Friday, September 28, 2012

being a guest!

I'm guest posting over at my amazing friend's blog  My Bookbloom today.  Check it out!

Got a busy, busy weekend ahead of me and we've already started with huge batches of caramel apple cider cookies and some pumpkin ones (last ditch splurge before I start a sugar cleanse on Monday.) Then several church meetings, a statewide day of service, a baby shower, helping a friend move....the list is rather endless. Hope yours is a bit more relaxing!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

a new Fall TV season!

I'm not a huge TV watcher. In fact, in my last place I didn't pay for cable at all and if it were entirely up to me I still wouldn't.  But I moved into a place where the TV came not only with cable but with On-Demand and a DVR. The idea of scheduling my life around a TV show is intolerable, but scheduling a TV show around my life? That I can do!

I still don't watch much, most of the things I do get sucked into are because someone else in the house is already a fan and recording and I end up watching with them by default. Often weeks will go by before I have the time/energy/patience to sit down and wade through what's been recorded but I do have a few guilty pleasures and things I'm looking forward to watching this season.

(*Note: Some of these have already started but I haven't had time to watch anything yet so don't spoil them for me!...unless they're crap, then tell me so I can save myself the time!)

  • I'm watching season 4 of Castle right now on DVD so that I can finally be caught up.  Love this show!
  • And last year I totally fell under the spell of Once Upon a Time. Modern day fairy tales? Count me in!
  • I'm a bit behind on The Big Bang Theory but I do love me some Sheldon! 
  • I also quite enjoy How I Met Your Mother though I've never really followed this one either. I seem to forget about it until I catch the re-runs.  Oh well!
  • And New Girl is another one I've enjoyed but not actually found time to watch. This time around I've got it scheduled in the DVR though so maybe that will help.
 And a few new ones that have intrigued me so far...
 What's on your watchlist? Anything fabulous I should make time for?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

having 'smore!

I've got a group of friends that gather every now and then for 80s movie night. Being children of the 80s we've got a slew of great ones to pick from and even more memories tied to them that we hash and re-hash. It's great fun!

Well, this month we had a few suggestions rolling around with a few strong opinions about a not-quite-80s choice. The 80s die-hards won out (Karate Kid Kid is still as awesome as it was 20+ years ago, Mr. Miyagi is the fount of all wisdom!) but we had a follow-up viewing the next night for the other film.

The night was clear with the first beginnings of the cool, crispness of fall perfect for a campfire. Unfortunately all we had was a BBQ grill in the backyard but it was enough to toast the mallows. Followed by the addition of some chocolate (a little peanut butter for the more adventurous among us) and graham crackers we had ourselves the quintessential summer send-off snack…s'mores!

Have you guessed our movie choice yet? You’re killin’ me Smalls!!

Now? Okay, okay I’ll tell you…The Sandlot!

If you’ve never seen it, you’re missing out on a fabulous flick. A group of boys who spend the entire summer playing baseball and trying to get a signed Babe Ruth baseball back from the killer dog that lives over the fence. Yep, doesn’t get much better than that.

And it’s got to be one of the most quotable movies ever…

*Remember kid, there's heroes and there's legends. Heroes get remembered but legends never die, follow your heart kid, and you'll never go wrong.

*I'm bakin' like a toasted cheese-it! It's so hot here!

*I've been coming here every summer of my adult life, and every summer there she is oiling and lotioning, lotioning and oiling... smiling. I can't take this no more!
and then after kissing the 'oily' lifeguard...

*Did you plan that?
Of course I did. been planning it for years.

The ultimate of insults...You play ball like a girl!


And in case you’ve never made s'mores (who are you and how have you lived this long?! You have no idea what you’re missing!) here’s a step by step guide straight from the film:

Want some fancy upgrades to the typical s'more? Try some of these ideas… 

And on another baseball note, our Nats made it to the playoffs. Woohoo!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

a made-up holiday!

Arrrrgh mateys!

Anyone who has ever surfed the web will probably realize that today is Talk Like a Pirate Day!

I'm not sure what the fascination is with pirates though I admit to falling under their spell as well, but their legends have endured since the days of Blackbeard and before. I, personally, have spent vacations wandering old pirate haunts in N and S Carolina and even recently in Newport, RI. Or singing along with the animatronics on Disney's famed ride. (I think that's still probably my favorite ride of all!)

This morning I even watched Pirates: Band of Misfits which amused me greatly.

Here are a few other ways to get in the pirate mood and celebrate the scurvy rats who sail the seven seas!


everyone's favorite pirate, Captain Jack Sparrow

who doesn't have a soft spot for Captain Hook?
the most terrifying pirates in my list
Peter Ustinov at his best!
for the treasure and their looming presence if not an  actual on-screen appearance by One-Eyed Willie

this version with Christian Bale is my favorite!

Listen to---

Yes, I know.  Not actually about pirates but it's really catchy and always a fun listen!  But here's another one that's pure pirate, a take-off from The Veggie Tales re-done by Legos and Relient K...good stuff!

Throw a party!
Eat cookies

This is obviously just a sampling for the possibilities are virtually endless but it's a start for getting your timbers shivered.

Avast ye hearties, get going before I have ye keelhauled and walkin' the plank! Savvy?

**all book and movie images from Amazon, you can purchase any of them there!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

new music and good friends.

I think I mentioned earlier that over the course of the next few months I will be losing approximately 75% of my social circle. It seems that everyone has the itch to move away, to make new starts and set off on new adventures. I too am feeling that itch but alas, a move is just not in the cards for me right now. So, here I stay wishing everyone farewell and safe travels and wishing I were going with them.

The upside of all of this is that I've been able to spend some good quality time with people in a way that doesn't happen when you know you'll see them again the following week. Conversations take on a different depth, looks and moments are far more meaningful and the way you spend your time is chosen very carefully in order to create memories that will last until the next time you see them (or forever in case that's the way your life paths lead.)

Such was the case last week when I participated in a small, intimate dinner. Just 3 of us, one leaving this week, one leaving later this year, and me. We noshed on homemade pizza, kale salad and a peach pie fresh from the oven (those girls know their food!) We laughed, we shared fears and plans for the future and we swapped mix tapes (those girls know their tunes!)

The rules (which I somehow failed to read) required that the tape (okay, it was actually a CD but that just doesn't quite have the same ring to it) have 10 songs that were in someway meaningful either to the maker or the recipient. We told each other the stories behind our song choices and then sat back and listened. But the best part has been the repeated listening that has gone on over the last few days. I've soaked up words and sounds in a way I haven't in I don't know how long. Knowing how much the tunes mean to my dear friends has made them mean something to me too, but I've found my own meanings to layer on top of theirs.

I've had one disc playing non-stop in my room and the other playing non-stop in my car and the words have been etched on my soul.

Some of my favorite words:

hello, my old heart 
it's been so long 
since I've given you away 
and every day I add another stone 
to the walls I built around you 
to keep you safe... 

...but you'll never find the answers 
until you set your old heart free
--The Oh Hellos

I don’t wanna make you interested.
I just wanna make you the only one.

I don't wanna ask myself forever
Why I didn't put myself together?
As soon as you appeared into my eye
--Peter Bjorn and John

(I want someone to say this to me, isn't it great?!)

And a few overall just amazing listens:

I could go on and on and list every single song but that gives you a small sampling of our evening.

Thank goodness for technology, email, facebook and blogs that can keep us connected across continents. But I think the hand-selected melodies will be the best connection of all. We had no repeats (even of artists) between the three of us and we each discovered some new favorites and rediscovered some that we'd forgotten. There were hints of melancholy amongst them all, obviously the bittersweet future was in the backs of our minds as we made our selections. And that melancholy stayed with us as we left with heavy hearts and un-shed tears. Yet we have the tangible reminders of the night and our friendship in the shape of slender silver/irridescent circles filled with the words our friends would say were they still nearby.

And as a bonus we decided to continue the music swap by mail every couple of months. Who doesn't love getting something that isn't a bill or junk in the mail? Bring on the Christmas music!

Monday, September 17, 2012

a good book.

No reviews just yet but here are a few I've been reading and enjoying lately.  (Full disclosure: I haven't finished all of these so I reserve the right to change my opinion if they somehow mess everything up with a horrible ending!)

Travels with My Aunt by Graham Greene

So far it's rather hysterical and apparently there's a film version floating around out there with Maggie Smith as the main character.
Must find!

Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz

This one's been getting a lot of Newbery buzz and I can see why. A Victorian Gothic thriller for kids, hopefully the ending doesn't let me down!

Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs by Mo Willems

Okay, this one I've finished and it's pretty great. A meta-twist on the classic story full of irreverent characters.  Older kids (who will appreciate the jokes) will love it.

Color: A Natural History of the Palette by Victoria Finlay

I haven't started this one yet but I'm uber intrigued by the premise; tracing the history of colors.  And just look at the gorgeous cover!

And that's just the beginning of my current pile.  What are you reading?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

a road trip! Part 5

The final leg of our journey took us NYC.  We'd both been there before so we skipped the majority of the touristy attractions. We tried our luck for show tickets the night we got into town and spent the evening singing along with Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.  (Actually, we spent the majority of the time laughing at the woman next to us who thought she was at a concert. She stood up and clapped and sang along -out loud- several times in the middle of the performance. It was quite the bonus show.)

We also spent some time wandering around Central Park, eating, people watching, eating and soaking up the energy of the crazy, non-stop town.

Several friends had suggested we visit The Cloisters and we were game.  However, we were staying in Queens and didn't want to drive into the city if possible so we got information at the concierge's desk and he gave us some (slightly faulty) directions to northern Manhattan via subway which would have been fine if we'd had the right stop to begin with. Instead we spent a good hour and a half wandering the tip of the island before we finally found it. It was worth the effort though, a beautiful museum built specifically to house and highlight the art and architecture of medieval Europe. They have some amazing gardens as well.

For our final evening on the road we took in the men's quarterfinals of the US Open.  I'm not a huge tennis fan (I enjoy it but by no means follow) but my sister is and she was in seventh heaven. There was an exhibition before the actual match pitting John McEnroe and Adam Sandler against Jim Courier and Kevin James which was quite entertaining.  And then we watched Novak Djokovic beat Juan Martin del Potro in just three sets.  There were enough crazy moments to keep me interested and enough pauses between plays to allow for some fabulous people watching.  Even at a relatively high brow event like this there was still plenty of fodder for head shaking and 'oh my gosh did you see that' conversations on the subway ride home!

And then it was back to our super sketchy hotel (that's what you get when you stay in Queens!) for one last morning of sleeping in before getting in the car and making the trek back home and back to real life.

It's only been one week but I'm already ready for another vacation. I keep thinking the craziness and busy-ness will abate but I think I just need to suck it up and admit that life is just crazy busy and always will be.  *sigh*  I guess that just makes me appreciate these little trips and breaks all the more.  Now, time to start planning another one.  Where should I go next?!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

a road trip! Part 4

Besides all of the revolutionary significance in the area there is a rich literary history as well. In Concord in the mid-1800s the Transcendental movement was in full swing supported and spurred on by local heroes Louisa May Alcott, her father Bronson, Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Nathaniel Hawthorne. Not only were they literary giants but they were philosophers and trend-setters; naturalists, vegetarians, abolitionists.

Their homes are all open for tours now and you can see where Hawthorne's wife inscribed poems and thoughts on the window panes of the Old Manse with her diamond ring. But my favorite was Orchard House, the home immortalized in Louisa May Alcott's classic Little Women. She modeled the story after the portion of her own life spent with her sisters in the home and walking its halls is like stepping into the story. Amy's drawings (Alcott's artistic sister was actually named May) are all over the house scrawled on firescreens and door frames. Beth's piano is in the corner. Alcott's/Jo's writing desk is under the window. It's so amazing to be able to see where and get a taste of how such classics were created.

The Old Manse
Orchard House

I first read Walden in high school and I've returned to it many times over the years.  There's just something about it that speaks to me on various levels. So I was thrilled to visit the site of the famous cabin and walk along the banks of pond for myself. I was surprised at how big it was (in my mind 'pond' = 'little') and to see people swimming and rafting and sunbathing. But the woods were beautiful and still and there were pockets of privacy even along the shoreline where you could almost imagine what Thoreau's view might have been like all those years ago.

In the sunshine and the stillness one could easily understand his sentiments, "I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude."

I'll leave you with a few more of my favorite words from Walden:

No method nor discipline can supersede the necessity of being forever on the alert.

Books are the treasured wealth of the world and the fit inheritance of generations and nations.

In the long run men hit only what they aim at. Therefore, though they should fail immediately, they had better aim at something high.

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.

Here's to a little more time in the woods!

Monday, September 10, 2012

a road trip! Part 3

My favorite part of our trip was the time we spent in Lexington and Concord. The area is so rich in history and culture. It seems unlikely that such an amazing conglomerate of forward thinkers and revolutionaries could be gathered in the same space continually over the course of several generations but you can still feel the energy and influence years later.

The Minuteman-so called because they could be mustered for battle so quickly
North Bridge in Lexington
Concord grapes

Paul Revere (and others) left Boston on his fateful ride to warn Samuel Adams and John Hancock that the British were on the march.  Things came to a head the morning of April 19, 1775 with the "shot heard 'round the world" * fired on the Lexington Green and culminating (the initial battle, not the war, obviously) 7 or so miles away on the North Bridge in Concord.

On the eve of the anniversary of September 11th when so many of our freedoms were tested and shaken it's an interesting contrast to remember the volatile beginnings of this great country. We were born fighting and we've had to fight for everything good ever since.  There's a lot in this world worth fighting for and I'm grateful for those who've risked it all to make things possible for those to come.

*the phrase was coined by Concord native Ralph Waldo Emerson years later in his poem Concord Hymn

Sunday, September 9, 2012

a road trip! Part 2

After Rhode Island we went north to Boston. We spent a few days wandering back and forth between the city proper, Salem, Concord, and Plymouth.

We started where it all started, with the Pilgrims in Plymouth.  We saw the Mayflower (replica) and Plymouth Rock (it says 1620 on it, I promise, the sun was shining in such a way that I could never get a good photo.)

We spent some time with the witches in Salem, ate some glass in a lovely little restaurant on the wharf (long story) and toured the house that was the inspiration for Hawthorne's The House of the Seven Gables.

We ended our day by wandering the shores of Marblehead, the perfectly charming coastal town nearby.

One of our evenings in the city included a visit to the north end for Italian, a not-nearly-as-long-as-it-looks wait in line for fabulous cannoli at Mike's, a stroll past the Old North Church and a stop at Fenway.

Another visit took us past the Boston LDS temple and to dinner at Armando's Pizza.  Did I mention we spent a lot of time eating?  And gained several pounds? We did, and we did. And every bite was worth it!

More to come but I'm afraid I have to pause now to drool a little and wish I was eating pizza and cannoli.