Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Books I've Read - Healing of the Wolf

Healing of the Wolf (The Wild Hunt Legacy Book 5) - Kindle edition by  Sinclair, Cherise. Romance Kindle eBooks @

It's funny because I am not a huge shapeshifter fan.  This book is part of a series.  It is a romance, but it has some shapeshifting and involves some kidnapping and torture and some explicit scenes in terms of sexual situations and violence.  So, if you're still with me...

I don't know if this was my favorite in the series, but it wasn't my least favorite.  I think I like the wolves/cats more than the bears, but this is also the post-book to the big siege.  I liked the heroine quite a bit and glad to see the healer get his story after he popped up in the previous books.  It was also good to see more of his brother, too, who had previously not made a huge impression with me.

Basically, the heroine is kidnapped and tortured in captivity by these bad folks who are capturing all the shifters.  There is an entire universe created about this species, but I'm not going into it all.  So, a bunch of people are broken out and absorbed into separate communities where Margery traded one form of captivity for another.  She leaves and makes a nearby community her home and becomes neighbors (and more) with the two main male characters (one is the community healer and the other is a former city cop and security of sorts here).  

So, there is a little action, some friendship, and a happy ending.  These books aren't for everyone for a variety of reasons.  I didn't think they were for me, but I decided to try them out years ago and ended up liking them.  I kind of gloss over a lot of the shapeshifter terminology, and I don't feel like I'm missing anything.

Monday, June 29, 2020

New Food 2020

I haven't kept posting, but it's all on my Instagram for food.  It's @a4minimaleffort if you're going to manually put it in.

Since my last post, we've made muffins, cookies, roasted veggies with pasta, donuts, coffee cake, and vanilla cake with vanilla glaze in the Instant Pot.  I post the origin (and link if I can) to all.  We mostly use our Instant Pot for baking actually.  I use it enough to make it worth it, but I probably could use it more.   

Just a few thoughts below

  • The coffee cake was for Husband's birthday.  It was a hit.  It's probably because it is 75% crumb/sugar topping and 25% cake.  
  • The muffin recipe was pretty good actually.  No one would eat them but me though.
  • We made both chocolate chip (just Tollhouse, but it's a classic for a reason) and Williams Sonoma sugar cookies for Father's Day.  We used the Sesame Street cookie cutters for fun.
I want to cook/bake more, but I'm indecisive so that's not helpful.  There are definitely more cookies in our future though.

Movies I'm Watching...

I'm watching more than I'm reading.  Normally, I post after I've finished a series, but I've been dabbling with a bunch and not really finishing anything.

I've started The Umbrella Academy before the second season is due on Netflix.  I've started The Great on Hulu.  I put on Crazy Delicious on Netflix when I need something on in the background.  I like the first two, but I haven't been captured enough to binge watch.  The third is literally just if I need something on as noise.

Last night, we started I'll Be Gone in the Dark on HBO.  I have to admit that I didn't finish the book, but I really liked the book.  I'm thinking of going back to finish now, but the first episode premiered last night.  I thought it was well done.  I loved Michelle McNamara's style of focusing on the victims and survivors.  It really respected them instead of giving way to torture porn or sensationalizing the violence and/or killer.  The new perspective and conversational writing really drew me in.

I'm finding I'm focusing more than at the beginning of these unprecedented times, but it's still a struggle.  If the content is right, it's working which is a step in the right direction of things (or at least recreation) going back to normal.  Meanwhile, Little Miss has been reading a book a day or more.  She's digging into her Rick Riordan books that have been piling up as well as listening to audio books.  That's pretty much the only reason I don't harp too much on the fact that she spends all day locked in her room.

Monday, June 15, 2020

Movies We've Watched - Queer Eye

Netflix's Queer Eye Season 5 Set in Philadelphia

I was late to the Queer Eye game, but I binged it all somewhere around Season 2/3.  I liked Season 5 (Philadelphia).  It wasn't my favorite, but it still made me feel good.  

Sometimes, with these shows, I feel just very manipulated.  I feel everything is measured and edited.  I always want to know more like did this have a lasting impression on the participants, have they kept up with things on a physical and personal level.  So, once I immerse myself in the interviews and social media, then I can feel like I can enjoy the show.  This is probably why I don't watch a lot of reality shows in general.   Still, it was a solid season and, if you like the show, you'll like this season.  

Movies We're Watching - Love Life

Love Life (TV Series 2020– ) - IMDb

First of all, I've kept the titles on these even though some of these are clearly tv shows and not movies.

I started this on HBO Max.  There are 10 episodes, only a half hour.  I did find Darby kind of annoying in parts, but I think that was where her character is just different than I am and, to be fair, she was going through her trainwreck phase.  It was good that I decided to push through and view as a whole.  You travel through time with Darby to see her grow personally and professionally.  I thought it was going to be more of a relationship journey based on the first episodes where she is looking for love so desperately, but I liked how it kind of evolved and ended up liking the series as a whole.  I can also see that this is way more popular with people younger than I am or at least closer to that stage in life.  I liked it though, and I'll give a second season a shot (there is going to be a second season but about a secondary character as the show will be more anthology and less serial).

Friday, June 5, 2020

New Food 2020 - Muffin Corn Dogs

Mini Corn Dog Muffins Recipe

I'm not even going to link a recipe because it's super easy.  Captain browsed on Pinterest and chose this recipe.  He also thinks it's dinner and dessert all in one because it's a hot dog and a cupcake.  I made regular-sized muffins even though most recipes will call for mini muffins.  Because I did regular-sized muffins, there is a weird hot dog to corn bread ratio.  

You make cornbread mix (from scratch or by box) and then put it into a greased muffin tin or liners.  Cut the hot dogs in 1/3 or so and stick them in the middle of the muffins.  The whole thing goes into a 400 degree oven for 15 -20 minutes depending (or until toothpick comes out clean).  

I, personally, think this ruins perfectly good cornbread, but it was fun to cook with Captain, and he ate it in record time so that's a win.  

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

What We're Watching - Hannah Gadsby

Hannah Gadsby: Nanette - Music Matters - Medium

Hannah Gadsby: Douglas (2020) - IMDb

This week, I watched Nanette and Douglas with Hannah Gadsby on Netflix. I'm really getting my Netflix money's worth during this quarantine.  I knew I would like these specials, and they came highly recommended, but I didn't watch for whatever reason.  Well, that reason was life.  So, I finally watched both back-to-back this week.  They are very insightful and very funny though both address serious issues and stories.  I found Hannah delightful and witty and smart.  And the accent is brilliant.  I love the Australian accent on anyone.  I recommend it to all with the warning that Nanette had me both laughing and crying so there's that. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Books I've Read - The Glass Hotel

The Glass Hotel : A novel (Hardcover)

To be fair, I haven't finished this one yet.  This one is our second book club book with my colleagues.  I'm about a third of the way through for our discussion on Friday afternoon.  So far, it's interesting.  Whether I would recommend it would depend on how the book ends and also on the reader.  It does jump around to different characters (third person limited points of view) and different times.  I'm bad with navigating times, but I kind of start with wherever I start with and then every chapter after that is a "before" or "after", but I have trouble remembering years and dates - in real life and in fiction.

Stay tuned for my more thorough thoughts.

Edited:  I finished.  I was on board until the last 50 pages and then I just can't.  I could get over the changing points of view (it switched to first person at a couple of points after being third person limited for so long).  I thought that worked, and I didn't mind the change in time.  I just can't handle the the very end.  I thought some of the language was really striking, but I wanted to feel something for anybody, and I never did.  I was indifferent to the two "main" characters and had mild disdain or pity for others.  It does seem like the internet liked the author and book and, to be fair, I don't read a lot of mainstream fiction so maybe it's just me.  I'll just go back to memoirs and romance.

Movies We Watched - The Lovebirds

The Lovebirds (2020 film) - Wikipedia

I caught this one last Friday.  I had been looking forward to it because I love both Issa Rae and Kumail Nanjiani.  I thought the movie was a perfect Friday night movie.  I got lost a little in the mystery, but I thought the leads were good enough to carry any slower part or weaker part of the film.  It was very compact so it can be watched in less than an hour and a half which, in our house, is a huge plus.  My brain has trouble comprehending longer pieces.  Or non-fiction (which is why Husband watched Grant on the History channel all by himself last night - my only input was to remark how hot Grant was at one point).  Anyway, if you like either of these folks as actors or comedians, I'd recommend this movie.  I may watch it again.

Movies We Watched - The Big Flower Fight

The Big Flower Fight - Home | Facebook

I've had some trouble focusing and concentrating so these little Netflix competition shows have been perfect.  This one had the accents and quirkiness of The Great British Bake-Off, but it didn't have the complete charm.  It was still perfect for a quick little binge.  I still had my favorite teams and the teams I couldn't wait to see go.  I did feel like the contestants were good-natured while continuing to be competitive.  I really liked the father/son team a lot even though they didn't have the polish or skill some of the other teams had.  I won't give away any spoilers, but I was happy with how it played out.  Maybe if there had been a mini challenge or a way of gaining advantages, that would have upped the pressure and competition, but I get that the focus was to make it light and positive.  

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Week asdlkjfa;slkdjfasdklfj

So, we're still being socially distant and sheltering in place.  We've got a little routine down, but the days run together.  

Captain has taken to it well. He has taken a lot of coronavirus information in and processed it, and he's been strangely cool. He's got all his stuff, all of his people. He still hates Zoom calls, but he's been getting better. I think having a birthday helped - new toys especially video games. This house has always been a videogame-free house, but that's over.  He's doing ok with school.  He hates reading and writing and it's hard to keep him motivated.  Luckily, I've found some worksheets online and an app he really likes that has actually helped him write.  It's too early to see if it's been helping him read.  He's very behind the milestone with reading and writing.  He does love being read to though.

Little Miss is all over the place. She's ok depending on the minute of the day. She misses the structure of school and her friends. We've been doing some cooking and baking which helps. Nothing major, but I think the whir of the mixer helps calm her. 

The photo below is from a visit with my parents who dropped some presents off while maintaining distance in the parking lot of our building. My mom crocheted The Child from The Mandalorian for me (well, the kids, but we're sharing custody).

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Movies We Watched - Upload

OK, I know that some of these "movies" are really series.  I just didn't want another Label for sorting purposes.  So, as you may have guessed, this latest one is also a series that better get a second season.  The first season ended in a cliffhanger.

Upload (TV Series 2020– ) - IMDb

So, I recently made my way through all 10 episodes of Upload on Amazon Prime.  I liked it.  I wanted it to be funnier.  The commercials made it seem funnier or quirkier.  Once the plot kicked in, I got more intrigued.  There were some cringe-y, awkward scenes which I don't love, but I liked Nathan and Nora.  I loved Nathan and his niece.  I'm curious about Ingrid.  I didn't like her, but she did make me laugh.  Either way, I think it ended strong and now we'll never know how long we have to wait for another season.  There better be one though.

Friday, May 8, 2020

Movies We Watched - Never Have I Ever

Never Have I Ever (TV Series 2020– ) - IMDb

OK, it's not a movie.  It's a tv show.  I almost watched it all yesterday, but I had to go to bed.  I have 3 episodes left.  I'm writing this and making the assumption that the last 3 episodes continues the quality and style of the rest of the series.  I really like this series a lot.  It's funny and clever.  John McEnroe is the narrator which is hilarious.  He also asks as a guide to the characters and the is a great way to explain Devi's culture and inner thoughts to the viewer.  Plus, he's just hilarious.  I love that the show is centered around Devi, but it also breaks and shows you her friends, her family, and her enemies separately so you get a pretty full picture which helps see Devi's strengths and weaknesses.  All the characters are three-dimensional and quirky without being caricatures.  

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Movies We Watched - The Half of It

I wanted to see this movie when it was advertised on Twitter awhile ago, and I missed the release date, but I caught it yesterday (it only released 5 days earlier). It was so good. I liked so many things about it. I liked the storytelling and the way it was filmed, almost like a dream. I loved how funny it was, how timeless it seemed. I love a unique love story. I don't want to ruin the ending, but in a story where you may suspect things don't end well, this ends the best way it could and with happiness and optimism. I felt all the feels and ended up crying and laughing all at the same time which is always so glamorous. Plus, now I want to try taco sausage and want dumplings ASAP. I highly recommend this movie on Netflix.

On a sidenote, there was zero authentic Asian representation for me growing up.  I remember reading Just As Long As We're Together by Judy Blume and was like this girl is Asian and adopted.  What?!  We have a ways to go, but I love some of the offerings out there.  

Monday, April 27, 2020

Movies We Watched - Won't You Be My Neighbor?

Won't You Be My Neighbor? (2018) - IMDb

I caught Won't You Be My Neighbor? on HBO before it left.  I meant to watch this when it was released and then when it was on cable, but I needed the "Leaving Soon" warning before I actually watched.  I really liked it.  I knew much of it and heard some of it before, but it is always joyful and calming to listen to Mr. Rogers and hear that the joy he gave to me is the same as the joy he gave to everyone else who has ever met him.  

New Food 2020 - Pizza Dough

OK, this one was mediocre.  I think it would be fine with some herbs or with better toppings, but for a plain pizza, it's a bit tasteless.  Still, it's a good dough and consistency.  The kids are it, but they complained about it.  So, for kids to complain about pizza, it is not a win.

New Food 2020 - Skinnytaste Bagels

I liked these bagels. They taste best right out of the oven or air fryer. I think they'd be best as a breakfast sandwich, but they were pretty good plain, too. The kids said they didn't love them, but they ate half of them.

Book Opinion - Dear Girls

Dear Girls: Intimate Tales, Untold Secrets, & Advice for Living ...

My work has organized a book club.  Ali Wong's Dear Girls was our first read.  It was a quick read full of Ali Wong's life and experiences in the form of letters to her daughters.  It was a bit raunchy if you don't know her humor.  If you enjoy clean humor, it is very raunchy.  I liked it.  It was a unique outlook format which is always welcome by me.  I don't know if it was my favorite memoir, but I liked the format, and it was easy to read.  It had overall positive reviews within our group, too.  

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

New Food 2020 - Molten Chocolate Cakes

We made molten chocolate cakes (twice actually) in the Instant Pot.  So good and so easy.  It's from the book, The Instant Pot Desserts Cookbook from Williams Sonoma. For the recipes in the book, you do need a few special tools.  So, we purchased a silicone trivet, ramekinsspringform pan, and fluted cake pan (bundt pan).  Nothing was very expensive.  The trivet and ramekins have multiple uses.  You can use all in the oven if you prefer.  It's nice because baking in the Instant Pot makes smaller servings in the smaller baking pans so we're not stuck with a ton.  The molten chocolate cakes use a ton of eggs, but they don't use much of anything else and we happened to have everything in our pantry.  I'm looking forward to cooking more with this cookbook and trying out more baking in the Instant Pot.

Movies We Watched - Instant Family

Instant Family (2018) - IMDb

I watched Instant Family last night on Amazon Prime.  I had heard good reviews.  I really liked it.  It was funny and touching.  I loved that the parents did so many things wrong which is relatable.  There were definitely things I have heard before about adoption.  That part wasn't only true about adopting foster children.  With so many choices, sometimes, it's hard to settle on something to watch or read, but I'm glad I made this choice.