Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The movie list

I mentioned making a list of the movies I wanted to see over the next few months and so here it is!

Coming out soon

Loving - Feels like I have been waiting for this film to be released for months.

A Monster Calls - Bring the tissues!

Beauty and the Beast - I think I might do this one in Gold Class.

Hidden Figures - Story sounds fascinating

Moonlight - Was interested in seeing this after the Golden Globes where it did so well.

Rules Don't Apply - Not sure why but it looks good.

Manchester by the Sea -

Jasper Jones - Film of the book by Aussie author Craig Silvey

Fences - Don/t need to say anything more than Denzel Washington

Tulip Fever - Read the book a few years ago so interested to hear that it

Already out and I still need to see

Lion - Nothing to do with the movie, but Dev Patel's Aussie accent sounds very good

Rosalie Blum - We keep on saying we are going to go and see some foreign films but never quite get around to it.

Saw yesterday 


Movies I definitely don't want to see

50 Shades Darker

What are you looking forward to seeing soon?

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Pass the popcorn please

So, here's a thought that I should have considered a year ago. While I am slowly getting back to reading (I think), I do go to the movies quite regularly, so I could, you know, talk about the movies I have seen. I have already been lucky enough to see 3 very enjoyable movies so far this year, and there are so many films coming out that I want to see. So many. Maybe I need to create a list to keep track.

Firstly, I saw LaLa Land. I know that it is getting mixed reviews from my amongst my friends, but I enjoyed it. I loved the homage to the magic of jazz, musicals, and Hollywood. I loved the way that the movie was shot, the colour and movement. I must confess I was a little surprised that it is a current setting. I think I was expecting that it was set in the 1950s or 60s but no. There was a particularly fun little section in the film which featured some 80s music which was amusing and enjoyable.

At first, I wasn't keen on the ending  of the . The friend I went with and I both agreed that we were left feeling a little bit melancholy at the end of it, but maybe it had the effect of leaving you with something to think about rather than walking out of the cinema and just forgetting about it. Or maybe the ending didn't quite work. Maybe one day I will decide, after watching it again.

The next film I saw as A United Kingdom.

I am part of a group that meets up once a month to watch movies. It's kind of like book club, but for movies instead. Part of the reason we meet on a Monday is that the cinema we go to is super cheap on that day, but is also central for us all. One of the good things is that we all take turns to choose the movie. This means that we have on occasion seen movies that we didn't like, or that we did like despite the fact that we possibly wouldn't have chosen to see it ordinarily, some Australian films, some mainstream films, some foreign films, some documentaries. Basically, it's help broaden all of our horizons.

I really enjoyed this choice. It is the story of the last king of Bechuanaland (modern day Botswana) who fell in love with an ordinary English white girl in London just after the end of World War II. It covers the opposition that they faced both in the UK and in Africa when they decided to marry, but also the constitutional crisis that it prompted in the Commonwealth, particularly in respect to the fact that neighbouring South Africa was introducing the policy of apartheid at the time.

One of the things that I didn't make the connection to until very late in the film was that it was about Botswana, but as soon as I did make that connection it made me think of the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency books. The main character in that book often talked about the beloved president of Botswana and it was this man that she was talking about.

One of the movies I am looking forward to seeing when it comes out here is Loving, which is another film about mixed race relationships. I think I am attracted to these stories because my ex is African, or maybe I just love a good story where love overcomes the odds, and if it's based on true life...even better.

The third movie I have seen this year is Jackie, which stars Natalie Portman, and tells the story of what happened in the immediate aftermath of the assassination of her husband, President Kennedy.

Given the subject matter, it is quite a heavy movie, but it is so well done that it didn't feel overwhelmingly heavy. Natalie Portman was excellent in her portrayal of a woman facing the loss of her husband, and to a degree her identity as the first lady.

One of the things that was a bit odd about going to see this movie was a bit of a drama around allocated seating. I know that it is pretty much normal now for cinemas to have allocated seating but I really don't get why it has to be this way. That is especially the case when the ticketing system breaks down and they still insist on manually allocating the seating. Whhhyyy. Once we got inside there were all sorts of issues as people were complaining that people were in their seats etc etc, It's not like there weren't any empty seats because there were, but they wanted their exact seats, to the point where one woman refused to move one seat over to help resolve the issues because she had paid for THIS seat. I'm pretty sure you paid for a seat, not that exact one, but never mind. One of the bonuses with all this dramas was that the movies were all running late, so they chopped out all the ads and the previews. It's not uncommon for those to go for 15 minutes or more these days, so that was a welcome omission for me.

And actually...don't worry about the popcorn. I will have a couple of pieces if someone else has some but other than that I am not particularly fussed about it.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Sylvester by Georgette Heyer

When Sylvester, the Duke of Salford, first meets Phoebe Marlow, he finds her dull and insipid. She finds him insufferably arrogant. But when a series of unforeseen events leads them to be stranded together in a lonely country inn, they are both forced to reassess their hastily formed opinions, and begin a new-found liking and respect for each other. Sylvester calls to mind the satirical genius of a Jane Austen novel and is adored for its wit and a fast-paced plot that ranges across a myriad of settings

I first listened to this book just under 3 years ago, but I never did post anything about it, which was remiss of me but I think not really unexpected. After I finished The Passage and then another audio book, I was trying to decide what to read next. I do have a few books that I have already purchased but not yet listened to, as well as a list of books I'd like to get to someday, but none of them really tickled my fancy. And then I hit on the idea of listening again to a Georgette Heyer novel as narrated by Richard Armitage, mainly because it is my idea of aural bliss to listen to him read anything, but he does seem to be particularly suited to narrating Heyer novels.

He has the right tone in his voice that lends itself to upper class accents and his characterisation is so good that it doesn't matter whether the character is old or young, or female or male, each character is individual and recognisable.

Now, I should mention up front that this is an abridged audiobook, but it is a well done abridgement. I don't think I have missed anything through the story so it might be interesting to read in full one time to see what was cut out. That's not always the case. Years ago I listened to a novel where the abridgement wasn't quite so good. At one point the main character was regretting having kissed someone other than her husband and I was like wait...what.

What about the book itself. It is Heyer, so it is all Regency ballrooms and dukes abound, but it is a fun read. I don't want to recap the plot as such because I don't want too start to feel like I should write a full review, rather than just commentary. I will see that I did find myself wondering how much of the language that Heyer used was made up. I am sure that I heard somewhere that she did.

I fully expect to listen to more of the Heyer books Richard Armitage has narrated. It is a totally enjoyable treat.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Weekend Cooking: Triple Berry Jellies

You wouldn't think so if you so me chowing down on dumplings last night, but I am still trying to eat a bit healthier. That also means that I have gone back to doing the things I was doing when I lost all that weight before I stopped doing all those things and put it a lot if it back on.

So, what are the things that I was doing, stopped and now I am doing again.

On the food front, it is to watch what I eat (so make better food choices), how much (portion sizes) and, in theory, move more (exercise), although I am not doing so great on that one.  For the other aspects, I have gone back to keeping a food diary, studying (yes, studying) food magazines and diet related cookbooks. The most important aspect is planning and preparation, having some idea of what food we are going to be eating for lunches and dinners rather than having takeaway several nights a week.

Sttudying food magazines mean getting ideas for snacks and new recipes. Sometimes it is the simplest of ideas that strikes a cord. For instance, because I was a bit slack and didn't get to the shops in time, I ended up just having egg, ricotta, spinach and tomato on toast for dinner. Simple, but tasty. And something I saw in a magazine as a breakfast suggestion. Breakfast for dinner. Yes please.

This is definitely a simple idea, and one that really should have occurred to me before. I mean, when we were kids it was a treat to have canned fruit set into jelly, but because the boy doesn't really like jelly I don't make it very often. This time instead of making a giant bowl of jelly and fruit I have made the individual serves as suggested and I am hoping that will mean that,  for this week at least, if I fancy something sweet I can just grab one of these and maybe have some yoghurt with it. Or ice cream maybe.

Oh, and expect to hear more about dumplings because I had two of the best dumplings I ever ate last night and I am so going to go on a quest to eat more egg custard dumplings. You have been warned. Not part of the plan but oh, so good.

This recipe came from the January/February 2017 issue of Diabetic Living.

Triple Berry Jellies

125g punnet blueberries
125g punnet raspberries
125g punnet blackberries
4 strawberries, cut into thin wedges
9g sachet raspberry diet jelly crystals
250ml (1 cup) boiling water
250ml (1 cup) cold water
2 Tbspn strawberry liqueur (optional)
500g extra berries, to serve
Mint leaves, to serve (optional)

Divide berries evenly between 4 185ml (3/4 cup) capacity glasses.

Put jelly crystals in a heatproof jug. Pour over boiling water, stirring until jelly crystals dissolve. Stir in cold water and strawberry liqueur, if using. 

Pour jelly evenly over berries. Put glasses on a tray and refrigerate for 4 hours or until set.

Serve topped with extra berries and mint leaves, if using.

Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. For more information, see the welcome post.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Audiobooks as noise reduction

I recently went on a cruise and one of the things I realised was that if I was going to be listening to audiobooks at all, possibly I needed something a little lighter than The Passage, which I was listening to at the time.

Little did I know, that I would listen to something for a while but not quite just for the joy of the story.

I went on the cruise with my friend and her son as well as my son. The boys have just turned 18 so before we went away there was a bit of discussion about changing rooms so that they were together and my friend and I were together. Once we were on the boat pressure was bought to bear to do just that and so I acquiesced.

My friend had mentioned that she was a snorer, and so I should have been prepared, but oh my goodness..... The first night I didn't get a lot of sleep. The second night I tried to get to sleep but I was unsuccessful so in the end I decided that I would try putting on my audiobook to block out the noise.

It was a good plan. It really was. There was, however, one flaw.

I assumed that listening would block out the noise, and it certainly muffled it a bit, but not totally so I did still keep on waking up but now there was the added complication that I would wake up and hear something in the audiobook and think things like wait, who's Jack? Why is this character talking to a truck driver at a truck stop. Wait. did she just say she's married.

So then I had to contend with the thoughts in my head and the snoring.

After the second night, we swapped back. And I started listening to the book again so that it made some kind of sense.

Sunday, January 08, 2017

Weekend Cooking: In Search of Sfogliatelle

For all that I talked a couple of days ago about starting to eat healthily and try to lose some weight (again), today I am posting about sfogliatelle - ricotta filled pastry shells - that originate from the south of Italy.

I don't remember hearing about sfogliatelle before a couple of months ago, but I have been watching a number of cooking series about baking and/or Italian cooking and it has come up a few times. I know I saw it in Paul Hollywood's City Bakes series, and I think one of Rick Stein's series. Actually, Rick Stein is to blame for a couple of cravings at the moment. The other day I was watching a show where he does a long weekend in Vienna and it showed wiener schnitzel and oh my goodness I have been thinking abut that ever since. Maybe I need to stop watching these shows, but I do like living vicariously through them.

Anyway, back to sfogliatelle.

Now, I am determined that I want, no, make that NEED to try one of these Italian treats. Luckily for me there is a famous Melbourne cake shop called Brunetti's that makes them so it was always just a question of time before I would actually try one. And try one I did. Actually, technically, I think I tried two and something very similar that I can't remember the name of.  Did I like them? I was surprised that they were pretty small. In theory, you could probably shove a whole one in your mouth, but I was a bit more ladylike and ate them in two bites. The crunch on the pasty was a-maz-ing, and the filling was very nice. Having said that, the one that I can't remember the name of was probably a bit more to my taste. All the delicious crunch but instead of being filled with ricotta it was topped with a custard like blob and a piece of cherry. I would be happy to eat either one of them again though. Maybe next time I go to Brunettis!

Would I try to make some? One hundred percent, absolutely not. These things take some serious skills to make as you can tell from the video below and given that I've never made pastry, there's no way I will try to make them. I will, however, continue to try them when I get the opportunity.

Do you have something that you really want to try?


Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. For more information, see the welcome post.

Friday, January 06, 2017

The Passage by Justin Cronin - aka the book that I forgot

Well this is a bit interesting. A book related post. I'm not sure I even remember how to do this, but I am thinking that maybe I will give this blogging thing a go but on the basis that it won't be a full on reviews. Maybe just pared back thoughts about the books I am reading. It still isn't many, but it does feel a little bit more likely that I will be reading or listening to more books this year. Not to the obsessive level of years past, but I am actually okay with that. If I can find a happy medium between the 200 plus books a year that I was reading a few years ago and the less than 10 of the last couple of years then I will be a happy camper.

I am also, once again, trying to focus on healthy eating as I have undone a fair amount of the good work I did in losing lots of weight a couple of years ago, so I will most likely be posting some updates related to that.

Really, what I am looking for this year is to have more balance in my life. So, less late nights at work making myself super tired all the time, more home cooked meals. More and less of lots of things really. Lets call that my new years resolution shall we.

So let's talk books. Or maybe book. Singular.

A few years go now (well, more than 6 but who's counting!) I read The Passage by Justin Cronin. Whilst I didn't review it, I graded it 4.5 out of 5 and so clearly finished it, and loved it. I went to a session at Melbourne Writer's Festival where the author spoke because the third book in the trilogy is now out and I realised that at some point I did want to read the second and third books but it had been a while since I read this one so it was time for a reread. Yes, I don't usually reread but things are definitely not usual in my world at the moment so why not.

One of the things that I pride myself on is that I have a pretty good memory. Normally I think that whilst details may be a bit blurry I can generally remember the major story arcs. Or so I thought. It turns out that maybe that is not the case.

When I first started listening, it was great. It was like revisiting an old friend. I remembered the story about a young girl being infected with a virus that in effect allows her to live ageing very, very slowly. I remembered how the FBI found her and took her to the army to become part of a top secret trial that goes awry in a big way and pretty much destroys the world as we know it.

Really, it was after the first third of the book and as the story moved 100 years into the future where I realised that my memory is nowhere near as good as I thought it was because I couldn't remember it. Not just that it was blurry or a bit fuzzy, but I literally had no memory of any of the characters, any of the storyline. So it was kind of like visiting a friend's house and then finding yourself at a party with complete strangers.

I decided to listen to the audiobook because I had so many credits on Audible, but it is a decision that paid off. The narrator for the majority of the book is Scott Brick and I look forward to listening to the next books in the series where he is the sole narrator. And who knows, maybe even looking for some other books that he has narrated at some point. Nothing wrong with following a narrator is there!!

Overall, it was an enjoyable listening experience. I think I will listen to something a little lighter before going back to listen to the second book in the trilogy. And catch up on The Walking Dead episodes that I didn't feel I could watch while I was listening to this! It would have been way too much to be listening to this post apocolyptic vampire novel whilst watching a post apocolyptic zombie TV series.

Well gee, it appears that I had plenty to say after all.


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