Author Archives: Brittany Joy Cooper

Brittany Joy Cooper

About Brittany Joy Cooper

Brittany Joy Cooper is a freelance writer, editor and consultant who lives in Nashville, Tenn. A native of Indianapolis and a graduate of Samford University, she spent several years editing a music magazine in Nashville before venturing out on her own. Brittany loves all things magazine, especially Real Simple and Whole Living, and now finds that she spends too much of her spare time looking for great recipes on Pinterest.

The Big Bang Theory

A New Season of Comedy: What We Can Tell from the First Episodes (Spoiler Alert!)

The Big Bang TheoryWith the exception of a few stragglers, most hit TV comedies have opened the curtain on a new season, and we can start to see the trajectory of what to expect. Here, we give you the updates.

A new season of television has begun! The drama has been unleashed, the laughs are rolling down the line and the witty banter has reappeared on the scene. Here, we’ve got you covered on what happened in the first episodes of this season’s top comedies and what we can expect to see as the rest of the episodes unroll.

Modern Family: Skinny, beautiful Gloria has a bun in the oven, and though Claire hoped she’d lose some of that sultry charm (“You’re gonna get so fat!”), Gloria looks just as smokin’ as ever, even with a baby bump. Mitch and Cam are taking a break from trying to adopt another baby, and Haley’s about to go to college for the season.

This season, we can expect to see how the grown Pritchett kids (Claire and Mitch) and Gloria’s son (Manny) deal with the thought of a new little one on their turf. Plus, according to this interview from TV Guide, the show will be dealing with all the ins and outs of Gloria’s pregnancy, as is to be expected.

The Big Bang Theory: Entering season six of the this charming nerd-laced comedy, The Big Bang Theory jumped right back into the awkwardly sweet banter they do best. Titled “The Date Night Variable,” episode one of this season kicks off with Howard in space still receiving telephone calls from his worried mother. Amy and Sheldon get ready for an anniversary date, which finds a comedic moment in Penny bleaching Amy’s upper lip for her.

Sheldon is his usual awkward self, inviting Raj to join them on their date, incensing his girlfriend and getting Raj kicked out and landing in the middle of a date with Penny and Leonard. Though he’s not necessarily more welcome in that space, he does end up encouraging the two in their relationship before getting kicked out again.

This season of The Big Bang Theory will be full of awkward relationship drama, contrasting Penny and Leonard to Sheldon and Amy’s “relationship agreement.” Plus, we’re likely to get more of the high-brow intellectual cracks we’ve come to love – and we’ll get to see how Howard does in space.

New Girl: Nothing says innocently adorable like Zooey Deschanel’s hilarious character, Jess, on Fox’s hit comedy “New Girl.” Now in its sophomore season, the show jumped in with a premiere episode titled “Re-launch,” which kicks off with Jess arriving late for a meeting with the vice principal of her school only to find out that she’s been laid off (but she can pick a consolation prize out of the lost and found).

In keeping with the show’s constant attempt at sexual humor, Schmidt has a “rebranding” party when his male parts are no longer broken, and he tries to figure out a moniker to encompass his new identity. Meanwhile, Jess comes home from being laid off and her male roommates try to ease the pain, though she wants them  to just act normal (“Schmidt, stop looking at me like I’m a fat kid riding a bike.”)

Schmidt throws a party, Cece shows up with her new boyfriend and Jess tap dances, though she’s supposed to be a shot girl. Jess finally breaks down about losing her job, Nick swings out of his rough-edged persona to sweetly comfort her, and Winston enjoys a good dance.

This season, we can expect to see Nick and Jess’ relationship evolve a little more as Schmidt continues to find himself. More than anything, though, we can probably rely on the often too-contrived low-brow sex humor. Still, this show is sprinkled with some really great moments that almost make up for what it lacks in originality.

 

October Mixtape

Fall Lyrics and Melodies: The October Mixtape

October MixtapeOctober is official windows-down weather, and we’re starting you off with the perfect mixtape …

Summer usually gets all the credit for being the time to have your windows down, but I don’t buy it. This could be just because I live in the South, but I would argue that summer is a great time to drive with your windows down at night.

Fall, on the other hand, well, fall’s the time when you can drop the windows and cruise along without getting a sunburn or having a swarm of mosquitos take it as an invitation. Whether you like to ride with your windows open or tightly shut this season, we’ve compiled a mixtape of songs that will have you enjoying the ride.

Check out these artists on iTunes or Spotify and create your own mixtape of your favorite tunes. This is my “cabin in the woods, sweater on, coffee-in-hand, book reading by the fire” mixtape:

1. The Weepies – “Take It From Me”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zacA8oqM6qQ

2. The Be Good Tanyas – “Littlest Birds”

3. Angus and Julia Stone – “Big Jet Plane”

4. Kopecky Family Band – “Howlin’ at the Moon”

5. Star & Micey – “I Can’t Wait”

6. Jonsi – “Go Do”

7. Penguin Cafe Orchestra – “Air à Danser”

8. James Vincent McMorrow – “We Don’t Eat”

9. Leona Naess – “Heavy Like Sunday”

10. The Kicks – “Starchaser”

Happy listening!

DIY for the Average Jane: The Pumpkin Spice Latte

DIY For the Average Jane: The Pumpkin Spice Latte

In this new series, blogger Brittany Cooper (an average Jane) tackles weekly DIY projects, giving you tips from her successes–and mistakes!

Finished Pumpkin Spice LatteWelcome to the new series, “DIY For the Average Jane.” True, my name isn’t Jane, but it’s the best way to describe myself when it comes to the DIY realm. I do a little of this and a little of that, and I love DIY blogs, but you won’t find me sewing outfits for my entire family or hand-painting designs on my walls to give them the appearance of vintage wallpaper.

This series is dedicated to simple, quick and doable DIY projects that you can actually do yourself. So, if you love the touch of handmade but don’t have hours and hours to spend, I invite you to join me each week as I tackle these fun, bite-sized projects.

This week’s challenge: Crafting a deliciously homemade pumpkin spice latte (à la latte to the upper right). I love this seasonal drink with just the right amount of sweet pumpkin, milk, espresso and spice. To me, it signifies that fall has arrived. And while I celebrate the drink, I don’t get so skippingly happy about the price tag that accompanies it at certain mega-chain coffee shops. Solution? Learn how to make the lovely little latte myself.* Here’s how you can do the same:

Ingredients: (Makes enough for at least 2 lattes)

-2 cups of milk (skim is healthier; whole is more delicious)

-1 to 2 shots of espresso (or 1 cup of strong coffee)

-2 tbsp canned pumpkin

-2 tbsp vanilla extract

-2 tbsp sugar (I used turbinado sugar)

-1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice, plus more for sprinkling

-Whipped cream

Step 1: Boil the milk and pumpkin pie filling over medium heat until it starts to steam. You can also do this in the microwave, but I thought the stove was simpler.

Making a Pumpkin Spice Latte Step 1-2

Step 2: Once the milk starts steaming, remove from heat, add the pumpkin spice and whisk it, whisk it good …

Making a Pumpkin Spice Latte Step 2

Step 3: Pour about a cup of the milk into a mug, and then pour 1/2 cup of coffee or 1 shot of espresso over the top.

Step 4: Top with whipped cream and pumpkin spice and enjoy!

*I originally found a recipe for a pumpkin spice latte here.

Pumpkin Spice Tutorial

Modern Family 2013 Calendar

Cast of Modern Family: Who Are They in Real Life?

Modern Family 2013 Calendar

The Modern Family 2013 Calendar

We’re all familiar with their hilarious on-screen personas, but what are the members of the Emmy-nominated Modern Family cast like in real life?

They’ve made us laugh, they’ve made us … laugh. From Cam standing on the street corner screaming out “Stella!” to Phil reassuring us in episode one that he’s the cool dad, the stars of the comedy series Modern Family have won the hearts and funny bones of people across America.

The 64th Primetime Emmy Awards will air tonight at 7pm ET on ABC, and after sweeping the Emmys last year, the show is poised to take the cake once again.

In honor of tonight’s festivities, we’re taking a look at a few of the cast members to see if their characters bear any similarities to who they are in real life. And they just might surprise you.

Eric Stonestreet (Cameron): He may be the flamboyant, paisley-wearing drama queen onscreen, but in real life Eric Stonestreet is, in his own words, “openly straight.” He isn’t entirely different from his onscreen self, however, as he did grow up in Kansas raising pigs on a farm.

Ty Burrell (Phil): Yes, on the show, Phil is the self-described “cool dad,” and in real life Ty and his wife, Holly, adopted their second daughter in March. The Oregon native might not be a suburban realtor in actuality, but he can definitely relate to Phil when it comes to having two daughters. Is he a cool dad in real life? Well, that’s anyone’s guess, but we like to think so.

Nolan Gould (Luke): Completely unlike his not-so-gifted Modern Family role, Nolan Gould is actually quite an articulate, intelligent young guy. In fact, at the age of 13 he’s already a member of Mensa, and he plays the upright bass. Check out this interview with Ellen, where he lets his true genius shine through.

Sofia Vergara (Gloria): Well, there’s no denying that Vergara is as beautiful in real life as she is onscreen, and yes, she really did come from Colombia, so the accent’s no fake. Is she really the mother of a poncho-wearing, espresso-sipping preteen? Well, no. She does have a 20-year-old son named Manolo, though (sounds like Manny, right?)

Sarah Hyland (Haley): While Modern Family’s Haley is known for being ditzy and conducting most of her day-to-day interactions over text messages, the real-life Sarah Hyland is an established actress who has been taking dance and voice lessons since she was a child. With an impressive list of acting roles to her name, Hyland is anything but clueless–and maybe that’s why she’s so good at fooling us into thinking she is. See for yourself on her first-ever talk show appearance, which she made last year on Ellen. Oh, and another major difference: Though she plays the 16-year-old Haley, Hyland is actually 21.

 

Fall

5 Ways to Fall for Autumn

FallHappy first day of fall! To celebrate, we give you five fabulous ways to welcome the crisp new season.

Spring may have its flowers and winter its holidays, and of course summer has its swimming and vacations, but is there any equal to that feeling you get when you know fall is lingering around the seasonal corner? In my opinion, the answer is a resounding no: No other season holds the power of pumpkin spice, comfy sweaters and cinnamon tea, and thus fall is crowned queen of them all.

I’m not alone in this feeling, right? At least I have Meg Ryan’s character in the romcom “You’ve Got Mail,” who with wide-eyed eagerness waxes poetic, “Don’t you just love New York in the fall? It makes me want to buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly-sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address.” I agree, Meg. I really do.

If the first day of fall has you bolting for a No.2 pencil or even sipping cider before it’s quite cold enough to require a hot beverage, here are five great ways to welcome the long-awaited season:

1. Pull Out Some Poetry. Some of my all-time favorite poems revolve around the turning of the season from summer to fall. While numerous poets write on this subject, the most nostalgic poems from my childhood are the works of James Whitcomb Riley, an Indiana poet whose poems like “A Dream of Autumn” and “When the Frost is on the Punkin” paint beautiful landscapes of the Midwest as it gives way to fall.

2. Get Outside. Even if you live in an area where the season’s don’t change drastically, fall is a great time to get out and enjoy the outdoors. If you live somewhere that showcases the change with colorful leaves and brisk breezes, it’s a great time to hike, camp or just sit on a porch with a warm cup of tea.

3. Splurge on a Seasonal Latte. Speaking of hot drinks, one way to welcome fall is to taste the spices that are so unique to the season. Even though seasonal drinks like pumpkin lattes tend to be more expensive, splurging on one is a fun and tasty way to say hello to fall.

4. Spice up Your Home. Getting into seasonal decorations doesn’t mean you have to sprinkle fake leaves across your mantel or prop a scarecrow in your front yard. Add simple touches of the season to your home with autumn candles, mums or even a simple bowl of nuts or acorns as a reminder of the season.

5. Learn Something New. You may not be subject to a school schedule any longer, but there’s something invigorating about fall that still makes many people want to learn something new. Sign up for a class at your local college or listen in on free classes from schools like Stanford online.

Finished Spoon Rose

How to Creatively Repurpose Plastic Spoons: The Spoon Rose

Everyone has left the party and you’re left with the plastic cutlery. But before you haul out the trash can, check out this simple and bloomingly beautiful DIY project.

Plastic Spoon Flower

Make this budding flower entirely out of plastic spoons.

As I was browsing Pinterest today, a white flower caught my eye. It looked a little like some decorative ceramic flowers I’ve seen at different shops around town. Intrigued, I clicked on the photo, which led me to this blog, where I realized that – gasp! –  it was crafted entirely out of plastic spoons.

Now, before I jump into the how-to portion of this blog, I have to admit that my first attempt at this project (the lovely specimen to the right) does look like it was obviously constructed out of plastic spoons. However, after my first go at this, I’m absolutely convinced that I could quickly learn the art of beautifully bending those tiny spoon petals to make a more realistic-looking bloom.

This is a super simple craft that only requires a couple of supplies, almost all of which you probably have at home. I tweaked the tutorial a bit from the original blog and made a few changes as I went just to make the process a bit simpler for myself. Here’s how I did it:

The supplies you'll need to make a spoon rose

Step One: Gather Your Supplies. You could also use needle-nose pliers to hold the spoon over the flame.

1. Gather Your Supplies: For this project, you just need 17 plastic spoons (you may want a couple of extras in case you mess any up), a candle, scissors and a glue gun with just one glue stick.

Step 2 for Making a Plastic Spoon Rose

Step 2: You may want to cut your spoons even shorter than this, as it might make them easier to attach at the end.

Step 3: How to Make a Plastic Spoon Rose

Cut 10 large spoons, 5 medium and 2 small.

Step 2: Cut three sizes of spoons – 10 of the largest kind, 5 of the medium and 2 of the smallest. You can use the scissors to try and cut the spoons, but I found that it was easier in the end to just break them to the approximate size I wanted.

Step 3 How to Make a Plastic Spoon Rose

You can move the spoon over the flame to try and get the shape you want.

Step 3: Hold each of the spoons over the flame, keeping in mind which part of the flower you’ll be creating with each size of spoon. The longest will create the bottom layer, the middle size will go in the middle and the tiniest two will be the central petals of your rose. During this step, you can use your fingers to shape the petals while they’re still a little hot. You may want to do the melting portion of this project outside to avoid the smell.

Step 4: How to Make a Plastic Spoon Rose

Step 4: Melt the remaining ends of the handle one by one and join them together.

Step 4: This was a tiny bit tricky at first, but it ended up turning out well. Melt the remaining ends of the handles one by one and join them together in a circle. You’ll want to start with the longest spoons, creating a circle, as seen above. Then, melt the ends of your medium spoons and add them to the top and do the same with the smaller ones. You have some freedom here to place petals wherever you want them. Hold them in place for a few seconds to give the plastic time to harden.

How to Make a Plastic Spoon Rose

Step 5: How to Make a Plastic Spoon Rose

Step 5: Using your glue gun at the end adds extra hold for the petals.

Step 5: Add a circle of hot glue beneath the petals. This just helps fortify the melted plastic bonds of the spoon. My flower felt a little fragile until I reinforced it with the glue.

Finished Plastic Spoon Rose

And voila! Now you have a cute plastic spoon rose, and you can let your imagination run wild thinking up where you want to use it in your house. I think I’ll make three and place them in the center of my table as a fun centerpiece. You can also used colored spoons or spray paint your finished product to give it a little more pop!