My kitchen focus was severely lacking the other day

Pesto Pepper PizzaI have recently initiated meal planning into my life. I go a pinch overboard and plan a month in advance. Since I live alone, I really only have to pick out 8-10 recipes that I’ll spread out over the month. Any who, I was planning on making Chicken Pesto Pizza for lunch one week. I was at one grocery store and decided to wait on getting the chicken until later in the week when I’d hit up Fareway, however that stop never happened. It was 8:50 on Monday night when I was getting ready to bake the pizza that I would have for lunch the following day when I realized my mistake. By that time my local grocery store was closed (which is only 4 blocks away, so sad) as well as Fareway, by the time I would have driven over to the next town. What could I do? Not make it and have something else for lunch (a good solution) or make it without the title ingredient. As the picture shows I chose the latter, I made Pesto Pepper Pizza and it was delicious. It’s passed all my ‘rules’: it’s good hot, reheated and cold. The perfect single person food or at least I enjoy it all those ways. My taste buds diverge from the norm. For instance I’ve never gotten the extreme love for steak. Yeah it’s good and all but I’m just as happy with a well cooked chicken breast or even a burger. All-in-all, despite my short comings, I was (and am) quite pleased with the end result. Also I have a second pizza crust that I can try the correct recipe on. Win-win.

The altered recipe is below, until next time.
~ Q

PestoPizza_LargeIngredients:

  • 2 cups spinach (frozen + thawed)
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil – set 1/2 tsp aside
  • 3 teaspoons basil
  • 3 teaspoons parsley
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or more to taste)
  • 1-12″ prebaked pizza shell
  • 1 orange pepper, cut into small strips
  • 1 water-packed canned artichoke hearts, rinsed and drained, patted dry and quartered (the recipe called for 1/2 cup which is about 3 but I thought they smelled funny so I only used one – turns out I like them though so all three next time.)
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled feta cheese

Directions:

  • Preheat oven according to package (mine said 450 I believe)
  • Thaw the frozen spinach by placing it in a microwaveable bowl and microwaving it for 2 minutes.
  • Transfer the spinach into a blender or food processor, and add the remaining ingredients. Blend until smooth and creamy. (If the pesto is too thick, a small amount of water may be necessary to thin it out.)
  • Spread 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil over crust before spreading pesto
  • Top with peppers, artichokes, and cheese
  • Cook for 10 minutes
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Movie Double Feature (only not really) Scream 2 & The Nightmare Before Christmas

Continuing my movie marathon I had planned on watching Scream 2 and Nightmare Before Christmas. Since, as I’ve stated before, we have down town trick-or-treating that I’m co-in charge of I had to take sometime last night to fill luminaries with sand. I only was able to watch Scream 2 (luckily filling bags after the movie fulfilled my rule of having to do something to unwind after a scary movie)

The thing about scream 2 is that somethings feel very forced, like the Dewey-Gale love line. Is it necessary? Not really. Can’t he just be mad at her, do they have to have this reconnecting moment? Or can’t the reconnecting moment be that she really isn’t as terrible as she portrays 85% of the time? Sidney is fairly inconsistent, very hot and cold. However, surviving as many traumas as she has I can see how that would happen, but still. You shouldn’t rely on audiences giving her that break. All in all though I still jumped and cringed so they did there job, right?

Until tomorrow ~ Q

During Movie Thoughts:

  • Really, you’re commenting about how her wardrobe choice moves the plot of the story along. It’s a HORROR movie, there isn’t an earth shattering plot. Stupid comment dumb character who will be dead in 5 minutes.
  • And boyfriend of the year award goes to….you Mr. Jump out of the closet
  • Never listen to other bathroom stalls, lesson learned
  • time to change numbers again, that would not be cool
  • ‘a vague promise at best’…I’ll have to use that
  • Is Sidney destined to always hit Gale upon their first meeting?
  • Is having the girl who is the vampire slayer watching Nosferatu an example of directorial intent?
  • Memo to self, throw bike at attacker. Seriously bikes are awkward when you’re on one, how much harder to maneuver when one is thrown at you.
  • Yes, we’ve all been underage drinking, lets rush to where there are cops!
  • Why would you answer a phone at a random sorority? Bad call
  • Yes make your distraught girlfriend the center of attention by singing her a love song in the cafeteria. Nice gesture and all but a better one would be something private, no?
  • Didn’t Sidney crack a shot about ‘with her luck Tori Spelling would play her’ in Scream 1. Hey Luke Wilson!
  • Dewy and Randy are 5 – ‘if I’m a suspect so are you’
  • “The battle for the soul is fought in the forum of art” – I do like that
  • Here Sidney, let me protect you by moving you by an exit and leaving you
  • Greek Tragedy, nice symbolism
  • Can you look any more guilty Cotton
  • WHY THE FORCED LOVE STORY?!?
  • Nice theme music for Dewey
  • “Ask Cotton, he’s the real hero.” Gag me.
  • Sidney flip flops her opinions on people every two seconds…Gale (she saved our lives….smack!), Boyfriend (we should stay apart… i love you… leave me alone) Cotton – you see where this is going

Movie Review: Rebecca

So I just finished the first Oscar movie of the 1940s, Rebecca (although in part I was writing this while watching so it’s really long – spoilers pretty much throughout the post – you’ve been warned). My first thought while the credits were rolling was that some of the scenery was reminiscent of Gone with the Wind. Then I discovered that it was produced by the same company, so that kind of made sense. The first, of many things, that surprised me about Rebecca was that it was directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Instantly my interest was piqued. Add to that Nigel Bruce, the guy who played Watson opposite Basil Rathbone’s Sherlock, was also in the movie. I buckled in for some surprises.

Rebecca starred Joan Fontaine as Mrs. De Winter (she has no other name besides that, ever, so I’ll refer to her as DW) and Laurence Olivier as Maxim de Winter. The movie began the same way the story begins with a voice over by DW saying “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley” she continues to talk about the ruined home and then enters into the story of her life at a younger point in time. They go into a memory of a vacation in Southern France where DW was a paid companion to Mrs. Van Hopper (played by Florence Bates). The first we actually see of DW is her yelling at a man to stop because she thinks he is going to jump off a cliff (I quite agree that that is how it looked). The man tells her to get lost and the next wee see of either character is when they are in the hotel with van Hopper. Hopper is an older lady and a bit of a busy body. She spots Maxim (cliff man) and beckons him to join them. More awkward interactions ensue between Maxim and  DW while Hopper blathers before Maxim makes his hasty exit. The next day DW is at brunch alone and is invited/forced to join Maxim. They have an easy conversation and he offers to drive her somewhere to sketch (after insisting she eats more food).

While they are sketching DW brings up that she once saw a postcard of a fine old house by the sea and that she didn’t realize that it was his home, Manderley. Maxim says that he will never return and becomes rather introspective. Trying to cover the awkward silence she tries to change the subject to the water (since they are indeed by the sea) and how it takes so long for the water to warm up in England and how the water in southern France is so warm she could stay in all day. That is if it weren’t for the dangerous undertow. She then remarks on how a man drowned there last yer. Again Maxim decides to make a hasty retreat and brings them back to the hotel. There Joan walks in on Hopper being a gossip to her nurse (for she has fallen ill with a cold/flu) talking about how she knew Mr. and Mrs. de Winter. Then she adds that the Former Mrs. De Winter drowned in a sailing accident. This sets the bar for dear DW. She can’t quite seem to have an interaction with Maxim that doesn’t end pretty poorly.

This might be why she is so surprised when the next day he stops her in the lobby:
Maxim: Off duty?
DW: Well, yes. Mrs. Van Hopper’s cold turned into flu, so she’s got a trained nurse.
M: I’m sorry for the nurse. You keen on tennis?
D: Well, not particularly.
M: That’s good. We’ll go for a drive. (Takes the racquet and hides it in a bush).

That starts many outing for the two while Hopper is sick. However the romance is threatened when Hopper’s daughter gets engaged and they must leave at once. DW goes to Maxim and tells him goodbye. He then asks her if she would rather go with Hopper to New York or Manderley with him, as his bride. She chooses that later and is accepted by all the servants save for Mrs. Danvers who is quite put-offish and cold.

There is something weird about Maxim and DWs relationship. Maxim treats her a bit like a child. Telling her what/how much to eat, what articles to read, or takes her hand to wave to someone else. In one scene it might rain so he sends a servant to grab a coat. When he returns Maxim goes to put it on her instead of carrying it (since it’s a rain coat and it hasn’t started raining yet). DW asks if she must put it on and he replies, “Yes, certainly, certainly, certainly. You can’t be too careful with children.” That sums it up in a nutshell. DW is, herself, a bit awkward and clumsy. This apparently is a never dyeing theme – quite prominent right now (hello Twilight / Fifty Shades of Grey).

Poor DW, as she tries to get settled to a new life style there are constant reminders of the former ‘Mrs. De Winter’. Some are subtle, like the napkins that are monogrammed as R de W, while others are more overt like Mrs. Danvers constantly making reference to how things were done under the former de Winter. She is often served back handed compliments. (Such as Beatrice (Winter’s sister) comments about how Maxim acts: “I doubt he’ll fly off in a rage with you, you’re such a placid little thing”. The comments are always said kindly, but if you listen to the words and not the tone they are quite rude.

DW always walks on egg shells, fearing she’ll set off Maxim. One day she finally goes to the west wing (a part of the house that hasn’t been entered since The Former de Winter passed away). Danvers catches her and starts to show her evil side. She does all she can to push DW over the edge. Sinking so low as to tricking DW into dressing like Former de Winters for a fancy dress party. The night of the party Danvers opens a window for DW to ‘calm down’ and get fresh air. Then she tries to convince DW to just jump and end it since she’ll never make Maxim happy.

That same night (it was a big night) there is a shipwreck and we get into the Hitchcockian twists. The diving team finds the wreckage of the Former de Winter’s boat. This puts Maxim into a tailspin. DW searches for him, knowing the effect it will have on her husband. She finds him to apologize for the costume mishap and discovers the truth about Maxim’s freak outs whenever the Former de Winter is mentioned. Oddly enough telling the truth makes it possible for them to actually grow as a couple. So as not to truly spoil the twist I won’t divulge what the truth is. After DW somewhat stood up for herself (or at least stopped being the child Maxim was use to) I started rooting for the couple and in a weird way they had a happy ending. All in all I’d watch this Oscar winner again. It truly wasn’t what I was expecting, but perhaps that’s because I thought this Rebecca was the same as Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. Definitely not.

Until next time ~ Q

LOEB: Patriotic pop culture

Let me start this post off with the admission that I’ve never really gone all out for the Fourth. It just wasn’t a very big holiday celebration in my family. We usually go all out for Thanksgiving instead, complete with having a house full (20+) of adults for an extended weekend. Intense. In fact I think I’ve only seen fireworks on the Fourth a handful of times. One of the more memorable times was when we took a class trip to Philly and we saw fireworks back-to-back nights. The first time was on the 4th and was about an hour after arriving to the city. We threw our bags into the hotel room and ran out into a street that had been blocked off for pedestrians. I was a freshmen in high school and it was the first time I saw someone smoking marijuana in public. An eye opener for all of us from small town Iowa, to quote Dorothy we weren’t in Kansas anymore. The following night we went to a baseball game and saw one of the best fireworks displays I’ve seen in my life. So back to back nights of memorable fireworks. All of this being said, I know I’m not the most patriotic person in the world so this topic is a bit tricky for me.

This week’s topic question: What movie, TV show, comic book, etc makes you want to stand up and salute Old Glory? My answer: Independence Day I suppose. I’m not sure what it is about this movie, and I’m sure if I thought about it there are other movies and things that are more patriotic but this was the first thing that came to mind.

There is just something about the speech by  Bill Pullman’s character that I love? “…the largest aerial battle in the history of mankind. ‘Mankind.’ That word should have new meaning for us today. We can’t be consumed by our petty  differences anymore. We will be united in our common interests. Perhaps it’s fate that today is the Fourth of July, and you will once again be fighting for our freedom…Not from tyranny, oppression or persecution… but from annihilation? We are fighting for our right to live. To exist? And should we win the day, the Fourth of July will no longer be known as an American holiday, but as the world declared in one voice: ‘We will not go quietly in the night!” We will not vanish without a fight! We’re going to live on! We’re going to survive!  Today we celebrate out Independence Day!”

How can you not get revved up after a monologue like that? Then the science geek and the BA soldier discovering a secret to destroy the invaders. And the crazy guy getting his redemption in the end. Love it.

So that’s it for this week’s topic. Until next time – Q

Also to explain LOEB. It’s the ‘League of Extraordinary Bloggers’ and every week they post a topic for discussion/consideration. They post the topic on Mondays, posts regarding that topic need to be up on Sunday if you want yours included in the weekly round up. A fast explanation, but there you have it. This is my first week so we’ll see how it goes and how long I can keep it up.

 

Update: It’s Monday and that means submission’s are in. Here is a sampling of what I’ve browsed so far

Book Review: A Study in Scarlet

So I finally have finished one of my summer reading books. I realized, after making my list, that I’d have to finish a book a week…which usually wouldn’t be a problem. I’ve done it in the past, but apparently I’ve gotten busier or something because its been tricky. However that is neither here nor there. On to the book.

I just finished A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I enjoyed this story, although I was thoroughly confused as to the second half of the book. It seemed to crop out of no where. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone so as fair warning SPOILERS AHEAD. The first half introduces us to the odd man that is Sherlock Holmes and a returning war veteran Dr. John Watson. Watson observes Holmes’ various acquaintances and is with him when he is summoned to a crime scene. There they discover a dead man whose face is contoured in anguishing fear. Sherlock methodically scours the scene, both the immediate area as well as out side. Then he quips off some facts that no one else as gleaned. Such as the murderer’s tall and sturdy frame and that they knew one another. Sherlock, after sharing some conclusions with Detectives Lestrade on Gregson heads out to conduct some of his own inquires. After a scene with a woman’s wedding band and a second murder both detectives are back in Homes’ flat. There, after a short while, Holmes’ delivers the murder – much to everyone’s surprise (the murder included).

Then the story shifts to several years before and across the ocean. The narrative picks up in John Ferrier’s point of view as he and a little girl, near death, are found in the Nevada dessert by passing Mormons who are on their way to the promise land. The story gets kind of odd after that, dealing with the Mormon lifestyle and beliefs. Long summary turned short, the girl was adopted by Ferrier and was the prize of all Salt Lake City. Ferrier promised her to Jefferson Hope whom the girl had fallen in love with. The leader of the town didn’t like that and decided that Ferrier had to either give her to his son or another Elder’s son. Ferrier is murdered while he, the girl, and Hope try to flee and the girl is brought back to Salt Lake. She died a month later, from despair. Hope vows then and there to seek vengeance again both of the sons. (One married the girl and the other killed Ferrier.) Of course the two murdered men were the sons. Then the story jumps back to London and ‘present’ time (Sherlock’s time that is) where Hope fills everyone in on what happened after he left Utah. That very night, after being brought to custody Hope dies of an aneurism.Then Watson and Holmes are chatting and he explains analytical thinking versus narrative thinking. Which, seemingly, is his secret. END SPOILERS

Over all I enjoyed the story. The one part that was tricky was the part that took place in Utah. I don’t know enough about Mormon culture to fully understand those parts. I got the gist though, but since I didn’t get it I wish that part of the book  would have been wrapped up quicker than it was, but it was still good. And the deductive bits, by all three detectives were so enjoyable it was worth wading through the Utah chapters. I think what I didn’t like was I had a sinking feeling for Ferrier and his daughter. I knew something bad was going to happen, if two murders were the result years later, how could it end happily? Yet I found myself rooting for Lucy (the daughter) and Jefferson to somehow end up together. My silly romantic side once again giving me false hope for a happy ending. When a person achieving his revenge is the happy ending you know you’re not reading a comedy. However a great beginning to the legend that is Holmes and Watson.

I enjoyed how he somewhat ended it with Watson telling Holmes that he would write Holmes’ story down so that everyone would know that it was he, not Lestrade and Gregson, who was the brilliant one. Holmes’ doesn’t seem to care though, he doesn’t want the publicity, even if he does comment that the others steal the limelight all the time. I guess part of him wants recognition, but not necessarily form the public though. I think he just wants the detectives themselves to not falsly take his credit.

Anyway the story ends with a Latin (or Roman) phrase: “Populus me sibilat, at mihi plaudo Ipse domi simul ac nummos contemplar in arca.” When I googled it I discovered it was from Horace, Book 1, Satire 1 and translated to “The public hisses at me, but I applaud myself in my own house, and simultaneously contemplate the money in my chest.”
I take that to mean it doesn’t matter what the public thinks, for I will be proud of my own accomplishments and think about the things I have done within myself. A nice sentiment. So overall, a good story, and I’ll be working my way through Doyle’s other works too, I’m sure.

Anyway, until next time~Q

Movie Review: Snow White and the Huntsman

Say what you will about Kristen Stewart, if you let that stop you from seeing this movie you’ll be missing out. Honestly I wasn’t deterred by her performance in the least and in combination with Charlize Theron and Chris Hemsworth it was a great movie. Theron brings a new twist to the Evil Queen and captures the role perfectly. Likewise I’m not sure of the Huntsman is suppose to be like the character in the fairy tale who is sent to kill her, but his character is a welcome addition.

I think what I like so much about this story is how fantastical it is. The effects and set (despite being all monotone) are breathtaking. I actually felt like the metal shard soldiers would somehow fragment off the screen and slice through whatever they touched. Whoever did the metal rendering, from an amateur’s point of view, did an astounding job. Likewise the costuming and makeup were great. The bridge troll so perfectly melded to his surroundings. All of the Queen’s clothes, while being a bit dark and twisted (like the queen herself), still had a regal quality befitting a royal who is conquered several kingdoms.

Of course you’re inclined to root for the title character, in this instance I refer to the Huntsman. I was partially amused that Snow White didn’t awake when the Duke’s son, William, kissed her. Granted he couldn’t have done anything more to save Snow White as a child, but it felt like he assumed their relationship would be just as close as it had been when they were children. Granted too though as soon as he learned she was alive he went off to save her, but she’d been locked in a tower for nearly a decade her last visions of the outside world being her only friend riding away without her. Of course things wouldn’t go exactly to how they had been before, but I digress. I liked how it was the Huntsman, after breaking down a bit, was the one to wake her. Something about the commoner, a nobody, being the one, rather than the expected nobleman. I also appreciated how it wasn’t a love fest between the two after that though. I don’t think that would have been believable. Instead it was understated, which since they had a castle to siege, was probably best. There was just enough of connection between the two after that to hint at what could be somewhere down the line.

My one qualm was the ending. There wasn’t really any action or talking after Snow takes back her kingdom. A VERY understated ending. Just her coronation, the appearance of the Huntsman (to show he hasn’t abandoned her ?) and then the end. With the rest of the movie being so grandiose and great that just felt a bit wanting. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure I’ll see it again because I enjoyed the rest of the movie so much. To be fair the ending is probably fine it just was a bit different then the rest of the movie.

Fantasic Frankenstein via Fathom

I’ve always seen the Fathom events trailers before movies but had never had the strong desire to go. That is until I saw that they had produced a play I had wanted to see. Last year they recorded and showed Danny Boyle’s Frankenstein. Lucky for me they did an encore presentation this past week. Although I would have loved to see both performances I am over the moon I got to see it at all. What I find so fascinating  is that the leads played both parts. One night Cumberbatch would be the Creature, the next Miller would be. I saw the latter version, with Jonny Lee Miller as the Creature and Benedict Cumberbatch as Victor Frankenstein.

I went on Thursday (it’s been a busy weekend) and thoroughly enjoyed it. I’ll be honest, I haven’t read Mary Shelly’s original work, but will be reading it soon. All of my ‘knowledge’ of the story is just what I have seen in previous films, and in those the creature could never talk. What I loved about this interpretation was it was told more from the creature’s point of view. We followed his path, from the moment he was brought to life until the end of the play (which did not end with his death for once).

What I loved so much was that it gave me such a different perspective on the story. Before whenever I saw a play or movie about Frankenstein I thought of it purely as entertainment. Also I never really thought poorly of either character (Frankenstein or his creature). It was more a man made a poor choice and it snowballed out of control. However with this play that wasn’t the case.

For the first time I realized that Frankenstein, like all the others, initially turns his back on the creature (again will have to read the source material to see if it’s how Shelly intended it to be, but from now on I’ll stop referencing that unknown and write only of what Boyle brought to life). One of the most heartbreaking parts was towards the end when the Creature is talking to Elizabeth (Frankenstein’s bride). He talks about how he is the master of assimilation and all he has learned. To ‘fit in’ he has had to learn about hate, cruelty, pain…all the worse bits of humanity because that is all that he has been shown. But the part that killed me the most was the way Miller delivered “And from your dear husband I have learned how to lie”. It just struck me as so very sad. This unfortunate creature who didn’t ask to be created, who is genuinely intelligent cast out for looking less then desirable.

That being said, for the first time I felt twinges of disgust for both characters. The Creature’s vindictive nature overruled his love for the blind man when he destroyed them. However they did beat him, and the Creature knew they would not accept them, but the blind man insisted. I was more repulsed by Frankenstein though.  In one scene he has nearly completed the Creature’s bride and asks him if he even knows what blood is. The Creature gives a very human and compelling response considering he has never been shown love (kinship/kindness from the blind man, but not love). All he wants is love and once he, seemingly, convinces Frankenstein he goes to ‘finish’ the second creature. However instead of keeping his word and showing the simplest sign of compassion for the one he abandoned instead betrays the Creature far more than he ever had. He destroys her, in front of him, thus sealing Elizabeth’s fate to. When he ended the Creature’s bride’s life, he thus ended his future bride’s life as well. I had never felt such anger towards Frankenstein before, so that was refreshingly new.

One of the things I was first struck by was the opening scene. Miller comes out of a womb-esque structure and collapses onto the stage. Then for the next ten minutes (or so) works on how he will move. The physicality of the performance just superb. His minute movements, the shudders, the way the glided across the stage so gracefully despite the fact he was propelling himself with only his arms. I was blown away. If you ever get the chance to see it (another encore presentation perhaps?) I strongly urge you to see it. It was simply brilliant and if it ever is released to video I know, without a doubt, I’ll get it. It really does have a timeless quality to it.

So until next time~Q