Saturday, February 22, 2014

Bates Motel

A couple of weeks ago, while down with the flu, I was able to get into a new A&E series that I received from my husband for Christmas, Bates Motel.  Bates Motel is a modern day prequel to the classic horror film, Psycho.  Norman Bates, played Freddie Highmore, is an awkward teenage boy who seems fairly normal at first; wants to date, reads comics, enjoys writing.  He also really, really aims to always please his mother, Norma.  Norma, played by Vera Farmiga, is a strong, possessive mother who doesn't want her son to grow up and understands that there are some things that just aren't quite right about Norman. The relationship between mother and son gets weirder as things move along.

I really enjoyed the first season and am looking forward to season two. It's obvious that the writers took a lot of liberty with the story and weren't overly concerned with matching the series to the Psycho film exactly.  In fact, the modern day setting works quite well.  The cinematography and style of the series gives off a vintage-like vibe which I really like. The opening scenes led me to believe the series was going to be set in the 60's and it wasn't until I noticed teenage girls driving convertibles and talking on cell phones that I realized it was set modern day.  The series is dark and creepy and I love it.  Season 1 is also now streaming on Netflix.  Season 2 starts on March 3.  Can't wait!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Oyatsu Box

I admit it.  I like getting presents in the mail.  Over the last 2 years, I've done a few box subscription services including Birch Box, Ipsy Bag, Goodies Box, and most recently Oyatsu Box.  I highly recommend Ipsy Bag but will save my review of them for another post.

Oyatsu Box is a monthly subscription service full of snacks all the way from Japan.   It is pricier than most at $25 per month (includes shipping).  I was a bit hesitant to pay that much but after my first box, I've found it well worth the money.  What is nice about Oyatsu Box is that they send you a description of each product on a one page print out that is written in English.

In my first box I received:
1) Dagashi Super Pack - This is really neat.  The pack is Doraemon themed and contains 10 kinds of candy.  Dagashi is classic Japanese snacks which I think of as similar to American penny candy.
2) Pokémon White Chocolate Puffs
3) Big Black Thunder - some sort of chocolate bar
4) Big Katsu - this is a little scary, something like a breadcrumb coated jerky stick... the husband will probably enjoy it.
5) Black Black Mints - something like a caffeinated altoid
6) Pocky Peach - love pocky so these should be good
7) Hi-Chew Pineapple - kind of like a bold starburst
8) Look Sparkling Lemonade Chocolate - not sure how I feel about chocolate and lemonade
9) Russian Roulette Gum - 3 pieces of tricky gum, two sweet and one insanely sour
10) One Piece Gum & Poster - Based on the One Piece Anime series. 
11) Kit Kat Strawberry - I've tried these before and super yummy
Overall, really impressed and the girls and I will surely have fun trying out new snacks. 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Knitting Looms

While at our local craft store, Hobby Lobby, this weekend the girls and I picked up a pack of knitting looms.  I've never learned to knit but have done crochet for years.  I had heard that knitting looms were good for kids to learn on and also thought it would be a fun activity for us to do together.  It was timely as later in the day, Penny came down with a stomach bug and had just enough energy to do the loom while laying on the couch and watching the Olympics. 

My first project was a hat.  The girls are working on hats too; smaller versions for their American Girl dolls.  Our supplies included a knitting loom, a loom pick, and cheapo acrylic yarn I had on hand.

The process to get the yarn started on the loom is very simple.  Both girls were able to start their own after I secured the slip knot.

The loom really helps with even consistent stitches.  This is what the inside of the hat looks like at about the half-way point.  Side note: Penny has started reading Charlotte's Web on her own.  She loves pigs and I hope she isn't traumatized by the ending.

This is my sicky girl wearing the hat I finished today.  It has an unfinished band and took about 4 hours to complete.  I'll probably start another one for another kid this evening as it is very relaxing to do in front of the tv and I can easily pick it up and  put it down. 

Monday, February 10, 2014

Happy Kitchen, Popin' Cookin - Hamburger

This last Christmas my niece, Caitlyn, introduced the girls and I to the fantastic world of Japanese DIY candy. At the top of her Christmas List was something called Popin' Cookin. Since I am the favorite aunt I had to deliver.  I began my search to find out what this Popin' Cookin thing was. I quickly found myself trapped on YouTube watching Popin' Cookin' videos and trying to figure out how I could get a shipment of candy from Japan before Christmas! 

Popin' Cookin is made by the company called Kracie.  The concept is that you not only eat the candy, you make it.  It's a bit like some of the Cra-Z-Cookin toy kits that are popular with young girls in the US.  The difference is that Popin' Cookin doesn't require an Easy Bake Oven or special gadget except a microwave on occasion. The kits come with a plastic tray, mixing spoon, and a series of powder packets that are mixed with water.  Directions are written in Japanese but include pictures which makes it fairly easy to follow if you don't know Japanese.  If in doubt, you can always find a YouTube video to guide you through as well.   Popin' Cookin comes in a variety of kits including Cake, Donuts, Hamburgers, Sushi, Bento Box, etc. 

The girls and I ordered a large lot of the kits from Japan (along with Caitlyn's collection for Christmas!) and have been slowly working our way through them.  This last weekend I tried out the Hamburger kit.

The Hamburger kit is the first savory kit that I've tried and wasn't really expecting it.  Most kits are candy versions of the food, i.e. candy sushi.  In the Hamburger kit you make 2 cheeseburgers, a soda, a packet of french fries and ketchup for dipping.  It does require that you "cook" the bun and hamburger in the microwave.  Although it was a savory kit, it really was pretty edible and a lot of fun to make because of the variety of components.  The french fries looked very much like fast food fries.  The soda bubbled like it was carbonated and the cheeseburgers had authentic looking cheese, buns, and hamburger patties.  It's amazing that it all came from packets of powders.
Since the holidays, I've learned so much more about Japanese candy and snacks. There are several other brands that we plan to try out.  I'll be posting follow up reviews on the kits as we work our way through them. If you are interested in watching some Popin' Cookin videos, I highly recommend the emmymadeinjapan channel.

Sunday, February 9, 2014


As I was looking around my office, I came across the lot of books I got for Christmas from my family. I tend to ask mostly for cooking and craft books each year so I've got quite the collection built up.  I always have good intentions of starting projects or making yummy dishes but in reality, I usually do very little with the books that I receive due to being too exhausted from work.

I'd like to change that this year. Here are the lovelies waiting on me:

Paper to Petal is a book that shows you how to make beautiful paper flowers with various paper mediums.  I think it would be so neat to make a paper bouquet for the formal dining room as well as flowers that can be used to decorate wrapped gifts.
A few years ago I had the girls silhouettes done at Disney World.  I was fascinated by how quickly the artist moved as he clipped the intricate details of their impish grins and whispy fly away tendrils.  The silhouettes were so good and I thought it would be neat to learn how to do paper cutting.  Creative Paper Cutting is a beginner's paper cutting instructional that teaches the basics of creating designs that can be used as wall art and cards.
 I have a real love for woodland critters.  If the animal happens to be dressed in a dapper outfit, even more adorable.  Mollie Makes Woodland Critters is part of series of craft books by the craft magazine, Mollie Makes.  Over the last few years the most crafting I have done has been in the form of crochet and felting.  Given the choice, I felt or crochet dapper animals.  I'm looking forward to diving into a few of these projects.

The Tupelo Honey Café is a restaurant in Asheville, NC that is famous for southern cooking with a flair.  I've never been to Asheville but it on my list to do some day.  The Tupelo Honey Café cookbook is full of awesome dishes that I would love to master. 

Saturday, February 8, 2014


I've been home sick the last several days recovering from the flu that has plagued the country. In my search across daytime television, I came across the documentary called First Comes Love on HBO. Nina Davenport is an Indie Filmmaker who at the age of 41 has yet to find the right partner in life to settle down and start a family with. She makes the decision to get pregnant on her own with the help of friends, including one who donates the sperm and another who acts as her birthing partner and main support throughout her pregnancy. The film wasn't quite what I thought it was going to be but actually tapped into something that was very relevant in my life.  Throughout the film, Nina continually looked to others for validation of her life choices including the big one, parenthood.  Throughout the film she records several conversations with her father over his continuous disapproval for how she lives her life and over her decision to get pregnant.  After her son is born, there is a scene where she is outside and her son is playing in the grass. I believe she has a bit of revelation as she watches her son play and says something like, "At some point, I am the mother, the one who is responsible for my actions."  It appears that she realizes that she doesn't need anyone's approval to do what she feels is right for her life. 

This hit me hard.

I feel like at the age of 36, I would be past this very thing myself, but I'm not.  Sometimes I feel like I just play "grownup" but in reality, I'm still just a child who will make bad decisions unless discussed and ruminated on for days.  And then I thought about my current situation.

I was sick at home feeling guilty for days for not being at work.  I am the best person to say what my body can and can't handle.  Why would I need to feel guilty or like a slacker for taking the time I need to get better?  I don't.  I am also an adult and am accountable to the decisions I make. I am not out to impress the world or live to please others. 

I am here for me.  And my family and friends. 

And the stress started to fade away. I don't have to be insanely good at my job.  I don't have to be the best at everything, including the things I really don't care about.  I just have to be what I want me to be.  And I am enough.

I can also be a child at heart and still be a grownup. I so often deny myself the things that are me that I miss out on the things that I love. 

I've returned back to the blog in hopes to help me be accountable to me and who I want to be.  I hope to be blogging more and sharing with you who I truly am.