Otherwise known as a crazy long post that combines a few of my posts from my old blog. In case you’re bored on a Saturday and looking for suggestions for reading…watching…binge-watching…movie going or snacking! The past two months favorites are below!
Believe it or not – this post has absolutely nothing to do with basketball. What a relief.
Books I Couldn’t Put Down
Hitler’s Forgotten Children: A True Story of the Lebensborn Program
by Ingrid von Oelhafen – I absolutely devoured this book! Imagine discovering that you were taken from your family as a baby and placed with a good “German” family to be raised to support the Nazi Reich, Hitler and all the things that “good Germans” in the 1940’s were meant to be. The author lived that life and as she researched her family history learned that she was a part of the SS’s Lebensborn Program – she uncovered not just her roots, but the horrible and lesser known crimes committed again thousands of children that were born or brought into Lebensborn. The book was a fascinating, astounding and shocking read.
Beauty & the Beast by Gabrielle-Suzanna Barbot de Villenueve – The “original” story of the beauty and the beast that takes her captive; the updated story has touchstones from the original, but – as with so many fairy tales – the original is a little more intense. As punishment for stealing a rose from the garden of the Beast, a wealthy merchant must send one of his six daughters to spend the rest of her life with the Beast in exchange for his freedom. The merchant’s youngest daughter – the most selfless and beautiful of his six daughters offers to take his place in the Beast’s enchanted castle…and there are monkeys, parrots, a strange Prince that only appears in dreams and nightly marriage proposals from the Beast…to name a few differences.
My copy of the book is the above pictured – it’s gorgeously illustrated and has pages with windows that open, dials that turn and interactive “touches” that will make the book a keepsake. It’s absolutely…beautiful!
Books on the Shelf
Oh my goodness – okay, I kind of had a field day on Amazon recently and bought a ton of books and they are all on my shelf. They include…
Night by Elie Wiesel, The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick, Exit West by Mohsin Hamid, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak and The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne…and I also still haven’t gotten around to reading The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah.
I have just a little bit of reading to do…
Must See TV
Legion – What a delightfully mind-bending show this was! The show concluded its eight episode run just last night and while the sixth and seventh episodes answered some of the questions posed, there was plenty of mind-bendy goodness left up in the air for season two. The show had so many stand out performances – probably the most interesting to me was the lead, Dan Stevens…then again, I’m partial to Dan Stevens in most anything he does – Aubrey Plaza also blew my mind; I’d never have expected to see her as such an unhinged “villain” but she completely owned the role of Lenny. This show has twists and turns, really good music, a dance number here or there, excellent acting and really unique sets…its definitely different from anything I’ve watched and I can’t wait to see where season two goes!
Bones – After (almost) 12 years as a devoted Bones fan, the show’s final episode – the 246th – aired on Tuesday, March 28th and gave the show a wonderful, nostalgia inducing episode that wrapped up everyone’s story concisely and…happily! The will they/won’t they relationship between FBI Agent Seeley Booth and Forensic Anthropologist Temperance “Bones” Brennan spanned 12 seasons and included an endearing cast of characters that wormed their way into my heart and wouldn’t let go. I’ve so enjoyed spending different nights of the week at the Jeffersonian Institute watching Booth, Bones and the Squints solve the murder of the week.
Movies I’d See Again & Again
Beauty & the Beast – As the titles says…movies I’d see again and again…and in the case of Beauty & the Beast, well – I did just that. I won’t admit how many times I’ve seen it but I will tell you that it has completely enchanted me and I absolutely love it! I went to see Beauty & the Beast with guarded excitement and I was overwhelmed – in the best way possible. The gorgeous costumes, the cinematography, the songs and musical performances, this movie took my most beloved childhood favorite – which I think is perfect – and somehow built on it. The little touches here and there, the details, the added bits of story that were perfectly built into the original tale…and the new songs…OH MY. Just writing about this makes me want to go see it again…
THIS MOVIE IS GLORIOUS…much like Dan Steven’s hair flip in this GIF…
Oh yeah – it’s not the only movie I saw all month – even though it feels like it, ha-ha!
The Shack – I like to choose controversial movies; ha-ha! Honestly though, I caught this movie while I was in the middle of a girl’s weekend in the mountains and I thought it was great. It’s based on the 2007 bestseller of the same name and revolves around a man’s confrontation with the Trinity at the Shack where his youngest child was brutally murdered. The movie deals with some pretty complex questions, including why God allows bad things to happen to good people, why God allows His children to hurt, the list goes on and on… I enjoyed the movie and would recommend it to anyone – it was wonderful.
Downton Abbey – So, I’ll level with you. I’ve seen all six seasons of Downton Abbey in full but my younger sister and I recently started a cross-continental (I’m in Virginia, she’s in Nevada) re-watching of the series and I have so many thoughts! Most importantly, I have forgotten so many things! So many things! I’ve only made it halfway through season two, but it has led me to double down on the my thought that Mary is NOT a nice person and Matthew Crawley should have never looked back when she refused his first proposal. That’s right – I said it. Matthew is TOO GOOD for Mary. I find Edith more annoying than I remembered, Sybil is obviously the best daughter, Cora is delightfully oblivious to almost everything and the Dowager Countess and Mrs. Crawley (and their constant back and forth) are the best part.
Run Matthew…Run Away!
If you have opinions, feel free to share them. I know people have thoughts about Downton Abbey…
Everything I Ate at Paula Deen’s Kitchen – Y’all, I am still dreaming about the food from Paula Deen’s Kitchen…dreaming…it was so good! The garlic cheese biscuits; well, they make the biscuits served at Red Lobster look like garbage – I’m sorry, it’s true. The hoe cakes with sweet potato butter were to die for and oh..the entrees! The most tender and delicious roast, creamy potatoes, macaroni and cheese, slightly spicy black-eyed peas and surprisingly delightful squash casserole. My dessert of Ooey Gooey Butter Cake, well that capped everything off to perfection. When can I get seconds?
All the Drinks – I’ve had some delightful drinks this month… I discovered blackberry wine while I was visiting Gatlinburg, Tennessee and brought home a bottle that I’ve been sipping on in my spare time. I got The Transformation at the Friday night showing of Beauty & the Beast and the combination of gin and red wine was surprisingly delicious. The best drink I had all month was called The Bleeding Rose – it’s like two drinks in one! Elderflower liquer, hibiscus infused vodka and fresh sour are combined and poured over an Aperol-tea ice cube that has citrus notes and changes the flavor of the drink as it melts. So good!
I promise I’m not an alcoholic…ha-ha!
Evermore – One of the three new songs from Beauty & the Beast, this song is performed by the Beast in the movie and is absolutely beautiful. I prefer the version from the movie (hey-o musical Dan Stevens) over Josh Groban’s rendition of it…although they’re both beautiful. I’ve listened to this song so many times I lost count…
The Beauty & the Beast Soundtrack: Deluxe Edition – When I’m not listening to Evermore on loop, I’m listening to the rest of the soundtrack. It was released on March 10th and I cannot tell you what I’ve listened to besides the soundtrack since that day – seriously. I bounce back and forth between the vocals and the score and I absolutely love it all.
What I’m Looking Forward To
Baseball Season – The 2017 season starts in just THREE days. Three! The Nationals will be playing two exhibition games on March 31st and April 1st (the second of those games will be at the US Naval Academy) against the Boston Red Sox, then Sunday afternoon is a free day before Opening Day on Monday, April 3rd! I won’t be getting to the ballpark on Opening Day, but I will be getting to the ballpark for the first time this season on April 11th…and then I’ll head back just a few days later. I cannot wait to watch my Nationals play!
Easter Break…and A (potential) Visit from the Sister – My Easter break will be kicking off on Thursday, April 13th when the clock hits 5 o’clock and I’ll be spending some of Easter weekend at Nationals Park, in old town Alexandria and of course, spending time with family. My sister may or may not be able to come home for a quick visit at Easter and so I’m crossing my fingers that she’s a part of all the goodness I listed above!
A Weekend in Williamsburg – I’ll confess, I’ve been to Williamsburg twice before…but neither visit has left much of an impression because it rained both times. Let me tell you, rain really puts a damper on walking the dusty (muddy) colonial streets…so I’ll be making my third visit at the end of April and I’m hoping the third time is the charm. I’m really hoping that the sun will be shining – I guess we’ll see!
And – that’s what I was into this past month! I cannot believe there is just one more day of March…I feel like this month absolutely sped by! It seems April has lots of good in store!
Perhaps it’s because February seems like the “dead” of Winter (although not so much this year…) but man, it seems like I sat around doing a whole lot of reading and binge-watching this month…
Books I Couldn’t Put Down
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr – A blind French girl and an orphaned Nazi boy anchor Anthony Doerr’s sweeping novel of German occupation. While the stories seem divided, bit by bit sections begin to fall into place as the story progresses while larger themes of loss and isolation play out through the characters’ fixations with radio waves, gemology, and shell collecting. Part historical fiction and part finely crafted tale, this book is mesmerizing from cover to cover!
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood – This story takes place in a dystopian society in the near-future in what was once New England; women have no rights, they are not even allowed to read. The story is told from the perspective of Offred; a woman who serves as a handmaid, a bizarre function where she is placed in a high-ranking officials house in order to conceive and bear a child for his family. The story is interspersed with Offred’s memories from her previous life when the government had not yet been overthrown and offers a counter to the strict regime she currently lives under. That brief plot summary might sound…strange…but the book was fascinating and I sped through it in days!
Books on the Shelf
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah – Another WWII era book that’s waiting on my shelf; this book revolves around two sisters during WWII and I’ve heard great things about it.
Victoria by Daisy Goodwin – The novel that the new PBS series Victoria is based on; the show is fascinating, so I’m sure the book won’t disappoint!
Hitler’s Forgotten Children:A True Story of the Lebensborn Program by Ingrid von Oelhafen – I’ll admit, I’m already more than halfway through this biographical tale of a woman who discovered that she was a product of the SS horrific Lebensborn Program; which I knew nothing about until watching The Man in the High Castle.
Must See TV
Legion –David Haller was diagnosed with schizophrenia at a young age, and has been a patient in various psychiatric hospitals since. After Haller has an encounter with a fellow psychiatric patient, he is confronted with the possibility that there may be more to him than mental illness. Perhaps he might be…a mutant? Not quite a superhero…but not quite normal… This show is a branch of the Marvel universe, directed by Noah Hawley (who does another show I love, Fargo) and is certainly one of the most unique and colorful shows I’ve watched in a long time. Can’t wait to see what happens…
Also…who knew Matthew Crawley played crazy so well? Ha-ha!
When that headache is really getting to you…
Movies I’d Watch on Repeat
Loving – What an excellent movie! I noticed Loving had finally arrived at a theater here in town and there were only five seats left; so even with those seats being on the two front rows, I snapped a seat up! The movie tells the story of Richard and Mildred Loving; the couple at the center of the 1967 Supreme Court case Loving V. Virginia. The case is considered a landmark case; it invalidated laws prohibiting interracial marriage, and affected not just the state of Virginia but 15 other states. The story and the love between the Lovings is what makes this movie so touching and wonderful. Go see it if you get the chance!
A Series of Unfortunate Events – Honestly, I was completely drawn into watching this because I love Neil Patrick Harris! I read all the books in the series about the Baudelaire orphans when I was younger and I watched the movie with Jim Carrey – which was thoroughly disappointing – but seeing that NPH was involved in this version, I decided to give it a chance. This series captures the dark comedic tone of the books so much better and I devoured all eight episodes in just four days. I loved this take, thought the casting was great…especially the casting of Patrick Warburton to narrate the tale as Lemony Snicket!
Stranger Things – I finally, finally jumped on this bandwagon and wow…so much 80’s nostalgia! The story follows four friends living in Indiana in 1983; when one of the boys goes missing, the whole is turned upside down (literally) for the boys as they search for their missing friend and encounter forces much larger and more powerful than they imagined when playing board games in the basement! The kids are hands down what makes this show; the suspense and jump scares were fun and I can’t wait to see where season two will go.
The Man in the High Castle – What would the United States look like if the Axis Powers won WWII? That is the storyline that The Man in the High Castle posits to it’s viewers and honestly; it’s pretty terrifying. The United States has been split between Japan and Germany; the East coast is now the Greater Nazi Reich and the West coast is the Japanese Pacific States with the neutral zone lying somewhere along the Rocky mountains. The man in the high castle is a shadowy figure that encourages the resistance by releasing videos that show how the world might be different were the Axis powers not in control. Certain parts of the show are dark (in the Greater Nazi Reich, cripples & the ill are burned on Tuesdays…) the plot and story lines are intriguing and thought provoking. I sped through the first two seasons and now I’m waiting to see what season three will have in store.
Should I go ahead and admit that maybe I have too much time on my hands? Ha-ha!
Edible Arrangements – FOR THE WIN! My little sister absolutely got the jump on me and surprised me with a gorgeous (and delicious) Edible Arrangement on Valentine’s Day. I cannot lie, that heart-shaped pineapple was gone within about five minutes of getting that bad boy unwrapped! The strawberries I managed to spread out over three days and they were so yummy!
What I’m Looking Forward To
Game of Thrones (in Concert) – One of my awesome friends gifted me with a ticket to see Game of Thrones in concert at the Verizon Center on March 1st and I am so excited for this! The most exciting aspect of the concert is that it will be conducted by Ramin Djawadi; the composer of the music from Game of Thrones. It’s definitely something to look forward to in the extra long gap between seasons six and seven!
Girls Mountain Weekend – I’ll be spending a long weekend in the Smokey Mountains with one of my lifelong best friends, Nickolee and I cannot wait! This trip has been in the works for over a year…because we had planned to do this last year, but unforeseen circumstances derailed our plans…but we prevailed and rescheduled for this year! You see; when we graduated from high school many moons ago, we went to the mountains…so we’re recreating that, ha-ha! I’m not 100% sure what we’ll do, but I know the food will be good and the company will be the best…and really, that’s enough for me!
Oh…we were such babies…
Beauty & the Beast – Oh. My. Goodness. I have had a countdown for this movie on my phone for over a year and it is SO close! I bought my tickets weeks ago (with the commemorative glass), I’ve already pre-ordered the soundtrack and I can almost guarantee you that I’ll see this more than once. Beauty and the Beast is hands down my very favorite Disney movie, Belle is my spirit animal (pun also intended) and Prince Adam is the BEST Disney prince… I just could not be more excited to see this! *sigh*
Spring – It has been unseasonably warm this past month (with some freak snow showers in the midst of it all) and I have had absolutely no problems with that! I’m really hoping that even though that pesky groundhog predicted 6 more weeks of Winter, maybe he was wrong. I’m hoping that the sun will keep shining, the trees will start to bud and Spring will arrive a little earlier than usual.