Wednesday, December 30, 2015

2015 Wrap Up

Let me preface this by saying that 2015 has been the worst year for me personally. A lot of pain and loss. I have continued to blog without much reference to real life problems because I want this to be a "fun space". But in all honestly I cannot wait for this year to be over and to start the New Year fresh.
So to send 2015 out, here are a few of the highlights from this year.
(This will be link filled to some of my other blog posts)

Iggles 

The best part of the year has included my fellow Iggles from the International Geek Girls Pen Pal Club. I love the camaraderie this groups has. I have participated in many Iggle activities including watch-a-longs, Iggle Camp, fitness challenges (which I never complete lol), book club and swaps. This is a great group of people and if you are not already an iggle, look into it!
www.geekgirlpenpals.com

Books
I have read a lot of books this year but two stand out. You can read my review of Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore HERE
I wish I had written about Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. It is an amazing but bittersweet novel. I read this the night after a Tornado hit my town. We were not even under a Tornado Watch. I was just sitting at the kitchen table and the sirens started. I could see the top of the wall cloud from my front door. The tornado cellar had not been cleaned out so my fear of snakes and spiders (also running out into the backyard to get to the cellar) won and I grabbed my cat and hid in the bathroom. I have never been that scared before. It was the closest a Tornado has ever come to my house. I could HEAR it. 
The electricity went off fast and stayed off until the A.M. So after I got the all clear from my parents who still had electricity I grabbed a flashlight and started to read Code Name Verity. 
Sitting in the dark, still traumatized, I read the entire book. For some reason this was the perfect way to read this book. 
Even if you have not been threatened by an act of nature, this is a big recommendation from me. A story about two girls in the middle of WWII.   


Starbucks
A Starbucks opened near me this summer! If I had the money I would be there everyday!

TV and Films
Marvel
I have fallen deeper into the Marvel Universe this year. I finally watched the first 2 seasons of Agents of Shield in time to start watching season 3. Why am I always late to the shows that I end up loving?! FitzSimmons forever!!
Also Avengers- Age of Ultron was great but I am so looking forward to Captain America: Civil War that I am actually giddy.

Sense 8
One of the best series I have seen, maybe ever, shows up this year on Netflix. An interesting sci-fi show filmed all over the world with an amazing cast, also from all over the world.

And this year I watched two shows I had ignored for years because I thought I wouldn't like them. Parks and Recs and The Office US.
Parks and Recs may now be one of my favorite shows of all time, even though the first 2 seasons weren't good, I fell in love with these strange characters.
Leslie and Ben LITERALLY forever


My Favorite Posts from this Year


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

December Birchbox and Ipsy

It's that time again!
Birchbox and Ipsy time.
These are monthly subscription boxes that cost $10 shipped each month in the US. 
I share these with my mom so any products in GREEN are the ones she chose and those is RED are the ones I got. If they are not red or green that means neither one of us pick it.

  • Kate Spade Live Colorfully Spray- A mini spray with Hawaiian blooms and coconut. *Why coconut, always coconut?! Yuck
  • Coastal Scents stylesEYES Eyeshadow Palette- A duo of eyeshadow in a nice little container. 
  • Coola Classic SPF 30 Cucumber Moisturizer- This SPF is supposed to block UV rays and help keep signs of aging away while having a cucumber scent.
  • Marcelle BB Cream Golden Glow- A decent amount of BB cream. Way too dark for my pale skin but perfect for my mom.
  • WEI Manuka Bee Venom Anti-Wrinkle Mask- Okay, this sounds a bit scary. It is purified bee venom and herbs. 

 Ipsy
Each month Ipsy sends a makeup bag or "Glam Bag" as part of the subscription box
  • Acure Cell Stimulating Facial Mask- A nice sized sample of a green face mask. I think my mom keeps forgetting she has these.
  • Formula X Nail Polish in Revved Up- On the small side sample wise but I really like this nail polish. A very sparkly and opaque gold. Put some on the tips of my nails after using black nail polish and it covers perfectly.
  • Pacifica Power of Love Natural Lipstick- A vegan lipstick. This looks like a full sized product and the color sent was a nice mauve. 
  • Klorane Floral Water Makeup Remover with Soothing Cornflower- This looks interesting. Even though it is called "floral" it doesn't have a scent. It is for both sensitive skin and eyes. 
  • Crown Brush Brow Duo Brush- Truthfully I am not sure what to do with this. It will be something to experiment with later. 

Overall this month Ipsy won for me. I love that nail polish. 

Friday, December 18, 2015

Slightly Off The Radar Holiday Films

From November to January every kind of Holiday film crosses our TV screens from the good, the bad and the just plain horrible. After all the mid-season finales of my favorites shows air, TV becomes a wasteland of gag worthy films. But occasionally there are a few gems that shine brightly. Here are a few that I kind of like.

Dutch

Ed O'Neill and Ethan Embry star in this holiday film about a spoiled brat put through the ringer by his mother's boyfriend on their road trip home for Christmas. Sappy at times but Ed O'Neill is great at keeping it from being too much of a "feel good" film

Home for the Holidays

Technically a Thanksgiving film. An amazing cast including Anne Bancroft, Robert Downey Jr, Holly Hunter and even Steve Guttenburg. Out of every holiday film I have ever seen this is the closest to being real while at the same time having some comedic moments. A dysfunctional family film that still has a feel good appeal.
Bonus points for having RDJ

 The Ref

I just watched this on Netflix and found it rather funny. While the movie is set during Christmas it is more of a situation comedy. I sometimes forget how funny Denis Leary can be. In this he plays a thief that is on the run and happens to take the worst hostages, a bickering couple preparing for Christmas dinner. Kevin Spacey and Judy Davis play the unhappily married pair.

Mixed Nuts

It has been awhile since I have seen this movie. Steve Martin and Rita Wilson work at a suicide prevention hotline with the incomparable Madeline Kahn. High-jinks ensue when multiple characters and arcs overlap. 
Bonus points for John Stewart and Parker Posey playing the rollerblading couple.

  A Princess for Christmas

Okay this is not a good film. It is painfully predictable and trite. But it has a young Sam Heughan as the "Prince". Worth it only to watch Jamie Fraser in the 21st Century.

Babes in Toyland

I have mentioned this in a 5 Fandom Friday post this season already but I don't care. Perhaps if enough people start watching this whenever it comes on then they will finally make a dvd version, or at least put it on Netflix.

These are my favorite Holiday films the not many people know about. Feel free to add yours in the comments below 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

I Wanna Be Holiday Edition: Yule Logs and Meringues

My mom and I decided to try and make Yule Log roll cakes. The first attempt is in the picture above. It is the only pic I took because it was the practice one. It looks like a real Yule Log. We we so happy. The only problem came with the roll cake recipe which was just too eggy
So we found another recipe for the next try. The one that would go to my mom's office party. The new roll cake recipe worked perfectly. And it used less eggs and more flour than the first one.
Look at that lovely Cake Burrito

I even made mushroom meringue cookies to decorate the Yule log. Side note. I wish I had taken pictures of the assembly process for these meringues. If I make them again I will remember to take pictures because they came out great and taste delicious. 
Maybe I will use them in a Alice in Wonderland themed project.
Now here is where things go wrong!
With the first Yule Log cake we used a semi-sweet ganache. Semi-sweet chocolate chips, heavy whipping cream and a splash of vanilla. It worked perfectly. It covered the cake with an almost fudgey consistency after cooling that could be made to look like the texture of a log. 
With the second cake mom wanted Milk Chocolate ganache
Milk Chocolate ganache does really work for this. As you can see it the pictures above and below.
It went everywhere and was too thin.
Oh the chocolate Humanity!
In order to try and hide the massive chocolate spill we put on a lot of mushroom meringues.
Unlike the semi-sweet ganache, the milk chocolate version tried to melt the meringues.
I mean, the mushrooms are held together by the semi-sweet ganache so how could this happen?
Basically don't use milk chocolate as a ganache unless you are making petite fours. 

Christmas Tree Meringues with half a Fail
Since everyone that had the Mushroom Meringues loved them, I wanted to try something more festive. Christmas Tree Meringue cookies sounded ideal.
I made half just plain with only some vanilla extract and the other half flavored with peppermint.
The ones on the right are the plain ones and they are the ones that actually piped up into tree like cookies.
The mint ones had too much liquid and flattened like my hopes and dreams. 
But SPRINKLES!
I think they plain ones look great. Don't they look like little Christmas trees with the little ornaments.
BTW the mint ones look sad but taste amazing.
Maybe not my worst baking fail.
The Yule log take two wins that dubious honor.






Friday, December 11, 2015

5 Fandom Friday/ Funko Friday: Holiday Wishlist

Fandom 5 Time! Brought to you from the clever minds of The Nerdy Girlie and SuperSpaceChick
Today's Fandom Friday is Holiday Wishlist.
Also since Funkos take up my number 1 spot this post works for Funko Fridays with Pepi and Kimi.
Funko Fridays hosted by KimiWho.com and dePepi.com


1. Funkos
All Photos above from Funko.com No Copyright infringement intended

I would really like to complete my Marvel Funko pop collection. Along with Agent Carter, Black Widow, Scarlet Witch, Loki and Vision pictured above I kind of need Phil Coulson and Agent May
Still need to find Alice.
I am afraid if I get a Doctor Who pop I may become as obsessed with getting them all like I have been with the Marvel ones. But look at that Adipose one : )

All Photos above from Funko.com No Copyright infringement intended
I would also really like to finish both sets of Game of Thrones mystery minis. I love these.

2. Video Games
 I have an XBox 360 and a original Wii but I just don't have that many games. I am such a bad gamer.

3. Placebo 
 
Dear Santa, I want Placebo to play someplace I could actually get to.
It is a bit upsetting that I have never seen my favorite band perform live. Although I watched their Loud Like Love special live on youtube. Not enough! Come on Santa, make it happen.

4. The Mortal Instruments
I would love the entire Mortal Instruments books series. I read them the first time from the library and I swear that who ever was checking these out before me could not read them without eating and spilling food in the books.
YUCK
I am not looking forward to the ABC Family TV version of this. If HBO or Starz made it, then I would be all on board. Look at Outlander! But look at some of the ABC Family shows on now...double yuck. Plus I cannot forgive them for cancelling Bunheads.

5. Captain America
Basically anything Captain America or Winter Soldier related.
I am still loving the trailer for Civil War. The Bucky-Steve Bromance is back!



Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Literary Fixation: White Oleander

Once again I choose to read a book because I watched the film. Strange habit of mine.
I read White Oleander by Janet Finch for this month's IggleWorms challenge. The challenge this month is to read a book set in the 90's. This book doesn't state specific dates but it was published in the 90's, so I'm guessing that is when it is set.
Spoilers
------------------------
After watching the film, I had some idea what the book was going to be like. 
The main character, Astrid, is put into the foster care system after her mother, Ingrid, murders her ex boyfriend. Ingrid uses Oleanders to poison him because he left her. 
The story follows Astrid into each of her foster homes.
Foster Home #1
A born again, former alcoholic stripper, Starr, is the first foster mom for Astrid. There are a few other kids living there including two of Starr's biological kids. Problems occur when Astrid takes a fancy to Starr's live in boyfriend, "Uncle Ray". In true "Lolita" fashion Astrid and Ray begin a really disturbing relationship which leads to Astrid getting shot by Starr.
Foster Home #2
After Astrid gets out of the hospital she is put into a foster home with the racist Turlocks. Astrid becomes the babysitter and maid for the Turlocks. It is here that she makes friends with a "prostitute" next door and begins to dabble in drugs.
Once Astrid's friendship is discovered by the Turlocks she is kicked out.
Foster Home #3
In Astrid's third foster home, she and a group of other foster girls are starved to the point that Astrid eats food out of the garbage at school. The foster mother, Amelia, uses the girls for chores and takes the money from the state but keeps the food in the house under lock and key. After making many calls to social services, Astrid is given a new social worker who takes her away.
Foster Home #4
Astrid is taken in by actress Claire Richards. Everything seems wonderful at first. With Claire and Astrid becoming more like mother and daughter than Astrid has ever known, even with her mother Ingrid. Only beneath the outer perfection Claire is a broken and fragile woman. She eventually falls apart when her husband leaves. She kills herself and Astrid is left feeling more alone than ever.
Foster Home #5
After the trauma of losing Claire, Astrid ends up in a Children's Center. It is there that she meets a kindred spirit in Paul. Paul unfortunately ages out of the system while they are there. 
Side note: The Paul-Astrid relationship is different in the book from the film. In the film they seem to have more of a connection, while in the book it is almost fleeting.
Foster Home #6
17 year old Astrid lands into her final foster home with Russian immigrant, Rena. She lives there with two other girls. These girls, Niki and Yvonne, become Astrid's first real friends. Out of the whole book, it is the friendship with these girls that makes Astrid likable again. This foster home isn't a bad place. They live outside the norm, but it works.

So what about the murderess mother?
The entire time that Astrid is being tossed around the foster system, Ingrid is manipulating her. Ingrid may have been the final push that made Claire kill herself. She doesn't see Astrid as a person, only a possession. One that either belongs to her or must be destroyed. 
Throughout the book Ingrid is making things worse for Astrid. It is only in the end that Ingrid starts to see some of the damage she has inflicted on her daughter.

Here is where the book leaves a bitter aftertaste.
Astrid and Paul are in Berlin, living like true starving artists. Astrid has thought about cheating on Paul. I cannot see the character's reasoning for this.
It is in Berlin that they find out that Ingrid has been released from prison. 
As the book closes, Astrid is thinking about what is would be like to go back to her mother.
After everything that she went through, why does she want to go back? Ingrid has not been there for most of Astrid's life. Does Astrid think that going back to Ingrid means that she can get a second chance at the childhood she lost? I feel like Ingrid never really cared about Astrid even before the murder and jail.
The ending just made me feel uneasy.

Anyone else read this?
Which Foster home did you like or hate?


Friday, December 4, 2015

5 Fandom Friday: Holiday Recommendations

It is 5 Fandom Friday time! Thanks to The Nerdy Girlie and SuperSpaceChick for putting this together every week.
This week is all about Holiday Recommendations.

1. Holiday Candy
There are so many delicious holiday candies out right now but out of all of these I would have to choose the Milk Chocolate Orange as a must try. I believe you can find these some places year round, I never have. 
The first thing you do with these orbs of yummy is to smash is while it is in the foil. BAM! Then you have slices of chocolate with a perfect hint of orange. 

2. Bath and Body Works Peppermint Lotion
I worked at B&BW one holiday season. I still have flashbacks. The one positive thing I got out of my time there is my love for their Peppermint Lotion. It isn't too sweet smelling like some peppermint lotions. If you are near a B&BW try it out.

3. Hogfather
I read this every year. Imagine every holiday story you know and mix it up in a fun and strange fantasy world. Where DEATH is a character that you root for as he and his granddaughter try to save the Hogfather. If you don't have time for the book there is a movie version. But in all honesty, read this. Terry Prachett wrote some of the best fantasy books I have every read. His Discworld series has at least one book that everyone will like.

4. Starbucks
Starbucks seasonal drinks are back. My mom is obsessed with the Eggnog lattes. I however hate eggnog so I go for the Peppermint drinks. Mmmm Peppermint mocha latte please.

5. Babes in Toyland
Why do I love this cringe-worthy film? A very young Keanu Reeves and Drew Barrymore take on the forces of mildly evil to save Toyland. This needs to come out on DVD already. I used to have it on VHS but now I have to catch it with it is sporadically on TV. BTW I know all the lines from "C-I-N-C-I-N-N-A-T-I" song

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

November Wrap Up

November is over. It has been a tough month again. Nothing horrible happened this month but everything from the past few months still has us fighting to stay afloat. 

Hauls
Let's start off with something great...I won a prize pack from Crimson Peak! Including a Hiddleston Funko Pop, Crimson Peak shirt and an autograph card including Tom Hiddleston, Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain and Guillermo del Toro's autographs. So happy to have won this!!!

Accomplishments
My friend is having a baby. For some strange reason I am now the maker of all baby quilts within my social and familial circles. I actually have no idea what I am doing when it comes to making these quilts. My great-great aunt used to make the quilts for the family and when she got too old to do it my her daughter, my grandfather's cousin, made all the quilts. Still not sure how this fell into my lap, but it has. Unfortunately no one actually taught me how to make these so I just fly by the seat of my pants. I never know if these quilts I make will fall apart after I give them away.

Netflix
The Office
I ended up watching The Office Us on Netflix simply because it kept being recommended. I really did not think I would like it...I kind of love it now. Same thing that happened with Parks and Recs. Shows that I passed on repeatedly only to fall in love with much later. Sometimes the shows that become your favorites are the ones you've overlooked.
Both The Office and Parks and Recs have the absurd sitcom aspect but with deeper emotions underneath.

A Long Way Down
When life gets you down, sometimes the best thing to do is find an escape. I go for tv and films. On a particularly bad day I watched this film, A Long Way Down. Four people meet when they all end up on top of a building to kill themselves. Sounds pretty depressing for a film. Nope. It is all about finding reasons to live.
Not a film for everyone, but I really enjoy it.
(In the same vein as this film but I don't think it is on netflix, On The Edge with Cillian Murphy. Dark but hopeful.) 

Geez, what a depressing end to this post. I blame the weather, cold and raining.