Category: arts and entertainment

Movie Munchies 1: Apricot Chicken/Blind Side

Hi guys!  I wanted to share with you a very exciting video I just posted on my youtube channel.  It’s called Movie Munchies where we will review a film and make a recipe on the same video.  This week to celebrate the Super Bowl we are talking about 2009’s The Blind Side and making my favorite apricot chicken drumsticks- perfect for game day.  This was a huge challenge for me and I would love to get your feedback.

We’ve already got episode 2 filmed and will probably do this a couple of times a month.  If you have any ideas for good movie/meal parings please let me know!

Making this video required a whole new kind of editing and filming for me so I learned a lot but I’m really excited for the future.  I loved my chemistry with Jacqueline and found the entire experience very rewarding.  I know each episode will only continue to improve.

Thanks for checking it out.

Recipe-
3 lbs drumsticks or other meat
1 cup onions diced
1 cup bell peppers diced
3 cloves garlic minced
1/3 c soy sauce
1/4 c firmly packed cup brown sugar
1/4 c molasses
1/4 c honey
1 14 ounce bottle ketchup
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
hot sauce to taste
1 jar apricot preserves
Olive Oil
Heat up onions, peppers, and garlic till translucent. In separate skillet sear the chicken on high heat to get a golden brown color. Add all ingredients except for jam, heat and then let simmer till it thickens.
Add apricot jam to mixture and poor over chicken.
Bake at 400 degrees for an hour, remove tin foil at 30 minutes. Test with thermometer. Want chicken 165 degrees or higher.
Enjoy! Let me know if you like it and I’ve made it with wings, pork, ribs etc.

Classics for a Reason

Yesterday I had an interesting experience. At my local cinemark movie theater they have a ‘Cinemark Classics Series’ where twice a month or so they will have a movie ‘classic’ on the big screen. I try to go to as many of these as I can and you can even get them at a discounted rate.  In last year I’ve seen rereleases on big screen of films such as Roman Holiday, It’s a Wonderful Life, My Fair Lady, Home Alone, Back to the Future, Blade Runner, Breakfast at Tiffany’s and more.  These have all been great experiences.

However, what was interesting about last night is I went to a movie I knew nothing about except that it was a ‘classic’.  I saw the John Huston classic ‘Treasure of the Sierra Madre’.  I knew this was a Western with Humphrey Bogart and that was about it.

cinemark classic seriesHere’s the trailer.

I ended up loving the movie!  It’s not just a Western but it’s a nuanced and gripping portrayal of a man going crazy over greed.  The moral conflict was much more interesting than anything that happened to them physically.  Bogart starts off assuming he will do the right thing but as the curse of money grips him he becomes more and more of a savage.  The script is so well written and I completely bought the transition.

You can read the rest of my review here but I guess what struck me is that sometimes you can trust ‘a classic really is a classic’.  You could make an argument for only seeing classics I could understand.  The movies have had the chance to sift through and eliminate the turkeys.  With modern movies we don’t have that option.  Of course, I don’t love every classic but there aren’t many that I hate.

Isn’t that interesting? It’s the same way with all the classics- classic books, classic stories, classic TV shows, even classic recipes.  They are the tried, true and tested of the world, and you can rely on them to be good most of the time.

What was particularly striking is there was a lot in Treasure of Sierra Madre that reminded me of the current Oscar frontrunner The Revenant.  It’s a decent flick but I think Treasure is far superior despite having many of the same elements.  They are both about hardened Westerners.  They both have gritty survival stories and both feature stories of greed and revenge. But Treasure is so much more subtle and nuanced than The Revenant.  It also gave me more moments to breath and empathize with the characters where The Revenant is kind of unending in its repetitive beatdown of its characters.  Again, not saying The Revenant is a bad movie because it isn’t but when compared to a true classic it falls far short of where it needs to be.

I wonder if many movies could be looked at that way (or novels for that matter).  If you held them against their classic doppleganger the flaws in the new become much more apparent.

So cheers to the classics!  What are classics you like?  Or what is a movie you’ve watched recently where you thought “____ movie did that better”?  Are there contemporary takes on characters or stories you think did the concepts or stories better than the classics?  Please list in the comments section.

Do you ever go to the theater to see the classics?  It’s a ton of fun if you get a chance.

35 and Sundance

So I am writing you all as a 35 year old woman.  I know in the grand scheme of things it isn’t old but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t feel old.  I still feel like the same old person I was in my 20s and here I am 35!  How did this happen? :)

Well, I ended up having a really fun 35th birthday.  I was worried because I had been sick all week (as I reported a few days ago).  But I tried to rest up and was feeling mostly better for my birthday.  It was a good thing because I had a great experience and a unique opportunity for my birthday.

A few weeks ago Morgan over at Rotoscopers.com asked if I would be willing to represent their website at a screening for a film at the Sundance Film Festival.  I had always wanted to go to Sundance but I didn’t know they had a Sundance Kids section.  Now I will totally be going every year!  She said I could see the film and then have a chance to interview the creators afterwards.

I jumped at the chance but was also very nervous about the interview portion.  I’ve never done an interview before and worried I wouldn’t have professional enough questions.   The movie is called Snowtime and I will save my review for rotoscopers.com but I really did enjoy the film.  It’s a sweet little story about kids playing in the snow.  It reminded me of the Peanuts Movie quite a bit, which I loved.   Here’s a trailer for the film:

So I did my homework and came up with some questions that I ran by some friends who had done that kind of thing before.  I also had my camera, phone to record the interview and notepad ready to go!

The big ticket

Waiting in line for the show to start

Dog Cleo from the movie was there

snowtime

Then I saw the film and enjoyed it and they did a Q and A afterwards where the kids in the audience asked great questions.  This helped relieve my nerves a little bit.  I figured if little kids could do it, so could I! :)

So, I was rushed into a little green room area and I met with director Francois Brisson and producer Marie-Claude Beauchamp.  I got to ask questions for about 5 minutes and I think I did pretty well.  I will pass the link on to you guys when I get the interview written up for Rotoscopers.com.  It was so fascinating to learn about the behind the scenes of an animated film- even a small scale animated film like this one.  I enjoyed hearing about their inspiration and how they came up with different elements of the design and story.

It ended up being a really cool experience and a great way to spend my birthday.  I finished the day with a quiet dinner with one of my best friends also named Rachel.  I had tons of love shown my way, which I greatly appreciate it and heard from many of my family and friends.  I am so blessed.

I hope 35 is one of the best years yet!!

Best and Worst of 2015 of Everything

So we have almost reached the end of 2015 and what a crazy year it has been.  And is it just me or has this year felt incredibly long?  It feels like a million years ago I was recovering from my busted knee!

As I do every year I thought it would be fun to share with you my best and worst of the year in a bunch of categories.  I would love if you shared yours in the comment section.  Some of them I won’t have a worst because it doesn’t really qualify.

Best Book I Read

I loved The Martian but best book I read  was Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella. 

Here is a hilarious novel about a girl who is overcoming a mental breakdown and has severe anxiety.  But it is also extremely funny with her family being much better written than any sitcom I’ve seen in a long time.  Particularly the battles between the Mother and Audrey’s brother Frank had me in stitches.  Kinsella has been a favorite author of mine for years but this was her first YA novel and she knocked it out of the park.  It was touching, sweet, handled the mental illness so well and yet was also made me laugh.  No easy task to balance but she did.

finding audreyWorst Book I Read

Me Before You is a book that really ticked me off.  It attempts to manipulate the viewer to agree with the selfish choices the character makes.  Even if I agreed with said choices I wouldn’t appreciate the way the author doesn’t give other viable emotional options and expects you to celebrate as empowering the taking of a life.  This is no Million Dollar Baby I will tell you that.  Plus, the dialogue is awful, the characters poorly developed and the situation not as deep and contemplative as it thinks it is.  I said in my review on goodreads ‘like a Nicholas Sparks book but not as competently written…’.  It’s very true.  It is definitely one of the worst books I’ve ever read.

me before youBest Movie

I already shared my best and worst videos, with you but I figured I needed to share it here.

My favorite movie of the year was Pixars Inside Out.  It blew me away to follow the journey of Joy and Riley as they try to accept all this change into their lives.  It’s moving, clever, funny, beautifully animated and just about perfect.

inside out5The worst movie I saw all year is called the Ridiculous 6, which is available on Netflix.  It is not only a stupid comedy but incredibly gross and offensive.  Plus it is 2 hours long!!  Kill me now.  You’ve been warned.

ridiculous 6-3Best New Restaurant

My favorite new place to eat is the Even Stevens sandwich shop that opened up in Draper.  I have had most of their menu and it is all delicious.  Plus, they donate ingredients for a sandwich to the hungry with each sandwich ordered.  My favorite is the Turkey Day but you can’t go wrong.  I’ve liked everything I have tried.  Great service there as well.

even stevens2

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Worst New Restaurant

It’s not new to the world but I’ve been to the new Dunkin Donuts 3 times and not been impressed.  The donuts are cold, dry and lacking in flavor.  I like my donuts light and fluffy in texture so I guess it is a personal preference thing but I don’t get the fuss.

dunkin donutsBest TV Show

It’s in its 2nd season but I started getting into Star Wars Rebels this year and have loved it.  I know it is designed for kids but the stories are good!  The characters are interesting and it’s fun to see a whole new non-Skywalker side of the Star Wars world.

rebels2Worst TV Show

I know people like it but I thought Blackish was awful.  I felt it took racial stereotypes and wallowed in them instead of doing anything interesting or funny.  Like why is it funny to have a Dad bother his son about playing field hockey? Thats not a black sport evidently but basketball is.  Come on?  The lead character father is so unlikable that I couldn’t get past it.

blackishBest Music

The best music of 2015 is definitely Adelle’s new album 25.  I’ve listened to it incessantly for the last month and find it haunting and beautiful.

adele2

My favorite song on the album is called When We Were Young:

I don’t have a worst song because I pretty much just listen to my downloads so it is all songs I like.

Best New Broadway Show-

I haven’t seen it but have loved listening to Hamilton just like everyone else.

I think that’s everything! What are your favorite books, movies, TV, music, food etc?  Share in the comment sections.  Thanks!

Teaser Tuesdays: Force Awakens Novelization

Yesterday I saw Star Wars Force Awakens for the 4th time, so you could say I liked it!  It’s the Star Wars movie we’ve all been waiting for.  It also didn’t explain everything that happened before the events of the movie; nor, did it hesitate to leave questions unanswered.  This weekend my friend Jeremy, Abby and I are going to be talking Force Awakens like we have the previous 6 films over on my youtube channel.  To prepare for that discussion I decided to read (or listen too) the novelization of the movie.  So far there isn’t a ton of new information but there are little details I’m getting out of it that I didn’t notice in the movie.  The book is written b Alan Dean Foster and if you liked Force Awakens I recommend reading it.  The audiobook is excellently done.

 

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of A Daily Rhythm.

force awakens novelizationAnyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page.
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers.

Here’s my teaser from  of Star Wars: The Force Awakens at 1 hr 10 min:

She tried to think of something else.  Something that had changed.  Something that seemed different- if only to keep her mind from atrophying.  But there was nothing. Nothing was different.  Nothing was new. On Jakku things never changed

I actually love that quote because I think it is a side of Rey we don’t get to see in the movie.  She’s restless and bored, and I got more tired in the movie.  That’s why reading these types of books are fun.  You get to relive a favorite movie while adding on new details only in the book.

My brother and I talk all about Force Awakens if you are curious for our review. I would love if you checked it out and gave it a thumbs up.  Share what you thought of the movie.

What are you reading right now? Anything you are anticipating in 2016?

I’d love to convince other readers to do the Tuesday Teasers because I am always looking for good book recommendations.  Give it a try!

Here is the link to our discussion video for Sunday if you want to join us.  If you have questions you’d like answered email them to me at smilingldsgirl@yahoo.com

https://plus.google.com/events/ca41hpkbo69ir9um8re68rmuv24

I Have a Wonderful Life

wonderful life2

Merry Christmas friends!  I’ve had a wonderful Christmas Eve.  I worked out with my trainer, did some boxing and then went to Cinemark Draper to see It’s a Wonderful Life on the big screen- one of my all time favorite movies.  In the movie, George Bailey makes sacrifices for his friends over and over again. Life in return gives him many great moments but it also asks him to keep sacrificing  He finally reaches a breaking point where he can’t give another inch and is about to give up on life. It’s then that God intervenes, sends down Clarence and shows him what all that sacrificing meant to people.

Granted the life without George Bailey may be a little stark.  I for one have not saved anyone’s life or stopped someone from poisoning another person, so my ‘life without  me’ might not be a hell hole of debauchery and despair!  However, we have to also remember that they were dealing with a man about to kill himself so subtlety might not have worked.  I mean if they had shown him life being relatively the same that would be even more of a reason to jump off a bridge!

The thing that struck me today as I rewatched the film on Christmas Eve is how George was missing all the goodness given to him and focusing on the sacrifices. It was only when he stepped out of himself and saw things from another’s point of view he realized how precious not only his friends were but his life was as well. How easy is it to focus on the things you do not have, the trips you wish you could take, the spouse you wish you could have, the friends you wish you hung out with etc. Instead we should focus on the many things we do have in our life and the important role we all play to each other- even if it is not as dramatic as George Bailey and the citizens of Bedford Falls!

I guess I was thinking about this because I am alone on Christmas again.   I did spend Christmas Eve with my Grandma and other relatives and some of my family come to town on the 27th, but Christmas Day I am alone.  While it certainly wouldn’t be my choice, I am going to try and focus on the many people I have in my life and how good God has been to me this year.

In that spirit, I want to say thanks to all of you. I admit this year I have been a bit more divided between the two blogs and the youtube channel, but hopefully I’ve still provided good content to this blog.  I have certainly loved writing the more personal, eclectic entries here.  You all add so much to my life.  That’s not just lip service but true.  Thank you! I hope I add some small something to yours.

I hope you feel love this Christmas Day and know that ‘no man is a failure who has friends’- even online friends!

Merry Christmas and God bless you

no-man-is-a-failure

Teaser Tuesdays: Christmas Carol

Friends of the blog know I have a bit of a Christmas Carol obsession.  Last year on my movie blog I did an entire month of watching 35 different versions of Christmas Carol. 54disneyreviews.com/scrooge-month/

Every year I make sure to go to Christmas Carol at Hale Theater Orem.  It makes the season for me and it is one of my favorite books, and I read it every year during the Christmas season.   Here’s another post I wrote all about Christmas Carol.

Why do I love it so much?  I guess I love stories of redemption and that nobody is a lost cause. It reminds me of what happens when we forget about Christ (or Christmas) and how we can find him again through the sacrifice of our friends.  It’s about looking at our past, present and future to change and grow.  It’s one of those stories that is almost impossible for me to not like- even Tori Spelling version I like! (But there are a few versions I don’t like.  I’m talking to you Ghost of Girlfriends Past!)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of A Daily Rhythm.

christmas carol bookAnyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page.
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers.

Here’s my teaser from  of Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens page 33:

It was a great surprise to Scrooge, while listening to the moaning of the wind, and thinking what a solemn thing it was to move on through the lonely darkness over an unknown abyss, whose depths were secrets as profound as death: it was a great surprise to Scrooge, while thus engaged, to hear a hearty laugh.

I love that quote! What imagery and it is a small moment where Scrooge starts to notice things like laughter where he had missed it before (it is Fred’s laughter which he shunned earlier in the day). Reading this book again makes me want to finally tackle some of the more challenging Dickens like David Copperfield and Nicholas Nickleby. Have you read any of those?  What Dickens have you read?  I have read Christmas Carol, Great Expectations, Oliver, and Tale of Two Cities and I love them all with Christmas Carol and Great Expectations being my favorite.  I would also love to read Little Dorrit one of these days.

Do you read Christmas Carol during the holidays?  Do you watch a version of the movie?  Why does the story ring true for you? Why do you think it still remains a classic all these years later?

Let’s talk about it and what are you reading right now? If any of you do the Teaser Tuesdays please let me know!

Here are my top 10 versions of Christmas Carol