Friday, November 28, 2008

Good Eats and Tasty Treats

Yum, yum, yum. I love Thanksgiving! This year, we hosted dinner at our home with the Barringers and then welcomed the Quicks over for dessert after a few rounds of Carcassonne. So, here it is: Thanksgiving, the food edition.

I still cannot cook for a small group on the holidays, so we had a 23 pound turkey that was absolutely delicious and moist and just yummy. To make, rinse the turkey and stuff the cavity and the neck with onions and lemons. Take a stick of soft butter and add chopped fresh sage, thyme and rosemary. Mush together with a spoon and then spread it all over the turkey and under the skin on the breast. Throw the thing in the over at 350 and forget about it. I did not even baste it. Under the turkey, I threw in some celery, carrots and garlic cloves. After the turkey had finished cooking, I blended the roasted vegis into the drippings to make the gravy.

For the stuffing this year I sauteed onions, baby bellas, celery, chunks of pork loin, dried cherries and pecans and then added the dried bread and stock. Yum.

Kelly brought Paula's spinach salad which is always delicious and could really be a meal on tis own. She also made the crescent rolls.

Kelly made these roasted root vegetables with fresh rosemary. The sweet potato biscuits are a new recipe I tried this year. They are simply amazing and you should all make them. Today. (I substituted canned squash for the sweet potato puree because I was in a hurry and since I did not have buttermilk, I used milk with some fresh lemon juice squeezed into it - and frozen butter) Kelly made this delicious sweet potato puree with a pecan crust on top.

The appetizer is a caramelized onion dip which I have to say I did not like. It is a texture thing more than a flavor issue.

Baby Evi ate more than all of my kids combined.

The squirrels on the back porch provided the evenings entertainment.

My plate before:

and after. My eyes were much bigger than my stomach! The red sauce is an apple, cranberry orange compote.

Some of the leftovers. We could have fed another dozen people.

And then, dessert! I made a couple of pumpkin pies - I prefer the traditional Libby's recipe on the can. Kelly brought another version made with heavy cream - yum.

This was a new pie I made this year - Tangerine Chiffon Pie. This one is a definite keeper - so light and fluffy and just yummy!

We make this every year by request. Peanut Butter Pie. Obviously, use real heavy whipped cream instead of the cool whip, and I make an Oreo crust instead of the vanilla wafer one.

Apple pie from Susan, Chocolate Mousse Pie (I use Ghiridelli's bittersweet chocolate), pumpkin pies, Tangerine Chiffon Pie, Peanut Butter Pie, Pumpkin Cheesecake, and Almond-orange bread pudding (not shown).

Even with sending pie home with all of our guests, we have a LOT of dessert left over. We had pie for breakfast today - and lunch.

It was a lovely day - nice weather, good friends and good food. And today? It is 6:00pm and I am still in my pajamas.

Thanksgiving Round-Up

Thanksgiving Day was spent at home - cooking and cleaning and getting ready to host dinner at 3pm. Somehow the kids all managed to wear more than one outfit during the day and Calvin managed to earn two separate baths. I love staying home on Thanksgiving. Usually I stay in my pajamas and spend most of the day in the kitchen.

We finished up our gratitude door by reading all of the turkeys.

Max spent a great deal of time buried in the Redwall series.

Calvin whipped up a few more crafts.

Max helped Bryan put away the summer toys. They are taken apart and stored under the deck.

Sophie shared her Thanksgiving wishes with us. I like that I am still getting credit for our trip to Glacier - a year and a half later. Notice also that only Daddy cuts the crusts off her bread!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Cereal Box Turkeys

Here is your Thanksgiving craft of the day. I saw this idea floating on the web, but I think it originated at Plum Pudding. Dig out your cereal boxes from the recycling bin and cut out circles of different sizes (I used the creative memories circle cutter). Paint a Popsicle stick. Take the largest circle and cut out notches for the feathers. Take a smaller circle and cut in half for the wings. Then, just hot glue everything together, add some googly eyes and you're done!

What are YOU doing today?

Making these? Yeah, me too.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Wickedly Good Fun

On Monday night I had the unexpected treat of going to see Wicked with the Backer family. Vickie called last minute with an extra ticket and Kelly graciously agreed to take my kids (sorry again Kelly for Calvin's little "mishap").

I had seen Wicked once in Chicago, so it was really fun to see it again with a different cast. I was sitting next to Carrie who was seeing it for the third time, so we had lot to compare. Overall, though I enjoyed the show and was thoroughly entertained, I thought the cast in Chicago was stronger.

Elpheba, played by Donna Vivino, did a nice job and I was reminded again by how difficult her part is to sing! Here is a brief clip of Elpheba.

Our Galinda, Katie Rose Clarke, seemed a little tired or off her game. Though funny in many scenes, her voice was not impressively strong. She was however, more comfortable with the lower range of her role than the Galinda we saw in Chicago (Erin Mackey, who is absoluetely hysterical).

Our wizard, Lenny Wolpe was absolutely terrific and stole the show whenever he was on stage. Fiyero, Richard Blake was also much better than than the one we saw in Chicago.

The funniest part of the night was the wardrobe malfunction during One Short Day. One of the guys was wearing what should have been balloon shorts. They must have not been snapped or something, because every time he jumped or twirled, he flashed the audience his black boxer briefs. The actor was trying not to laugh and his dance partner was in hysterics.

It was such a fun, unexpected treat and reminded me again of how much I just love musicals! I came home and spent a hour on You Tube the next day comparing different Galinda's and Elpheba's. So thank you again Vickie - it was just magical!

By the way, I think Kristen Chenoweth is just about the most adorable woman out there. Can you imagine seeing her on Broadway as Galinda?! I was so impressed with her in the clip (not a Wicked clip) that I watched it about 5 times in a row. Amazing voice.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Girl's Night Out - Twilight Edition

Friday night was our big girl's night out. We ended up having 24 women for dinner at the Cheesecake Factory and then the 10:15 showing of Twilight. Our group included a fair number of Twilight fanatics (have read the books numerous times, may at times fantasize about a certain vampire) a couple of women who have only read Twilight, one woman who has not read any of the books and another who just started the series after Super Saturday and is already on book four! Six of us had seen the film at the midnight showing.

Dinner was delicious - even without a table for four of us on the end until dessert, (The table next to our group refused to leave even after being there for 2 1/2 hours. The women at one point pulled out their knitting to compare! I shot them some dirty looks.) and we were in and out of there quickly thanks to my slightly OCD excel spreadsheet of our dinner and individual dessert orders. The evening was SO MUCH FUN and I am hoping we can come up with a reason to do it again soon!

During dinner we had a Twilight gift exchange. Most original gift? Sugar cookie people decorated to look like the Cullen family. I got a ticket to see the movie again :)

Kelly and I made these pendants.

The line for 10:15 showing was alreading forming by 9:00!! I bragged to the little 12 year olds at the front of the line that I had already seen the film once. They looked at me like I was insane.

Molesting the poster.

I'll link to everyone's reviews as they come up on their blogs. The cherry on the top of my evening? I came home to a sparkling clean kitchen thanks to my sweet husband.

Joy to the World

Here's what I worked on this last Friday. The holidays managed to sneak up on me yet again, but I am determined to have my Christmas cards done before Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Twilight Movie - The Review

The long anticipate Twilight movie is finally in theaters and after seeing it twice (dork) I feel like I can give a pretty detailed review. Summit, Catherine, Stephanie, if you are reading this - take note: I can help you make this a better movie with just a few simple changes. Call me.

The first time I saw the movie was at the midnight showing. Our local theater had four showings at midnight. We ended up with a group of 6 women and a whole theater full of teenage girls. I have to say that I was nervous all day to see the movie. I was worried it would not live up to my expectations and I was nervous that the actors would not be able to capture the overall feeling of the book. I could tell that most of the people in the theater felt the same way. There was a lot of nervous laughter and giggling which turned to shrieks by the second showing.

After the show my initial reaction was "it was soooo rushed!" I enjoyed the movie but was on the fence as to whether or not I really liked it. It reminded me of the new version of Pride and Prejudice with Keira Knightly. I love like watching the new version, the music is gorgeous, I enjoy the different, gritty feel of the movie as opposed to the perfect standard (BBC with Colin Firth) but it misses a lot of my favorite moments like the friendship between Jane and Elizabeth and it has one of the worst lines in movie adaptation history - "well then, your hands are cold," and a very obvious wig on Keira. Gag.

Then, I saw Twilight again with 23 women and a theater full of teenage girls. And now I love it. Is it cheesy at times? Campy? Yes. Are the special effects laughable? Yes. Does it cut out a lot of the book? Of course. Is it difficult to adapt a beloved book to film - Yes (notable exceptions: BBC Pride and Prejudice, but they had 5 hours!, Stardust, The Princess Bride and The Color Purple).

Here's what I loved:

I loved the music. Buy the soundtrack. I love the scenery, the Cullen's home and Bella's house.

I want to move to Oregon - even with the rain. I loved the biology scene when Edward first smells Bella's scent. I love the kiss, though it is much steamier than the book and Bella was not in her undies in the book.

I love the prom - the kiss on the neck? . . . sigh. I loved Jacob even though his hair is obviously a wig. I hope he is drinking protein shakes and taking growth hormones to prepare him for New Moon!

I love Edward. Edward. Edward. Holy crap, Rob Pattinson is a beautiful man when he showers (don't get me started about what he looks like in his interviews). Does he wear more make-up than me in the film? Yes. Does it matter? No. I though Rob did a pretty amazing job with the role of Edward with a few glaring exceptions.

Rob's performance is the most impressive in the quiet scenes and the close-ups. In several interviews, Rob mentions that the scene in Port Angeles was the hardest for him to film. Trying to exit a Volvo in his poofy hair, pea coat and eyeliner and then deliver a glare that would scare five grown men, was evidently difficult to achieve. I thought he actually nailed that scene. He looked something like this:

Where Rob stumbled was when I could see the Rob slip through into the Edward. His look when he is sucking the venom out of Bella's arm sent the whole theater into giggles. I also did not like the constipated expression he had on his face during the scene where the bad vamps show up on the baseball field. Edward is supposed to be really strong and there were times when Rob looks frail - even in little things like leaning his hands against the rocks on either side of Bella. I can totally see how he pulled his groin the first time he tried to lift Kristen Stewart and I'm actually looking forward to seeing that outtake on the DVD. Overall though, I give him a big thumbs up. He dazzled me, and that's important.

Note to Summit. The whole glitter thing was just lame-o (if it is true that Lucas films people were responsible for that, they should be spanked) and please make Rob shave his chest. Note to Rob: push ups (though I understand he lost about 30 pounds prior to filming by working out and not eating. Lean proteins Rob - go talk to Cam).

After the first showing, I was disappointed with Kristen Stewart. She looks like Bella to me, but I felt like she was so emotionless for half of the movie and I never felt like she was in love with Edward. The eye fluttering and the stammering got on my nerves after a while and I could not remember her ever smiling! I found this shot of her on set which CLEARLY shows that she is capable of looking happy.

Then, I watched the movie again and focused more on her performance. I can tell that she feels like Bella is never really comfortable around Edward. I thought her performance much more nuanced the second time. That being said, there are certain lines that she delivered like she was bored - most notably the line in the woods where she says "I feel like you are going to disappear." I felt like Edward got to the point where he was lighthearted about their blossoming relationship (the jumping on her truck scene and in the parking lot with the sunglasses), but Bella never really got there.

She came the closest in the scene where Edward honks his horn for her and she almost smiles, and in Edward's bedroom. I guess overall, she just focused much more on the impossibility of their relationship and I wanted to see a bit more of that small period of time between Port Angeles and the baseball scene where Bella is growing more confident in the possibility of a relationship with him.

The supporting cast is great! I loved Eric, Jessica, Angela and Mike. They added some wonderful humor. I loved Charlie - I thought their father/daughter relationship was perfectly portrayed and he had some of the best scenes. I know some have complained about Bella not cooking for him, but I didn't miss it and they needed the diner scenes to move the bad vamps story along.

Speaking of the bad vamps - loved them too. The added scenes fit well and really added to the feel of the movie. When they cast the movie, I was not sure about Laurent, but he was great. James wears a seriously lame wig, but his chest more than makes up for it. Great lines for the bad vamps.

The Cullens: Alice is adorable and really perfect for her role. I loved her pointed little foot as she pitched in the baseball scene. Emmett and Esme are also perfect and I really liked the cooking scene where Emmett waves a knife at her. Dr Cullen got the worst of the white face paint - someone put it on with a trowel.

Jasper is unintentionally hysterical. He has one expression the entire movie - wide bugged eyes and pursed lips - here are some tame examples that did not make the final cut.

Julie said he looked like Beaker.

Nola thought he looked more like Edward Scissorhands.

I just thought he looked silly. Except in the baseball scene (my favorite scene in the movie). In that scene he had some sweet baseball bat tricks. I wish that scene were longer.

Rosalie was my least favorite casting choice so I was anxious to see if she could pull it off with make-up and wardrobe. Sadly, not so much. I thought she did a great job with the acting portion, but she just does not fit the book's description of Rosalie at all. The actual actress, Nikki Reed is beautiful in real life and clearly, not overweight.

But, make her a blond,

and stick her next to tiny size 0 Kristen Stewart and she looks pudgy and kind of forgettable. It's kind of like how Catherine Zeta-Jones looked heavy in Chicago only because she was dancing next to skeletal twig person Renee.

Overall I thought they did a pretty good job bringing the book to film. Do I want to see it again? Yes. Will I buy the DVD? Of course.

However, I think with a few small changes and an additional 10 minutes they would have had a much better film. Special effects aside, I missed the banter about Edward's immortality and Bella's mortality - "breakfast time for the human, watch me hunt" and Edward tasting the pizza as examples. But most of all, I missed the meadow. I wanted to see that first time when she touches his hand and he runs his nose along her jaw and listens to her heart. The biggest failure of the film to me was the lack of the slow, tense build-up in Edward and Bella's relationship. I missed the tentativeness of them admitting their attraction to each other. The film was not convincing in showing them going from I hate you on the field trip to I love you in the forest.It just did not do justice to the romance in the book. Imagine the film with just a few more minutes added to the forest scene where Bella would reach out and touch his face for the first time before telling him she loves him and he would do the same and then say something about how he does not know if he is strong enough to be close to her. Sigh again.

So, should you see it? Absolutely. But see it twice before you decide how you feel.

PS - This review made me laugh (language warning)