Sunday, January 31, 2016

Snapshot from Along the Broken Road: 2016 - Week 4

Checking in for the week of January 24 through January 30.

The Dark Tower (Stephen King) - This book (and the whole series, really) is so trippy. I can't even imagine what it's like to live with the things that go on in King's mind. I'm trying to decide how to handle the fact that I'm not toting this brick back and forth with me, so I only get reading done before bed at night. Some days, I'm bringing The Story with me, so I can get my reading done for the coming Sunday's church focus, but often that only lasts me a couple of days. I don't typically read two books at once, but I am thinking of starting a second book that's more easily transported, so that I a) have something with me to read, and b) I'm not falling *way* behind on my 2016 goal. I'm hoping if I start a book that's drastically different from this one (shouldn't be a problem, since I don't read *anything* else even remotely like this series), I won't feel like I'm getting stories crossed in my mind.

Other than the tasty treats in the photos below, this week's food intake included: tuna sandwiches; grilled chicken wraps; a pizza with lots of veggies on it; grilled cheese with tomato soup; a new recipe for slow cooker broccoli cheese soup (I'm pretty sure all the cheese negates any health benefits from the broccoli, but this soup was also really very yummy); and barbecue ribs with baked beans and coleslaw.

White Christmas (YC)
Merry Cookie (BBW) - Switching to this one, in our bedroom, even though White Christmas is only half gone. I was in the mood for something a little "warmer."
Christmas Cookie (YC) - Sensing a theme here?
Luscious Plum (YC) - I love how unexpected this scent is for the winter. It's fruity, but not in the way a summer fruit scent, or even an autumn one, would be. Much like the far more commonly used cranberry, there's a tartness, that seems right for this time of year, and also a "coolness" to the scent that I can't really describe in any other way.
Build a Snowman (YC) - Fresh and minty and just very fun. I love minty scents in the winter.

I should warn you now. I apparently made up for some slow photo weeks with this one. Oops.

Proof we don't run our heat in the not-summer. ;-) I love that I can make use of my fuzzy blanket and my slippers, and it's the best for sleeping!

Best socks ever? Best socks ever. (So comfy and they're Red Sox socks!) (FYI: It's really difficult to get your feet in the Red Sox logo position.)

One of my birthday gifts, this past October, was a subscription to "Try the World." Every other month, I get a box full of goodies to taste. This one was from the Spain box and I wasn't sure it was going to be something I liked all that much. I was very wrong. Light and crumbly, like a crumb cake, with this lemon jam-like filling. Just goes to show: you don't know til you try!

It was raining for my Animal Kingdom adventure, so only my iPhone camera. But the lion was up!! Demands to be documented.

Horrible photo quality, but I had no idea there were *two* lionesses! When all you ever see of the lions are the occasional ear or paws or the top of a mane, you assume the habitat is one male and one female. The animals were *loving* the cool, damp weather though.

This regal lady is 18 years old. There are only two of the original five Asian tigers remaining at Animal Kingdom (all were female), and both of these beauties are advanced in years. There are two Sumatran tigers (a male and a female, I believe? don't quote me) in another area, but I wonder if they will try to get some new Asian tigers for the future. Who knows, maybe they already have?

I have a problem. It's resisting the Wok-Fried Green Beans at Yak and Yeti. I honestly think I could make an entire meal of these things.

This was the Mandarin Chicken Salad I got as my meal. I am not even kidding you, I think they used fourteen heads of lettuce to make this thing. I never actually saw the plate, even though I ate...and ate...and ate.

Tee hee!

You know WDW has done a good job integrating new buildings when you have to stop and question whether or not this is a new gift shop. (It is.)

I was completely enamored with this mosaic in the entry to the Riverside Depot. How awesome are those colors? I opted to share a mosaic-only shot on Instagram, but I like this one too, because it tells me a little more about my day. For instance, I can tell you, based on the shoes I'm wearing, that it was not-summer and rainy.


I loved this mural and lighting fixture. This park, especially, is just a total feast for the eyes.

Dinner! I've only eaten here one other time, ages ago, so it was a fun treat to go back with Nichole and Tracy.

I got the Ashley Farms Chicken Sous Vide with Tuscan-style Polenta, Cippolini-Green Bean RagoĆ¹t, and Chicken Jus. And I had to refrain from licking my plate.


Saturday, January 30, 2016

This Week on My TV: January 30, 2016

Disclaimer: Consider the fact that there could be spoilers ahead. You read at your own risk!

**(Madam Secretary, 2x11 Unity Node) Ok so it was Maria Ostrov that was in the vehicle that went ka-BOOM! It obviously couldn't have been Elizabeth, since, hello, show is actually about her. But I won't try to pretend I wasn't a little bit worried that it wasn't someone on her staff or possibly Henry. -- You know (if you read these) that I think the writers do an excellent job constructing Henry and Elizabeth's marriage. The banter, the intimacy, the way they interact; it's all very believable. But even the fighting is done well. Part of it is, obviously, on the actors to execute the scene, but it starts with good writing, and that's what it is. -- So, it's official. Dmitri is dead. And now I'm sad...for him, for his sister, for Henry. -- I wonder if Henry is *really* out of spying or if they are going to make it impossible for him to extract himself. -- Elizabeth: Maybe that should be my epitaph, "she tried her best, but people still got hurt." Henry: Not "she liked eating popcorn at really weird times?"

**(The Blacklist, 3x12 The Vehm) That may be the weirdest opening scene ever, with the clown getting murdered. -- So...I have a question. Who had Liz and Tom's dog that whole time?? -- Red: You confiscated her firearm. Ressler: Oh, so you think a convicted felon should be allowed to carry guns? Red: All the ones I know do. -- LOL! Aram sent Lizzie "trashy novels" while she recuperated. He's the best. -- Red's known about the pregnancy for some time?? Does the man miss *nothing*? -- Observation: It's bizarre to see some guy in riot gear show up with a vase of white roses. -- "Doting husband with rock hard abs." You're so modest, Tom. -- I keep trying to figure this out. How did the ME know the castration was self-inflicted? -- Gerald: What the hell is this? Red: A terrible time of year to go camping, but I suppose we do what we must when we're on the run. -- OMG LOL Red at the campfire singalong. He's such a trip. -- Samar: Are you drinking Communion wine? Red: Yes, it's God awful. If they'd only switch to a good Burgundy, people would be much more devout. ... OMG, he's so irreverent. And I know I should be appalled (I am) but his remarks slay me! -- Red: Hell hath no fury like a fundamentalist scorned. -- That was a beautiful speech Red gave Liz about her mother. Even though she's back to being a brat. Sometimes, I really want to shake Liz. One minute she wants Red to go away and leave her alone forever, and then someone comes after her with malicious intent, and suddenly she's clinging to him like her life depends on it. -- Samar: I don't deserve a friend like you. Aram: Maybe not...but you have one. -- Aram is such a good guy. He's just there for anyone on the team, without question. -- Wow. Red has protection set up for Liz, despite her bratty behavior. (Of course he does.) He'll take care of her, ungrateful snot or otherwise. She should make note of that.

**(Last Man Standing, 5x14 The Ring) Nothing long and rambling, but how adorable are Mandy and Kyle?? I love that they're engaged. And how they got engaged. And that Mandy has grown up, at least a little bit.


Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: January 26, 2016

Tuesday seems like a good time to push through the post-weekend blahs and focus on something positive. Like the top ten best parts of my last week. 

ONE| We've had this wonderfully brisk weather (which about half of Floridians embrace and the other half lament). We don't turn on our heat, which means it's been perfect for snuggling up on the couch under a mountain of blankets with my favorite guy. We're pretty much nothing but a heap of plush in various colors and two pairs of eyeballs.

TWO| Having a text conversation with a friend who's pregnant and actually hearing her glow just through the words on my tiny phone screen. You know those people who are such a rare gift to this world that you feel lucky just for knowing them? The sort of people who deserve nothing but the very best life has to offer? And then when they get it, your heart near to bursts, because their joy brings *you* so much happiness? That's the kind of person we're talking about here. 

THREE| I take great joy in sending my friends happy mail. Who doesn't like an unexpected treat to arrive with their name on it? I found the perfect little something for a sweet friend and then danced around with glee all week, waiting for it to arrive on her doorstep.

FOUR| On Saturday, I spent the day with friends at WDW. We laughed. Like, a lot. At points, the gasping sort of laughter that leaves you hunched over, clutching your stomach, and unable to properly inhale air. At one point, we stopped for some people watching and beverages at Mizner's Lounge in the Grand Floridian. We scored ourselves a little table and proceeded to chat and laugh over who knows what. A sweet older gentleman approached our table, just to tell us how much he and his wife were enjoying our interaction. I believe in laughter. It has magical powers.

FIVE| I renewed my WDW Annual Pass. Nothing like guaranteeing yourself another year of your happy place.

SIX| So, I'm minding my business on Sunday, doing my weekly Target shopping. I round a corner and come face to face with Justin Verlander. (For those of you who just went 'huh?' He's a professional baseball player for the Detroit Tigers.) I did one of those tires-squealing double takes, so violent that I felt like I tweaked my neck. He's clearly in the area, since this is where his team spring trains. (I guess I can't 100% verify it was him, since he was in street clothes, and I afforded the man the privacy to do his Target shopping unaccosted, but unless he has an identical twin, I'd bet money that was him.) Anyway, that made me happy, because it means baseball is coming.

SEVEN| I mentioned the weather. My favorite time to walk in the evenings is when the air is chilly. It's refreshing and invigorating. It makes my cheeks feel rosy and puts some pep in my step, after the eternal oppression of humidity that leaves me sluggish. I just walk along, face to the wind, grinning. (I'm pretty sure my husband thinks he married a lunatic at that point. Oh well, he stuck with me now.)

EIGHT| I stumbled upon a bunch of friendship quotes. I've been reading them a few at a time, savoring them. I'm about halfway through. My favorite, so far, is "Friendship is the hardest thing in the world to explain. It’s not something you learn in school. But if you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven’t learned anything." (Muhammad Ali)

NINE| Someone I follow on Twitter posted this picture. It's become my new go-to and it's the best response to so many things. It's even better than an emoji, because it's a *dog*. And I can't stop laughing. 

TEN| A good book, a soft blanket, a lighted candle, and a square of Ghirardelli chocolate.


Sunday, January 24, 2016

Snapshot from Along the Broken Road: 2016 - Week 3

Checking in for the week of January 17 through January 23.

O Is for Outlaw (Sue Grafton) - This was, by far, the best book in this series, to this point. For the first time, I felt like Kinsey was a character I was getting to know. The previous books have successfully made good on her claims of being a closed book (so to speak). Amazing that you can get through fourteen books of a series, narrated by a character, and feel like you've been held at arm's length the entire time. The case was a good one, with all the right twists, turns, amusing characters, and red herrings. I'm really glad that I kept with this series instead of walking away from it after several dull and uninspired "letters" in a row.
The Dark Tower (Stephen King) - Just getting started. This picks up exactly where the previous one left off, to the moment. It will probably take me til April to finish this beast, since it's way too gigantic to be toting back and forth to work.

Apparently, the chilly weather we had this week put us into hibernation-prep mode for our menu. We started off the week with T's super comfort food, chicken and dumplings. The next night, we had a corned beef brisket from the slow cooker with boiled potatoes and French-cut green beans. It was my mother's lasagna out of the freezer after that. T's stuffed cabbage on Wednesday. We finally "lightened" things up a little on Thursday and Friday, with fish sandwiches and burgers.

White Christmas (YC) - We've had an especially chilly week, by Florida standards, but we're loving it. Something I learned about this particular scent: we sleep with our slider open in the bedroom all not-summer, and the chillier, the better (no heat on at our house!). When I come into the bedroom at night, the combination of the fresh, brisk air, combined with this scent, is intoxicating!
Dream by the Fire (YC) - I don't smell anything smoky in this scent, but more of this warm, masculine combination of cedar and musk. I actually kind of love it.
Christmas Cupcake (YC) - The warmth of vanilla mixed with the sweetness of sugar frosting. Yum!
Frolic and Play (YC) - I love this one in the hall bathroom. It's fresh and a bit minty...but the mint in this one is spearmint, which is such a fun change from the peppermint that's so commonly used. I also love the way it mixes with the fresh air and White Christmas scent from the bedroom. It makes the hall between the two rooms smell delicious.

Now, here's a forecast I can get behind! (Saturday turned out to be a high of 52 and a low of 36!)

We have a new grill. We actually wore our last one out. All hail being able to grill all year round!

Christmas came down, but winter stayed up. I love these trees.

You can mock my plaid fleece pants if you want, but I was nice and cozy, even with the heat kept off!

This is how it is, when you work in a large, uninsulated, metal building.

Spaceship Earth. I never tried the "work" option before. I could not. stop. laughing. (Also, still a dork.)

Technically beautiful photo, this is not. But the bowl of soup I ordered for dinner at California Grill was just way too pretty not to capture, even if I wasn't schlepping my big camera around with me. The menu says: Pumpkin Bisque Mocha Latte - Roasted Pumpkin, White Chocolate, Espresso, Almond Biscotti, Spiced Chantilly. I've no clue what "spiced chantilly" is, but this was a surprisingly tasty and comforting bowl of goodness.


Saturday, January 23, 2016

This Week on My TV: January 23, 2016

Disclaimer: Consider the fact that there could be spoilers ahead. You read at your own risk!

**(Last Man Standing, 5x13 Mike and the Mechanics) Mike [to Vanessa]: The weirdest thing just happened. A bird flew in and took your donut. All these crumbs you see are a result of the struggle. -- Eve [about going to Outdoor Man with Mike instead of moping at home all Winter Break]: I'll go, but I'm not going to do anything or talk to anybody. Mike: That's my job. You have to work up to that. -- Jay Leno = Joe Leonard. I am so easily amused. Also, is Leno bored or does he just like acting with Tim Allen?

**(The Good Wife, 7x11 The Rush) Does Matthew Lillard *ever* play a normal character? -- Rowby Canton: The law just gives people so many ways to be mean. -- I don't even know *what* to think about Lucca getting all bedroom-y with the client. What?? -- I really appreciate Marissa's character. She comes across as so real. I'm a bit disappointed that Alicia treated her so poorly when Marissa approached her about a job. -- David Lee [about another client leaving Alicia's firm]: She wasn't thrilled with having a law firm that works out of an apartment building. Client: Ugh, my God, there's this horrible woman there. David Lee: Yes, Alicia can be quite trying. ... Honest to God. David Lee is such a nasty person. And in this snake-y but childish way. -- I can't believe Alicia fired Grace! I actually thought Grace has been handling herself fantastically. -- So, Eli is back as Peter's right hand man. That has to be humbling. Although I'm not sure for whom.-- I about dropped when Cary made the firm's offer to Alicia and Lucca to come back. I wonder how *that* plays out, with Alicia having no interest and Lucca showing lots.

**(The Blacklist, 3x11 Mr. Gregory Devry) Mr Kaplan's seriousness and efficiency just crack me up. I don't think I've ever seen her so unprepared as she was during that clean-up ambush. Not even when that makeshift hospital Red was in got stormed and none of them knew if they'd get out alive. -- After that horrible ambush, I couldn't help thinking "Now they're going to need a cleaning crew for the cleaning crew." -- I'm pretty sure Ressler's face almost cracked that one time he smiled. -- I have no idea how I feel about Tom's proposal to Liz. -- Two things: How the heck did Ressler catch that truck on foot??? And it's not a complete episode until Ressler takes a beating of some sort. -- I have the overwhelming urge to smack both Ressler and Samar. They're acting like overly dramatic children. -- Red: Comforting to see that everyone's appetites for food, lies, and larceny have not diminished over the years. -- ::snort:: ... Red: Meet the fake Red. Faux Red. Fred. -- Red's "to make sure you're safe" clearly translates to: make sure you're keeping quiet. -- I bet Red is behind that apartment situation "working itself out" for Liz. -- The baby??? Lizzie is pregnant??? Judging by the displeased conversation Red had with Tom about the proposal, I'm going to guess he's going to be far from thrilled about *this* little development. -- I'm not even going to touch the "daddy's permission" remark Tom made to Red. I still think that's smoke and mirrors for the writers to mess with us. Not buying it.


Thursday, January 21, 2016

Ten Truths: January 21, 2016

ONE| Circular conversations are the bane of my existence. Nothing makes me want to bang my head on the nearest wall more than when I ask a specific question and the responder tells me everything I already know and fourteen other irrelevant facts/opinions/nonsense...but doesn't actually answer the question. So I ask again, thinking perhaps they misunderstood me, but...alas, they did not. For the record: I won't ever ask a third time. We're not *both* fools.

TWO| We make good use of our slow cooker year round. Every single time I set it to run, I wonder if we will experience a power outage while we're away at work. This has never actually happened (of which I am aware, anyway), and yet, every single time.

THREE| For some people, the best part of the pizza is the additional toppings. For others, the cheese. Or even the crust. Me? It's the sauce. I've never met any other person who shares this preference.

FOUR| I went to Dunkin today to pick up a couple of gift cards for some happy mail I have planned. I didn't get myself a donut. This has *never* happened before and I don't know how I feel about it.

FIVE| We have an agreement at our house that whichever one of us cooks, the other one does cleanup. That way no one is stuck in the kitchen all evening. The other night, T cooked. And then without saying anything, he did cleanup. I don't usually do the cleanup until right before I go to bed, and I didn't go out into the kitchen for anything all evening, so it was a very pleasant surprise to find the work already done. A lot of people complain about their spouses, but you won't hear that from me. It may have taken me a decade longer than pretty much everyone else to get married, but I'm reminded all the time why the wait was worth it.

SIX| I never ever talk smack about my teams before a game, because I'm too worried I'll end up having to eat my own words.

SEVEN| I have a small sweet treat after dinner almost every evening. I will not apologize for this, nor will I give it up. I figure I have maybe five sodas a year (and always medicinally -- Pepsi for a headache that won't quit or ginger ale to settle my stomach) and maybe a dozen adult beverages a year? I indulge my sweet tooth in moderation (almost always) and that's just the way that it is.

EIGHT| I make a point of grouping my groceries on the belt at the register the way I would like them bagged -- refrigerated and frozen goods, dry goods, cleaning products, heavier stuff in front of the lighter or more delicate items, so the heavier items go on the bottom of the bag -- and it never fails that the bagger just grabs random items, jamming as much stuff as they can into one of my reusable bags, glass jars banging together,  to the point that you can't even carry the thing, and then one lone straggler into a second bag, and handing the three unused bags back to me. I stand there, fuming quietly, wishing they would just let me bag my own groceries, since I just have to rearrange the whole thing when I get out to the car.

NINE| When asked where I'd like to go, 95% of the time, I say I don't care, and that's true; I really have no preference. 4% of the time, I have some sort of opinion, whether it's a craving or someplace I explicitly *don't* want to go. And 1% of the time, I have an opinion, but I hate disappointing anyone, and I don't voice it, because I'm too worried that it will be someplace the other person won't enjoy. I'll never actually admit when it's that 1%.

TEN| I very nearly deleted number nine.


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Want.Need.Wear.Read: January 19, 2016

For ages, now, I've seen people blog about using this method of gift giving for their children at Christmas time. I've always felt it would be a fun format for a blog post. So, here we are.

WANT| Whilst browsing my feedly content this morning, the blog, Flowers in My Hair, shared a link to those pajamas. Hi, have we met? Do you understand how I feel about donuts? I probably don't love these enough to drop $54 on them, but they are super duper cute. And also, donuts.

NEED| This is quite possibly the best facial moisturizer/sunscreen I've ever used. It's so light and the SPF is enough for everyday use, even in the vicious Florida sun and it doesn't anger my sensitive but oily skin and it truly is unscented. I need to get some more, but Sephora is out. I am impatiently waiting for them to replenish their stock, which I hope happens before my bottle is empty.

WEAR| I am so.flipping.excited that it is finally cool enough to wear my slippers again. These things are the best thing I've ever (ever) slid my feet into. I call them my feet blankets. They make me happy. (Mine are the red ones. Not that anyone cares. But red also makes me happy.)

READ| I already include my book reading in my weekly snapshot posts. No need to be redundant. Instead, I want to tell you about a piece I read a couple of days ago. It's a few years old (hey, I'm making progress on my magazine intention!), from the December 2011 issue of Redbook, but they have it online and honestly, it was such a feel good story, of a mother and daughter, reunited many years after the daughter was given up for adoption. It made me teary. "We had your birth date inscribed in our wedding rings, and we've celebrated every one of your birthdays. I just want you to know," he said gently, "you were loved all along." There is just so much negativity in all forms of media, it seems, but this story was filled with so much genuine love.

No one has offered me anything to include these links. I've never been paid or otherwise compensated for a blog post in my life, and I don't intend to start now.


Monday, January 18, 2016

Around Here: January 18, 2016

It's Monday. I'm keeping it simple so I don't lose my unexpected blogging rhythm.

My favorite room is| my living room, right now, because it still has some Christmas lights and that makes me happy.

My signature dish is| well, I really like my stuffed shells, my husband frequently requests my meatloaf patties, and I think my pumpkin chili is pretty great. Would one of those qualify as "signature" though?

A recipe I'm scared to try| would be homemade donuts...although I am not sure if I'm afraid of failure or afraid that they will be really good, which could be dangerous.

My secret cleaning weapon is| an old pillowcase. Yep. Best way ever to clean the blades on a ceiling fan. Slip the case over the blade and pull slowly while removing. Dust contained!

I sleep in| pj pants or shorts and a tank top.

If I had an extra hour in my day, today, I would| get some more reading done. I got a little behind on my goal pace and with a big book on tap next, it's bad timing to be getting my momentum derailed.

My bag today| is the same one I carry to work everyday, my big thirty-one tote that I bought a year ago (I could've sworn I had a photo somewhere, but it's the "All-Day Organizing Tote," in a black and white print that isn't available anymore) and I honestly don't know how I ever lived without this bag. 

How did I ever live without| ...ummmm...see above, which may be cheating, a little, but it is truly the thing I use about which I actually say this. It's the perfect size and shape for what I carry on a daily basis, and it's held up amazingly well, considering it gets used at least six out of seven days of the week.

I have a style crush on| Savannah Guthrie. (I'd love to say Duchess Kate, but there's no way I could pull off those hats. And I would've said Kerry Washington's Olivia Pope, but she's annoyed me so much in this season of Scandal that I just can't even.)

I never leave the house without| my phone. Not because I can't survive without it, but because I feel like it's good personal security.

One thing on my bucket list| is to take a real sleigh ride. (Yes, we had a great time on our Disney "sleigh" ride on our Christmas Disney date, but I'd still love to experience a real one-horse open sleigh, jingle all the way, and all that jazz.)

In my closet, you'll find| the basket of clothes I should have put away on...uhhhh...Wednesday.

I will never care about| anything related to basketball with its squeaky sneakers and its echoy whistles and just no thank you.

I wish I could tell my younger self to| stop being so insecure. Those insecurities make you do *so* many foolish things you'll wish you hadn't. Just be you. The sooner you're you, the sooner you'll stop tripping all over yourself.


Sunday, January 17, 2016

Snapshot from Along the Broken Road: 2016 - Week 2

Checking in for the week of January 10 through January 16.

O Is for Outlaw (Sue Grafton) - I'm so glad I didn't give up on this series. It's gotten so much better!

Creamy Chicken Florentine. Ring of Meat. Steaks, mashed potatoes, and some carrots. Breakfast wraps with a hashbrown casserole recipe that we won't be repeating, because, it turns out, we like our hashbrowns crispy and this...was not. And a new recipe for some angel hair with scallops and clams that was good the first day and even better the second!

White Christmas (YC)
Gingerbread (YC) - I don't care if we're past Christmas. It can still smell like cookies any time.
Red Berry and Cedar (YC) - My favoritest of all my favorite winter scents. Maybe even in my top three overall.
Merry Marshmallow (YC) - This one works much better in the bathroom, where the room is more enclosed and you can smell its marshmallow-y goodness.

Finally, perfect weather for snuggling in bed with the comforter!

Put on my Wakey shirt, totally without knowing in advance that they'd announced he was being inducted into the Red Sox Hall of Fame earlier that day!

Our baby orange tree gave us an orange! A sweet juicy orange!

Blue sky and swirly clouds (and a reflection of my phone) on my drive home from work.

Saturday sunrise.

This was the only part of the window that didn't fog up. Totally the silhouette of the Patriots logo! Must have been a good omen, since they won and all. ::wink::

After 22 years (!!) of blonde-ing it up with highlights, I'm taking it it back down to warmer and darker.


Saturday, January 16, 2016

This Week on My TV: January 16, 2016

Disclaimer: Consider the fact that there could be spoilers ahead. You read at your own risk!

**(Madam Secretary, 2x10 The Greater Good) It was interesting seeing what happened with the death of the former Russian president. Maria Ostrov is a vicious woman. -- I appreciate the nods to Christmas. It felt real, stringing popcorn garland, putting up the tree. -- Woo! I love seeing Jay get a little high intensity scene. I feel like he gets the short end of the stick when it comes to screem time. -- Daisy: How do you want to respond? Elizabeth: By resigning and crawling under a rock. -- Henry: Wanna make out in the Rose Garden? ... Gosh, I love their marriage. Also, the Christmas lights in the background. -- My heart was racing when they failed to extract Dmitri at the rendezvous, even though I had the sinking feeling it wasn't going to end well for him when he was begging Henry to get him out. -- Ummm...that ending?? That rocket(?) was aimed at the car Elizabeth and the President got into?? Is that what we're supposed to think or...??

**(The Good Wife, 7x11 Iowa) Cary: You committed fraud?? David Lee: No...I committed...selective depositing. -- I was so intrigued by the Iowa caucus, that I had to look it up to see if that's how they really do them. (It is!!) -- Some things about Jason Crouse: He looked very bewildered by Alicia's state of being when he arrived at her apartment to give her his findings on Jackie's prenup. I wonder if he's going to just let that go? I'm really hoping that, despite his work in San Francisco, the character will be staying regular. His phone conversation with Luca gives me some hope. Speaking of that conversation, what was up with the "you know me" exchange?? Is this just from having worked together recently? Because it sure had a tone of Luca knowing Jason a lot better than that. -- That "Florrick fanatic" patriot dude was...something. -- Let's be serious. Peter never really was going to be President. How would that have made sense for the show, going forward? Unless they were certain the show was wrapping it up at the end of this season. -- I was trying to figure out what Eli meant when he told Ruth she had it all wrong with that campaign because Alicia was "number one." I was baffled, because we *know* she isn't number one with Peter. And I don't think he was implying Ruth should have had Alicia as the candidate. T said he took it as Ruth's biggest mistake was not using Alicia to "sell" Peter, which is clearly how Eli has always campaigned him in the past.

**(The Middle, 7x12 Birds of a Feather) Axl: Do you know how long I worked today? EIGHT HOURS! Frankie: I know what a job is. I've been going to one for the last thirty years. -- OMG Cindy. Could not stop laughing at Cindy's conversation with Mike about the other boy she kissed and wanting Mike to tell Brick for her. And then kicking his car when he admitted he hadn't told Brick yet.

**(The Blacklist, 3x10 The Director: Conclusion (2)) I was cracking up when everyone was assembling for Red's meeting and had to pass through security, leaving their gun and cell phone. Samar starts emptying her pockets. Gun. Another gun. Knife. -- I love how Red commands the room, *any* room, that he is in. -- Megan Boone did a spectacular job of capturing Lizzie's fear that the cabal will find her and kill her. -- Tom [to Karakurt]: The woman I love is in there because of you. So let's be clear. If you talk, there is a chance they will kill you. But if you don't talk, I will definitely kill you, very slowly. -- Aram, bless his heart, scurrying with his satchel, as Red's team puts the plan into motion. -- Red: Everybody likes apples. -- The scene where Hitchin's hitman tries to take out Liz. That was a cool bullet shot!! Both the camera angle and the sound effects. -- That famil when the Director was "dropped off for dinner"! I couldn't stop laughing. -- What is Red's endgame with his meeting with Hitchin?? And I do wonder what the Director meant with the questions that were "none of his business under any circumstances." What *is* Red's relationship with Liz, that he is reluctant to divulge? (Because I still believe he isn't her father.)


Friday, January 15, 2016

Oh Hey Friday: January 15, 2016

It's Oh Hey Friday! time, hosted by September FARM. The idea is that you talk about five things -- any five things, themed or random -- and away we go!

The "Apps" Edition!

One of my 2016 intentions is to drink more water. I think I'd like a good water tracking app (for iPhone). I'm open to recommendations!

It's totally cheesy, but I love checking on the Swarm app. It serves no real purpose, except that I love unlocking stickers. (I won't check in at work or home, though. I don't feel like I need to make those locations public knowledge.)

I'm five months into Fitbit ownership. I wondered whether or not it would be worth the "investment." I just have the Zip, which is, basically, a glorified pedometer, but that's all I wanted. I opted for Fitbit, because I liked the "sociability" of the app. And badges. (I'm a sucker, what can I say?) Safe to say, I'm satisfied I went this direction. I'm always up for new pals! I'm not a competitive person, as a rule, but it's stupid effective for the Fitbit!

Disney's Shop Parks app is rapidly becoming a new favorite. See, when you live near WDW and have in your possession an Annual Pass, you can do gift shopping in the parks! I love that I can see something posted online, search it in the app, and it will not only tell me which locations carry the item, but also whether the item is in stock, low stock, or sold out. I  cannot tell you how much time this saved me Christmas shopping in 2015! (You can also purchase some items through the app--some can only be bought in the parks--but...why would I pay for shipping??)

I have no fewer than four different weather apps (not counting the one that came installed on my phone and cannot be deleted). You'd think one would be sufficient, yes? Except that I like them all for different reasons and, being the indecisive Libra that I am, I am unable to eliminate any of them, so I use them all (not at the same time, obviously), based on my current mood.


Thursday, January 14, 2016

Disney Resolutions: 2015

My resolutions are based on fun. And nothing inspires more fun for me than a visit to one of my favorite places: Disney! It has become the inspiration for my one of my "January kick-off/year-in-review" posts. I'm in the parks enough that they should be quite do-able for me, as well as adding a new "dimension" to something I enjoy already.

My 2015 Disney Resolutions

1. Make a concerted effort to spend time in more parks than just Epcot. Due to the two Fests, which I love, I spend an awful lot of time there. That leaves the other three fairly neglected. I need to get reacquainted.
I managed to get to Magic Kingdom four times, and three times each to Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom. Compared to the twenty ventures into EPCOT, those numbers seem, well, small, but they're up from 2014 (MK: 3, HS: 2, AK: 1). But even accounting for trips to EPCOT for Fests (13/20), that still leaves EPCOT as my most heavily visited park by a significant amount.

2. I recently read The Imagineering Field Guide to Disney's Hollywood Studios. Since it's my least favorite of the four parks, I tend to spend the least amount of time there. Reading the book showed me there are a ton of details I've missed in this park, as a result of spending minimal time exploring it. So, armed with my new knowledge, I want to make a point of spending some time wandering around in Hollywood Studios.
I did a little of this. I could stand to do more. Especially with this park set to change *so* much.

3. I want to eat at the following restaurants - Old favorites: Biergarten, and The Wave, because I haven't been in forever. Places I haven't tried yet: The Plaza Restaurant, and Flame Tree Barbecue.
75% failure rate. I ate at Biergarten twice, and at none of the other three. 

4. Attractions I haven't visited since 2012: The Enchanted Tiki Room. Mickey's PhilharMagic. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. Reflections of China. Toy Story Midway Mania. Attractions I haven't visited since 2013: The Great Movie Ride. The Hall of Presidents. Liberty Square Riverboat. Walt Disney World Railroad.
Checked off: The Enchanted Tiki Room. Toy Story Midway Mania. The Great Movie Ride. The Hall of Presidents. Liberty Square Riverboat. Walt Disney World Railroad (my mom and I actually made three consecutive full circuits of the park, when she visited over Christmas, just as a way to escape the crowds and rest our feet).

5. Aiming a little lower, I'd like to visit three resort hotels at Christmastime, one of them new to me.
Not pictured: The Contemporary and Port Orleans Riverside, both of which I've visited in the past. My new to me visit: Caribbean Beach.


My 2016 Disney Resolutions

1. When I renew my Annual Pass in February, one of the new features will be all my Disney Photo Pass photo downloads will be free (as opposed to $15 *each*). I want to make use of this and have more photos done, especially with characters!

2. I want to eat at the following restaurants -
Old favorites: Sci-Fi Dine-In, The Wave and Narcoossee's.
Places I haven't tried yet: Be Our Guest, The Plaza Restaurant, Flame Tree Barbecue, and Garden Grill.

3. Attractions I haven't visited since 2012 (what?!): Mickey's PhilharMagic. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. Reflections of China. Attractions I haven't visited since 2014: Tom Sawyer Island. Mad Tea Party. it's a small world. Peter Pan's Flight. The Seas with Nemo and Friends. Rafiki's Planet Watch. Festival of the Lion King. Flights of Wonder.

4. I am a huge fan of The Disney Food Blog. I am constantly drooling over the tasty blog posts they share. I need to stop drooling and start tasting! My goal: to try five new (to me), non-Fest foods that they feature on their blog.

5. I'd like to stay on property at least once in 2016.

Bonus: I'd love to think of a less boring name for this recurring post, but that's a lot of pressure and, as you can see, I've done nothing but draw blanks.


Wednesday, January 13, 2016

2015: I Read Books

A little more 2015 wrap-up. I challenged myself to read 40 books in 2015. I managed to finish all 40 -- just barely.

1. Best Book(s) You Read In 2015? 
When Crickets Cry. The Five People You Meet in Heaven.

2. Most Disappointing Book?
Firefly Summer.

3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book?
Promises to Keep.

4. Book(s) you recommended to people most in 2015?
The Cousins' War series.

5. Best series you discovered in 2015?
I didn't "discover" any, because all my series books are ongoing. I decided not to begin any new ones until I got caught up on some I was already enjoying.

6. Favorite new author(s) you discovered in 2015?
Charles Martin.

7. Most thrilling, un-put-down-able book in 2015?
These Things Hidden. Song of Susannah.

8. Book you most anticipated in 2015?
The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes.

9. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2015?

10. Most memorable character(s) in 2015?
Jonny "Reese" Mitchell (When Crickets Cry). Annie Stephens (When Crickets Cry). CeeCee Wilkes (The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes). Elizabeth of York (The White Princess).

11. Most beautifully written book read in 2015?
When Crickets Cry.

12. The longest book you read in 2015?
Ahab's Wife: or, The Star-Gazer - 688 pages.

13. Book you can't believe you waited UNTIL 2015 to finally read?
The Imagineering Field Guide to Disney's Hollywood Studios. I mean, seriously, I've owned the book since it was released. In 2010.

14. Favorite passage/quote from a book you read in 2015?
“It seemed childish to me that adults who knew each other well and who had been devoted friends could allow a breach in their friendship.” (from Ahab’s Wife: or, The Star-Gazer by Sena Jeter Naslund)

15. Authors you'd like to read more of in 2016? 
Charles Martin. Philippa Gregory.


Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Intentions: 2016

I want to learn: more about my camera. I shoot almost entirely in manual, comfortably, but I've gotten lax and I know there is so much more I can learn.

I want to read: 40 books. Hopefully *not* racing the ball as it drops in NYC.

I want to make: that blasted pile of old magazines history, once and for freaking all!! I got through some last year, but not all, and this is it. Determined!

I want to visit: someplace new. I don't even know where. Just someplace new.

I want to get: my passport. I did all the research last year. 2016, this gets crossed off the list.

I want to change: the empty, empty walls of this house, which we've lived in coming up on four years now. I chicken out because it means putting holes in the walls and I'm an indecisive Libra. What if I don't like where something is hung??

I want to be better at: drinking enough water. I mostly do all right on workdays, now that I have my two 20-ounce water bottles, but on days that I'm not at work (and even some that I am), I just don't get there and I'd like reach at least 60 ounces.


Monday, January 11, 2016

Some Things: January 11, 2016

** I cannot watch the scene in Elf where he finds the gum on the railing and starts popping it into his mouth ::gag:: ...

** ... But the scene where they're all singing "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" and Santa's sleigh swoops up over their heads gives me a thrill of Christmas Spirit every single time.

** How obvious is it that I started this post a while ago?

** I daydream about having a double oven. Like not just a passing thought, but a straight up daydream.

** Some days I wake up with epic bedhead, and yet the covers are still so neat, it looks like I never moved a muscle the entire night, and I really wonder how both are possible.

** Few things are as obvious how badly you needed to replace them, but didn't realize it until you your husband did so, as windshield wipers.

** If you think burnt popcorn smells terrible, you ought to smell tortillas, which I, somehow, managed to burn in the microwave on Saturday. We had to actually take them out of the kitchen trash and throw them away in the big outdoor trash can. Even then, they still lingered for several more hours. And don't open up the microwave, because yikes.

** Somewhere around the All Star Break, last summer, we get desperately bored, and signed up for Netflix. We promptly got hooked on Hell on Wheels. I am heartily bummed that they don't stream Downtown Abbey, though. Guess I'll just have to wait longer before I get to check that one out, despite so many people recommending it to me.

** It is currently 52 degrees, with a forecast high of 61, and I probably don't have to tell you how happy I am that not-summer has *finally* arrived in Florida. Oh, sure, most of our days will hover around 68-72, and some may even approach mid to upper 70s, perhaps even flirt with an occasional 80 a day or two. But the fact is that the a/c seems to be off for the foreseeable future and that makes me a happy camper. The Floridians who enjoy the heat and humidity (I don't get it, but I know they exist) are complaining bitterly now, but hey, they got a bonus two months. It's *my* turn for the six four months of weather *I* enjoy best! (Abbreviated though it will likely be. I don't expect mine will extend through May and June to compensate for that record-breaking heat of November and December.)


Sunday, January 10, 2016

Snapshot from Along the Broken Road: 2016 - Week 1

Checking in for the week of January 3 through January 9.

I Do (But I Don't) (Cara Lockwood) - This was basically the book form of a chick flick--different from what I'd consider chick lit, if that makes sense. Total fluff. Completely predictable. But also surprisingly enjoyable. The writing style was easy to read and the characters were, for the most part, likable (or at least entertaining). The book had some parts that were silly (much like any chick flick would), but there were a few good nuggets in there to appreciate. While this book isn't winning any awards, ever, light, fluffy reads have their place too. I'll be looking for the followup book as well, at some point.

We pulled some loaded potato soup out of the freezer. T requested some spaghetti and meatballs. We had some various leftovers in the refrigerator that lent themselves to making tacos. And then we tried two new recipes that we liked a lot, that I need to record on my recipe blog: Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff and Italian-Style Stuffed Meatloaf.

Balsam and Cedar (YC) - Making the Christmas tree scent carry through the whole house (because the bedroom is too far away to smell the real thing).
White Christmas (YC) - I was sad about taking the tree down, so I decided to change out the scent in our bedroom. I love that this smells like "cold air."
North Pole (YC) - A hint of vanilla, a hint of mint.
Mistletoe (YC) - Possibly my favorite "smells like a tree" scent.
Hazelnut Coffee (YC) - This just smells so warm and cozy.
Season of Peace (YC) - Light and clean, but like winter.
Merry Marshmallow (YC) - This one burns near my spot in the living room. It's so light, you can't even smell if you're not close by.

New month, new calendar at work! Charleston is a city I'd love to visit someday...

I cannot even believe last year's poinsettia that we potted survived a whole year, much less is trying to bloom again!

I fought a mild head cold for the first two-thirds of the week. But that didn't stop me from laying on the couch and admiring the tree for the very last few minutes of the Christmas season.

This was my favorite view of the tree, because it was reflected in the sliders and the mirror and oh, how I love the lights.

High thin clouds,

When they're wispy like this, I assume it's because there is a lot of wind high in the atmosphere. I love how they look though, even if that's not really why.

Super dense fog on Saturday morning.

Decided to change up the calendar at home. My old Four Seasons calendar changed artists a few years ago and I just never warmed up to the new one. Disney retro poster art it is!


Saturday, January 9, 2016

This Week on My TV: January 9, 2016

Disclaimer: Consider the fact that there could be spoilers ahead. You read at your own risk!

**(The Middle, 7x11 The Rush) Sue attempting to rush a sorority looks pretty much like I would (except, I would have stopped short of the poop story...I hope). I just wanted to hug and be her friend. I'm so happy she seems to have finally found her college BFF! -- Mike learning social media was pure comedy gold. -- Axl [to Mike]: My dad taught me when you're right, act like you've been there before.

**(Once Upon a Time, 5x10 Broken Heart) So, I guess since Hook already had the bad boy look, in order to make him the Dark One, they had to make him look...deranged? I'll be honest, I'm not at all liking him as the Dark One. Beyond being sinister, he's downright nasty. Totally dug that sword fight though! -- Mr Gold: Here's the thing about confidence, Miss Swan. It's great at starting a fight, not so great at finishing one. -- Apparently you can tell dark magic from *extremely* dark magic, because the ominous cloud isn't just purple, but has lightning.

**(The Big Bang Theory, 9x12 The Sales Call Sublimation) Sheldon [to Raj]: Look at that. An Indian guy outsourcing computer stuff to a white guy. -- Leonard: She never let me celebrate my birthday, because being born was her achievement, not mine. -- OMG Stuart watching Howard and Bernadette sleep was so beyond creepy! Also, I have to admit, I saw that conversation Howard and Bernadette were having as they cleaned Stuart's vacated bedroom going a completely different direction than the horrifying realization that they missed him.

**(The Blacklist, 3x09 The Director) The Director: Three hours to make one woman go away? We've collapsed entire governments in less time. -- Samar: I'm willing to take responsibility for my actions. Red: Watch out, that's the kind of spirit that could save America. -- Samar: You keep a storage locker in West Virginia? Red: I keep a storage locker filled with useful items in most states. -- Red: As for consumption, I must admit to a fondness for any well appointed opium den. And a bit of hashish goes well just about anything. But stimulants? I have no taste for. I prefer that slight curve of the small of the back, the swell of a breast, the soft nape of the neck to quicken my heartbeat. ... Honest to God, they give him the best lines. -- Red and his crew really set up that fake crime scene to perfection, right down to the donut-eating "cop." -- That tear running down Aram's face as he was watching Liz suffocate in the containment box about killed me. That actor gets overshadowed so often, since his character is secondary most of the time, but he really shines when given the opportunity. -- The look Dembe gave Solomon as they released the former and put the latter in the cell. Wow. -- I was a bit worried about Aram, riding his bike in the darkened cemetery to meet Red at the empty grave site. I mean, he did turn Red in while he was on the run with Liz. That conversation could have gone very differently than a heartfelt expression of gratitude for Aram saving Lizzie's life.


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