Month: November 2014

Whiplash

Another week, another movie. That’s because there are so many great choices out right now! Whiplash is a hauntingly beautiful tale about following your dreams and pushing yourself (or the ones around you) to be the best you can be. It is an extremely riveting movie about the life of an aspiring musician enrolled in a grueling music program. My emotions were running high for the majority of the film that is interlaced with language even my foul mouth wouldn’t say. Miles Teller gives an outstanding performance and does all of his own drumming…once you see the movie you will understand how impressive this actually is!

Be on the lookout for this movie come Oscar season as well, I wouldn’t be surprised if it received several nominations. (Namely, a best actor nod for Teller!)

x B

 

Thanksgiving Traditions

IMG_2566As a child, I never understood the hype around Thanksgiving. Sure we got a few extra days off of school and we had a family dinner…just like every other night. What I did not understand at the time is that becoming an adult has a few advantages, and one of them is Thanksgiving. Traditions, routine, and delicious food are things all adults crave and Thanksgiving rolls all of these into one glorious day.

Our family of six has inevitably evolved in the last ten years and so have our holiday traditions. With all four children scattered across the country and the even across the pond (ahem, Kelly) it has been tough to get us all in the same time zone let alone room to celebrate Thanksgiving. Despite our distance we all have subtle ways of making wherever we are feel like home. We typically binge watch the Thanksgiving episodes of Friends (season 8 guest starring Brad Pitt is the best, go watch it again and you can thank me later) and then eat and drink wine until we can’t anymore. There is usuallysome good hearted banter making fun of everyone in the family, namely our poor mom who goes all out for Thanksgiving. (I’m talking wakes up at 6 am to start the turkey and has the table set with 8 million sets of Pilgrim, Native American, and turkey figurines). Once the dishes are clean and everyone has rested up we typically end the night by going to see a movie — the perfect amount of time for your stomach to create just enough room for dessert — and then eating more and enjoying each other’s company.

Even though I won’t be going home for Thanksgiving and I will be making my very first meal for my friends (pray for them), I plan on making this a memorable year. And if all doesn’t go as planned, I can always go see The Hunger Games to ease my troubles!

thanksgiving traditionsWhat are your Thanksgiving traditions?

x B

The Best Macaroni and Cheese

A few years ago, I was looking through Southern Living and a delicious looking macaroni and cheese caught my eye.  This was just before Thanksgiving so I decided to add it to our Thanksgiving menu.  It’s become a regular dish at our Thanksgiving and always goes down well.  I know, I know… the Pilgrims probably did not include mac’n’cheese at their first feast, but don’t knock until you try.

I swear by this recipe and always get complements when I make it.  I’ve slightly adapted the recipe to use buttermilk instead of milk.  It makes for a thicker and creamier component  than milk and adds the perfect tang to the recipe.  I can’t seem to find this recipe on their website and always have to refer to the printed edition.

Ingredients:

8oz elbow macaroni (I also like conchiglie)
2 cups milk or buttermilk
1/4 cup flour
1 tsp onion salt
4 1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup soft breadcrumbs (I usually cut 4 slices of white bread)
1/4 cup butter melted

Cook macaroni according to package. Drain and set aside.  Place milk, flour, onion salt in a quart jar. Cover and shake well. Stir together flour mixture, 3 1/2 cups cheese and macaroni. Pour macaroni mixture into a lightly greased 13 x 9 pan. Sprinkle evenly with breadcrumbs and remaining 1 cup of cheese; Drizzle evenly with melted butter.

Bake at 350F degrees for 45 minutes.  Serve hot and enjoy!

Apologies for the lack of photos. I was a bit too eager to delve in and forgot to take one.

x K

Birdman

birdman movie

It isn’t often that I see a film and leave the theater completely elated and inspired. The last time this happened was after I saw The Grand Budapest Hotel…until last week. I had seen the trailer to Birdman and was intrigued, but still skeptical. I’m not a huge fan of Michael Keaton because much like his character in this film, I thought he was a blockbuster one note. But, after seeing this performance I take everything back.

Keaton, Ed Norton, and Zach Galifianakis are all wonderful, hilarious, yet complex. Aside from the actors, the cinematography is unbelievable. The entire movie is filmed to look as if it was one take. This had to be grueling for the cast to remember so many cues, but it comes off as completely organic. The film is also scored by a jazz beat maintaining the story’s pulse and building your anticipation throughout.

If you are looking for a great way to spend an afternoon or evening out of the cold, Birdman will not disappoint. I would not be surprised to see it pick up a few nominations (and hopefully awards) by the time the Oscars roll around. See the trailer below and tell me it doesn’t pique your interest!

x B

Apple Pie Recipe

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One of my favorite fall recipes is Apple Pie.  It always hits the spot and I can’t think of a better way of to use delicious apples after a day of apple picking. (Not that I get to do that in London, but I’ll pretend I’m back in the Southeast specifically for that reason.)

I am a firm believer in homemade pastry.  It’s really not very difficult and the flaky, buttery goodness is so much better than the pre-made stuff.  My go-to pastry recipe is the smitten kitchen’s all butter, really flaky pie dough.  The recipe is aptly named and the results never disappoint.

For the dough:
2 1/2 cups (315 grams) flour
1 tablespoon (15 grams) sugar
1 teaspoon (5 grams) table salt
2 sticks (8 ounces, 225 grams tablespoons or 1 cup) unsalted butter, very cold

Fill a one cup liquid measuring cup with water, and put in freezer. Dice the butter into 1/2-inch pieces. (I like to put mine in the freezer for 10 minutes while I gather the rest of my ingredients.) Meanwhile, in a large bowl whisk together 2 1/2 cups flour, 1 tablespoon of sugar and a teaspoon of salt. Sprinkle the butter cubes over the flour and begin working them in with the pastry blender, using it to scoop and redistribute the mixture as needed so all parts are worked evenly. When all of the butter pieces are the size of tiny peas stop. The dough may look uneven, but don’t worry about it, as this helps with the flake.

Drizzle 1/2 cup (120 ml) of the ice-cold water over the butter and flour mixture. Using a rubber or silicon spatula, gather the dough together. You’ll probably need an additional 1/4 cup (60 ml) of cold water to bring it together, but add it a tablespoon as a time. Once you’re pulling large clumps with the spatula, take it out and get your hands in there. Gather the disparate damp clumps together into one mound, kneading them gently together into a round disk.

Divide the dough in half and wrap each piece in plastic wrap and let the dough chill in the fridge for one hour, or in the freezer for half an hour before rolling it out. This isn’t entirely necessary, but it will make your life easier when you roll it out.

While your dough is chilling you can prepare the ingredients for the pie.

For the pie filling:
4-6 medium apples (something tart like Granny Smith or Macintosh)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/4 cup flour
2 tbsp lemon juice

Peel and thinly slice the apples. Place in a bowl and add the lemon juice. In a separate bowl whisk together the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and flour. Add the dry ingredients to the apples and mix well.

On a floured surface roll out half your dough and line the base of your pie dish. Pour filling into the pie dish. Roll out the second half of the dough and place over the filling. Make sure both pastry layers have an inch overhang on the dish. Trim and crimp sides. Use any excess dough to decorate the top of your pie. Be sure to add at least two slits in the top pastry layer to allow the steam to escape.

Bake pie at 375F for 40-50 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool slightly before serving.

Best served warm and with vanilla ice cream.

x K

Azure Furniture

One of my favorite companies to follow on social media is Artifact Uprising (located here in Denver, no less!). I am constantly inspired by their message, branding, and overall presence. Part of their business model is to collaborate with artisans to deliver beautiful and memorable products to their customers.

They recently posted a great story about their collaborations which led me to discover Azure Furniture. This company has another great message to share with the world and makes beautiful products along the way! Check out the story behind Azure Furniture is this wonderfully crafted video.

It is so inspiring to see companies breathing new life into dead materials to better the world around us. These products would look great in any home and would certainly make wonderful gifts this holiday season!

x B

MilkMilkLemonade

milkmilklemonade

I enjoy a good dose of culture as much as the next person.  Having a limited budget means I don’t get to see as many of the things as I’d like to, but it also leads me to seek out more affordable options such as local theaters.  Often I enjoy these performances just as much as the large scale productions, but for very different reasons.  Smaller theaters give you a more intimate experience and it’s nice to feel as if the actors really are talking to you.  Another advantage of smaller scale productions is that they can afford to be more cutting edge and contemporary, often leaving me with some food for thought or a strong message.

Recently, I saw MilkMilkLemonade at Ovalhouse Theater, which is not far from where I live.   The play was written by Joshua Conkel and premiered in New York back in 2009.  This was the UK’s first production of the show and it did not disappoint.

The play centers around Emory, a young boy who lives on a chicken processing farm.  Much to his Nanna’s dismay, Emory is gay, rather flamboyant and not afraid to be himself.  Emory’s best friend is Linda, a chicken on his farm.  Nanna wants Emory to befriend Elliot, the pyromaniac boy from down the street.  However, Nanna doesn’t realize that Emory and Elliot already have a relationship that is not strictly in the ‘friend-zone’.

All the actors were well-suited to their characters, even with a few gender benders thrown in.  The enthusiastic narrator kept the mood light and entertaining.  Although the set was minimal, it felt as if you were actually on the chicken farm with Emory and gang – especially because the audience was seated on hay bales, rather than seats.  It sounds weird, and it was, but it was also extremely funny.  MilkMilkLemonade successfully captures what it’s like to grow up, the importance of relationships and learning how to be yourself – no matter what.

x K

image via

Tennis (the band) In Concert

After much anticipation, I attended Tennis’ final show for their Ritual in Repeat tour in their hometown of Denver. As usual, the pair (+ touring band members) were incredible and because it was at a smaller venue I was able to work by way to the front to get up close and personal. I know I sound like a broken record, but if you haven’t given Tennis a chance, do it. And do it now! You can even listen to their album below.

Pure Bathing Culture was the opener and are another great find to add to your watch list. We chatted with the lead singer after the show who was super friendly and down to earth. I’ve included a video below so you don’t even have to navigate away to google them. You’re welcome.

x B

Mark Your Calendars

Girls is returning Jaunary 11th! So glad strong female led shows are becoming so popular and more importantly, well respected. We can only hope this will eventually lead to the demise of trashy reality tv.

x B