Monday, March 3, 2014

oscar follow up

Every year once the Oscar telecast is over, I say, "Self, you really must do something else worthwhile with your time."

Then 12 months later here I am blogging my predictions on a Sunday afternoon.

However, I've come to the conclusion that when I am choosing my potential winners in the various Oscar categories, if I write: "watch for ______ to possibly nab this" or "though it could be ______" and "______ would be my 2nd choice" - then whatever "blank" is, that is who I should be listing to take top prize.  Not the other film I've actually put in the winners seat.  Because if I'd done that last night I would have gotten 22 out of 24 categories correct.  Not 18.  18 is nothing to sneeze at, but last year it was 20 and I really hate to go backwards.

Costume/Production Design
The Costume Designers Guild awards in 3 categories: contemporary, period and fantasy film.  Usually the period film goes on to win the Academy award.  The CDG period film winner was 12 Years a Slave.  The Great Gatsby won the BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) in both costume and production design.  It also had "period" costumes and Catherine Martin is a previous Oscar winner.  I should have known better.

Animated Short Film
I know nothing about these movies other than Get a Horse! was the short film before Frozen.  I picked it based on Frozen's popularity.

Live Action Short
Again, just randomly guessing here.  After reading some about the films I picked The Voorman Problem as it was the only one not in subtitles.  And people seem to not like films with subtitles.

Documentary Feature
I haven't seen any of these films.  The other Oscar blogs I read from people who get paid for it, split this up between The Act of Killing, The Square and 20 Feet from Stardom.  20 Feet from Stardom was my gut reaction.  Woulda, coulda, shoulda.

Foreign Language Film
The Great Beauty won the BAFTA and some other awards.  But I also read that people thought it was boring and had been done before.  Never listen to "people."  Go with the awards.  This was another gut reaction I should have stuck with.


Another trend I noticed last night in these particular categories were winners who had previously won or at least been nominated before, some of them quite a few times.  It's something to remember to check up on next year...


Sunday, March 2, 2014

oscar predictions

It's that time of year again!  Oscar prediction time.  I usually do this on my other blog.  Yes, I have a second blog.  A Chick & Her Flicks doesn't get a whole lot of lovin' though as I have a hard time just keeping up with new nothings.

Since no one ever reads the other blog anyway, I decided to post my Oscar predictions here this year.

The top post over in "other blog land" has all my guesses from last year.  You can see what I picked, but I didn't do a follow up with what I missed.  I was put out, to say it mildly, that my Outguess Ebert registration didn't go through and that even though I outguessed him - with a perfect score - it didn't count.  Since Mr. Ebert sadly passed away in 2013, there is no contest this year.  After I initially won, but had to relinquish the prize due to our location in 2011, I had been hoping to possibly win again and this time being able to accept the grand prize.

Even though I didn't see many of last years nominees and waited till just before the ceremony to pick my winners, I still did well, 20 out of 24 correct.  As always, I am trying for that perfect score.  It's those darn documentary films and live action shorts, etc. that get me.  I don't watch them and I read a blog yesterday where a few academy voters had anonymously published their ballots and apparently neither do they.  One guy even said he fell asleep during one of the foreign language films.  So your guess, is as good as mine in those categories this year.

I'm pretty confident I am right on the money with a few of my choices, but if I wind up being wrong (it's happened many a time before) I'll be sure to report back this week with my reaction.

Please note that instead of typing out, as in previous years, who I think will win and why for every single category and listing all of the nominees... I've just typed up the category and my choice as winner.  It's Sunday afternoon and it's raining and I want to take a nap.

Best Picture
12 Years a Slave

Actor in a Leading Role
Matthew McConaughey in Dallas Buyers Club

Actor in a Supporting Roll
Jared Leto in Dallas Buyers Club

Actress in a Leading Role
Cate Blanchett in Blue Jasmine

Actress in a Supporting Role
Lupita Nyong'o in 12 Years a Slave

Animated Feature Film
Frozen

Cinematography
Gravity

Costume Design
12 Years a Slave
(watch for The Great Gatsby to possibly nab this)

Directing
Alfonso Cuaron for Gravity

Documentary Feature
The Square
(though it could be The Act of Killing)

Documentary Short Subject
The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life

Film Editing
Gravity

Foreign Language Film
The Hunt
(The Great Beauty would be my 2nd choice)

Makeup and Hairstyling
Dallas Buyers Club

Original Score
Gravity

Original Song
"Let it Go" from Frozen

Production Design
Her
(this choice is my biggest risk, watch The Great Gatsby or even American Hustle to win this)

Animated Short Film
Get a Horse!

Live Action Short Film
The Voorman Problem

Sound Editing
Gravity

Sound Mixing
Gravity

Visual Effects
Gravity
(do you see the trend?)

Adapted Screenplay
12 Years a Slave

Original Screenplay
Her
(again, risky guess, could go to American Hustle - with 10 nominations they have to win something... right?)


That's a wrap.

Friday, February 28, 2014

chocolate chip cookies

I think chocolate chip cookies are one of the first things I learned how to bake on my own.  You know the Toll House recipe?  Mmmmm!  Well a few years back I graduated to Sonlight chocolate chip cookies.  Sonlight is a Christian camp in Pagosa Springs that I never actually attended as a camper, (though Katie did, twice!) I spent time there in the fall for women's retreats.  But it doesn't matter what you are showing up for, Mary almost always makes chocolate chip cookies to welcome you.  And they are the best!  After I talked about these cookies for a couple of years a friend finally copied the recipe out of her Sonlight cookbook and gave it to me.  I have never looked back and I now share the goodness with you!

The recipe makes a lot, so I scoop the cookies onto a wax lined baking sheet and set them in the fridge to harden.  Then store them in tupperware in the freezer for up to a month.  And when the craving hits for warm, chocolat-y goodness, I set a few out to thaw.  It's almost like having one of those insta food things on the Enterprise from Star Trek.  Accept instead of asking the computer for chocolate chip cookies, I ask my Whirpool.

Sonlight's Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

3/4 c. margarine (I sub in unsalted butter)
1 1/4 c. shortening (I use Spectrum organic shortening, it's non-hydrogenated) 
1/4 c. white sugar
1 1/2 c. brown sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
4 eggs
4 tsp. baking soda*
2 tsp. salt
5 c. flour
2 packages chocolate chips (I use 3 cups of chips)

In a large mixing bowl, cream together the margarine, shortening and sugars.  Add vanilla and eggs.  In a separate mixing bowl combine dry ingredients, and gradually stir into the sugar mixture.  Mix in chocolate chips.

Bake for 8 minutes at 350.  Be sure to remove cookies from the oven when they are just set.  If you bake until a dark golden brown the cookies will not stay soft.**

*This recipe is adjusted to the altitude of Sonlight, about 8,000 feet.  You'll get different results at lower altitudes.  To bake these at a lower altitude, first try reducing the amount of baking soda, and increasing the amount of white sugar.  Here in Austin, I've found 3 1/2 tsp. of baking soda, no sugar adjustment, is fine.

**I do bake mine longer, about 12 minutes till they are a light brown.  I have no issues with them staying soft.



2, 3, 4, 5, 6/52

Soooo, the 52 project, do you remember me mentioning that?  One picture a week for a year.  It's been 8 weeks and I have "4" pictures.  I'm not doing so well.  I don't remember to use my actual camera.  I can easily get my iphone out of my bag or back pocket, but people would probably choke on their starbucks if I randomly pulled my big ole camera out at the store or some-such-place to take a snapshot.  All 4 kids love to be photographed, however, Finn winds up being my main subject.  One, because he's so stinking cute.  Two, he's around.  Constantly.  I need to be more intentional about photographing all of the kids.

While I work on that, here's some shots over the last couple of months.


Evie is an outfit planner.  And I thought this one with the rolled cuffs and moccasins was super cute.  I was going for a different angle.  Never did accomplish it.  
But thought this goofy smile pose came out ok.


A messy face after a PB&J.


Finn loves those little mandarin oranges.  You know the ones that are super easy to peel?  Well, Finn didn't think they were super easy the other day.  
(This is more than one, but the faces were priceless!)







Tuesday, February 25, 2014

happy birthday to me

So, I turned 30.  Like 6 months ago.

I've taken 6 months to post as I wasn't thrilled with how my pictures turned out.  My perfectionist side kept editing them.  Specifically I didn't like the ones of me personally.  My photographer was great (seriously, thank you dad for putting up with me while I tried to "pop a pose!") I just thought in my head I looked better (read: thinner) and then when *I* felt that I didn't, well... major delay on the blog.

I know, I know.  You're going to say, "you look great!" and I don't look like a troll, I'll admit that.  I guess I just wanted to look extra special.  And didn't think I did.  But I've been dealing with my issues, I have lots of them, if you tune in here regularly you know this.  And I've decided that whether or not my warped brain thinks I look ok, the point is: I had a great night, with great people and great food!  So at long last, happy birthday to me.  Read on for alll the details!  Like grab a cup of coffee or your lunch as the planning is as much fun to me as the event.  I kind of go on and on.



I think ahead.  Way ahead.  This sometimes creates massive stress, like when I dwell on children leaving for college in less years than they have been alive... but for the most part it works out pretty well as I don't often wait till the last minute to get 'er done.  So I started planning my late September birthday in January.  I knew exactly what I wanted to do, just had to fit it in my proposed budget.  (The farther you plan ahead, the more you can get done on a smaller budget as you can purchase/make a deposit on items over time and watch for sales, rather than all at once when it might not be the best price.)  The BIG idea was to have about 20 friends over for dinner and then watch a movie, all outside on our patio.  I wanted to have a vintage look and lots of flowers!   

I figured I'd make my own invites, dinner and dessert to keep the cost down.  And I would rent tables and chairs, a projector and screen.  I love antique items and wanted to purchase plates, silverware, glasses and linens so I could reuse them.  But that wound up being too expensive, so most of those things went on the rental list as well.  I did buy most of my decor such as votives, lanterns and flower pots, but I purchased them at Ikea and saved a ton.  I also purchased things at World Market and eBay.  I made sure what ever I bought I would reuse and I've gotten my money's worth!  

Sometime around June I realized my budget wasn't going to accommodate my grand plans and I decided to just can the whole thing.  It was a quite a bit of money I had been thinking of spending and I was feeling very wasteful.  Jason talked me out of it, noting I didn't have an 18th birthday party and on my 21st I was pregnant, 25 was shared with Liam's 1st and I should go forth and celebrate just me, the man said I was important too.  (Secretly I think he's a chocolate cake addict and didn't want to me to bail for that reason alone.)  My parents, agreeing with Jason and knowing how much I had been planning and looking forward to everything, happily offered to cover the entire cost of the party so we could ALL celebrate! 

So go forth I did with some adjustments.  The movie got scrapped.  And as I mentioned, the buying for keeps of tableware was switched to renting.  Thankfully my dear friend Elizabeth passed on the name of a fabulous rental company, Loot Vintage Rentals and they had everything my heart could desire!  Seriously, if you ever need vintage items, look no further.  The ladies were extremely helpful, prompt and accommodating.  Austin has so much to offer for events, and it was nice to not have to drive an hour or two for big ticket items.  I got my tables and chairs from Austin Party Central, I highly recommend them as well!  And I was able to purchase my flowers wholesale at Austin Flower Co. and they had such a great selection.  So beautiful.  

September 20th eventually rolled around and my folks came down to help out.  I immediately stuck my dad on a project and he put my photo collage frame together for me.  And my mom was there with moral support as we drove downtown through a downpour the day before my outdoor party to purchase flowers.  Finally after a ton of time on Pinterest, at HEB and Sam's Club, in my kitchen, sitting at my dining room table and wondering what in the world I was going to wear, it was party time!   Enjoy the pictures.  I promise I'm done talking now.   

invitations

It POURED outside the day before the party, but we woke up to perfect weather.  My dad and Jason tried for an hour to yank this thing out so it wouldn't be such an eyesore.  They eventually just turned it around so we didn't have a basket hanging over our heads.




my photo collage

My mother, "Stop taking pictures.  Please go get your dress on.  I hear car doors slamming."

tables, chairs & pink tablecloth~ Austin Party Central


silverware, plates & crocheted cloth~ Loot Vintage Rentals
mason jars & napkins~ my own

my Better Homes & Gardens shot

always buy dresses with pockets.

dress~ Mod Cloth



I invited 20, but there were only 8, however we had a wonderful time!!!

I found this blog and Jason followed their directions and put up string lights for me (for cheap!)

I made both of my favorite cakes.
Chocolate-chocolate and a white cake w/ whip cream icing and red grapes of all things! 

video

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

garlic & thyme quinoa patties

I posted this picture of my lunch on facebook yesterday-



And I received quite a few requests for the recipe.  If I'd known people would be so interested, I would have taken more pictures.  And made sure I actually had all the proper ingredients.  What I made was sort of a mash up of stuff as I had left over quinoa from the previous nights dinner I wanted to use up.

Here is the original recipe.  (I've included my "hybrid" recipe too.)  Enjoy!

Garlic & Thyme Quinoa Patties
from Cook Republic

2 & 1/2 c. cooked quinoa (cook it according to your packages instructions and let it cool)
5 organic eggs (I used non-organic eggs and 4 of them)
1/2 c. grated parmesan cheese
3 whole meal bread slices, processed into bread crumbs (I used 3 c. panko bread crumbs)
1/4 c. chives, finely chopped (I didn't have any on hand, they taste fine without them)
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped (I use my Pampered Chef garlic press)
1 large Spanish onion, finely chopped (I used 1/2 of a white onion)
1 T. fresh thyme, finely chopped (I used 2 tsp. dried thyme leaves)
1 tsp. paprika
sea salt flakes to taste (I just used boring regular salt, approx. 1 tsp.)

olive oil to pan fry

Combine all ingredients and mix well.  The recipe says to mix with a large wooden spoon, but that means more dishes so I just use my hands.

Scoop up some mixture to shape a pattie, according to Cook Republic, "your patties should be approximately 5cm in diameter and 1cm thick."  Since I don't speak metric, I just scoop up a palm full and shape it into a small patty.

Heat 1-2 T. oil in a large pan on medium heat.  "Gently place" 4-5 patties, or turn your hand upside down and slap the patties in the pan, and shallow fry.  Cook each side for 2-3 minutes or until golden brown.

Repeat until all patties are cooked, use a tablespoon of oil for each new batch.  Makes- 20

Serve hot or cold.  With ketchup.  Which sounds gross and not right after you've just splurged on organic eggs and whole meal homemade bread crumbs.  So I serve them with semi-homemade marinara sauce.

Notes:

From C.R., "these are delicate patties and a tad tricky to shape as they may stick to your hands or fall apart in the pan.  Gentle handling will prevent them from falling apart."

No.  It won't.  These aren't a tad tricky to shape.  They are impossible.  Doesn't matter which recipe you use.  The 6 in the pic above were the best looking ones.  As you shape the patties they just glob up, so be patient and flip them into the pan off your palm carefully so you don't splash hot oil on yourself.  Once one side is cooked, they hold together pretty well.

Monday, January 27, 2014

mommy-guilt

Anytime I write something I feel is controversial with the intention of sharing, I end up editing into oblivion as to not offend.  This post has been sitting, ready to be shared for weeks.  But I've been so scared of upsetting anyone's delicate sensibilities, I've held off till now.  However...

Keep in mind, if you think this post is singling you out, it's not.  If you get offended, I'm sorry.  That wasn't my intention.  I just had a mental breakdown and thought you ought to know.



I have mommy guilt.  Not the, "I just hid in the pantry while I ate a pop tart" mommy guilt.  The soul deep, massive, overwhelming "my kids eat gluten and dairy and I don't buy organic everything and their teeth will fall out because I use granulated sugar and I buy fast food like once a week and we watch tv, use store bought deodorant, don't make our own laundry soap and they go to public school" kind of mommy guilt.  I am drowning in it.

I tell you, if one more person says to me that I shouldn't eat sugar/bread/pasta/non-free-range eggs/meat/poultry/dairy/processed-anything/canned food I will run screaming into Dunkin' Donuts barefoot and the police will find me there stuffing myself into a processed, sugary, gluten coma.

I often fall into despair when I make a grocery list.  My budget doesn't always allow me to buy only "the good stuff."

I feel shame because my kids *gasp* eat bread!

Why?!

Why do I beat myself up because I cook from scratch and yet I still feel like I'm not measuring up to Suzy Q. next door?

Am I really doing such a HUGE disservice to my family because I'm not gluten free, dairy free, paleo, vegan, vegetarian, fruitarian or whatever the next "free-arian" is?

Why am I, and the way I live, seemingly not good enough anymore?

Please note: I realize that many of these diets are very necessary for some people.  I have friends who I love that eat fermented food and I don't shun them.  I have others that get violently ill if they eat gluten and I am not saying they should.  I don't want them to be sick!  Certain people NEED to eliminate many things from their diet in order FOR their bodies to properly function and for them to be at their best.  I am not upset or annoyed or anything else with them for sharing their lifestyle and diets with us. 

I just want to know when did it become not ok to eat a normal, balanced diet?

I'm not talking about ding-dongs and diet coke for breakfast, Taco Bell for lunch and potato chips and fried chicken for dinner all while you sit on your Hoveround.  I'm talking Brazil Butt Lift DVD's, lots of fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains, a bit of dairy, chicken and beef... it's what's for dinner.

God gave us all one body and we should fuel it and take care of it to the best of our ability!  Which is what I try to do, but I can't do it ALL.

And everyday, on tv/facebook/instagram/pinterest I am bombarded by it all.  I am reminded that I'm not doing exactly what the experts say.  That somehow, in some way, I'm irrevocably messing it up.

And then I feel guilt.  Which leads to frustration.  Which leads to me hiding in the pantry and crying while I eat Stevia with a spoon.

It needs to stop.  And not just because Stevia is gross.

God doesn't ask me to be perfect.  (Which is a really good thing.  Because I obviously have "issues" with perfectionism...)

So this year, I'm just going to do my best.

And sometimes if my best is pizza from Papa Murphy's so I have more time to go play at the playground with my kids, or spend a few extra minutes talking to my husband about his day and not ignore him to go make dinner, then that's what it will be.

I will stop reading every-single-thing-about-every-single-diet so I don't feel shell shocked.

I will continue to mainly cook from scratch with quality ingredients.

I will make small dietary changes when necessary and not feel overwhelmed.

I will be confident in the knowledge that my family is happy and healthy, even though they didn't have $5 a doz. cage free eggs for breakfast.

I will be thankful that even when I can't afford a cart full of only "the good stuff" at the grocery store, I am provided for and able to afford groceries period.

Because I am good enough.

And if I stop stressing so much about food, maybe I'll have time to make my own laundry soap.