Friday, December 31, 2010

New music

So, I took my christmas music down. And, I'm slightly obsessed with Sondheim lately and has... no selection. Other than Sweeney Todd, which is fine, since I watched the DVD of it like 5 times a couple weeks ago. So, 3 of my faves from that show are now on my playlist. Have any of the 5 of you who read this even heard (of) Sweeney Todd or Sondheim?

Christmas gifts to family part II

The other gift my oh-so-lucky nephews and neice got is these laminated "quiet books". I looked up free printable games on the internet (word searches, mazes, dot-to-dot, matching games, and a bunch of tongue twisters for the 7-year-old) printed them off, cut them out and glued them to cardstock, then laminated them. I cut them to the same size, leaving a larger margin on the left where I then punched holes and tied it all together with ribbon.
Then, I got them a package of dry erase markers that have the eraser on the back of the marker.

Sorry for the blurriness, our camera is retarded.
Anyhow, this was for my brother and sis-in-law. She loves cooking, so I bought a herb garden starter at Home Depot, then glued on some burlap (gotta love the burlap, right?) and frayed the top and bottom, then tied some jute string and glued in place with 2 dots of hot glue.
My parents got "fire starters" for their fireplace. I'm not sure how successful these were. They had been burning a vanilla candle all day, so it was difficult to gauge how well these work.
Basically, you get corn husks from the store and some fresh herbs, spices, whatever you want.
Then run a corn husk under water briefly just so it won't break when you roll it up. Place contents that you want to in the middle and fold up the top and bottom and then sides. Finish off with some twine, or in my case (because I had so much) jute string.
The combos I used for them were: Rosemary and Sage (make sure you let them dry out at least overnight); cinnamon sticks and whole cloves; same as previous with dried orange peel; I also stuck some seeds from a vanilla bean in the previous two combos.

Christmas gifts to family part I

"Magnet Game" for nephews and neice.
You know those folder games that you copy out of a book and then color, laminate, put velcro and then glue to a folder? Well, I thought, what kid doesn't like magnets? So, I decided to turn it into a portable magnet game.
I started off with a frame I got from the D.I. (it didn't have glass or backing, so I'm not sure they even charged me for it, but most of the frames there were only $1) and painted it (2 coats of white acryllic paint)

Then I bought a small sheet of galvanized metal at Home Depot (it was only $5 and I have more left over) and they were nice enough to cut the size I needed for me.

Then I mod podged some cute scrapbooking paper to it.
I copied the face onto more scrapbooking paper and traced and cut out the little pieces (i.e. antannae, ears, hair, and rectangles on collar) onto different color paper and mod podged all those on.
We have a ridiculous amount of business card magnets from when my hubby was doing real estate left over, so I copied the face pieces onto the paper I wanted and mod podged those onto the business card magnets and cut them out. (I put a layer of mod podge on top to make them a little more durable.)
Then I used a plastic cd case to stick all the pieces in and used two business card magnets to stick it to the back.
My favorite response came from my oldest nephew, who happened to be the one opening the gift, he said, "I don't know what this is, but... I LIKE IT!!!"

Monday, December 27, 2010

Why I would never be consulted by Hallmark for romantic cards

Yes, you read that correctly, the card says, "I'm drawn to you like a fly to poo!" I cut one of those pom poms in half, then cut out wings from ribbon and glued them on, then cut out circles and used chalk to give them "texture" and put hearts above the "flies".
What? Don't you think this would sell well? ;)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Gift idea using old spaghetti jars

Or, you can get new jars, but if you save the old jars (and run them through the dishwasher, obviously!) you're pretty much saving even more (since you are buying spaghetti sauce anyway).
I had an old dress with a hole that I was saving for just such an occasion, bought some burlap (only $2.50/sq yd) and Jute string. I mod podged the material, then hot glued the burlap (only in the middle, then pulled threads on top and bottom to fray), tied the jute and hot glued where the knot was. Then just hot glued a button and used little mini clothes pins to attatch the cards with instructions.
and the only expense on top of pantry staples was buying the hazelnuts. I made sure to pick one that the wet ingredients would also be staples and therefore easier and faster for the recipients to put together. I put all the dry ingredients in And voila! Really cheap but (hopefully) cute gifts!

Monday, December 20, 2010

The movie I am most in love with

A few years ago I was looking up music by a composer whom I love and stumbled across clips from this movie put to a song of his. It looked so beautifully shot that I decided to rent if from the Library. Then I actually bought it (which speaks volumes in and of itself considering the cheapskate that I am) and proceeded to persuade everyone I could think of to borrow it. I have watched it countless times and some have borrowed it more than once just to watch it again. As my neighbor said, "I have never wanted two people to touch so much". It's a period drama which means that it can and does acheive unparalleled sexual tension while all clothes remain on and, as you might infer from the above quotation, very little contact actually happens.
Doesn't hurt that it stars Richard Armitage. One of the best things about this mini-series is that it has epic romance, but it has so much more than that as well. All the actors are top notch (I expect no less from BBC), the music is hauntingly beautiful, well directed, great screenplay.
Unfortunately the original video that led me to this great discovery has been taken off of YouTube (*grumble grumble stupid copywright police*)so, just for you, my handful of readers, I searched endlessly to find a new one that does it justice. I skipped over all that had contemporary songs (pet peeve of mine) and found one that has a song from the movie itself. As I post this, I think I'll watch it again and drool over Mr. Thornton.
I present you with BBC's fantabulous mini-series, "North & South"

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Okay, so I'm a huge nerd... And?

This is fanmade and amazing. I kept thinking "how did they get this to look like it's from a real movie?" Well, that's because all of it is. This person took footage from a bunch of stuff and made it look like it was all from one movie. Orson Scott Card had a link on his website saying this was the best one he's ever seen. Here's to hoping the real movie does actually happens and turns out well. And comes out within the next decade (It's been "in the works" for forever!) *fingers crossed*

Coconut Banana Bread with Lime Glaze

I almost entitled this "Need to put those overly ripe bananas to good use?"... then I thought better of it.
Anyhow, I normally am somewhat ambivalent toward Banana bread... banana is a very overpowering taste, but I found this recipe for fantastic Banana bread and very happy to announce that the other flavors help to balance the banana flavoring.
Tis way yummy! You should try:

Friday, December 3, 2010

Remember me touting "The Drowsy Chaperone" a while ago?

Well, here's probably THE funniest song from that show (that is filled with funniness (I'm pretty sure that's not even close to a legitimate word)) Who else would like to see Douglas Sills in this roll?

Super fast and easy AND yummy rolls

Have you ever been 40 minutes away from dinner and wished you had some yummy homemade rolls, but didn't remember to make some at 2:00 that afternoon? Well, you are in luck! My friend Jamie of "Jamie Cooks It Up" fame has fantabulous rolls (seriously the fluffiest rolls I've EVER made!) and all you have to do is mix them up let them sit for 5 minutes, divide them, stick them in 170-degree oven for 15 minutes and cook for 15 minutes - Seriously, that's it!!!! Here's a link to that recipe, but while you're at it take a look around her blog - there's definitely some yummy stuff there. I can highly recommend her Rumbi Mango Chicken Salad and Chicken Low Mein!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

"Shadow of the Wind" by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

The Shadow of the WindThe Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is almost a love letter to literature itself. I can't remember who did the English translation, but they were incredible. It begins the morning Daniel can't remember his mother's face and his father takes him to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. He can choose one book and picks a book by Julian Carax and falls in love with it. When he tries to find out more about the author and other books by him, he discovers a mystery instead. Not only did Carax have almost no success, but there are almost no copies left - a mysterious stranger who calls himself by one of Carax's characters has been buying or stealing any copy and burning it.

I loved this book, the poetic writing, the mystery, the characters. Be forewarned there is some language (though very judiciously used, I never felt it to be gratuitous) and a few love scenes (which, with one slight exception are relegated to poetic descriptions, albeit, slightly dirty poetry).

I like that on the back cover it says "even the subplots have subplots". This is an amazing read and very engrossing!

View all my reviews

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Okay, I have to post another song :)

Ruthie and Carol are both priceless in this! If you don't think you'll like it, just seriously wait until Carol starts singing. No explanation needed

"Invocation and Instruction to the Audience"

This is the opening number to a musical review of Sondheim with a stellar (no, STELLAR!) cast (Carol Burnette, Ruthie Henshall, George Hearn, John Barrowman, and Bronson Pinchot - who sings this number). I HIGHLY recommend renting the DVD "Putting it Together", I love almost every minute of it (and highly like the rest).
This always makes me laugh though, especially if you've ever been to a live performance of anything. Basically it's about the etiquette, but extremely funny!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

"Via Dolorosa" sung by Lea Salonga

I'm not sure if this is technically a Christmas song, but appropriate nonetheless. Perhaps others are familiar with "Via Dolorosa", but I was not until I was looking up videos of Lea Salonga (original cast of "Miss Saigon" and singing voice of Jasmine on "Aladdin") and came across this beautiful rendition! It's haunting and moving, and... oh, just click play already! If you want to fast forward past the beginning, the song itself starts at 0:47, but the speech they play beforehand is beautiful in it's own right.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Awesome spoof/dance off Harry Potter vs. Twilight

The actress "portraying" Kristen Stewart is beyond perfection! Loved this!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Drowsy Chaperone

I've only seen a handful of stuff at Hale Centre Theatre, but what I have seen is top notch quality, and their performance of "The Drowsy Chaperone" is no exception. I wasn't familiar with this musical beforehand, but it was a delicious treat!
It's modeled after a decadent 20's musical, like the old Cole Porter or Gershwin stuff with over the top acting, any excuse for a big tap number, and gangsters that are anything BUT intimidating. The thing that makes it work so well is it's structure. The play actually opens on a lonely recently divorced man who likes to listen to showtunes on records. I thought, oh he'll dissapear after the musical part starts and come back every once in a while or at the end - boy! I'm so glad I was wrong! He's there the entire time "pausing" the record to explain something (meanwhile, the actors are frozen mid-sentence, mid-song, and even mid-note!), or the hilarious time when the record "skipped" and they kept repeating the same phrase till he fixed the record. The actor who plays him has the best comic timing ever - I think I'm actually going to go see it again with my neighbor :)
Get tickets now!!! It was the best time out I've had in a while! It runs through Nov 27th and is only $23-$26 a ticket!
Here's a small peek from their production that they posted on YouTube.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Chinese State Circus Swan Lake (trust me- you've never seen it like this!)

Oh, please - I could do this in my sleep! (Well, in my dreams while I sleep that is)

Incredible stunts!

Some people must have something missing in their brain to pull some of these stunts!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Quick and Easy 3-bean soup

I can't tell you how many times this recipe has saved me when dinner time hits and I haven't even thought of what to make. It goes great with cornbread (posted below). The best way is to get the cornbread cooking (WAY easy recipe) then do the soup and they'll get done right around the same time. Voila! Dinner in under 30 minutes total!

3bean soup

1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1 T olive oil
1 can each white beans (garbanzo are great!), kidney beans, black beans, all drained
1 can chicken broth
1 t basil
1 can diced tomatoes
6 T Romano cheese
salt and pepper to taste

In a saucepan, over medium-high heat, cook the onion and garlic in olive oil until translucent.
Add the rest of the ingredients except the Romano cheese and stir well.
Salt and pepper to taste, and heat until nice and hot.
Top each bowlful with a tablespoon of Romano cheese and serve.

White Cornbread

1 1/4 C flour
3/4 C white cornmeal
1/3 C sugar
2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1 C milk
1/4 C oil
1 egg, beaten

Mix toegether the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, combine the milk, oil, and egg. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients while stirring. Butter and flour an 8x8 pan and then bake mixture at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

"The Way He Lived" review

The Way He LivedThe Way He Lived by Emily Wing Smith

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Smith is a local author and the book takes place in what seems to be a fictional town but solidly based on Utah culture. I couldn't emotionally connect. When the story starts Joe is already dead and it's told from I believe six different characters who knew him (some only acquaintances, others best friends, others siblings). It was an easy read and interesting. Not my fave, but not too bad if you want an easy read that isn't completely mindless.

View all my reviews

"Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow" review

Sun and Moon, Ice and SnowSun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I actually really enjoyed this! I got caught up in this different world and the mystery of the ibjsorn (enchanted bear) and the ice palace. A fun read!

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Sunday, October 24, 2010

545 people

This has some very valid points. Politicians make my skin crawl - they are probably the most duplicitous people (just as much or moreso than con artists). This is correctly attributed to the purported author.(I checked it out at Snopes It's pretty short and totally worth it. The question is even if we vote in all new people, will those new people really be any different? I hope there's hope for some much needed change (and NOT the Obama psuedo change)

"Charlie Reese, a retired reporter for the Orlando Sentinel, has hit the nail directly on the head, defining clearly who it is that in the final analysis must assume responsibility for the judgments made that impact each one of us every day.

It's a short but good read. Worth the time. Worth remembering!

545 vs. 300,000,000


Charley Reese has been a journalist for 49 years.

545 PEOPLE--By Charlie Reese

Politicians are the only people in the world who create problems and then campaign against them..

Have you ever wondered, if both the Democrats and the Republicans are against deficits, WHY do we have deficits?

Have you ever wondered, if all the politicians are against inflation and high taxes, WHY do we have inflation and high taxes?

You and I don't propose a federal budget. The president does.

You and I don't have the Constitutional authority to vote on appropriations. The House of Representatives does.

You and I don't write the tax code, Congress does.

You and I don't set fiscal policy, Congress does.

You and I don't control monetary policy, the Federal Reserve Bank does.

One hundred senators, 435 congressmen, one president, and nine Supreme Court justices equates to 545 human beings out of the 300 million are directly, legally, morally, and individually responsible for the domestic problems that plague this country.

I excluded the members of the Federal Reserve Board because that problem was created by the Congress. In 1913, Congress delegated its Constitutional duty to provide a sound currency to a federally chartered, but private, central bank.

I excluded all the special interests and lobbyists for a sound reason. They have no legal authority. They have no ability to coerce a senator, a congressman, or a president to do one cotton-picking thing. I don't care if they offer a politician $1 million dollars in cash. The politician has the power to accept or reject it. No matter what the lobbyist promises, it
is the legislator's responsibility to determine how he votes.

Those 545 human beings spend much of their energy convincing you that what they did is not their fault. They cooperate in this common con regardless of party.

What separates a politician from a normal human being is an excessive amount of gall. No normal human being would have the gall of a Speaker, who stood up and criticized the President for creating deficits... . The president can only propose a budget. He cannot force the Congress to accept it.

The Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land, gives sole responsibility to the House of Representatives for originating and approving appropriations and taxes. House members, not the president, can approve any budget they want. If the president vetoes it, they can pass it over his veto if they agree to.

It seems inconceivable to me that a nation of 300 million can not replace 545 people who stand convicted -- by present facts -- of incompetence and irresponsibility. I can't think of a single domestic problem that is not traceable directly to those 545 people. When you fully grasp the plain truth that 545 people exercise the power of the federal government, then it must follow that what exists is what they want to exist.

If the tax code is unfair, it's because they want it unfair.

If the budget is in the red, it's because they want it in the red ..

If the Army & Marines are in IRAQ , it's because they want them in IRAQ If they do not receive social security but are on an elite retirement plan not available to the people, it's because they want it that way.

There are no insoluble government problems.

Do not let these 545 people shift the blame to bureaucrats, whom they hire and whose jobs they can abolish; to lobbyists, whose gifts and advice they can reject; to regulators, to whom they give the power to regulate and from whom they can take this power. Above all, do not let them con you into the belief that there exists disembodied mystical forces like "the economy," "inflation," or "politics" that prevent them from doing what they take an oath to do.

Those 545 people, and they alone, are responsible.

They, and they alone, have the power..

They, and they alone, should be held accountable by the people who are their bosses.

Provided the voters have the gumption to manage their own employees...

We should vote all of them out of office and clean up their mess!

Charlie Reese is a former columnist of the Orlando Sentinel Newspaper.

What you do with this article now that you have read it........ Is up to you.

Sales Tax
School Tax
Liquor Tax
Luxury Tax
Excise Taxes
Property Tax
Cigarette Tax
Medicare Tax
Inventory Tax
Real Estate Tax
Well Permit Tax
Fuel Permit Tax
Inheritance Tax
Road Usage Tax
CDL license Tax
Dog License Tax
State Income Tax
Food License Tax
Vehicle Sales Tax
Gross Receipts Tax
Social Security Tax
Service Charge Tax
Fishing License Tax
Federal Income Tax
Building Permit Tax
IRS Interest Charges
Hunting License Tax
Marriage License Tax
Corporate Income Tax
Personal Property Tax
Accounts Receivable Tax
Recreational Vehicle Tax
Workers Compensation Tax
Watercraft Registration Tax
Telephone Usage Charge Tax
Telephone Federal Excise Tax
Telephone State and Local Tax
IRS Penalties (tax on top of tax)
State Unemployment Tax (SUTA)
Federal Unemployment Tax (FUTA)
Telephone Minimum Usage Surcharge Tax
Telephone Federal Universal Service Fee Tax
Gasoline Tax (currently 44.75 cents per gallon)
Utility Taxes Vehicle License Registration Tax
Telephone Federal, State and Local Surcharge Taxes
Telephone Recurring and Nonrecurring Charges Tax

Not one of these taxes existed 100 years ago, & our nation was the most prosperous in the world.

We had absolutely no national debt, had the largest middle class in the world, and Mom stayed home to raise the kids."

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Homemade Crockpot Beef Stew

This is so yummy and easy! It's fresh and filling and perfect for the cooler weather :) I was going to include a picture that I took, but any soup usually just looks like someone vomited in the crockpot, so I didn't think it would be very tempting. But, trust me this is great. If you want to make it stretch a little farther, serve over rice.


2 lbs beef stew meat, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/4 c all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp worcestershire sauce
1 onion, chopped
1 1/2 c beef broth
3 potatoes, diced
4 carrots, sliced
3 stalks celery, chopped


1. Place meat in slow cooker. In a small bowl mix together flour, salt, and pepper; pour over meat and stir to coat meat with flour mixture.
2. Stir in remaining ingredients.
3. Cover, and cook on Low setting for 10-12 hours, or on High setting for 4-6 hours.

"God is Not One" review

God Is Not OneGod Is Not One by Stephen R. Prothero

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Don't be fooled by the inordinate amount of time it took me to finish this book - it's very interesting! Prothero covers what he sees as the 8 main religions of the world (based on a combination of number of members and influence on culture) and what their basic beliefs are. I have to confess I'm pretty uneducated about even the most basic tenets of other religions and saw this as a great opportunity to broaden my understanding of what drives others' beliefs. The first religion covered was Islam, which is, of course, both interesting and completely relevant. Next was Christianity, followed by Hinduism, Buddhism, Confuscianism, Yoruba, Daoism, and Judaism.

The great thing is Prothero is quick to point out that even within the different religions, there is much disagreement as to not only what is accepted teachings, but the interpretation of said accepted teachings. It's also nice to see an objective breakdown of what a religion sees as the problem of society and what the solution should be. Like Confuscianism sees the problem as anarchy and the solution as strict societal rules dictating proper behavior. Whereas Doaism (which is often practiced right beside Confuscianism as a sort of balance of Yin and Yang) sees the problem as a disconnect from the natural way of things (societies rules are killing us a little day by day) and the solution as a return who we are naturally. Prothero tries to be as objective as possible, though sometimes his derision for certain ideas in a religion subtly leak through. He even has a brief chapter on Atheism at the end and helpfully splits it into 2 categories, friendly and unfriendly. But, it's nice to see someone call it out for being just as strict in it's views and dogma as any other religion.

I highly recommend this book to anyone looking to gain a rudimentary knowledge of other's beliefs and practices in an easy-to-understand setting.

View all my reviews

Incredible Impersonator

This guy is crazy good!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Why are people such scumbags???

I don't think I'll ever understand how people justify taunting, mocking, physical violence, or abuse in any way toward others with whom they disagree. You most assuredly cannot call yourself a Christian in any degree if you do. The fact that the church even has to come out with a statement like this is ridiculous (obviously it's needed, but that's what I'm lamenting - it's necessity).
This response is well spoken and sincere. I couldn't have said it better. I've included the video if you'd like to watch and the transcript below it.

"Oct 12 2010 — Salt Lake City
News Release
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued the following statement through a spokesman following the delivery of a petition by the Human Rights Campaign:

My name is Michael Otterson. I am here representing the leadership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to address the matter of the petition presented today by the Human Rights Campaign.
While we disagree with the Human Rights Campaign on many fundamentals, we also share some common ground. This past week we have all witnessed tragic deaths across the country as a result of bullying or intimidation of gay young men. We join our voice with others in unreserved condemnation of acts of cruelty or attempts to belittle or mock any group or individual that is different – whether those differences arise from race, religion, mental challenges, social status, sexual orientation or for any other reason. Such actions simply have no place in our society.
This Church has felt the bitter sting of persecution and marginalization early in our history, when we were too few in numbers to adequately protect ourselves and when society’s leaders often seemed disinclined to help. Our parents, young adults, teens and children should therefore, of all people, be especially sensitive to the vulnerable in society and be willing to speak out against bullying or intimidation whenever it occurs, including unkindness toward those who are attracted to others of the same sex. This is particularly so in our own Latter-day Saint congregations. Each Latter-day Saint family and individual should carefully consider whether their attitudes and actions toward others properly reflect Jesus Christ’s second great commandment - to love one another.
As a church, our doctrinal position is clear: any sexual activity outside of marriage is wrong, and we define marriage as between a man and a woman. However, that should never, ever be used as justification for unkindness. Jesus Christ, whom we follow, was clear in His condemnation of sexual immorality, but never cruel. His interest was always to lift the individual, never to tear down."

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Auction in Sandy

Some of you might know that I used to be Assistant Manager at some apartments. Many times when people can't pay rent or are evicted, they leave a bunch of stuff behind. The lawyers then try and sell it to help pay off any money owed. I am on the emailing list for Kirk A. Cullimores for when they hold such auctions and thought I might pass along when they have these Auctions for any who are interested. Please be aware they are cash only. I've never actually been, but from working in apartments I can tell you that while a lot of junk is left behind, you'd be surprised at some of the nice stuff people leave as well. Anyhow, here's the info that was sent to me for an auction being held next Saturday, October 23rd:

"Hi Sale people,
Sale as been posted for October 23, 2010 9:00 a.m.
644 east Union Square (9400 south) Sandy
The items to be sold are subject to withdrawal from the sale. Because
these items are to satisfy judgments or resulting from liens owed to
landlords, the original owners have the right to pay what they owe to
obtain the return of their items. That payment can be made up to the
time that the items are actually sold.
All items are sold AS IS.

The sale is a CASH ONLY sale. Although it is a public sale, people that
disrupt the sale or are disorderly will be asked to leave and not
permitted to return."

They emailed me a list as an attachment, but I can't copy and paste it. But there are computers, dvds, furniture, cell phones, etc that will all be there. If any of you go, let me know how it goes!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

"Teenage Dream"

My brother-in-law sent this to my hubby and I just had to share. This kid is hilariously lip-synching to Kate Perry's song (which, I have to admit I had never heard before, but then again, I'm not really a Kate Perry fan)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Easy Olive Garden like Braised short ribs over tortellini

This recipe looks so fancy and tastes wonderful, but is sooooo easy! The short ribs are tender tender tender and how can you fail with sauteed portobello mushrooms?! :) I love this with a simple salad and breadsticks (I wonder where I could have come up with THAT combination?)

1-2 lbs. boneless beef short ribs
1- 14 oz. can diced tomatoes, no salt added
4 oz. red wine (I just use cooking wine, but you could go all fancy if you'd like)
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tb olive oil
1 bay leaf
beef broth, as needed to keep meat from sticking to pan
salt and pepper as desired
1 pkg. frozen cheese tortellini
1 lb. portobello (or baby bella) mushrooms, sliced into bite-size peices

Saute onion and garlic in olive oil in large pot until onions are translucent. Add rest of ingredients through salt and pepper and turn heat down to medium-low. Cook (braise) for 3 hours, checking liquid and adding if necessary every 30-40 minutes.
Cook tortellini according to package directions.
Saute mushrooms in a little bit of butter.
Cut short ribs into bite size peices and return to pan.
Combine tortellini, mushrooms, short ribs and sauce.
Serve with fresh parmesan sprinkled over it.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

"The Hunger Games" series

I was talking to my friend and we both have this perverse desire to not read or like things that are intenselely popluar. That's why it took both of us so long to give in and read the Harry Potter novels and the Twilight series. Again with this, I've been putting it off a little. Then I borrowed the first one from another friend and finished it within 36 hours and had to get the 2nd one which I finished withing 24 hours. Basically I read all 3 over a 5 day period. Needless to say I got caught up :) Twist after unique twist, Collins kept me guessing as to what would happen next. I'm sure you are all familiar with the premise (to keep the 12 districts in line the Capitol has an annual Hunger Game where each district has a raffle to pick 2 children as tributes who then go to the capitol and all fight it out till only one is left alive and he/she is the winner). It's disturbing, and dark, and I'll admit it, downright fascinating. I loved the main character of Katniss - she's self-sacrificing, clever, but also a bit clueless. She becomes a major figure, but also is just a pawn.
This one of the most intricate and well written series I've read in a while. If you've been putting it off, go and get them right now. It's well worth your time!

"House of Mirth" movie

This is based on one of my all-time favorite novels of the same name written by Edith Wharton (one of my favorite authors actually who also wrote "Age of Innocence" and "Ethan Fromme"). It follows the tragic decline of Lily Bart who believes she wants to marry a rich husband more than anything, but cannot seem to follow through with it. This is no Austin (no offense, I do love me some good Austen). The wit is sharper, the relationships more ambivalent. While Lily is self absorbed and a bit of a fortune hunter, she is without guile and a little obtuse about the impression her actions give.
Enough about the actual story... the movie! Gillian Anderson plays Lily. I would not have imagined her for it, but thank heavens I was not in charge of casting! Who knew this woman could ACT?! It proves "Bleak House" wasn't some fluke. I cannot say enough good things about her. She is able to go from youthful energy, and determination to bleak, lost, but ever dignified.
Laura Linney plays Bertha Dorset, who personifies everything I most despise about this kind of society (facetious and devious). Dan Akroyd does surprisingly well. And Eric Stolz (with whom I am not familiar) plays Lawrence Selden, a man Lily cares for and likes, but isn't rich enough to provide her with what she wants in life. Not that he's knocking her door down to marry him.
It's a very quiet movie and being familiar with the story as I am, I can't help but think if you weren't, some changes in time and circumstances might be a bit confusing. Also, the director seems a little self indulgent sometimes, especially in his transition from New York to the Dorset's yacht. But, stick with it. It's so painfully beautiful and poignant and most of the confusion is cleared up sometime in the next scene. The library has it (that's where I got it from). It came out in 2000, though I think the only other version is a 1918 :)
I remember when I read this book I lamented that it wasn't a movie. Well, it was, I just didn't know it. I'm so glad I found out! Make sure you watch the deleted scenes, because the first scene between Lily and Lawrence got cut down and is much better at the longer length.


It's a must watch for any fan of period film. It isn't a great trailer, to be sure (when will they make great trailers for these great movies?!) but, just to get a taste (Can I please have Gillian's hair as a wig?):

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Catalog Living

I am a sucker for pictures of houses in magazines, but it's true - whose house actually looks like that?! Not to mention the practicality of some of the decor. This site tries to imagine what would people who live in these houses do? think? worry about?
As an example:

"Gary, we got the desk and Medieval Torture Chair you wanted, so why do you still insist on reading on the floor? Now, where’s that beige book I came in here for?"

Check it out, it's good for a chuckle:

Technical help!

Every time I embed a video from YouTube I can only see half of it on my blog. Does anyone know how to fix this?

"Bleak House"

I admit it!... I have never ever finished a Charles Dickens novel. It isn't that I can't appreciate "classics", I just can't seem to wade through a Dickens of a story (wah-wah-wah. I know it was bad). Anyhow, fortunately for all of us BBC does amazing things with Dicken's novels and brings to life the zany but never quite over-the-top characters. One of the best adaptations is "Bleak House" starring Gillian Anderson (of X-Files fame) with a flawless british accent and flawless acting. The only other name I know is Anna Maxwell Martin (Bessy Higgins from "North and South") who you of course feel immediately invested in her character Esther Summerson because she has a way of pulling you in. I take that back, I did recognize Carey Mulligan who plays Ada Clare (from the 2005 "Pride & Prejudice" she played Kitty). This role gave her a lot more to do and she took advantage of it. A lot of the other faces I recognized, but couldn't place from where. But of course all are top-notch actors - British actors are so much more dependably brilliant than american (on the whole).
Charles Dance is brilliantly nefarious as the lawyer Tulkinghorn. Denis Lawson is utterly beleivable as the generous Jon Jarndyce. Burn Gorman as bumbling and ambitious Guppy is delightfully embarrassing to watch. Nathaniel Parker gave me the shudders with his portrayel of Skimpole who claims to be as "innocent as a child" when it comes to matters of money and the world, but manipulates all around him so he can live off their wealth. Oh, I could go on and on!
It's about 7 hours long in 30 minute episodes (except for the first which is a full hour). It makes it easy to split it up over time if desired, but watch it you must. This is the best way to enjoy Dickens. Here's the trailer for it:

Sunday, September 12, 2010

A blog you should be reading

"The Complete Guide to Everything" has hilarious anecdotes and amusing observations. I know the author from Junior High and High School, but you don't need to know him to appreciate his awesome humor. This guy deserves more people reading and commenting on his blog. So, head over there and try not to spit your drink out of your nose whilst perusing his columns...

"Kingkiller Chronicles: Wiseman's Fear" release date FINALLY announced!

Boo-yah! Patrick Rothfuss finally has an official release date to the sequel to his indescribably awesome "The Name of the Wind"! It's kind of far off, so be assured I will remind again as it gets closer :)
MARCH 11, 2011 !!!!!!
*Happy dance* *Happy dance*
Though I'm sure Becky is the only one familiar with this glorious fantasy novel, I'm recommending it to everyone! I lent it to my friend Amaris who is normally not a fantasy kind of gal and she loved it. I'd loan it to you, but my copy has wandered off somewhere and will be in big trouble when it returns. :(
Get it from the library, bookstore, friend, whatever. This book doesn't feel like a fantasy (at least not the bad, easy to make fun of fantasy) It's the best kind of fantasy, where the world feels real, the magic has specific rules that are never broken, and the societies and places feel whole and diverse. Funny, adventuresome, poignant, mysterious... this thing has it all!
Have you ordered it off Amazon yet?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Yummy Baked Rigatoni

This is one of our favorites. I'll post the link, but first some thoughts:
1. It calls for 2 tsp salt. Holy high cholesterol Batman! I use 1/2 tsp salt and it tastes fine (remember cheese already has a higher sodium content)
2. I substitute spinach, not really a collard greens fan : /
3. Still can't really have spicy stuff yet, so just an fyi, it tastes fantastick w/out the red pepper flakes.
That's all. Enjoy the yummy Italian dinner :)

Monday, September 6, 2010

"Cape Fear"

Now, I'm talking the original 1961 Gregory Peck and Robert Mitchum "Cape Fear". I miss this kind of film. I saw an interview with the director lamenting the censorship they had to endure back then, but he also admitted that he had been told by numerous people that this version was able to get the information across and because (not despite) it being suggestive not outright portrayed, it was indeed even creepier.
The one thing I most assuredly do NOT miss is the female acting. Though I will say it had calmed down quite a bit by this point in time.

Basically Mitchum plays ex-convict Max Cady, who was imprisoned due to testimony given by Gregory Peck's character, Sam Bowden(who is a lawyer, but was not acting in that capacity at Mitchum's trial). Cady is now out and is randomly showing up to intimidate Bowden, though he's very very careful to not do anything the cops can get him with. Inherent in his conversations is the threat he poses to Bowden's family (wife and teenage daughter). It all leads up to a trap that Bowden sets (which of course puts his family at enormous risk) and the ensuing confrontation. It's reminiscent of Hitchcock - the suspense and the way it's directed and even the music. No shock, come to find out many of those working on the movie had worked with Hitchcock himself. It was redone in 1995 by Scorcese, but from what I hear it did all the things that I think are wrong with today's suspense films (namely thinking the act itself is more suspenseful than the waiting and leading up to). Also, in the original, Bowden's family is a happy loyal family, heaven forbid a movie portray that lately.

No wonder this movie is considered a classic. Truly creeptacular performance by Mitchum, of course Peck is solid, and the performances by the girls are at least more natural than many of their contemporary actress' performances.
One of Cady's creepiest lines - "I made her write me a love letter. Made her use lots of dirty words. Then I ... occupied her time for 3 days... You understand?" *shudder*
Here's a short trailer. Of course, done at that time, so not as great as today's trailers, but you get the point...

"Israel vs. Iran vs. Obama" by OSC

One of the most haunting points Card makes is that "After the Holocaust, we said, 'Never again' to genocidal attacks against Jews. Most of us meant it then. I think most Americans mean it now, even if much of Europe has gone back to its ancient habit of blaming Jews for everything. The world is rightfully ashamed of its inaction when Hitler persecuted and then murdered the Jews of Europe. We vowed that we would never stand by and let such a thing happen again. But Obama is poised to do exactly that."
To look at the facts is to see that Israel is not nor has ever been the aggressor. They retaliate when attacked by terrorists for crying out loud - how on Earth is it that anyone can place the blame on them. I think it's because people actually realize that Palestine and Iran are the bad guys but are too cowardly to piss them off. They figure Israel's been the nice one, the one to make concession after concession after concession. Well, if Israel was willing to be the "bigger person" then, perhaps they should be the "bigger person" yet again and just cease to exist. Maybe they can all immigrate to another country and set up shop there. "Because, of course, once Iran has Israel's land they'll be completely satisfied and will leave the rest of us alone. Even if they are nuclear capable, that was only to get back land they think is theirs."
I was unaware (maybe I shouldn't admit this) that the UN voted to recognize Israel as a state. They have every legal (if not ethical!) right to defend their own borders! I like that Card cites historical facts, instead of living in a dream world where things work as we think they should, let's wake up to how things actually work!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

I updated my "songs I like right now" playlist

Um... yeah, the title pretty much covers it :)

Fast and Easy Southwest Chicken Soup

So quick and easy to make. Love love love it! It's a little higher in calories per serving, but as long as you watch your portion size and realize that it's very filling on it's own, you'll be fine.

2 cloved garlic, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-in pieces
2 cans pinto beans, rinsed and drained
28 oz can diced tomatoes
4 oz can chilies, chopped
1 can of corn
1 t garlic powder
1 t onion powder
1 t Mrs. Dash
1/2 C (or more to taste) cooked white rice

1/4 C chopped cilantro
1/2 C plain greek yogurt (or sour cream)
1/2 C nonfat shredded cheddar cheese

Cook garlic and onion in nonstick pot for 3 minutes or until limp. add remaining ingredients and cook for 15 minutes or until heated through. Sprinkle soup with toppings and serve with tortilla chips.

Serves 8

Nutrition Facts (not including tortilla chips - I used Lays Baked tortilla chips)

Serving Size 450 g
Calories 666
Calories from Fat 89
Total Fat 9.9g 15%
Saturated Fat 3.4g 17%
Cholesterol 59mg 20%
Sodium 517mg 22%
Total Carbohydrates 98.0g 33%
Dietary Fiber 21.3g 85%
Sugars 12.8g
Protein 46.9g
Vitamin A 94%
Vitamin C 42%
Calcium 23%
Iron 41%

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Cinnamon-Hazelnut Pancakes

I guess when I'm posting recipes that I got off other websites I should post a link instead of infringing on copyright laws :) These pancakes are sooooo yummy! Don't be scared off by the higher fat content, they have nuts in them so it's the good kind of fat. To reheat, I think the best bet is just stick them in the toaster, then they will have a slight crunch to them instead of being all soggy.

Also, I don't reserve any of the nuts, I just dump them all in the batch - it's easier that way. These are great to serve with some chopped fruit (kiwis, strawberries, cantaloupe, honeydew, whatever floats your boat) and maybe some scrambled eggs. A great fast dinner. And can you tell? I love breakfast for dinner!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Decor sites

I don't know about you, but I love "window shopping" for what I hope to someday fill my house with. In my imagination, my house is filled with the best cottage/shabby chic/country stuff I can find. And in my head I'll have plenty of time to repurpose stuff, too :) I always like finding new sites - so, in case you haven't run across these, here are some of my favorite "windows" to look at...
For great prices on Chandaliers and all kinds of lighting with a ridiculous selection (they also have rugs and furniture, but I'm not sure how those prices compare): --------------------------->

I want to be able to paint stuff, but really love that distressed look. I found a site that sells distressing kits! They obviously recommend cleaning what you're going to paint, but you don't have to strip off varnish or old paint for that matter. You can get the normal distressing kit which comes with one color and the instructions and tools to distress for $50 or the barnworn kit, which comes with 2 base colors and supplies for $95 (both cover 50 sq ft). Considering how much even unfinished furniture place charge you to paint and then age furniture, this is an easy way to save quite a bit of money... (they also have plaster kits, gilding, glazing, and stenciling!)

here's the link to the barnworn look (you kind of have to go to project ideas to get to it)

Now that you have paints, here are some unfinished furniture sites

This first one has FREE shipping on everything!

This next one is actually located in SLC, so you could just pick it up

I love architectural elements. I don't know how much these guys charge for shipping, but they hvae some great stuff!
A couple discount wallpaper sites (be aware you have to order in sets of 2 I believe)

This one has pretty good prices.

this one has great prices!

If you know of any others, please share! Hope you enjoy and don't end up spending too much time on them :)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Saints and Soldiers

I had seen this when it first came out, but saw it at the library and decided to pick it up again. I'm so glad I did! This is honestly one of the best war films ever! What is so great is that it has top notch acting (whoever knew Kirby Heyborne could actually act?!) , moving but not cheesy script, great camera work and directing, is suspenseful, has incredible sound effects especially given the paltry budget, doesn't sugar coat the violence, but it also isn't gratuitously gory.
It smartly eschews political overtones. It isn't anti-war or pro-war, but it also importantly doesn't paint the soldiers in a negative light. The conflicts and friendships that occur during the movie are compelling and believable. I would highly recommend this as a great date movie if you haven't already seen it, or even if you have. The guy will of course like it (it is a war film after all! there's guns, grenades, blood, etc), but I believe girls would too. (Or, maybe I'm just slightly odd... scratch that - of COURSE I'm odd, but I still think girls would enjoy this. at least smart ones) :) There's enough humor to keep it from being too dark, but not so much that you lose the emotion. In fact, I honestly believe that humor can be one of the strongest tools to get you to care about the characters and be more emotionally invested in their fate. Here's the trailer, I wish there was a better one. They did get "the movie guy" to do the voice over, but I think the trailer is one you would parody to no end, but it will at least give you a glimpse of the awesomeness that is this movie.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Fringe

This is my new series I'm watching while I work. I'm a little torn as to what to think about it. I find the premise and storylines fascinating, the characters multi-faceted, quirky, loveable yet realistic, overall well executed. My only beef, I think, is that it can be a little over-the-top-in-your-face grotesque. Which is one of the main rasons I don't watch any of the C.S.I. shows anymore.

But, if you don't mind that stuff so much, this show is incredible.

Also on a side note I keep expecting Dr Walter Bishop ------------------>
to don a big fur coat and yell for everyone to "flee! flee for [their] lives!"
(100 points to anyone who gets the obscure reference, I'll even inc a pic) :)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Spiced Apple Pancakes

It was still pretty warm outside today, but from inside my cool house you might have thought it was Autumn (which is my favorite favorite season). So I decided to try a new recpie for Spice Apple Pancakes and had them with Potato-Zucchini cakes and center-cut bacon. Yum! On the pancakes, I just used cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves (Ethan said our house smelled like "christmas") :) Also, the recipe says medium-high heat, but it burnt the sugar unfortunately, so I would try medium and for less time than recommended (just keep a close eye on it). Here's the recipes for both
Spiced Apple Pancakes (from Country Living website)
Makes 8 servings

2 tablespoon(s) butter or margarine
2 tablespoon(s) water
1/2 cup(s) sugar
2 tablespoon(s) sugar
1 1/2 pound(s) (3 to 4 medium) Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 8 wedges
3 large eggs
3/4 cup(s) milk
3/4 cup(s) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon(s) pumpkin pie spice or 1⁄2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon(s) salt
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. In 12-inch cast-iron skillet, heat butter, water, and 1/2 cup sugar over medium-high heat to boiling. Add apple wedges; cook 12 to 15 minutes or until apples are golden and sugar mixture begins to caramelize, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, in blender or food processor with knife blade attached, place eggs, milk, flour, pumpkin pie spice, salt, and remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, adding liquid ingredients to blender first. Blend until batter is smooth. (I just used a spoon to stir it)
When apple mixture in skillet is deep golden, pour batter over apples. Place skillet in oven; bake 15 to 17 minutes or until puffed and lightly browned. Serve immediately.
Nutritional Information(per serving)
Total Fat
Saturated Fat
Total Carbohydrate
Dietary Fiber
Here's the recipe for the Potato-zucchini cakes (very fitting since anyone with a garden has zucchini coming out of their ears) :) I originally got this from cooking light. Also, if you have a poor man's kitchen (like I do) I just used a cheese grater to shred the ingredients. I would also recommend washing any towels you use for this immediately or they'll stink up your entire house.

Yield: 4 servings
3 cups shredded peeled Yukon gold potato (about 1 pound)
2 cups shredded zucchini (about 8 ounces)
1 cup shredded onion (about 1 small)
1/2 cup egg substitute (I used 1 large egg)
1/4 cup matzo meal (I used flour)
1/4 teaspoon salt
Dash of freshly ground black pepper
4 teaspoons canola oil, divided
Place potatoes, zucchini, and onion in a clean kitchen towel, and squeeze out excess liquid. Combine potato mixture, egg substitute, matzo meal, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and dash of pepper in a large bowl, and stir gently to blend.
Heat 1 teaspoon canola oil in a nonstick griddle or large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Spoon about 1 cup potato mixture onto hot pan, spreading to a 6-inch diameter. Cook 3 minutes on each side or until lightly browned and cooked through. Transfer to a plate; keep warm. Repeat procedure with the remaining 3 teaspoons oil and remaining potato mixture.

Nutritional Information
242 (31% from fat)
8.4g (sat 0.8g,mono 5.2g,poly 1.9g)
So basically one serving of each plus 2 strips of center cut bacon and you have a yummy meal for only 505 calories!

Walnut Bread

Instead of using a bread mixer as suggested (which I don't have) I just kneaded it on a lightly floured surface. This bread is soooo yummy! You can make 2 normal sized loaves, or split it into 4 smaller loaves.

Yield: 2 loaves, 16 servings per loaf

1 1/4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup boiling water
1 package dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
1/4 cup warm water (100° to 110°)
1 1/2 cups low-fat buttermilk
6 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons canola oil
20.25 ounces all-purpose flour (about 4 1/2 cups), divided
9 ounces whole-wheat pastry flour (about 2 cups)
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup finely chopped walnuts
Cooking spray

1. Place oats in a food processor; pulse 8 times or until coarsely chopped. Combine chopped oats and 1 cup boiling water in a medium bowl; let stand 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2. Dissolve yeast in 1/4 cup warm water in the bowl of a stand mixer; let stand 5 minutes. Add buttermilk to oat mixture, stirring to combine. Stir in honey and oil. Add the oat mixture to yeast mixture; mix with dough hook attachment until combined. Weigh or lightly spoon 13.5 ounces all-purpose flour (about 3 cups) and whole-wheat pastry flour in dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flours with salt. Add flour mixture to buttermilk mixture. Mix dough at medium speed 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic, adding remaining all-purpose flour, 1/4 cup at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to sides of bowl. Add walnuts; mix at medium speed just until combined.
3. Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 1 hour or until doubled in size. (Gently press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, the dough has risen enough.)
4. Preheat oven to 400°.
5. Punch dough down; divide in half. Divide each half into 3 equal portions. Working with 1 portion at a time (cover remaining dough to keep from drying), shape each portion into a 14-inch rope. Place 3 ropes lengthwise on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray (do not stretch). Pinch ends together at one end to seal. Braid ropes, and pinch loose ends together to seal. Repeat procedure with remaining dough to form another braid. Cover and let rise 30 minutes or until doubled in size.
6. Spritz top and sides of loaves lightly with water from a spray bottle. Bake on center rack of oven at 400° for 28 minutes or until deep golden brown. Remove from pan; cool on wire rack.

Nutritional Information
4.3g (sat 0.5g,mono 1.2g,poly 2.2g)

Spinach Pasta Soup

I normally don't like tomatoe soup (at least not Campbell's), but this is fresh and delicioso! Not to mention uber healthy. I like to serve it with either fish or a grilled cheese sandwich on sourdough bread. Orzo pasta, by the way, is found on the pasta isle.

4 C chicken broth (low-sodium)
1/2 C water
1/4 C plus 1 Tb tomatoe paste (no salt added)
1/2 tsp grated lemon zest (optional)
1/4 C orzo or pastini (I like more, so put closer to 2/3-3/4 C)
6 C (8oz) fresh spinach leaves only, patted dry
1/4 C green onions
salt and pepper to taste

In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine broth, water, tomatoe paste, and lemon zest. Whisk until smooth. Bring to a boil. (Make sure you watch it, it always boils over when I cook it).
Stir in pasta, reduce heat to medium and cook 5-7 minutes, or until pasta is tender.
Stir in spinach and green onions, cook for 2-3 minutes.
To serve stir in salt and pepper.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Missing Alex Wong on SYTYCD finale

Now, don't get me wrong... tonight's finale performances were tremendous! I'm a huge fan of Lauren and Kent and Robert have grown on me a bit. But, in memory of he who would have won by a landslide missing due to injury... here are my 2 fave dances of his while he was on the show... and dangit, all the vids have embedding disabled! But, here are the links...

Twitch and Alex Hip-Hop

Alex and Alison contemporary

New book by Orson Scott Card

Let me just start by stating something very obvious to anyone who has ever discussed literature in any degree with me: Orson Scott Card is my favorite author. I like a higher percentage of his stories than any other author that I love. Now, the last few novels have been somewhat dissapointing (ever since "Magic Street"), but I just saw that he has a new novel coming out and the storyline sounds promising. Here's the synopsis from his website:

"A powerful secret. A dangerous path.
Rigg is well trained at keeping secrets. Only his father knows the truth about Rigg's strange talent for seeing the paths of people's pasts. But when his father dies, Rigg is stunned to learn just how many secrets Father had kept from him -- secrets about Rigg's own past, his identity, and his destiny. And when Rigg discovers that he has the power not only to see the past, but also to change it, his future suddenly becomes anything but certain.
Rigg's birthright sets him on a path that leaves him caught between two factions, one that wants him crowned and one that wants him dead. He will be forced to question everything he thinks he knows, choose who to trust, and push the limits of his talent . . . or forfeit control of his destiny. "

It finally sounds like the conflicted moral and ethical dilemmas that Card truly excels at are back. His short stories have kept true ("Keeper of Dreams", a collection of many of his short stories, has all of the raw thought and energy that his earlier stories had that changed the way I view things), but he didn't seem able to sustain that through a lenthier story. I just hope this can live up to a higher expectation.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Wait? You seriously HAVEN'T seen "Inception" yet?

With musical genius Hans Zimmer scoring the movie like this...

how could you not think this movie awesome on the merit of the music alone? But we all know, that isn't all there is. Check out this surprisingly intense fight scene with Joseph Gordon Leavitt (which was done with a set that was ACTUALLY rotating while they were fighting and no stunt double for Leavitt!)

I would give this 9 out of 10 stars. Only knocked down for one thing that I didn't like (which I can't say as it's kind of a heads up spoiler). If you are one of the few people who hasn't seen this yet, do yourself a favor and GO! DiCaprio has managed to make it out of his teen heartthrob status (*shudder*) and become a huge talent. And of course this movie has Cillian Murphey

And anybody who knows me will attest, I have a slight obsession :) He came on screen and Ethan leaned over to me "Hey, look! There's your boyfriend" If only. ;)

My latest musical obsession

So, I recently discovered the musical "Chess". Be forewarned there is a little bit of language, if that bothers you. I watched the concert version (which is the best considering the storyline is a crazy mess) with Adam Pascal, Idina Menzel (the original Elphaba of "Wicked" fame), Josh Groban, & Kerry Ellis (London Elphanba). The music is in parts haunting, pop-style, energetic, operatic, but all sorts of get-stuck-in-your-head wonderful.

This is a quick 1 minute commercial for it being broadcast on Great Performances

Or, if you'd like to hear a bit more these are some highlights someone put together on Youtube from the first and second acts:

Saturday, July 31, 2010


Guys will of course think this funny... but ladies, if you don't have a sense of humor, don't click. Otherwise, enjoy :)

Earthy Sweet and Sour Shrimp with Coconut Rice

Sweet and Sour Shrimp

1 1/2 pounds peeled and deveined large shrimp
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon chile paste with garlic (such as sambal oelek)
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup chopped green onions

Place shrimp in a medium bowl. Sprinkle with cornstarch; toss well to coat. Set aside.
Combine juice, soy sauce, honey, vinegar, and chile paste, stirring with a whisk; set aside.
Heat canola oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add minced ginger and garlic to pan; stir-fry for 15 seconds or until fragrant. Add shrimp mixture; stir-fry for 3 minutes. Add juice mixture and onions; cook 2 minutes or until sauce thickens and shrimp are done, stirring frequently. Serve immediately.

Nutritional Information
Calories: 301 (30% from fat)
Fat: 10g (sat 1.1g,mono 4.6g,poly 3.2g)
Protein: 35.3g
Carbohydrate: 16.8g
Fiber: 0.5g
Iron: 4.4mg
Sodium: 621mg
Calcium: 103mg

Coconut Rice

1 C basmati rice
1 1/4 C water
1/2 C light coconut milk
1/4 tsp salt

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 16 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.

This is one of the best Sweet and Sour recipes. Ethan swears he doesn't like ginger at all. I told him there was ginger in this (AFTER he said he liked it, of course) and he said that there couldn't be ginger because then he wouldn't like it :) So very yummy!

movies and tv shows

BBC almost never goes wrong with period films (maybe with the exception of "Tess of the D'Urbervilles" - see further down). This "Emma" is by far (with the excpetion of maybe "Clueless") the BEST adaptation of the book by Austen. There's a BBC version with Kate Beckinsale, and I think she does wonderfully and the Mr Knightley has the right characterization, but (and I admit this is shallow) he really isn't a looker, so it isn't AS enjoyable as it could be :). Emma in this one is perfectly portrayed by ROMOLA GARAI. She's well-intentioned, but youthful and sometimes a bit oblivious. And not to mention Mr. Knightley!!!! Check this out:

Now, come on, who wouldn't want to watch that! AND he has the character down. As much as I do love Jeremy Northam, his portrayel in the movie with Gwyneth Paltrow is too... I don't know... flirtatious and indulgent - he never truly lectures her, which she's always accusing him of doing.
I rented this one from the library, there's a bit of a wait for those of you who go to the same library system, but SOOOO worth it! But make sure you get this version!

Speaking of Tess of the D'Urbervilles. Really interesting story... I've never read the novel, but I watched two versions. A&E's version from 1998 with the incomparable Justine Waddell in the title role (Wives & Daughters, Great Expectations, The Woman in White). I loved it! It was a bit more clear (which I hear the book is not) on her role in the big "occurrence". I just love watching her, I think she's so fascinating to watch.
Tess is basically of poor relations, but her father discovers their family used to be aristocratic and there seems to be cousins still in existence who are well off. Tess goes to work for them and there meets Alec who falls in love with her and seduces/rapes her (the big "occurrence"). She flees home, not to much support from her family. She then starts out on her own for a job. She finds one and meets Angel. What could be a happy ending isn't so simple though. Should Tess tell Angel about what happened with Alec? If she does will he still love her? To watch her strange life and tragic events unfold and how she copes with them is hauntingly beautiful.

Now, as mentioned above, there is another version. BBC also adapted the novel in 2006 I believe. I didn't recognize any of the actors in this one and the big event in this one is more ambiguous, in keeping with the novel. The characterizations were all very interesting. This Tess seemed to be much more naive than Justine Waddell's. Which is in keeping with the character herself. It was different enough from the other one to still be interesting. As noted earlier, I do have one qualm... the very graphic (at least to me) sex scene. If I see naked butts in motion - I'm done. It's one scene toward the end of the movie. I personally found it gratuitous, but if you wouldn't then I would still recommend seeing it.
But, if you only have time for one, I suggest Justine Waddell's. Speaking of which, she is in a Masterpeice Theatre adaptation of "Anna Karennina" which is one of my all time favorite novels, but our library doesn't have it. If by some miracle there is someone out there who does have it or knows someone willing to lend it out, please let me know!

Now on to TV shows... "The Mentalist". It just started its third season, but I watch on DVD, so I don't have to endure the suspense week to week (not to mention I have to watch on a portable DVD player, I don't have a TV by my work computer). Simon Baker plays the lead, and come one it's almost worth it just to watch him for an hour! But on top of rugged good looks, he's also very talented! Basically he plays Patrick Jane, a former tv psychic. Jane was doing an interview on TV and told them how he was helping out the police on the side to catch a serial killer and belittled him on national television. This killer, Red John, decided to teach Jane a lesson and killed his wife and child. Jane then admitted himself a fraud. He wasn't psychic, just incredibly observant, which allowed him to pass as psychic. He now helps the police with investigations, but his main goal is still to catch Red John. It's listed as a drama, and it is, but it isn't as dark as other crime dramas. Jane is good at what he does, but he also likes to create drama and doesn't always have (okay never has) great tact. Do yourself a favor and rent the first season on DVD, if you don't love the first episode, you probably wouldn't like the rest. SOOOOOO worth it though!