Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Snow Ice Cream
















Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Our Oscar Night

 Here is a recap of our Oscar Night!


Who else had a party guest show up wearing a burqa? I did!


This is my cousin Wendy. (She is a retired Marine and her husband is retired Navy.) Before her husband retired he was stationed in the Middle East and he brought her home these articles of clothing. (I felt the need to tell you all she was in the service too because I thought she would want me to point that out!)

Anyway back to the burqa....how so Argo and even Zero Dark Thirty was this! Wendy welcomed everyone to the party in her burqa.

We started our evening early...red carpet coverage started at 4:30 our time. Cocktails and appetizers were in order. Our menu was outlined in a previous post, Road to the Oscars: What To Eat.


The top two photos are the Sweet Potato Lettuce Wraps and the Love Potion Martini's. Both were very yummy. The lettuce wraps might have been the supporting actress that stole our show. They were hot and cold, soft and crunchy all at the same time.

The bottom two photos are the Homemade French Bread and a substitution in our menu. Instead of making Southern Fried Chicken, Wendy made an Iranian Shirazi Salad. Very yummy!


The next two photos are of the Pink Hummus and the Hot Maryland Crab Dip (which we put on the French bread and it was THE BEST!

The bottom two photos are the Gumbo that Tracy made and the Roasted Root Vegetables (Brussels Sprouts, Garlic, Onion, Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, and Butternut Squash). Both of these dishes were big hits!


Our dessert was a simple White Cake with "Tarantino Sauce". What is Tarantino Sauce? It is nothing more than pureed strawberries. But when you pour it on white cake, it resembles...well, have you seen the movie?

It was a long night. Many times we looked at each other with shocked open mouth at some of the things Seth MacFarlane said. I am still not sure why Chicago got a 10 year anniversary tribute. But loved the James Bond Tribute. Yes, I was shocked that Christopher Waltz won Best Supporting Actor but I thought his performance was totally worth it. And Yes, I am so happy that Jennifer Lawrence won Best Actress.  And while I loved Argo, I was still rooting for Lincoln to win Best Picture. I did tear up at Ben Affleck's acceptance speech.

And one last thought...did anyone else think the Jaws music was totally rude? I get that you want to move it along but how about limiting the amount of time the presenters get to present and announce and give the winners more than a few seconds to respond. I mean, they just won an Oscar for goodness sake. They deserve a few moments.

So another year of Oscar has come to an end. All that is left is to watch the reviews of the Red Carpet.


Until next year...Cheers to You! We will see you at the movies!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Change

Change, my friends, is hard.

Change forces us out of our routine and out of our comfort zone. Change brings about an air of uncertainty.

Change often makes us feel uncomfortable. It brings about some anxiety and anticipation. The feelings associate with change often makes us avoid it.

But change does not have to be bad. It can allow us to grow. Personal, spiritual, and even professional growth can come out of change. Sometimes change can even give us a new perspective, or a restored perspective. A re-commitment if you will.


In order to accept change, we have to let go of how we think things should be. Many times we try and change other people's behavior and that is just not possible. When we can't control the situation, we accept it for what it is, then we are free to make the changes necessary for our benefit.

So, open your heart. Open your mind. Accept change. And soar! Soar to your greatest potential.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Ms. Book Worm: The Great Gatsby

                                                                   
I took advantage of a winter storm to finish my latest book. My book this month is considered a classic. In the literature world a classic is a book that stands the test of time. It's story and message remain relevant to many different generations.

This month I read, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Many of the reviews I read online claim this to be one of F. Scott Fitzgerald's best novels. I can make no such claims. This is the first time I have read his work. I will also be honest with you being on The Road To Oscar I have spent a great deal of time in the movie theater lately and this book is being made into a new movie staring Leonardo DiCaprio. The movie looks good and it made me want to read the book!
                                                                 
The story is set in the pre-depression era of 1920's. The narrator, Nick Carraway, has finished his studies at Yale and moves to Long Island. He moves close to his cousin Daisy and her husband Tom. We soon come to understand that Daisy and Tom have a tumultuous relationship. It is common belief Tom has a string of mistresses and is abusive to his wife.

The other thing that Nick learns quickly after moving in is his neighbor, Jay Gatsby, is well known in the area.  Mr. Gatsby's home is the place to be on any given Saturday night. It is the party of all parties. But it becomes clear to Nick that while everyone knows Gatsby; no one really knows who he is.

Despite his aloofness, Gatsby seeks out Nick's friendship. Nick soon learns it is based on a need of Gatsby. Before Gatsby became a wealthy man, he dated and fell in love with a girl. Daisy.  Gatsby has a plan to relive the past and reclaim his long ago long, Daisy.

The book is about the excess of the wealthy. I love Nick's perspective. He may come from wealth and privilege but he is grounded. He has an honest sense of what is right and what is wrong. He was skeptical of Gatsby in the beginning but I think he got to know him and really understood who this mystery man is or was.  I believe the events of this story change his world.

I am now searching for my next book. My reading list has diminished. Feel free to leave me a message and let me know what you are reading. Or what do you recommend that I read.


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Road To Oscar: What to Eat?

                                                                      

The movie count is down to three. Three movies is all I was unable to see this year. Hitchcock never came close to my area (in fact a search showed it was not playing in a 250 mile radius of my home zip code). I missed my chance to see Wreck It Ralph. And I do not think I am going to go see Chasing Ice just for a best song nomination.

I have taken advantage of free printables on the web and have made Oscar Bingo cards, Red Carpet Score Sheets, and of course the Oscar ballot.

The other really big decision to be made is food for the big night. Every Oscar Night we gather together and make food inspired by the Best Picture nominations. I love this part. It is so much fun to sit and talk about the movie after you see it and determine the best dish that will take you back to a moment in the movie.




Amour: What a beautiful and sad love story. In honor of the title of this movie and the love between the two main characters, we will have cocktails called Love Potion.



Argo: I loved this movie. One of the scenes that stood out in my mind was when Ben Affleck's character makes it to Tehran, where the climate is anti-American and what do you spot in the crowded city? A Kentucky Fried Chicken. To honor this movie, we will make Southern Fried Chicken.   Argo, f' yourself!



Beast of the Southern Wild:  When the main character is knicknamed, Hushpuppy, it seems obvious that one must have Hushpuppies. But just because we are crazy like that, we have also decided to cook up a batch of Gumbo!



Django Unchained:   The dinner at Candyland certaintly proved to be exciting leading up to a big bang over dessert. I think we have to have white cake for our party. (Random trivia fact about me; white cake is my absolute favorite cake EVER!) You can expect the best White Cake for dessert.



Les Miserables: With a nation starving, Jean Valjean went to prison over for stealing a loaf of bread for his nieces and nephews.We will be serving Homemade Bread on Oscar Night.




Life of Pi: The majority of this movie takes place on a boat with nothing but raw fish and rice crackers to eat.  On Oscar Night we will take inspiration from the adult Pi, a vegetarian man from Indian decent. My selection for Oscar night:  Sweet Potato Lettuce Wraps (Sweet Potato Lettuce Wraps)


Lincoln: There was not much food in this movie so we are researching President Lincoln's favorite foods. It appears he was a simple man: water was his favorite drink, he did not like alcohol, and he liked vegetables and apples. We are planning to make Roasted Root Vegetables.


Silver Linings Playbook: I am not sure what a crabby melt is but they sure did like them in this movie. While I may not know about crabby melts, I do know and love football food! Oscar night, we are going to make Our Own Crabby Melts.


Zero Dark Thirty: In honor of the lead character in this movie, who is a determined, relentless, and  a hardcore female, we are going to get crazy and make Pink Hummas served with veggies for dipping.

The other thing that I found was well represented in many of these movies was tea. So, once again, we shall serve tea at the Oscar party.

The only thing left for us to worry about is the weather. Here in my midwest city, we are about to get hammered with a major snow storm. I just hope the roads are all clear by Sunday. Because as they say in Hollywood...The show must go on!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

A Winter Getaway

This is a post that started back in September.

Back when it was warmer.

Back at a small town's 25th class reunion.

Two classmates, who each have a love of campers, started talking about RV's. They quickly discovered they were owners at the same time share. They quickly hashed a plan to meet at the time share for a winter retreat. They decided to invite a third classmate.


The winter is now here. It is cold. But we are lucky because some days are not as cold as others. But it is still winter. The ground is frozen, the grass is brown, there are no leaves on the trees.

The classmates and their spouses traveled to Branson, Missouri this past weekend. {I can't tell you how much we all needed a winter break!}  Do you see children in our photos? No! That is because despite all of our character, we left them at home. This was an adults only trip.

Besides fishing...and shopping...and eating...and laughing we did a little sightseeing. We visited Smallin Civil War Cave in Ozark, Missouri. Did you know Missouri has over 6,000 caves? When the classmates got together, we learned how much we all love exploring caves. Visiting Smallin seemed like a


Smallin Cave is not named after it's size. In fact, small it is not. The mouth of the cave is absolutely huge. Smallin is named for one of the former owners of the cave. Our tour guide was Kevin, he and his wife currently own Smallin. He was the kinda guy you could sit around and talk about Missouri history and caves for hours.


The above photo is a rock that generations of cave visitors have carved on; from early Native American's to Civil War Soldiers, to early Ozark settlers.
The cave is full of natural light.

 It is also full of cave animals including these eye-less, see through, cave crayfish. They do not like light, so they tend to hide. But we got lucky and caught glimpse of two of them. Some of us actually saw three but I could not find the third one. We also saw bats but no salamanders.

The cave is beautiful  The roof of the cave holds all kinds of perfectly preserved fossils of long ago sea life. We saw snails, worms, even starfish.

We did some exploring at the lodge we stayed in. It is amazing the amount of construction that is going on during the winter. The resort is building a new wedding chapel, a new spa, a new water park, and even a new bowling alley. Everywhere we turned there was evidence of building.


We missed Big Cedar's Welcoming Bon Fire. They cancelled it Saturday night due to rain and apparently they do not welcome guest with a bon fire on Sunday. No S'mores for us this trip! But that is okay, we found a fudge store in Branson and sampled fudge instead. We also enjoyed Krispy Kreme donuts, cheese from the Osceola Cheese Factory, and some local wine.  




We all had a great time. We made some memories. We certainly shared a few good laughs! We would absolutely do it again.


And some couple time is always nice. Even in the middle of the winter.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Book Review: The Secret Keeper

I have been so busy watching movies on my Road To Oscars that I have neglected reading. This past weekend, having no movies to see, I caught up on my reading. One of my goals this year is to increase the amount I read. Last year I averaged about a book a month and this year I want to increase that by 100%.

                                                

I just finished reading The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton. My husband jokes that he can tell when I am totally into a book, he will catch me reading with every glimpse he makes. Although it took me a few days to really get into this book, I found it addictive and I could NOT PUT THIS BOOK DOWN!

The book is set in England and flashes back and forth in time. It begins with a young adolescent Laurel, sneaking away from her families celebration of her baby brother's birthday. She is hiding in her childhood tree house dreaming of her future when something catches her attention. She looks out of the tree house to see a stranger approaching her mother and her baby brother. Her mother has words with the stranger and then uses a family heirloom to kill the stranger. The incident is never discussed again in this family.

The book changes times and goes forward. Laurel has left home, leads a full time and has become a famous actress. Her mother, Dorothy, is in the hospital dying. Laurel becomes determined to finally understand what happened on that long ago day.
                                                             
The remainder of the book travels back and forth between Dorothy as a young woman coming of age in the midst of World War I in England and Laurel's journey to piece together memories and clues from her mother's past to answer the question that has haunted her her entire life. We are also introduced to a third key person, Vivian Jenkins, and a section of the book is told from her perspective. Vivian Jenkins is Dorthy's  closest friend during the war and seems a critical role in the death of the stranger who appeared at Laurel's home that long ago day.

As indicated above, I found the story started slow. The author is very descriptive in her writing and it takes some time to work through all of that. But once it grabbed me, I could not wait to figure out what happened. I was hypothesizing {A word my 4 year old daughter just started using!} about what happened and how the story would end.  The ending had a nice big twist to it, one that I found myself very happy with. In fact, I think the big twist made the whole book.

                 
                                                          

Our book club is meeting on the 17th and I am looking forward to hearing what the other women thought about this book.

Next month, I am reading a classic. Looking forward to bringing it to you!

Happy Reading!


Monday, February 4, 2013

The Big Game Review

Did you watch the big game?   Did you have friends over?

What did you think of the half time show?   How about the blackout?

What was your favorite commercial?

We did have friends over. Not a large crowd as in years past but a few people, all pulled together in the hours before kick-off.

Thankfully years of big football parties has left me with an ample supply of football decorations. We were able to pull some items together.



I used the windsock cans from last year to hold the goal post. 


This banner was made last year. It was the only banner that was not team specific.


We pulled together some yummy food. I made homemade chicken wings {which I will say I barely got to eat any of. I guess they were good!}.


I also made some Twisty Dogs, sausage wantons  and buffalo chicken dip.


I made Jello Jigglers and  a giant football shaped Rice Krispie. Our friend brought over some Beer Cheese Dip, Guacamole, and Rotel dip.



The teen boys in the house devoured large amounts of food. Luckily, we had very little leftovers!


What would a Big Game be without a drink...or two. I tried this new flavor of beer from Shock Top, Honeycrisp Apple Wheat.  This beer is AMAZING! If you love the tart sweet flavor of a Honeycrisp Apple, you will love this beer.

Another tradition in our home on Game Day is Prop Betting. We actually do not bet on anything. We do guess. We put out a few questions and let everyone guess on them. We then award prizes for those with the correct guess. It sure is a lot of fun and keeps everyone excited in the game. Even The Short Chic got in on the fun. She picked The Ravens to win everything {She really picked purple over red!}. Needless to say, her strategy paid off. She won a prize!


As far as halftime and the blackout. I have to say I thought Beyonce did a great job. I have been singing "All the Single Ladies" in my head all day. I was excited to see Destiny's Child. The blackout sure changed the momentum of the game! I think it was just what the 49'ers needed. Unfortunately, I think they get paid a lot of money to make big plays and I think they failed to deliver. {Sorry, but that is my opinion!}

In the end, The Short Chic was happy her purple team won. The Boy and The Husband were sad.  Me, I wanted Tony G and The Atlanta Falcons to be dancing at the Big Game and my heart refused to pick a team for this game.

As far as the commercials go I had a few favorites.

I loved the Paul Harvey/God Created a Farmer commercial for Dodge. I grew up with only an A.M. radio station and we listened to Paul Harvey every day. I enjoyed hearing him again and I loved the photography used in the video.

I also loved the Taco Bell/lively elderly people. How much fun was this commercial! Still can't read what the tattoo says, anyone else get it?

I also loved the Budweiser Clydesdale Commercial. The colt used in the commercial is from my home-state of Missouri. I love the song. And can I say, I had to choke back tears when I watched it.

I am not sure but my last favorite commercial might have been a local one. It was shown after the game and it so cracked me up. It is no big secret that our own Kansas City Chiefs had a rough, horrible, losing season. The only bright spot is that we secured a First Round Draft pick, an honor reserved for the team with the absolute worse record!  So my last favorite was the Leon Sandcastle video. Neon Deion still makes me smile. And if you can't laugh at yourself, who can you laugh at?!!

Commercial I hated:  Really only one. I hope to NEVER see that Go Daddy commercial ever again.