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.

Elle Magazine September 2012

This Season’s Covers Hint at What’s New in Fall Fashion

Elle Magazine September 2012With the entrance of fall onto the fashion stage, we’re taking a look at some fashion-forward magazine covers to get a glimpse of what to expect.

It’s officially the last week of summer, and that means temperatures are dropping, pumpkin lattes are back on the menu and fall fashions are making their seasonal debut. With New York’s Mercedez-Benz Fashion Week full of spring 2013 looks behind us, we’re watching to see how the fall 2012 runway looks will translate to the everyday.

Giving a glimpse into this season’s trends are the covers of fashion-forward magazines like Elle, InStyle and Seventeen. Covering the September issue of Elle–the magazine’s biggest fashion issue of the year–is a pretty in pink Katy Perry. The cover promises more than 600 pages of “the best dresses, jackets, ideas, shoes and bags.”

Perry is edgy-chic in a tight, light pink dress embellished with unique sequins on the bodice and the shoulders. Her dark hair is streaked purple and her nails are painted in black and white Yin-Yangs. On her left wrist, her tattoo shows fairly prominently. The bad girl look is a bit of a juxtaposition to the clean feel of her pastelle-colored frock. This look is not atypical of the season, as we’ve seen celebrities like Heidi Klum streak her hair pink. It’s a time in fashion when the goal seems to be letting in a bit of the edge without forfeiting the class.

JLo is smokin’ hot on the cover of this month’s InStyle. Hinting to the natural colors of autumn are her Givenchy by Riccardo Tisci top and skirt in a deep red accented with black. Even her nails are a fiery red, harkening back to the tension between the classy lady and the adventurer. The 652-page issue promises the best trends and how to wear them, as well as a “fall bag and boot blowout.”

On the younger scene, Canadian model/actress Nina Dobrev covers the October issue of Seventeen. True to Seventeen style, Dobrev is tipping the scales more on the sweetly innocent side rather than following suit with the dangerous damsal featured on other covers. Sporting pinks, oranges and reds in a scarfed sweater and shiny skirt, Dobrev covers the issue that promisees “The best fall clothes under $20.”

If you want to dig into the styles of these fashion-heavy issues, you can get these titles and more at an extreme discounts right now on


How My Crock-Pot Saved Sundays

How My Crock-Pot Saved Sundays

Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker CookbookResolving to make dinner in the Crock-pot every Sunday this fall, blogger Brittany Cooper rekindles her love for the oft-forgotten culinary lifesaver.

Four years ago, I was a newlywed sorting through a mound of thoughtful wedding gifts when I made a discovery that I didn’t think was so thoughtful: two Crock-pots. Yes, one person bought us the slow-cooker on our registry, while another mystery person thought fit to throw in a little surprise – a bonus kitchen gadget the size of a small baby bathtub without a gift receipt or any hint as to where it had originated. All signs pointed to a tragic case of regifting, but I digress.

My husband and I spent several hours of our newly wedded life running from store to store trying to return the thing, but we eventually gave up and returned the one from our registry, assuring ourselves that the other crock was more than adequate for our needs. Happy with our decision, I put it in its thermal carrying case and stuffed it in a low cabinet in the land of misfits just next to the fondue pot and the hot chocolate milk frother.

Four years later, with many hours of cooking now under my apron strings, I have come to realize my terrible mistake. Though it is awkwardly bulky and doesn’t do anything to dress up my countertops, that Crock-pot holds the keys to a hassle-free, deliciously homemade meal.

I recently pulled it out and threw in a little of this and a little of that on a Sunday afternoon. We left the house for a couple hours for a Sunday evening church service, and when we got home it was like someone had been there all along cooking us dinner. And you simply cannot beat the feeling of coming home the smell of something cooking (especially when all you had to do was chop the veggies and throw them in with some frozen chicken).

Plus, Crock-pots are no longer relegated to meals with titles like “roast” and “stew.” With the proliferation of mom bloggers and sites like Pinterest, slow-cookers can make everything from enchiladas to cheesecake to chicken noodle soup and chicken pot pie. So, if you’re looking for a way to whip up a meal that will have you looking over your shoulder to see if Mom’s there, don’t make the same mistake I did. Give the Crock-pot its rightful due.

And don’t hesitate to join me in Crock-pot Sundays. For starters, check out this Cooking Light feature on favorite slow-cooker recipes or the book pictured above, “Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Cookbook.” Also, be sure to take a look at my Pinterest board and repin the recipes you want to try!

Real Simple September 2012

Real Simple Encourages Readers to Embrace Their Vices

Real Simple VicesIs Real Simple’s October feature “5 Vices You Should Embrace” a playful poke at our uptight nature or an unhealthy step away from self-control?

For its October issue, Real Simple gathered five experts “including a moral historian and a romance novelist” to reveal the five vices they find occasionally beneficial. And while this short piece smacks of playful innocence, it also suggests that there are times when we should let our moral compasses slide and just indulge.

Perhaps what makes this bite-sized article a little alarming is the range of “vices” that make the list. Among those recommended are “gossip at the office,” “embrace sloth,” “eat meat,” “enjoy schadenfreude” (pleasure at the misfortune of others) and “be lustful.”

The two that bear the greatest initial shock factor in my opinion – “embrace sloth” and “be lustful” – are in reality quite tame. Speaking of “sloth,” author and editor Erica Jong rejects the American work ethic, which is to overwork. To remedy the habit, Jong recommends embracing sloth by taking a vacation. Likewise, in her “be lustful” blip, best-selling romance novelist Sabrina Jeffries remembers a time when speaking of anything sex-related was taboo, asking “why can’t we even talk about it?”

Then there’s the vice “eat meat,” which to some would seem appalling and to others not a vice at all. Graham Hill, founder of and, insists that “an all-or-nothing approach is impossible for some people,” adding, “I’m one of them.” Rather than cut out meat altogether, Hill has become what he calls a weekday vegetarian.

But where the playfulness seems to turn to masked egocentricity for me is with the two vices “gossip at the office” and “enjoy schadenfreude,” which encourage exactly what they say, with no subtle wink at anything else.

“I don’t talk about others more or less than the average person, but I have a friend at work with whom I jokingly have explicit trade-offs,” says Yale Psychology Professor Paul Bloom. “If I present him with a piece of information, he owes me an equally juicy nugget in the future. There’s an unseemly pleasure to gossip, but it can also be beneficial.”

Though he argues that information is power, his assertion still feels like a cop out. It’s like someone sidling up to you and assuring you that your desire to hurt someone else isn’t great, but hey, who can really control themselves when it comes to that anyway?

Ringing in the same key is University of Virginia Moral History Professor John Portmann’s “enjoy schadenfreude” section. Prefacing his paragraph by saying that “religious and secular scholars alike agree that envy is awful,” he then jumps into an argument that the pleasure you get from another’s misfortune “can feel great.” He cites karma-heavy examples like your mean boss being caught cheating on her taxes and facing a penalty. Feels great, right?

Since when has the argument “do it if it feels good” led to anything balanced or productive? I’m not arguing against pleasure or fulfillment, but it seems odd to take something so potentially harmful and try to make it feel lighthearted and harmless. To me, it’s the difference between saying, “Go ahead and indulge in that piece of chocolate after dinner” and “Go ahead and binge eat when no one’s looking.” One just doesn’t strike me as humorous.

What do you think? Is this article what it would appear – an invitation to loosen up – or is it a slightly convoluted free pass to engage in potentially harmful behavior?

The Kingston Springs photo

The Kingston Springs Set to Rock Nashville’s Live On the Green

The Kingston Springs

The Kingston Springs

Drawing comparisons to a young Black Keys, the four-man Southern blues rock outfit The Kingston Springs are playing Nashville as part of Lightning 100′s Live On the Green.

Each year when the breezes of fall sweep into Nashville, local music fans start to feel the itch for the live music that is to come. Lightning 100, Nashville’s only independent radio station, hosts the annual Live On the Green Music Festival, a free weekly event that boasts headliners like The Wallflowers, Alabama Shakes and Here Come the Mummies. Nashville locals flock to Public Square Park downtown Thursday nights from September 6 through October 11 for a night of live music and community.

The festival kicked off last Thursday, with Jon Cleary and Moon Taxi supporting headliner Dr. John & The Lower 911. Others set to play this season include North Mississippi Allstars, The Apache Relay, Trampled By Turtles, The Kingston Springs, The Delta Saints and tons more. In order to celebrate the beginning of the long-anticipated event, we had a quick chat with The Kingston Springs, a bluesy Southern rock band hailing from, well … Kingston Springs, Tenn.

Having played tons of festivals and shared the bill with acts like Cage the Elephant and cult favorite The Features, The Kingston Springs are roots rock at its rootsiest, citing catfish as their inspiration and Taco Bell as one of their band interests.

You guys hail from Kingston Springs, Tennessee. What is there to do in Kingston Springs – what occupied your time there growing up?

Swimming in the river, playin’ some tunes, skating from time to time, and trying to woo some ladies.

You’ve been recording your eponymous full-length debut in Franklin, Tenn. What studio have you been working at, and who has been involved in helping see this record to fruition?

Well, we experimented with a bunch of different people at different studios, and we just couldn’t seem to find what we wanted. So we decided to do it ourselves at a family studio. This pretty much just gave us freedom to do whatever we wanted, which is the way we like it.

What can fans expect to hear on this record sound-wise?

A little of this, a little that and voilà!

In the past couple years, you’ve really gotten some festival experience under your belts. Do you have any favorite festival moments?

Well, waking up to the open-bar beach at Hangout Fest was pretty nice.

You’re playing Nashville’s Live on the Green October 4. What are your thoughts going into that?

It should be fun. We’ve never played to the Nashville skyline before.

How do you feel about people comparing you to a young Black Keys?

That’s cool. We like the Keys. We feel like we have some musical differences, but that’s a flattering comparison.

What’s one thing your fans don’t already know about you guys?

We eat a bunch of spaghetti.

Catch The Kingston Springs and tons of other great bands at Nashville’s Live On The Green each Thursday night through October 11.

5 Sweet Ways to Celebrate Grandparents Day With Your Kids

5 Sweet Ways to Celebrate Grandparents Day with Your Kids

5 Sweet Ways to Celebrate Grandparents Day With Your KidsWe don’t have many set traditions when it comes to celebrating Grandparents Day, but here are a few sweet ways you and your kids can send some love to the grandparents today.

Happy Grandparents Day! While the holiday is about as sweet as they come, it’s hard to know exactly how to give it proper attention and make it a day worth remembering. Birthdays have cakes and anniversaries have flowers, but what can you do to tell those grandparents that they’re loved?

To save you some thinking time and give you more time to act, here’s a list of our top five suggestions of sweet ways you can help your kids show appreciation to their grandparents. And since this holiday is a more subtle one, your special thanks just might catch them by surprise.

1. Give Them a Ring - No, don’t go buy Grandma a shiny piece of jewelry for her finger (though she might not object). Gather your whole family and pick up the phone. You’ll be amazed by how meaningful a call can be. If you live close to the grandparents, take the afternoon to go visit them and tell them in person that you love them.

2. Write Them a Book - If your kids can write, have them get creative and compose a mini-book about their grandparents. They can write a funny story about their favorite memory, explain what they love most about their grandparents or just write a made-up story for Grandma or Grandpa to enjoy. Even if your child is too young to write, have him or her illustrate the book and then tell you what’s happening so you can do the transcribing.

3. Get Picture Perfect - Grandparents always enjoy having updated photos of the grandkids. Since your kids are changing every day, get updated photos of them printed and then let them design their own picture frame. Check out our Pinterest board for ideas on how to get creative with this one!

4. Detail a Date – Let your kids plan the perfect day with their grandparents, and then write it all up in detail and include the necessary items like gift cards, etc. If your child wants to go to a movie and the park, for example, get the movie tickets and some sunscreen and bundle them in a package with the date plan.

5. Make Them Dinner – This one can be as fancy or as casual as you want — just go with Grandma or Grandpa’s personal taste to decide. If you live close to the grandparents, invite them over to your house for dinner, and then have the whole family help with the cooking, serving and enjoying of the food while Grandma and Grandpa just sit and enjoy. This is a fun way to love the grandparents while also planning a fun family event!


Give Squash a Chance

Give Squash a Chance: Five Ways to Make it Taste Great (Believe Us!)

Butternut Squash Soup from Real Simple

Real Simple's butternut squash soup is a delicious way to eat squash.

Yes, its name is sadly unappetizing, and often the way squash is prepared makes the name seem perfectly suitable. But here are five delicious ways to work the super nutrient food into your diet.

My husband is the perpetual squash-hater. When we were first married I cooked recipes with acorn squash, butternut squash and yellow squash, and while polite and thankful for the food, he just couldn’t get over the texture.

A few years later, I’ve picked up a few skills for getting the vitamin A-, alpha-carotene- and beta-carotene-rich food into our diet — and even getting my husband to enjoy it. Here are some great recipes that have worked for us:

1. Butternut Squash Soup With Sage and Parmesan Croutons from Real Simple Magazine:

This delicious recipe uses the nutty flavor of butternut squash accented with some onion, celery, sage and parmesan to create a delectable bisque that even the pickiest eater can’t turn down. If you’re working with an especially avid squash-hater, you can also add crumbled bacon to add additional flavor.

2. Roasted Vegetables from Whole Living Magazine:

Infuse winter veggies with the flavors of olive oil and any assortment of herbs you like. Roasting with this recipe crispens up the outside of the veggies while making the insides nice and tender and flavorful. The diversity of this recipe allows you to play around with the herbs and spices you enjoy.

3. Summer Squash Pizza from Cooking Light Magazine:

Who doesn’t love a good pizza? With this recipe from Cooking Light, you can get a little zucchini and yellow squash into your meal by including it on a pizza. For those who don’t like the texture of squash, just cut your pieces a little smaller than called for in this recipe. This hides the texture and lets the squash add flavor and nutrients without adding anything else.

4. Summer Squash and Applesauce Muffins from Vegetarian Times Magazine:

Did you know you can even work squash into something as delicious as a muffin? Try this recipe from Vegetarian Times, and you don’t even have to tell anyone you snuck some squash into their snack. If you think about it, it’s not that different than sneaking carrots into carrot cake.

5. Panang Vegetable Curry from Bon Appetit Magazine:

Go gourmet with your squash and enjoy this recipe from Bon Appetit that incorporates the flavors of homemade curry paste, tons of squash and an assortment of herbs. Who ever said squash had to be boring?

With these and other recipes you can start to make squash a staple in your fall and winter diet. For the freshest squash, take a trip to your local farmers market and select from an assortment of just-picked seasonal produce.

Photo by Jim Franco