Movie Review: No Strings Attached

So I finally got around to watching this movie the other day.  I’ve been wanting to watch it since I saw the previews and just never got around to it.  I’m glad I finally watched it but I will say that I’m not sure if I’d buy it.  I would, however, watch it on tv if it came on.

Here’s the synopsis of the movie in case you were living under a rock when it came out and never saw any of the previews:  In this comedy, Emma (Natalie Portman) and Adam (Ashton Kutcher) are life-long friends who almost ruin everything by having sex one morning. In order to protect their friendship, they make a pact to keep their relationship strictly “no strings attached.” “No strings” means no jealousy, no expectations, no fighting, no flowers, no baby voices. It means they can do whatever they want, whenever they want, in whatever public place they want, as long as they don’t fall in love. The questions become – Can you have sex without love getting in the way? And can their friendship survive?

Truthfully I thought it had some good humor but at the same time I was a little bit irritated at the way that they kept making light of the main female character’s issues.  I mean, I get that this is a comedy but that chick has some serious problems and they sort of just joke about them or pretend that they don’t exist.  I thought that the character of ‘Adam’ was actually pretty spot on.  I think guys are more affected by breakups (when they’re the one being broken up with, not doing the breaking) then they’d like us to believe.  He also seems to be an all-around good guy which is nice to see for a change.

I liked that the movie wasn’t raunchy although they definitely could have taken it there if they’d wanted to.

There’s definitely some great lines…

Emma:  Congrats?  For what, having sex with you?

Adam:  You did a good job, so… I thought you deserved a balloon.

Adam:  Don’t call my penis cute. Even if it’s dressed up as a Care Bear and it’s giving you a care stare.

Emma:  Don’t dress up your penis. Ever!

Emma:  The height difference! When we stand next to each other it looks like he’s kidnapping me.

Katie:  [answers phone] Hey! How did it go? Did you find him?

Emma:  Yeah, he was with a girl. It’s his girlfriend. And I was in a bush.

Lucy:  So then when I was, like, 11 I was in therapy because I was, like, obsessively biting my hair and then three months in my therapist died. I know! So that was, like, kind of a bummer. But yeah, that’s why I hate planes.

If you don’t hate Adam’s dad (Kevin Kline) by the end there’s something wrong with you.  Oh, and the same goes for the first girlfriend (Greta Gerwig) who broke his heart.  Selfish whores the both of ‘em.

I honestly don’t have a whole lot to say about this movie.  I laughed.  Overall I thought it was “meh” to good.  It didn’t hit it out of the ballpark or anything.

Have you seen this movie?  What’d you think?

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You’re never gonna believe this…

I got featured on another blog this week.

Skip To My Lou

That’s TWO in one week!

Can you believe it?

I’m totally taking it as a sign.

You see, life has been a little topsy turvy since taking this new job.  To be honest, I’m having a hard time getting in the groove.  I’m fairly certain this might be what you parents out there are experiencing now that your kiddos are headed back to school.  I’m not gonna lie – I’m only a week in and I’ve already considered taking a hiatus from the blog.  I’ve asked myself ‘who’s reading this anyway?’ and ‘would anyone actually notice if I quit blogging?’ as well as all sorts of other questions (most of them admittedly negative).  And then this week happened and I got featured on other much more popular blogs not just once but TWICE.  So – I’m not going to take a hiatus.  I’m going to have to figure out my groove but I’m going to keep groovin’ nonetheless.  I hope you’ll join me.

So back to this second feature I mentioned up top…

I was featured on this fabulous blog called Skip to my Lou for the recipe I posted called Beef with Caramelized Shallots (one of the Hubs’ faves).

You should definitely go check out Skip to my Lou when you have a chance.  She’s got some great stuff.

Window Shopping Wednesday – The Weed Patch Store

I’m not one who is much for what I call ‘the country look.’  This past weekend I was out shopping with a good friend and I noticed that she kept gravitating towards things that, in my book at least, would fall into that category.  To each their own.  Anyway, it got me thinking, and eventually, it got me perusing the internet.  I came across a website called The Weed Patch Store.  It’s a cute little store located Bothell, Washington.  They also sell their goods online.  They definitely have more than just ‘the country look’ available both online and in-store but if you’re into the country look, they definitely have you covered.

This weeks featured shop:  The Weed Patch Store

Their shop in Bothell, Washington

Although the Fourth of July is long gone this year we all know that it’ll come right back around sooner than we know it.  If you’re one who likes to decorate for each holiday/season or you are thinking of throwing a big 4th bash next year I think that these America Chairpad’s would be a great addition to your home.

This Baby Chick Apron & Mitt Set would make a super cute present to any little aspiring chef.

If you ever come to eat at my house you’ll probably notice that I wear an apron that my mom gave me that says ‘many have eaten here – few have died.’  I feel that hanging this Many Have Eaten Box Sign in my kitchen would just be so fitting.

These Bird Embroidered Waffle Weave Towels are just precious.  The fall colors are great for the impending cooler weather that (I hope) is right around the corner.

If you’re into owls (and come on, who isn’t these days?) then you’ll love the look of these sophisticated Owl Hurricane/Vases.  They come in three colors, but the Aubergine is my fave.

Don’t you think this Birdcage Lamp is super interesting?  What a statement piece!

If I had a big fancy covered porch in my backyard I would loooove to put this Willow Twig Electric Garland around the windows and doors.  How stunning would this be at night?!?!?

Thanks for window shopping with me today!  See ya next week!!!

Holy Poop! It happened again!

Hey guys!

Do you remember back over here on this post when I was freaking out because I’d been featured on another bloggers blog?

Guess what?

It happened again.

EEEEEK!

I’m so freaking excited.

One Artsy Mama picked out my Whole-Wheat Penne with Tomatoes and Red Onion as one of her top 10 favorites last week.

AHHH!  Can you believe?

One reason I love snail mail (part 4)…

So I just got my August BirchBox in the mail the other day. 

Here’s the rundown of what was in my box (prices are for full-size product):

DDF Brightening Cleanser:  $38
Juicy Couture Viva la Juicy La Fleur (smallest bottle at 2.5oz):  $70
Miss Jessie’s Original Pillow Soft Curls:  $22
Whish Three Wishes Body Butter:  $24
Schick Hydro Silk Razor:  $11.50 (approximately  –  it really depends on where you buy it)

TOTAL:  $165.50

Since I paid $10 for the trial size box I saved $155.50 (if you figure I could have purchased these in their full-sized varieties). 

DDF Brightening Cleanser

Here’s what the website says:  A blend of six natural skin brighteners in a foaming glycolic and salicylic gel to help noticeably minimize uneven skin tone and target age spots. Excellent for face and body as part of an overall hyperpigmentation program. Also effective in helping minimize post blemish discoloration. Licorice scent.

This is likely going to go to the Hubs since I have to use special stuff on my face for a weird condition I have with my eyelids. 

Juicy Couture Viva la Juicy La Fleur

 

Here’s what the website says:  Uplifting. Playful. Dreamy. Inspired by the blushing aura of being in love, Viva la Juicy La Fleur is a breathtaking new fragrance that captures the dreamy, ethereal feeling of love’s first embrace.

I thought that this was a little on the too-sweet and too-young side.  It kind of smelled like it was something you’d buy for a 6-year old playing dress up.  It won’t be my go-to perfume that’s for sure.  Unless I’m running errands…

Miss Jessie’s Original Pillow Soft Curls

Here’s what the website says: The name says it all.  Miss Jessie’s PILLOW SOFT CURLS™ is the new styling lotion that borrows fabric care technology and marries it to hair care. It is perfect for achieving static-free, big, soft, curly hair that we all dream about. If you don’t want ramen noodle definition and instead want a larger, expanded, fluffy curl then PILLOW SOFT CURLS™ is for you! It’s the first “fabric softener” type styling lotion that will leave your curls clothesline fresh and fluffy soft.  You will see that  PILLOW SOFT CURLS™ is so easy to apply. It spreads so smoothly and feels as light as a feather on your curls.

I’m honestly thrilled that this came in my package and I’m really excited to try it out.  My hair is curly and I’m always struggling to find the right balance between hold & crunch.  I want good hold, but as Miss Jessie’s says, I don’t want my hair to look like ramen noodles either! 

Whish Three Wishes Body Butter (in Pomegranate)

Here’s what the website says:  For amazingly moisturized skin, we’ve created a truly indulgent body cream with a unique triple antioxidant based formula. This fully loaded lotion both softens and soothes the skin while also helping to replenish and firm. Such sweet softness. All Three Whishes products contain Organic Aloe, Organic Raspberry Butter, and Organic Shea Butter, enhancing life’s little desires three at a time. Enjoy Three Whishes Body Butter for its repairing and rejuvenating antioxidants. Available in almond, coconut, lavender, lemongrass and pomegranate flavors. Body Butter is made in the USA with Earth friendly packaging and ingredients. Tested on us, not animals.

In my opinion you can never have too much lotion.  The trial size that I received is in a perfect size container to go in my purse!  I’m definitely looking forward to trying this out!

Schick Hydro Silk Razor

Here’s what the website says:  Schick Hydro Silk™ hydrates skin like no other razor can. This uniquely designed razor goes beyond an incredibly close shave to actually care for your skin. With Water-Activated Moisturizing Serum & 5 Curve-Sensing blades with skin guards to help protect skin from irritation, the Hydro Silk™ razor leaves skin feeling silky smooth! And it’s preferred over the leading 5 blade razor.

Truthfully I use another brand of razor however this baby is going to go in my travel kit!

All in all, I’d have to say that the loot I got this go-round is the most useful out of all of the BirchBox boxes I’ve received so far.   Want to know about the other boxes?  You can go here, here, and here.

Book Review: My Man, Michael by Lori Foster

Do you guys remember the last book I told you about and how much I reeeeeeally didn’t like it?  Well I’m so happy to have read this book afterwards because it was fun and entertaining and I blew through it in two days.  This book is in a “series” of books that Lori Foster has written called the SBC Fighters Series.  Basically they all center around MMA fighters but you don’t have to read them in any particular order for them to make sense.  In fact, they don’t even reference each other (besides some similar characters).

The Hubs bought me a box of books from Half Price the other day and this was one of the books in there.  Honestly I’ve just been grabbing books off of my bookshelves and reading them without putting any thought into what book I’m picking out.  But, as we’ve established, I prefer it that way.

I really enjoyed this book, so much so that I checked to see if there was another Lori Foster book in the box that the Hubs bought and low and behold there was – I’m reading it now so I’ll give you a review soon.  This book is definitely a romance book and there are several steamy scenes but they’re well written and believable.  I tell ya, you might seriously want to have your significant other give you some sparring lessons and get all hot and sweaty and then read this book together.  It’ll definitely get your motor going. 

I’ll admit, when the book starts, it’s a little ‘out there.’  As in literally.  We’re talking people from the future.  Nope, I’m not kidding.  However, once you get past that part, it’s really enjoyable (and you honestly kinda forget about it).  It’s a breeze to read (assuming you don’t go back and re-read the steamy scenes) and you’ll kinda fall in love with the main characters.  The only part that bothered me was that Kayli’s mom & sisters go from seriously-need-to-be-bitch-slapped to no-problem-at-all in the flip of a page and there’s no real explanation as to why.  Also, you’ll totally see the ending coming but that didn’t stop me from wanting to get there! 

Here’s the synopsis from the author’s website:

On the verge of a title shot match, fighter Michael “Mallet” Manchester is injured in a car accident. And just as quickly as his career was taking off, it’s over. Then Kayli Raine appears, offering him a second chance at becoming whole. Even though Mallet thinks it’s the pain medication talking, he accepts her challenge. And on an extraordinary journey with Kayli, he’ll get a chance to fight again—to save the woman who has saved him.

Big Changes

So to those close to me this won’t be new news but for the rest of you I’m excited to tell you that I have a new job.  You see, the place I’m working at now was really only a long-term temp/contract position.  I’ve been here about a year and a half.  I like what I do, but there’s just not a place here for me that really can utilize my skill set.  My contract was set to expire at the end of October and knowing that, I went ahead and started my job hunt.  … And I got lucky.  Ok, that’s not entirely true… it wasn’t all just luck.  I do have a good skill set and I do have my Bachelor’s degree (albeit not in the field I work in).  Anywho, I was offered another job and took it.  It’s another contract (which I really didn’t want but the money is good, the company is good, the opportunity is good, and there’s potential to get hired on direct which is great).  So, I’m stoked.  Nervous, but excited.

This wasn’t the first job I got offered since I started looking but the other jobs just weren’t the right fit.  It’s important to know 1, what your worth and 2, what you’re looking for.  The first job that I was offered was the exact position I wanted, but they wanted to lower my salary by $12,000/year and give it back to me in bonuses and possible overtime.  In addition, it was a rather stuffy and uptight workplace (like suits and pantyhose EVERY DAY) and that’s just not me.  So, I politely declined the offer.  I won’t lie – I doubted myself and my decision to turn that position down for weeks but it was the right thing to do (of course, that’s easy to say now with this awesome opportunity standing right before me).

Above and beyond being thrilled with my new position and the opportunity to learn new things and prove myself I’m also super excited because scoring this job has allowed the Hubs and I to bring back our maid that left when mom moved out.  That’s right folks – no longer will I have to slave over my house doing this crazy cleaning schedule EVERY FREAKING DAY.  Now, the maid will come every other week which means that we’ll only have to clean house on the weeks that she’s not there.  Can I get an amen?  Hopefully this should free up some time so that we can either get some of our weekend chores done during the week or we can get some projects started (like this master bedroom renovation that we haven’t even remotely touched).

In addition, we now feel secure enough in our financial situation to spend a large chunk of our savings to get my husband’s AC repaired in his truck.  Poor thing has been without an AC for a year now and he works in the field every day (he’s in construction).  So, if you’re from Houston (or anywhere else with high humidity and a heat index over 100 for a minimum of four months a year) you know how excited he is to finally have AC again.  We’d planned to have it fixed months ago but then his transmission went kaput and the AC just got put on the back burner.

As far as the blog is concerned, I’m sure there will be a few changes around here as well.  In my current position I usually write out my blog posts during lunch but with the new gig, I’m fairly certain that won’t be happening.  Which means, of course, that I’ll have to write them at night when I get home and quite frankly I do just about everything in my power to avoid the computer when I come home from work.  So, we’ll see how it goes.  I do have something special planned for my upcoming 1 year blogiversary so keep your eyes peeled for that.

How about you guys?  Anything new and exciting going on in your world?

Oh – and I finally got my email down to zero since going on vacation for a week to Lake Tahoe (nearly 2 friggin months ago).  Can you believe it’s taken me that long?  I get, on average, about 60 emails a day (legitimate ones that I actually want to read) and they just kept piling up and piling up and piling up.  At one point I was well over 400.  I’m so excited to be back to a clean slate… at least until tomorrow.

Window Shopping Wednesday – Carolyn Cochrane Fine Art Photography

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while then you know that my photog (photography) skills basically suck.  I have a camera that I bought because a friend had one and the pictures were always amazing and it seemed easy to use (it also go great reviews) but I honestly don’t really know how to use the thing (and I’m not entirely inclined to spend hours upon hours figuring it out).  So, that means my photographs could use some serious work, which means I have a serious appreciation for people who can take amazing pictures and/or edit them to look fabulous.  That’s why today we’re going to take a peek at a wonderful photographer named Carolyn Cochrane who specializes in nature and beach prints.  They’re GORGEOUS!  She also has some of her photos on iphone cases!

This weeks featured shop:  Carolyn Cochrane Fine Art Photography

I’d love to be able to change out the art in my house seasonally and I think that this photo would be amazing for the spring.

So would this one!  (wouldn’t these two look great as a set in a little girl’s nursery?)

For the fall I’d love to have this photo…

This one too!

I love this photo for winter.

I’d love to do dark and moody colors in our master bed and bath and this picture absolutely captures the idea I’m going for.

I think this ferris wheel photo would be great for a nursery!  Wouldn’t ‘circus’ be such a cute theme???

I think this photo is so peaceful.  I’d love to have this in a master bathroom near the tub so while I’m soaking I can imagine that I’m really here, floating on the lake.

Thanks for joining me!

Recipe Review: Creamy Apple Pie

So I’ve told you guys about the Farmhouse Chicken Dinner and the Easy Peasy Green Beans that I provided for a family I know that’s going through a rough patch.  Well, I also tried out a new-to-me recipe from Better Homes & Gardens.  It’s easy to make and it turned out well and you’ve got to love the fact that it can be prepared the day before and refrigerated overnight.

Creamy Apple Pie (picture from BHG website)

Creamy Apple Pie

Serves 8 to 10

INGREDIENTS

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 2 cups finely crushed crunchy oat and honey granola bars (about 12 bars, or 1 box of 6 packages) (easiest to ‘crush’ these one or two at a time in a food processor)
  • 1 cup flaked coconut
  • ¼ cup butter, melted
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 7 large cooking apples, peeled, cored and cut into thick slices (I used the apples that are a yellowish red)
  • 8oz carton of mascarpone cheese or cream cheese, softened (I used mascarpone)
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. amaretto or ½ tsp. almond extract (I used extract)
  • 1 cup whipping cream (NOT whipped cream)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Coat a 9-inch pie plate with cooking spray.
  2. Combine crushed bars, coconut, and ¼ cup butter.  Press on bottom and up sides of pie plate.  Bake 10 minutes.  Cool.  In a very large skillet melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat.  Stir in brown sugar, lemon juice, and cinnamon.  Stir in apples.  Cook uncovered over medium heat for 25 minutes or until apples are very tender; stir occasionally.
  3. Cool 15 minutes.  Meanwhile, in a large bowl beat cheese, granulated sugar and amaretto or almond extract with electric mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds or until light and fluffy.  In a medium bowl beat whipping cream on medium speed until soft peaks form; beat into mascarpone mixture on low speed until combined.
  4. Layer half of the apple mixture in piecrust.  Spread half of the cheese-whipped cream mixture atop the apples.  Layer remaining apple mixture atop cheese-whipped cream mixture.  Spread with remaining cheese-whipped cream mixture
  5. Cover loosely and chill at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours.

THOUGHTS

  • The first time I made this I totally goofed and bought whipped cream instead of whipping cream – it makes this dish way to sweet.  Don’t make the same mistake!
  • I used one of those nifty apple slicers that slices the apple uniformally while coring it at the same time.  However, after making this pie twice I can tell you that those slices aren’t small enough.  So, the next time I made the pie I used the same tool, then I cut each slice into thirds.  This made the apples more bite-size.
  • I found the apple/cheese/apple/cheese layering to be a pain and not really worth it.  The last time I made the pie I just made one layer (i.e. crust/apples/cheese).  No one complained so that’s the way I’d go when making this pie again.
  • This pie is messy to slice and doesn’t “present pretty” when cut up (it sorta falls apart) so be aware of that if you’re serving for company.  If you want people to “ooh” and “ahh” over the way it looks, make sure that you show them the unsliced pie!
  • I thought the crust was delicious and I’m definitely going to have to find a way to incorporate the crust in other desserts!
  • I would have ice cold milk or hot coffee on hand to serve with this dish.

I’ve linked up to these great parties:

Bloom Designs
Chef in Training
Days of Chalk and Chocolate
Happy Hour Projects
I Heart Nap Time
Ivy and Elephants
One Artsy Mama

Easy Peasy Green Beans

So normally when I share a recipe the title is Recipe Review: ______   Today however, I’m not titling this post that way because quite frankly, this isn’t really a recipe.  It’s more a method of preparation that I use.  I served this the other day with the Farmhouse Chicken Dinner that I provided to a family in need.

totally not my picture but it’s a good approximation of what this should look like

Easy Peasy Green Beans

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

  • 1-1/2 lbs fresh green beans
  • ¼ cup butter (the real stuff)
  • 1 Tablespoon dried minced onions
  • Salt & black pepper (optional)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Fill sink with water.  Dump in green beans and swish to remove any dirt/debris.  Trip off ends of green beans (approx. ¼ – ½ inch).  Cut large green beans in half (they should be 2-3” long).
  2. Place butter and onions in microwaveable glass bowl.  Cover loosely with lid or wax paper (to prevent butter splatters).  Microwave until butter is melted.  Set aside.
  3. Fill large pot with 1-2 inches of water.  Place steamer basket inside and fill with green beans.  Cover and cook over medium low heat until green beans color begins to change.  You’ll notice that it’ll go to a bright green and then start to fade to a greenish brown.  Right as it starts to get to that greenish brown stage is when you want to remove them from the heat.  (FYI – this is all easier to do if your pot lid is glass)
  4. Place cooked green beans in a large bowl (be careful not to include the water from steaming).  Microwave butter/onion mixture for approx. 30 seconds to re-warm then pour over green beans.  Stir.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

THOUGHTS

  • As you can see, this isn’t a fancy schmancy preparation for green beans but it is my go-to when I’m feeding a large group (Thanksgiving anyone?), when I don’t want to spend a lot of energy on cooking (busy weeknights) or when the main dish requires a lot of time/energy/focus.
  • Don’t use canned green beans.  Eww.  Just eww.
  • You can totally sub frozen green beans if you need to but it’s better to let them thaw before cooking if you can.
  • There’s a reason you microwave the butter/onion mixture and let it sit while the beans are steaming – this allows the onions to hydrate!

I’ve linked up to these great parties:

Bloom Designs
Chef in Training
Days of Chalk and Chocolate
Ginger Snap Crafts
Happy Hour Projects
I Heart Nap Time
One Artsy Mama