Monthly Archives: March 2014

More Tea Please

Is It Time for Tea?

After a productive but incredibly sleepless weekend, I’m feeling sluggish today…more tea is required to reboot the brain. Hopefully, if I can wake my brain up, my body will get the hint.

‘Til next time,
Jessica


This Is A Different Thing All Together

Cover of "Skeleton Crew"

Cover of Skeleton Crew

“A short story is a different thing all together – a short story is like a kiss in the dark from a stranger.”
― Stephen KingSkeleton Crew

This is such a wonderful description of a short story.  I could not resist sharing.  Before I discovered Fragile Things and Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman I didn’t own many short story collections.  Sometimes I would stumble upon really good ones online or I’d pour through collections from college for favorites, or maybe I’d borrow an anthology from a friend.  However, I didn’t seek out short stories the way I do novels.  Well, that is just not going to work anymore

 

Cover of "Fragile Things: Short Fictions ...

Cover via Amazon

These days time is the most valuable commodity, and I don’t know about you, but I always seem to come up a little short.  In the wake of things-that-must-be-done, novels go unread, memoirs lie abandoned, and works of art “in progress” gather dust.  I know, the fault is no one’s but my own.  The to-do list is largely voluntary, and I don’t regret doing any of it.  The opportunity for a great experience is hard to pass by, but it comes at a sacrifice of those things that relax, steady, and recharge me.  Short fiction has become a solution to fill my need to read, learn, and continue to increase my skill as a writer.  So, I’m branching out…again.

 

I’m in the middle of Ray Bradbury’s Martian Chronicles, but I’m almost finished reading it.  I’m going to need a little help to keep me going.  Who do you think writes good short stories?  Any favorite collections?

 

‘Til next time,

 

Jessica

 

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Hooray For the Weekend!

No, I’m still not tired of this song. Are you?

Tonight I’m going to see The Great Budapest Hotel at Circle Cinema.  I’ve heard really good things about it.  I like Wes Anderson films, and this one has something like 15 Oscar nominees in it.

Last weekend I wanted to go see Divergent, but that didn’t happen.  I’m in a movie watching mood, so it is a possibility this weekend.

English: Actor Jared Leto - 66th Venice Intern...

English: Actor Jared Leto – 66th Venice International Film Festival. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I just listened to the Nerdist Podcast with Jared Leto.  (It is from St. Pat’s.  I’m behind.) He was talking about the film they made, Artifact, about being sued by their record company. I’ve heard really great things about it, but I haven’t seen it yet. Have you? What did you think?  Of course, he’s also talking about Dallas Buyers Club.  I haven’t seen that yet, but it is next on my Netflix list.  Have you seen it?  What did you think?

“Til next time,

Jessica

be a love and pass the wineP.S. A friend sent me a text this morning telling me to “behave” this weekend.  Just so you know.  That’s not going to happen.

P.P.S.  Just as a note, I have had tickets to go see 30 Seconds to Mars twice, and I couldn’t go.  TWICE… did I mention twice?  I looooovvvveeee this band, and I’ve missed out on seeing them live TWICE.

P.P.P.S.  I also have a friend who met Shannon Leto after a show and went up to him and said, “Congratulations!”  If I remember right, she said his response was “for what?”  She meets more famous people than I ever will.  As far as I know, this was about as together as it gets when that happens. 😉

 

 

 

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Captain Jack Harkness…I’m Not Surprised. Are You?

John Barrowman

John Barrowman (Photo credit: paulafunnell)

A news story on the radio this week covered people singing in the car.  Apparently, people really like to sing along with Journey.  Personally, I sing along with everything…whether I actually know the words or not.  I sing a lot.  It doesn’t matter if there’s music playing or not.  Sometimes I get weird looks in the grocery store, but who cares.  Then I saw this quote from John Barrowman.

 

“I’ve always thought people would find a lot more pleasure in their routines if they burst into song at significant moments.”
― John Barrowman

Thanks Captain Jack.  I agree!

 

‘Til next time,
Jessica

Time For Some Shopping…

Time For Some Shopping...

I think I need this tea set (fine, actually a want, but come on…). This has my name all over it (or give me time and a crayon and it will!) The lovely photo on Pinterest didn’t have a link to where I can purchase this item or the source, so if anyone knows…please share…pretty please…

‘Til next time,

Jessica

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Sherlock Season Three Recap Party

Sherlock (TV series)

Sherlock (TV series) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So what happens when you have a friend who gets a kick out of planning themed parties?  You get a themed birthday party…whether you really want it or not.

Fortunately, my dear friend, is a fan of BBC’s Sherlock.  This is helpful, because I really wanted to throw a Sherlock themed party.  Remember my Doctor Who Birthday Party?  I’m now hooked on themed parties, because they are so much fun to plan.

One of my New Year’s Resolutions is to spend more time with my friends (an unwritten one is to not get myself in over my head).  Parties are ideal for getting my favorite people together in one place.  The challenge is not getting carried away with the theme planning.

photo (2)For this party, I decided to serve tea as a subtle (or not so subtle) reference to Sherlock serving tea to Moriarty in The Reichenbach Fall.  Besides, I’d just unearthed the tea set my Grandma Joye got for us to use when we were kids.  She would have definitely approved.  My parents are remodeling their kitchen, so I helped them clean out their current cupboards.  We found all kinds of gems there.  Serving plates, dessert trays, and even a fondue pot.  (I’ve never had fondue, so I’m not attempting it for the first time at a party.  However, this is not my last theme party!)  My kitchen cupboards are a little short on space now, but I have a lot of really neat stuff that will be put to good use!

photo (2)I didn’t get to do all the decorating I would have liked.  (Note: don’t plan a themed party when you’ll be traveling for work the week before.  It makes everything feel rushed, and fun stuff has to get cut do to time constraints.)  The writing was on the wall, so to speak, with Dry Erase markers providing the assist for “Get Sherlock” messages and “Honey, you should see me in a crown” on the bathroom mirror.  The mirror was complete with a crown drawn just above the head of the viewer.  As a parting shot for party goers, I printed a picture of Moriarty with “Miss me?” at the bottom.  Since a number of people hadn’t seen all the Season Three episodes, I provided “shock” blankets, because…they’d need them.

The blankets were simple to make.  Orange fleece cut to whatever size you desired with hems around the edge that were whipped stitched with dark brown embroidery thread.  I’m a fan of decent sized blankets to snuggle in, and the bolt of fleece I found was perfect for that.  At 60″ X 54″ there’s plenty of soft cuddly comfort to be found.

The menu consisted of items typically found at tea-time, and the bonus was it was quick and easy to put together.

photo (1)Menu:

  • Cucumber Sandwiches – spread: 8oz cream cheese, 1/2 cup mayonnaise, 1 packet of dry Italian Dressing seasoning.  Mix well and refrigerate for at least 6 hours.  Spread on bread and top with sliced cucumbers.
  • Ham & Pimento Cheese Sandwiches –
  • Ham & Cream Cheese Sandwiches
  • Mini-Quiche
  • Celery & Carrots
  • Biscuits
  • Cupcakes
  • Tea

Adagio Teas has a wonderful selection of fandom teas.  I ordered the Sherlock Sampler.  Which arrived with tea specially blended based on Sherlock Holmes, John Watson, Mycroft Holmes, Anderson, Sally Donovan, Greg Lestrade, Mrs. Hudson, Molly Hooper, The Woman, and Moriartea.  They’ve pared down their current sampler size and price, but after tasting most of these teas, I think they’ve made good selections.  My favorites were Sherlock Holmes, John Watson, Moriartea, and Greg Lestrade.  I like a bold strong tea with a bit of milk and sugar, and these were all perfect for that.  Mycroft Holmes was also really nice, very chocolaty.

Shock Blankets and Tea

Shock Blankets and Tea

A Sherlock & Watson Cocktail was also in the plans, but it calls for Cardamom Bitters.  I had no concept of how difficult it would be to find this necessary little addition, so...we just splashed whiskey in our tea and called it a day.  You can order Cardamom Bitters online or check your local specialty food stores.  Just plan ahead for that little gem.  

We played “Sherlock” , a game I read about online that combines Clue with Jenga (the Lego guy was my idea).  Setup the board just as your normally would for Clue, however in the center where the envelope containing the killer’s information goes, place the Jenga tower.  The Lego figurine goes on top, since there is no Sherlock Lego yet, I used Loki (I didn’t think he’d mind.).  We played with traditional Clue rules, however each time someone made an incorrect suggestion to solve the murder, they had to remove a Jenga block.  The person who makes “Sherlock” fall loses.  Yes, someone went there, I ran with it, and it was good.

The "spray paint" effect did not go as planned...but they still tasted great!

The “spray paint” effect did not go as planned…but they still tasted great!

The original goal was to pick up something from each episode to use as a decoration, party favor or menu item.  Unfortunately, some things had to get cut, because life interfered with party planning.  Ah, well.  The things that got the ax included:

  • A “photo booth” using the table-cloth fabric as a back ground and cutout mustaches, deer stalkers, blue scarves, an umbrella, and a tiara
  • “Crime in progress, please disturb” note for the front door
  • Sherlock cupcake toppers
  • Skull on mantelpiece
  • Black lotus origami
  • Rache spelled in red tape on the floor
  • A bandanna with H.O.U.N.D. Liberty, IN to go around the dog’s neck
  • A riding crop (or something that looks like one) randomly lying about
  • Laser pointers for guests to play with

The party was a grand success, and I will be keeping my list and props intact for the next Sherlock party.  Watch party for Season 4?  Anyone?  Anyone?  Since I have a good bit of time to plan for the next one, send me your ideas.

‘Til next time,

Jessica


A Decent Vocabulary Will Go A Long Way

A Decent Vocabulary Will Go A Long Way

I don’t know about you, but I really love language.  There is nothing quite as satisfying as being able to choose the exact right word for a given situation, and, thanks to the lovely internet, I come across new words to add to my ever-expanding vocabulary every day. I thought, I’d create a new Thursday special feature with cool words.

Why Thursday? I keep getting “Thor’s Day” and “Castiel the angel of Thursday” stuck in my head…nearly every week, so Thursday needed a special feature. (It really could be worse. I promise. How would you pick a day?)Plus, it is the day before the week ends, and everybody needs a bit of an intellectual boost to get through Friday, right?

Today’s word (duh duh dun):

petrichor

Yes, I had to pick a word that I first heard in a Doctor Who.  I couldn’t resist.

‘Til next time,

Jessica

 

 


Mental Floss Is Awesome

Mental Floss Is Awesome

 

logo_mental_flossAlthough I’d heard about Mental Floss though YouTube videos and stuff posted by John and Hank Green on social media, I hadn’t really done more than just peeked at it from time to time.  Something made me decide to get a subscription last week, and in the course of doing that I signed up for an email with fun facts.  Since then I’ve learned a couple of things…

 

  1. Day 11 Zespri Kiwifruits platter 01

    Kiwifruits platter 01 (Photo credit: babe_kl)

    Beginning about this time of year bats migrate to Austin, TX and by the time they migrate back the bat population is twice that of the human population in Austin. (Even better because it arrived just before some colleagues when there for the Energy Thought Summit.)

  2. They’re working to develop a kiwifruit with an edible or easily peel-able skin…I’ve been craving kiwi fruit ever since.
  3. 18 Things You Didn’t Learn in History

 

Pythagoras had an irrational fear of beans.  An orphanage in Paris gave away babies as raffle prizes in 1921…maybe it is because I’m a history geek or maybe I just want to know all the things, but I really got a kick out of this list.  Julia Child was a spy!

 

‘Til next time,

 

Jessica

 

P.S. This also may be why I really love trivia games…also, why some people won’t play against me anymore.

 

 

 

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A Little Bank Humor

A Little Bank Humor

Here’s a little humor for my banking friends…all of whom are actually dog lovers…also for dog lovers…and people with a decent sense of humor…so, yeah, it’s for everybody.


August: Osage County: A Film Review

August: Osage County began life as a Pulitzer Prize and Tony award-winning play written by Tulsa’s own Tracy Letts.  Letts also wrote the screenplay, so I had no worries about the continuity between the play and the movie.  The cast is absolutely stellar, and there was no doubt these actors would pull the best from the script.  The whole movie is set, and they filmed, less than an hour from my home.  The excitement of a film of this quality showcasing the natural beauty of Oklahoma outshone my vague sense of dread after reading the summation of the play’s plot.

Set in rural Oklahoma, the story features an alcoholic father, a drug addict mother, a suicide, a marriage ending, racism, and the lasting damage people inflict on each other.  The description of the film as a “dark comedy” is certainly apt, and I knew without a doubt that the cast would deliver.  Seriously, Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Ewan McGregor, Abigail Breslin, Chris Cooper, Benedict Cumberbatch, Dermont Mulroney, Juliette Lewis, Julianne Nicholson, Margo Martindale…what couldn’t you do with that kind of cast?

The cast delivered the performances I knew they would, each actor disappearing into amazingly well-written characters.  Characters that, I think, are universally relatable.  No matter their specific story, seeing something of yourself or someone close to you in them wasn’t a stretch.  Although, for those of us who drive these roads, shop at these stores, and are intimately familiar with the trappings of the film it may have been even a bit easier to relate. (When you’re fairly certain you shop at the grocery store some of the props come from…it is definitely close to home.)

Having heard English actor, Benedict Cumberbatch, with a convincing American accent in The Whistleblower, I didn’t wonder if he’d be able to pull off sounding like an American, but the man exceeded my expectations and sounded as  if he grew up down the road, mastering the particular accent and cadence of speech of Oklahoma without flaw.  Actually, all the actors did an amazing job with this.  Julia Roberts’s character had moved away from home to Colorado, and like many of us who have done this, lost most of her accent…except in times of stress when the “okie” slipped fleetingly through.

They did a lot of the filming locally, in Bartlesville, OK, and the film does a wonderful job of showing off the things I love about the local landscape.  The area is both stark and beautiful, miles to drive without seeing more than scattered farmhouses, not always in the best state of repair, and huge round bales of hay, and gently rolling hills.

AugustosagecountyThis script is funny in places, but it is truly the “dark comedy” it professes to be.  Although there are brief moments of levity, the overall feel of the movie is…downright depressing, be warned.  If your family is in any way, shape, or form dysfunctional (and really, whose isn’t?) this movie will pick at the scab.  Tracy Letts has done a phenomenal job with pulling the audience into these characters’ lives, and when I watched it, the vast majority of the audience in the theater stayed seated through the credits to collect themselves before leaving in virtual silence.  Honestly, it took a couple of days before I was really able to shake the contemplative mood that August: Osage County engendered, and it actually inspired a few changes in my own life…mostly in an effort to never become anything like the characters portrayed in the film.

Confession time. I’ve sat on this review for…a couple of months.  This is not an easy film for me to review because, while August: Osage County certainly deserves recognition and awards for the stellar quality of the film, there is no doubt about it.  This is a great film in every technical aspect I can think of.  Acting, cinematography, script, and I would never steer anyone away from watching it, but it also hit a little too close to home in places…a lot of places.  Be prepared, when you watch it, come armed with good, funny, friends…and puppies for after (who doesn’t smile at puppies?)…you’ll need it.

‘Til next time,

Jessica

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