Sunday, December 30, 2012

Christmas Part Two

I am afraid that there will be two more Christmas posts. Too bad peoples, I love documenting absolutely everything.

I made these  "Grinch" cookies for my dad on the 23rd and got my littlest sister to illustrate the sign. I had wanted to have them out waiting on Christmas morning as kids do with cookies for Santa, but there was no way to do that with fresh cookies and still keep it a secret from Dad.  I got this idea from Pinterest, but I am not a great cook or baker, nor did I check the recipe-I just added green food coloring. The cookie dough looked like playdough, and the cookies, well, they looked like sick cookies. Nevertheless, they made my dad, the self-proclaimed Grinch, happy, and they tasted perfectly yummy.

This is my pile of presents minus my grandmother's which I finished moments before we left to celebrate with my grandparents...typical me-I am lucky it was finished at all.

Christmas Eve we celebrate with my mom's extended family. The adults draw names; I got my dad and gave him the two Robert Downey Jr. Sherlock Holmes movies. The below are my gifts. We also draw names for  ladies' and men's stockings which are filled with small gifts. The first year I was an "adult" I won; my cousin whose first or second year it was won this time.

 This is my stocking which my mom made for me when I was little; isn't it darling?! She made a different type for my sisters and then her creativity ended-the rest of the kiddoes got rather blah stockings :P

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas Season Part One

          Okay, my first proper Christmasy post. Last year I could not pull it together to post about Christmas.
The first two photos are of my graham cracker house which I made alongside my friends and siblings at our friends house on Tuesday the 18th. Our family made graham cracker houses last year using royal icing as glue which turned rock hard. The candy had to be scraped off. In the end a lot of candy was wasted. My friends hot glued the houses together which I was considerably less enthusiastic about (to put it mildly). I am not a fan of superficiality, false advertising, faux things, fakiness, etc. so I did not like the explicitly understood waste of candy this entailed. Why not use cardboard and glitter if it is not to be really, real?!!! 

          Spurred by this and by an idea I had had in my head at least a year, that Saturday I set about making a gingersnap house which took me at least four hours. Since I was cleaning up the breakfast mess previous to that, I was in the kitchen for around/at least five hours. That my friends is part of the reason why I do not care to cook or bake much. Anyway. It looks like gingerbread and does not taste as gingersnappy as I would have wished (we did not have cloves as my mother does not care for them so that was at least part of the reason).

          I made syrup and poured this into the cut out windows for "glass windows." Some of the windows were not transparent and all of them were yellowed, but since I am not good with confectionery and baking, I am satisfied that they hardened and stayed in properly. I used boiled molasses as glue for my house, and it worked splendidly. I had purposely over baked the house pieces as I thought the cookie would be to soft to stand. I am lucky that everything came together fairly well with no cracks or collapses. I did, however, miscalculate on the roof and covered that section with chocolate which did not look so bad. I only did a section of fencing and my decor was rather sloppy; I was getting tired and bored of the house, and I needed more support for the fence than it itself could provide. All in all though, I have to say I was pretty pleased with myself although the perfectionist side cannot get over the obvious mismatch between the house in my head and the real one. I intend to try this again every year, so I am sure to improve. I like making little Christmas traditions all by myself.

          On the subject of traditions, I have watched White Christmas at least three Christmases in a row of my own accord. That movie is such fun. Three of my sisters joined me on the evening of the day on which I made my gingersnap house. Another girly tradition we have is to watch tons and tons of Hallmark movies. For the last several years we have watched A Christmas Card at least twice every year. This year the channel had several good new ones. Some of our favorites were A Bride for Christmas and Hitched for the Holidays. When my dad's mother and stepfather were alive, we would go to one of the theatres downtown and watch A Christmas Carol being performed. Even though I was scared, particularly of the Ghost of Christmas past, I enjoyed this tradition. I have not gone for a couple years, but I want to restart this tradition at least for myself somehow.

So that was some of our pre-Christmas fun!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Hobbit

          My dad read the Hobbit years ago to us; I think it had to be definitely around or over a decade ago. I decided that since I had forgotten so much I needed to reread it which I did in the week I finished school. I loved it.

         We went to see the movie last Saturday. I did not love it. I know I am about to be murdered. It was far more intense than I was anticipating, and intense scenes are far easier to read than to watch which fact I obviously had forgotten. I kept asking my sister the time; yes, the situation was that bad. I should be ashamed that I was asking for the time during THE HOBBIT. I was wondering how I could make it through the next two movies. I jumped and screamed at least twice. The second time the whole theatre was quiet and I woke up my slumbering sister (shame to her as well) and startled my friend.

         I am one of those die-hard the book-way-or-the-high-way type people, and there were considerable deviations and additions in my tetchy opinion. The most highly offensive one was the elf-dwarf drama; really, you had to bring that in? There was no hint of such a thing in the book. Way to make the magnificent elves look evil (this was done in Lord of the Rings-all of Middle Earth was beginning to be or would soon have been  besieged; Lothlorien was under attack and elves were leaving Rivendell to avoid being attacked...this is a whole other rant). Way to make the stupid dwarves confuse the much lowlier Wood Elves with the magnificent High Elves (I am NOT a Tolkien nerd, and I have read The Silmarillion, so I scorn any presumptuous person who thinks that they are a Tolkien nerd and have not read that most essential book...hmm, I am thinking of attempting to become an amateur Tolkien nerd). The Pale orc plot line was irritating too-yes, I know there was a Great orc who was responsible for the killing of Thorin's grandfather, but he did not directly appear in the story. Oh, and this extra plot greatly increased my nervousness with regards to suspense; there was never a moments rest, and there was always the anticipation of a surprise attack-aaahhh!

          I did like the additions that did not change the story such as the blending of the beginning of The Fellowship with Bilbo's story-telling. I liked that the history of Erebor was told, but I hated the inaccuracies (you would think I am referring to history). I liked that the hints of Gandalf's work in the Hobbit, the driving of the Necromancer (Sauron) from Mirkwood, was being told, but again, I hated the manner of how it was told. I mean, did Radagast really have to be so embarrassing and gross and ridiculous? And why is Galadriel always so creepy and annoyingly aloof/superior?

          My friends and siblings pointed out that the orcs, goblins, animation, special effects, etc. were much poorer than Lord of the Rings. Personally, I think I preferred these Wargs, although they were too big, for they actually looked like wolves and not like hyena monsters. I thought Gollum was good and his scene was near perfect although I was freaked out and grossed out for most of it (during the beginning I had a horror that he would be shown eating the goblin, and I was sickeningly aware of all the bones...sorry necrophobia coming out here). My group also complained about the weird glow around the somewhat bizarre looking elf-king (in retrospect his expression reminds me of Mr. Lovegood...). I did not mind this, and I also did not mind his "steed"...after all he was a wood elf. But as to the orcs and goblins I have to agree-they were absurdly animated.

          I, of course, knew that our belovedest Richard Armitage played Thorin. Thorin irritated me, but then most of Richard Armitage's characters do; he is after all adept at characters that brusque and conflicted at best and evil at worst. All of the girls in our group swooned when Fili and Kili appeared. I adore Kili and my sisters adore Fili. We laughed at how we were swooning over DWARVES! Sorry, Thorin, you have been replaced. Now I just need to hear the voice of the dragon and see some more elves to complete my swoonfest. Ahem.

          Bilbo was a doll of course, but Martin Freeman's mannerisms are exactly the same in The Hobbit as when he is John Watson, and the situation was hilariously the similar. A meek little man is overborne by stronger personalities, and huffs and puffs fruitlessly about it, and then in the end turns out to be a loyal and brave little fellow (sorry, Watson, I suppose you are a leetle more dignified than that description supposes). While I watched Sherlock I though about how hobbit-like Mr. Freeman was. Dear me.

          Can I say something positive without a caveat? Yes. I like the closing scene with the dragon opening his eye. Of course I was thinking about the man who voiced the dragon. Well, I got to see him in the Star Trek premiere (which was marvelous and worth coming to the theatre) and his name in the credits.

          I think I need to read the appendixes and all the main Tolkien novels again before the second installment comes out in order to be properly prepared to be justly offended at all the changes.