Tag: summer

Hey Friends and Summer Movie Report Card

So sorry I haven’t written in a bit.  I haven’t been feeling great and was a little bit blocked on what to write about.  Sometimes after 7 years of blogging it can be a little tough to think of new topics to write about especially when I have my separate movie blog.  I figured I would just give you a little update on what’s going on in my life like I used to do when I was just starting out the blog.

Summer is slipping by faster than it should and I’ve hardly gotten to the open water at all.  Next week I am going up to Bear Lake to swim a 1/2 mile swim.  It should be a lot of fun and at least I will be in the water for the weekend.

It’s not even that I’ve been that busy I’ve just had an upset stomach and been battling an infection that won’t go away and is very uncomfortable.  I don’t know if it is this infection but I’ve felt low energy lately, like I wish I could sleep all day and do nothing.  Do you ever get that way?

It’s hard feeling so tired because I need to get back into shape.  The whole prospect is completely overwhelming.  After being bedridden for a while last year I’ve had a hard time jumping back into my exercise routine.  I think I am going to try and make little changes and not do anything too drastic. My goal is to focus on eating right and swimming as much as I can.  That should keep it from being too miserable.  Do any of you have any suggestions?

Everything is going well at work.  Like I posted a few weeks ago I am taking a slower strategy- still working very hard but trying to wait on things and make them as perfect as I can instead of rushing.  It seems to be working out quite well.  (The one downside to telecommuting is I’m never 100% sure what people think of me but I feel like it is positive).

I’ve been learning a lot and we have a new giveaway for MagicCool cooling towels you guys should check out. http://gvwy.io/3u8zr6. It would actually really help me out if you did enter and it’s super easy to do.

I’ve had a fun summer watching movies.  As far as new movies here’s the summary:

Minions- cute but not that funny.  C

Terminator Genisys- Arnold is good but that’s about. Makes no sense, bad acting. D+

Me Earl and the Dying Girl- Cute if a bit derivative of other movies and filmmakers B

Inside Out- Completely brilliant. Best movie I’ve seen since Perks of Being a Wallflower in 2012  A+

When Marnie was There- Moving exploration of a tween girl with depression and the mystery of the marsh house.  A

Love and Mercy- Ambitious combination of 2 movies about Brian Wilson of Beach Boys.  I liked it but it felt kind of fractured and wedged together.  B-

Jurassic World- Stupid movie but entertaining in spurts. C

San Andreas- Rock can’t save the bad dialogue and special effects I’ve seen before.  D

Tomorrowland- Interesting concept, original idea but episodic in feel, miscast and to be honest kind of boring.  C-

Mad Max Fury Road- Visceral, insane war movie with great battle sequences like I’ve never seen before.  A-

Far From Madding Crowd- Loved 2 leads, beautifully shot, didn’t like Troy segments or actor. A little soapy at times. B-

Pitch Perfect 2- Same plot as original but taken international. Nothing special but I did like the songs and it did make me laugh. B-

Ex-Machina- Very well made AI thriller. I wish I was a little more emotionally connected to characters and ending a little predictable but definitely worth seeing. B+

Age of Adeline- Hated the narration and kind of soapy but charismatic cast saves it. Overall a fine time at the movies.  C

Avengers Age of Ultron- I loved it.  I liked getting my backstory on all the team. Liked they seemed vulnerable, Ultron and the ending was great A+

So that’s the movies for the summer.  Over all, I think last summer was stronger.  I can tell you one thing I am grateful to Mad Max because I am so tired of dopey action movies like Terminator Genisys that don’t give me anything new.  Inside Out is by far my favorite of the summer and year.  It blew me away.

If you are deciding what to spend the big bucks on I would say my As are the best movies of the summer- Inside Out, When Marnie was There, Mad Max Fury Road and Avengers.

What have you liked this summer at the movies? Make sure to check out the movie blog for reviews of almost all these movies

What else is going on…

Well, I have been enjoying Big Brother.  Audrey is the first transgender contestant and she is stunningly beautiful. I would never have known if she hadn’t told us.  Unfortunately, she’s also been a total train wreck in the house but she seems to be squeaking by somehow.  It’s been a lot of fun to watch.  I really like a guy named Johnny Mac who is a dentist from Pennsylvania.  He is so funny.  There is also a poker player named Vanessa who I think could win.  I wish they weren’t doing Battle of the Block again because it makes things very predictable.

Any of you watch it?

I guess that is a good update on things going on.  Let me know what is going on in your life.

Summer Reading

summer reading

The last few days I’ve had a number of people ask me for reading suggestions while they travel. so I thought I’d put together a list of great summer reads.

What do I consider a good summer read? (just my definition so you may pick totally differently than me but it’s my blog!)

A great summer book is light, witty, easy to relate too and little to no fantasy worlds to digest. No dystopias or vampires or warewolfs.  Those can be enjoyed (or not enjoyed) more in the winter where you can cozy up to a fire and an adventure.

Summer books should make you feel good and be something you could read in spurts and not feel bad.  There are so many distractions in the summer which makes this last aspect key.

So here’s my list: (in no particular order)

1. A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle

2.  Undomestic Goddess by Sophi Kinsella  (mild language warning)

3. Red China Blues  by Jan Wong

4.  All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriott

5. Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer, Annie Barrows

6. I Feel Bad About My Neck by Nora Ephron

7. Cheaper by the Dozen by Frank Bunker Gilbreth, Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey

8.  Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson

9. The Prizewinner of Defiance Ohio by Terry Ryan

10. Gift from the Sea by Anne Marrow Lindbergh

11. From Mama’s Bank Account by Kathryn Forbes

12. My Life in France by Julia Child

13. Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery

14. Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo

15. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

16. A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel

17. The Egg and I by Betty McDonald

18. Summer at Tiffany by Marjorie Hart

19. Portuguese Irregular Verbs by Alexander McCall Smith (actually any AMS book would be great)

20. Jane Austen books- I know classics to some aren’t light but I literally read them every summer so they have to go on the list!

There are many more I could pick and if you have particular interests or are going some place unique let me know and I will give some recommendations.  Enjoy your travel and your reading!

What do you like to read in the summer? I’d love to hear your lists

summer reading2

 

Summer Updates

S0 it got to be 103 degrees today. Let’s just say SUMMERRR is here! I have been having a great time.  Summer is always so much more fun for me than Winter.  Just the addition of open water swimming makes my life better.  (Swimming in an indoor pool just isn’t the same). I’ve been able to see all my swim friends that I somehow miss in the winter.

Here are some highlights

I’ve been to plays including Wrinkle in Time at BYU which was mind blowing and Tarzan at Scera which was good.

My BFF Emily and I at Tarzan
My BFF Emily and I at Tarzan
Rachel B and I at Wrinkle in Time.  She's so cool and it was an amazing experience. Like no play I've ever seen
Rachel B and I at Wrinkle in Time. She’s so cool and it was an amazing experience. Like no play I’ve ever seen

I’ve been working really hard at my new job with Poler.

like this photo tons.  Been a happy time in my life.
In my office. I like this photo tons. Been a happy time in my life lately.

I’ve been reading a lot, especially rereading Jane Austen to get ready for book club. Its funny because I talk about them a lot but I haven’t actually read them in a long time.  They are just as brilliant as I remember.

reading

I’ve been swimming up a storm.  I wish I could go everyday but with work and other responsibilities there just isn’t time.  Went last Saturday to Deer Creek and today to Blackridge Pond in Herriman.

The girls ready for a swim.  Love open water women!
The girls ready for a swim. Love open water women!
Happy Rachel swimming at Herriman.
Happy Rachel swimming at Herriman.
I kind of love this photo of me at Deer Creek.  Got curves?
I kind of love this photo of me at Deer Creek. Got curves?

1017071_553320534706999_266073100_n

Scraped my arm and leg tripping at Deer Creek.  First swimming injury
Scraped my arm and leg tripping at Deer Creek. First swimming injury
Despite my scrapes I was happy to be in the water.
Despite my scrapes I was happy to be in the water.

Other fun things…I performed in master class on Wednesday and sang Wishing You Were Somehow Here from Phantom of the Opera.  I’m no opera singer but it was fun to let my diva out.

Speaking of diva’s Drop Dead Diva started on lifetime which made my BFF Emily and I very happy. We had dinner together and a little diva watching party.  It did not disappoint.  Great season opening.  I think made even better by the fact that it almost didn’t happen.

emilyThe meal turned out really good.  It was buccatini (my new favorite pasta) with fresh cherry tomatoes, sausage, parm and fresh herbs from my container gardens which drumroll ARE STILL ALIVE!

Look how big my mint is!
Look how big my mint is!
Look how big my basil has gotten.  I guess I don't kill all living creatures :)
Look how big my basil has gotten. I guess I don’t kill all living creatures 🙂

I also made flank steak for the first time to great success

flank steak
Not bad looking right? Flank steak is my new favorite

I went to a Josh Turner concert with my friends Emilee and Rachel M (I know a lot of Rachel’s and Emily’s!).  He was super entertaining and has the most sexy voice I think I’ve ever heard.  Its low and he has an old fashioned southern drawl.  His band was really good too.  It was a great night.

Hawaii girl reunion Rachel, Rachel and Emilee
Hawaii girl reunion Rachel, Rachel and Emilee
Josh Turner and the crowd
Josh Turner and the crowd

All in all its been a great summer!  Hope you all have a great 4th and enjoy the hot weather as much as I do. 🙂

No Vacation: No Distraction

Everyone knows I’m a huge traveler and love experiencing new places, cultures and food.  So you might find it surprising when I talk about my plans for the summer. I have decided to take NO VACATIONS.

No Beach This Year 😦

Here’s why:

I have a goal to swim a 5k at the Deer Creek Open Water Swim.  This is an ambitious goal- 3 times what I struggled to swim at the GSL race.  I know I will not be able to accomplish this goal without some serious dedication.   Even with the dedication it will be a challenge.

I had thought about going to Disneyland but I have to go to California for work/reunion (doesn’t count as a vacation, more like a business trip) and if you add Disneyland it will be 2 weeks away from my training.  I can’t risk that.

I also decided to put the  money I would have put to travel towards my training.  I have started meeting with a dietician and am taking UFC kickboxing classes (they are so much fun and the trainer is great!).  This week I was supposed to take the week off and rest my muscles…I have worked out every day.  Not too successful.  Sorry doc!

I’ve also been watching what eat even more carefully and am using myfitnesspal.com to help me keep track.  I found I was either eating too much or too little.  Now it is closer to the right balance.  By not going on vacation I am able to control my diet more carefully.

I still have vacation days to use but I plan on applying those to recovery days and then if I have extra I may take a trip in the winter to NYC.  Maybe New York for Christmas! (The Tony awards peaked my interest in a couple shows).

What I would love to do is save money so I can go to the swim camps in Costa Rica.   That would be a dream come true! It would also be an easy trip to go by myself because it is planned, group oriented.  I don’t feel like I am a good enough swimmer yet for it to be worth it but I’d love to go!

http://www.costaricadreamswimcamps.com/costaricadreamswimcamps.com/Welcome.html

I’m really going to miss the beach this year. It’s just not summer without the beach but at least I have a salt lake to enjoy and there is always the man-made strangeness of Black Ridge in Herriman.

Black Ridge reservoir (more like a cow pond behind some houses) strange place but nice!

I’ve just got to make sure that with no vacation I don’t make myself crazy.  I’ve got to find ways to relax within my normal schedule.  Especially with training this could be difficult.  I do not want to get over-stressed like I did before the GSL (no promises but I’m going to try!).

What do you do to relax when you can’t vacation or travel?

 

6 Best Summer Movies

As the readers of this blog know I am a huge movie buff year-round.  Unfortunately sometimes I grow weary of the blockbuster movies that are usually popular in the summer.  For some reason I don’t usually like super hero movies.  I’ve always prefered characters that I can relate to, even in a complete fantasy.  For instance, Harry Potter may be in a complete fantasy world but his character and skill-set are mostly things I can relate to.   The Incredibles is one of the few super hero movies I like because it moves super heroes into a real world setting and it makes me laugh.  Most super hero movies are very show-offy and just for the fluffy special effects.

Christy Lemire, an AP movie critic I follow, recently posted a list of her top 5 summer movies.  I have to admit I’ve only seen 1 of the movies she lists but I thought the idea was a fun one, especially for me given my usual distaste for summer movies.  I had to make a list of 6 because I just couldn’t leave one off.  So here goes:

1. Up- Up is one of my favorite movies. It is the story of an elderly man that fulfills his dream to go to Paradise Falls (a promise he made to his beloved wife) by flying his house to South America.  It is a sweet, funny, endearing movie that never fails to move and inspire me.  Just the first 5 minutes are more moving than 90% of the current romantic movies made.

The reason why I think it qualifies as a summer movie is its focus on travel (I actually saw it in Hawaii and then loved it so much to see it 2 more times in the theater when I got home.).  The spirit of adventure and freedom also feels very summery.  I think without a ‘summer vacation’ you lose a little of that sensation as an adult and a movie like Up reminds you to be a little more bold.

https://smilingldsgirl.wordpress.com/2011/07/10/pixar/

2. When Harry Met Sally- I love Norah Ephron’s writing, whether in book or movie form I think she is hilarious. Hidden in the romantic banter is nuggets of wisdom and insight.  I could easily pick You’ve Got Mail as that is a favorite of mine but I went with WHMS because it begins with a road trip with lots of conversation. To me that is an ultimate summer experience.  I must admit that usually such trips are ripe with peril for me but the idea of hitting the road and enjoying the conversation of a good friend is very American and very summery.

Perhaps because so many weddings happen in the summer but it seems to me you have to pick one romance in such a list.  People always compare WHMS to Annie Hall but to be honest I like it better.  I think Annie Hall is kind of boring and it did not make me laugh near as much as WHMS.  It just didn’t- let the name calling begin. 😉

For more of my thoughts on romantic comedies check out these posts-

https://smilingldsgirl.wordpress.com/2011/02/11/romantic-comedies-that-are-actually-romantic/

https://smilingldsgirl.wordpress.com/2011/10/15/romantic-comedy-cliches-im-sick-of/

https://smilingldsgirl.wordpress.com/2008/05/28/open-to-change/

3. Endless Summer- A summer movie list absolutely demands a beach movie.   I LOVE the beach and fantasize about it on a daily basis.  Endless Summer is a landmark documentary that introduced many people to the sport of surfing.  In 1966 director Bruce Brown follows surfers Mike Hynson and Robert August (perfect last name for a summer movie!) as they introduce people around the world to surfing.  They travel from Hawaii, New Zealand to Africa and Australia.   The idea is that by surfing around the world summer never ends.  What a glorious concept!  What a happy thought!

Having tried surfing myself it is amazing what these athletes can do and what a thrilling experience it must be.  Other good surfing documentaries are Step Into Liquid and Walking on Water.  All 3 films are available as an instant stream on netflix.  It will make you want to go to Hawaii and try surfing for yourself.

4. Inception- I picked Inception because for my money it is the best blockbuster type of movie ever made (was going to pick Raiders of the Lost Arc but this is even better).  It is the puzzle piece of a movie where Leonardo DiCaprio goes inside dreams to attempt to retrieve and ultimately change the behavior of the subjects.  Eventually an inception becomes so complicated that there are over 4 levels of dreams within a dream.  In fact, the final ending it is unsure whether there are even more levels.

I think Inception transcends the action movie genre because it has so many well developed characters surrounding the action and special effects. All of the acting is really good, especially Marion Cotillard as DiCaprio’s wife.  Her scenes give an emotional resonance to the film that is missing in most big budget action films.  I also love Tom Hardy and Joseph Gordon Leavitt.

I also like that it is a movie 100 people could see and all feel differently about.  I like a movie that doesn’t spoon feed you a moral or a message.  I’ve seen it probably 7 or 8 times and I still don’t know what the ending is.  To me chatting about movies and books is a very summery thing.  Something you just don’t have time for the rest of the year, so Inception makes the list!

5. 12 Angry Men-  This may seem like an odd choice because it is such a small movie.  The reason it made the list is because heat is such a critical element to the story.  Told more like a play, 12 strangers (all played by amazing character actors) must deliberate on a murder case during a hot stifling summer day.  The more they talk the more heat is used to convey stress, emotion, loneliness and anger.

Henry Fonda is excellent as the stick in the mud who insists on conversation but his performance is really the easiest to pull off.  Lee Cobb and Ed Begley as the most explosive jurors are wonderfully nuanced but ALL of the actors are great.  Its remarkable that a movie set in one room with a mere table and some pencils for props can be so compelling.  Perhaps it is because human beings are compelling enough when written well without all the explosions and special effects.

You feel hot watching the movie.  I’ve always wanted to see this in the theater but haven’t gotten to do so.  I wonder if the power of movie to invoke heat and temperature would be missing in a live theater?

Still, an excellent movie for anyone interested in a good script, great acting and perfectly executed sets.

6. 5oo Days of Summer–  My last choice is another romance.  This movie uses Summer in a more broad sense.  Summer comes to mean the time of a romance; hence it lasting for 500 days instead of 90.   It is an artsy movie without being annoying telling the story of two young people Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gorden Leavitt who have a 500 day romance.  It’s a simple story but told so creatively that it does not feel simple.

First it is told in a non-linear way with days 5 followed by day 453.  This might sound confusing but it totally works.  There are also other creative touches such as a mid-movie musical number and a scene that floats into a charcoal drawing.  I also love the scene where a split screen gives two versions of an evening- what is actually happening, and what the character anticipates happening.  Brilliant.  All of these methods, however, could be incredibly irritating if done in a showy way but they aren’t.  It just melds into the picture and makes sense.  Plus, the chemistry between all the performers is really good.  This is especially important for Deschanel who plays a kind of unlikable character, but she’s so likable it works.

It also has the guts to end in a bittersweet but perfect way.  This is the movie I would recommend for someone that wants to feel summer all year round.

So there is my list.  What would you have on your list of summer favorites? Please share!