Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The Best of 2017 by Amy Vastine & Carol Ross


Here’s to you, 2017! 

Is it just us or does it seem as if 2017 is settling into the record books with a bit more negativity than it deserves? I mean, every year, every day of every year for that matter, we can find something depressing to focus on, right? It’s so easy to get caught up in this wave. We understand. We’re guilty, too.

But there’s only so much we can control in this life and, as Heartwarming authors, Amy and I feel like it’s our job to put a positive spin on life in whatever ways we can. And so, looking back, we’re vowing to remember as much good from this last year, as we do the not-so-good.

In tribute, we offer a few of our favorite 2017 highlights.

Best Movie:


Amy ~ Get Out

This is one of those crazy movies where you think you know what is going to happen and then there is this insane twist that makes you say, “WHAT JUST HAPPENED?” I saw this movie with my oldest son when we were visiting Clemson University (the school he just got into and plans to attend next year - yay, Jake!) We walked back to the hotel shocked that we had been so clueless because we’re both the annoying ones in the family who can usually predict how movies are going to end about five minutes in. Not this time!


Carol ~ Dunkirk

When a movie can keep me on the edge of my seat even though I know what’s coming, it gets all my accolades. I loved everything about this historical recounting of one of the greatest mass military rescues of all time; the clever telling, the stellar acting, the stunning cinematography... Even the audio was brilliantly subtle. (No gratuitous sound effects or overwhelming background music here.) But I think my favorite part came afterward, listening to my 91-year-old father-in-law recount his memories of WWII that the film evoked. Priceless.

Best TV Show:


Amy ~ Scandal

This one has been around for a long time, but I just started binge watching it this winter and I am completely hooked. I watch at least an episode a day while working out. I was warned by my sister-in-law that once I started, I wouldn’t be able to stop and she was right! Its political intrigue makes me want to write a love story about a single president (no married men having affairs allowed in Heartwarming!)


Carol~ Stranger Things 2

I have a rule; I only watch TV shows while on my treadmill. Sure, I break it once in a while. I’ll stretch for an extra few minutes if I’m at the end of an episode or dying to see what happens in the next scene. But normally I’m pretty good because it’s what keeps me motivated to get back on the treadmill. But this show? Rules schmules! I think I watched the entire season in three viewings, and this was only because life interrupted me.

Best New Recipe:


I’ve spent the last year working hard to find healthier meals for my family to eat. With three teenagers and a husband who likes to be wowed, it’s not always easy to find something that everyone likes, doesn’t break the calorie bank, and is easy enough for me since I’m not in love with cooking. This was a family favorite. Everyone had seconds!

Carol ~  Fancy Mac & Cheese 

This recipe combines three of my favorite things, macaroni, cheese, and the Pioneer Woman. Plus, there’s bacon and mushrooms. I made this for a family dinner and one of my husband's relatives declared it, "The best thing I've ever tasted."

Best Song:


Amy ~ “Are You Ready for It?” by Taylor Swift

This is my jam! It’s been a long time since a song got me hyped up as much as this one. I like to play it at the end of a workout when I’m huffing and puffing and need that little bit of motivation to keep going. It just makes me want to move (much to my children’s dismay especially when I dance around the kitchen!)


Carol ~ “You Look Good” by Lady Antebellum

Music can make me happy or sad quicker than most anything else. It’s no secret that I’m a huge country music fan, and there were a TON of fantastic new songs in this genre in 2017. Problem is, so many of them are heart-twisting ballads that make me cry. This one never fails to make me smile. I dare you to watch the video above and not sing along.

Best New (to us) Product Discovery:
Amy ~ Pistachio Bowl with Shell Storage

Okay, this might seem really weird, but this bowl is my husband’s favorite Christmas present ever. I saw it and I knew I had to get it. It’s a bowl that sits on top of another bowl. You fill the top bowl with your favorite shelled nuts or maybe cherries and you discard the shells or pits in the bowl underneath! No more juggling two bowls or fishing through the empty shells for one more nut. We will never be the same over here!


Carol ~ Frozen Egg Noodles

Go ahead and laugh. You probably all know about these already. For years, I’ve made homemade chicken noodle soup just like my mom used to make. Except I didn’t. Because my mom used to make the noodles from scratch while I used those thin, dried, packaged ones that fall apart under the intense, boiling ordeal that is my soup pot. But making noodles is a time-stealing labor-intensive task that I don’t want to make time for. Frozen egg noodles have transformed my life um, I mean my soup. 

And, of course, we couldn't forget one of our mutually favorite moments!



Please reassure us that 2017 was not-so-bad for you, either! We'd love to hear about some of your favorite movies, books, songs, discoveries, moments or accomplishments from the last year. 

For more information about Amy Vastine and Carol Ross including a complete list of their books, please visit their websites!


30 comments:

  1. Amy and Carol, this post was the best antidote to the January blahs - as in long cold snap, post Christmas eating regrets (sigh) and writing questions like, “what now?” I loved those movies too and vow to make the recipes later on. As to the pistachio bowl....where can I get one? Thanks for the big grin this morning!

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    1. 2017 was a good year for me - I signed my first contract with HQ, and now have two Heartwarming books coming out this spring.

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    2. Thanks, Janice! That's what we were hoping for. I'm laughing at your "eating regrets" comment. I'm right there with you, but it sure was fun.

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    3. Congratulations, Kim! 2017 will definitely go down in your record book as one to remember. Looking forward to reading your books.

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    4. In 2018, I might learn how to comment on here properly - another big year! ;)

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    5. Kim, LOL! You're already way ahead of me. When I started I didn't even know how to comment. I had to figure out how to make "blogger account" thing. And writing a blog post was a three-day ordeal.

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    6. That pistachio bowl is on Amazon - what isn't on Amazon?! It's really the best invention ever!

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    7. Thanks Amy! Just ordered two! Figure it’ll make a gift for someone. :)

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    8. Yay, Kim. Can't wait to read about those hockey players!

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  2. A great post! I'm behind on stuff, but did get Netflix this year, so my favorite TV show is The Newsroom and I don't seem to have favorite anything else. Thank you both for reminding me to look for the good.

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    1. Thanks, Liz. I think we all need a little reminding now and then. I haven't heard of The Newsroom. I'll have to check it out. My treadmill and I are always looking for new shows.

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  3. Loved the post. I confess, my son made me watch Stranger Things with him, and now I'm hooked, but still have only seen the first episode of season two. It's on my to-do list. I'm buying the nut bowl. And, I'll be making the creamy chicken recipe :)

    Lady Antebellum won me over last year with the song Better Man. Wow. Made me wish I were in my twenties again and could be heading to Nashville to become a country star. LOL

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    1. Yikes, I mixed up Lady Antebellum with Little Big Town, but in my defense - look at their lead female singer!

      I hadn't noticed the resemblance before.

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    2. Pam, I'm so glad your son made you watch! My nephew is the one who told me he thought I'd like the first season. The entire second season feels like one long movie to me, story structure wise. Brilliant. I also love Little Big Town. Never noticed the resemblance either. Interesting!

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  4. Really enjoyed your post. It started my morning off with a smile :)

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    1. Oh good, Cathy! That's what we were hoping for.

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  5. Thanks for your upbeat start to a new year. We all need it. The recipes look yummy. I love Lady Antebellum. Have since they started. I'm not much on movies. Sending good wishes for a top notch year.

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    1. You're very welcome, Roz. I'm excited to try Amy's chicken pasta recipe myself. Same with me about Lady Antebellum. "Love Don't Live Here" was one of their first hits and is still one of my favorites. I'm hoping to see them in concert one of these days. Happy New Year to you too!

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  6. What a great post. And only watching tv on the treadmill??? Genius! I'm going to try that. 2017 wasn't too bad for me. After all, my debut Heartwarming book was released in March 2017 and I made tons of new friends and took some great crafting classes. In July I got one of the best kindergarten groups I've ever had (I'll be really sad to send them to first grade.) and have enjoyed this school year more than any in the recent past. I'm looking forward to 2018, but 2017 was good for me. :)

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    1. Thanks, LeAnne! It is a challenge sometimes but it really works for me. I do watch the news or the history channel off-treadmill but nothing I can get hooked on. I'm so glad you had a good year, too. After reading some of these responses, I feel like 2017 is getting the respect it deserves.

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  7. I love your attitude. Yes, 2017 was a good year for me, overall. My first two Heartwarmings were published, and I've gotten to spend time with all of you. I like Stranger Things, too. Life is good.

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    1. Thank you, Beth! I like yours, too. So happy to hear you had a good year. Season 2 was such a whirlwind - I can't imagine what the writers and producers have in store for us in Stranger Things 3.

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  8. Yet another great post! Love this idea and totally agree on Stranger Things 2, Carol. Addictive! Amy, I need that bowl, LOL. Thanks for brightening my day as always, ladies! I'm ignoring the bad of 2017...and embracing the good--like hanging out with my friends at RWA and Disney World! <3

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    1. Thank you, Anna! Can't wait to see what comes next for Stranger Things. I'm going to have to schedule it on my calendar next year so I can just watch the whole thing at once, Lol. That's what we have to do - just remember the good stuff. And make some new good stuff in 2018. (Like in Denver, for example.)

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  9. Thank you for this beautiful, positive post ladies. You’ve given me lots of new things to try. I have read so many great books in 2017, including Heartwarming ones of course. And I’ve found some cute indoor lights to put up around my house. (IKEA - $1.50 each!!) I’ve eaten lots of great food (way too much), taken a WONDERFUL trip to New York and other great places, and watched movies that are etched in my brain, like Hidden Figures and The Best of Me (which I saw on DVD and cry every time I see it).
    All in all, even though we suffered losses and sadness in 2017, we also saw many blessings. Thank you for helping me to reflect back on those.

    You two look fabulous!! I remember that lovely picture of the two of you. ( :

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    1. You're very welcome, Laurie! It was fun writing it and thinking about all the good stuff we could include. Then it was kind of hard to narrow it down. Sounds like you had a great year, too. Thank you for the movie recommendations. Hidden Figures is on my list. I'll have to check out The Best of Me.
      And thank you for the nice compliment! I love how we always look happy in photos together. It's because we're so excited when we get to see each other.

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  10. Again, I'm late to the party, and again, this was a fabulous idea to go for the positive of the past since we are what we are and think due to our past experiences. I loved it. LOVE STRANGER THINGS...Dunkirk is on my list. I saw "The Greatest Showman" and it was a visual extravaganza. I have a lot of 2017 movies to see, so I'll wait to vote. LOVE the bowl!
    Thanks for a super post, ladies. Can't wait to see you both in Denver!

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  11. That's okay, this party will wait for you. :) I love that: "We are what we are and think due to our past experiences." So true, both good and bad. So fun to see all these fellow Stranger Things fans, and I really think you'd like Dunkirk. Excited to see you in Denver, too!

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