Thursday, April 17, 2014

Book vs. Movie Interpretations

I have been vocal about my dislike of movies adapted from books.  At book club last Sunday, a very interesting discussion helped me solidify why.  I will get into the details of the discussion in a bit; first, here's an example.

I read The Hobbit before LOTR: The Fellowship of the Ring came out.  As I was watching the Fellowship, I was startled by how scary the orcs looked.  We both read similar source material.  Where did they pull their version of what an orc looks like, and where did I pull mine?  It was my first concrete experience with someone else's version of the same material.  It was also my first experience realizing my mind wants to protect me from scary images.  This may be part of the reason I have a difficult time with horror movies - it is someone else's scary vision, which is a billion times scarier than my mind would allow.

When you read a book, you interpret it in your own way.  You bring your past experiences, biases, and opinions to the table.  You can't read a book free of these things.  Part of what makes a book club so fun is hearing other people's interpretations.  I have yet to walk away from a discussion feeling unfulfilled, even when I didn't enjoy the book.

The problem with a movie is it narrows this experience to one vision.  When I see an orc, I am getting the designer's version of what the orc looks like.  It may look similar to mine, it may not, but the problem is I'm only getting one person's version.  And for most people, who don't read books, that is the only version they're getting.  They make their own interpretations off of an interpretation.  It's a copy of a copy.  They don't get the chance to make their own versions of what the characters and settings look like, since someone else has already put the images into their heads.  They lose this beautiful step.

Howl's Movie Castle: a book AND a movie I love!

Movies are their own special medium for telling stories.  Why aren't there more original scripts for movies?  People often write new plays, which is similar to a movie, at least more similar than a book.  You will always lose something when you adapt a book into a movie.  Writing an original script for a movie allows the story to be told fully, since it is told in the intended style.

I know sharing this opinion makes me sound like a movie-hater, which I'm not.  I just think we rely too heavily on books as source material for movies, when movies could be so much more.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Body Worlds and Butterflies

It's been a hard winter.  Specifically, it was a hard March.  I kind of... went away.  Went away from myself, the things and people I love.  Lost a little bit of myself.  One day, I may be able to blog about it fully - I've always viewed my blog as a journal, a way to document the fun times, as well as the tough times - but today is not that day.

Suffice to say, I was - and have been - struggling with anxiety.  I know I have a big God, who cares about my small problems, and I've been learning throughout this time.  But one of the things anxiety destroys is the future.  Anxiety lives in the future, and the fear of what could be.  But time shows anxiety for what it really is.  I was afraid of what would happen on this, or at this certain event.  Look, it happened.  I was there, and I made it through.  I want to do a better job of documenting the events of my life, for my future fearful self to see: "you were paralyzed by that idea, and you made it through.  God met you there, and you are better on the other side."  Also, I want to do a better job of documenting the many blessings of my life.

All that to say: here's a post about when I went to the museum!

A few weeks ago, my dad, sister and I went to the Milwaukee Public Museum for their Body Worlds exhibit.  This is a traveling exhibit, with many locations, so it's probably come to your town before!  It came to Milwaukee several years ago, but I didn't go at that time.  Anyway, photography wasn't allowed, so descriptions will have to suffice.

I loved it!  Which isn't very surprising since I find the human body and biology fascinating.  My favorite parts were the babies, and the blood vessels.  It was amazing to see the changes babies go through in a few weeks.  They move from looking like, quite honestly, a parasite at 6 weeks, to having hands at 8 weeks.  HANDS!  In two weeks!  It was also amazing to see the differences in size and weight between the weeks as well.  As for blood vessels, they used special solution to isolate the blood vessels before removing the skin and tissue around them.  So, you'd have the structure of an arm, made from only blood.  It looked so cool.  As for being weirded out about being real people... I wasn't.  But I think that was more so because my mind wouldn't accept that they were real.  They still looked like plastic models to me.

We spent about two hours in the Body Worlds section, which left us plenty of time to explore (and goof around in) the rest of the museum.

Making friends in the butterfly room.

Family resemblance?

Our beautiful works of art!

Have you been to the Body Worlds exhibit?
If you haven't been, would you go?

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Sunday Snacks

Even though things have been quiet around the blog, there still has been plenty of snack-making in real life.  Time to catch up!

Chocolate Covered Banana Bites
I tried to make these - without following a recipe - after seeing a picture on Pinterest.
Let's just say it was a Pinterest Fail.
It was too hard to dip them in chocolate, so I tried freezing the bites first.
But then, when thawed, the banana was smelly and mushy.
No bueno.

I tweaked these, using orange instead of lemon.
They were a hit with our friends & their kids!

Pistachio shortbread
(I used a great recipe for this, but didn't save it.  Ooops.)
They were supposed to be dipped in chocolate, but I just threw in chocolate chips instead.
Jordan wasn't a huge fan, but I loved them.
Salty, buttery and sweet!

(hmm, I made a lot of cookies this time around, huh?)
Gingersnaps are a favorite of mine, especially in winter.
Though, why do we associate cinnamon-y spices with wintertime?
We could just as easily make them in the summer.

Made, but not pictured:

I made them for book club, since we read "Tarzan".
They were good, but far too sweet for me.
I like my alcoholic drinks bitter or tangy!

Made in honor of Pi Day!
(March 14th, for those that don't know - 3.14)
I didn't slice/grind the lemon fine enough, so there were some large-ish chunks.
But it was tasty, a pie I'd like to try again.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Sunday evening

Caught my husband chilling in his new welding helmet.
Totally appropriate Saturday night behavior, yeah?

Weather:  WOULD IT JUST WARM UP ALREADY?!  It snowed this morning.  Again.

Reading:  Surprisingly, I'm juggling a few books right now.  I'm reading "Sense and Sensibility" for book club, Bill Bryson's "Shakespeare" for pleasure, and a Kierkegaard anthology for devotional time.  It's rare for me to read more than one book, much less three!

Doing:  Trying to avoid taking a nap.  It's late enough that if I slept now, I wouldn't fall asleep at bedtime.  I'll push through and go to bed early.

Eating:  I've been craving creamy pasta, so I made lemon alfredo for lunch.  It hit the spot!

Listening:  I'm getting in touch with my indie Scottish side - Amy MacDonald and Travis.  Amy MacDonald is a recent find.  I haven't listened to Travis in years, so it's a nice blast from the past.

Buying:  Nothing!

Enjoying:  Dreams.  I often dream vividly and intensely.  I've had a few wonderful ones recently, about falling in love, and repairing relationships.  I know not everyone remembers their dreams, and most people aren't blessed with happy dreams, so I'm grateful for these.

Loving:  Trying to prepare for Easter.  Normally, I ignore the Lenten season, but I've been trying to take extra time during this time to reflect and pray.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

I'm not awesome... and that's okay

This quote irks me.  I don't watch "How I Met Your Mother", so I don't know the context of the quote, but I've seen it around the internet plenty of times.  It always rubbed me the wrong way, but I wasn't able to put my finger on why until recently.

To tell someone to "stop being sad, start being awesome" is a complete disregard for their feelings.  Whether the reason for their feelings is legitimate or not (that's a separate problem), the feelings they have at the moment are legitimate.  Who wouldn't love to command themselves to stop feeling sad?  Who among us hasn't tried something like this already?  If my emotions could be changed by someone simply saying "you shouldn't feel that way, feel a different way instead"... they would never need to say it.  I would have already done it.  

It's important to allow ourselves to feel sad.  Not wallow in it, not to gain pity, but as a time of reflection, or during a time of mourning, loss or struggle?  Allowing ourselves to feel sad and grow during those times is, I think, pretty awesome.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Sunday Snacks & Chai Scones

Other Sunday (but not made on a Sunday) snacks!

My friend said it tasted like a yummy, sweet, apple frittata, which sounds gross, but is actually an accurate description!

Bacon-wrapped cocktail weiners
I tried to go for a spicy-sweet combo by sprinkling brown sugar and cayenne pepper on the bottom of the pan, but neither flavor really came through.
I'd like to keep experimenting though!

Made, but not pictured:

I also forgot to take pictures of the chai scones I made, but I wanted to include the recipe because they were goooood.

Chai has lots of warm, wintery flavors.  Fresh scones are warm and comforting.  It's a match made in carb heaven.

Chai Scones
adapted from "Maple Blueberry Scones" by Joy the Baker

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 ounces cold unsalted butter, cubed
1 large egg
2 tablespoons maple syrup - if your tea is unsweetened, you want to add 1-2 tablespoons more syrup
3/4 cup cold chai tea (if using dried tea, brew it according to directions, and cool in refrigerator)
Cinnamon-sugar mix, for topping

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, or grease with a light coating.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.  Add the butter cubes and mix into the flour.  I use my fingers to crumble the butter into the flour, until the mixture resembles coarse sand, with some larger, pea-sized chunks scattered throughout.  In a separate small bowl, whisk together egg, maple syrup and tea.  Add liquid mixture to flour mixture all at once and combine lightly with a spatula until dough comes together.

Cover a clean counter with a light layer of flour.  Place dough on counter and roll out to about 3/4 inch thickness (I always eyeball it).  Sprinkle cinnamon-sugar mixture onto rolled dough and press in lightly with fingertips.  Use a glass with a 3 inch diameter to cut out scones.  You can mix and re-roll the scraps to make more scones, but do not use scraps more than once.  Bake for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown.  Scones can also be frozen and baked frozen - just increase baking time by a minute or two.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Homemade Peanut Butter Cups: Updated

I've always been a big fan of the underdog.  So it's not surprising that I love the Winter Olympics.  I think the sports are more exciting, there's better coverage because there are less sports, and Americans don't sweep everything (even though I love Team USA!), which means I get to see amazing athletes from other countries.  (Did you know the Netherlands have won 90 medals in the Winter Olympics, and 86 of those medals have been in speed skating?)  Although, I'm pretty cranked off that I can't watch the NBC coverage online because I don't have cable.  Seriously.  SO RUDE OF YOU, NBC.  But, I've been trying to watch as much as I can on regular TV, and be grateful for what I have.

So, obviously, the best thing to do when being inspired by insanely fit people is eat snacks.  I've been wanting to update my peanut butter cup recipe, to include a simple and a more complex peanut butter filling.

Homemade Peanut Butter Cups

12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup peanut butter (smooth is better, but chunky will do)
1/2-3/4 cup powdered sugar
2 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature (optional)
1 tablespoon melted butter (optional)

Yield:  12 regular sized cups (use a regular muffin tin)

Melt your chocolate in a double boiler.  If you don't have one, you can fudge one by placing a glass bowl over a pot of boiling water.  Pour your chocolate in the bowl and whisk until melted and smooth.  Turn heat to its lowest setting, to keep chocolate from stiffening.

Place the peanut butter, powdered sugar, cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl.  Using a hand mixer, mix until peanut butter is thick and tacky.  Test it by forming a small ball with your hands - it should keep together.  You might need to add more powdered sugar to achieve the correct consistency.

NOTE:  You can simplify the filling by only using peanut butter and powdered sugar.  The butter and cream cheese add a nice tang and consistency, but are not necessary.

Line your muffin tin with liners.  Place a spoonful of chocolate into the bottom of each cup, using the back of the spoon to smooth it out.  Using your hands, take some of the peanut butter - about a tablespoon-worth - and flatten it into a disc.  Place the disc on top of the chocolate base, then cover with another spoonful of chocolate.  Smooth the surface, making sure the peanut butter is evenly covered.
Place in fridge and chill for at least one hour.