Sunday, April 25, 2010

Movie Switch: Freedom Writers

KW's pick: Freedom Writers. I hate to admit it but I was set on not to like this movie. But I did. It was cliche and very similar to other teacher movies like Dangerous Minds and Mr. Holland's Opus, even Sister Act 2. But it was inspirational and charming. All around a nice feel good movie.

My pick: Million Dollar Baby. Hilary Swank really throws herself into her roles and is a great actress. Plus, Clint Eastwood is just such an icon. I only saw this movie once, but I felt like it had it all: it was an underdog, sports movie, and teacher/student movie, it was real and dramatic. Actually, writing about it makes me want to watch it again!

Movie Switch: City of Angels

KW's movie pick: City of Angels. Here's the real problem with this movie: Nicholas Cage. I don't buy this guy as a love interest, as an action hero, as a leading man, in general. The soundtrack is good though. I used to have the CD and listen to it all the time, it's now on my IPod, but after listening to the music a lot, this was the first time watching the movie. And I may have even enjoyed it, minus Mr. Cage.

My Pick: Raising Arizona. A movie I actually liked Nicholas Cage in. I think he should stick to being weird, cause he is. Plus, I heart the Cohen brothers!

Homemade Pizza

On Friday night we had friends over for homemade pizza. I used a simple pizza crust recipe that is dense and bready. If you'd like to try it, here's the recipe:

1 package active dry yeast, I used Red Star
1 cup warm water

Mix these together first.

Then add the following:

2 tbsp Vegetable Oil
1 tbsp Honey
1 tsp Garlic Salt
2 1/2 cups flour, I used whole wheat flour

Then mix altogether using your hands, then roll out on a cookie sheet sprayed with cooking spray. Lightly coat the crust with EVOO and bake on 450 degrees for 6 minutes. The dough will be halfway cooked at this point and you can top however you'd want. We made 4 pizzas on Friday: 1) Pizza Sauce, Pepperoni, and shredded Mozzarella Cheese 2) Alfredo Sauce, Onions, Pre-Cooked Chicken, and Provolone Cheese 3) Vodka Sauce, Mozzarella Cheese, Pineapple and Ham 4) Vodka Sauce, little Mozzarella Cheese, Mushrooms, Green Pepper, Pre-Cooked Sausage, and crumbles Goat Cheese. Everyone really liked pizza #4!!

After you top your pizza, put it back in the oven for another 6-8 minutes until crust looks golden and cheese is melty.


Sunday, April 18, 2010


Pledge Pet Hair Remover

So I am not a product blogger, but I have no problem passing on products that actually work. With a dog and two cats our house gets hairy, and this little gadget works at getting all that hair off the furniture. I wish they came up with years ago, much better than the sticky tape stuff/lint roller (that I still use for clothes). So if you're a pet owner you should try this thing, it works well.

One drawback:  its not reusable and it should be. I would pay more for one I could empty and use again.

Monday, April 12, 2010

New Orleans in 4 Hours

So after meetings on Friday and Saturday, and a flight Sunday evening, all said and done I had about 4 hours in downtown New Orleans. Parking near the aquarium, first thing first, was stopping to do a little souvenir shopping. I bought some sweet potato muffin mix, BBQ Shrimp Boil seasoning, and a deck of cards for KW. Then it was off Cafe Du Monde on Decatur Street for beignets and hot chocolate (my travelling companions wanted the traditional chicory coffee, but I don't drink coffee so I'd have to pass). There was quite a line to eat there, but it didn't matter because there were awesome street musicians right outside.

After the beignets wet our appetite, we were on the prowl for a main course. We were in luck, because the French Quarter Festival was going on in Jackson Square right across the street. There were art vendors all around the square, and yummy food inside. After looking around for a bit, I decided on a goat cheese crepe with crawfish creme sauce and shrimp stuffing. It was a little pricey, but I was on per diem, and it the food looked delicious. It was extremely scrumptious!


After lunch, we meandered through the crowded streets, stopping in little shops, watching street performers, and eventually ending up on the infamous Bourbon Street. 


Once on Bourbon Street we decided it was time for a Hurricane. We decided to find somewhere with balcony seating; one, for the full view of the street and two, to get above the stench of ground level of the street. The Hurricanes were decent, but sitting in the sun, having some good conversation and people watching was great. 



After settling up our bill, we headed back to the car, I dropped of my co-workers who were staying in town, and I headed on my way to the airport. It was a quick tour of the city--and I know I only scratched the surface--but New Orleans seems like a great city, rich in history and big on fun! 

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Movie Switch: Double Jeopardy

KW's pick: KW suggested that I watch Double Jeopardy, starring Ashley Judd and Tommy Lee Jones, which I finished last week. It was a thriller/action movie, and I can't say I disliked it, I can't say I liked it either. In fact, I only watched it last week, and I feel like I don't really remember it. Now, that could say something about my memory, but I'm gonna say it says something about the movie. I do remember a portion of it was set in New Orleans, which I paid attention to as I knew I would be here this week.

My pick: As far as a great movie starring Tommy Lee Jones, my pick would be No Country for Old Men. The movie while disturbing, was awesome. Here's Tommy Lee Jones closing monologue in the film: 

I was sheriff of this county when I was twenty-five years old. Hard to believe. My grandfather was a lawman; father too. Me and him was sheriffs at the same time; him up in Plano and me out here. I think he's pretty proud of that. I know I was. Some of the old time sheriffs never even wore a gun. A lotta folks find that hard to believe. Jim Scarborough'd never carry one; that's the younger Jim. Gaston Boykins wouldn't wear one up in Camanche County. I always liked to hear about the oldtimers. Never missed a chance to do so. You can't help but compare yourself against the oldtimers. Can't help but wonder how theyd've operated these times. There was this boy I sent to the 'lectric chair at Huntsville Hill here a while back. My arrest and my testimony. He killt a fourteen-year-old girl. Papers said it was a crime of passion but he told me there wasn't any passion to it. Told me that he'd been planning to kill somebody for about as long as he could remember. Said that if they turned him out he'd do it again. Said he knew he was going to hell. "Be there in about fifteen minutes". I don't know what to make of that. I sure don't. The crime you see now, it's hard to even take its measure. It's not that I'm afraid of it. I always knew you had to be willing to die to even do this job. But, I don't want to push my chips forward and go out and meet something I don't understand. A man would have to put his soul at hazard. He'd have to say, "O.K., I'll be part of this world." 

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Movie Switch: Drumline

KW's Pick: Drumline was a movie KW wanted me to watch. And even though it was a few months ago, I did watch it. It was actually quite fun to watch: music, montage, and, of course, a drumline. The plot was predictable, but entertaining.

My pick: A movie I would suggest would be "The Big Chill". This movie is not similar to Drumline what-so-ever, but it does have an awesome soundtrack. I first time I saw this movie was while I was in college. I had rented and watched it one evening, and I loved it so much that I watched it again the next morning before I returned it. The movie, revolving around a grown-up group of friends, is meloncholy yet so sentimental. During the course of the film, I fell in love with the entire group of friends. I really recommend this movie, and if available, the directors interview his vision for the film.

Louisiana Crawfish Boil

So here I am in Louisiana for a business meeting, and last night the local base hosted a Crawfish Boil. Yummy, yummy! Messy, sloppy, and just a little spicy. They started out with 142 pounds of crawfish added potatoes, hotdogs, onions, and garlic, then served it all large aluminum trays. The boil was set on a deck surrounded large beautiful tree covered in spanish moss, and we all watched the sun set over the baseball fields.

It was a great evening.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Movie Switch: Lost in Translation

So KW watched Lost in Translation, but I didn't get a star rating from her, only a "I didn't get it."

I think this is just one of those movies, you either love it or hate it; you can either identify with one of the main characters or not; you either care what Bill Murray whispers to her in the end or not. Personally, I love it, identify with Scarlett Johansson's character, and always wonder what he said, but am so glad they don't tell you. Plus, I think the movie is very funny too. I nearly peed my pants during the seen when the escort is sent to his room, and she commands him to "Lip my stockings!" Now, I should add that I saw this movie while briefly living in Japan, making the cultural references hilarious and extremely realistic to me.But regardless, some of the scenes in the movie make me laugh out loud when I watch...most of them with no dialogue in the scene at all.

Also, I think KW would tell you she likes romantic-comedies.Who doesn't? But even though, I just said I thought this movie was funny, I would not consider it a comedy. And though some might argue this, I do classify the film as a romance. However, it is not typical. There is no cliche "get the girl" scene or cheesy passionate kiss set to music or nice, neat, happily ever after ending. In fact, both characters are married to other people, the most affection shown is through resting her pink wigged head on his shoulder at the karaoke box, him touching her foot while lying in bed together, and when he touches her on both shoulders and draws her near as he whispers to her at the end of the movie. And as far as a happy ending, we aren't sure what happens. I'd like to think that both characters to end up happy, but certainly separate.

I love this movie. Everything about it. And I would recommend it to anyone who has not seen it...but beware, there is a pretty good chance you might not like it.

Monday, April 5, 2010

40 Days, but not quite 40 Projects

So lent is over, Easter was yesterday, but we did not get to all 40 projects. In fact we only completed 18 projects. But that's nearly half, so I'm pretty okay with that. With little exception, we most likely would not have accomplished any of these projects in the last few weeks.

Overall, the experience of "40 Days, 40 Projects" was great. And I'm really glad we tried to tackle so many tasks! We will continue to accomplish these projects around the house, and not put them off...or put them off for too long.  As the weather gets nicer and nicer, I am sure our focus will shift to the yard--and boy, let me tell you, we have some work to do out there!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

#61: Put basketball hoop on Craig's List

So I took pictures of our b-ball hoop, and Matt put the ad on Craig's List. We need it out because one of our spring project is enclosing the rest of our backyard. As of right now the hoop is in the way.

Here's the posting for the hoop if you happen to be interesting.

#19: Take care of stick pile in the backyard

Today is Easter, so technically lent is over. And there is more of the stick pile left, so technically this task isn't complete. BUT I'M COUNTING IT ANYWAYS!

Pretty much since we moved in, there has been a large pile of sticks in the backyard. Over the years we've added to the pile. However, over yesterday and today Hubby has cleared the pile to the back alley (where the city will come to chip in a few weeks). He also trimmed a tree in the back and added those limbs to the back alley pile. Now the only stuff left were the old pile is large stumps from when the former owners took down a tree. We are planning to cut those stumps up more to make firewood.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Day Six in Arizona

Day Six in Arizona was mostly a travel day. But the highlight was certainly see the sun climb over the mountains of Northern Arizona. Simply gorgeous.

Day Five in Arizona

Day five in Arizona was Tuesday, baby brother's birthday. We spent the morning hanging out, gift shopping at the Honeyman, and other local shops in downtown Prescott. We had lunch at The Palace. It's a very cool place with a very cool history, but the food was average. I had a yummy corn chowder, and description less fish and chips.

Later in the day we went to baby brother's house to make a video letter to other family. It turned out really awesome. We made up interview questions that baby brother later answered, then he got to show the camera around his room, award wall and desk area MTV Cribs style.

For birthday dinner we had spaghetti, then we opened presents. We got baby brother some modeling clay, comic strip shaped paper, Sharpie markers and a ream of paper. He is a gifted artist so we want to encourage his potential. He gave me a self portrait, I will scan it and post it so everyone can see. After gifts and cupcakes we said our good-byes , and headed home to bed because we had to get up so early in the morning to start the long day of traveling. 

This trip to Arizona was amazing, and we hope to go back soon...maybe even to live. We'll see.

Day Four in Arizona

Day Four in Arizona was Monday, a school day. The Hubby and I slept in, spent a little time on our porch at the Motor Lodge, and for me, some more sleep. Napping is a luxury I hope to never give up. Then the Hubby and I went to Prescott's downtown for some window shopping.

After baby brother got out of school we went to Antelope Lanes for a few games of bowling. A bowler, I am not. Hubby and baby brother did pretty okay.

Bowling was followed by a yummy homemade dinner of pork chops, mashed potatoes, and corn. Then we visited into the evening. It was a great relaxing day.

Day Three is Arizona

Day three in Arizona was last Sunday, and was a day of travel. We picked up baby brother and headed to Sedona. Baby brother and I went to Sedona last year and went on one of the many jeep tours there. This year I wanted to go back so that Hubby could see some of the most beautiful American country-side EVER. We thought this year it would be fun to hike around Sedona, and we decided on the Boynton Canyon Trail.

Boynton Canyon Trail was marked as easy, and by Sedona standards it might be; but by flat Illinois standards, these out-of-shape legs would say it was more difficult that it's easy status. Regardless, the trail was beautiful. The first section of the trail ran along a fancy pants resort and through the red rocks. As the trail declined into the valley, the trail became more shady, flat, and scenic.

After hiking for the better part of the morning and into the early afternoon, we were tired, thirsty and very hungry. We decided to head to the mountain town of Jerome for some food. The drive was quick, and we were surprised to see how crowded the little town was; the streets were full of people, music was being played inside many of the shops as well as out on the streets. The town was adorable but we were on a mission to get some lunch. We decided on Haunted Hamburger. We chose the place based on it's kitchy name, but we were more than pleasantly surprised to find that the food was delicious! According to my baby brother it was the best cheese burger he ever ate. I would have to say it was up there for Hubby and I too. The other awesome thing about the place is the outdoor seating with a dope view all the way to Flagstaff. 

After a winding and snowy drive back to Prescott, and quick stop by the Motor Lodge for a shower, we were off to see the movie "How to Train Your Dragon". Now this a movie that would not have been on my "must see" list unless baby brother wanted to see it, but it was actually quite cute. The Nordic Viking setting was interesting; the underdog main character, Hiccup, was relatable; and, yes, it made me want to get a dragon of my own. 

After this fun-filled day, it was time for bed because we were all exhausted. zzzz...zzz...zzz...zz

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Day Two in Arizona

Day two in Arizona was Saturday. First stop was picking up baby brother and heading to the Dewey-Humboldt Library to get him an email account. Apparently, however, he is too young so we abandoned that idea and went sight-seeing. First thing we did was drive up the big hill in Dewey-Humboldt, to take in the view and doing a little walking around. Beautiful!

Next we went to Peddlers' Pass Flea Market and Farmer's Market, but there wasn't too much to see. I found a few good treasures there last year, but nada on Saturday. The weather was a little cool, so maybe they didn't have all of their regular "peddlers". My baby brother found something though...a bb gun. I wasn't so happy about that, but whatcha gonna do? From there we went to Fain Park to look at a "waterfall" (it was actually a spill way), climb on rocks and play near the creek, or in my case in the creek. While playing hope from stone to stone to cross the creek, I decide to run from rock to rock...I did pretty good across most of it until, SPLASH, one sock and shoe soaked.

After the park, we headed off to some birthday party fun with baby brother, his friend, baby brother's brother and his wife. We played mini-golf (where I tied for first with baby brother and friend), played arcade games, and ate pizza (again) and drank coke floats. After several hours of torture, I mean fun, the boys went back to have a sleepover and Hubby and I went back to our hotel to chill, read, nap and change my soggy sock. Ahhh, vacation.