Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Jumping on the Recipe Bandwagon

After reading my friends' numerous posts regaling their cooking success, I had to jump on the bandwagon. Yesterday I headed to the grocery store to finally complete the ingredients needed for shrimp pad thai from Cooking Light. (That's not my picture but it did look like that.) Now, I don't even consider a recipe unless I have checked the Weight Watchers points first for DH and myself. This recipe? 7 points, not too bad. And I must say, DH and I did a great deal of lip-smacking over this one. It had a good kick to it thanks to crushed red pepper--and it does help if you can find the Asian rice noodles to go with it. It called for stick noodles (Banh Pho), and I'm not sure I got exactly what I needed, but I did find them in the Asian section of the grocery store and they tasted yummy. I'm sure you could substitute regular noodles. OK, I've just looked over what I wrote and have decided the word "noodles" makes me giggle like a little kid. Seriously, though, that and fish sauce were the two most exotic ingredients; the rest you can find in any grocery store. Delicious and fairly light--we definitely ate more than our 7 points' worth, I admit.

Since I was on a roll, I continued and made morning glory muffins, also from Cooking Light (3 points each but they're filling). We omitted the walnuts but they still tasted great, according to my (biased) sources. I still don't know why "morning glory" has to do with lots of wheat and bran, but it required me going to the local health store and buying a 1lb. bag of flax seed and borrowing my landlady's coffee grinder to produce 2 tablespoons of ground flax. Thus, if anyone has recipes that call for flax seed, let me know. Mushing the bananas inside the peels was the most fun part. Yes, I may grow older, but immaturity lasts forever. Makes life a lot more fun.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Totally worth the wait

Because the sadists at Amazon.uk (I won't even link the name out of my annoyance) have not yet managed to send my my copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, I pre-ordered another copy and stood in line at my small local bookstore at midnight to get it. Read the next day for thirteen hours, starting at 7am on Saturday, finishing triumphant and exhausted at 7:45pm.

I will only say a few things: Yes, of course I bawled at the end. Again, Rowling manages to tie plot bits together amazingly skilfully, bringing something back from a previous book that you didn't realize had ANY importance at all that becomes crucial in the current one. When my real copy comes, I will re-read it just to see what I missed in the first go-around. I loved it, loved every single page. What makes me happiest as an English teacher? This woman had millions of people glued to their chairs either listening to or reading a book. Alone, as families, chapter by chapter, in one sitting, you name it. Even watching the news this morning: I could not figure out how in the world a homophobic movie like I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry (again, I feel no need to supply a link) had surpassed the fifth Harry Potter movie until DH pointed out that everybody else was home reading! This left the non-readers, to put it delicately, filling the seats for Adam Sandler and Kevin James' homage to old, tasteless gay stereotypes and jokes.

Something else worth the wait: We're finally headed on our honeymoon this Friday, off to the wilds of the west coast of Canada! Considering we have a six-hour flight, I may get a chunk of HP7 re-read. Sigh...I just loved that book.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Latest Harry Potter

First of all, for those who don't know, I willingly admit I am a Harry Potter freak. I obsess over the books, think they're some of the best writing out there in the genre, and want to live at Hogwarts. I buy the first edition books from amazon.co.uk so I can have "the real thing". I did this after I realized they Americanized the ones over here, substituting "sneakers" for "trainers" and the like. Plus I think the covers look better. When I finished my master's degree in English Education, DH gave me a replica of Professor McGonagall's wand because, as he said, "I would've gotten you Dumbledore's, but I know she's the best female teacher, so I chose that one." Yes, awwws all around for DH's thoughfulness. I keep it on my desk at school. When HP and the Prisoner of Azkaban came out, I allowed myself one chapter a day to make the book last longer. I preordered my last three copies as soon as I could.

However, I don't think I can do that with this last one. I know I'll read it as fast as I can, avoiding all news and radio coverage because inevitably morons out there will start off their story with, "Fans all around the world mourn the death of Harry Potter" or some crap like that, RUINING it for anyone who hasn't finished the book or plans to read them in the future. Why don't people think???? DH already plans to cook for me so I don't have to do anything but read. I really don't know how Rowling will end it. Truly. As my friend said, "She's British. Brits don't end everything all happy." Clearly she has proved to us that nobody is safe (and I'll say no more, as some of you may not know what I mean. See, news people?), as evidenced in prior books. Thus I can guarantee that I won't post this weekend. No, I'll wrap myself in one, final Potter adventure. I can't wait.

This past weekend DH and I saw Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix at the IMAX theater. I haven't seen anything remotely 3D in years, and I have to admit it rocked with the glasses and a GIANT screen which covered the entire wall. We put our glasses on as they headed to the Ministry, and then the whole action scene was in 3D. Very, very cool. I agree with both feathernester and her husband that I liked the way they put things together but left out parts I wish they hadn't. I realize that editing requires this, but I still feel much of the humor was left out to make it darker and they didn't give Ron or Hermione much development at all. Couldn't they have added that they got prefect? I also wish they could've added some of the Quidditch elements but again, editing must prevail. Like Mr. Feathernester, I always prefer the book to the movie; you always get more with the book. I just think Book Five gives a much richer experience than the movie.

To that end, did anyone else notice that the Dementors in Little Whinging were NOT explained? Why not? Doesn't that prove even more strongly the evil side of the character who put them there? Made no sense to me. Great job on casting with Bellatrix Lestrange, Umbridge, and Luna Lovegood. And the three main characters have really begun to prove their range; I see them doing other films and productions after this successfully. Daniel Radcliffe's already gone the other way with his role in Equus (and if you don't know the play, trust me when I say it's about as far away from Harry Potter as you can get). Long story short, go see it. The special effects are great, it will never replace the book, but I'll still get it when it comes out on video.

Random Questions

1. Why, in a movie trilogy, is the first one usually best, the second one a dismal sequel, and the third a sort of apology for the second that actually does work? Yes, there are exceptions (Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End comes to mind--I fell asleep and that rarely happens with me.)

2. Who truly cares about Paris Hilton? And why won't she go away?

3. Why did my bike, made in CA, need metric Allen wrenches?

4. Will kids ever read books again, or has technology pretty much ruined that forever unless old fogies like myself force them to?

5. How do people still have faith in George Bush? Hasn't enough evidence accrued that people realize he's made a variety of, shall we say, poor decisions?

6. Why is exercise/dieting/you name it such a hard habit to get into but so incredibly easy to fall out of, even though we know it will enhance our lives?

7. Why don't bars have little hooks underneath for women to hang purses on?

8. Wouldn't it just make border crossing easier if, on a driver's license, the government put a little symbol on there indicating that the driver had been born in the United States instead of trying to force everyone to buy a $300 passport?

9. Why do I think the government would do something simple and logical? (Does anyone know that story about the U.S. space program trying to design a pen that would work in space, spending thousands of dollars and hours to get ink that would work in weightlessness...and the Russians used a pencil?)

10. Will SNL really cycle back to funny skits again? Who's still watching it to even see?

11. Do we really need a fishing network?

12. How does one get egg off a house? (I ask this because I'm moving so close to a high school.)

13. Will I have to listen to the Top 40 music station so I know what my students are singing--and tell them not to sing it in class--even though I think most of it is crap? When did I become my parents?

14. Why does my town have three soft rock stations and NO oldies station?

15. Why do I secretly watch America's Next Top Model?

16. Will Harry Potter die? What will I do after the series has ended?

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Our House!

So I wrote about house hunting and the terrible places we saw. And then, DH's mom called and mentioned a place she'd seen near her house. Three bedrooms, great yard, close to the town center but not too close, dry basement, etc. Long story short, we fell in love. After having my parents scrutinize it (R. has looked through many a home and we wanted his and my mom's input) and getting their OK, we made an offer... and we got the house! I'll post pictures soon. Trust that it's very cute. The interior decoration smacks of "early grandmother" (think 70s kitchen, several old windup clocks, and yellow/orange/brown floral wallpaper) but that's fixable. As the Realtor said, it has "great bones". The former owners raised their family there and obviously gave it a lot of love. My favorite part so far? The inlaid cherry bookshelves in the living room. Love 'em!

This may sound silly, but it feels so adult to own a house. DH and I now have a mortgage and a yard and a real, live basement (well, nothing lives in it as far as I know) and everything. We even have a raspberry bush! I find it all rather amazing and exciting. The house also happens to sit behind the football field of the local high school--not so close that stray passes will fly into the yard but close enough that my friend H. pointed out that the house will get egged on Halloween. It's all pretty exciting that we're really moving on to the next part of our lives, the part that will probably include children and Christmases and repainting and fights and everything. Mindblowing.

7/10/07 What makes this even more significant? Through a series of events, I found out said local high school had an English job opening. Bear in mind that the school is close enough to my house to literally walk out my door and across that field in five minutes. I figured I'd check it out just to see what would happen... and they actually offered me the job! I hadn't even thought of going elsewhere but I had to take the opportunity. Thus this means starting over again, but I think this could be something more permanent, finally. It also means I have to teach yucky boys again, ewwww.

So anyone want to come over for a painting party?