Last Friday, the first day Brave hit theaters, I was there, with my best friend in tow. We had both been really excited to see the movie, despite our age (but, really, who outgrows Disney?), and the fact that we were bound to be surrounded by 5-7 year old girls (and we were).
For those of you who are unfamiliar with Brave, the story of Merida, a Scottish princess who is stubborn, headstrong, and a skilled archer who loves riding her horse through the countryside, shooting arrows at targets hanging from the trees, is facing her arranged marriage to a Clan member, determined by athletic games. Merida wants to “Change her fate,” and, by the end, she does.
I was not only excited for Brave because the heroine, Merida, is by far the most feminist of the Disney Princesses thus far, but I was also intrigued with the setting (Medieval-ish Scotland) and the fact that this was not just a retelling of an already existing fairytale.
I HATE to say it, but Brave was not nearly as good as I had expected. In terms of the visuals, it was amazing. I want her hair. Seriously. It was fun to watch for the detailed visuals, but I found the story to. . . fall a bit flat, for Pixar, at least.
While I liked the set up of the story, the actual bulk of the film seemed to be rushed in Merida’s attempt to get to the resolution of the film. Additionally, one of the things I love about some of the more recent Disney Pixar films is the witty dialogue that appeals to the older audience of the movie (The Incredibles, Finding Nemo, Toy Story 3) and many others. However, Brave was sorely lacking in the dialogue department. There were some funny moments, dialogue-wise, but for the most part, the plot just didn’t allow for that kind of dialogue.
Also, I realize that this is a children’s movie, but the approach taken in Brave was just too plainly moralistic. The maturity that Disney and Pixar have been able to achieve in many of their other films just wasn’t there in this one. The arranged marriage aspect of the film is glossed over, and not taken seriously at all. Merida is presented as selfish and immature for fighting her mother on her marriage to whatever Clan member wins her hand in the “games.”
So, that said, here is what I liked:
Kudos to Pixar for Merida’s three younger brothers. I loved them. It wasn’t until the end that I realized that none of the little boys (maybe two, three years old?) had said anything, for the whole movie, yet they added so much humor and also helped Merida forward the plot. Their expressions, mannerisms and general shenanigans were much more valuable than some of the actual spoken dialogue. Those boys were one of my favorite parts of the film.
I also liked that Merida comes up with a solution to the matter of her marriage that is not only a politically responsible compromise, but that shows a maturity and depth that the rest of the movie lacks. I really liked the fact that Merida was able to assert herself in a way that didn’t end in violence or (possible spoiler) in marriage, and was able to write her own destiny.
All in all, while I think it could have been better, there were still parts that I liked. For it’s target audience, i.e. kids under ten, I think it’s good, for us older folks, not so much. While still worth seeing, I am pinning my hopes for a really great heroine and female lead on a future Disney/ Pixar collaboration.
So guys. Have you heard of One Direction yet? It seems nearly impossible since their hit song, “What Makes You Beautiful” plays every time I turn on the radio. The song, catchy and fast-paced played at nearly every event in the last two months while I was at school, and now seems to have become a summer anthem.
Much as I love singing the song at the top of my lungs with my friends while we dance around our dorm room, I saw something the other day that had taken it a little too far. I believe it was on the Today show (though it might have been some other morning show. . . can’t be sure, hadn’t had coffee yet), that I saw an interview with the pop-y boy band, complete with carefully coiffed hair (on the part of the boys) and a live audience of screaming 12-13 year old girls in the background, in a frenzied, adolescent hysteria.
Now, this in itself was not that surprising. It’s like a boy band of Justin Bieber- what young girl could possibly resist that. What shocked me about the interview was the comparison made between One Direction, and The Beatles. The Beatles?!?! Really? For me, One Direction is a lot more like the N’Sync or Backstreet Boys of the 20teens, but not, at all, the second coming of The Beatles. Granted, both bands were made up of young men, and both bands are British, touring in the US to the sounds of screaming young girls, but is that really enough to begin to compare the two?
Personally, I think not so much. Does this mean I will stop singing along to “What Makes you Beautiful”? Of course not! The song is still a very catchy, pop-y song, enjoying it’s fifteen minutes, and I intend to enjoy it too (along with “Call Me Maybe”- both of which were the ridiculously popular songs at my college this spring).
So, decide for yourself: Is One Direction The Beatles, or N’Sync?
Since my dad has both his birthday and Father’s day in June, Father’s day is usually pretty low key for my family. But, I still like to do a little something for him, since it’s the thought that counts and all.
So this year, I had a brilliant plan. A few months ago, while scanning pinterest, I saw a picture of little cookies that looked like tea bags, shortbread dipped in chocolate mmmmmm. My dad is Irish, therefore, he has a high level of tea consumption, and as such, I knew these cookies would make a fun little gift for Dad’s day.
I’m not really much of a planner, I generally just get an idea and go with it, which is how I made these cookies. So, as a disclaimer, this is not a foolproof way to make tea cookies, but it worked well enough for me 🙂
So here’s how it went down:
First, I found a simple recipe for shortbread. I only wanted to make a few cookies, so I cut the recipe in half. Even then, it made a good 2 dozen tea bag cookies, plus I ended up with extra dough, so it is now sitting in the freezer waiting for when the shortbread mood strikes.
1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
For chocolate dip:
1/3 cup chocolate chips
1 tsp shortening
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
cream butter and sugar until fluffy
Stir in the vanilla, add the flour, and mix well.
Collect the dough into a ball
I originally attempted to put said dough ball on floured counter, it didn’t work so well. Instead I would suggest that you use parchment paper and flour that.
Also, rolling out the dough was rather difficult, so I used two pieces of parchment paper, and rolled the dough out in between the two pieces of parchment paper.
To get the tea bag shape, I used the wrapping of a Lipton’s tea bag to use as a form. I ended up tracing the outline onto parchment paper, cutting it out, and then just cutting the shapes out of the dough using my tea bag shape to trace around, but You could probably just free hand it if you do not have tea bags laying around
Next, using a skewer stick, I poked holes in the tops of the cookies
I lined the baking pan with parchment paper before laying out the cookies, by the way. After all your cookies are cut out, placed on the baking sheet, and poked with the skewer, bake them for 10-12 minutes.
Let the cookies cool, and in the meantime melt your chocolate chips with the shortening and stir. After the cookies have cooled, you can dip them in the chocolate. I found that what worked best was to drizzle the cookie with chocolate, and then let the excess drip off, since dipping resulted in a few broken cookies
After dipping all the cookies in chocolate, lay them back onto the parchment lined baking sheet and place in the fridge to harden. I left them in overnight (because I made them late the night before Father’s day, but they need to be in there to cool for at least 1-2 hours.
Optional: make a little tea tag to tie onto your cookie. For dad’s day I made little tags that said “Happy Father’s Day,” attached them with thread, and stapled the tag. This could work for pretty much any occasion, just change your message to fit the day 🙂
I was happily surprised by how well these turned out 🙂 They were delicious (ok, I may have sampled some of the broken ones), and my dad loved them, and had two with his tea that night 🙂
Happy belated Father’s day everybody!
I have been MIA the past few days since I have been visiting family in southern California for my cousin’s high school graduation. Since the northwest doesn’t reach summer until July 4th, I have been enjoying the weather as much as I possibly can, hence why I have not posted in a while.
Graduations are always full of hope for the future, which can be quite refreshing, because it can be so easy to get lost in the stress of day-to-day life, and I think it is important to take that time (especially at milestones like this) to reflect, and look forward to what is to come.
I don’t want to get too mushy here, since, to be honest, I did roll my eyes during a few of the speeches (my snarky side comes out especially during times like graduations, weddings, etc.) but there is something to be said about spending time with the fam that I don’t get to see so often, and having 5 days off work didn’t hurt either 😉
It was also fun for me to reflect on how far I have come in the last year. Not to toot my own horn, but I only graduated from high school last year, and as of last month, finished my first year of college. It is crazy to me not only how fast the year has gone by, but how much has happened in that one short year! So here are a few tips for all the grads heading off to college in the fall:
don’t just get through it, embrace it!
approach new experiences, people, classes, etc with optimism
make your experience live up to your expectations
That is all of my wisdom. . . for now 🙂
So, in honor of all the 2012 grads: Congratulations, and best of luck in your newest chapter!
Since I had no *real* ideas for a blog post today but wanted to write something, I have decided to vent about the current state of the weather here in the Portland metro area. First of all, WHY? Every year, the great northwest tricks me into believing that summer has arrived. This year in particular, much of late April and early May were absolutely gorgeous: sunshine, blue skies, 80 degrees. . .
But all that is yanked away from us in June. The month of despair. The month you question why it is you chose to live in the northwest. Maybe I’m being the tiniest bit dramatic here. But really. It has been pouring, day after day for the last 2.5 weeks. I am not kidding.
This evening, as the rain had stopped, and I wanted out of the house, I decided to take my two dogs for a walk. The neighborhood in which I live backs up to a nature park, where I routinely like to take a walk in *nature.* It is generally a very calming, relaxing stroll, but not today. NOT TODAY.
As a result of the relentless rain, today was the day of . . . (insert “dun dun dun” horror music here) the mass slug orgy. If there is one (of many) things I hate, loathe, and despise, it is slugs. I squeal (screech?) like a 12 year old at a Justin Bieber concert when I come into contact with one. So imagine my utter horror when, as we rounded the corner and headed down the concrete path into the woods, I was confronted by the sight of slugs. SLUGS EVERYWHERE.
In my efforts to avoid stepping on them myself, and trying to guide my not very obedient dogs around them as well, the end was inevitable. Many a slug was squished by my dogs paws. Why would I want to preserve these creatures I so despise? It really has nothing to do with me wanting to save them, rather I am only trying to preserve my sanity. When I see a slug squished, my mind immediately replays over and over the nasty, slimy, oozyness that stepping on a slug creates. Just typing this is making me cringe and shiver.
AND, I had to go back for round two as I headed home. Now, to save myself from the horror of the slugs surrounding me for a second time, I mentally cursed the stupid slugs. What makes you think it is a good idea to crawl out of the abyss of ugly from which you came onto the sidewalk where you inevitably meet your end? My coping mechanism of silently lecturing the vile creatures helped me escape unscathed, but now I am sitting here thinking about it. . . and I have realized the worst part of this whole thing. I had no idea just how many slugs there were in my vicinity, and now I know:
THEY ARE LURKING EVERYWHERE : o
When you read books very quickly and at high volumes like I tend to do (especially during the summer when I have no required reading), the library quickly becomes your best friend. My favorite method of approaching a trip to the library is to go in having absolutely no idea what kind of book I am looking for. While other people might have a list of recommended reads at the ready, I prefer to browse, and pick up books that either have titles or cover art that intrigues me. Though this process can be rather time-consuming, I have found many gems by looking for books this way.
On my recent trip to the library (the first of the summer!) I came away with 7 books. Most were ok, one was not good at all, but my favorite from this latest batch of books is by Laura Dave, and is called London is the Best City in America. It was the title of this one that intrigued me.
The book takes place over one weekend. Now usually, I don’t like books that take place over a limited period of time, since I often feel like I don’t really get to know the characters that way. However, Dave did this in such a way that in just one weekend I really felt like I knew the most important characters. So much happens in those 72 hours, both in the present and through recalling memories, that at the end of the book, I remembered that all of this had happened in just one weekend, because I had honestly forgotten.
The main character and narrator, Emmy Everett, a young 20 something, is stuck in a rut in a podunk town in Rhode Island, making a documentary about fisherman’s wives that isn’t really going anywhere. After leaving her still sleeping fiance in a motel room in Rhode Island a few years earlier, Emmy’s life has been kept in a sort of limbo, unsure whether to keep waiting for her fiance to come back to her, or to move on with her life. At the time the novel unfolds, Emmy is heading home to upstate New York for the weekend for her older brother’s wedding. Throughout the weekend, Emmy is faced not only with the shocking news that her brother has been seeing another woman and isn’t sure about the wedding, but the parallels between her own relationship with her fiance and her brother’s current predicament collide over the next 72 hours, forcing Emmy to finally make a decision about how she wants to proceed with her life.
This book was not only very enjoyable, but it was also unpredictable and refreshing. If you have the time, it is most definitely worth reading!
I decided to devote this, my second post ever, to the subject of guilty pleasures in honor of the summer premiere of the abc family show Pretty Little Liars. I entirely blame my roommate from last year for getting me hooked on this show!
For those of you who do not indulge in ridiculous high drama teenage tv shows, Pretty Little Liars is about four girls whose friend, Allison, was missing for a year before her body was found. After the police discover Alli’s body, the girls receive creepy texts and other freaky messages and threats from someone called “A.” In last season’s finale we learned “A” was another friend of the girls -Mona. That’s it, show’s over, one would think. Ha! No it is not over because “A” is not one person but a group of people!
This show, although ridiculous, is also alarmingly addicting. If memory serves, I believe that in last season’s finale they actually had a hashtag at the bottom of the screen declaring “ezriagoespublic” referring to two characters, Aria and Ezra,who had been secretly dating due to the fact that he was her teacher and she was like 16. See what I mean? Guilty pleasure all the way. Why I spend an hour each week of my life to watch the drama go down, I can’t quite put my finger on. . . However, since I am *trying* to be at least a little bit healthy this summer, I decided I would turn my guilty pleasure tv show into a positive, healthy hour.
My plan is to model this on the “Harry Potter Workout.” If you do not know what this is, google it! Now! The concept is actually a bit like a drinking game, except with different workout activities rather than an alcoholic beverage. Ok, so having familiarized yourself with the Harry Potter version, Behold! I give you the Pretty Little Liars Workout:
Everytime. . .
Someone receives a text from “A”——————-10 jumping jacks
Anyone mentions a secret, lie, or the act of lying——— 15 crunches
*Serious* looks are exchanged——————- 10 lunges
A look of shock!———————————- 10 crunches
One of the girls shares a “moment” with her guy——– 5 push-ups
“A” is said aloud—————————————— 10 squats
A male character takes his shirt off——————– 10 bicycles
This is from my first brainstorm, and I very well might add to this list after watching tonight’s episode. So what I’m thinking, is if I do this workout while I watch the show, the ice cream I plan to eat during commercials gets canceled out, right? : )
For all my fellow “A” followers, I challenge you to the Pretty Little Liars Workout! For those of you who have other guilty pleasure tv shows (Jersey Shore perhaps?) I challenge you to come up with your own show/ movie themed workout!