Full House and the voice of Aladdin). Chris and his team are so funny (after all, they are comedians). My favorite recent episodes are 'Andy Samberg Returns' and 'The Stand Up Cluster 2015'. Enjoy your burrito!
Episodes Air: Twice a week

Psychobabble with Tyler Oakley & Korey Kuhl is a fun and silly show that Tyler Oakley fans will love. For those unfamiliar, Tyler and Korey have a big presence on the internet, Tyler with over 7 million subscribers on his YouTube channel. The guys have been friends since college and they alternate episodes between talking about their lives and discussing pop culture. While it is usually just the two of them, they occasionally have guests. It is the shortest podcast on this list and it makes me laugh out loud. They also make the podcast interactive, calling their listeners "cyclebabies" and encouraging people to live tweet while they listen. Some of my favorite episodes are 'PB 7: Celebrity Conspiracy Theories' and 'PB 34: Hannah Hart- Our Biggest Superfan'.
Episodes Air Every Tuesday

Listen responsibly! 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

My Skincare Products + Tips

It has taken me many years to learn the lesson of good skincare. I've always washed my face, and moisturized when I had the time, but I only started investing in good skincare products around 6 months ago. In high school and college, I sought out more full-coverage foundations and powders, rather than focusing on getting my skin issues under control. I long for the day when I feel truly feel comfortable running errands without a stitch of makeup on my face. However, I am convinced that if I keep taking care of my face, it will happen.

Quick info on my skin type: I have skin that is acne-prone, oily, and acne scarring on my cheeks. I also have what my first-ever doctor called "allergy eyes" where the dark circles under my eyes become more prominent in allergy season. Hot stuff, huh?

Here are the products that I use every night. I use the miscellar water and cleanser in the morning as well.

From left to right: Boscia Makeup-Breakup Cool Cleansing OilCetaphil Facial CleanserBenefit It's Potent Eye CreamFirst Aid Beauty Ultra Repair CreamThe Body Shop Tea Tree OilSimple Miscellar Cleansing Water

Out of all these products, Boscia's Makeup-Breakup has been the best and most drastic change for my nightly routine. Using only 1 or 2 pumps, and gently rubbing my hands over my face, all of my makeup comes off. My foundation, my waterproof mascara, everything. The picture above is after I gently wiped my eye makeup a few times. It is the only makeup remover that has ever made my face feel truly clean and left no makeup residue. It is so gentle on the skin, taking away the tugging feeling I would get when scrubbing my skin with those makeup wipes. Sure, I look like a raccoon for a bit before I wash off the oil, but that's just proof that it's working.

This bottle here is a fairly new product. I've been using it as an alternative to a toner, which can be harsh on my skin. It was marketed as cleansing product, but also as a makeup remover. It definitely would not be sufficient as my only makeup remover, but it can still remove any leftover eye makeup, or in my case, any Boscia oil that I haven't washed off my face. I use this in the morning as well and it feels wonderfully refreshing.

I swear by this Cetaphil cleanser. My mom and I have been using it for years. And I've often seen dermatologists recommend this cleanser over the years in multiple magazines. Why? Because it's so gentle. This will work for every single skin type- dry, oil, acne-prone, combination, sensitive, you name it. I started using the cleanser in my early teens to wash my eyelids every night as instructed by my optometrist (which I still do, due to an eye condition that I have). I have gotten the cleanser in my eyes plenty of times, and it feels completely fine, no burning. I wouldn't be surprised if this could be used on babies. (Tip: to mimic the effect that a shower has on your skin, run warm water over a washcloth, and then press it to your face for 30 sec-1min. It will open up your pores and there will be better results after washing your face.)

This is the only First Aid Beauty product that I've tried, and so far I'm impressed. I've heard rave reviews about the entire line, and now I'll rave about the Ultra Repair Cream. This small amount of moisturizer on my index finger is all I need for my entire face each night. I purchased the cream in early January, and I've used just over half of the tub. So I feel very good about spending a little more for this moisturizer than I'm used to paying. It is supposed to work well on dry or irritated skin, but it works wonderfully for my oil skin as well. It absorbs quickly into my skin after application, which I appreciate.

I'm a big believer in eye cream. It might seem odd that a girl in her early twenties is using eye cream, but it's not about anti-aging (but it never hurts to do preventative skincare!). It's important to keep that eye area moisturized. Particularly in the winter, it's one of the places that doesn't get covered up and skin there can easily become dry. This Benefit eye cream reduces the appearance of dark circles, which I am always in need of since it's in my genes. (Tip: Always apply eye cream with your ring finger because it has the lightest touch and the skin around your eyes is the most sensitive. You should also not apply eye cream right up to your lash line, but rather at the edge of your dark circles and on your brow bone. Why? Because the cream will travel towards your eye as you sleep and cover the area. My sister recently told me she was waking up with messy eyes and had lots of sleep in her tear ducts. When I explained this to her, she's been apply it the way I'm doing in the picture above, and since I've heard no complaints.)

And let's not forget that I'm acne-prone! Lots of acne problems lately. I use this tea tree oil as a spot treatment on all of my blemishes or places where I can feel a blemish coming on. I also recommend this spot treatment. Both work very well. Doing this step last is necessary so that the oil takes effect and isn't messed up with any other products. I can go to sleep and wake up with smaller and less offensive blemishes. The tea tree oil is intense and definitely requires the use of a Q-tip.

Then I go to bed, and wake up feeling and (hopefully) looking better! Do you guys only buy high end skin products or do you use a mix of high and low end like me? What are your favorite or must-have skincare products? Let me know!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Easy DIY Easter Cards

Here's another DIY! This one is easy and can be modified with whatever colors and paper that you may like better than my own creation. The gist of this is to put a lot of pretty things on top of each other, although it requires a bit more effort than that. Keep reading for instructions!

You will need:

Step 1: Take the business card (or a small-sized card) and write your "Happy Easter" message using the Souffle Puffy Pens. These look great for Easter cards because after the dry, they fade into a pastel color. See the first picture for when the pen is wet, and the second picture of what they look like dry. These pens especially pop against dark paper, but the effect also works well for the project at hand. I did this design free hand using parts of this stamp as a reference point. If the design seems too daunting, try this one that is still cute but less complex. I ended up making 9 cards for my friends, so I played around and switched up the pen colors every time. Set them aside to dry when you are finished (it should take no longer than 1 minute).

Step 2: Since the light pink A6 cards measure 4 1/2" x 6 1/2", cut out a smaller size of rectangle in the fine paper. You can do any size, but since I wanted to see a lot of the pretty paper, I cut mine by 4 1/4" x 5 1/2".

Step 3: Turn over the cut fine paper pieces and use the tape runner around the edges before centering it and placing it on the flat card. Double-sided tape will also work, but the tape runner is great with getting edges to stay down smoothly.

Step 4: Turn over the flat card and write your message! Since this is an Easter card, I wrote down some nice thoughts for the person, and then ending things with a bible verse.

Step 5: Take one of the business cards you wrote "Happy Easter" on and turn it over. Take zots, removing them the way the instructions tell you in the box, and place them on the edges of the card. After I did a few, I began to put one on each end and one in the middle (so three per card). Then turn over the business card and stick it firmly to the middle of the card.

Step 6: Make as many as you like and carefully place them in envelopes. I chose a color that matched the little business card so that it would tie everything together. Don't forget a pretty sticker on the back to seal everything!

Do you like making your own cards? Tell me your favorite kind of cards to make or receive down below in the comments!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Review

I was looking forward to watching the new Netflix show Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt ever since I saw this trailer. The show is created by Tina Fey and stars Ellie Kemper, who I loved as Erin on The Office for many years. There are 13 episodes in this first season and they go by quickly since they are only 30 minutes long. In my attempt to give this show a grade, I would give it 3.9 out of 5 stars. Since that type of grading doesn't make much sense to me, I will discuss my positive and negative thoughts about the show. Let me know in the comments if you've seen any of the show yet and what you think about it.

The premise is essentially a fish out of water; a naive girl who moves to New York City. We learn in the 1st episode that Kimmy and three other women were taken 15 years ago by a crazy reverend who told them the apocalypse had come and kept them in a bunker. They are freed by the police and Kimmy decides to venture out on her own to New York City and experience life.

First of all, the show is funny. The characters are all so fun and different from Titus, Kimmy's gay roommate who is also an aspiring actor/singer, to her paranoid landlady, and to her rich boss who is a housewife. They are all such ridiculous characters and they're what gives the show the crazy storylines. I laughed the hardest when Mrs. Voorhees receives a puppy bouquet from her husband and when Buckley beats Titus or "Ironman" with a bat while he wears a robot costume. There are also some great guest stars who play small roles, but I won't spoil those for anyone.

The theme song and opening credits are catchy and will stay in your head for days. It's so clever to take an auto-tuned police interview (which of course has been done in real life) and make it the show's theme song. I never realized what a wonderful word "unbreakable" was- it's so powerful!

The flashbacks to the bunker in each of the episodes are great. I was a little disappointed in the first episode when she was rescued right away because I didn't see enough of it to understand what it was like, but the flashbacks add more to her background in every episode. The flashbacks usually serve a purpose and give Kimmy strength when she's trying to catch up on the world, like the flashback to the rat. My favorite one is about the crank, which prompts Kimmy to tell Jacqueline that "you can stand anything for 10 seconds", and even though it was only in the 2nd episode, I remembered it when I finished the season.

Mystery. It's in the show even though it's a comedy and I liked it. The show doesn't talk about Kimmy's family until later on in the season, and the mystery of Kimmy's past was a reason that I kept watching. While the other three women reveal stories about how they got into the bunker with the reverend, we still don't really know how Kimmy got taken, which I hope will be touched on next season.

I'm about to go into my negatives, but even with the parts I didn't like as well, I was able to blow through the season quickly and I was always interested to see how things would turn out.

I was wary of this show from the beginning when I noticed how hard Kimmy smiled and how intensely chipper she was. Some people will find this annoying and probably won't be able to get past it. I didn't mind it as much. It's part of the fact that Kimmy is "unbreakable" because she still has joy in her life and bounces back from everything.

A few plot lines didn't keep going throughout the season. In the 1st episode Kimmy is hired as Buckley's babysitter, but after the first few episodes, I didn't ever see her with the boy but more as Jacqueline's personal assistant. She still works for the Voorhees family, but it's a little confusing. Also, where did Charles go after episode 5? I thought at least I would see him in the background for a while before he became part of a bigger story again. I hope they bring him back in season 2, since he is supposed to be Buckley's tutor.

I mentioned before that the characters in the show are so great because they are crazy and it's what makes them funny. Very true. But, there is a difference between wacky funny and just plain weird. The plastic surgeon in episode 4 just creeped me out, there was nothing funny about that guy. Also, the last three episodes(11-13) are the ones I disliked the most. The townspeople in the trial are too over-the-top. There's a line that Parks and Recreation rode perfectly with its people in Pawnee. The people tended to be on the dumber side, but they were all passionate citizens who had heart and so as viewers we all loved them. Where this show misstepped was when they made the people in Kimmy's hometown dumb and gullible with no other traits. It also didn't help that everyone at the trial was that way, even the lawyers. Maybe if the lawyers were competent but just didn't have evidence, I wouldn't have felt so annoyed watching the end of the show.

There you have it! I do plan to watch season 2, and if you're still not sure about the show, I recommend that you at least see episode 2, since that ended up being my favorite. What other comedies would you recommend on Netflix? Let me know!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

A Brief Tour of Non-Fiction by Famous Women

For the past few months I have become obsessed with reading non-fiction books written by women in showbiz. I found them to be interesting, insightful, entertaining, and they also do quite a bit for feminism. I will review the books in the order that I read them.

I have to confess, for a while I thought Lena Dunham was a weirdo. I watched an episode of her show Girls and dismissed her entirely. Then one day I happened upon an interview with her and was proved wrong. I've watched other interviews with her since and discovered what an intelligent, funny woman she is with some great advice to give. I took another look at Girls and found it to be pretty fun, my favorite episode being Season 3, Episode 9, "Flo". Everyone should see that touching episode, even if they don't watch the series.

Her book contains many essays that are broken into sections about relationships, work, body, etc. Her writing is so well done, and it's probably the best out of all of these books. In her young age, Lena has experienced and accomplished many things. Even in her stories about childhood I got the sense that she was exposed to many things and was never naive. Unlike the other books on this list, Lena talks about everything (sex, therapy, views on death) and she bares it all without worry or shame about what it will do to her image. My favorite parts included the last section of "Girls & Jerks" and the chapter "I Didn't Fuck Them, But They Yelled at Me". Sorry for ever doubting you Lena, keep on going.

This book by Amy Poehler was my first of many audio books that would follow. I got to a point where if I was going to be in Houston traffic for an hour to work, I might as well listen to a book. I used (not sponsored) because the first book is free and you earn credits. I'm so glad I did! Out of all these books, this is the one to listen to on audio. Amy brings some friends in to read her book like Patrick Stewart, Carol Burnett, Mike Schur, and Seth Meyers. There is a lot of great banter between Seth and Amy as well as Mike and Amy that you would miss with just the hard copy of the book. There are also a few Parks and Rec clips in there.

I have had admiration for Amy since her days at SNL and it has grown since I've watched Parks and Recreation. Moments in her book are laugh out loud funny and other moments are incredibly wise. Her mantra, "good for you, not for me" has stayed with me and the chapters on her family and divorce are insightful. Her time spent on Tina Fey, Seth Meyers, and her Parks and Rec cast are wonderfully endearing. My favorite chapters are "My Books on Divorce" and "Give Me That Pudding". Out of them all, this book was my favorite, and I recommend it to everyone.

I was told to read this book by multiple people and it did live up to all the hype. Tina makes points about female comedians and feminism that truly need to be said. Hearing about her experience playing Sarah Palin on SNL is fascinating as well as interesting since she allows us to peek behind the curtain. I have a new appreciation for her as a person after hearing about how hard she worked as a writer on SNL, and a new mother while she was writing and starring in 30 Rock. Tina has a practical approach to life that makes her so relatable in her extraordinary circumstances. My favorite chapters are "That's Don Fey", the one about her magazine spread and her observations from when she was thin and when she was heavy. I listened to the whole book on a 7 hour car drive and laughed along with her words as I drove through Texas.

Mindy Kaling is my spirit animal. This is a proven fact and I will defend that statement. I love her as a writer and actress on The Office as well as The Mindy Project. Like women in all of these books, she stars in her own show, but she still has new and exciting things to say. Mindy has a beautiful quality in her book that all of us can identify with: she is incredibly vulnerable. She expresses the concerns she has had about comedy, failure, and defending your work. She has made some blunders in her past with her work and she's open about them. She also spends time addressing the fact that she is not Hollywood-thin and how people have treated her and dismissed her because of it. There is a moment where she is crying in a bathroom at a photo shoot, and I'm pretty sure that I punched my fist in the air when she explains how she handled the situation. Mindy has been an outsider many times in her life and her chapter about the weeks she wrote for SNL and Amy Poehler demonstrates a beautiful lesson on kindness. Her chapters on comedy are the most fascinating to me. You can tell from her words how truly obsessed she is with comedy. She brings up her top 5 list of comedic pieces and her least favorite. To sum it up, Mindy is the best and if you disagree it's because you didn't know that she created the Wreath Witherspoon.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Shows I Started Watching in 2014

Looking back on 2014, there are three shows that I started watching and have vowed to keep up with. I already follow many television shows, but I just couldn't resist watching every episode of these shows and then nervously waiting the return of new seasons.

Orphan Black deserves more hype. Many of my friends don't watch this show, but they should. The premise is exciting- Sarah Manning discovers that she is a clone and must try to survive once she learns valuable information about who she is. I blew through the 2 seasons of this thriller quickly over the summer. Something happens within the first 5 minutes of the pilot episode that hooked me instantly. The actress Tatiana Maslany is so talented playing clones that I had to google her to find out what country she is from because she does accents so well. Clone Club all the way!

I am expecting any and all Whovians to get upset that I just started watching Doctor Who this year (sorry everyone). I've seen some episodes of Doctor Who over the years, but this year I finally sat down and watched them all in order on Netflix. And man, was I missing out! I started watching over the summer and finished series 7 in December (I took breaks in between some seasons to keep myself emotionally stable after certain Doctors and companions left). I'm working on catching up with the current season. It's just such a clever, fun, and exciting show! The 50th anniversary episode gave me chills. If you're planning on watching it all the way through like I did, my tip is when you get to David Tennant look up his video diaries on YouTube after each of his episodes, they're pretty great. 

Kevin Spacey could not be cooler. Just a reminder, he did this with Jimmy Fallon which I still consider one of the greater moments in 2014. As a major fan of Scandal, I was told that this show was a darker version that showed more of white house politics. I agree, but with an emphasis on the darker. The show does suspense so well and I am legitimately scared of Frank Underwood every time I watch an episode (more scared than I was of DiCaprio in Django Unchained). Robin Wright holds her own in every scene with Spacey. The two of them make me root for a couple that does terrible things which is the best part of the show.

That's my list! Rather short, but there are only so many hours in the day. What are the shows you started watching in 2014? Are you still offended to see Doctor Who here? Let me know!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Shows I Gave Up On This Year

Being a movie buff is fun but difficult to see all the movies you want to while they are in theaters- particularly so many of the good ones out now in time for Oscar season. While I'm still desperately trying to see Into the Woods and Wild, I'm mourning the fact that I still have not seen Birdman, which I'm convinced that I will love, as well as The Imitation Game, The Theory of Everything, and Foxcatcher. It's like I haven't seen anything! But I have. There are just a lot of great movies that happened this year.

Being a huge fan of TV is just as bad if not worse. I get hooked on so many shows- and not exclusive categories- I watch dramas, comedies, dramadies, horror, thriller, reality shows, crime shows, and I don't forget about mini-series either. I just got through watching series 7 of Doctor Who on Netflix, which I'll now continue to watch week-to-week now that I've caught up. It just adds so much more to DVR. Of course I would find a way to complain about television being so good right now. My list on Netflix has gotten dangerously long. I've added more shows to my arsenal this year, which I'll talk about in my next post. For this, I wanted to list the shows that I decided to stop recording and call it quits on. It's slightly depressing, but also brought relief because the shows that I drop make room for greater, better written shows.

Shows I've given up on this year:

Revenge started out so well. I've been a fan of Emily Vancamp for years (Everwood anyone?) and the first season was amazing and thrilling with Amanda Clarke masquerading as Emily Thorne and crossing out faces in a picture with red marker. The show had a soap opera quality and in the best way. Towards the end of the 3rd season this spring, I decided to stop watching when everyone on the show seemed like a terrible person with a dark secret and everyone who we thought was dead came back to life again. Nolan's character kept me watching for longer than I should have, and I started to notice that a vengeful show about revenge where none of the characters are ever satisfied was actually putting me in a bad mood. Bye bye, double infinity symbol.

I am the biggest Vampire Diaries fan. It's one of my top recommendations for shows to binge on Netflix. It's fast-paced, full of lore, great actors, and not just another stupid teen vampire thing that you think it is. It's spin-off, The Originals, takes place in New Orleans and I watched the whole first season and did enjoy some of it. As the fall began, I forgot to DVR the show and just let it slip out of my life unnoticed. Maybe I was tired of every witch getting resurrected but I do think that it had more to do with the main characters. Elijah is my favorite, but with Rebekah sent away and Klaus being a type of main character that is borderline evil in one episode and then emotionally vulnerable the next, I got dizzy trying to remember where he stood in the show. If I heard that this 2nd season is amazing, I might revisit it when it is put on Netflix, but so far I haven't heard a peep about it.

I am a huge fantasy fan, but here I am saying goodbye to another supernatural show. This one I gave up on around late spring. My friend made me watch the show's pilot and I was intrigued. For the record, she's still watching it but has some issues with Ichabod's wife. To take the dark and exciting tale of Sleepy Hollow and bring it to modern times while flashing to Ichabod Crane's life during the Revolutionary War was fantastic. The bit that makes it a version of a cop show has turned me off from the beginning, because I think too many of those exist. The supernatural storylines got weirder, and darker, and I dropped the tale of the four horsemen because I didn't love the characters enough or care about seeing the apocalypse.

Oh, the Bachelor. This show just recently premiered, but I made the decision in the summer not to watch this. To be very honest, I generally enjoy watching The Bachelor/The Bachelorette ever since Jake's season. It's my guilty pleasure and I look at it as a great form of entertainment. I enjoy seeing pretty dresses the bachelorettes wear while watching the fame-obsessed ones claw at each other. While I laugh at the weird ones, a few nice ones somehow get under my skin and I find myself actually rooting for love in the last 3-4 episodes. Maybe I've been watching the show too long at this point and need a break. When they announced this bachelor, farmer Chris, I was unenthusiastic. Sure he's cute, nice, all-American and not a psychopath, but I don't think he's particularly charismatic or exciting. I also heard about how all the bachelorettes had to come to the show knowing that if they end up with him, they'll be moving to his farm in Nowhereseville, Iowa, no question. What kind of annoying, non-compromising version of sexism is this? I don't care if a woman chooses to move to a new city or state for her man, but please let it be a shared decision by both of them. I don't like the idea of Chris having more power in these relationships that exist in this situation where he already calls all the shots. There's a lot more sexism that regularly takes place on the show that I overlook for the entertainment factor, but this just got to me. I might go back to the show in a new season, we'll see. I just know that if I watch it now, I'll just get pissed off while watching it.

Shows that are on thin ice this year:

I enjoyed the first season of Reign pretty well. It wasn't as good for me towards the end of the season, but it still had promise. Not as explicit or captivating as The Tudors or The White Queen, but I'm still drawn to this show. Queen Mary's outfits alone are enough to keep me around for another half season.  To it's credit, the show doesn't just skim over bad events because it's on the CW. It has dealt with issues of marriage, war, conspiracy, babies, mistresses, plague, murder, and sexual assault. The show is doing a good job of being darker than last season before Mary was married and she was younger and slightly more carefree. However, the show has a hard time balancing the time taken in episodes to cover issues of ruling and war with the relationships and love interests. Also I'm not a fan of the nobles controlling the king as a legitimate storyline for Francis and Mary's relationship failing. The last few episodes have gotten better, darker, and more interesting. Francis and Mary are in an odd place that I think will be intriguing if it's done well.

This was my first time watching an entire season of The Voice were I voted and continued watching until the very end. The premise is wonderful and it's so thrilling to see the judges turn their chairs around in the blind auditions for artists who have always been overlooked. I liked all the judges this year, but I have to say, I had a problem with the winner. Many may disagree with me, which is okay. The runner up Matt McAndrew (listen to his original single) had so much more promise than the winner, Craig Wayne Boyd. Craig is good, but while his single ended up at #8 on iTunes for a day, Matt's single was #1 for several days. While Craig sang country music, Matt sang alternative music that sometimes had a rock or songwriter edge that public connected to easily. I still don't understand why he didn't win. Get it together America! I don't want this to turn into a show where people vote for whoever is on Blake Shelton's team just because. Don't make this American Idol, vote for whose song you actually bought. So The Voice is now on thin ice while I wait for next season and for Matt to get the check tattoo when he finally gets signed by a label.

There you have it! What are the shows that you have dropped or considered dropping?