Thursday, May 30, 2013

Imagine #fiveminutefriday

Write. For five minutes straight. One-word prompt, five minutes, no editing. I'm linking up over at Lisa-Jo Baker (aka The Gypsy Mama) where we read, write and encourage.

Five Minute Friday
Between the dog who needs a bath (again), the puzzle that has taken the entire coffee table and the baby dreams I've had for the last week (great), I need a vacation. So when I should be focusing on working or cleaning or wife-ing, I'm imagining instead.

I'm dreaming of tall trees and the hot smell of pine in the summer. The way the sun glares down between the leaves on the trail and the dust motes you kick up when you walk, how they float and sparkle giving the view below a spectacular sheen.

I'm dreaming of walking the roads of my childhood, showing Mr. E the sights and sounds and smells and tastes of summers spent with my grandmother. He won't know what it felt like to roll in her water bed or eat at our favorite Mexican food place, but I can still show him the playground I conquered with my siblings and the magic of the river trail at twilight.

I am counting down the days until I hit pause and all of the laundry and the protocol-writing and the job-searching will wait for us. The world will be on our time. Imagine what that would be like.

Sweet Potato Cookies

These are the cookies that almost didn't happen. If I had had a worse day- one more sink of dishes, one more load of laundry, one more missed train- these would not have made it into the oven. I follow Blissful and Domestic and she raved about using sweet potato in a loaf of bread and then in chocolate chip cookies, which works perfect because I can never figure out how to keep my sweet potatoes from going bad before using them. Why does this happen? My potatoes are fine, but those big hulking orange tubers ALWAYS go bad and soft and squishy. 

So when I'm having a bad day, I resort to baking. There is nothing that can't be fixed with fresh bread. Or a good batch of chocolate chip cookies. On the flip side, if the cookies turn out wrong then the whole day is ruined and you may as well go back to bed.
I realized that I didn't have any of the flax seed and shtuff like Blissful and I really didn't want to add oatmeal (I was thinking chocolate chip after all, not oatmeal). So I searched the web a little bit and came up with this. Except that in my hope of being pro-active I melted some butter on the stove. Actually melted two sticks of butter into a beautiful yellow fatty pool on the stove. I cleaned it all up (squeezing it out of paper towels) and later realized that this recipe doesn't even call for butter. But that didn't come until later.

Realistically I sort of changed this whole recipe around because I don't like oil cookies. So this is my recipe. And gosh-darnit these are tasty.

2/3 cup baked, mashed sweet potato (pierce skin with fork and bake at 400 for 40 minutes on tin foil-lined baking sheet)
2 1/2 cups unbleached flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Allspice
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 large eggs
1 cup packed brown sugar (smells a little different but tastes great)
1/2 cup butter
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup 'fresh' chocolate chips  AS MANY CHOCOLATE CHIPS AS YOU FREAKING WANT
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease baking sheet and set aside.
In large bowl, mix dry ingredients together. Set aside.
In medium bowl, whisk eggs and sugar together.  Add oil and vanilla; whisk again.  Fold in mashed sweet potato.
Add egg mixture to dry ingredients, all at once.  Using a spatula, mix until now flour remains dry.  Fold in chocolate chips.
Scoop cookie dough, by the heaping tablespoonful, onto greased baking sheet, 2 inches apart.  Bake for 10-12 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes before placing on wire rack to cool completely.
So what if my pureed sweet potato actually still had the skins on? So what if I miscalculated the direction of my Pam spray and sprayed myself? So what if I used oil the first time around, wasting two eggs and a cup of brown sugar? These cookies are soft and moist and remind me of persimmon cookies like Great Grandma Evelyn's but they have chocolate so they're a million times better.

Link up! House of Hepworths, So You Think You're Crafty, Chic on a Shoestring Budget, Frugal Friday, Craftionary, Foodie Friday, Friday Flair, Pity Party

Wednesday, May 29, 2013


The guilt was too much to bear, especially for one as sympathetic as Sammy. She felt smaller than usual, insignificant even, in a high school gym full of hurt and despair.

It was all her fault. 

Virginia's heat was sweltering- one of those summers that started early and left late burning the world to brown bits as the season ran its course. Days were spent inside, air conditioned and artificially cooled because the moisture had up and left. All of the creeks ran dry, all of the pools were closed, the backyard hoses gathered dust. Mimi murmured about droughts and kept a watchful eye on her herb garden, irrigated with rationed water.

Sammy stood barefoot in the backyard, dry wind in her dishwater blonde hair, shifting her feet to find a stance that didn't allow the prickly grass to poke her. She closed her eyes and lifted her hands as she had once seen Mimi do, concentrating, willing her wants into reality. The rustling of the weeds, the hum of the air conditioner, the comfortable weight of her sundress all fell away as she focused on her wish for water.

Mimi had always said to be careful about wishing- that women in their family had found a way to make wishes come true. Selfishness was not tolerated in Mimi's house because the consequences could be catastrophic.

All Sammy wanted was a little water, but when it welled from beneath her feet and fell squeezed from the sky, she knew she had asked for too much. No one told her when you grabbed water from the air that the molecules could dance and reassemble to form big fat rain drops that filled your palm, then your buckets, then the valley you lived in. No one spoke of a reservoir of water, filtered through the mountains over centuries and patiently waiting for a way out. A way Sammy hoped and wished into existence.

As Sammy looked around the room she knew what her selfishness had cost her. Dirty faces, vacant stares and mud smeared everywhere. The gym was full to the brim with families, rescue workers, nurses and volunteers. They were packed together, small spaces staked out, but the colors were all wrong: blue blanket islands on the yellow wood floor.

Sammy shivered. It was all her fault.

The water resisted all of her attempts to constrain it. It roared and frothed, exploding into life where it had previously been missing. It seeped up through basements and rolled through streets; it fell down in sheets, soaking everything in it's path. The townspeople could barely keep one step ahead of the rising tide as floods weren't normally a threat to house and home. They grabbed what they could: shoes, picture albums, computer hard-drives and waded their way to higher ground.

She wasn't cold, but her body shook uncontrollably. She clamped her mouth shut to keep her teeth from chattering, a reflex she had never quite conquered when faced with anxiety. She rose from her blanket island and wove her way through the displaced families, stepping slowly, trying to keep her anxiety from building. No one looked at the eleven year old twice.

She reached the megaphone on the other side of the room and picked it up, smooth and cold in her hands, surprisingly heavy. She had never used one, but it couldn't be too difficult. Just point and shoot, right? She flicked the ON switch and cringed when the machine screeched to life.

"Excuse me?" her voice bounced around the gym, off folded bleachers and hanging championship pennants and devastated townspeople grieving for homes lost.

"I just wanted to say...that I'm sorry."

LOVED Some Time in the Last Few Days

I have no pictures. I have no laptop which means no picture editing and more importantly means no pictures. We're addressing the issue, but it's so hard to face the reality that a piece of wiring and buttons has so much weight in your life.

I can't show you the awesome time we had this weekend, though maybe you'll thank me for that. We didn't go out. We sat on the couch like a couple of slugs and enjoyed being together stress-free. We gave ourselves and our house (omigodthehouse) a freebie and watched Arrested Development re-runs, ordered pizza because we were too tired to cook. It was glorious.

We tag-teamed garage sale-d on Saturday to get rid of stuff in our house (yay for down-sizing!) and Mr. E's grandmothers. Getting rid of Mema's stuff, not Mema. But afterwards we crashed and crashed hard considering this week's ups and downs. We just couldn't get enough of that shut-eye.

We movie-watched and lightly cleaned, did laundry and made sure to walk the dog for 50 cent Slurpees every day. You know, the little things.

I want to show you the new pillows I did. I want to show you how I corralled my jewelry into a cohesive display. I want to show you the salsa I made and tell you about all of the movies we've been watching. But let's just sit tight on that, mmmkay? 

In the mean time I'm writing and job-searching and apartment hunting with the best of them.
Or maybe with the most average of them considering I'm not really feeling like I'm excelling at any of these things.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Death at a Funeral

Imdb synopsis: A funeral ceremony turns into a debacle of exposed family secrets and misplaced bodies.

This was such an odd movie...I was intrigued with the acting line-up, but I didn't feel like the movie really went anywhere. It felt more like a play than it did a movie. It had potential to be really funny, but I think the actors were too busy trying to compete with each other rather than presenting a funny ensemble. And then I realized this scope was a remake...of a British film? Of all movies to remake, usually Hollywood focuses on foreign films with non-English languages. In fact there was only a three year turn-around between the two. AND Peter Dinklage (Lannisters represent!) reprised his role.

This movie kind of reminded me of The Hangover or Bridesmaids- they are different stories and different settings, but it's the same sort of general idea: one upstanding character is surrounded by temptation, distraction and all-around bumbling friends/family with some extreme situations. 

Dear movies,

We are past poop jokes in movies. Why are we spraying it, wiping it, smelling it, leaking it and stepping in it?


I can take a laugh, but not another crap (joke)

Sunday, May 26, 2013


My wife has ruined me.

Here is a list of 10 things I can no longer do in good conscience.
  1. I can no longer comfortably sleep in a bed with unmade sheets.
  2. I can no longer walk by a pile of dishes without feeling guilty for not washing them.
  3. I can no longer say "There's nothing to eat," and be convinced that it is true.
  4. I can no longer fill the grocery cart half full with Digiorno pizzas.
  5. I can no longer bear to use a filthy restroom.
  6. I can no longer skip a shower for a day.
  7. I can no longer fill all the shelves in the house with action figures in cool poses.
  8. I can no longer forget to lock a door or close a window at night.
  9. I can no longer avoid eating vegetables. 
  10. I can no longer be lazy (unless we are having a lazy day together).
My wife has ruined me... and I love her for every reason on this list (except for maybe number 7).

Friday, May 24, 2013

View #fiveminutefriday

Write. For five minutes straight. One-word prompt, five minutes, no editing. I'm linking up over at Lisa-Jo Baker (aka The Gypsy Mama) where we read, write and encourage.

Five Minute Friday
My view is the sky outside my window, a dirty screen and cobwebs in the corners. The sky isn't even really blue anymore because the sun is fading, but we live in SoCal so the smog blocks all blue-ness anyways. My view is criss-crossed with power lines and flitting birds- those stupid sparrows who breed like bunnies in our backyard.

And even though my eyes are restless and I'm looking at the underside of shelves (I need to dust) and half-painted projects on the wall (too much effort to finish before a move), I'm held in your arms because you just called pause on life. We haven't really connected in days because of your hospital trip and I can't quite readjust to my regular work week (as my lab partner can attest to). You were overwhelmed with my rushing rushing rushing to get things done, my constant need to be busy and on top of it.

I need to feel that way because I so often know I'm not on top of anything but a swiftly shifting pile of lists and projects and expectations. So when you call pause I stop in my tracks and turn around and we're all arms and snuggles and content sighs because we needed this. I needed you, loud and angsty and complaining about how hungry you are because I missed this in the last few days

When the phone rings it's back to business but now we're better. We've made that connection, however brief and tentative and fleeting. That's how I see things now.

That one was hard this week! I couldn't quite get a handle on this one, but I'm glad I did it- even if I had to shoo Mr. E out of the room to write it.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

What Happened.

My Tuesday was fluorescent lights and pink walls and garish 90's geometrical decor. It was heaving and ho-ing and straining and crying and exhaustion, flavored with a little bit of righteous indignation. The second day of my work week was spent working with my weak husband to bundle him and his bowl and his tissues and wallet and Gatorade into the car, navigating our way to the ER, to a wheel chair, to each waiting room, to an uncomfortable hospital cot and finally a fifth-floor room as gloomy as our feelings. 
I came home alone to a dog too-long cooped up, a pile of bedding that safely escaped Mr. E and an uncomfortable space next to me in bed. Ripley jumped into bed to sit at my feet, eyes wide open, ears alert and tail wagging, waiting for dad to come through the door just like he always does to tuck us in. 

Wednesday morning he felt well enough to text- hale and hungry. No bouts through the night and his elderly room-mate made more fuss than he did. Hours spent waiting yesterday bled into hours spent waiting today, our silence both comforting and uncomfortable. He's lost his voice, the blood vessels around his eyes have burst and I don't know what to say that hasn't been said already. I have no new stories. Nothing I did seemed to help. So we sat in each other's company, communicating with facial movements and gestures and soft soft kisses on his knees and fingers- the only parts I can touch. He's cold and I can't quite understand how my husband -who spends his days in tank tops or bare-chested if he can get away with it- can lack body heat.

Half the day passes before the doctor returns, only to berate Mr. E on the dangers of marijuana and the threat of cyclical vomiting. I almost laugh out loud trying to imagine Mr. E with a joint and when the doctor leaves I make light by insinuating that it must be the mohawk. He drinks his clear liquids, we wheedle a prescription out of the nurse and pass the time with Supernatural re-runs but our backs ache for home and our couch.

Once we've sprung the joint I plant him carefully on the couch, surrounding him with comfort. At this, at least, I can play nurse- better with recovery than emergency, I think. He smiles and snuggles but everything about him is so faint and feeble that I'm afraid to touch this man when before half of our relationship was based on physical contact. We make do and I let him do everything he wants: watch his shows, play his games, call his brother. I can deny him nothing because I'm too scared to see him unhappy again.

Finally we sleep, me first, as always, and he comes creeping in to his side of the bed, slides under the covers and reaches out to rest his hand on my hip. This man who has issues sleeping through the night with a tossing-turning bedmate, acknowledges all I've done by reaching for me at his most vulnerable and I know that he'll be okay. We'll get through this and get past this and re-learn this one touch at a time. 

Savory Bread Pudding

This recipe was a lot of fun to try. We found it in a Bon Appetit magazine (courtesy of my coworker!) that was stuffed to the brim with fresh veggie recipes. Seeing as how I'm not a big fan of cooked vegetables--we're working on it, okay?-- each time I turned the page I met another recipe I wanted to try. This one got the seal of approval because the broccoli was surrounded by bread (how can you go wrong) and also, pancetta. Or, in our house, since we use what we have, bacon. 

Parmasan Bread Pudding with Broccoli Rabe and Pancetta
(that's a mouthful)

1 Tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 medium bunch of broccoli rabe cut into 1/2" pieces
2 tsp kosher salt plus some
1/2 tsp ground black pepper plus some
6 large eggs
1 1/2c whole milk
1/2 lb country-style white bread cut into 1" pieces (about 8 cups)
1/2c plus 2 Tbsp finely grated Parmesean
6 thin slices of bacon (pancetta or otherwise)

Oven at 350F.
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and red pepper flakes. Stir until garlic is softened, about 30 seconds. Add broccoli rabe; season with salt and pepper. Cook, tossing until wilted, about 2 minutes; let cool slightly.
Meanwhile, whisk eggs, milk, 2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper in a large bowl to blend. Add broccoli rabe mixture, bread and 1/2c Parmesan: toss to combine. Transfer to a 1 1/2 qt baking dish. Top with bacon and remaining 2 Tbsp Parmesan.
Bake pudding until puffed, browned in spots and set in the center, 45-55 minutes.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Sick Day

I've never seen him like this. I'm not sure I've seen anyone like this, honestly.

He's lying in our queen size bed, arching his back and then releasing. What yoga pose was that? First the cat, then the cow. 

I've never heard a more heartbreaking sound. It's like the sound your dad makes when he's clearing his throat in the morning. The gross gathering of phlegm from the back of the throat, only Mr. E is gathering everything. He's summoning all of his muscles, all of his tendons and veins and arteries and lymph pathways for each push. He collects it all in order to expel it, but the effort exhausts him. And yet he does it again. And again, like clockwork or like breathing.

I was told, time and again, that this happened, so you can't say they didn't warn me. But in my naivete and with the confidence only the young and untried can have, I waved them back. It's all in his head, I assured myself. Somebody isn't doing something right, I preened. He wouldn't do that if I was taking care of him.

But here I sit, as anxious as he ever has been. I didn't think I'd have the stomach to face the contents of his. But I did. I didn't think the handsome strong man I married would be reduced to a shivering feeble mass, his eyes hollow and bloodshot. But he is.

And it's nobody's fault but an imbalance of pesky hormones, those tiny proteins that are known for things like sex and sports. So I'll sit here and wait for the next round because I'm too scared to move dishes or doors in case he's fallen asleep and the dog's head bounces on my wrist as I type because she can't let me out of her sight. Just like him and I.


  Imdb synopsis: Two teenage boys encounter a fugitive and form a pact to help him evade the bounty hunters on his trail and to reunite him with his true love.

We went out to see this one on a whim. One of my professors told me that it was worth seeing. So when Mrs. E came home from work (yes, Mr. E is writing this one!) I surprised her with grilled burgers, fries, and chocolate milkshakes; all of which were home-made and freakin’ delicious. I know because I tasted them.

After our last few movies we’d seen on the big screen I wasn’t expecting much, but after about 15 minutes Mrs. E turned to me and said, “This is already better than The Place Beyond the Pines.” My wife speaks the truth. I just sat there for two hours and watched the movie. I wasn’t trying to guess what would happen next or analyze the filmmaking. For someone like me, that’s a very rare thing. So I tip my hat to Jeff Nichols for that one.

The relationships felt real, the situations were believable, and I cared for the characters. Everything ties up very nicely in the end, perhaps too nicely, but it felt good not to have any loose ends or plot holes dangling as I walked out the theater. It was beautifully shot and very well directed. Also, Matthew McConaughey was fantastic, I’m really digging the new direction his career is going.

I want to give this 4.5 stars, but that’s cheating, so just know this was very close to being a five-star rating for us.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Covering More Things

I'm am knocking April projects off my list left and right. I feel in control of my home, of my space and of my project list. For once.
I'm sewing for sanity here. Pants into shorts, gifts for friends (more on that later), finishing pillows, organizing thread...The coup de grace? I made a cover for my sewing machine! 

This project has been in the back of my head for a while, especially once I took a close look at the dust my little Singer has been collecting between weekends. A few yards of free fabric, a coordinating discounted remnant from Joann's and we have a cover!I loosely followed this tutorial- mostly just to get an idea of what and how I was doing. Otherwise, it was pretty straightforward. Two coordinating fabrics (I can classify "coordinating" however I like, thankyouverymuch. Plus, when am I EVER going to have the chance to sew something this loud and crazy?) and you've got a pretty quick project. If you're up to the spatial challenge. By 9:30pm I was not.

I measured my machine pretty generously as I would rather trim and hem than have to re-cut because it was too small. My machine ends up being about 21x10x13 inches. So three middle pieces (including the 1/2in seam allowance on all sides) are 8x38 inches . The sides, originally the second fabric color, are 14.5x11 inches. Pin it up, sew some straight lines and zig zag those edges to prevent fraying. If there's a better stitch option, I'm still playing with my machine. 

The sides were a little tricky, as the tutorial says some mush about center lines and whatnot. This made no sense to me, so I sewed where I thought I should- feelin' pretty cocky. And then, you know, life hits you in the face and I realized that I sewed up one side, but didn't leave any room to sew the top. Good job, Brie.
Sewing teaches me humility. I have all of these plans and patterns and ideas so I rush to the machine, eager to zip through it all, only to realize that before you can run you must realize that you have FEET. And then learn to hold your head up. And then crawl...It's a long process, but I seam-rip a lot more than I would like to admit. And I find the time to laugh at myself, and realize that I need to slow down and enjoy what I'm doing. 

I sewed the sides on correctly the second time, and draped it over my machine. It's a little big and a little droopy: partly because of the fabric being so thin and partly because I was not terribly strict on my seam allowances and measurements. Nothing another seam can't fix.I took in the two middle seams a tad, just enough to squeeze the cover closer to the machine. And now for the pocket. This was my first attempt at tucking/folding and I was only slightly impressed with myself. I think I could have done better.
Once everything was on correctly it was time to hem- I turned the cover inside out and folded the bottom up until it was all even around the edges. Nothing fancy, just a little one inch hem. I trimmed the hanging edge (about three inches worth) and stepped back to admire. Unfortunately- because I was running in the rhythm then- I didn't take a picture of it half-done. Once the tutorial finished I realized that my machine is a bit lopsided. I had a lot of room on both ends because the edges of my machine sort of sloped, diagonal-like. 
So I adjusted. I tried, really carefully, to fold some of the fabric in, staying mostly with the natural fold of the cover as it fell in on itself. Two long tucks on the left side of the machine and two smaller tucks on the right side, just for balance. It was sort of nerve-wracking to do this, considering I had to sew over a seam or two. I was trying very hard to not mess up what I had just made. 
I pinned initially on the outside- two pins that crossed each other like an X because just one pin would come undone no matter how carefully I turned it inside out. Once the cover was turned, I grabbed where I had pinned and transferred the pins to the other side, so I could pull them out when I started sewing. Thinking back on it now, it may have just been easier to have the cover on inside-out the whole time and pin the folds out instead of in. Hindsight.
I can't decide if it makes me want to sew more- because it's awesome I just made that- or sew less- because it's so pretty.

Link up! Keeping it Simple, SewChatty, Monday Funday, Homemaker on a Dime, Made by You Monday

Sunday, May 19, 2013

LOVED This Weekend

Life never stops. Sometimes you think that as soon as you get past one big point, everything will calm down again, like life will go back to normal. But what's normal? How do you define something as inconsistent as life? How can you possibly confront life with your expectations and win? 
Life changes. It shifts and moves and laughs at you when you present your plans. Life rescinds your working toilets and showers on a day when you have company over. Life gives you other people's deadlines and schedules and plans that don't always match yours. Life gives you people with expectations that far exceed (and sometimes don't even come close) to yours. 
It's cherishing the time with family that you have now, because you don't know the next time it will happen. It's catching up on jobs and promotions and graduations and newly coordinated throwing skills while cooking Eccles cakes. It's enjoying good food with good people, and laughing off the fact your waiter can't handle 8 very opinionated people at his table.
Life is watching your husband walk down the middle aisle, surrounded by a sea of black robes and red tassles. It's the exhilaration on his face and the hugs of friends who have made it with him. Life is understanding that you didn't just became unemployed and rudder-less all in one moment but it's the best feeling because you conquered three schools, transfers, classes and projects paid out of pocket to graduate with Magna Cum Laude honors. 
Life is meeting, overcoming and looking back on this moment and realizing though great, there are so many more moments ahead that were simply hidden behind this. It's realizing you have the world to face but you're better prepared and though never ready, you're willing and that's all that matters.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Song #fiveminutefriday

Write. For five minutes straight. One-word prompt, five minutes, no editing. I'm linking up over at Lisa-Jo Baker (aka The Gypsy Mama) where we read, write and encourage.
Five Minute Friday
I would ask you to sing for me, each night before you tucked me in. It was our little ritual: one that has been so long buried and avoided I'm not even sure I could remember the song myself. I think I've had a lot of songs sung to me over the course of my life- G-ma singing "my Brianna lies over the ocean", Mr. E sang of killing beetles to save me- but yours is always the one I think of when I seek comfort.

I loved to pull my covers up tight beneath my chin (I've never liked my shoulders to be exposed) and watch your face as you sang to me of His amazing grace. Grace that you've always found present in your life, grace that shines through everything you do.

Even now I think my love of music stems from you. Some of my favorite memories are dancing around the house, singing and cleaning. I do this now and Mr. E thinks I'm nuts, but I do it in remembrance of you and the things you taught me. To enjoy what I'm doing. To express my happiness to others. To sing of His amazing grace, even when we shouldn't sing, precisely because we can't sing. 

I miss that part of you. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Just Another Fruit

It surprised me when she started to talk. I was in the kitchen, my hair in its after-work bun, no make up, barefoot. I wasn't ready for guests in the house, evidenced by my college sweatshirt- the one I only wore without a bra.

"Hi," she exhaled softly, trying to keep her voice down. "I'm Leah."

I had one hand on the freezer side of our french-door refrigerator, the other on the grimy handle of the open fridge, trying for all the world not to fall in. It was the coolest place in the house at the moment and I wasn't about to let this hussy guilt me out of my own kitchen.

I faked a smile and shook her hand.

"I'm Becky. Nice to meet you."

It wasn't nice at all. There were a lot of things I would rather be doing with my life and pretty much at the top of the list was getting out of this dingy rental and away from my roommate and his constant parade of girls. This was the fifth in three weeks. 

He wasn't that bad normally. My boyfriend and I took him in partly out of pity, but also because he could pay rent immediately. He was a hipster at its finest: a grubby plaid shirt, an old beanie that sagged in the back and a back pocket iPhone that played haunting folk songs like his life soundtrack. He didn't have a car, his mustache was Captain Hook-esque and he crooned with his acoustic guitar as often as he could. But he seemed eager and willing and that was all we needed.

At first his story was sad: an ex-wife, a six year old son he never saw, a job in which he worked 10 hour shifts six days a week. But then it just got pathetic: the chain-smoking, the stumbling in drunk at 3 am, the phone fights with his ex, his mother and his son visiting for a weekend in which they nearly talked us out of house and home- all government conspiracies and medical problems.

And now girls we only recognized by the cars they parked outside or the distinct shuffle each one made as they slunk through the house the back way. We didn't talk to them and they made sure to avoid us.

This one seemed sweet, but honestly, I'd forget her name by the time I closed the fridge. I knew she would come around once or twice more but finally grow tired of his excuses- how the world was against him, his boss didn't like him or his wife wouldn't let him see his son. Considering the way he tried to hoard our dishes and silverware in his room until he had a full load for the dishwasher or how he never bothered to let our dog out when we were away,  I couldn't blame her.

"I love the way you've decorated in here. It is SO cute," she grinned.

I grabbed a kiwi and closed the fridge with my foot. Maybe this one wasn't so bad after all.

Fast Food Nation

Imdb synopsis:An ensemble piece examining the health risks involved in the fast food industry and its environmental and social consequences as well.

I initially set this movie aside because I thought it was another documentary on America's eating habits. Or a documentary of some sort. No dice. This was a ensemble-cast movie based on a documentary. Which means it was a mismatched, un-coordinated expose following many characters that loosely are connected in the great meat-grinding machine of lies that is America. I was not impressed.

I have a hard time following political movies: not movies about POLITICS but movies that are trying to raise awareness/tell a message. This isn't because I don't agree with the message but because the message is being related poorly. It's hard to get a message across the screen without a story behind it, but I felt that this movie focused more on the former- concocting a viable string of events and characters to better relate to the viewer. I didn't think this worked very well.

You need stories that the audience cares for, that we'll root for; ones in which we can see ourselves, our family, our friends. You make characters with quirks and passions come to life so that your viewers understand and can apply it to their own zany selves. While the characters were quirky and the performances were realistic, the story just didn't mesh well enough for me to enjoy the story as a whole.

On a minor note (minor versus the awesome let-down this movie was), I was terribly disappointed that the ending arc to one of the main female characters was her preoccupation with why the cows she was trying to set free "didn't want to be free". Really? You're going to spend time and energy wondering why a herd of cattle didn't run out of a hole you made in the fence? It's a COW, hun.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Place Beyond the Pines

I had really high hopes for this movie. Yes, it had great actors, but more than that, it was a fantastic director- the same guy who did Blue Valentine, one of our favorite movies- and the story seemed to hit a lot of issues. In the end, it may have been too many issues.

Imdb synopsis:A motorcycle stunt rider turns to robbing banks as a way to provide for his lover and their newborn child, a decision that puts him on a collision course with an ambitious rookie cop navigating a department ruled by a corrupt detective.

First and foremost, Gosling is more than just a pretty face. He does awkward SO. WELL. The little half-smile he has when he's nervous or the thousand yard stare convey a lot. He doesn't feel obligated to "show" you emotion, he "feels" emotion. Even though Gosling was a headliner for the movie- and affects all of the other characters even when he's not on-screen- he wasn't in the movie as much as the other actors were. Which was disappointing because I didn't feel that the rest of the movie was carried very well.

The movie is separated into roughly three parts: Gosling's story, Cooper's story and the story of their sons. It's sort of a generational "sins of their fathers" type of thing. An important thing to remember about movies is that a lot of times they tell the same story, just different. The essence of the movie is the same, it's just the details, the character quirks, the setting and so on that make movies different. And with all of these variables, you could tell the same story over and over again and get a different feeling with each thing you change. So while the plot worked and hit all of the major points, I didn't feel that each third of the movie connected to the others. The message and/or the overall "feeling" of the movie was lost on me because there were so many tie-ins that the plot avoided.

Cianfrance could have stopped with just the story between Gosling and Cooper. Or he could have told the story about Cooper with Gosling as an interesting twist. Heck, he could have given more life to both supporting actresses which were relegated to having events happen to them instead of being three-dimensional characters. Nice try with the bra-less Eva Mendes, though. I bet lots of people enjoyed that.

I was really expecting a gut-clenching tale woven around mistakes made for all the right reasons. Instead I got a twisting, disconnected story with beautiful imagery of Schenectady (SO FUN to say) and too many loose ends.

Monday, May 13, 2013


I love a good thrift store find- in fact, many of my furniture pieces are from thrift stores! I'm drawn to the originality of the furniture there. Need a king size rattan bed? Check. Giant dresser in shocking purple? Check. There's so much life to these things that a little spray paint, elbow grease and a lot of love will bring out!

Case in point: our entertainment console. Mr. E wheeled that baby off the street. It fit the TV I brought with me from college as well as the gleaming hunk of metal Mr. E drools over. Also known as our new TV. We store our video games here, and display some of the things we've picked up on our travels. It also (semi) works for storage. Ideally I'd like to stain it a little darker, but we've stayed our hand since it might not fit when we move. 

We're also crazy about chairs from the Habitat for Humanity ReStore. I was drooling over a comfy wingback when Mr. E spied this one. Faded blue, good condition- it had my name written all over it. 

Then we found these hospital chairs. They're not terribly attractive to look at with that awful fabric, but these are SO. COMFY. Someday I'll have enough time/money/skills to make slip-covers. Or re-upholster. But until then, they don't smell and that's good enough for me.

So when my lab partner confesses his love of thrifting, count on me to suggest a little lunch-break trip! I haven't gone too crazy, considering we're moving and April was the month for FINISHING my projects, not attaining new ones. 

But I just couldn't put Abraham Lincoln down. Look at this face! Does that say stern disapproval or what?! This is actually a two-material-ed cologne bottle (with cologne still), but every blog I follow has a bust or two somewhere. Apparently busts are in. So I took him home, cleaned him off and spray painted him a monotonous soft gray! Ugh, those cheek bones. Jealous...
Of course, it's hard to stop there. Especially when you have rows and rows of fabric/pants/skirts/shirts just waiting to be re-fashioned! Since my little pants-to-shorts event, I picked up more pants (for myself and Mr. E). My pants worked out perfect- they're black corduroy (as pants? shudder) with a really cute waistband. Couple hours on those bad boys and they're shorts too!

Mr. E's were not so easy. I grabbed two pair (8 bucks each, thankyouthriftstores) and while the first pair fit fairly well (we've relegated them to "set pants") the second pair had...a lot of room. 
A LOT of room...below the fly.
 So that's how gangsters do it... 

Here I am, thinking I've GOT this: while Mr. E was on set, I set to work. I felt pretty proud of myself too! Nice straight seams, sewed the crotch together again, yadda yadda yadda. And then Mr. E tried them on and I realized I cut almost ALL of the crotch out. 
He looked over at me with such a pained expression and said, "Baby, you've made me an Abercrombie model."

Oh, well.

My most recent thrift find? Hidden among the pottery and porcelain was this gem: We'll call him Georges. And I love him. Because, you know, I don't have enough stuff on my walls...and while downsizing to move it's almost always acceptable to upsize with cute ceramic cows, right? Right??