Sunday, December 29, 2013

pin 10: homemade pasta sauce

The Pin: Great Grandma's Pasta Sauce
The Verdict: Easy-peasy, basilriffic, yummy, but not the end-all-be-all sauce

Okay, I don't normally call out people's grammar or punctuation as I know my blog is filled with errors (my journalist friend Greg has said I could benefit from a copy-editor) as I often write in a hurry. BUT, this blogger hit one of my pet peeves with her misuse of the word infamous.  She wrote, "Jason’s grandmother makes her infamous pasta dish."  as everyone seems to like this pasta dish (she is recommending others make it), I believe she meant "...her famous pasta dish."  You see, infamous means something that is famously BAD. Okay, I'm done now.

On to the review:
Making this sauce is a snap. While you do have let it simmer for 2 hours, if you make it on a lazy day (snow day, Sunday, whatever), it seems well worth it. Then again, I'm a basil and garlic whore, and there is A LOT of basil and garlic in this recipe.  My house smells amazing!

Half way through the simmering process, I decided it needed a bit more zip, so added more oregano, pepper, and salt.

I made a batch of it, and will freeze it in single/double servings packs, so when I want some spaghetti I can just grab a pack and be done.

This sauce is tasty, and I will enjoy it more than Ragu. It is so easy, I will for sure make it again, using the recipe as a base and add whatever herbs I fancy. I recommend it for novice sauce-from-scratch cooks. :)

new favorite quick meal

So, I'm now obsessed with turkey kielbasa sausage. I want to eat it all the time. My new favorite quick meal is kielbasa and pierogie's. Add the veggie of your choice (whatever you have), and violia! A perfect meal in under 10 minutes. :)

**I promise, this is not becoming a cooking blog. I've just been on a cooking kick the last few days.*

Saturday, December 28, 2013

what's in store for 2014?

I don't usually make New Year's resolutions, and even more rarely do I follow them, but this year I'm going to try!

2013 brought with it a lot of stress, due mostly to over-extending myself, which in turn meant I gave my pets less attention than they deserved, spent more money, ate out (and unhealthily) more, and generally ran myself ragged, all while feeling guilty for not spending enough time with friends and family.

Of course, I did some awesome things, too: I trained for my 1/2 marathon, saw more plays, and made a point of seeing some of my old friends more often.

But, balance is key, and balance is something I did not have in 2013, so my resolution for 2014 is to achieve more balance in my life. 

Some ways I hope to do to achieve this balance include:

  • staying home during the week more, so I can eat at home, play with pets, do my shit, & keep my house/clothes clean.
  • say no to invitations sometimes (and not feel guilty about it), so I can actually enjoy the invitations I say YES to!
  • Climb often & keep running :)

pin 9: whole wheat pizza dough

Pizza time! I have a pizza dough recipe I like (this honey wheat pizza crust),that I posted on my "Against the Grain" a few years ago, but I saw this recipe on Pinterest, and I thought it was worth a shot as I'm always looking for ways to make my favorite Friday meal healthier.

The Pin: 100% Whole Wheat Pizza Dough
The Verdict: Mixed:  Easy to make, insane amount of prep-time, super yummy crust.

Apparently I should read recipes more carefully because I planned to have this Friday, until I read that the dough should sit in the fridge for 24-72 hours. Yikes! That's crazy; this better be the best pizza dough ever. I made the dough Friday morning (late) and made the pizza for lunch on Saturday, so it sat in the fridge for the minimum time suggested.

Slight tweaks I made to the recipe: 
  • I substituted honey for the white sugar
  • After you take the dough out of the fridge, it should rise for an hour on the counter. My kitchen is usually cold, so I stuck it in a warm oven for 45 minutes.
  • Sadly, I don't have a pizza stone, so I pre-baked the crust for 5 minutes before putting on the toppings. 
  • Because I was just making 1 pizza (I halved the recipe), I didn't bother with the parchment paper, and instead just made the pizza on my pizza pan, but in hindsight, it would have been useful for faster clean up.
On her blog, the author indicated that this pizza doesn't get "crispy," but I found mine got to a good crispness level.  Crispiness was an issue with my other recipe, but I had no such problems with this -- perhaps because I pre-baked the crust and/or didn't use the parchment paper? 

My sauce and toppings:
For my sauce I used the crushed tomato recipe (on the same blog post as the honey wheat crust) because it is still the best tasting sauce I've ever made. YUM. so easy. You should do it.

My go-to homemade pizza toppings are cheese, left over hamburger, and bell peppers, but this time I opted for basil leaves, turkey pepperoni & some left over bell peppers. I used mozzarella cheese (but I usually just use whatever I happen to have): I'm not a big cheese person, so her recipe called for way to much in my book. I probably used 1/2 a cup or so.

How does it compare to my Honey Wheat Crust?

  • On the one hand, it has a lighter flavor (I taste more pizza than crust) and it was easier to get a crisper crust.
  • On the other hand, I had to prepare the dough days in advance. LITERALLY (I'm really hung up on this).
  • I think the 100% whole wheat is a better dough than the honey wheat, but not significantly better to win out over practicality. That said, if I plan ahead and just think to make the dough during a Scandal commercial break, I could make this a normal part of my menu. 

Friday, December 27, 2013

pin 8: chicken soup with lentils and barley

The heart healthy recipes continue! Fortunately, my parents gave me a small deep freezer and a super food saver for Christmas, so I will be eating well even when I'm busy. :)  Okay, down to business:

The Pin: Chicken Soup with Lentils and Barely*
The Verdict: Delicious! This is definitely going to be a staple in my meal rotation.

Just like the lentil and kielbasa soup, this is relatively easy to make, but it would definitely be too much to deal with on a weeknight. This is a perfect Sunday (or freezer) meal.

Changes to the recipe:

  • I substituted leftover turkey from Thanksgiving for the chicken.  Having to cook meat beforehand for this soup would make the prep time on this a little much, so I highly recommend making it with leftover meat.
  • I think it could have used more garlic and basil, salt & pepper. I used fresh (for both the basil and garlic), but could barely taste them. I also use low sodium everything, so found I did need to salt it. I pepper everything, so it's no surprise I needed to pepper it!
*Please note, one of the pins for this recipe (the one I pinned) only lead me to an ingredient list. From there, I had to Google the recipe to get the full thing. I linked to the actual recipe above. 

pin 7: lentil soup

Some of my readers know of my heart disease phobia,* and with that phobia in mind, I've decided to take control of my heart health in 2014. This means learning to cook with barely and lentils (among other things). As you can imagine, I've been pinning recipes on Pinterest like crazy, and this is the tale of one such pin.
The verdict: Pretty damn good!

I followed her recipe exactly, although I just bought the brand of turkey sausage that was on sale & I didn't accompany the soup with bread.  I have to say, this is a good winter soup. It is hearty (heh, pun intended), and the kielbasa makes this dish delish. It was also fairly easy to make: the prep time was minimal. 

A word about Lentils: I don't think I've ever eaten lentils before, and their flavor is strong, but not unpleasant. It is one that I think may take some getting used to, but overall, I like this dish, and will eat all 10 servings of it over the course of the winter. 

Things I might do differently:  Because the spice of the kielbasa is my favorite thing about the soup, I may play around with adding other spices/herbs - not much, just something to take it up a notch. I may also throw it in the crockpot, so the flavors can mingle a bit more.  I will also quarter or halve my sausage circles so I can have more bites that include the meat. My roommate, who likes things to have a carnival of flavor will likely say this is too bland for him.

For vegetarians: the recipe says you can omit the sausage and use all vegetable broth (rather than 1/2 veggie, 1/2 chicken), but I think you will really need to spice it up if you make this. There just isn't that much flavor outside of the sausage.

One last tip: After dinner mint recommended.

*My phobia began upon learning that women's heart attacks often present themselves differently from men's, and women sometimes have heart-attacks without knowing it, which can lead to their body being wrecked, or them being dead.  I spend about 30% of the time wondering if I'm having a heart-attack.  This PSA with Elizabeth Banks is both hilarious and terrifying; enjoy! (plays automatically)

pin, revisisted

This fall, I followed the pin to spray paint my door handles, and I loved it, but after a few months, I have to admit that the paint is coming off of my door handle on my front door (my original review)

I still think this was a valuable pin, and can give a short-term fix, but if you can spend the money on new hardware, that may be the way to go.  Still, I think if you are trying to update hardware that is not often touched (a light fixture, for example), then I would still use the spray paint.

Pin 6: making ornaments from cd's

Disclaimer, I didn't actually make this pin, but a friend of mine did on a craft night I recently hosted, so I'm including it.

Pin: DIY: Mosaic Ornaments 
Pin rating: TERRIBLE

It is very difficult to cut the cd's, and the chance of cutting one's self accidentally is high. The end result pictured on the website, even for talented artists, is difficult to achieve, and the reward (even when it does look great) is not worth the time or risk of injury.

It may work better if you have heavy-duty scissors and can cut very small pieces, but overall I would NOT recommend this pin. :(

pin 5: bird seed ornaments

Pin 5:  Holiday Birdseed Feeders
Pin Rating: Excellent!

This pin was super fun, easy, inexpensive, and kid-friendly. I loved it!  Sticking with the holiday theme, I used Christmas cookie-cutters, but you could do this any time with any shaped cookie cutters. So fun!

pin 4: draft dogers

Pin rating: Excellent! Easy & Economic. Best for homes without dogs.

My front door currently lets in a lot of cold air. A LOT of cold air, so I decided to try to make some draft dodgers. This tutorial on Pinterest seemed easy enough, so I gave it a try.  

Fuzzy Socks - Because I would have these draft-dodgers up longer than the Christmas season, I tried to find some fuzzy socks that were not red and green, and I found two pars of blue and green extra long fuzzy socks for 2.47 at Target or Walmart.   One pair of these socks is long enough for a normal door width, so if you can find them, they would be more economical and require less sewing than having to buy 2 pairs of normal length fuzzy socks.

Popcorn kernels - This project took MUCH more popcorn than I anticipated. I used more than a 45oz jar for one dodger.

Stuffing - you can get this at any craft store, and this will be the most expensive item. Hobby Lobby and Michael's almost always have 40-50% off coupons on their website, so I would use those to keep this pin ultra cheap.  You can buy a small bag; you really don't need very much of this at all.

Needle & Thread - any scrap thread you have around the house should get it done. Anyone can do this - you just making a few stitches to close up the socks.

So, I followed the direction exactly, and sewed up my socks. Perfect! I love my little draft-dodger sock snakes & made two.  Unfortunately, so did my dog,but I probably should have seen that coming...

Sunday, December 01, 2013

my rant about those who rant about "happy holidays" greetings.

Before I start seeing all the "keep Christ in Christmas" Facebook
posts (and likes) chastising anyone who would dare say Happy Holidays, I urge you to remember that Christmas is not the only holiday being celebrated right now*. Let me say that again: Christmas is not the only holiday being celebrated right now.

 People who get bent out of shape over someone saying "Happy Holidays" because it is somehow taking "Christ out of Christmas" baffle me.  I just don't get how someone wishing me well takes Christ away.  Did that greeting make it impossible for me to reflect, pray, or prepare for the coming of Christ in some way? Did that greeting shut the doors to my church? I'm pretty sure that isn't how it works.

Further, those who make the assertion that "Happy Holidays" is so horrible, seem to be ignoring Christ's message of tolerance, peace and love by refusing to gracefully accept that other's offer of good will.

I routinely say "Happy Holidays," "Merry Christmas, " or "Happy Hanukkah" depending on who I'm talking to or how they greet me. I don't celebrate Hanukkah, but if you wish me a happy one, I say "right back atcha, dude." Whatever the words, the message is the same: "Peace and good will to you, my friend."  That's what all those things mean. The rest is semantics. How is Christ ever taken out of that?

So, if someone says "Happy Holidays" to you, instead of taking that as a personal affront to you and your God, choose a kinder assumption that the person is simply wishing you well regardless of the holiday you celebrate during this time, and wish them well in whatever way you think is appropriate.

*Some other holidays being celebrated during the Nov-Jan holiday season:

  • Thanksgiving
  • Hanukkah 
  • Winter Solstice
  • Soyal
  • Ashura
  • Bohdi Day
  • Kwanza
  • New Year's

Saturday, November 02, 2013

great article

Great article,and many of my sentiments exactly about training/running the St. Louis Rock 'n Roll 1/2 marathon.  Yay, we did it!

A sign better than "what's your excuse," by Aisha Sultan

Friday, November 01, 2013

pin challenge fail

So, I am about 4 weeks behind on my 52 pin challenge. I guess I will have to double up this month. Stay tuned...

Thursday, October 31, 2013

1/2 marathon: achievement unlocked!

Well, I did it! I ran all 13.1 miles of the Rock 'n Roll 1/2 Marathon!  I'm pretty freaking proud of myself.  :)

The day started early, and it was cold. Because I have my weird cold leg syndrome thing, I was extremely worried about the cold temperature, so I layered up big-time. On my legs I wore: cold weather gear leggings, shorts, and fleece pants. I put those disposable hand warmers in each pocket and took generic benadryl about 30 minutes before the race.  Thankfully, it did the trick - no itchy/burning legs! Huzzah! Around mile 3 I ditched the fleece pants and was pretty comfortable (temperature-wise) the rest of the race.

I started strong. For the first 6 miles I had an even pace, and a good one for me (about 13:30). I was super happy. Feeling like I could run all day! Then mile 7 hit...

At mile 7, we began a 6.1 mile incline.  Okay, so I'm exaggerating, but only a little.  Hills to power through I trained for, a slight 6 mile incline I did not.  This about killed me, and definitely killed my time and my spirit. I met my goal primarily because I played mind-games with myself.  I had run 10 in training, so when I wanted to give up at mile 8, I wouldn't let myself: "You can start walking at mile 10, but you you will be so mad if you run less than you did in training. Walk at mile 10."  Then, at mile 10: "You only have 3 miles left; a measly 5K. Are you going to walk now? You can't walk now! Push through!"  Apparently my mind is easily tricked, and so I kept plugging along, on the hellish incline,and although some speed-walkers passed me by, I technically ran the whole thing, which was my goal!

The last 6 miles weren't all bad. There were a couple of short down hills (so we could go up again), and there were tons of people out cheering on random strangers; giving us high-fives, clapping and shouting how awesome we are, and my favorite sign which read, "If marathons were easy they'd be named 'your mom'"  :)

If I ever do a 1/2 again (and I'm not saying I will!), I would probably have a time goal, and I would walk every 3rd or 4th mile (which would undoubtedly improve my time). I would also consider NOT using MapMyRun. I trained with this app, and wanted to keep track of my pace so I was sure to out-run the sag-wagon.  The problem with running a race with this app is that it exposed a dirty little secret: I did not run 13.1 miles.

What? How?? Wahhh?  Well, of course corners, running around people, running towards the water, and all that jazz bit by bit, step by step, will add precious tenths of miles to one's distance.   As a result, I had about 3/4 a mile to go after my app told me I had gone 13 miles. I was mentally prepared to go 13.1 miles, so when the app told me this, I wanted to die. I knew I had come too far, and needed to finish the official 1/2 marathon to feel accomplished, but I tell ya, I did so slowly. Really slowly.

Official 1/2 Marathon Time: 3:24:21
MMR 13.1 mile time: 3:09.08

In the end I was hot, sweaty,  in pain, my face was covered in salt, and I was exhausted, but it was totally worth it.

After crossing the finish line I was greeted with banana's, pretzels, water, Gatorade and more goodies that I happily accepted. I was also greeted by my mom, brother-in-law and two of my nieces; it was awesome to have support at the finish line.  My sister and her co-worker finished not long after me (they walked), and we had a nice celebratory meal before going home to collapse on our couches..

It was a really fun day, and a great feeling to have a achieved a goal I trained so hard for.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

week 3, pin 3

Week of September 23rd:
 Blue "Crystal Meth" Rock Candy (Breaking Bad)
Pin Rating: Excellent for novelty
Cost: $20 (if you have to buy a  $10 candy thermometer, which I did)

Tonight is the series finale of Breaking Bad, so Panda and I decided to give BrBa a proper send-off by trying to make some "Blue Meth" of our own (out of granulated sugar and corn syrup, of course!) for our series finale party.

Our first cook didn't turn out as we hoped.  The recipe instructs you to remove the sugar mixture from heat when the thermometer reaches 285 degrees, but we did not quite do this in time, and within seconds we had over-cooked our candy. 

Even just slightly over-cooking it produced yellowed (or carmalized) candy, so when we added the blue food coloring, our candy turned green. Knowing Lydia would not be pleased, we decided we'd better try again.

For our 2nd cook, we removed the mixture from the heat a few degrees before the recipe called for us to in the hopes we wouldn't have the same green problem.

When we added the food coloring it looked a little green at first, so we added several more ( 5-7) drops of Betty Crocker's blue gel coloring.  We then worried it was going to be too dark, but thankfully it turned the perfect shade of blue!

After pouring the sugar mixture out on the lightly greased cookie sheet, we let it harden and cool for about an hour, it was easy to break apart. We put the broken pieces in a ziplock bag and pounded the candy with  a meat tenderizer until getting the right look.

Over all, I am SUPER PLEASED with this pin!   It was fun, easy, and a great way to send off Walt and Jesse.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

half marathon training update

I'm still plugging along at a slow and steady pace. I'm up to 8 miles; tonight I try for 9. Wish me luck!

New Blogger Alert!

A friend of my recently started a blog. She talks recipes, home projects, crafts, life, and all things geeky.  So, to Danielle I give a WarmFuzzy,

"Welcome to the Blogwagon, Geek Chick!"  

Go check out her blog!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Week 2, Pin 2

Week of September 15: Painting door hardware/fixtures
Pin Rating: Excellent!
Cost: $25

After painting my door a beautiful blue, the ugliness of my door handle and mail slot became too obvious to ignore anymore.

Exhibit A

My first plan was to buy new hardware. Then I saw how much a mail slot, door handle, and deadbolt cost, and I decided that my teacher's salary would not adequately cover that and my student loans, so to Pinterest I went. For Pinterest has the answers to all life's problems.

I read a few pins on the subject, and finally decided on the one that takes you to Sherry Petersik's blog, Young House Love.  She had recently spray painted (yes, spray painted!) her hardware, and it worked for her. Her directions were simple and clearly explained.  When she described the motion she used to spray the paint as the motion one would use when spraying their hair with Aqua Net, I knew we spoke the same language.

This weekend, I set out to test her pin, and I am very please with the results. I followed her directions exactly, buying the exact sanding paper, deglosser, and spray paint she suggested, and there were zero snags. So far, I love the look, and hopefully she is correct that the sanding and deglosser will help keep the color.

Here is the finished product, and I am super pleased!  I'm surveying my house for other hardware I can spray paint...

  Exhibit B

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Week 1, Pin 1

Week of Sept 8th: Painting  my door.

My door has been an ugly red color for years. Like 30 years. I'm sure it was a beautiful red color 35 years ago, but time has not been kind, and I don't really like the color red.  Inspired by this pin, I finally decided to repaint, and 3 coats later, am happy with the results. My door is now a beautiful blue color!

Pin review: "Meh" I don't actually think this pin told me anything I didn't already know about the painting a door successfully, but I'm glad it was on Pinterest because it's presence served as a nagging reminder that I should just paint the damn door already.  For those clueless about painting, it would be helpful.

Side note: if you get paint on surfaces you did not mean to paint, Goof Off works really well.  Even on concrete... (wa-waaa...). What's life with out a painting mishap or two?

52 Pins Project

I have  Pinterest problem.

 It's so easy to click "pin" on a project idea, recipe, or outfit, but I'm finding it more difficult to actually, you know, make the project, recipe, or outfit.  So, in an attempt to declutter my Pinterest boards, I've decided to complete a 52 Pin Project.  The rules: 52 weeks, 52 pins. Pretty simple. I'll post my projects here!

Away we go!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

public art for the win

Knowing I love and all things Sherman Alexie (and therefore fantastic), Bird's partner, Melissa, showed me a piece of public art in Spokane while I was visiting. For this piece, Sherman Alexie wrote the poem, That Place Where Ghosts of Salmon Jump, which is inscribed on the spiral. Upon reading it I  was blown away by the poem itself, the placement of the spiral overlooking the Spokane Falls, and the beauty and power in such a simple design. My picture doesn't begin to do it justice, but here it is:

About the spiral, Alexie has been quoted as saying, "The design forces people to dance. The true power of it is in watching people reading the poem in that way." Which I adore.

group runs, revisited

I recently posted about my feelings on group runs, and asked "What am I missing?"  Well, I now have an answer for myself.

I've been running in my group for a couple of months now, and while I do think it is easier to forget I am running, zone out, and go the distance when I'm alone, I am starting to enjoy my group.  So, what was I missing that I now appreciate? 1- if you have a scheduled group run, then you are forced to get off your duff and run even if you don't feel like it. And then, of course, you are always glad you did. And, 2- I have one running buddy in particular who does a great job of pushing me to make progress on my pace goals, but who is still very patient about the fact that I am much slower than she is.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

no escape

Said while on my phone, about to purchase a the new iPhone5: "Ugh, I freaking hate iPhones!"
To which the store clerk replied, "Buying this 5 seems like a bold choice for you, then."

Yes, and one done under protest. Origionally, I had an Android (loved it), but it broke (sadness). Since then I've been using my dad's old iPhone, a 3GS.  Everyone told me I would never go back to Android, but truth be told I do not love my iPhone. I planned to upgrade to a Galexy 3S. Unfortunately, the price was way too high for my budget; meanwhile, the iPhone 5 was only $100 if I turned in my old slow 3GS, so the decision was kind of made for me.

And so I got the 5, a bold choice, but so far I've not flung it into the sea. No doubt my Galexy would have been better, but in the end, I was not able to escape Apple's clutches.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

group runs

they are not for everyone...

I recently started running in a group. The people I run with are all super nice. Super friendly. I enjoy socializing with them, but when I'm running, I don't want to talk to others. I want to listen to my music, zone out, and go. What am I missing that everyone else loves so much?

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

pinterest adventures: greek yogurt pancakes

This morning I made Greek Yogurt Pancakes. I like my fruit on the side, so I made these sans blueberry, and I also changed the flour from white to wheat. Note: the recipe says to use 1/4 of the batter to make the pancake, I think this is too much. I think you could easily get 6-8 pancakes out of the recipe, not 4.

Overall Flavor Rating: A - Oh my god, these were delicious! They tasted almost exactly like regular home-made pancakes.
Time/Prep-Rating - A+ - Super easy. It took about 3-5 minutes to mix everything, then just normal pancake cook time.
Things to change for next time: nothing! YUM!

Monday, June 10, 2013

adventures in pinterest recipes

The adventure continues! For dinner I made crockpot teriyaki chicken and spicy, garlicky, green beans, served over quinoa.

Overall Flavor Rating: A -- Delicious! 
Time/Prep Rating:  A+  --Super easy. I threw the teriyaki in the crockpot to slow cook while I watched some T.V. and went for a run. When I got back, I made my green beans while the quinoa was cooking, and viola! Dinner. 
Things to change next time: use pre-minced garlic to save time. I would also throw the mushrooms in the crock instead of cooking w/ the green beans, and throw in some peppers as well to get this up to an A+ rating for flavor.

Crockpot teriyaki:

1 lb of chicken
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup soy/teriyaki sauce
1/3 cup brown sugar
3 minced garlic cloves

I modified the recipe because I made my own teriyaki sauce, and as such felt no need to add more sugar and garlic (my home-made had plenty). So, I threw the chicken, 1/2 cup chicken broth, and 1 cup home-made teriyaki in the crock pot on low. It smelled divine.

A word about teriyaki sauce. I have found every store-bought bottle I've ever made to be complete and utter crap, so a friend of mine gave me her family's recipe. I don't give out family recipes, but I've perused on-line and have found several that are comparable (example). It took no time at all - or it would have taken no time if I'd bought minced garlic instead of mincing my own. If you have an extra 45 seconds when making dinner, I HIGHLY recommend making your own sauce instead of buying it.

Spicy, Garlicky, Green Beans:

I love green beans. In fact, I love them raw, but they can get boring. This recipe gave me the added pizzazz I've needed. I followed the cooking directions but added some mushrooms that needed to get eaten, and I could not be happier with the results. The beans were crisp and flavorful (it was spicy!), and complimented my main dish fabulously.

after months of hoarding recipes on pinterest, i'm actually trying one out

Today I tried out The Burlap Bag's oat banana cookies as seen on Pinterest.

2 bananas
1 cup quick oats.
Optional: ch. chips, nuts, etc...

Preheat oven to 350. Mix ingredients (mashing up banana), put on cookie sheet in cookie form, and bake for 15 minutes.

I had one banana and rolled oats (which are the same as quick oats, only not crushed up), so I made a half order. In the comments several people said to add vanilla. Yes, of course that will make these better, but  I added the chocolate chips (yes, I had to), I opted not to add more calories and sugar that (hopefully) isn't necessary. 

Oh my god, these are baking right now, and the smell so freaking good!

They are out of the oven, and cooled & tasted!  I would give this a solid C+ rating, but think it could be an A with alterations.

Overall, this is a super easy and quick way to use up those bananas (I always seem to have one I can't get to in time) that is less of a production than baking bread & doesn't use flour. The flavor was appealing, but the consistency was a bit of a turn-off. Because I used rolled oats, I think the banana mush had too little to mix with & as a result these are a big ball of mush and oats. If I chopped the oats, I don't think I would have this problem. Additionally, the chocolate chips did nothing for me. Next time, I would skip those and just add a pinch of cinnamon (maybe a dash of vanilla).  If you like walnuts (I don't), they would compliment this well. 

Next Up: Greek yogurt pancakes & crock-pot chicken teriyaki

Saturday, June 08, 2013

highs and lows

This morning's high:  I started a meet up for runners who run closer to my pace & the first meet up was today. The gal who came was super nice (even though I still felt bad for slowing her down), and I have 5 people signed up for a run later this week. YAY!

This morning's low: I reverted back to my ultra slow-poke running. I don't really mind (I'm cool with slow), but I guess I thought once I started running 12/13 min miles, I'd sustain that. Apparently not. Not today, anyway.

Another high: I feel great & had a good work out and feel like my body was pushed to a good limit.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

it's official!

I registered for my first half last night, so I guess there is no turning back!

What's even better is that when I mentioned to two friends I was going to do it, they immediately jumped on board (they both done 1/2s before; one has run a marathon) and registered as well. YAY! Running buddies. :)

few things

Few things make my dog happier than a new collar.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

half-marathon training: the rest day

Today is my 1st rest day since beginning the training. My biggest fear is that I will loose my momentum with this rest day. That I will remember how wonderful lazy days can be.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

i remember at time...

when "thong" mean "flip-flop."

It was a simpler time.

Monday, June 03, 2013

the year of the tick

That is what this year is shaping up to be, at least in Missouri.  After a camping trip wherein I recieved 4 tick bits, I decided to re-evaluate my position on Deet before my sister and I headed out on our hiking trip Sunday. I've gotten to the point where I am now more worried about lyme disease than I am about having 3 headed babies. So, covered in head-to toe clothing, tucked into my socks, I sprayed (me and the cloths) with bug-spray containing deet. Spray was reapplied during the hike and my sister and I conducted tick-checks every 20 minutes or so. Although I have no tick bites, I did have 4 ticks on me, one of which I found after I got home. That little bugger was moments from sucking my blood and giving me lyme disease, I just know it!

Ugh. Ticks. I have a bit of a phobia regarding them, and I don't ever remember them being this bad. :(

Saturday, June 01, 2013

half-marathon training, part 2: feet meet pavement

Half Marathon Date: Oct 27, 2013
Training Day 1: June 1, 2013

I've decided to go back to the run/walk method because it's been over a year since I could run even a mile without walking. So really, it wasn't a choice, but I think it is a good strategy all the same. The point of today's training was two fold:
  1. to actually start running again rather than just talk about running again.
  2. to get a realistic idea of where my starting point actually is.
Luckily I already have good running clothes and my shoes are still in good condition (and are the ones I had fitted for me when I was running).  With those things working for me, I set out on my run. I'm calling day 1 an amazing success because:
  1. I actually did it, even though the weather was kind of bad.
  2. Holy crap! By running and walking, not only did I complete a 5K (something I thought I'd have to re-work up to), but I did it with my personal best time!
Now I know what you are tsk-tsking... did I over train? Push myself too hard in an over-zealous attempt to prove myself? No, I really did not. I never felt like I was over-doing it, and I did let my body taper off towards the end to cool down and do some stretches.

Despite looking like this, I felt good!

Mile 1- 11:52
Mile 2- 12:57
Mile 3-  13.37
Pace- 13:17
Type- run/walk combo
Terrain- neighborhood/pavement

**I used the running app "Map My Run" to keep track of this information. I love it. It tracks your route, tells you climb, speed, etc. It cuts into my music every mile to update me on distance and pace. Very cool. I highly recommend it.

Friday, May 31, 2013

irony defined

Yesterday I went on search for this book to help me create healthy meals during my training. Although it is available on Amazon, I took to the book store because I both want it now and  prefer shopping in person.

I hit up a used bookstore & this was the exchange I had with the owner:

Him: Can I help you find something?
Me: Oh, no thanks. I was just looking for a specific book on running; you didn't have it.
Him: Yeah, we don't carry that sort of thing.
Me: Yep; there were only about 5 running books. It's okay; I knew it was a long shot.
Him: You know, you can get pretty much anything on-line these days; you should try there.
Me:  Yeah; it is available on Amazon; I'd just rather give my business to actual stores.
Him: Sometimes the internet is just easier though.
Me: I guess I'm just old fashioned. Thanks!

So, was this proprietor of a used bookstore actually advocating that I have not come into his store at all? That instead of trying to buy books in a brick and mortar store I just start with Amazon, his main source of competition? Really?

Although they did not have the book I was looking for the do have HUNDREDS of books; books that I (as a reader) started perusing. That's what readers do. That's why we like books stores. That's how books stores stay in business. The 2 B&N stores I ultimately visited didn't have this book, and yet I left each store with a book. I would have likely left his store with a book had he not shooed me away.

As it was, I left the store completely baffled. The only thing I can come up with the explain his behavior is that I smell. I must smell. Right?

Thursday, May 30, 2013

1/2 marathon training part 1: research

As you know, I've started training for a 1/2 marathon. I am currently in the learn-how-to-train-with-out-killing-myself stage, so I'm reading.

My first book was No Need for Speed: A Beginner's Guide to the Joy of Running, by John Bingham.  In this book, the author discusses how he began running as a 43 year old smoker/drinker who was 80 pounds overweight. He currently runs marathons, and although he is "at the back of the pack," he is no less a runner than anyone else just because he is slow. Slow and steady does win the race, after all.  This book was really inspiring to me - a slow runner.

It is really easy to get discouraged when you are a slow-runner: to think you aren't really doing anything worthwhile, or at least was for me (explaining why I let the heat-wave end my 1st running career). For me, this discouragement often comes in the form of little jokes that others think are harmless (and should be) or well-meaning advice from those who think speed is the only measurement of running success. What I loved about this book is that it is filled with testimonials of other slow runners, talking about their successes.  It is not saying a runner *should* be slow, just that it's fine if they are. That they are still a runner.But beyond that, it asks the reader to really analyze why they want to run.  I found it very inspirational and encouraging. If you are a slowbie, I highly recommend it.

Some things to consider before buying the book (which I think any new/slow runner should do):
The book is actually geared less towards "slow runners" as a whole, and more towards those who are likely to be slow (at least at first):  inactive adults who are looking to change their lives and become more active. Because this is not me (although I am an adult who is less active than she should be), some of the advice didn't apply to me, but it was a good read none-the-less. Additionally, it can be repetitive at times, but when discouragement is all around you (or even just all inside your head), it can't hurt to hear stories encouragement more than once. In fact, I think that may have been the author's goal.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

my etsy shop

After going to a few craft fairs and selling my bags and clutches, I decided to create an Etsy store to sell my current inventory  I couldn't have done it without the help of several friends  including Amy Schawlbert, a very talented graphic designer, who created the logo for me. Please check out my store, the Bewildered Bobbin!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

on your mark! get set! go!

A couple years ago I became super obsessed with running. I was not fast, but I was dedicated. Within a few weeks I ran my first 5K, and I routinely ran several days a week, usually 2-3 miles a day & 6 miles on Sundays. I was obsessed with going farther, and even though I ran 15 minute miles, I was happy; I felt good. There was a cool meditative feeling to getting lost in a long run.

Then a heat wave hit.

I stopped running. I stopped going outside at all, actually. It was brutal.

The following fall I tried recapturing the joy I once felt. I just couldn't do it. Working my way back up to a mile was such a chore, and the thrill was gone.  I kept at it, however, because I was signed up for the Warrior Dash. By the time of the dash, I'd gotten back up to being able to run a 5K (barely), but had only run on fairly even terrain, so I quickly petered out on the hilly course of the event.  I happily walked the remainder of the course (which I can do as fast as I can run, give or take 30 seconds/mile), and I managed to do the awesome obstacles at the event.

After that, I pretty much hung up my running shoes, and never looked back.

Suffice it to say, I've lately started to look longingly at those running shoes. I loved it so much, why did I quit? Why did I let the hard work of building up my stamina again keep me from getting back to what I (ever so briefly) loved with a passion? So, I've decided I need a challenge; a goal. There is a 1/2 marathon in my city in late October. If I was running 6 miles straight after a 6 weeks before, I can certainly get to 13.1 after 6 months, right?


I think so, too.

And so, my running regime begins! Wish me luck.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

thanks, but no thanks

In 1744, the government of Virginia offered a college education to some of the young Iroquois men. Below is the reply from one of the Iroquois (unnamed), as recounted by Benjamin Franklin (and was read at my college graduation).  Here it is:

“We know that you highly esteem the kind of learning taught in colleges, and that the maintenance of our young men, while with you, would be very expensive to you.  We are convinced, therefore, that you mean to do us good by your proposal, and we thank you heartily. But you who are wise must know that different nations have different conceptions of things; and you will therefore not take it amiss if our ideas of this kind of education happen not to be the same with yours. We have had some experience of it: several of our young people were formerly brought up  at the colleges of the northern provinces; they were instructed in all your sciences; but when they came back to us, they were bad runners; ignorant of every means of living in the woods; unable to bear either cold or hunger; knew neither how to build a cabin, take a deer, or kill an enemy; spoke our language imperfectly; were therefore neither fit for hunters, warriors, or counselors; they were totally good for nothing.  We are, however, not the less obliged by your kind offer, though we decline accepting it; and to show our grateful sense of it, if the gentleman of Virginia will send us a dozen of their sons, we will take a great care of their education, instruct them in all we know, and make men of them.”

Blaisdell, Robert. Great Speeches by Native Americans. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 2000. 15. Print.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

spring break to-do list

Spring break is more fun when the temperature raises above 50 degrees, but alas, that does not seem to be in the cards this week.  Since bike-rides and runs at the track will not be on the docket this break, what shall I do?

My spring break to-do list:

  • hang out with friends
  • sew, sew, sew!
  • plant my garden (inside): tomatoes, (black raspberries), sugar snap peas, and.... ??
  • think about buying a second apple tree because clearly no one else in my neighborhood has one
  • do laundry and pack up winter clothes
  • Lesson plan the rest of the school year
  • Have a pup play date

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


Admittedly, I'm late to the party. Newsroom has been getting a lot of acclaim from critics and fans alike, and yet it was only last night I saw my first episode.  I love much of Aaron Sorkin's, work (the West Wing is one of my top 10 favorite shows of all time), but after watching the pitiful Studio 66 on the Sunset Strip and re-watching SportsNight about a year ago only to find that it did not hold up, I was afraid my love for Aaron Sorkin might be forever tarnished if Newsroom fell flat.Would it meet and exceed the perfection of The West Wing? Or, would Sorkin revert to his SportsNight laziness?  I feared the worst. I resisted the show. I didn't have HBO.  So, I'm late to the party.

Whoa, did she just say SportsNight  was lazy and did not hold up?  Why, yes, I did. I love everyone on that show, but when I re-watched it, I noticed a huge problem:  any of the rousing speeches spoken in the show could have been said by any character at any time. These speeches were never written in the voice of the characters who said them. It was almost as if when a speech full of righteous indignation was written, the character to say it was picked out of a hat.  Perhaps I'm being overly harsh, but I challenge you to watch SportsNight marathon style and not agree with me.

With the West Wing, Sorkin had fixed this problem.  Yes, at one time or another all the main characters gave their best shot at leaving their opponents speechless, but they all did so in their own way, using the tone, humor, language of that character's personality.

My verdict: I love Newsroom. It certainly doesn't hit West Wing perfection (a tall order), but it does seem to be the show that SportsNight should have been. The characters are all developed, and when they get mad as hell and they aren't going to take it anymore, they do so in a way that make sense.

Newsroom is a win in my book. I love it!

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Movie Review: The Master

Last night I watched The Master, and I was pretty excited to see a thinly veiled look into Scientology.  It stars Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Jaoquin Pheonix, and Amy Adams (all of whom earned Oscar nominations) and was written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson.

When the movie ended, I asked my companions, "So, what what the point? What was the story? Who and what were we supposed to care about?."  I asked because I really did not know, and they had no answer for me either. It's not that the movie was confusing - it was not. It's not that the movie was complicated - it was not. It's that the movie had no actual story, and what the writer clearly intended the story to be was neither developed nor interesting.

Because of previews,  NPR stories, and the title, I thought the story was going to be about the guy who created Scientology: how he gained his followers, what he taught, and how the people around him were affected.  Sadly, this is not what it was about.

A major shortcoming of the film is that far too much time was spent with the Jaoquin Pheonix character (Freddie), a WWII veteran psychologically disturbed alcoholic. The first 30 minutes or so is spent following Freddie for reasons unknown, as he is perhaps the most uninteresting character in the film.  When he finally finds himself in the presence of the Master, I start to hope the movie is going to pick up. Unfortunately it doesn't. While we catch glimpses into the motives of the title character, we never get any deeper into that story, and instead, Anderson focuses on the relationship between the Master and Freddie. That might be fine, but neither the characters nor the relationship between the two evolve, hence, no there is no story. This film is, as I said on FB, "long, boring, pointless."

One thing I found maddening was that there were so many hints that interesting things were happening all around the main story, but we never got to learn about them.  Here are some examples:
  • The Master & his wife. How did they come up with "the cause"? What are their motives in trying to obtain followers. What drives them? 
  • The master's son. Mid-movie he tells Freddie his father is "making it up as he goes along."  We never see the son's struggle with how to fit in to the family without buying into the message. Then, most interestingly, at the end of the movie, the son seems on-board with "the cause."  How did that happen? Why did we not follow this character?
  • The people who follow The Master.  Why are they drawn to him? What about "the cause" speaks to them. How do their families deal with the fact that they are following what some described as "a cult"? To be fair, Anderson may have thought he was writing this story through Freddie. His mistake was picking a character that is rather one dimensional and doesn't grow. Additionally,  he a character that never seems to 100% buy into the cause. The Laura Dern character - who is a true believer for much of the film- would have been a better choice. She has a pivotal moment with the Master in which she questions something and he yells at her. What happened next? Did she grapple with this? Did she accept it? We don't know. This great and powerful scene happened, and then... nothing.
And while many say how great the acting was, rest assured the acting is good despite the fact that the characters are all static. We have no clue what drives these characters and none of their stories are followed in a way that allows us to get any more than a 1 dimensional view of most of them.

The movie was a terrible disappointment. I cannot recommend anyone see it. I spent 2 1/2 hours wondering where the interesting movie shown in the previews was hiding.

Monday, March 04, 2013

yellow dog project

People with friendly outgoing, dogs often don't understand that some dogs shouldn't be approached.  Take my pup, for instance: when a dog approaches us while we are on a walk, Cooper often barks ferociously and lunges towards the dog. The vet says he is trying to protect me, but it's hard to explain that to the dog-owner glaring at me and my dog. Incidentally, it's also hard to explain to Cooper that his protection against the neighbor's Yorkie is not necessary.  This can also be surprising to people who know my dog: he is very sweet and submissive to people, kids, and babies & even has some dog friends. But, he on a walk, he needs space.

I recently learned of this organization - the Yellow Dog Project-  and how they are getting the word out that it should not be assumed that all dogs love to be approached by other dogs and/or people, and I think that is fantastic! If you see a dog with a yellow ribbon on him/his leash, then please do not approach this dog, at least not with out permission. This can help make all dogs & people much safer, but it only works with awareness, so spread the word!

Sunday, March 03, 2013

puppy play date

Cooper is sometimes uneasy around other dogs (which is usually displayed on walks when he's attached to me; the vet says he's protecting me), but he enjoys other pups off-leash. Unfortunately, he hasn't had much opportunity to play with other dogs, so when he does, he is often that kid on the playground that doesn't know any of the schoolyard rules.  I'm trying to fix this, and since my sis-in-law has a new puppy, it seems this is the perfect time to try socializing Cooper a bit more.  So... puppy play date!

My sis-in-law actually brought 2 pups - Connie (hers) and DeMaris (foster pup) for Cooper's 2nd play date with them.. Although Cooper spent a lot of time ignoring the pups, he did interact with them more than he did during play date #1, and he let them play with his toys. All in all, it was a great morning!

 Cooper supervises DeMaris chewing on the bone
 Connie & Cooper check each other out

running around, chasing each other (happily)

Sunday, February 24, 2013

oscar watch 2013: my picks!

After watching all except 2 movies that I could not get my eyes on (The Gatekeepers - not yet released in St. Louis; The Master - out of theater, but doesn't come out on DVD until the 26th), I have my hopes for  who will take home Oscar.

This is not a list of  who I think will win, but who I would *want* to win. I categorized the nominees into groups by how I would feel if they won. If you want to know who I think will win, look for the asterisk*.

Best Movie:
Happiest: Argo*
Happy:  Silver Linings Playbook or Lincoln, Zero Dark Thirty
Fine: Life of Pi, Django Unchained,  or Beasts of the Southern Wild
Angry: Amour, Les Mis

Best Animated Movie:
Happiest: Wreck-it-Ralph
Happy: Frankenweenie, Pirates! Band of Misfits
Fine: ParaNorman (cute, but not worth winning), Brave* (yes, I know impeccable animation, but the movie was so boring. UGH! Totally wasted potential for an awesome, strong, heroine for little girls to look up to).
Angry: n/a

Best Documentary:
Happiest: Searching for Sugar Man
Happy: The Invisible War, 5 Broken Cameras, How to Survive a Plague,
Fine: The Gatekeepers* (couldn't see it, so have no opinion)
Angry: n/a

Best Actor:
Happiest: Daniel Day Lewis*, Lincoln
Happy: Hugh Jackman, Les Mis; Bradley Cooper,Silver Linings Playbook
Fine: Joaquin Pheonix, The Master (I put him here because I can't really have an opinion since I didn't see the movie)
Angry:  Denzel Washington, Flight (I hated this movie & didn't think he did anything new or note-worthy. I certainly didn't get lost in his role.)

Best Actress
Happiest: Jessica Chastain*, ZD30
Happy: Jennifer Lawrence*, Silver Linings Playbook; Quvenzhane Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild
Fine: Emannuelle Riva, Amour; Naimi Watts, The Impossible
Angry: n/a

Best Supporting Actor:
Happiest: Christopher Waltz, Django Unchained
Happy: Tommy Lee Jones*, Lincoln; Robert DiNero, Silver Linings Playbook
Fine: Alan Arkin, Argo; Phillip Seymour Hoffman, The Master (again, only here b/c I didn't see it)
Angry: n/a

Best Supporting Actress:
Happiest: Helen Hunt, The Sessions
Happy: Anne Hathaway*, Les Mis;  Jackie Weaver, Silver Linings Playbook
Fine: Sally Field, Lincoln; Amy Adams, The Master (again...didn't see her)
Angry: n/a

Best Director:
Happiest: Ben Affleck, Argo - wait, he wasn't nominated (OUTRAGEOUS!)
Happy: Ang Lee, Life of Pi; Steven Speilberg*, Lincoln; David O Russell, Silver Linings Playbook
Fine: Benh Zeitlin, Beasts S/W
Angry: Michael Haneke, Amour

Best Cinematography:
Happiest: Django Unchained, Robert Richardson
Happy: Skyfall, Roger Deakins; Life of PiClaudio Miranda; Anna Karenina, Seamus McGarvey
Fine: Lincoln*Janusz Kaminski;
Angry: n/a

Best Score:
Happiest: Silver Linings Playbook (not actually nominated)
Happy: Anna Karenina, Argo, Skyfall, Life of Pi,
Fine :Lincoln*
Angry: n/a

As it turns out, I've seen all the movies up for Writing, so I'll go ahead and give my picks for those, too. :)

Best (adapted) Screenplay:
*I guess I should have read the writings from which these were adapted. I've read Life of Pi, but not the others, & I'm going to just have ignore if I think it was adapted well, but only concentrate on which one I thought was written best in general.
Happiest: Silver Linings Playbook
Happy: Argo, Lincoln*, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Life of Pi -- I almost put this at "fine," because I love the book so much, and was not happy with a couple of the changes they made. Overall, one of the better adaptations I've seen & I'm not supposed to be judging on the "adaptation."
Fine: n/a
Angry: n/a

Best (original) Screenplay:
Happiest: Django Unchained*
Happy: Moonrise Kingdom, Zero Dark Thirty
Fine: n/a
Angry: Flight -- are you KIDDING me?! I cannot believe this was nominated for writing. Can.Not.Believe!

best original score recap

I was having a hard time deciding which score I should pick to win Best, and I found myself just leaning towards the one I had heard most recently.  Because I’d heard some scores months ago and some days ago, I decided I should listen to them side by side. Below are my comments about the music  as I was listening to it.  

Argo –While many of the pieces are not ones I necessarily want to listen to over and over again, I did think they fit in the movie perfectly; additionally, the pieces, “Breaking Through the Gates,”  “The Mission,” and “Clearing Iranian Airspace” are pure magic, putting the soundtrack squarely in the fantastic category. 

Life of Pi – I remember while I was watching the movie that I loved the music. It was actually a huge part of the movie, and in many ways, helped move the story along. It is beautiful to be sure, and I think my favorite piece is “Tsimtsum,” “Tiger Training,” “Orphans,”  and “Back to the World,” but it’s hard to pick. Most of the pieces are only 1-3 minutes long, and they all ease into each other; really it is one piece of music. It is gorgeous.

Lincoln – Well, it’s John Williams, so I know I’m going to like it. And I do, but that’s about all. I remember while watching the movie that music was power, but the same can be said for all of these scores.  I will say that the “Peterson House and Finale” is absolutely breath-taking (and, of course, the clip they play will be from this).  Overall, the music is beautiful and heads above many other scores, but I’m not feeling it for best score.

SkyfallI remember remarking on the music when I came out of the theater – the music and the gorgeous cinematography. So I was excited to give this another listen. I couldn't get my hands on it through Spotify, so I purchased it from iTunes.  The stakes have been raised, Thomas Newman, you’d better delight me!  Okay, yes, I remember why I liked this so much as I was watching the movie. It is amazing.  “Jellyfish” and “Silhouette” are two of my favorites (and they are from a beautifully shot scene in the film). “She’s Mine” and “Deep Water,” and “ Adrenaline,” are also favorites. I don’t think it’s going to win though, although I think maybe it should. I think it’s going to be too fast-paced/electric for good old Oscar.

Anna Karenina - this is gorgeous  It starts off so fanciful, and I love the waltz   When I was watching the movie, I remember enjoying the music above all else, and I still enjoy it. I would listen to this again and again.  It is gorgeous, classical, and if I were still in an orchestra and given the choice of which of these scores to play, I would pick this one. I do adore it.

Silver Linings PlaybookOkay, so this is not nominated, but it should be. Three bars in, and I’m reminded how much I love this. Very hip, funny, distressing and beautiful; it helps tell the story of the movie perfectly. God, I almost forgot how much I loved this movie &; the music is bringing it all back. I love it.  “Simple,” “With a Beat,“ and – well, all of them, actually -  are just stunning. I know its not a big grand score, and it is relatively short compared to those nominated, but it just captured the film so well & is quite enjoyable on its own as well. I wish it had been nominated.

oscar watch 2013: review recap

I often post mini-reviews on facebook, so I have compiled the oscar movie reviews here for posterity. Movies with an * means I didn't have a FB review, but added one here.

Yes, you are welcome. I know I am doing the history of cinema  a great service! You can thank me with cookies. ;)

Skyfall (11/12)
Skyfall was absolutely amazing. The opening credits were easily the best ever, and the cinematography was striking throughout the movie; there are a few scenes that were so beautifully done that little compares. The story was also good (although I'll always be partial to Casino Royale)
*Lincoln  (November)

  • I was completely blown away by this movie. As a history teacher, the congressional debate scenes rocked my world. Tommy Lee Jones was riviting, as, of course, was Daniel Day Lewis. I loved this movie and would happily watch it again!

*Silver Linings Playbook (December)

  • I adored this movie. I was expecting a romantic comedy - that is certainly how it was billed, but that isn't how I would describe it. I loved the characters and the ups and downs of the movie. It was a really smart, enjoyable movie.
* Django Unchained (December)

  • When I came out of this gorgeous, funny, though-provoking, violent, interesting movie, I said, "Nobody does blood splatter like Quentin Tarantino."  I stand by that statement. This movie was fantastic. Loved it!), and I HIGHLY recommend everyone sees this!

Les Miserables (12/31)
Having seen the stage version when I was younger & belting out "Do You Hear the People Sing," many times in my car, I had high hopes for Les Mis (sorry, Jason H-). And although some of the scenes/songs were absolutely amazing, overall the movie fell flat for me. I'm glad I saw it, but I think it could have been better; this review sums up my issues with it quite nicely.

Invisible War & Looking for Sugar Man (1/27):

I finally watched the documentary, The Invisible War, and holy crap it was compelling. Heart-wrenching at times, but a story that must be heard. I highly recommend it. Last night I watched another Oscar nominated documentary, Looking for Sugar Man, and it was also fantastic. So far I'm two for two. Let's keep 'em coming!

 Brave (1/28)

My first Oscar dud: Brave. The animation might be fantastic, but the story was rather lame an humorless :-(
 ...I was excited of the prospect of a strong, smart princess whose main goal in life was not just to find her prince, but the story was just not that good. Hopefully this movie will pave the way for more movies in which our girls have strong role models. And hopefully those movies will be better.
How to Survive a Plague (1/28)
3rd documentary: How to survive a Plague. Amazing story of how average people band together to become extraordinary and successfully fight for AIDS research & treatment. Although dry at times - like something you might watch in school- it is powerful and inspiring, and a is part of our history that should not be overlooked.
Beasts of the Southern Wild  (1/30)
Oscar prep continued tonight with Best Movie nom, Beasts of the Southern Wild. I'm not done processing this movie, but it certainly does raise questions of culture and land worth discussing. While this wouldn't be my choice to win best movie, the little girl was amazing.
 5 Broken Cameras (2/1)
Another thought provoking documentary: 5 Broken Cameras. 14 movies to go!
Wreck-It Ralph (2/3)
Best Animated Movie #2: Wreck-it Ralph. I loved this movie! It was hilarious, and I could see owning it. I'm having a hard time believing any of the other animated films will come close to this one, but I'm going to try to have an open mind about it. (13 movies to go!)
Oscar (short) BONUS! Paperman (2/4)  My friend Ellie  & my roomate shared this with me. Thanks!
           Love this

  Flight (2/6)
Oscar Watch 2013: Flight(Denzel Washington, best actor). Denzel was Denzel; fantastic as always. But I wasn't wowed. The movie did wow me- in how completely awfull it was. The tone was off, the climatic moment was contrived & unrealistic, and the end was basically a montage of cliches. It should have been a good movie; there were moments of greatness, but then they were ruined by poor writing and a distracting soundtrack. 13 to go! 
  Zero Dark Thirty (2/7)
"Oscar Watch 2013: Zero Dark Thirty (picture & actress). Absolutely amazing. I'm increasingly conflicted over which picture I want to win Best. On one hand this was perfect: gripping, and emotional, and somehow suspenseful even though I knew the outcome. On the other hand, it has a low rewatchability likelihood. Jessica Chastain was flawless and should take home the Oscar. 12 to go!"
this post on FB led into a question about whether rewatchability should be a factor, however slight, in determining if a movie should win best picture. I maintained it should be a  very small factor, but the majority of people disagreed with me. It is an interesting question to ponder & ponder it still I do.   
  Life of Pi  (2/9)
Oscar Watch 2013: Life of Pi (movie, director, cinematography, & music). Another fantastic & gorgeous movie. The book is one of my absolute favorites, so I found some of the changes jarring and strange, but the way the story was brought to life visually spot on. If you haven't read the book, read it. I have a copy & will lend it to you. Then see the movie. So far this has my cinematography vote.
 ParaNoman (2/11)
Oscar Watch 2013: Paranorman (best animated): Slow to start, but a cute little horror movie for kids. Reminded me a little of Hocus Pocus. My favorite line was, "Don't make me through this hummus at you! It's Spicy!" 9 to go  

 The Sessions (2/11)
Oscar Watch 2013: The Sessions (best supporting actress, Helen Hunt). Did John Hawkes get a Golden Globe nomination at least? I love him in everything, and this was no different; but alas he is not nominated. So far the only supporting actress I haven't seen is Amy Adams, and Helen Hunt may be my top pick (even though I know Anne Hathaway is going to win); this was not an easy role & she did an impeccable job. The movie was sweet, funny, and tear inducing in that way all good indie comedy-dramas are. 8 to go!
 Frankenweenie (2/13)
OW2013: Frankenweenie (best animated) was way better than I anticipated. This may be the first Tim Burton movie I've liked in awhile. Sweet & well crafted, and not over the top. The music was just perfect for the film.
 Amour (2/16)
OW2013: Amour (best picture, actress, director). This movie was more depressing than Wall-E. I kind of wish I hadn't seen it, and cannot, in good conscious, recommend it to anyone who has ever experienced a loved one dying. That said, if you enjoy extremely realistic and heart-wrenching movies about people growing old & their enduring love, then this is the movie for you! Emanuelle Riva (actress) was outstanding, and definitely deserves the nomination. ( 6 to go!)
 Pirates! Band of Misfits (2/17)
OW2013: Pirates! Band of Misfits (best animated) was cute, but not terribly entertaining for me. Visually, of course, it was ridiculously good. And bonus: Jeremy Piven and a Flight of the Conchords song is in it. 5 to go!
 Oscar (short) BONUS! Maggie Simpson, The Longest Daycare (2/19)
Oscar Bonus! I caught the animated short, Maggie Simpson in "The Longest Daycare," today because my all-knowing Tivo thought to record it for me. It was sweet & lovely, but also had some comments about society. I laughed when Maggie's intelligence was tested by "Often Wrong Technologies," and then placed in the "nothing special" (loved that)
 Argo (2/20)
OW2013 Argo (movie, supporting actor, score). Firstly, how did Ben Affleck not get a director nomination? Secondly this movie was awesome. I loved every minute if it. See it! On Alan Arkin (s actor): I adore him beyond reason, and his comic relief was welcome during the film, but much like Denzel in Flight, he was just sort of Alan Arkin being Alan Arkiny. Great, but nothing new. The score: beautiful. Need to hear them all side by side to pick a fav, but Loved it. Great movie!!! 
 Anna Karenina (2/21)
 OW2013 Anna Karenina (Cinematography, Score). Oh Anna Karenina, you long, long, boring movie. But, I have to give credit where credit due: the cinematography and music are beautiful. There were also several scenes that were quite compelling as well as being masterfully shot, but in the end the pacing was so drawn out that it could not hold my undivided attention. (And now, with the sad reality that it is not possible for me to see 2 of the nominations having sunk in, I say, "1 to go!")
 The Impossible (2/24)
 OW2013: The Impossible (actress: Naimi Watts). Well, if you need a good cry, this is the movie for you. I loved it, but it was somewhat draining emotionally. I though Naimi Watts did a fantastic job - as did Ewan McGreggor. I thought the kid who played Lucas (Tom Holland) should have gotten a supporting actor nomination. He certainly showed more range than Alan Arkin in Argo, and in ways he carried this movie. No, he totally carried this movie. He is the character whose emotions on which you hung your own. He was fantastic. 
Nit-pick: I loved this movie, but I thought the "let's zoom out to show how small we are compared to the tragedy as a whole and/or how impossible it was for these people to find each other  was overused. Doing that 1-3 times at key moments (like the first time they did it) is really powerful, but it was done so many times that I became someone somewhat immune to it. Which is, I guess, why it was not nominated for any other major categories. Still, great movie. I recommend it!
That's it! I'm done! Challenge Complete! :)