35 Days of Celebration: 17

35 Days of Celebration: Day 17Today was a lovely day. I spent a good deal of time with my sister Bailey. Together we headed to Des Moines for dinner and a show, nothing says ‘holiday spirit’ like Zombie Burger – right? Only joking, however the show we went to was very holiday! Luckily White Christmas has been in Des Moines the past two weeks and we went to the matinee this afternoon. It was difficult, at first, to not constantly compare it to the classic movie. However in the end I reminded myself that, like books turned to movies, they are two separate forms and to treat them as such.

Shoo with your pointy heads. Why are you always under boot?― North

North and I have similar ‘problems,’ elves are his; a cat with an affinity for cuddling with feet, while they are walking, is mine.

White Christmas GuardiansWhen I returned home for the evening I painted a bit of the basement. I also prepped some kringla, tomorrow I plan to see if making the Scandinavian treat is inherently in my blood or not. I rounded out the evening relaxing while I watched Rise of the Guardians. Now the movie takes place a few days before Easter, but since Santa, aka North, is such a central character it’s easy to think of it as a holiday movie. Perhaps all movies with Jack Frost just seem to be holiday movies, despite the fact they take place in the late winter/early spring. Now matter the reason, it was a calming and good way to end a great day.

Until next time
~ Q

35 Days of Celebration 01 | 02 | 03 | 04 | 05 | 06 | 07 & 08 | 09 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 16

35 Days of Celebration: 12

35 Days12

Tonight’s movie was Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

Whoever heard of a skinny Santa Claus? Eat. Eat!Mrs. Claus



Ah, maybe Mrs. Claus is also a specter that floats around my house whispering this exact sentiment to me. I enjoy all the misfits, especially the elf that just wants to be a dentist. Not much to say, like Jack Frost, I enjoyed the visual effects, and it’s definitely a holiday staple.

Also, this is my 200th post. That’s kind of a big deal, right? Oh, and I’m 1/3 of the way through my 35 Days of Celebration and I’m beginning to get excited for the ‘big event’. Christmas. I’ll be lucky enough to see my out-of-state besties a couple of days before Christmas. I’m also hosting my family for Christmas Eve before we head to my parents place for Christmas Day. So until then I’ll continue to hang out with Rudolph and the other misfits. They’re my kind of people.

Until next time
~ Q

35 Days of Celebration 01 | 02 | 03 | 04 | 05 | 06 | 07 & 08 | 09 | 10 | 11

35 Days of Celebration: 07 & 08

35 Days7

Have you ever noticed that everything seems wonderful at Christmas?! ― Ghost of Christmas Present

Last night/tonight’s movie was Jim Hansen’s Muppet Christmas Carol. I had never seen this one before and was quite delighted. Sure there were a few extra characters (the Marley brothers) but the more the merrier I say. For whatever reason I was particularity amused by the Fred actor in this rendition. He was quite quick with the quips, I like that. Also, how can you deny the awesome lyrics that are always present in Muppet movies?

Even the vegetables don’t like him

However one of the bests moments was when, after hiding Scrooge’s face for most of the opening song, you discover it’s Michael Cane. Ah, Christmas came early with that realization. I’ve always enjoyed him and was not disappointed. It took me two nights to watch this because, well I was busy. Last night I was painting boards for the basement and tonight I was socializing with some of my coworkers…fine my manager had a Pampered Chef party. Whatever.

As I watched the movie tonight, though, I started working on a paper collage. I’m going to be layering 5 master sheets on top of one another to make a nativity scene. For the background of the sky I decided to rip up pieces of paper and mod-podge them on. Not sure if I like the effect. I didn’t want to do teeny tiny pieces but I think that’s what I’ll have to do to get the look ‘right’. We’ll see though. I’ll keep at it with the other sheets using various media (paint, watercolor, and perhaps even oil crayon) and maybe revisit that piece of paper. It’s nowhere near completion, but the next two days are fairly open, just decorating the house and a nativity scene will definitely be part of the decoration.

Until next time

~ Q

35 Days of Celebration
01 | 02 | 03 | 04 | 05 | 06

35 Days of Celebration: 04

35 Days of Celebration: Day 04Last Christmas I was fortunate enough to be given a handful of holiday movies. This year I decided to toss them all in a bag and pull them out at random for movie nights. Today’s movie? Jack Frost (1979 version)

Once upon a snowflake…

Although it doesn’t mention Christmas specifically a whole lot, it’s still a Holiday staple. It focuses on Winter (and it’s ending) as a whole, but there is one Christmas scene. I really like the ‘dream present’ song/scene. The concept of wrapping a present up nice and neat and leaving the contents up to the imagination is quite appealing. Sure there isn’t anything actually inside the box, but it’d be cool if that’s how things actually worked. I particularly like that Elisa’s dream present is a magic wand. Clearly she is on vacation from Hogwarts….or perhaps she is a Durmstrang girl since it gives the impression of being located up North.

There is something to be mentioned about the animation style. I love how movies use to have physical props and settings (like the original Star Wars). Call me sentimental, and although today’s effects are top notch and seamless, I just enjoy the old classics so much. Perhaps that’s part of the reason why I like vinyl records. There is a quality within them that digital just can’t quite capture, no matter how hard it tries. However with digital you get quite a few more options. How I digress.

Long story short I watched Jack Frost and it will continue to be a staple in my holiday movie options. I always feel a bit sad for Jack. He’s so naive thinking Elsa is truly in love with him. She loves him the way I love, I don’t know, egg nog. I like it a lot, but obviously I am not going to marry it. What a harsh lesson for him to learn. Especially when he risks so much for her. A good man, that Jack Frost.

Ah Snip, I can’t do anything right as a human! ― Jack Frost

Oh Jack, you and me both.

Until next time
~ Q

35 Days of Celebration
01 | 02 | 03

Oscar Movie Watch: Update

Last May I wrote about how I was on a ‘mission’ to watch all the oscar best picture winners . I’m still doing it, even though I haven’t written about it in a while. Here is an update (again, I’m listing all the winners just for ease of understanding) with the new reviews having a picture next to them. The titles in bold are the movies I have seen.

  1. Wings
  2.  The Broadway Melody
  3. All Quiet on the Western Front
  4. Cimarron
  5. Grand Hotel
  6. Cavalcade
  7. It Happened One Night
  8. Mutiny on the Bounty
  9. The Great Ziegfeld
  10. The Life of Emile Zola
  11. You Can’t Take it With You
  12. Gone with the Wind
  13. Rebecca
  14. How Green Was my Valley
  15. Mrs MiniverMrs. Miniver I’m quite torn about this movie. It was slow and despite the fact that there was a war on the stakes didn’t seem very high. There was more conflict between a woman (Mrs. Miniver) and an old lady about a rose competition then there was about anything else. Which kills me mainly because this movie is so clearly a military propaganda piece. Or commercial might be the better term, it flat out advertises war bonds at the end of the film. I don’t know if I’ve seen movies from this year before or not but I think the fact that since it was during the war had a big emphasis on it winning. Perhaps I’m cynical though, if you take all the politics out of this review the only downside (in my eyes) to this movie was the lack of pacing. They couldn’t very well have the war hero coming home victorious since the war was still happening and that, perhaps, was the actual point.
  16. CasablancaCasablancaThis movie was a clear case of having unsubstantiated high expectations. I’ve always heard this is a phenomenal movie, and while I enjoyed it (who doesn’t like a good Humphrey Bogart flick) it wasn’t the blow out epic I was expecting. I find this is more and more true the more classics I see, like Breakfast at Tiffanys. I did really like the unexpected ally that appeared in the end (not going to spoil it if you haven’t seen it). I truly wasn’t expecting that person to put themselves out there so much, sure they had been helpful when they could be in the film, but that was a new level. In that regard, way to go script writer, you got me. 
  17. Going My WayGoing my way  – Oh Bing, what did you get yourself into? I saw both this and the sequel, The Bells of Saint Mary’s. Although the acting and everything was fine the stories themselves were very disjointed. The premise of these films is that Father O’Malley comes in to the various established systems (be it church or school) and shakes things up. However that wasn’t really shown. There would be one or two scenes at the beginning showing that O’Malley butt heads with the person in charge but then they both work to get along. Isn’t that just how it is when two personalities meet? Both movies had several story lines woven together, but some of them didn’t really seem to make sense, more so in Going my Way then in the Bells of Saint Mary’s. In that sense they got better as the continued the series. Anyway all that aside I did like this movie, especially when compared to some of the past winners I’ve watched. Would I watch it again? Not likely, but a little time with Bing is always enjoyable. That crooner just knows how to turn a musical phrase (yes there was singing in these movies).
  18. The Lost WeekendThe Lost Weekend Never again. Dislike doesn’t quite do my emotion toward this movie justice. It’s about a hardcore alcoholic who can’t kick the habit (despite the insistence/help from his brother and girlfriend. He decides to runaway/hide/is abandoned for the weekend which by the end of the long weekend nearly commits suicide. That really is all you need to know about this movie. Just don’t watch it, however if you have seen it and find some redeeming qualities please share them with me, perhaps I can be brought around. I think what annoys me the most is I can’t just outright hate it because I want to empathize or root for the main character. I want him to turn it around so he can have the good life he would otherwise have. However these feelings aren’t based in any good qualities the character actually exhibits.
  19. The Best Years of Our LivesThe Best Years of Our Lives Just finished this one and it was long and probably could be condensed but all in all I did like it. It was nice to have on while I multitasked. It was about three returning veterans from World War II. I did come to care about the three guys and to root for them to make it. It was interesting to see how they adjusted to civilian life. One was a successful banker who was put in charge of GI loan bills, however he seemed destined to always side with the vets despite it not being lucrative for the bank. A situation where the banks theory of having a returning solider be in charge of such things was good in theory, but in practice perhaps not the best idea. The second guy, who had really excelled in the air force, was in experienced in working practices and fell into his old job which was better suited for a younger person (he was a soda jerk, so I guess it’d be like having a job typically held by a high school/college kid). He was having issues with that, add to that a wife he met and married right before he left and he had a recipe for disaster on his hands. The third guy and had both of his hands amputated in the war and was adjusting to life with hooks, a difficult task indeed.
  20. Gentleman’s Agreement
  21. Hamlet
  22. All the King’s Men
  23. All about Eve
  24. An American in Paris
  25. The Greatest Show on Earth
  26. From Here to Eternity
  27. On the Waterfront
  28. Marty
  29. Around the World in 80 days
  30. The bridge on the river Kwai
  31. Gigi
  32. Ben-Hur
  33. The Apartmentwill rewatch though
  34. West Side Story
  35. Lawrence of Arabia
  36. Tom Jones
  37. My Fair Lady
  38. The Sound of Musicwill rewatch though despite the fact I’ve seen it a hundred times
  39. A man for all Seasons
  40. In the Heat of the Night
  41. Oliver!
  42. Midnight Cowboy
  43. Patton
  44. The French Connection
  45. The Godfather
  46. The Stingwill rewatch though
  47. The Godfather Part II
  48. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
  49. Rockywill rewatch though
  50. Annie Hall
  51. The Deer Hunter
  52. Kramer vs. Kramer
  53. Ordinary People
  54. Chariots of Fire
  55. Gandhi
  56. Terms of Endearment
  57. Amadeus
  58. Out of Africa
  59. Platoon – haven’t seen yet
  60. The Last Emperor
  61. Rain Manwill rewatch though
  62. Driving Miss Daisy
  63. Dances with Wolveswill rewatch though
  64. Unforgiven
  65. Schindler’s List
  66. Forrest Gumpwill rewatch though
  67. Braveheart
  68. The English Patient
  69. Titanic – will rewatch though
  70. Shakespeare in Lovewill rewatch though
  71. Gladiator – will rewatch though
  72. Chicagowill rewatch though
  73. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King – will rewatch though
  74. Million Dollar Baby
  75. Crash
  76. The Departed
  77. No Country for Old Men
  78. Slumdog Millionaire
  79. The Hurt Locker
  80. The King’s Speech
  81. The Artist
  82. Argo

All in all, 28 down – 57 to go (plus 12 I’m going to rewatch). I’m rather leisurely with this particular pursuit but seeing as how I’m doing it for fun I don’t mind. Maybe I can finish by the time I’m 30. The review for The Broadway Melody, All Quiet on the Western Front, Cimarron, Grand Hotel, It Happened One Night, Mutiny on the Bounty, The Great Ziegfeld, The Life of Emile Zola and You Can’t Take it With You is here, while Gone with the Wind and Rebecca have their own pages.

Until next time
~ Q

I really hate that I enjoy it [Daily Prompt]

Twilight. There, I said it. As my friend once said “you hate to love it, and you love to hate it”. The whole Twilight thing has gotten SO blown out of proportion, I mean the story really is drivel. An easy read that can make a car ride pass a little faster (or at least did when I read them years ago) but not ‘great literature’ by a long shot. Then they made the movies. Did they intend to make them comedies? Not going to lie, I’ll pop one in when I’ve had a bad day or whatever and get lost in two hours of mocking, awkward dialogue and longing glances. Sarcastic or not, it doesn’t alter the fact that I own them and do, occasionally, watch them. Will I see the fifth one? Yes, in theaters? No. You never know when a twihard will pounce. I don’t think I’d survive. So yeah, Twilight is probably one of my guiltiest pleasures.

Thanks DP, really enjoying these prompts, why didn’t I do this sooner?

41 days of Celebration: Days 16-22

Decorating_2It’s that time again. The roundup of what the last week of celebrating has held for yours truly. It, as time does, has flown right on by. Although it’s been filled with mainly decorating, given the right playlist, it has been an uber blast. So without further ado, the synopsis.

Day 16: Friday, December 7: Movie Night
I decided to go ahead and skip the surprise and watch While You Were Sleeping (since, indeed, it had been left out of the bag). I really enjoy that movie, and it’s all about Christmas time. 

Day 17: Saturday, December 8: Decorating (will it ever end)
Decorating_1Spent the day just chillin’ and decorating the apartment. It was nice to get it almost done (needed to print some stuff to actually finish). I was able to use up most of the ornaments though (I only have about 8 left) so that made me feel unnecessarily accomplished. I was also happy to have a use for all of the random glassware that I have acquired.

Day 18: Sunday, December 9: Cooking and a Classic

It was a fudge-filled day on Sunday. I woke early (for a weekend at least) and started with the first of five batches of fudge. After two I realized I messed up when I went grocery shopping, not getting enough white chocolate chips. I also ran out of sugar. That’s a staple in the kitchen, how did I run out? Anyway, I popped off to the store (stopping in at work for a short while-yeah, I’m cool) and returned ready to knock out three more types. I had only planned on making 4, but decided the Simple Fudge recipe was so easy (obviously, apparently the name wasn’t enough of a give away) that I decided to alter it a bit and make another mint variety.
In the photo above, clockwise starting with the white with sprinkles, I made Funfettif Fudge, 3 Ingredient Mint, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Fudge, Simple Fudge & Simple Mint Fudge. It was fun making it because with the various recipes they all came out with different textures. For instance the cookie dough fudge is more crumbly then the simple mint which is more chewy. Always a learning experience.

Better Way

Better Way

Wrong Way

Wrong Way

Something I love about cooking is that since I’m such a novice (apparently that beginning foods class I took freshmen year in high school didn’t make me a pro) that I do a lot of learning by experience. For instance one of the recipes told me to use a candy thermometer. The pot I was using was too short for the thermometer to properly clip to the side and be perfectly upright. At first I attached it to a tumbler and put it next to the pot. That notion was quickly dismissed and I just angled it in the pot. However I was afraid to check it. In order to read it I had to put my face over the bubbling boiling sugar. Sugar burns are the worst (if past memory is accurate). Luckily I came out of this episode of cooking unscathed.

Every time I almost forget to mention the classic. Any road, this week it was The Phantom of The Opera. I love musicals in general, but the notion of being so overcome with emotion (both positive and negative which this movie has a LOT of) that the only way to expel it is through song is foreign to me. SO fun and it came out around Christmas which may be why I felt the need to include it. (I enjoy how some movies, that have absolutely nothing (or very very little) to do with Christmas are inextricably linked with the holiday. Personal examples include Harry Potter (that one scene in the first movie apparently pulls them all into holiday season, even though most of them came out in the summer), Lord of the Rings and (of course) Sherlock Holmes thanks to Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law.) It is so easy for me to forget that Gerard Butler is the Phantom in this movie. It was done long enough ago (and introduced) before he started doing all of the action/rom-coms that it really seems like its two different people. Just a side note.

Day 19: Monday, December 10: Story time (and yes! done decorating)
PostersFINALLY DONE DECORATING! I had some Christmas posters that I ‘needed’ to print before I could sign off on the holiday decorating. L->R: The best way to spread Christmas Cheer is singing loud for all to hear” From Elf; “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord” from Luke: 2; and “What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.” from How the Grinch Stole Christmas. I also enjoyed listening to A Christmas Carol, narrated by Patrick Stewart – love! He certainly makes a good scrooge (in both the video and audio format).

Day 20: Tuesday, December 11: WHO Tuesday (doesn’t have the same ring to it as WHO Wednesday). Ever the flexible person I watched Doctor Who: Voyage of the Damned. As always, I really enjoyed the Doctor. However I do forget that Astrid is  Kylie Minogue. For whatever reason I have a different picture of her in my head. Oh well, obviously not important. 

Day 21: Wednesday, December 12: No Christmasy stuff
I had some non-Christmas family stuff tonight. Nothing major, but it did take me away from home for the entire night.

Day 22: Thursday, December 13: Red & Green Supper
RedGreenSupperThis idea was mentioned on some blog or another and I liked it (obviously). I did cop out a bit though and just had a salad with raspberry vinaigrette dressing. I didn’t really have time to do anything fancy since I headed out for a night of volleyball. However, elaborate or not, just knowing it was all green and red made me almost giddy, weird.

More celebration and Christmas to come as well as the recipes from fudge week! ~ Q