September 30, 2012

Doctor Who 7.1


Last night wrapped up the seventh season of Doctor Who for now, until we pick it up again with the Christmas special, and then again with the rest of the season sometime in the spring.  Until then, we have five episodes to watch and re-watch and re-watch again.  I've neglected to write out reviews after each episode came out, but here are my brief (and not so brief) thoughts on each of the five episodes so far.

The season started off with the episode "Asylum of the Daleks".  I was not entirely thrilled when I heard that the Daleks were coming back... in my humble opinion  they had been used too many times and were no longer scary.  I was prepared for an episode that I was sure I would enjoy, but would probably be "just another Dalek adventure".  It was not long before I found myself to be proved wrong.  Yes, the Dalek's came back but Moffat managed to make them scary again with the zombie/human Daleks in the asylum.  And then there was Oswin Oswald.  Her introduction in this episode was probably the best kept secret in the Whoniverse, ever.  And the ending... oh, the ending!  Such a heart wrenching twist, and the best introduction of a companion yet - if, in fact, Miss Oswin Oswald is our new companion...

"Asylum of the Daleks" was followed by "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship", the episode that was promised to  be "the fun romp that "The Curse of the Black Spot" wasn't".  I was pleased to discover that the episode lived up to that promise.  Admittedly, there was not much of a strong plotline... but dinosaurs.  On a spaceship!  Along with Queen Neferetti and Inspector Lestrade - I mean... that hunter guy, whose name escapes me but was quite amusing to watch.  Then we had Brian Williams, or rather... Brian Pond, as the Doctor called him, yet again denying that anyone connected with his little Amelia could be anything other than a Pond.  Brian Williams was brilliant.  Only Rory's dad could be whisked off in a Tardis and planted on a spaceship with aliens and be a little bewildered, but take it all in stride.  The ending has sparked a bit of debate as to whether or not the Doctor letting Solomon die was out of character.... but let us remember, this is the man who ended the Time War by killing his entire race, who has let whole civilizations die.  The Doctor prefers to save, but can at times let people die.

Ah, "A Town Called Mercy".  The Doctor gets to wear a stetson again! Stetsons are cool.  So is anachronistic electricity  keep out signs, and unfriendly stares.  The Doctor was adorable as he swaggers into a saloon, puts on his best American accent and orders the strongest tea that they've got.  The fun of being in the Wild West turns serious, however, as the Doctor and the Ponds realize that the other alien Doctor - Kahler-Jex - that they are trying to save from the Gunsligner isn't quite the innocent victim he seemed.  We get an thought provoking quandary here as the Doctor has to decide what to do with someone who is at once kind, and genuinely trying to help people while at the same time a war criminal responsible for hundreds of deaths.  I feel it was resolved a little too quickly, but it was interesting to see the Doctor snap and decide hand Kahler Jex over to die before Amy talks him out of it.  This sort of anger is something more familiar to Tennant's Doctor, but Matt Smith showed that this Doctor is still capable of that burning rage.  I was disappointing in the ending of this episode though... Kahler Jex deciding to commit suicide rather than a judgement being made on his life seemed to me to be the easy way out.  Hardly an "honorable" course of action, as the Gunslinger claimed it was.

In this episode we got to see an adventure with the Doctor from the Ponds point of view, and how traveling has impacted their lives.  I enjoyed getting their side of the story, and the glimpse of their "other life", their life without the Doctor.  It's a side that you don't usually think about, because you only see the Ponds when they are off having adventures.  We got more Brian (horray!) in this episode, and we see where Rory gets his dedication and patience from as Brian watches the mysterious black cubes tirelessly for over 60 days at the Doctor's request.  The drawback with "The Power of Three" is that the plot of the mysterious black boxes ended up really only being a plot device, leaving us with a lot of loose ends and sloppily wrapped up story lines.  I do understand that the point was to focus on the Ponds and the conflict of their two lives, however I feel that that focus could have been maintained, while still delivering a satisfying plot and resolution.

And finally... "The Angels Take Manhattan".  I absolutely loved the introduction to this one... the paperback, 1930s novel style which permeated the majority of the episode.  It drew me in, and I was overjoyed to find that the Weeping Angels had returned with all of their original "Blink" creepiness.  I had to laugh at the fact that the Statue of Liberty was a Weeping Angel, after all the internet speculation and joking... though it was a bit unbelievable.  Really?  In the city that never sleeps, how does something as big as the Statue of Liberty manage to ever move?  Statue of Liberty aside... the Angels were terrifying, and the baby angels even more so.  I enjoyed the aspect of the Doctor finding and reading a book, which turned out to be the events really happening... and it was so sweet that the Doctor loves River so much that he even fell in love with the book version of her!  River and the Doctor are so perfect together.  I realized that this is the first time we've seen them together since they were married... and they are just the perfect married couple.  Before this short review gets too long - I wasn't terribly sad to see the Ponds go, because I am ready for the new companion and really... for them it's not a sad ending.  They get to live out their lives together, and they were happy.  The poor Doctor though... my heart did break for him, and for River, having to let her parents go forever.  Those last few minutes though, were perhaps the sweetest, dearest moments of any of the seven seasons so far... as the Doctor returns to tell little Amelia Pond stories of her future, and we find out that her Raggedy Man wasn't in her imagination after all.

September 28, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday - Vol. 5

It is now officially fall, as of last Saturday.  Hurray!  After how hot this past summer was here in IL... I am ready for the cool fall weather.  It's been mostly in the low 70s and upper 60s - heaven after months of 90s and 100!  I'm slowly starting to get out my fall clothing, enjoying being able to drink tea, and wearing all my fun scarves.

Sister 2 has been reading Les Miserables for school, and so on my last trip to the library I picked up the original cast highlights from the musical CD.  I'd gotten it a while ago and fell in love, but it wasn't until this time around that the Les Miz love spread to other members of the family.  I've never seen the musical performed before... but I am SO excited for the film adaption coming out in December!  I think that it will end up being an incredible production, and I am eager to hear how the music turns out.

From An Edible Mosaic
Twice this week I have tried out two Pinterest recipes, and they both turned out splendidly!  Monday morning is muffin/coffee cake/breakfast bread morning at our house, and so I made Pumpkin and Cheese Spice Bread.  It was the perfect breakfast bread... a little bit of sweetness in the pumpkin, but muted by the cream cheese topping to keep it from being too sweet.

photo from Erin's Food Files
Photo from Erin's Food Files
The second recipe was Pumpkin Cream Cheese Truffles.  (Can you tell I have a thing for pumpkin and cream cheese?)  I made this dessert yesterday as part of the "Desert-a-Month Club" that we give to our grandparents as a Christmas gift every year.  Each month for the whole year they get a homemade dessert.  This one was pretty simple to make, and it came out tasting delicious!

There is sadness and potential tears on the TV horizon... tomorrow will be the airing of the fifth episode of this seasons Doctor Who, and we will see the final departure of the Ponds.  Amy and Rory have been around for two and a half-ish seasons now, and I've spent longer with them than any of the other companions.  I am excited for the new companion at Christmas.... but yeah.  This is going to be sad.  

On a happier TV note - season two of Once Upon a Time starts on Sunday! OUaT really hit its stride about mid-season last year, and from what I've seen and read, it sounds like they haven't dropped the ball on this one.  We'll get to see Storybrooke with the magic returned and several new characters like Captain Hook, Mulan and Sleeping Beauty.  I am quite thrilled to discover what will happen next.


Your Little Princess Costume Design , a small business that I co-operate with my friend Elizabeth, will shortly be announcing the addition of four new designs to our pre-designed costume line!  If you haven't seen our designs that we have already, I encourage you to check them out!  Elizabeth is an incredible seamstress and artist, and the dresses she's imagined are really lovely.  If you like what you see, and you have a little princess of your own - then please consider interviewing us or featuring us on your blog!  In return, we'll give you 10% off the dress order of your choice.

September 24, 2012

Christ Would Certainly Have Shown It

"For our merit and our spiritual advancement does not consist in comforts and sweetness, but in bearing great adversities and trying experiences.  

For surely if there had been anything better and more useful than suffering for the health of the human soul, Christ would certainly have shown it by word and example.  

But he openly exhorts the disciples who follow him and all others who desire to follow him to bear the cross." 

- The Imitation of Christ 

September 22, 2012

Happy Hobbit Day!

'My dear Bagginses and Boffins,' he began again, 'and my dear Tooks and Brandybucks, and Grubbs, and Chubbs, and Burrowses, and Hornblowers, and Bolgers, Bracegirdles, Goodbodies, Brockhouses and Proudfoots.
'ProudFEET!' shouted an elderly hobbit from the back of the pavilion.... 'Proudfoots', repeated Bilbo. Also my good Sackville-Bagginses that I welcome back at last to Bag End. Today is my one hundred and eleventh birthday: I am eleventy-one today!'

Today is Hobbit Day, the birthday of Bilbo and Frodo Baggins.  I remember reading and falling in love with those two, and their adventures as recorded in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.  I was eleven or twelve when I first read The Hobbit.  We had just moved and as I was poking through our boxes of books, I came across an old, well worn copy that had belonged to my dad.  I had no idea what this book was about, but it was a book, and so I popped it open and was drawn into the world of Middle Earth.

I discovered The Lord of the Rings about a year later, thanks to two friends of mine.  They were two years older than me, and when my parents would go out for an evening they would come over and help me watch the younger siblings.  After they all went to bed we would sit up and talk, and it was then that they told me all about this neat trilogy that wasn't actually a trilogy and that came after The Hobbit.  I was interested, and found the books from the library.  It's a tradition I've fallen out of recently, but for several years afterwards I would re-read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings each summer.

What is it about these books that made me fall in love with them, that makes me remember and come back to them every September 22nd?  For me the spell that Tolkien cast was one of excitement and the thrill of adventure... he gave me hobbits and elves and men that I couldn't help but fall in love with... he wove a tale of history, of deep reality, a story that I could believe had happened in the ages long past.  He cast a spell full of beauty and wonder, one that I could not easily escape.

Happy Birthday Bilbo and Frodo.  You have been dear friends of mine for many years now, and I am sure we will remain so for many more to come.  Happy Birthday, and may the hairs on your toes never fall out!

September 21, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday - Vol. 4

It's that time of the week again!  I really do need to start blogging a little more in between Fridays... lately my blog has been Quick Takes... Quick Takes... 1 other post... Quick takes... 1 post... Quick Takes.  I mean to write at least one or two others, but Friday always seems to come around then the inspiration to write does.
The skit in this video was performed several months ago by seminarians from my diocese, but I only just now got around to watching it.  In one word... Hilarious!  If you do nothing else today, you absolutely must watch this video.

This is the first school year that I am both a) not being homeschooled myself and b) at home.  In the afternoons when I am not at work, I have been practicing my homeschooling skills (sort of) by giving Brother 1 and Sister 4 piano lessons once a week, and guiding Sisters 1 and 2 through a book on Format Writing.  The piano lessons are going along rather well, and Brother 1 is picking things up very quickly.  In the writing class I have gotten my first experience with students who work better at different paces, and have had to adjust my original syllabus for the semester.  With the adjustments I think it is going to go a little smoother, and they haven't hung me and abandoned the class yet... so I guess that's a good thing!

Brother 1 has begun to cook a dinner one night a week, and last night it was pizza.  Pizza, being Italian, reminded me of a... rather traumatic even that occurred several weeks ago.  Somehow, the topic of our ancestry had come up and my dad remarked that one of his great-great-great..... grandparents was Native American.  This sparked a several day spree of playing Indians in the younger ones, and an interest in ancestry in us older ones.  I found the partial family tree that my great-aunt had compiled and sent to me several years ago.  As we looked it over, we calculated that we were about 12-15% British (Yay!).  Then we started figuring out our Italian estimate.... now for years, we had somehow gotten the impression that between my grandpa on my dad's side and my grandma on my mom's side, we were half Italian.  We sat down and actually thought about it... and realized that we were only a quarter Italian at best.  Needless to say, we were devastated by this discovery that our entire lives were a lie.  ;-)

The Pinterest recipe of the week... a Pumpkin Spice Frappe.  This sounds soooo good and seems pretty easy to make.  Not a coffee fan?  Not to worry!  The creator of this beguiling beverage also has a recipe for a coffee free version.

Returning to videos for a moment... this week a second trailer for "The Hobbit" was released!  There are so many new clips, and from the looks of it this is going to be one incredible film.  As my Knight said "This was an awesome trailer!  I hope they make a feature length film of it!"

You can visit the Official "The Hobbit" website to view the trailer... and not jsut the trailer, but the trailer with five different endings!

Now my quick takes must come to an end, but first a little something to take with you my friends.  Five lessons in life, from the good Doctor Seuss, to carry and remember wherever you choose.

September 19, 2012

International Work Out Like a Pirate Day

As many o' ye know today be International Talk Like a Pirate Day. In honor 'n celebration o' this fact, as well from a desire t' avoid t' routine cardio work out that was schedule fer today, I recalled an exercise idea I had seen on Pinterest 'n thought I'd put me owns spin on it.

Wha' we did was loot th' film "Pirates o' th' Caribbean: Th' Curse o' th' Black Pearl" 'n come up wit' a routine based on common words or actions.  'twas modified a bit as we went through, but th' basic routine was as follows:
  • Every time someone says "Will" - 5-7 push ups
  • Every time someone says "Elizabeth" - 5-7 dumbbell side t' sides (lad we did a LOT o' those..)
  • When a gun/cannon was fired - 5-7 bicycle crunches OR runnin' in galleon
  • Every time someone says "Captain Jack Sparrow" (without th' 'Captain' doesn't count!) - 5-7 dumbbell upper cuts
  • Every time someone says "Th' Black Pearl" - hold a plank fer 5-7 seconds
We did this fer about an hour 'n I reckon it ended up bein' a success!  Perhaps down th' road we'll do a Lord o' th' Rin's edition in honor o' Th' Hobbit... 

September 14, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday - Vol. 3

There has been a chill creeping into the air as of late, a very welcome change from the 90 and 100 degree weather we've been having around here the past few months!  I am rejoicing in the temperature drop for many reasons, one of which is... it is now cool enough that I can drink tea again without overheating!  In celebration I picked up a few new flavors from the store to try, a vanilla caramel, mandarin orange spice and a chai spice tea.  The vanilla caramel and mandarin orange are fighting for the place of favorite tea right now.

I realized the other day that as of next week I will have been working at the office for four months now!  On the one hand, it doesn't seem like it's been that long already, on the other I feel like I have been there much longer!  I am really enjoying working there, and I realized today that I now recognize almost everyone who walks in the door.  There are some very lovely people who come in, and while some days are stressful, it really is a fun and enjoyable place to work.

Chilly weather and fall also means another one of my favorite things... pumpkin!  I have yet to bake my first pumpkin recipe, but I'm think I will be giving these Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls with Cheesecake Frosting a try very soon.

'Tis also the season for new season's of favorite TV shows.  My family and I have already begun watching the episodes of BBC's Doctor Who each Saturday.  Our viewing list will soon be joined by the new season of ABC's fairy tale drama Once Upon a Time, and from the glimpses I've seen in the trailer and photos of new characters, I think this promises to be a very good season.  OUAT really hit it's stride in the second half of the first season, turning out some brilliant episodes, and I hope that it continues with it's winning streak throughout all of the second season.  The new season of ABC's Castle is also starting up again soon, and as I have only seen a few of the episodes, my plans are to start watching the previous seasons and hopefully catch up before too much of season five goes by.

For any writers out there, Ink and Fairydust - a bi-monthly emagazine that I assistant edit - is hosting a fiction contest.  Winners will get their works published in an upcoming issue of the magazine! We are accepting submissions of short stories (2400 words or less), poetry (1200 words or less), and comics (8.5x11 page or smaller). Just email any submissions to by November 1st!

-You must be an I&F subscriber to enter (Not a subscriber yet? Simply email!)

A lesson in paying attention... an older gentleman came into the office the other day, and he was sampling some of the walnuts that a different patient had brought in from her tree.  He proceeded to tell us how the other day, he was eating almonds.  He had them sitting out on the table in front of him, and while he was eating, he took out his hearing aid and set it on the table as well, as he was going to change the battery.  He didn't do so right away, however, and as he was talking to his wife, he continued to eat his almonds.  Without looking down at the almond pile, he picked one up, put it in his mouth, bit down... and realized it was his hearing aide!  We all got quite the laugh out of that one... I wonder how he'll explain it when he orders a new one!

At this weeks meeting of Spirit and Truth (a Catholic group for young adults) we got to hear a little bit of the vocation stories of two of the married couples in the groups.  They each shared how they met, and a little bit of what they experienced during dating.  It was a nice treat to get to hear their stories... as one of the couple's pointed out, you hear the vocation stories of priests or religious all the time, but it's not that often that married couples share theirs.  Yet marriage is just as an important of a vocation, and one that the majority of people are probably called to.  It was very helpful and encouraging to get to hear the stories of young, Catholic married couples for a change of pace.

September 9, 2012

Now, what are we going to do about the things that aren't kestrels?

What a wise question from the Doctor, and one that provokes much though as to an answer.  What are we going to do about the things that aren't kestrels?  What should we do?  What is it we should not do?  

There are many times in our daily travels through time and space when we may encounter things flying above our heads, things that we hope are merely kestrels.  But when we are on a ship with ancient creatures from the past, and strange things from the future... we can't be quite sure what it is above us.  We can only hope for the best.

Sometimes it happens that those black spots in the sky are kestrels, and we can breath a sigh of relief.  Things are normal, we are safe, we don't have to worry.  But then, sometimes, we realize that those aren't kestrels.  They are bigger, dangerous, and they are flying straight at us.  So then we must ask...

What are we going to do about the things that aren't kestrels?

Do we do as the Doctor suggests and run?  That may be the most prudent course of action.  After all, those things that aren't kestrels are very big and very dangerous, and if we stuck around we might end up very small and in very many pieces.  

Or should we stand and fight?  We might lose... but we might not.  We might win the fight.  Sometimes that may be the right choice... we can't know though until we figure out what exactly those things flying around are.  

We could run.  We could stay.  Life is full of adventures and dangers and choices on what to do when faced with a situation we did not expect.  All we can do is be prepared, have our wits about us, and be ready to figure out an answer when we ask, "Now what are we going to do about the things that aren't kestrels?"

September 7, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday - Vol. 2

Today it just so happens to be my mother's birthday!  I'll focus this weeks quick takes around her, and if you get a chance you can pop on over to her blog, Homeschooling with Joy and wish her a Happy Birthday. =]

My mom enjoys taking photos of all us kids, though she isn't overly fond of having pictures taken of herself.  I've been getting a few more recently... however many of them end up like these:

Sometimes I can get her to pose for a picture - usually with one of my siblings or my dad - and I don't think that they turn out as bad as she thinks they do.

I'm the oldest in my family, and for some reason, my mom decided that meant I could never be taller than her.  It didn't matter if anyone else in the family grew to be taller, I couldn't.  All through my growing years I was determined that I was going to be taller than my mom, whether she liked it or not, but wouldn't you know... I stopped growing two inches short of her.  I'm convinced that she did something to make sure I'd stop growing then.  Go figure, two of my younger sisters have passed me up and have/will probably pass my mom up too.  Oh well.

I have to give my mom a lot of credit for putting up with me over the years.  I do think that I am one of the best behaved children that she has, but I've tried her patience in other ways.  Somehow I ended up with all these random, little weird health quirks that like to pop up from time to time that have no clear origin or reason, and headaches that occur all the time with a plethora of causes and really no cures.  And after years of this, she still at least listens to me when I walk up and say "Hey mom... there's this weird thing I noticed...."

I owe a lot of things to my mom.  There's my good looks and my hair, of course.  Not my math skills, unfortunately - she has them and I don't.   But one thing certainly is my love of books.  When I was little my mom and my dad would read books to us all the time, and I remember spending nights with my mom reading through the "Little House on the Prairie" series.  My favorite series of books to read and re-read were the Nancy Drew mysteries; when I got the chance to go to Barnes & Nobel I would buy one or two to add onto the collection that my mom started.  I believe that listening to my mom reading to us certainly sparked my interest in reading, and I know that our frequent trips to the library encouraged it.  It didn't take long before I was an avid reader, and I haven't stopped since.

Besides taking us to the library and letting me check out more books than I could carry, one of the best things my mom has ever done for me was deciding to homeschool.  I didn't always appreciate it - there were many times my mom threatened to send us to a public school - but looking back, I'm very glad that she did.  I'm certain that my homeschool education played a big part in getting my high ACT score and the good grades and the honors societies during my time in college.  I know too that it helped me to become organized and learn how to schedule myself - another skill I greatly appreciated while living "on my own" at school.  

So Mom, thank you for all the wonderful things you've done for me all throughout my life, and for all the things that you continue to do for me.  I am very blessed to have you for a mother.  I love you, and Happy Birthday. <3