Friday, December 30, 2011

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Movie Review

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo


Grade:  A

This suspenseful adaptation of the popular book is extremely well done and will keep you on the edge of your seat.  I won't hide the fact that it is extremely graphic and not something for the kiddies or those weak of heart, but if you're a fan of the book or like a good, gritty mystery...this is a great choice.

Rooney Mara brilliantly plays Lisbeth Salander.  It's hard to watch anyone else when she's on camera.  She captures Lisbeth's edge, strength and vulnerability all at the same time.  Daniel Craig makes a great Mikael Blomkvist, who is tasked with finding the killer of a young girl who disappeared forty years ago.  The cast is also augmented by Christopher Plummer who is certainly enjoying a burst in his career, Robin Wright and Joely Richradson.

Much of the film takes place in a remote island in Northern Sweden.  The frigid, rural locale adds to the suspense and desperation of the film. You can't help but feel chilled to the bone as the wind sweeps the frozen snow across the screen.

To be fair, I have not seen the original Swedish version of this movie.  I've heard it's quite good as long as you don't mind reading subtitles. I actually enjoy the whole subtitle thing, but I'm weird.  I will have to get this on Netflix sometime soon, but I think the new US version is splendidly done.


Saturday, December 24, 2011

Happy Christmas Eve






The tree is trimmed and has been for a few weeks.  I still have a bunch of presents to wrap and I'm out of boxes.  How did a let that happen?






On the upside, the Cherry Pie is done.  I need someone to help me figure out how to get my crust to roll out in a round shape.  Mine keep coming out as a rectangle.



And the cut out cookies are done.  (Hey little bro...know that I'm thinking of you.)

I made our usual frosting, but added more milk to thin it a bit so I could dip the cookies.  It was actually much easier than the spreading method.  Will try to remember that for next year.  (I'll have write it down otherwise, all is lost.)

I've also got the shrimp cooked (used Ina's roasting method. Super easy) and the cocktail sauce is ready (used Mom's tried and true recipe).  I also blanched some asparagus to be used with an Asian dipping sauce.  I found this recipe in the Delta magazine on my last trip to Atlanta.  Hope it's good.

Off to get a few more presents wrapped before Christmas Eve dinner with BW's family.

Have a wonderful Christmas Eve.  Hope you are surrounded by family and friends.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Sherlock Holmes Movie Review

Sherlock Holmes
  A Game of Shadows


Grade: A

Well done Mr. Ritchie, well done.  Rare does the movie sequel out do the original, but in the case of the latest Sherlock Holmes movie, that's just what happened.  This edition, in what I hope to be a long, long series of films, was terrific.  Fast paced, visually exciting with a great storyline.  I really love the dark, gritty real feel of late 19th Century London.

In "A Game of Shadows" Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) faces off against his arch nemesis Professor Moriarity in a chess game of intrigue and political manipulation.  Again, Downey brings Holmes to life as a brilliant neurotic shuttling from scene to scene at an eclectic pace.  Several times I wanted them to rewind the film so I could see a scene again...making sure I watch more closely the next time.

Also, I am still loving a strong and capable Dr. Watson (Jude Law) who skills are further developed in this film.  Returning to the cast again is Stephen Fry as Mycroft Holmes.  He makes a great Mycroft.

I really enjoy the films use of slow motion and stop action to develop Holmes' ability to pre-plan a fight scene.  Gets even better when Moriarty gets into the act.  And I just loved their verbal dual while playing a chess game completely in their heads.

Take a break from all your holiday planning and run out to the theater to see this movie.


Sunday, December 11, 2011

Christmas Candles

I'm a big fan of Carol over at The Answer is Chocolate.  She is a crafting wizard and I love to see what's she's come up with.  At some point...and I think it was last year, she decorated some Dollar Store candles and I just loved them.

I finally got a chance to try some myself.  After some trial and error (error meaning scraping off the previous attempt and starting over), I made a few that I really liked.  They are not nearly as wonderful as Carol's, but I'm still happy with them.

Here's my final versions:








This was a fun Christmas project.  My next project entails me pulling out the sewing machine the girls got me last Christmas.  I'm a little nervous, but excited by the possibilities.



Saturday, December 3, 2011

Merry and Bright

This is now my screen saver.  Thank you Jena for taking such magnificent photos of the boys.  They are so lucky to have such a talented Aunt.


To follow her work you can "like" her on Facebook at McShane Photography.  Besides wonderful photos my grandsons,  she does some great and interesting work.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Hugo Movie Review

Hugo


Grade:  B+

We recently had a chance to get back to the movies.  This has been the longest break in movie-going for us.  We just haven't wanted to see anything since....The Help.

Our venture back into film-land was to see Hugo, Martin Scorsese's first family friendly movie.  I am not normally drawn to Scorsese films as his brutal reality doesn't appeal to my Pollyanna sensibilities.  Although I've seen a couple of his films (Casino...ahhhgh), I was really happy for an opportunity to venture into a less grizzly world with him.

Hugo, is the story of a young orphan in post war Paris who lives in and behind the walls of the Parisian train station. Young Hugo is driven to finish a project he started with his father in the hopes that he can find answers to his struggles and loneliness.  Along the way he meets Isabelle and her Papa Georges and this is when the real mystery begins.

The movie is visually stunning.  We chose not to go to the 3D version as the timing just didn't work.  Plus, we are usually underwhelmed with 3D.  If you are a 3D fan though, I suspect that seeing a Scorsese 3D might be well worth the effort.  Maybe we missed something...we may never know, but I still loved the movie.

My favorite part of the movie has to do with the "historical" back story that runs through the film.  I won't ruin it for you but if you enjoy early film history, then you will really love this film.

I would not recommend this for younger children.  Not that there is anything particularly bad in it, just that the story is somewhat complex and they may get lost and bored.  I'd suggest 10 and older might be the right age.  (Or maybe a very mature 8 year old.  What do I know.)

Go see Hugo this holiday season.  I think you will really enjoy yourself.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Musings on Thanksgiving

What a whirlwind week-end that was.  It was wonderful to be surrounded by my family and friends for two days in a row.

There was, of course...plenty of turkey.  BW did a great job carving it up.


And lots of family





I actually got Stinky to smile and look at the camera.  Normally he runs when I try and take a photo.  Please note that the funky growth around his chin is temporary.  It's part of his annual "no shave November" which he's done for the past couple years.  Last year he just had "chops" but this year it has blossomed all the way to his chin.  He did have to put up with lots of Amish jokes all week-end. (Deservedly so!)

And the boys were here as well.



No idea what Aus is doing, but I've got a whole bunch of these "faces".


RJ is plugged in as usual.  This photo was taken while I was saying his name over and over, trying to get him to look as me.  No luck.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving Prep

The stuffing is made


The table is set


About to get the Turkey in the oven.  All is well in the world.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Pre-Happy Thanksgiving

I figure with all the hub-bub tomorrow, I won't have time to jump on and wish everyone a very happy Thanksgiving.  So...Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

This is my favorite holiday.  Mostly because it's all about family, friends and food.  How can you not love that.

Today is prep day.  So far the Pumpkin Cake is in the oven and I'm just about to start making by two Breakfast Stratas.  Both of these items are not for Thanksgiving Day.  They are for the next day, which is Game Day.  If you've been following along for a while now, then you know about Game Day.  It is basically, just an excuse to have more food and fun.  I'll explain more about Game Day on Friday.

So far my week has gone as follows:

Monday - Grocery Shopping
Tuesday - Cleaning
Wednesday - Cooking

Also on the prep list today is to peeling the potatoes and carrots, making the stuffing and setting the table. I'll post pictures as I go along.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Halloween...A Little Late

I have to say, that the hardest day to photograph my grandsons', has to be Halloween.  They are all climbing the walls with excitement and that means they never stop moving.  You really have to get their attention to get them to stop, even for a second.  Hence...blurry photos.

Here's Ryan.  He was Wow Luigi?!  (I sure hoped I finally spelled that correctly.)  It's a character from the Mario video games and he wouldn't wear his Wow Luigi hat, so he just looks basically normal.  Although, I can't get over how much he's growing and looking like...a kid.


Austin was Wolverine and he wouldn't wear his hat/mask or gloves, but he's sure wearing that six-pack.



And Baby Luke was Mickey Mouse and oh, how I wish this photo wasn't so blurry.  But I think you can see just how adorable he was.


Most hilarious costume of the night went to my SIL,  Rick who dressed up as Mikey (my son).  It just cracked me up and when I sent a photo to Mikey saying "guess who Rick dressed up as?"  he immediately knew it was him.


Later, Rick put on a hoodie sweatshirt and said "OK, now I'm Mike going out".  Classic.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Sunday Dinner

I have this thing about Sunday Dinner.  It's probably my nostalgia for times past, but I can't think of anything better than spending the day making a delicious dinner...and it doesn't hurt to have football on in the background.

Dinner tonight is a French-Style Pot-Roasted Pork Roast, Mashed Potatoes, Acorn Squash, Roasted Asparagus and Homemade Applesauce.


I am stuffed to the gills, but it looks so good, I want to eat it all over again.

The recipe for the Pork Roast is from the September-October 2011 Edition of Cook's Illustrated.  (If you like to cook and don't have a subscription...get one!)




I followed most of the directions, except I didn't use the unflavored gelatin (cause I didn't have any) and I cooked the roast past the 140 degrees recommended in the recipe.  It didn't seem done enough at 140, so I waited until is was 150ish.  It was the moistest pork roast I've ever tasted.

Earlier this week, I read on another blog...that she had made homemade applesauce in her crockpot. It sounded so easy-peasy, that I wanted to make it too.  Applesauce is a great side dish for pork.


This is one very happy camper.  What I great Sunday.

(I've got a very good chance of winning in Fantasy Football too!)

Friday, November 4, 2011

Leelanau Peninsula Wineries

Back to our Up North trip.  We ended up visiting a lot of the same wineries as we did last year, but we did get to visit one new one.

Black Star Farms was our new stop.  The tasting room was packed and it took a long time to get a spot to do some sipping.  I did buy a couple bottles of their 2008 Sparkling Wine.  It's always good to have some of this on hand...you never know when you might need to celebrate something special.


But, what I really enjoyed was some of the extra scenery they have.




And they have a beautiful inn as well.


Here are some of my favorite photos from our other winery visits.






And this is for you BW, so you know I was thinking about you.  (He loves farm equipment...don't ask.)


Next up...sunset, friends, Lake Michigan and the fall colors.  Then I'll be done (I think).

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

My Last Day

I normally never talk about my work on my blog.  I just like to keep my personal life and my work life, very separate.  But today I feel compelled to write just a little something.

Yesterday was my last official day working at at the office I've been going to for the last 12 years.  It was a sad day.

My team and I have been providing on-site support to an automotive customer for all these years and we recently did not win the award to continue to provide these services.  Although we still have a few projects to finish up through the end of the year...I won't be going into the office on a daily basis.  It's kind of a weird feeling and I will miss seeing those who have become my friends over the years.

On the upside, I do still have a job.  I will be taking on other Accounts and working out of my home.  So I know I am very lucky.

Despite this, I still feel sad.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Ahhh...the Food

Here's some of the food we enjoyed on our Up North week-end.  (First, so sorry Myra and Sue that I did not photograph your fabulous soups and salad.  I guess I was just too hungry to remember to take a picture.)

Krissy and Caity made this for breakfast on Saturday morning (I am kindly not posting the photo of the girls with their food as it was morning and no way do I want to hear Caity's comments on putting up a picture of her without her hair done or make up on.  I don't blame her...I'm the same way, sort of.)

Sausage and Monterey Jack Breakfast Strata

PW's Cinnamon Rolls

These rolls were off the charts delicious and will likely become a regular at family events.  

Kathy made this beautiful and wonderful for dinner:

 Poached salmon with roasted potatoes, asparagus and green beans

I made a Flourless Chocolate Cake for desert and...no photo.  (Kathy please send me one)

For Sunday dinner, I made this pasta:


Italian Sausage Penne Pasta

I'm sure we all put on a few extra pounds, but it was worth it.



Friday, October 28, 2011

Guess Who's Visiting Oma

Watching Luke tonight and having a great time.




He's now standing in the corner grunting his head off.  Bet you can't guess what I get to do next!!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Girls Up North - 2011 Edition

Well, back to reality but what a magnificent week-end we had.  The Michigan weather was on it's best behavior and the company was...outstanding.

Our normal little "Up North" rental had a pipe bursting issue, so this year we stayed next door at his sister's little 6000 square foot house.  (Ha!)  Here's the house from the roadside.


And here it is from the lakeside:


Not too shabby.

Lake Michigan at it's best:



And here's the gang:


Plus the girls, who were still in the winery when the above picture was taken by a kind passing stranger:


More on the wineries and the food later.  Thanks to all my girls for making the trip.  It was a blast!

By the way, did we remember to put the big UofM magnet back on the fridge?   And did we put the scary doll back in her chair instead of facing the wall by the TV?  If we didn't, I guess they will figure out that the house was mostly full of State fans (sorry Kathy) and that we aren't doll fans either.

Love you all.