Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Mar. 31 - Paranormal Activity

Paranormal Activity (2007)
When Katie (Katie Featherston) and Micah (Micah Sloat) fear their San Diego, Calif., home may be haunted by a demonic presence, Micah sets up a video camera to document all the jaw-dropping, hair-raising action over a series of several nights in fall 2006. The paranormal occurrences increase in frequency and significance, leaving Katie more and more distraught -- and determined to put an end to the terror.

Oh. My. God.  This is the scariest movie ever.  I'm still all wound up, like hyper and shakey and feeling like I have to throw up.  LOL!  I've heard some people say it was stupid and predictable and the Blair Witch style was annoying.  (One person told me the acting sucks.  Hello?)  Ya know what though?  That's why it IS so scary.  It's the things you don't see that freak you out the most.  It's the tiny things that you weren't sure if they really happened.  It's the anticipation of knowing that something is about to happen, and then no matter how small it was you find yourself freaked.  Even some of the things that you think 'Ok, that was kinda cheesy,' just freak you out.  Even hubby was freaked, and not in a hugely obvious way like jumping or yelling, but more of an increasing nervousness like I was having.  It really got the adrenalin flowing!  The DVD has the theatrical ending and the alternate ending.  We both thought the theatrical ending was the better of the two and were glad that's the one they went with.

In the movie the couple disagree about how to deal with what might be going on.  The boyfriend doesn't really believe in any of the ghosty stuff at first, then has an attitude that the stuff they got on tape will be worth something.  He thinks psychics and such people are a crock of poo, and that they can figure out what to do themselves.  The girl wants to call the demonologist that the psychic recommended.  The couple have several arguments about what to do.  So at one point in the movie I paused it and asked hubby.....we were both mildly freaked by this point.....asked him what he would have done by this particular point.  He didn't hesitate with 'The demonologist would have already been there.'  I asked how long it would have taken him to decide that.  His breaking point was much later than mine....LOL  (I don't want to give away anything.)

Another part later on, after the freaking out is big time and constant, the couple are scared and confused about where in the house to go and I was waving my hands at the TV 'Outside!  I'd be outside by now!' and felt a real need to actually leave my own living room.  LOL!!!!

It was more of a fun scare, an adrenalin rush, than any lasting fear of the dark type thing.  Even so, I will never watch this movie alone!

Mar. 31

Couples Retreat (2009)
Desperate to save their marriage, one couple convinces three other couples to go in on a group rate price for an island retreat designed for troubled unions. But the "mandatory therapy" brews up nothing but trouble for everyone. Vince Vaughn, Jon Favreau, Jason Bateman, Kristen Bell, Kristin Davis and Faizon Love star in this comedy penned by Favreau. Peter Billingsley, who played Ralphie in A Christmas Story, directs.

This was was pretty good.  The shark attack survivor scene was hysterical, and the  LOL  It's predictable that the three other couples will end up having problems but how they do or don't resolve them was still interesting to follow.  So yeah, pretty good movie that I would watch again.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Mar. 26

Possession (2008)
Happily married Jessica (Sarah Michelle Gellar) deals with the fallout of a terrible tragedy when her husband (Michael Landes) and his brother (Lee Pace) both wind up in comas after a car accident. Even worse, when the brother awakens, he's convinced he's Jessica's husband. He seems to know details of Jessica's life that only his brother would be familiar with, prompting Jessica to suspect that a supernatural force is at work.

This one was pretty good except that I did not like the guy who played the brother, no matter what form he was in.  Bleah.  It did a pretty good job of keeping me wondering 'Is it him?' and being weirded out by the idea that if it was him, how hard would it be to look at the physical guy you can't stand but love and long for the personality he know seems to be.  Sure, there were some dorky 'whatever' things about the story but overall if was pretty good.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Mar. 25

Brothers (2009)
When severely traumatized Capt. Sam Cahill (Golden Globe nominee Tobey Maguire) returns home alive from a military mission in Afghanistan after he was presumed dead, he learns that his brother, Tommy (Jake Gyllenhaal), has gotten dangerously close to his grieving wife, Grace (Natalie Portman), and his kids. Mare Winningham and Sam Shepard also star in this wartime drama about human frailty and battles fought on the home front. Jim Sheridan directs.

This was really nothing like I thought it would be, but I don't mean that in a bad way.  I thought it was going to more battling brothers, and plotting evil revenge, and stalking, and all sorts of exciting stuff.  It's not.  It goes much deeper.  However I didn't really feel a connection with any of the characters, almost like it rushed thru things too much.  The thing that 'severely traumatized' Sam really is disturbing.  I was all tensed up, my stomach in knots and sick at the same mind was racing with 'What should he do?  What COULD he do?!'  Wow.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Mar. 20 - An Order, and Some Movies

Got my highly anticipated order from the previously mentioned Verbena Custom Blends today!  What I'd ordered was a 5.6oz jar of Cinnamon Sugared Caramel Vanilla Pear whipped yogurt body cream.  How absolutely delicious does that sound?!  Imagine my surprise when I opened the box and also found three good sized samples of other scents!  The samples are Lilac, Vanilla Pear, and Pomegranate Cream.  Sadly, my originally ordered one is extremely weak on scent, almost to the point where I can't smell anything.  It's not as light and fluffy as my Bella's Birthday product but it is VERY least on my initial use.  It's creamy, absorbs quickly, and leaves no greasy residue.  Shipping time was excellent too.  So far I give this product and shop a thumbs up, only wish there was a bit more scent.

Also got a mini order of tarts the other day.  This time it was two of the new Butterscotch scent, and two of one of the Fresh Baked Bread scent.  She also threw in a free Orange Spice tart because we'd been discussing it recently.  There are a few other scents newly listed that I'm dying to try, lots of foodie things like Fudge Brownie, Chocolate Chip Cookies, and a honey one.  Looks like I'll be ordering AGAIN.

It's a sickness.  Don't look at me that way.

The Hangover (2009)
When three friends (Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis and Bradley Cooper) finally come to after a raucous night of bachelor-party revelry, they find a baby in the closet and a tiger in the bathroom. But they can't seem to locate their best friend, Doug (Justin Bartha) -- who's supposed to be tying the knot. Launching a frantic search for Doug, the trio perseveres through a nasty hangover to try to make it to the church on time in this Golden Globe winner for Best Comedy.

We watched this today, finally.  I didn't think it was anywhere near as great or hilarious as almost everyone else on earth seems to think but it did have its moments.  I loved the whole part where they were in the police station.  LOL!  Hubby and Ty found it way more entertaining than I did.  Must be a guy thing.

The Fourth Kind (2009)
When Alaskan psychiatrist Dr. Abigail Tyler (Milla Jovovich) begins videotaping her therapy sessions with clients, she uncovers petrifying evidence that they have experienced the fourth level of alien encounter: abduction. But as she finds more clues, she suspects that the government will do anything to conceal the truth. Olatunde Osunsanmi directs and Will Patton co-stars in this jarring thriller allegedly based on a true tale.

Also watched this one today.  I think it popped up in a Netflix recommendation or something because I'd never heard of it otherwise.  It was kinda Blair Witch-y in that it all *seems* to be real but in the back of your mind you know it's not.

The movie was....creepy.  There was one part that caught me totally off guard and I nearly jumped thru the ceiling.  That was pretty funny cuz I'm not normally a jumper during movies.  There was no Hollywood gore or anything like that, but there were some quick shots in the distorted 'videotaped sessions' that really creep you out because it's the kind of thing where it passes by so fast that you aren't sure what you saw.  It's one of those lingering creepy uneasy feeling movies.

New Moon was released on DVD today.  I bought mine at Target and not only got a *three* disc deluxe edition but it includes a collectible film cell.  Cool!  Mine is a boring one....Sam kissing Emily.  (Is that her name??)

I haven't watched it yet because we watched those other movies.  Maybe tomorrow.  Funny, when Twilight came out I watched it like three times in the first day.  LOL

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Mar. 13 - Etsy addiction

I continue to be in love with trying new handmade things I find on Etsy.  Figured I'd give a bit of an update on things I've used, have been using, have recently discovered....

Lip balms
I've been using several different lip balms from several different sellers, still haven't one I"m totally content with.  Seems like I'm able to use one for a while and it's great but then my lips rebel so I switch to one of the others.  What I'm working thru in my current stash:

A 'chai' stick and a 'sweet orange' stick from Mirasol Farm right here in Wisconsin.  The orange one has a bit of zing to it.  The chai is quite strong in scent.  The balm itself is soft, which I like.  They only use essential oils though, which keeps it all-natural, but it severely limits the flavor options...which I don't like.

A 'cherry almond' stick from Long Winter Farm in Maine.  (I also have a 'maple almond' and a 'black cherry' that I haven't started yet.)  There are SO many flavors to choose from at this shop!   The scent is mellow on this.  You can smell it just fine if you put it to your nose and sniff it but on your lips, nah.  Maybe that's a good thing but I've gotten used to the stronger scents in some of my others.  I think this one works pretty good but it oval shapped and it's on the harder end of the lip balm spectrum.  I do like it, but as with the others my lips seem to only like it for so long.

A 'caramel' stick from Your Time Body Treats in Chicago, Illinois.  Early on I totally disregarded this one but I think it was partially because I was so disappointed with the body butter I'd ordered from this seller.  I took this one to work just to have one in my locker and somewhere along the way I fell in love with this one.  The scent is quite strong and this particular caramel scent is fabulous.  It's a very nice medium-soft consistency that glides on easily, which I really like.  It's only downfall right now is that it's oval shaped and I just can't get used to the oval ones.  I'm afraid to bring this one back home because I'm afraid I'll keep using it just to keep smelling it.  LOL

A 'Maple Butter Cheesecake' stick that I got as a freebie from Soy N Suds, also here in Wisconsin.  Not crazy about this one.  The scent is ok, the consistency is ok, but it kinda seems like it's not there or not doing much.  Maybe it's working fine but my mind keeps thinking I need more cuz I don't really 'feel' it.

Body butters
I've been trying to find a good, light textured homemade lotion and there are sooooo many available on Etsy.  The scents and styles out there are amazing.  I want to try them all!  Well, ok,   I've only tried a few so far.
This was the Cherry Almond body butter from Your Time Body Treats in Chicago, Illinois that I had ordered early on and was so disappointed in.  I hadn't even finished the jar, but instead threw it out in frustration.  Looking at her shop now, I wonder if she's changed things?  I seem to remember different/more pics back when I ordered.  And some of the other products look way more whipped and creamy than the one I had received.  Anyway, this one was a bomb.

Still using this Warm Vanilla Sugar body butter from Concord Soap Company (Concord, Ohio).  While this has been fabulous on my feet, knees, and elbows it's just too greasy to use for hands throughout the day.  It's a bit on the hard side, where you have to push/scoop hard with your finger to get some out, and I'm not fond of that.  This jar is almost done though...another day or two and it will be gone.

My absolute favorite product so far....and you all know this the Bella's Birthday body butter from Elli Bath N Beauty in California.  I love love love this product!!!  The scent is spectacular.  Just using it on my hands, I've had people at work stop and comment 'Mmm, you smell so good.'  It's super light, fluffy, creamy.  It absorbs quickly and lasts a long time.  I usually only need it once in the morning, unless I've been washing my hands throughout the day.  The 4oz. jar that I got in mid-December is just now showing the bottom.  I think I have maybe a week left of this one.  I had also ordered a sampler pack (4 small 1oz jars) a while ago but haven't started using any of those yet.  The ONLY downfall is that both times I've ordered from here the shipping has taken nearly a month.

There is another seller on Etsy that I'm dying to order from but have been holding myself back until some of these other body butters are gone...and this is Verbena Custom Blends (location unknown).  There are so many tantalizing scents and options in this shop I won't know where to start!

Wax melting tarts
How can you not know I'm addicted to tarts?  I prefer them a thousand times over regular candles.  Ok, so yeah you still have to burn a tea light candle to melt the tart but at least the tea light burns completely and not just a trench down the middle.  (I tried electric tart warmers.  Didn't like them.)
The first ones I ordered were from Soy N Suds, here in Wisconsin.  These tarts are big...I can cut one in half and fill both of my warmers.  They are strongly scented, and they are slightly cheaper than other tarts on Etsy. Everything says I should keep buying from her, right?  
But then you experience these beautiful little babies from Country Home Scents (in Washington) and you get to know the tartmaker and become friendly with her and you stick with a good thing.  These little tarts are plenty strong, two of them usually fill this big ol' country house with their scent.  They cost a bit more but they're so damn cute, and the service is extraordinary.  If you want to venture into the world of tarts, go buy the $3.00 warmer at any Walmart type store, buy a bag of tea light candles for a couple more dollars, and then check out the many scents available at Country Home Scents on Etsy and Kristine will take wonderful care of you!  (She also has electric warmers for sale if you prefer to go that route.)

Totally unnecessary things
There is always something that catches my eye while I browse the wonders of Etsy.  Sometimes the thing grabs me so much I just have to have it, almost like 'I need that now and I'll figure out why later!'  LOL
 These little buggers are just about the cutest things ever!  They are hair clips from the Everyday Clippies, in Michigan.  I never would have thought to be browsing for hair clips but this shop popped up in an Etsy article and I was like 'Oh my gosh, what ARE those?!' and had to go check.  I don't wear little girl hair clips, and I don't even have a little girl, but I do have.....Addie!  (My grandniece.)  She was my excuse to buy these, and now she'll have a lovely little Easter present.  There are many more varieties at the shop.  Go have a look!

 I wasn't aware that people like to trade things on Etsy.  A woman had contacted me about something soap related and of course I had to check out her shop.  She crochets and had several nice things.  I was intrigued by these little buggers....they are small (about silver dollar size) face scrubbies!  I commented on them in my reply to her and she asked if I'd like to trade a bar of soap for a pack of scrubbies.  She even did them in Vikings colors for me!  I haven't actually tried them yet though.  Gotta get on that.

Bleah, the colors are crappy in this pic even after tweaking it a bit.  You can't even tell what the brown thing on the right is.  *grrr*  Well anyway, these are hand sculpted pins.  The hearts are....obviously.....done in Vikings colors (I requested that), and the brown thing is actually a really gorgeous acorn and two Fall leaves.  The artist is the sister of my sister's good friend.  Her shop is Lilly Bug Boutique, right here in Wisconsin.  This acorn pin was actually the very first thing I ever fell in love with at Etsy but it wasn't until much later that I finally decided to buy it.  She's probably going to do more for me....pins and/or magnets in Vikings colors or holiday themes.  (The purple thing in left background is a tiny purse that she included as a freebie extra.  Not sure what I'd ever use it for but it's purple!  And it was very cool that she included it.  I think it's meant to be like a tiny gift holder, like jewelry or cash or gift card.)

You can find food on Etsy too!  I can't remember how I came across the Mara's Maples shop (California) but I ordered two kinds of granola from there.  I got the Chewy Vanilla Granola with Spiced Pecans, and the
Maple Granola with Dried Cherries and Spiced Walnuts.  There are many other things I want to try too!  I was so excited when the package arrived, I couldn't wait to try some as a bowl of cereal.  I poured a decent amount in the bowl and found that.....whoa!.....a little goes a long way!  Every time since then I've taken what looks like a really skimpy amount and it fills me right up.  I don't really notice an obvious difference in flavors or in chewy vs. regular but that's ok cuz they're both good.  She included a coupon for 10% off my next order so I think I'll use it on Cinnamon Maple Granola with Cranberries and Almonds.  Yummy!

And I think that about covers my Etsy treasures so far.  If you've never been to Etsy I insist you go give it a look.  It's not as vast as eBay but I like Etsy more now because the things are handmade (or vintage).  At first I was stuck in my cheapass penny pincher mode and thought it was crazy to buy things there when I could just go to the Evil Empire for a fraction of the price but the more involved I get the more I don't mind paying extra for something handmade, something crafted, something local.

I started writing this post on March 6.  It's now almost bedtime on March 13.  That shows you how crazy things have been for me lately.  *Hopefully* I can get back into the swing of blogging very soon.

A couple updates about the products mentioned above....
I have finished that Warm Vanilla Sugar body butter that I was using on my feet.  Yesterday I started using one of the small sample jars of one of my other Twilight scents from the Bella's Birthday creator.  The scent is called The Volturi and I posted about it a while ago when I received it.  I don't like the scent so that's why it's been bumped into the bathroom for my feet-knees-elbows lotion.

My Bella's Birthday is now dangerously close to being gone.  This depresses me greatly.  I should just order another jar of it right now since I know shipping will take forever.  But remember the Verbena Custom Blends shop I mentioned earlier in this post?  Well I ordered my first product from them tonight.  I'm so excited about this!  I chose Cinnamon Sugared Caramel Vanilla Pear scented Whipped Yogurt Body Cream.  (Now there's a mouthful, huh?)  I hope it comes quickly and I'll definitely review it as soon as possible.

And there you have it.  My dorky Etsy addiction laid out for all to see.  Now go there yourself and have some fun!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Mar. 3 - Wench

Wench: A Novel, by Dolen Perkins-Valdez (2010)
Tawawa House in many respects is like any other American resort before the Civil War. Situated in Ohio, this idyllic retreat is particularly nice in the summer when the Southern humidity is too much to bear. The main building, with its luxurious finishes, is loftier than the white cottages that flank it, but then again, the smaller structures are better positioned to catch any breeze that may come off the pond. And they provide more privacy, which best suits the needs of the Southern white men who vacation there every summer with their black, enslaved mistresses. It's their open secret.

Lizzie, Reenie, and Sweet are regulars at Tawawa House. They have become friends over the years as they reunite and share developments in their own lives and on their respective plantations. They don't bother too much with questions of freedom, though the resort is situated in free territory–but when truth-telling Mawu comes to the resort and starts talking of running away, things change.

To run is to leave behind everything these women value most–friends and families still down South–and for some it also means escaping from the emotional and psychological bonds that bind them to their masters. When a fire on the resort sets off a string of tragedies, the women of Tawawa House soon learn that triumph and dehumanization are inseparable and that love exists even in the most inhuman, brutal of circumstances–all while they are bearing witness to the end of an era.

An engaging, page-turning, and wholly original novel, Wench explores, with an unflinching eye, the moral complexities of slavery.

This book is disturbing.  It's not overly graphic or anything like that, but what's going  I just can't get my head around how slaves were treated like animals, less than human, yet their masters  found no problem in having sex with them. 

It was a pretty good book though, a fairly quick and easy read.  I was disappointed in the ending.  It seemed to be travelling down a good path and then all the sudden....done, in a very vague way.  Drayle, the main character's master, disgusted me and pissed me off time and time again.  And at times I wanted to reach into the book and smack Lizzie for caring for him.  Yes, I understand her decisions were made from a desire to provide the best for her children but.....gah!

Mar. 3 - Bright Star

Bright Star (2009)
Critically acclaimed Australian filmmaker Jane Campion helms this drama detailing the passionate three-year romance between 19th-century Romantic poet John Keats (Ben Whishaw) -- who died tragically at age 25 -- and his great love and muse, Fanny Brawne (Abbie Cornish). Much of the story was inspired by Keats's poetry and the actual love letters the pair exchanged. Thomas Sangster, Paul Schneider and Kerry Fox co-star. 

I knew nothing about John Keats before I watched this movie.  I still don't know too much about him because it only showed us the relationship with Fanny.  Even so, I like this movie.  It was frustrating and oh so sad.  These days people get married on a whim, or marry repeatedly, or make a mockery of the idea of marriage.  Yet in 1818 England, two people dearly in love couldn't be together because he felt he couldn't earn enough to support her, and because her mother wouldn't allow an engagement for similar reasons.  And then he died without them even having a chance...

The guy who played Keats was very good.  A bit on the scrawny side, giving him a sort of awkward look at times, but very good in the role.  The girl...Abbie Cornish....was excellent.  Her reaction when learning of John's death was heart wrenching.  I was sobbing right along with her.

I wish there would have been a little more about John Keats but overall still a very good movie.