Thursday, March 8, 2012

Downton Abbey Withdrawals

This week, I'm missing Downton Abbey like crazy. It's brilliantly cruel for the producers to give us seven weeks of bliss and then make us wait a whole year for season three. I mean, really. But, in the meantime, I've been revisiting some of my favorite Lady Violet moments in the series. Throughout season one, she was hardly my favorite character, despite her witty and snarky comments. But by the time season two rolled around, I found my appreciation for Lady Violet's dry sense of humor increasing. So here's to Lady Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham.

Lady Violet: "You are quite wonderful the way you see room for improvement wherever you look. I never knew such reforming zeal."
Lady Isobel Crawley: "I take that as a compliment."
Lady Violet: "I must have said it wrong."

Lady Cora: "Are we to be friends then?"
Lady Violet: "We are allies, my dear, which can be a good deal more effective."

Lady Violet: "Well give him a date for when Mary is out of mourning. No one wants to kiss a girl in black."

Lady Violet: "Your quarrel is with my daughter, Rosamund, and not with me. So put that in your pipe and smoke it."

Lady Cora: "I might send Mary over to visit my aunt. She could get to know New York."
Lady Violet: "Oh, I don't think things are quite that desperate."

Lady Violet: "Why would you want to go to a real school? You're not a doctor's daughter."
Sybil: "Nobody learns anything from a governess, apart from French and how to curtsy."
Lady Violet: "What else do you need? Are you thinking of a career in banking?"
Lady Cora: "Things are different in America."
Lady Violet: "I know. They live in wigwams."

And, the general favorite:

"What is a weekend?"

Friday, February 17, 2012

Breakfast Smoothie

So here's the thing. Last semester, I had late classes. My first class every day was at eleven o'clock. Every day. I would wake up around eight o'clock, take my own sweet time getting ready, make a scrumptious breakfast, and get started on some homework. Suffice it to say, I got spoiled. It was quite a shock to come back to this semester and get into the routine of nine o'clocks again. Granted, nine o'clocks are worlds better than the dreaded eight o'clock classes, but when you're used to eleven o'clocks, any earlier feels like a great hardship. Like I said, spoiled.

With this new absence of extra time in the morning, I have been forced to reevaluate my breakfast choices. My routine has become cereal, which is awful. I mean, I enjoy my Special K vanilla almond flakes, but after day eight you just need something else. So, rather than spend fifteen minutes making eggs and biscuits every morning, I have stumbled upon another idea. And let me tell you, it is a winner. I've been making these smoothies for years, but I believe I have perfected the (very uncomplicated) recipe. Cheers.

Breakfast Smoothie

- 3/4 cup frozen fruit (you can use tropical fruit or mixed berries)
- 1/2 cup Greek yogurt (you can get this in different flavors if you so desire)
- 1 cup v8 fruit juice (cranberry juice, orange juice, use your imagination)
- 1 banana

Throw all ingredients in the blender, push the button, turn the knob (you know, whatever makes the machine start whizzing around everywhere). Give it about thirty seconds and you're set. Grab a glass and a straw and enjoy your insanely healthy and unbelievably quick breakfast.

And if you're feeling kinda fancy, these add-ins give it a little punch:
- 1/8 cup shredded coconut
- 2 TBSP. honey

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Tips for a Successful 5k.

I have a love/hate relationship with 5k's. Or maybe not just 5k's. Maybe running in general. Or, you know, exercising. That's probably it. But I feel that I am somewhat justified. Exercising hurts. I mean, sure, you feel great afterwards, but you don't feel great when you're doing it. It's like food. Put squash and spinach on a plate. I don't care how healthy it is or how it's going to make me live an extra five years or how it's going to give me clearer skin or stronger fingernails (can food really do that?). If it doesn't taste good, I'm not going to eat it. It's simply not worth it. Granted, if it tastes good and it's healthy, I'm all over it. If it just tastes good, I'll splurge. If it's just healthy and has no taste benefits whatsoever, I'm just not doing it. But I think that's fair enough. Food is supposed to taste good, right? But anyways. Back to the 5k thing.

So this morning I ran a 5k with some of my dearest friends. We ran our first 5k together during the fall of our freshman year and a tradition was born. And about my love/hate relationship with them . . I think that's due to the fact that I almost passed out at the end of my first 5k. It made me a wee bit skeptical of the whole race thing. But last spring, I ran another one, just to prove to myself that I could, in fact, run 3.1 miles without passing out. And guess what, I felt just fine. That was exciting.

And then this morning, I felt fantastic. Here's what I learned about the best way to run a 5k:

#1: If you have jingle bells on your shoes, you will run faster.
#2: If you drink lots of cranberry sierra mist and eat lots of puppy chow the night before, you will have lots of energy on race day.
#3: If you sing really loudly on the way to the race, you will be in a better mood.
#4: If you and your three running buddies all wear the same t-shirt, you will feel more unified.
#5: If Santa Claus is present, you will have that much more of a motivation to run fast so that you can impress him.
#6: If you sing the chorus of "It Takes Two" by Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock while you're running, you will be more entertained.
#7: If you run with your camera and take pictures every time you pass by reflective windows, that half hour of running will go that much faster.
#8: If you provide a commentary of the race by video-taping yourself and your friends as you run, you will keep yourself light-hearted, giggly, and way too excited. Also, people running around you will look at you like you've lost your mind. Which you probably deserve.


Friday, October 7, 2011


When I was younger, I always rolled my eyes at those people that said, "Oh, I love to read, but I just don't have time any more." I thought it was complete hogwash. Being the over-opinionated eleven year old that I was, I would adamantly declare to myself. "I will never be like that. I will always have time to read."

Confession: I have become that person.

I made up excuses, of course. Oh, I am reading, really. It's just that I'm reading textbooks instead of actual books (in my mind, textbooks and real books are totally different things). Besides, I'm in college now, which automatically means that I am somehow absorbing the same amount of knowledge that I did when I read books (see how that became past tense. When I read books. Shame, shame.) So after going through freshman year reading only a handful of real books on breaks, I decided to change things, hence the stack of seventeen books on my bedroom floor this summer. My self-esteem boosted quite liberally when I ended the summer having read thirteen books for a whopping total of 4350 pages. Success.

So I have been making significant changes to continue this new trend and to keep myself from being that person again this school year.

Progress thus far: Well, lucky for me, in one of my classes we're actually studying contemporary American novels. I've recently finished Typical American by Gish Jen, and I'm nearly done with Jasmine by Bharati Mukherjee. Then I have also read The Turn of the Screw by Henry James, and I am making significant progress with Ann Lamott's Bird by Bird, which I am thoroughly enjoying. Reading four books in six weeks isn't all that bad, is it?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Because Jane Is Always A Good Idea

I am currently sipping Passion Tazo Tea out of my favorite mug, and taking a break from my ever-present need to study. If there's anything to help relax the mind in between American History notes and literary criticism essays it has got to be Jane Austen (I realize that this is probably a very stereotypical-English-major thing to say, but there it is). But when you are a college student like me, you don't have time to just pick up Emma for fun. So instead, you just have to settle for snippets of Jane Austen and her brilliance. Of which, I have many. Way too many, actually. Here's some I've been reading today (I figured I probably shouldn't unload all fifty-seven of them on you).

"I hate to hear you talk about all women as if they were fine ladies instead of rational creatures. None of us want to be in calm waters all our lives." -Jane Austen, Persuasion

"I have not the pleasure of understanding you." -Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

"I pay very little regard to what any young person says on the subject of marriage. If they profess a disinclination for it, I only set it down that they have not yet seen the right person." -Jane Austen, Mansfield Park

"A woman, especially if she has the misfortune of knowing anything, should conceal it as well as she can." -Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey

"But when a young lady is to be a heroine, the perverseness of forty surrounding families cannot prevent her. Something must and will happen to throw a hero in her way." -Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey

Jane Austen has such a interesting take on life, and I find myself constantly amazed by how often I laugh when I read her novels. Who would have thought that Victorian women had the nerve to be sarcastic? And so terribly witty. I just love it.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

I Flipped

It all started on New Year's Eve. Even on New Year's Eve my family is not quite the type that stays up til the wee hours of the morning. Or even until midnight, for that matter. True, it was kinda a major holiday, but did half the family go to bed around nine o'clock like usual? Absolutely, yes. Did it matter that the rest of America, and possibly the world, was up until midnight to welcome in the new year? No. Not really. The three remaining members of our family -- my dad, my sister, and I -- were the only ones awake by ten o'clock. I contemplated going to bed, but talked myself out of it. No, I had to stay awake. And I figured that watching a movie would probably be my best strategy.

So I browsed through some movies on itunes, attempting to find something to rent. I really wasn't in the mood to take a risk and waste four dollars, plus an hour and a half on a movie that was just okay. Especially on New Year's. Then I came across a movie that looked interesting. I was drawn to it by the cover. I had never heard of it before, never heard of any of the cast, and the director Rob Reiner really didn't mean that much to me as I've never seen When Harry Met Sally. After hunting down reviews (which was mostly unsuccessful as I believe it only hit select theaters), I decided to give it a go. The cover was pretty, and that was enough to convince me that it could have potential.

Let's just say it took the movie all of ten seconds to pull me in. When "Pretty Little Angel Eyes" started playing, I knew this movie was going to be a winner. It was. It was just perfect, and I fell in love. Ladies and gentleman, may I introduce: Flipped.

Since that New Year's Eve, slightly over six months ago, I have watched Flipped at least a dozen times, possibly more. Juli's determination to win over Bryce Loski's heart and get her first kiss from this boy with the "world's most dazzling eyes" never ceases to charm me. Of course, Bryce wants nothing to do with this "mud monkey." The movie (and book) so appropriately begin with Bryce's declaration: "All I ever wanted was for Juli Baker to leave me alone." Their story is humorous, witty, and thought-provoking.

Usually I make a point to read books before I watch their movie. In this instance, I didn't even realize that there was a book until I had watched the movie a couple of times. I ordered the book earlier this week, and the day it came in, I began reading it. The next day, I had finished it. When I finished reading Flipped, I couldn't quite decide which I preferred: the book or the movie. That's a first for me; I pretty much always prefer the book. So I watched the movie again last night to try to make up my mind. They're both just good; that's the only resolution I can come up with. None of the book's charm is lost in the movie. There are many parts, in fact, that are word-for-word the book. Both the movie and the book are just wonderful. Some advice for you: treat yourself; watch this movie or read this book or do both. It is well worth your time.

"Some of us get dipped in flat, some in satin, some in gloss. But every once in a while you find someone who’s iridescent, and when you do, nothing will ever compare." - Wendelin van Draanen, Flipped

Sunday, July 31, 2011

I thought I would be able to read faster. . .

At the beginning of summer, my book list contained some seventeen books. The stack that formed on my bedroom floor looked something like this:

I'm beginning to think that perhaps I over-estimated myself. Granted, I have made a little progress. I have read eight books. Eight. Which, yes, leaves nine for me to read within the next three weeks. Somehow, I don't see that happening. Hm. Nonetheless, here are some of my favorites so far.

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand, which I have already mentioned, is excellent. If you're into philosophy and are willing to invest the time to read all 1000 pages, I say go for it. It is definitely thought-provoking.

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee was definitely a winner. I can't believe it took me this long to get around to reading it.

And if you're a history lover like me, The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara is phenomenal.

Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Patterson is a gem of a book. It always makes me think of my childhood when I read it for the first time as a young girl. Simply wonderful.

"No entertainment is so cheap as reading, nor any pleasure so lasting." ~Mary Wortley Montagu