Tag Archive: notes from rumbly cottage


Dear Jane,

Happy Birthday and all that. It is another grey day here.

Joanna Trollope, S&SWell, I had just written a lovely letter talking about the new Austen Project that Harper Collins is working on when my computer decided to lose everything. I had a link for you( http://theaustenproject.com/) and a little discussion on it all. But so much for that. I have neither the patience or the time to rewrite everything.

The first book in the series is Sense and Sensibility by Joanna Trollope, yes, of that Trollope family. Why did they need to use the exact same titles I do not understand but there it is. I have request a copy from the Library and hope to get it soon so that I may devour it. Then, and only then, will I come back with a full review.

Jane AustenWell, I would write more but the shower awaits and then I am off for the day to do numerous errands before showing up to work. This is a long day at work, which I do appreciate. Lord knows the money is helpful. I will tell you about my novel which is going through various re-writes before I send it off to my beta readers. I only have five chapters to go. Perhaps someday I will see it published but that is next year’s goal.

Once again, wishing you happy, happy. Have a lovely day, doing whatever it is you do there in heaven.

Yours, etc.

Karyn

Follow the Yellow Brick Road

Family Movie Night

by Karyn Bowman

With all of the food that we ate this past week, I find it amazing that any of us are still able to stand. We had our usual Thanksgiving meal, Pizza Friday night, dinner at a friend’s house on Saturday, and a potluck on Sunday night.

There was lots of good eating including a somewhat spicy chili and turkey enchiladas. But it was also about getting together with friends and family that made the meals special.

Another thing we did this past weekend is watch lots of movies. I can only say that we went through movies like water. The Lion King, Ella Enchanted, Gnomeo and Juliet, Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium, and The Wizard of Oz.

The last one was my pick. For some reason I had a vague memory that we always watched this 1939 during every Thanksgiving. Not that I have anything specific to that point. I don’t remember watching it at my grandmother’s or my parent’s houses. It is just there in my memory.

Wizard of Oz 2What I discovered is that for some years, The Wizard of Oz was shown on Thanksgiving for a while. Then it was shown between Thanksgiving and Christmas until later deals placed it in the month of January. One Ted Turner bought the rights and technology brought us VCRs, well the movie lost some of it’s big draw luster on TV. But not in the hearts of the fans.

People still buy the various editions which includes featurettes and documentaries about anything regarding the production. We looked at a few included in our DVD but that might have been to avoid bedtime.

Watching the movie again for the first time in a long time made me realize how much I did not know about it. Such as Dorothy trying to run away. I thought she and Toto hid in her room until the tornado came. Nor did I ever remember the scene in which she visits Professor Marval’s camp.

Wizard of Oz 3But the rest of it I did. The glorious flight into Oz, the terror of Margaret Hamilton’s witch, the wonders of the Poppy field. As I watched, I began to see the little pieces that made last year’s The Great and Powerful Oz starring James Franco and Michelle Williams so familiar. Those little touches, such as Professor Marval’s flim flam routine and the bubbles in which Glinda travels about, expanded the experience more for me.

After we watched the movie, my daughter stated she wanted to learn more about Judy Garland. I am not sure if I can break it to her that for the next ten years Garland was a tremendous performer but drug use would take over her life. Well, it probably won’t stop me from getting Meet Me in St. Louis and listening to the wonderful ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas Night.’

As with so much of her work, it is Garland’s singing voice that carries the movie. The sadness in her voice is heavy with regret and worry which is amazing when you think about the fact that Garland is so young in this movie. She was only about 17-year-old at the time of filming.

But to me the most amazing part is that of the Scarecrow as played by Ray Bolger whose dance steps are so loose and floppy. It made me wonder if he hurt his feet during any of his dance scenes.

All in all, I would say it was worth the time to watch it again.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Yum!!!

Family Movie Night

by Karyn Bowman

As we prepare for the big feast, our house get stuffed to the brim with turkeys, ham, potatoes, stuffing ingredients, corn, green beans, and all manners of pie.

There are side dishes galore, one person told me they made 20 sides dishes one year. I plan to make about 5 when you include the cranberry sauce. My favorite side, besides the oyster stuffing, is the Memphis Corn Pudding recipe. So good, so creamy, so not healthy. Whenever I make it I get raves. And it is simple.

All I do is mix a can of cream corn and a can of regular corn with 1 egg, 1 stick of melted butter, 1 cup of sour cream, and one box of Jiffy corn bread mix. I put it in a 12” square casserole dish and bake until golden brown in a 350 degree oven. Like I said, simple.

Hector Elizondo as the Chef in Tortilla Soup

Hector Elizondo as the Chef in Tortilla Soup

To get ready for this week, I have been watching food movies. Tortilla Soup is one of my favorites starring Hector Elizondo as a chef who has lost his sense of smell. He has three daughters still living at home but who are making changes in their lives. As all of this is happening, they continue the family tradition of having a big meal on Sunday nights. These are incredible spreads with pumpkin made into a soup tureen and tortilla soup being something more than a way to use stale tortillas.

Sunday night meals are also a way to make big announcements. Announcements about new jobs, new boyfriends, new living arrangements. It is never boring in this house, especially when Rachel Welch shows up to make a play for the father.

Big Night long tableAnother food movie I love watching is Big Night starring Stanley Tucci and Tony Shalhoub as two brothers who own a restaurant in a small town on the East Coast. Shalhoub is the chef who wants to make great traditional Italian food that is not always about spaghetti. Tucci is the manager who tries to find ways to keep their business afloat while maintaining relationships with Minnie Driver and Isabella Rossini. The latter is the mistress of their competitor, Ian Holm.

They want to get the word out about their place and Holm says he can get a big celebrity to come to their restaurant. So Tucci spends the last of their money to make this happen. The food is glorious. Lovingly cooked all day despite the worries and temptations and schemes. And the party? Well, not everything goes as expected. But what a spread of food including a roasted suckling pig.

Babette s FeastThe last movie I saw is Babette’s Feast. This movie comes from France but the setting is in Holland on a lonely seaside community. It is here that two sisters live who are of a pious religious community. It is not that these two women never had the chance to leave, one could have been a great singer. But they choose to stay to help their father serve his parish.

In their later years, a former love sends them a woman who needs to start over as her husband and son were recently killed. They can pay her no money but she stays and cooks for them. The older people who get soup from the sisters love Babette’s soups and breads. The women notice their church is doing better. Then one day Babette is sent a letter stating she has won the lottery. She asks the sisters to put on a feast in the French style.

The sisters are afraid but they agree to it. And what a feast it is. When a former suitor of the other sister comes with his elderly aunt it is fortunate for the diners. He alone recognizes the dishes and the wine. His appreciation allows the others to appreciate the meals as well. Turtle soup, pastries, quail, fruit and cheese. If you do get this movie, be aware that it does have subtitles. You can choose the English language option but I did not want the distraction of the words not matching the mouth movement.

Such movies inspire me for cooking which will be needed this week.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Get off your *** and vote

Tomorrow is the day.

Tomorrow is the final day for cards and letters in the mail telling us what a fool the other candidate is in their race. Tomorrow is the last day we will hear negative ads on the radio and TV.

Tomorrow is the day we vote.

Finally, I will get in the voting booth, hold my nose, and vote for the gubernatorial candidate who makes me wince less. Tomorrow, I tell a man who claims to run a small business what I think of him with my vote.

Picture by kenn kiser

Picture by kenn kiser

And I hope that you do,too.

While I want you to vote for my candidate, I understand if you have to hold your nose to do so as well.

Most importantly, I want people to vote. Too many people have sacrificed their life, their health, their freedom so that anyone besides a white male could have the right to vote. But when we sit on the couch and ignore what is supposed to happen, we are spitting in the face of every soldier and activist who put their lives on the line so we could vote.

I have had it said to me that only those who actually fight in wars should be the one who vote because they did the hardest thing of all. I wonder if that same person would say that to the teacher, the public safety worker, the public health workers who all had some part of their family’s life. They fight other battles as do our clergy and social service workers.

Quite frankly, when you start saying some people have the right to vote more than others, you forget what the American dream is about. The American dream is about freedom, of knowing that you can speak your opinion – no matter how wrong – and you do not have to worry about being dragged from your home in the middle of the night. If you work hard, you can acheive the American dream of prosperity.

Voting-boothBut there is one thing you have to do. Get up off the couch, away from the boob tube, walk out of your house and head over to your polling place. Once it is your turn, you go into the booth and vote. People aren’t going to throw acid on you for doing so. In America, we do not have to face the possibility of suicide bombers preventing the process. Gunfire should not be an issue. We go in and vote.

So let’s do it. Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m.

Are you ready?

But wait, there’s more…

Family Movie Night

by Karyn Bowman

The funny thing about movies is they are not always what you think they are about. The best movies have more than just the simple storyline we are told about in the beginning. There needs to be a thread that is outside of the love/action/horror/adventure tale we are watching.

Carrie 2013My son watched Carrie (2013) this past weekend. It is a remake of the old Brian DePalma horror film he has wanted to see. But here was his interesting take on it.

He thought it was more of a chick flick.

The story is based on a Steven King novel in which a shy girl is bullied relentlessly by her classmates. Her mother is a religious zealot who teaches her daughter to think about anything that makes most people happy as a sin. She also avoids telling her daughter about the birds and the bees. This makes for a very painful experience when her body changes and Carrie has no idea what is going on.

What her classmates or mother are not aware of is that Carrie is developing powers of telekinesis, the ability to move objects around. They become aware on the night of Prom when a cruel joke is played on Carrie and she breaks. Anger over years of unfair treatment is released, causing death and mayhem throughout the town.

Director Kimberly Pierce worked modern elements into the movie such as youtube and smart phone bullying. But she also brings a distinct female voice that leaves the male characters as single-note caricatures. The gore and action is there but so is the feminine perspective. And that is not necessarily a bad thing. Still, the movie is not for the younger members of the house, keep it for the teens.

The next night, my daughter and I watched The Lost Boys (1987)starring Kiefer Sutherland and Jason Patric. This movie had everything 80s about it: the music, the hair, the clothes. There were reflections on hippie parents and references to the Brady Bunch. It was a very hip, pop culture centric movie of its day. My daughter asked if the title was a reference to Peter Pan.

Lost BoysThe story is about a mother and her two sons, Michael and Sam, moving back to Santa Clara after her divorce. The former resort town is now host to a boardwalk amusement park on the beach. But the town has loads of missing people with posters on every post and bulletin board.

The reason why is simple. And before you know it, Michael has been seduced by the group of bad boys. Who doesn’t want to hang with them and do what they do. They ride bikes, they have the prettiest girl around hanging with them. But his little brother Sam learns that the town is a haven for vampires. If he wants to help his brother, he is going to need help.

While this movie does break some of its own rules about vampires, it is a fun effective teen movie about fitting in and finding your way in strange territory. Its about regrets and moving on. And the Peter Pan figure is not the one you expect it to be. As for the violent scenes, they are not as bad as some horror movies but it is not something I am letting my ten year-old or any younger children watch either.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

A Change of Face

I have to bite.

I mean, I actually have to write about this.

Renee Zellweger does not look like the girl we knew just a few years ago.

I mean look at these pictures.

Renee Zelweger

No really, look at these picture. Faces do change with age, even from thirties to 40s there can be some change. Faces get more squared off, eyes begin to have bags.

Renee says she looks great because she takes care of herself and is in a better place emotionally. Some of that might be true. I know I am 50 but with some recent weight loss I look more like 40. Pictures of me from my mid-thirties shows a woman with a more rounded face.

Let me put it this way, I want to believe that what Renee says is true. I want to believe that she is happier and it shows. But the problem with that is I can see that her chin is just a touch longer now. Her eyes no longer have that ‘sleepy’ look to them. And her cheeks seem less puffy. Renee’s face has been stretched out just enough to make her look less like a chipmunk.

I know firsthand the hatred of those chipmunk cheeks. I have tried every trick in the book to make them less apparent. I also know it is possible to get surgery to make those sleepy eyes get wider.

Renee Zelwger 2

So while I might want to believe what she says, I am not buying it. I will leave the whys to someone else. I can only imagine in a place like Hollywood where age is a liability, especially for women, why she would consider such a thing.

For the record, I am not judging Renee. I am just sad that the face that made her an individual has now disappeared. She looks like everyone else. Let’s hope that her new projects show that her talent is still in full force.

This is a Kids Movie?

Family Movie Night

by Karyn Bowman

The other day my daughter and one of her girlfriends made a comment about some cute and cuddly creature they wanted to buy or own or simply possess.

When I asked “what happens if it gets wet?,” the girls looked at me as if they had no idea what I was talking about. Then I remembered that they had not grown up in the 80s and knew nothing about Gremlins.

Image from IMDb.com

Image from IMDb.com

How is it that these girls who have watched The Breakfast Club knew nothing about one of the biggest movies of that decade? Gremlins sparked a wild toy craze and a not-so-great-sequel several years later.

To me if a sequel takes more than two years to get from script to screen, there is something wrong. But that is another story for another day. In watching Gremlins, I came to realize I never watched the movie. When it originally came out, I was in college and too cool for a kid’s movie. I mean, there are puppets in it. I was not interested. It wasn’t until the other night that I saw it for the first time.

What Gremlins portrays and what it appears to be about are two different things.

The story starts with with an inventor father giving his son an early Christmas gift of a mogwai that he bought in a store in Chinatown. There are three simple rules for taking care of one of these creatures. Do not get them wet, do not feed them after midnight, and do not take them out into direct sunlight or even shine a bright light on them.

Billy, as portrayed sweetly by Zack Galligan, breaks the first rule inadvertently. The second rule is broken when his clock is stopped at 11:30 p.m., making him think he still has time to feed the critters.

What starts off as a cute movie about small town life and the meaning of the season, becomes something different. The send up to It’s A Wonderful Life turns into a parody of sorts to monster movies from the 50s and 60s. But these are deadly monsters. The town drunk and a science teacher are the first victims and their mischief reaches out to the rest of this small city until they finally come together at the movie theater.

GremlinsThis is a movie that’s strangely conflicted. I have heard it described as a kid’s movie but I would not show it to kids under the age of ten. There are too many elements, such as Phoebe Cate’s story about her father’s disappearance and the death of various gremlins, that are too adult in context. Nor is it a classic horror or monster movie that would appeal to older teens or adults because the mayhem is light weight in comparison to the standards of even 80s horror and monster movies.

Can you have a cutesy monster movie? I guess this movie would be the proof. If I was to share it with anyone, I guess it would be with tween kids and those who do not really like the full-on gore of most monster movies. However, if I never see it again, I am pretty much okay with that, too.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Halloween This Way Comes

Family Movie Night

by Karyn Bowman

Halloween approaches.

For whatever reasons, summer has left us all too early and fall barely started before becoming colder than desired.

I love fall weather. I like being able to run around in a tee-shirt and a sweater. Because my body temperature tends to run high, I love that time of year when a jacket is all you need to get by. I even love it when my car is hotter on the inside and I am taking off my jacket because it is too warm.

It seems almost impossible that just a week ago it was so warm that I was running around in shorts. I tried to do it on Monday and Tuesday but already the temperature dipped lower than was comfortable. Somehow it makes all of the Halloween decorations I see up throughout town all that more appropriate. Of course, there are pumpkins and cornstalks all over, left from Pumpkin Fest. Left over scarecrows have moved from the light posts of Station Street to the front yards. But more and more skeletons are creeping out of the closets and storerooms. Purple and orange lights brighten the early evening.

Notice the flying bats

Notice the flying bats

It is too early for carved jack-o-lanterns from real pumpkins. I hear if you wash a carved pumpkin with a bleach/water solution or cover the insides with vaseline, the pumpkin will last longer. I am almost willing to try it out.

What I am noticing is an influx of scary movies. But at my house, the most watched horror program is American Horror Story which can be seen on the FX channel. Each season has a different premise, a different storyline. The first season focused n a family that moves into a restored mansion. They slowly discover that the house is haunted by anyone who has ever died there. But what they do not realize is that almost everyone they have contact with in that house is a ghost.

American Horror Story

American Horror Story – First Season from blastr.com

The second season is set in an insane asylum where evil lurks within the heart of nearly every person who works there. The third season followed a girls’ school that is meant for witches while the fourth season takes us to a freak show.

I catch glimpses of the show, partially because I am not a horror genre fan. But what I see are wonderful bits of acting and writing. The tension is palatable. My son says he likes the suspense of the show, that while you might be able to predict what is going to happen next it is the scenes after wards that are not so easy.

I have a friend who has grown attached to this show as well. She says it is addicting and before you know it, you have watched an entire season.

The thing is, this is a show for teens and adults. It is not meant for small kids and I do not allow my ten year old in the room if his older brother is in the middle of a show. The context as much as anything else feels more adult to me and not appropriate for a child in that tween age-range or younger.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

What’s Coming up?

Family Movie Night

by Karyn Bowman

Did you tick everything off your summer bucket list?

Beach 2014We didn’t manage half of what we wanted to do although this past weekend we did the one thing I have been dreaming about. We went to the Indiana Dunes state park, sat on the beach, and played in the water. It was a wonderous sun-soaked time, one of the few days that felt truly warm enough to get out on the beach.

In a summer that has seemed less than sizzling, so has gone the summer movie season.

Beyond a few movies that were adaptations from Young Adult books that were meaningful explorations of emotion and identity, there were few movies this summer that made me say ‘yes, I have to see That!”

However, I do not feel the same way about the movies coming up in the fall.

One of the most interesting pictures coming out is Gone Girl starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike. Their marriage seems idyllic until she disappears on their fifth wedding anniversary.

The movie is based on the best selling suspense/thriller novel by Gillian Flynn and promises to be exciting and a possible Oscar contender.

Gone Girl with Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike

Gone Girl with Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike

The story is about a couple who move from New York to Missouri after a job loss. The husband took the last of his wife’s trust fund money to start a bar in his home town that succeeds and supports the couple as well as the husband’s sister. But when the wife turns up missing, the husband becomes the number one suspect, things begin to get complicated.

I am fascinated because not only is the life of this couple comes under the microscope, the husband gets extra hard scrutiny from the media. In this case, it is a Nancy Grace type who tends to judge the case first and let the facts speak towards her conclusion.

Excited? I know I am.

For my kids, the big movie that has them excited in The Hunger Games. This is the third movie in the series from the third book. Because so much material needs to be covered to make fans happy, the movie versions will break the third book in half so we get two movies to cover one book.

This time around, Katniss must find a way to bring Peeta home from the Capitol. Nor can she deny what must be her role in this revolution. She must become the mocking jay and appear to lead the fight against President Snow.

The next installment of The Hunger Games should be filled with explosions, excitement, and intrigue. I know I am excited to see it.

Finally, we will see the end of the Hobbit trilogy. Finally, we will find out if the dwarves get their mountain back and if the dragon does real damage to the lake village. We will find out if Bilbo gets back home. There is much to find out and the beauty part if that it will all look fantastic because that’s how Peter Jackson rolls.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

As many of you know, I am working on a battle against weight.

I used to weigh 225 pounds. I have been told that being tall makes that weight look less than it is. But let’s face it, a 48 inch waist is still a 48 inch waist. No amount of height is going to make that waist look any smaller than it really is.

I am also dealing with the beginnings of arthritis which really sucks some days. My energy gets zapped and before I know it, I am taking a two hour nap and not the 20 minute nap I was hoping to do instead. I get those flares of a small temp with no reason for it, especially in the winter time. Fatigue is not my friend and I try to work around it all of the time.

In the last few years, I have taken off a lot of weight and 7 inches around the middle. Those seven inches were hard won as I have a deep and abiding love for food. I love trying new recipes, I love things with fat and sugar. If it is deep fried, well, I am in heaven. But research has told me those things are not good for me so I have learned to cut back.

Soda is once a week, cookies and candy are eaten less often. I try to stick to water and ice tea for drinks while snacking on popcorn a little more often.

But still, I could lose about 10 more pounds. The diet and exercise has been good but I need a little extra push. So I thought I would take a gander at the Paleo diet. Some people call it the Caveman diet.

Paleoista by Nell StephensonI picked up Paleoista  by Nell Stephenson. Look at that cover, she looks hip and happy with legs way too long for her body. But that is beside the point.

Then I began reading the book. I was OK with giving up processed food. I mean, I know how to make sauces and such, I shouldn’t rely on noodles from a bag or sauce from a jar.

Eating more fresh fruit and vegetables actually sound like a good idea to me. That is how I have lost a lot of my weight by incorporating fresh or frozen veggies and fruits in the diet. Eating more protein seemed like a good idea as well.

Then I got to the part that said no grains because people in the paleo era were nomadic, therefore they did not have time to plant and wait for grains to grow. That meant no bread, no pasta, no donuts, no cereal, no cake.

After that I go to the part that said no legumes because that would have taken too much time to grow before the group had to pick up and leave again. So no refried beans, no white kidney beans in many of my soups, no beans in the chili or any number of dishes.

But the worst came when she said no dairy because traveling with a cow or goat would not have happened. Which means no milk, cheese, ice cream, sour cream, cottage cheese, or cream cheese.

All credibility was lost when the author made the statement that these three groups are not really food groups and therefore you are not missing out on anything.

Really?

I have learned the hard way that wheat bread – not white bread- is the way to control my sugars from doing the big surge. I have learned that Barilla’s pasta with semolina is a better choice for me than even Prince (even if Wednesday is Prince Spaghetti Day).

I have learned that I feel better when beans are a part of my soups. I feel better when I eat them. As for milk, I only drink whole milk so that the fat slows down the uptake of the sugar in the milk. But I rarely drink more than a half a cup on any given day.

I like butter on my freshly cooked corn-on-the-cob, I like cream cheese on my bagels.

But here is what I do not do. I do not eat like a pig. I know my serving sizes and I stick to them. I allow myself days to cheat and eat some forbidden things because to totally take them away would be killer. I would never stay on that diet.

Perhaps the Paleo diet worked for the author of this book. But for me, it would have been a total wash. I refuse to follow any diet that says stop eating entire food groups.

So I guess I will go back to what I was doing with eating more veggies and fruits, drinking water, and getting plenty of exercise. Perhaps I should up that walking distance again. More exercise seems to be the best  answer to any of my weight problems in the long run.

What diet books have you read lately that seemed like a bust after you started reading the book?

 

 

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