Thursday, May 30, 2013

Ten things to be happy about 5/30/12

I haven't written one of these posts in a while. I'm not really sure why. But I thoroughly enjoy them and it's a good practice in gratitude, which everyone can use a healthy dose of every now and then.

 

1. My  brother is bringing me Starbucks! I can't wait. I am seriously dragging today.

2. Tonight is yoga! When we started, I was nervous about the heat because the place we go to basically only does classes with some amount of heat. It's been okay, though. I've actually been really enjoying it.

3. This weekend is my friend Stephanie's bachelorette party! We rented a house and we're spending the weekend relaxing, eating delicious food, and doing all sorts of girly fun stuff.

4. I am almost finished editing photos from Jim's dad's wedding! And they turned out pretty great. I'm happy with them. This is one of my favorites so far.

jim and nancy


5. My friend Reanna and I are Costco shopping for the weekend today. I know maybe that makes me kind of lame, but I love Costco!


6. Jim and I are going to Alaska this year! We'll be spending the 4th of July there as well as attending a wedding of close family friends of mine. I'm beyond excited! Below is one of my favorite photos from our last trip in 2009...too long ago.

alaska1


7. I joined a new book club! Two might be a bit to keep up with, but that's okay. Just another excuse to read more! And I'm really excited about meeting and getting to know a new group of girls. You can never have too many friends...or read too many books!


8. We got a new juicer! Not that there was anything wrong with our old juicer. We're donating it to a friend, and we upgraded. Our new one can do more greens and also can make almond butter and ice cream, which is really exciting!


juicer


9. I made a really yummy quinoa salad two nights ago. We've been eating it for dinner the past two nights, and I have it for lunch today. Just another hour and a half! P.S. I'll be posting the recipe soon!

10. I got my wedding ring cleaned yesterday! And its so shiny and pretty today.  It's an amethyst, so it's purple, and when it's clean the stone turns to such a dark color. It's almost like a different ring.

Your turn! What are some things you're really happy about today?

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Love for The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby: The Book


The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby has been my favorite book since the first time I read it in high school. I don't really know why. I guess it's the way one person can be so completely consumed with something that it takes over his entire life, controls his every move. It's fascinating to me, even though I can't relate to it. I've never felt so driven by that kind of desire that it creates the basis of my identity.

For those of you who have been living under a rock, The Great Gatsby tells the story of Jay Gatsby and his undying love for Daisy Buchanan, the girl from his youth whom he fell in love with, but never quite felt good enough for. As a result, he spent his life creating a world of abundant riches and gross luxury. He amassed great amounts of wealth in hopes that he could lure her back to him, despite the fact that she'd already married someone else. He spends his days wheeling and dealing and his nights hosting ridiculously lavish and exceedingly wild parties at his "castle" across the bay from Daisy's house, hoping to catch her attention and pique her interest.

I relate more to the character of Nick Carraway, the narrator of the story, who is on the outskirts of all the drama, but seemed to be unwillingly sucked into it. He's an observer of it all and pretty much the only one who walks away more or less unscathed (despite the movie's assessment that he winds up in a sanitarium...which isn't far out of the realm of possibility). I can relate to Nick because I've never enjoyed being the center of attention. I've always been more of an observer, a sideliner, and when I find myself somehow in the midst of it all, I'm extremely uncomfortable and don't really know what to do with myself.

And then there's Daisy.  The perfectly poised girl of Gatsby's dreams, donned always in white, from her dresses to her house to her car. She's the "innocent, pure and perfect" girl Gatsby remembers her to be.  She's also extraordinarily selfish, has mood swings like to worst PMS you can imagine and keeps everyone she knows just at arm's length so no one ever realizes she's such a complete confused mess.

I think what I love most about this book is the extreme use of symbolism. Fitzgerald's use of color alone speaks more about his characters and the world they live in than anything they could say. One of the (seven or so) times I read this book, I circled all the colors. Every page has at least one circle. And my very favorite of all of those symbols is the green light at the end of Daisy's dock. It basically embodies Daisy herself: the jealousy Gatsby feels that he doesn't have her, the great wealth Daisy herself possesses and a beacon not just for incoming boats, but also for Gatsby himself. "Here's Daisy!" it says, and gave him something to look at when he couldn't look at her.

My second favorite symbol is the billboard eyes of T.J. Eckleburg. Even in the 1920s, America's values were deteriorating. Money was valued over morals and these eyes, "dimmed a little by many paintless days, under sun and rain, brood on over the solemn dumping ground" in the place of a God that had long been removed from American life. They were simply an advertisement for an optometrist in Queensborough, but in the world of Gatsby, they were as good as God watching over those who had replaced their belief in God with a belief in wealth.

I think F. Scott Fitzgerald's book transcends time. You can see the same paradigms today that he wrote about almost 100 years ago. I think that's part of why it remains such a great story, and why it made such a great movie.

The Great Gatsby: The Movie


gatsby movie


I'm not going to say too much about the movie except that I LOVED IT.

I had lowish expectations when I heard that The Great Gatsby was going to be turned into a movie again. The first couple versions I saw left quite a bit to be desired. When I heard Baz Luhrmann was behind it, my confidence increased a touch. If anyone can recreate the Jay Gatsby of F. Scott Fitzgerald's creation, it's Baz Luhrmann.

And I wasn't disappointed. Not even a little bit. The story wasn't changed, with the exception of putting Nick in a sanitarium, but I thought that added to the story. It was the perfect vehicle with which to tell the story on screen.

The biggest problem I've had with previous movies is the downplaying of the character of Gatsby. Gatsby is loud. Colorful. Vivacious. His personality is huge. His parties are huger. And other video versions of Gatsby have been simply watered down. Leonardo DiCaprio did Gatsby right. He threw so much personality into the character that you could actually believe in him.

I also thought Carey Mulligan did an exceptional job at portraying Daisy. She was just standoffish enough, just catty enough, just rude and condescending and completely wishy washy enough.

Overall, the movie followed the book, sometimes even word for word, and gave almost exactly the visual I'd always pictured in my head while reading the book.

Personally, I can't wait to see it again!

Have you seen The Great Gatsby? Have you read it? Did you enjoy either as much as I did?

Monday, May 6, 2013

Summertime White Sangria

I love sangria. Jim loves it too, and whenever we go to Mexican restaurants that serve it, we get a glass...or a pitcher, whatever.

I've always wanted to try making my own, but never have had the patience to let it sit overnight and all that. But when we decided to have people over for fish tacos for Cinco de Mayo, I figured it was the perfect opportunity to give it a whirl.

I searched through our wine "cellar" for a relatively inexpensive bottle of red that I didn't mind sacrificing (of course there was the potential that this would turn out horribly and waste an entire bottle of wine), and unfortunately I came up short. I didn't have a single bottle of red wine that I wanted to turn into sangria. So I switched gears. We had TONS of bottles of white because we both enjoy red just a little bit better (until summer comes around anyway), so I decided to make some sangria out of white wine instead.

We popped open a bottle of Rome Valley Vineyards' Chardonnay and started making magic!

sangria1b



Summertime White Sangria


The beauty of sangria is that you can pretty much put whatever fruit into it that you want. I mean sure there's a traditional recipe, but you can make something completely delicious and unique to your own taste just as easily. I used a handful of different fruits we already had on hand.

2 oranges, sliced

1 lime, sliced

5 strawberries, cut in half, tops removed

5 thin slices of rhubarb

2 shots of triple sec

I bottle of chardonnay (you can use whatever white wine you like or have on hand)

Sparkling water (Mine was lime scented, and I used about 36 ounces, but you can taste as you go. It's not a science)

Pour your wine into a pitcher. Add fruit and triple sec. Cover and let sit in the fridge overnight or for several hours. The longer, the better. When you're ready to serve, pour in the sparkling water. Serve ice cold in your most beautiful glasses, garnished with extra fruit.

sangria3b


It turned out pretty dern delicious, if I don't say so myself. Originally I wanted to use limes, raspberries and peaches, but they only had limes at our local grocery store...you know, the only one open at 10:30 when I decided I wanted to attempt this endeavor. I think I'll try that combination next time. I've also heard people use ginger ale instead of the sparkling water and it gives it more flavor. I didn't want the added sugar (or high fructose corn syrup. Yuck!), so I will probably always stick with the water.


sangria2b


Also this weekend, I finally got to play around with my new camera. It does a pretty good job, eh? Here are a few of my favorite shots of Katie that I took. She's a hard dog to photograph, let me tell you! She's like my brother when it comes to taking her picture. She always turns away from the camera! So the fact that I got these ones was a miracle in and of itself!


black lab


Isn't she cute? Just chilling in the grass.


katie2b


This one I made a funny sound at her, so she tilted her head as if to ask "what the heck was that?!"


I hope everyone is having a happy Monday! Or at least a not-sucky Monday as Mondays can be pretty challenging.


Have you ever tried making sangria before? If so, did you use a recipe or did you just wing it like I did?