Books and TV Shows That Will Keep Me Busy into the New Year

Blog Collage

Homeland’s season is done, movies cost a freakish amount, so how else can I occupy the hours spent indoors during my winter hibernation? As you may have guessed from the title of this post, t.v. shows and books are going to be my constant companions. Here is what I am going to be watching/reading over the next few months:

Television

The Wire: Pretty much any “best television series ever” list ranks this HBO heavy-hitter as one of the best to grace the small screen. I am almost done with the first season and I certainly see the appeal. I have a soft spot for Omar (as does President Obama). Also: Idris Elba. Grab the smelling salts, I am about to swoon every time he comes on screen!

Six Feet UnderOkay, so I have already watched the complete series, but I am in the process of rewatching it as my parents view it for the first time. I am glad that it holds up years later. Nothing is more disappointing than revisiting an old favorite and finding it lacking.

Books

Awakenings: I already read another book about the sleeping sickness that struck Europe and the United States in the early twentieth century. This one, however, is by the great Oliver Sacks (a frequent guest on one of my favorite podcasts, Radiolab). He recounts case studies of patients in the late 1960s with an eloquence that appeals to people far beyond medical readers.

Victoria’s Daughters: Me and my British royalty obsession. Queen Victoria has mostly been sidelined from my reading list in favor of standbys such as Eleanor of Aquitaine. She always struck me as someone very conventional (in a very unconventional position). Her daughters have quite the stories themselves, giving those who love juicy royal scandal the drama that Queen Vicky avoided (for the most part).

Anyone else starting a new t.v. series or book that they want to share? Please tell!

Weekend Roundup

tree

Absence makes the heart grow fonder, doesn’t it? Well I hope so because I have been noticeably absent. My apologies! Between holiday prep and finally booking my European vacation with my mom (Montpellier, Nice, Florence and Rome in just over a month! I am going to consume ALL THE CARBS), I have been a very busy bee this past week. Anyways, things won’t slow down yet. Jamie is finally on Winter Break (lucky teachers) and will be arriving tonight! Whoopee! I foresee a lot of girl talk and booze in our future. This weekend keep in mind…

Love Actually detractors get a voice! I understand where they are coming from, but if you analyze most romantic comedies, the creepiness factor is awfully high. Can’t we all just enjoy Hugh Grant dancing?

Like most arts, the art of layering can be difficult to learn. Refinery29 to the rescue!

My favorite hand cream du jour. It makes my hands look/feel soft and not like they are the hands of Yoda’s wrinkly great Aunt Moda (not a real person in the Star Wars world).

I was so sad to hear about Peter O’Toole’s death this week. I plan on watching my favorite movie of his this weekend. One of my favorites of all time, actually.

Have a great weekend readers! See you next week–I promise!

Let Cute Puppies Learning to Howl Make Your Monday WAY Better.

Ah, I always know I can count on Jezebel to post adorable animal videos. And yesterday did not disappoint. Let me just say that I made about a million different “AWWW!!!” sounds as I watched, as well as uncontrollable laughing. It was so cute I almost cried. CRIED. Kevin was really confused by my almost puppy-induced breakdown.

The Ridiculous Return of Keanu Reeves

By now you have probably seen the trailers for 47 Roninwhich looks like an awful racist (to quote Seth Meyers and Amy Poehler on SNL: Really? You are going to have an Asian lady turn into a dragon? REALLY?) mash-up of Game of Thrones, Mulan, and 300. When I first saw the trailer in the movie theater, I just put my head down, I was so suffering from second hand embarrassment. When will people learn not to cast Keanu Reeves in things? Heck, even Kenneth Branaugh allowed him to ruin Much Ado About Nothing. You would think Kenny would have put his foot down at letting Keanu desecrate Shakespeare. Come on Hollywood–we don’t believe for a minute that Keanu would save anything.

I’m Alive! AKA I’ve Sucked Lately as a Blogger…

the wire

First, I gotta give props to my wonderful sister Erin for picking up the slack these last few weeks (or months, cough) that I’ve been AWOL. I have no real big reason to why I have been so bad about it, just a wide variety of things that distracted me in the last few weeks–health scare with my dad, traveling, sickness, visitors, pure laziness, etc. So before Erin smugly reminds me that she is a much better blogger than me (true), I just wanted to recap some big things going on lately.

1. I’ve had a tough week or two lately teaching. Nothing huge and monumentally awful, just some difficult small issues with a few students. Like always in teaching, there’s always an ebb and flow and lately I’ve just been feeling exhausted by this particular rough patch. Still, I always have to look at the bright side. I’m lucky enough to have my own classroom and the incredible students and their works always has to outshine the crappier moments.

2. Kyle and Aimee visited Kevin and I unexpectedly in Minneapolis last week due to some bad weather and issues at our cottage. It ended up being a really awesome weekend! We went to Psycho Suzi’s, indulged in some amazing tropical drinks in the midst of the Minnesota winter, hung out with some friends and introduced Kyle and Aimee to them, went to a comedy show, and heck, I even braved the Mall of America the Saturday after Thanksgiving! It was a great time and I can’t wait to have more people visit, maybe in the spring when more are willing to trek up north!

3. Kevin and I started a new show that we’ve been always meaning to watch, “The Wire!” It was a bit slow at first, as we were introduced to the many characters. However, we definitely got really into it. I love how it focuses each season on a different institution in Baltimore–it starts with the first season focusing on the drug world and the second season, which we just started, is on transportation and the waterways. Still, it deals with so many heavy issues that are rarely so honestly shown on tv. It gives depth to all the characters, even the traditional “bad” guys. Plus Idris Elba, my main man crush lately, plays a very intelligent entrepreneur/head of the drug trade. All the characters are realistically flawed in their own way. And they certainly are not scared to kill off main characters. I’m excited for one of the future seasons when they focus on education. I would definitely recommend that you check it out or even buy it as a Christmas gift for any friends or family (um, but make sure it’s family who can handle some adult language and such obviously).

4. I am anxiously awaiting my Cancun trip! I went for the first time in May and it was also my first experience with an all-inclusive. We are headed to another all-inclusive resort this time, with Kevin’s sister and brother-in-law joining Kevin and me! I can’t wait to escape this insane Minnesota cold and drink a ridiculous amount of tropical drinks!

Anyways, I promise I’ll be blogging here more in the Christmas season!

Gift Ideas for Your Bookworm

Why not give the gift of knowledge? (Says the English major).

CT good-lord-bird.jpg

The Good Lord Bird won the National Book award for Fiction in 2013. Looks like it will appeal those with a Mark Twain sensibility.

Photo courtesy of Modcloth

Photo courtesy of Modcloth

The best thing about the latest movie of The Great Gatbsy is the resurgence of Gatsby-themed items. This necklace is EVERYTHING. Bookworms deserve to look nice too.

Screen Shot 2013-12-05 at 9.44.28 PMAn intensely readable history book that will make you rethink all the times you dozed off in history class. I would read this one along with your friend/family member/spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend. You don’t want them to know more than you and start making haughty English history references that you don’t understand.

A Meatloaf Recipe That May Charm Even the Meatloaf-Haters

Actually, that statement puts a lot of pressure on me. It isn’t some new reinvention of meatloaf, but I do promise you that it won’t be like the dry and flavorless hunk of meat that you may remember from childhood. I  was feeling like some old-fashioned comfort food on this cold midwestern day so I decided to give it a go with cooking my very own meatloaf, which I have never attempted to make. It turned out quite delicious so I thought since I can’t send a sample over the internet, I would share the recipe.

Erin’s Meatloaf Recipe (Made with Love and Food)

2 eggs

2 teaspoons salt (give or take)

2 teaspoons black pepper (same as above)

1 teaspoon (or more) garlic powder OR two cloves of chopped garlic

Fresh parsley and other herbs (I did rosemary, thyme, marjoram, and parsley)

A dash or two of smoked paprika (normal paprika will do as well obviously)

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1/2 cup bread crumbs (I used panko)

2 lbs lean ground beef

2 stalks of celery, diced (or more if you want)

2 shallots, diced, or just 1 onion

1 large carrot, diced

FOR SAUCE:

1/3 cup of ketchup

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 tablespoon BBQ sauce

Note: You can basically put whatever veggies you want in here. It is literally a slab of meat that you shape out of whatever sounds good.

1. Mix the eggs, Worcestershire, salt, pepper, paprika, herbs, and vegetables in a large bowl. Crumble in the ground beef slowly over the egg mixture. Add the bread crumbs. Helpful hint: Don’t over mix it. It is best to use your hands because it is the closest you can get to adult play doh.

2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

3. Spray a baking pan with PAM and shape that meat into a loaf. I bet you never guessed.

4. Bake the meatloaf for 15 minutes. Decrease heat to 350 degrees and bake 1 hour.

5. Mix the brown sugar, ketchup, and BBQ sauce. Baste the meatloaf with the mixture and cook for an additional 10-15 minutes.

6. Once the meatloaf is done, take it out of the oven and place aluminum foil over the top. Wait another 15 minutes for the meatloaf to set. It will smell delicious so this may be the hardest part of the whole ordeal.

Enjoy over mashed potatoes. Because potatoes are one of the world’s greatest gifts (along with Chris Hemsworth’s body and puppies).

 

 

Thanks to This Ornament, Erin Circa 2000 Never Dies

ornament

Oh jeez. What is the most scary is that I actually remember taking this school picture. Between the hand-me-down short sleeve sweater, the braces, the glasses, the strange smile, it could be in the dictionary next to “adolescent” (or “awkward” for that matter). And thankfully my parents have never thrown out a single ornament so this treasure goes on the tree each year. We still put up one of my elementary school creations that is now just a plastic spoon with a smiley face (it used to have golden hair so show it was an angel).

 

Who Braved Black Friday This Year?

I may love clothes, makeup, and paper goods, but that doesn’t mean I love shopping for them. In fact, I hate the very act of shopping. It is stressful, annoying, and uncomfortable when there are hoards of people in the stores for the holiday season. Being short this often means I get elbowed in the head until I am on the verge of a concussion or walked into because people don’t see me. My palms are sweating just thinking about it! Ugh! Thank goodness for Cyber Monday! That being said, I am flabbergasted/a tiny bit impressed with those who brave the Black Friday crowds for deals. They must be made of stronger stuff than me! I don’t know of anyone in my life who does it so I have an ongoing curiosity with it!

So tell me, readers, are you a serious or recreational Black Friday shopper? Any funny stories you can share with us who spend our Black Fridays hibernating? The only time that someone in our family did the whole Black Friday thing was when our older sister Lindsay stood in line to get Furbies for Jamie and me (which we played with for approximately 10 minutes). Lindsay is always sure to remind us that she and her friends basically wrestled a lady to get them for us–now that is love.

A Lovely Sentimental Gift Idea!

Like many of you, I am scrambling to recover from my Thanksgiving-feast haze and move on to finding the perfect gift for everyone in my life. It doesn’t help that Thanksgiving was so late this year so I don’t have much time to take a breather from the whole holiday shtick. Oh well. I do love searching for gifts. Personalized ones are perfect for showing someone you care without lavishing a whole lot of money (which can be pointless when everyone in the family has jobs). I am absolutely head-over-heels in love with the idea of a signature necklace. I have seen letter necklaces and monogrammed ones, but never a signature one! Adorable!

necklace

Image courtesy of Yvonne Boutique

 

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