Monday, February 28, 2011


It seems fitting to write a post about movies I've watched the day after the Oscars. Of course, none of the movies I've seen recently were nominated for the Oscars. I've only seen two of the movies that were nominated for best picture, The Kids are All Right and Toy Story 3, if you are curious. The King's Speech, winner of best picture, is definitely on my list though.

But I have seen more movies than usual in the last week, and at least one is worth writing about but I'm writing about all four.

The Grace Card: A DVD-Based Study Kit The Grace Card
This is a Christian movie I had not heard anything about until a friend sent me an email about it. I'm not sure how long it will be in theaters, but we saw it opening weekend. The movie is about the name of the movie, grace. It deals with racial tensions in Memphis, Tenn., and the healing of a broken family. If you cry in movies, you will cry during this one. It is along the lines of Facing the Giants and Fireproof, and tells the truth of the Gospel in a powerful and entertaining way. And in a lot of ways it is challenging. It makes you ask yourself if you really love your enemies the way we are called to and give grace to others as Christ did for us.

Morning Glory Morning Glory
I saw this movie back at Thanksgiving with my family, but I saw it again over the weekend. If you didn't know, Katie Couric* is the reason I wanted to be in journalism, and I had dreams of being on the Today Show during my elementary and middle school years. But I discovered anchors don't really write what they say, and I am most definitely not a morning person. But this movie plays out my dream, and I love it. It's funny and has one of those happily-ever-after endings. I dragged my brother and dad to this one, and they both at least pretended to like it.

Life as We Know It (Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Digital Copy) Life as We Know It
I briefly remember seeing the previews for this, but I don't think it lasted very long in the theater. But it was available through OnDemand at my sister's last weekend, and we watched it. I would say it was kind of a let down. Of course this is what happens when you read a book and then see the movie it is loosely based on. The book is always better. But this movie is about two single people named as guardians for their friends' baby. It has all the elements of a romantic comedy, but it is very predictable. What I found interesting was that it was set in Atlanta. Maybe because I've lived close to Atlanta and spent a lot of time there, but I didn't see it as a good place for the movie to be set. Plus it took a while for me to even realize that's where they were because there are no major landmarks to distinguish it. Yes, there are places I would recognize, but it's not quite like a movie set in New York, San Francisco, Chicago or Seattle where you instantly realize where it is.

Ghosts of Girlfriends Past Ghosts of Girlfriends Past
If you haven't noticed, I'm going from best to worst, and this is the last movie. I will admit that this was in my Netflix queue, but I thought it was at number 70 or something. But apparently it was the first movie on the list after several seasons of TV shows, and when the next DVD in my queue wasn't available, they sent it to me in the meantime. i've had it for over a week, and felt bad not watching it since the whole reason it was in my queue is because I know a girl who is in it. I made it all the way through the movie, and it did end up with all the elements of a romantic comedy with some ghosts thrown in. Think "A Christmas Carol" except with a player. And of course, Matthew McConaughey was in it.

*It turns out Katie Couric was actually in my town on Saturday, and I completely missed it. She graduated from the university here and was here to dedicate a cancer center in honor of her sister.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

It's a random compilation of stuff today.

I had a wonderful weekend visiting this baby girl:

And yes, her bib says "My aunt is hot and single." These are the two pictures I have of the whole weekend, I was too busy having aunt-time. I just loved getting her all to myself. I have a feeling I'm going to wear out that road from here to there, all 350-plus miles of it. She's changed so much in two months, and it is so fun to see her smile. She also showed off and rolled over for me.

I also forgot how great being away for the weekend is. When I'm in my house, I look around and see all that needs to get done. But at my sister's I was able to read a book without feeling guilty and watch TV without multi-tasking. It was very relaxing. I also didn't feel as behind as I thought I would when I got home. But I am very glad it is a short week of work.

I've already complained about this on Facebook, but the tease of spring might have been too much for me. Over the weekend, the temps were in the 70s, and farther south at my sister's, everyone had skipped straight to summer, i.e. bikinis and short shorts. But I walked to work during a snow shower on Tuesday. I think if I hadn't been tempted by the warm weather, I could have survived another few weeks of cold, dreary weather, but now I've tasted spring and that's all I want.

I made chicken salad in my food processor last night. I don't know why this has never occurred to me before. Usually I don't even chop the chicken, I just mix chunks with mayonnaise and celery by hand, and it suffices, but it's not my favorite chicken salad. But in the food processor it actually combines and is more restaurant-style. This is one sign I've been trying harder with food during the off-season. I also have a lot of chicken in my freezer I need to use. I made this roasted chicken for my sister and brother-in-law over the weekend, and I still have two chickens in the freezer plus some already cooked chicken.

On that note, it's time to sign up for the co-op again. There's no question that I'll be doing it again, but I'm thinking of dropping the chicken. Last year I thought I would want the meat, but it turns out that the produce was enough, hence the two chickens in my freezer. Anyway, I am now in countdown mode to the first pick-up.

That's all I've got!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Email love

I should not be blogging. I have a long list of things to do before Saturday morning, but apparently I'm procrastinating.

Can I just tell you that I love email? I was counting up how long I've had an email account, and I think I got my first one in seventh grade from school. And now I've had the same Gmail account for almost six years, and I pretty much have every email from the last six years still there (I might be an electronic packrat).

I don't want this to sound bad, but I really don't like talking on the phone. This is why I didn't last as a reporter. Now that I don't live close to home, I do enjoy talking on the phone to my family and close friends. But if the general day-to-day stuff can be managed with an email or two versus a phone call and subsequent phone tag, I'm all for it. I also know I get things across better in written form. Plus seeing a new email (in my personal inbox, work's another story) makes me happy.

When I was the secretary for my sorority in college, I set up email accounts to manage things that used to require either phone calls or keeping up with paper. I am proud to say those systems are not only still in place, but they have been expanded.

I picked out my latest hair salon based on the fact I could email to set up my appointments (plus they send me email offers now). I used to set up oil changes and maintenance on my car all by email too (I still get offers from them several hundred miles away). And now that it's Girl Scout cookie time, I think I might not have refused to sell them if I could have done it through email and Facebook as my co-workers and friends are doing.

But I've never dealt with a doctor or doctor's office by email. If they even have email, I've doubted that they would respond quickly. And usually when you're dealing with a medical issue, you want a quick resolution or as quick as possible when you have to go through the voice activated phone system, leave a message, get a call back from the nurse and then wait for another call back from the doctor.

My doctor in town is part of the university hospital here, and the health system has a user interface to manage your health care stuff with. I signed up for it and find it useful in terms of finding out test results, but again, I doubted I could really communicate with my doctor through it. But this week after getting impatient with the calling system, I decided to give it a shot. Granted, it wasn't an instantaneous response, but my issue was resolved with one quick exchange by email. And now I will have confidence about using it again.

So, yes, I love email, and this experience made me think about all the ways it has saved me from talking on the phone. Of course I will say the one thing better than email is snail mail, and I got some personal snail mail in the mail today that made me smile.

OK, now I must fold some laundry and wash the dishes in the sink.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

I went a little nuts and spent a chunk of Friday night and Saturday making these cake pops. And I definitely crossed into crazy when I made the stands for them. But the people I shared them with really appreciated them, which makes it worth it to me. 

I had a fun weekend hanging out with various friends, some I got to know a little better. We had gorgeous weather here on Sunday, which gets me excited for spring. I celebrated by walking one of my favorite trails with a friend.

That's all I've got for today!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Kitchen organization

I don't know that I will ever really have an organized kitchen. I tend to clean my kitchen right before I do some major baking or cooking, so then it's a mess again and I clean what I have to but don't return it to the ideal condition.

But my goal was to have more space in the cabinets I use the most. Basically, I hate constantly moving stuff to get to what I need. The best way to do this was to use the space under my sink for some of the stuff I don't use very frequently.

The problem: Plastic bags. Does anyone else hoard them like I do? During co-op season I put them to good use, but they still take over the cabinet under my sink. This was the situation:

It's been worse, this was four years ago in my old apartment:

But this is the cabinet under my sink now:

I also got this to handle foils, wraps, etc.

This cleared up space in this weird corner cabinet I have. Here's before:

And after:

And that in turn cleared up space in my food cabinet.


And I think that's as organized as I'm going to get in this kitchen. My next task is the refrigerator. I broke a jar trying squeeze in one more thing the other night.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Ready to be swept away

My grandmother sent me a copy of The Pioneer Woman's book, Black Heels to Tractor Wheels, about her courtship and first year of marriage to her husband, and I pretty much devoured it.

I read a lot of chick lit love stories, but this is a totally different love story. I loved the story of a courtship that involved little drama, no games and a true gentleman. She was a city girl who was swept off her feet by a cowboy.

What I loved is the way Marlboro Man, Pioneer Woman's name for her husband, took charge in every situation. Pioneer Woman said in the book she mostly found herself speechless because he always said just the right thing that didn't need anything else. And she never wondered when he would call because he always did.

As I read this book, I wondered (1) if there are still guys out there that are like this and (2) if I'm willing to be swept off my feet. I hope the answer to the first question is yes and that there is one for me and all of my single friends.

In answer to the second question, I've said before that my desire is to get married and have a family, but I'm also enjoying life in the meantime. In my heart, I do want to be swept off my feet, but I have also created a life where I am extremely independent. And when I find myself in a relationship, I feel I need to assert this independence, so it makes me wonder if this would stand in the way of the whole being swept away thing.

But on Sunday morning, I walked outside to drive to church and discovered I had a flat tire. Standing there looking at it, I knew I could easily be swept off my feet if the guy is willing to deal with all car problems and keep them from ever being an inconvenience to me.*

There's obviously more to it than that, but it made me agree with my grandmother, who wrote in a note with the book, "Hope you find your Marlboro Man."

*I have to note that I resolved this flat tire with no tears and was only inconvenienced for a total of 30 minutes to put air in the tire and later have a nail removed and the tire plugged. But previous car incidents and flat tires (I've had many) have not been dealt with so calmly. I think the Honda service department in south Georgia flagged me as "emotionally unstable" in their files after my meltdown over a wheel key because they walked on eggshells every time I was in there after that.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Super Bowl

I don't watch a single NFL game all year but rarely miss the Super Bowl. For me, of course, it is all about the social aspect and the commercials. 

I always go to a Super Bowl party, or sometimes more than one, cheer with the majority or for whichever team is winning, eat good food and chat with friends. Most of the time I don't even know who's playing until sometime in the first quarter.

This year was mostly the same, except that this year I did care just a tiny bit more about the teams. I'm not saying I'm a die-hard fan or made any bets on the game, but I was cheering for the Packers and not just because they were winning the whole time.

I spent a summer in Milwaukee for an internship at the Journal-Sentinel. It was one of the most fun summers I had in college. I was skeptical coming off a semester abroad in London, but Milwaukee proved to be a fun city with plenty to do. And Milwaukee is not Green Bay, but I still left there with a cheesehead.

I also visited Green Bay a few months later, and pretty much the only thing I saw besides the airport and the newspaper building was the Packers stadium.

So I have this very weak connection to Wisconsin and on Sunday night it made me a Packers fan. Fortunately, it worked out well.

On another note, I think appearance and size are more than half the battle in making a crowd friendly dessert. I made almost 70 mini cupcakes. Nothing special, just a devil's food cake mix, cream cheese icing and some Valentine's sprinkles. But they were a hit — at least at the second party.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Organizing, snow days and Africa

I've got a random collection of stuff today.


It's taken a year and a half, but apparently this is the year I am dealing with clutter and reorganizing my apartment. I told you last week I was dealing with the clutter on my cedar chest to make room for the floor pillows. But that whole area was clutter-central. I didn't take before pictures because I was too embarrassed, though I tend to think that there is some sort of shield around it when people come over, but that area was dumping ground for purses and bags and every piece of paper I've gotten in the last 18 months. The paperwork was the biggest issue, so I went to Target and bought a filing cabinet that actually fits in with my furniture:

That alone made a huge difference, but I also bought a hook rail to hold all of my purses and bags that I use on a regular basis. And now there's nothing on the floor over there, it's the first time since I moved in that it's looked like that. The goal now is to keep it that neat!
My next project is the kitchen. I ordered a couple of organizers/space savers that I will hopefully get to install this weekend. 

College snow days 

It's hard to miss but if you don't know the Midwest is getting slammed by a blizzard. I am quietly breathing a sigh of relief that it's not hitting us, but I do feel for my friends in the middle of it, I was in the same boat this time last year and it's not fun after a day or two. 
But what struck me is that Mizzou has canceled classes, which is what they should do in a storm like this, but I distinctly remember a tour guide telling my mom when we were touring campus that Mizzou had only canceled classes once in the last 30 years for snow. And I made it through three and a half years without classes ever being canceled for bad weather. Of course, the most snow I saw there was six inches. 

So I was starting to feel a little bitter about how I missed out on snow days in college. But then I checked out the web site for the newspaper run by the journalism school and realized I would have spent snow days walking the streets and interviewing anyone that would talk to me. So I guess I didn't miss much. They do have some great coverage, by the way, both serious and fun. 


And lastly, on Saturday I dropped off two of my closest friends at the airport for their trip to Kenya. They have made it and posted on the blog they are keeping. They get to visit another friend that is living over there and do some work with orphanages over there. They've been on my mind since they left, and I thought I'd share the link to their blog.