Monday, February 25, 2019

Week-in-Review-- Blog All About It: Pink

Happy Valentine's Day! Ok, so it's two weeks too late. But since it's the month of all things Pink and Red I decided to use my week-in-review and my post for Blog All About It: Pink all together.

Blog All About It


I got come great cards from DH and my blogging friend Stacy! Thanks so much! Even G had a great time filling out his Valentines for school and creating a Shadow Valentine box.

2019-02-13 19.48.24


2019-02-17 09.01.372019-02-17 09.01.31

G also had another ballroom competition. His school team did not make the final round for the next competition but they all did their best and had a great time! Couldn't be prouder!

2019-02-16 09.59.02



I watched the Oscar's last night. I thought the idea of no host was going to go so wrong. But what a pleasant surprise...the show ran just slight over 3 hours and the presenters and winners were all spot-on. Olivia Colman was my absolute favorite....see...Favourite! I'm so punny. She won the Oscar's last night.




Then there are the dresses! I love me some Oscar red carpet fashion. Here are a few of my favorites last night:
Marina de Tavira

Letitia Wright
Kiki Lane
Charlize Theron
Regina King


BOOKS FINISHED: 


  • The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African-American Culinary History in the Old South by Michael W. Twitty

BOOKS I'M CURRENTLY READING:



  • And I Darken by Kiersten White
  • On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
  • Sense of Style: A Thinking Person's Guide to Writing in the 21st Century by Steven Pinker
  • Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America 
  • If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin

LISTENING TO: 


  • The Witch Elm by Tana French

WATCHING: 


TV:
  • Netflix: Black Earth Rising. I really enjoyed this one. The premise is a survivor of the Rwandan genocide seeks answers on why her adopted mother would prosecute the man who led the charge to end the genocide. There's more to it but the whole series brings up the world players involved and post-colonialism. It's a sobering TV show and I would only recommend it if you're up to the emotional roller coaster.

Movies:


  • RBG-- A lovely documentary on Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
  • Isn't It Romantic-- A surprisingly funny and charming rom-com starring Rebel Wilson.
  • Bohemian Rhapsody-- I loved Rami Malek's transformation and the music was a blast. Not the best biopic but overall an enjoyable experience.
  • A Star is Born-- I loved Bradley Cooper and Lady GaGa. They had amazing chemistry and the music was beautiful. Well done!
Making: 


Since I am still recovering, I have not made a lot with my crochet needles or food for that matter. But I did manage a couple of Instant Pot meals for sloppy joes and an alfredo pasta dish. And even some quick chicken fajitas from the oven!

Looking Forward to:

Game night Saturday! We've officially found another family to play games with. We're all very excited about this. G gets along well with their son. It's the little things that keep you going.

Spring! We just got our water main fixed this morning. And now I can focus on what I want to do with my garden in the spring. It's just around the corner. Do I want to try a square-foot garden? Stay with the tomato plant and flowers, all three?! So many options.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Cat Thursday-- Cats on Catnip!


Welcome to the weekly meme that celebrates the wonders and sometime hilarity of cats! Join us (Michelle at True Book Addict) by posting a favorite lolcat pic you may have come across, famous cat art or even share with us pics of your own beloved cat(s). It's all for the love of cats!


This week comes from an article at Popsugar about a photographer who has photographed cats high on catnip! The results are pretty great. Here are a few of my favorites but check out the article for more on the story and all the great photos. All photos were taken by Andrew Marttila and sourced from the Popsugar article.








Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Academy Awards-- Best Animated Film and Best Documentary Nominations

Best Animated Film


"Incredibles 2"
Starring: Holly Hunter, Craig T. Nelson, Sarah Vowell
Directed by: Brad Bird
Written by: Brad Bird
Genre: children/sci-fi/fantasy
4/5 stars
Watched: in theater and own

I enjoyed the first movie a little more but this one still has heart and action. It's definitely high on the list.


Starring: Bryan Cranston, Koyu Rankin, Edward Norton
Directed by: Wes Anderson
Written by: Wes Anderson
Genre: animated/drama/fantasy
?/5 stars
Watched: HBO

I have mixed feelings about Wes Anderson but I have enjoyed a film or two of his and this one is about a boy trying to find his lost dog. So I'm hoping for more heart. It's on HBO so I'm planning on getting to this one before the Oscars.


Starring: Rebecca Hall, Daniel Dae Kim, John Cho
Directed by: Mamoru Hosoda
Written by: Mamoru Hosoda
Genre: Animation/Fantasy
?/5 stars
Watched: TBA

This is a Japanese film that's pretty recent. So I'm not sure if I'll be able to get it before the Oscars but I know I'll enjoy it once I'm able to see it. 


Starring: Sarah Silverman, John C. Reilly, Gal Gadot
Directed by: Phil Johnston, Rich Moore
Written by: Phil Johnston and Pamela Ribon
Genre: Animation/Children/Fantasy
3.5/5 stars
Watched: in theater

Overall, this was a solid sequel. They had a great bit with the Disney princesses that was comic gold.


Starring: Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld
Directed by: Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsay
Written by: Phil Lord, Rodney Rothman
Genre: Animated/Fantasy
?/5 stars
Watched: TBA

It's not playing anymore in my area but if I can find a way to see it before the Oscars I'll be very happy. It was on my list in December but the holidays pulled me from the movie theaters.

I'm hoping to see 3/5 animated features before the Oscars!

Best Documentary


Directed by: Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi
?/5 stars
Watched: TBA

Alex Honnold attempts to scale Yosemite's 3000 ft high El Capitan wall without any safety gear.

I don't know if I'll get to this one before the Oscars but I definitely want to see it! Looks intense.


Directed by: RaMell Ross
4.5/5 stars
Watched: PBS

I enjoyed this intimate look at the Black community in Hale County, Alabama.


Directed by: Bing Liu
?/5 stars
Watched: Hulu

I definitely plan on seeing this on Hulu. It looks like it might be a tear-jerker.


Directed by: Talal Derki
?/5 stars
Watched: TBA

Talal Derki returned home and gained the trust of a radical Islamist family. Derki was able to document their lives for two years. 

I'm not sure if I'll be able to watch this one. It's probably one I should watch but I don't think I can right now.


"RBG"
Directed by: Julie Cohen, Betsy West
?/5 stars
Watched: Hulu

Hulu has two of these I need to watch! I love me some RBG so I'll definitely be watching this before the Oscars.

I should have 3/5 watched before the Oscars!

Top Ten Tuesday-- Books I Loved With Fewer Than 2,000 Ratings on Goodreads



1. Moral Combat: Black Atheists, Gender Politics, and the Values Wars by Sikivu Hutchinson with only 123 ratings. I read this back in 2013. I remember enjoying Hutchinson's thoughts and experiences on being black and an atheist and how she uses those experiences to help out her community. It was one of my top books that year.


2. Jane Austen For Dummies by Joan Elizabeth Klingel Ray with 525 ratings. I loved the quick and concise history and ideas about Jane Austen and her Regency world. She even broke down the books and put them into context. It was a fascinating read back in 2009!


3. Parenting Beyond Belief: On Raising Ethical, Caring Kids Without Religion by Dale McGowan with 1,567 ratings. This was a fantastic resource as I was leaving my religion and was looking for some guidance after my son was born. It's one I turn to again and again.


4. Flow: The Cultural Story of Menstruation by Elissa Stein with 1,523 ratings. I loved the history of how society has dealt with women's menstruation. The various products that have been created are astounding. It's so fascinating. I loved it.


5. Bitter Fruit: The Story of the American Coup in Guatemala by Stephen S. Schlesinger and Stephen Kinzer with 1,059 ratings. I read this one in college and it blew my mind. It was an excellent and disturbing account of the role America has had and continues to have in Latin America.


6. The Science of Liberty: Democracy, Reason, and the Laws of Nature by Timothy Ferris with 441 ratings. I read this one a few years ago. It basically describes why liberal democracies are the best societies to promote tolerance and science and thus freedom. It seems like a timely read. I highly recommend it. It hasn't been read enough.


7. Intimations of Austen: Stories Inspired by the Works of Jane Austen by Jane Greensmith with 89 ratings. I loved these sweet short stories. They are a treasure.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

It's Time for the Oscars! Best Picture Nominations

Well, I feel like I'm one of the last people to actually sit through and enjoy the whole show but I love awards shows. They're fraught with politics and people and movies and music, etc who got snubbed but I enjoy the glitz and the glamour. Plus, I love the buzz around the movies and what isn't necessarily the best but what's still good. Then the articles come out on what and who were snubbed so I get all those on my list too.

I'll be tracking my viewing this week. I hope to get most if not all of the best picture nominations watched this week. I've already seen a few so hopefully I can get a few more in before next weekend. I like to watch the documentaries and the animated films as much as possible. I usually can't get too many of the foreign nominations until after the big show.

Watched: 3/8

Best Picture



"Black Panther"
Starring: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong'o
Directed by: Ryan Coogler
Sci-fi/fantasy and action/adventure
4/5 stars
Watched: Own

I watched this when it first came out but I have seen it many times since over this last year! I loved meeting Wakanda and being apart of their world. I loved that it had something to say about our own society. And Michael B. Jordan deserves an Oscar for his portrayal of Killmonger. Best villain. Ever.

It's been nominated for Best Original Score, Best Original Song "All the Stars", Best Picture, Best Costume Design, Best Production Design (Hannah Beachler is the first African American to be nominated in this category), Best in Sound Editing, and Best in Sound Mixing.




"BlacKkKlansmen"
Starring: John David Washington, Adam Driver, Laura Harrier
Directed by: Spike Lee
Drama/Comedy
3.5/5 stars
Watched: borrowed from library

I found this one humorous and dark. I had a lot of weird emotions throughout the whole movie. But I did not care for the ending. It felt off-key compared to the rest of the movie, though still an important message to share. But wow. I cannot believe this actually happened.

It's been nominated for Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Original Score, Best Supporting Actor, Best Director, and Best in Film Editing. I am appalled, though, that Adam Driver gets a nomination but not his co-star and main protagonist John David Washington. Boo.




"Bohemian Rhapsody"


Starring: Rami Malek, Lucy Boynton
Directed by: Bryan Singer and Dexter Fletcher (uncredited)
Drama/Biopic
?/5 stars
Watched: TBA

I hope to watch this week. Everyone I know who's seen has loved it. Critics have not been thrilled and the film has been surrounded by controversy with fired director Bryan Singer. I love Queen and do want to see it but am going in aware of the good and the bad.

It's been nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor, Best in Film Editing, Best in Sound Editing, and Best in Sound Mixing.


"The Favourite"


Starring: Olivia Coleman, Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz
Directed by: Yorgos Lanthimos
Historical drama
?/5 stars
Watched: TBA

Another I hope to watch this week since I love all the women in this movie! It's gotten glowing reviews from both audiences and critics alike. I'm excited.

It's been nominated for Best Original Screenplay, Best in Production Design, Best in Costume Design, Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress for both Weisz and Stone, Best in Cinematography, and Best in Film Editing.


"Green Book"


Starring: Mahershala Ali, Viggo Mortensen
Directed by: Peter Farrelly
Historical drama
?/5 stars
Watched: TBA

This is also a film that has seen its share of controversy. I read an article by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in The Hollywood Reporter that addresses the main controversies and why he still feels it's an important and moving film to see. I will be seeing it this week!

It's been nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Original Screenplay, and Best in Film Editing.


"Roma"
Starring: Yalitza Aparicio, Marina de Tavira
Directed by: Alfonso Cuaron
Historical drama
4.5/5 stars
Watched: Netflix

It's been nominated for Best Foreign Film, Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress just to name a few. Well-deserved nominations and I hope this film wins some of these. It's gorgeous and beautiful. It's a quiet snapshot of one family and their nanny over a few months. How they deal with their family dynamics changing and how their nanny deals with her own struggles as a servant with her own personal life and secrets. (I pulled this review from my previous post).




"A Star is Born"


Starring: Lady Gaga, Bradley Cooper
Directed by: Bradley Cooper
Drama
?/5 stars
Watched: TBA

While I know the ending, I'm still looking forward to the music and acting. This story has been made into 4 separate films and one song ("Don't You Want Me?" by The Human League).

It's been nominated for Best Original Song "Shallow", Best in Sound Mixing, Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best in Cinematography. It's a shame Bradley Cooper didn't get a best director nomination.


"Vice"

Starring: Christian Bale, Amy Adams, 
Directed by: Adam McKay
Drama/Biopic
?/5 stars
Watched: TBA

It'll be fun to see the characters of George W. and Cheney on-screen...maybe it'll bring me back to the days of SNL and Will Ferrell's George W.!

It's been nominated for Best in Makeup and Hairstyling, Best Supporting Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Actor, Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and Best in Film Editing.

*All movie pics were pulled from IMDB

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Week-in-review: G's Birthday!

G's birthday was this weekend! I can't believe it. He's 10! Double digits now. Where does the time go? It was low-key and simple and yet he had a lot of fun. We took him and his cousin out to a trampoline jump place. I made him a Minecraft cake at his request. He didn't complain! Yay!

G_10_bday_collage

BOOKS FINISHED: 


  • Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America by Melissa V. Harris-Perry
  • Who is Sonia Sotomayor? by Megan Stine

BOOKS I'M CURRENTLY READING:


  • And I Darken by Kiersten White
  • On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
  • Sense of Style: A Thinking Person's Guide to Writing in the 21st Century by Steven Pinker
  • Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America 

LISTENING TO: 




  • The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South by Michael W. Twitty (on Audible)

WATCHING: 


TV:
  • Netflix's: Bordertown. I'm enjoying the Finnish tv show with the Holmes-like detective and the small bordertown they live in close to the Russian border.
Movies:

  • The Lego Movie: The Second Part-- Not as good as the first but still a lot of fun.
  • Velvet Buzzsaw: A very weird movie but had an interesting story.
Making: 


2019-02-08 18.51.53

Here's the finished product for G's cake! The cake fell apart while I tried to layer it but overall the frosting and construction turned out well and G loved it! So that's all that matters.


2019-02-12 08.56.31

And I finally got a pic of my blankets for my great niece and nephew!

Looking Forward to:

G has another ballroom competition this weekend! He's nervous but he'll do great and I just love watching.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Mini Book Reviews: Becoming


Becoming by Michelle Obama
Published in 2018 by Crown
Genre: Memoir/biography
Format: Own, Audiobook: 19 hours, 30 minutes

Michelle Obama read her own book and it was lovely. I loved listening to her tell her own story. The grace and dignity she showed despite the vitriol she received as the first African American first lady is awe-inspiring. I loved listening to her anecdotes in the White House and how hard it was for her to have Barack in politics. She didn't want it and didn't ask for it but she knew he could make things happen. I miss them both. They're two human beings who will continue to make a difference wherever they go.


Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Published in 2011 by Quirk Books
Genre: Young adult, Urban fantasy
Format: Own, Hardcover 352 pages

This is a re-read for me but I never reviewed it on my blog...I really enjoyed this both times. Riggs takes a bunch of old, weird photographs and uses them to make a story. It's a pretty bizarre world he creates but it works. Peculiar children are like mutants but aren't able to blend as well into society. So their protectors or ymbrynnes keep them safe in time loops. 

Jacob's grandfather has told him stories of his time as a boy in an orphanage during WWII. He was a refugee fleeing Nazi-occupied Poland. But more than Nazi monsters were chasing him; real life monsters called hollowghasts were also chasing him.

After the grisly death of his grandfather, Jacob must travel to the island of his grandfather's youth and find out why he died and who are the children in his pictures? What are the monsters he keeps seeing? He learns who he is and who is grandfather was. He gains new friends and they must go on an adventure to save the peculiars from a monstrous threat. It's a fun story.


Hollow City by Ransom Riggs
Published in 2014 by Quirk Books
Genre: Young adult, Urban fantasy
Format: Own, Hardcover, 400 pages

This is the second book in the "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children" trilogy. The second book was not as great as the first one. It's that second book hump where you have to keep the story going but you're not quite sure where to end it and begin the last part of the story. The pictures didn't quite fit this time around. It seemed Riggs was stretching things a bit.


Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs
Published in 2015 by Quirk Books
Genre: Young adult, Urban fantasy
Format: Own, Hardcover, 464 pages

I did like this one better than two but it was still weaker than one. I enjoyed the ending of the story. All ends well. But there are a lot of questions about peculiars and the world they live in which is the world we live in...Plot holes and deus ex machinas abound. But still a fun ride. Not a fantastic series but a creative one.


Hello World: Being Human in the Age of Algorithms by Hannah Fry
Published in 2018 by W.W. Norton Company
Genre: Non-fiction, Science and technology
Format: Library, Hardcover, 272 pages

This was a fun one. Fry tackles algorithms and technology in our daily lives and how we as a society have been relying too much on them. She talks about privacy, self-driving cars, medicine, and crime and how we have relied too much on algorithms to keep our privacy, keep us safe, and determine our health, and how to prevent crime. She gives us examples on how it's gone wrong. But her point is let's use these algorithms and technologies in conjunction with humans. Let it help us not take over. She gives examples how working with technology can improve our lives and help us get things done. It was scary and hopeful. I highly recommend it!


The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle by Leslie Connor
Published in 2018 by Katherine Tegen Books
Genre: Juvenile fiction
Awards: Schneider Family Book Award, National Book Award Finalist
Format: Library, Hardcover, 336 pages

I read this one aloud with G. We both loved Mason. He has a hard time reading because the letters get mixed up and he sees colors depending on the moods of those around him. He has to dictate what he wants to say to a computer because can't write really well either. His best friend died a year ago and the local detective wants to know more about what happened. He's told him what he knows but events get mixed up and it's hard to concentrate when the detective keeps interrupting him and doesn't want to know about the colors he sees...Soon Mason meets Calvin; he's tiny and smart and they get along great. But they're bullied by their neighbor Matt and his friend Lance. Something seems off about him and Lance. After Mason dictates his story about Benny his friend, the detective is finally ready to see the truth.

It's an amazing story told from Mason's point of view. We see a bit what it might be like to experience synesthesia and other disabilities. It teaches about empathy and compassion and learning to listen to others even if we don't quite understand them at first. It's not only character-driven but plot-driven as well. 


Little Lies Everywhere by Celeste Ng
Published in 2017 by Penguin Press
Genre: Literary fiction
Format: Libary, Audiobook, 11 hours, 27 minutes

I had a really hard time with this book. I did not like it. I wanted to enjoy fleshing out all the characters and seeing them in all their humanity. But not one character did I feel like was a fleshed out. They were all cookie-cutter. I knew from the beginning who I was supposed to hate and who I was supposed to adore. I felt manipulated. The plot was also very convoluted. It felt like a bunch of unlikely coincidences in order to tell an author's moralizing tale. Not my cup of tea. 

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