Posts Categorized: Just for Fun

Wine Reviews for October ’16

November 2, 2016 Home Sweet Home, In the Kitchen, Just for Fun, Wine 0

I decided to try 2 different bottles of 1 type of wine this month. Part of this wine challenge that I’m doing is seeking out wines from the areas that put each variety “on the map” so to speak. Tempranillo is a Spanish variety (grown there for well over 2000 years, actually), so of course I had to find one from Spain! But I also like exploring Texas wines, and Tempranillo happens to be one of the varieties that is doing really well here in my home state.

Got a couple of #Tempranillo wines to try this month ??

A photo posted by Louise (@bibliothekla) on


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Radio Boca “Tempranillo”

Tierra de Castilla, Spain, 2015

Color is a clear, intense ruby red. Its fragrance brings to mind summer-ripe strawberries or even blueberries, with a hint of something a little spicier. The taste is surprisingly mild for a supposedly oak-aged wine — not to say that it doesn’t have any taste, just that I’d expected a much bolder flavor. The smell of berries translated into the taste of berries, ever so slightly acidic, and with something a little more pastry-ish following up the initial fruitiness — vanilla, perhaps?

Becker Vineyards “Texas Tempranillo”

High Plains + Hill Country, Texas, 2014

Has a lovely deep, every-so-slightly orangish garnet color in the glass. Like the Spanish version, I get a strong smell of ripe berries with something a little spicier, or maybe more herb-y. It was very fruity at first taste, but something earthy-spicy caught up to that sweetness pretty quick — like mushrooms with… I don’t know, oregano or thyme or something — plus some definite but not in-your-face oakish tannins.

I drank both of these along with the same food for the sake of fairness — dark rye bread with honey butter, smoked Gouda, rosemary-garlic black olives, and some dark chocolate with cocoa nibs. The strong cheese and bitter/sweet chocolate were PERFECT pairing choices!


Movie vs. Book: The Little Prince

October 30, 2016 Books, Just for Fun, Movies, Movies v Books 8

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It’s been nearly a year since I read The Little Prince (Le Petit Prince), and it feels like I’ve been waiting for AGES to have a chance to watch the new animated film based on this book. It came out in France first, then took about a little over a year to be available in the US. It’s on Netflix though, so I didn’t even have to leave the house to see it (hashtag introvert heaven).

The book itself is pretty slim and exceedingly allegorical and a bit abstract. This film expands on that. The primary storyline (done in computer animation) is about a young girl who is struggling with the world’s expectations and her eccentric old neighbor who has a broken-down plane to repair and an important story to share. The book’s original story is interwoven through their experiences/adventures in the form of truly lovely stop-motion animation accomplished mainly with impressively detailed paper figures.

I am SO GLAD that I got the chance to watch this. It’s always a huge undertaking to try to turn a beloved classic into a good movie, and it’s got to be especially difficult with a book like Le Petit Prince. I think this movie accomplishes the task perfectly. Got Netflix? Get your eyeballs on this one right now!

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Wine Reviews for September ’16

September 30, 2016 Home Sweet Home, In the Kitchen, Just for Fun, Wine 0

La Posta “Pizzella” Malbec

Mendoza, Argentina, n.d.

A photo posted by Louise (@bibliothekla) on

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This is a deep, near-opaque purplish red wine that smells of rich, dark berries with a hint of some kind of spice — maybe cinnamon. It tastes of overripe cherries and plums with an almost cheese-like umami flavor followed by a faint cinnamon or peppery aftertaste. Overall, I’d classify it as sweet but earthy. I drank it with pizza, artichoke hearts, and salad w/ apple vinaigrette. The wine tasted fruitier with the pizza and more savory with the veggies. It was also VERY yummy with the dark chocolate + raspberries I had for dessert.


Cupcake Moscato d’Asti

DOCG Italy, 2015

A photo posted by Louise (@bibliothekla) on

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This wine is a favorite of mine because it’s light + sweet enough to go with just about anything, plus it is just about as low alcohol as you can get with wine (5.5 %). It’s a sparkling wine with large, slow bubbles that lend a little tickle to the taste — but they don’t last long, compared to most “party” sparkling wines. It smells and tastes like green apple, pear, and green grapes with a subtle floral note that makes me think of honeysuckle. I drank this with some good stuff that my husband cooked on the grill one hot summer evening: zucchini + mushrooms, corn on the cob, and hatch chile sausage.


Jam Cellars “Butter” Chardonnay

Acampo, California, 2015

A photo posted by Louise (@bibliothekla) on

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This stuff is a slightly green-tinted gold color with an aroma of apple pie or poached pear. I drank it chilled first, and found it initially tart-sweet with a strong apple/pear flavor with an oaky-bold taste upon swallowing. It tasted quite a bit more buttery after it had warmed up a bit. I quite enjoyed with with some pasta + veg in a mild white cheese sauce and some garlic-stuffed olives, then later with some goat cheese and tomatoes with more olives.


Movie Musicals Challenge –
Singin’ in the Rain

September 16, 2016 Just for Fun, Movies 6

I am SO BEHIND on my Movie Musicals Challenge! This one is only number 5 out of 25. Yikes. Looks like I might have to extend this challenge on into 2017… maybe 2018, haha.

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Anyway — Singin’ in the Rain is another one of my favorite classic films. Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor, and Debbie Reynolds are the perfect trio. The dance scenes are so impressive! The movie took me twice as long to watch as it ought to have, since I watched the best dance sequences twice….

I really wish I had more to say about this movie, but I didn’t take notes while watching like I usually do — I decided to just have a bit of fun and not worry about content for a blog post. Oops?

So, talk to me. Have you watched it, and did you like it? Do you have a favorite dancing scene?

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Magazines

September 10, 2016 Just for Fun 4

I’ve been reading a little bit lately. Not quite recovered from my summer reading slump, but – honestly? That’s OK.

I’m trying to be more mindful about what my brain+ body want and need to do, and “sit down and read a book” has been the default for a long time… but I actually want reading to be a purposeful, enjoyable and/or educational experience, not something I do just because I’ve always done it.
What have I been doing instead? Traveling, playing with makeup and perfume, doing little household tasks that I’ve been putting off for too long, exercising, watching too much HGTV and Animal Planet and old JAG episodes, and indulging in magazines.


Yeah, let’s talk about the magazines. I guess this is technically “reading” – but let’s be real, there is a huge difference in flipping through a half-ad glossy vs. getting caught up in a book. This started back in July when we went to Chicago. When we were waiting in the airport, I just could not convince myself to read any of the half dozen books that I brought along for the ride. But I couldn’t just sit there staring at the carpet. So, I grabbed a couple of fashion rags (which I hadn’t touched in years) and… they were actually kind of fun?

In the meantime, I’ve “rediscovered” my public library’s free online magazine options, which means I can borrow a whole bunch of them without having to pay or feel bad about wasting too much paper.

So, because I still feel the urge to be opinionated on the internet about whatever media I’m consuming, here are some quickie reviews for a few magazines!

Fashion & Beauty
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  • Allure
  • Elle
  • Glamour
  • Harper’s Bazaar
  • InStyle
  • Marie Claire

I like that these magazine focus generally on fashion and beauty topics, but some of them also includes a healthy dose of lifestyle content (budgeting, relationship advice), interesting celeb interviews, and the occasional “deep thoughts” editorial. The body-positive, feminist stuff is also appealing to me (although there’s plenty of questionable content to go along with). And, not gonna lie, the occasional perfume/makeup samples are pretty fun too!

Science & Nature
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  • National Geographic
  • Popular Science
  • Scientific American
  • Smithsonian
  • Texas Parks & Wildlife
  • Wired

Anthropology, tech, ecology, medical news, even travel guides — I guess I just love the variety of “nerdy” topics that these magazines cover. OK, so I usually skip the articles about the newest smartphones or hunting/fishing, but the other brain-stimulating stuff is right up my alley.

Miscellaneous
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Bon Appétit

I really prefer certain food blogs and cookbooks to most magazines, because it seems like a lot of homemaking/foodie rag recipes are just nicely-photographed recycled ideas or – worse – not even properly tested, kitchen disasters waiting to happen. Bon Appétit is an exception to that. Sure, sometimes the featured foods can be a little kooky, but I usually find at least 1 or 2 worthwhile recipes/ideas.

Family Tree Magazine

Genealogy is a hobby of mine, and this magazine is fun to browse through, even if I’m not currently researching anything in particular or in need of any of the included (and often repetitive) advice.

Mental_Floss

This magazine is great for trivia addicts. It’s basically educational, but in an off-the-wall kinda way that’s great for folks with short attention spans. I think it would also be the perfect present for your nerdy friends, if you’re looking for holiday gift ideas already.

Mother Earth News

I actually have mixed feelings about this one! It really does scratch a kind of crunchy, tree-hugger itch for me. (I may have insane fantasies of suburban homesteading with chickens, heirloom tomatoes et al., but I’m also too afraid of wasps and spiders to go in our backyard from like June – August.) But the emphasis on “natural” medicines and the constant verbal frowning in the general direction of “chemicals” makes me want to rip the dang thing up and use it for toilet paper.

Texas Monthly

I have to confess that I get most of my news from Twitter (actual journalists/news outlets on Twitter, though, if that helps you hate me less). However, I’m really interested in keeping up with a smattering of local + state goings-on, and the variety of subjects covered by this magazine hits that sweet spot for me.

Yoga Journal

Despite all the running I’ve been doing lately, yoga really is my exercise of choice (even though I don’t really subscribe to all the spiritual stuff that often goes along with it). This magazine features lots of different poses, advice about finding balance or building strength, and occasionally interesting articles on things like incense or healthy veggies.


So, talk to me — do you ever indulge in magazines? Does your library offer them for free, too?


A Perfume Self-Portrait

July 23, 2016 Just for Fun 4

One of the more interesting features I’ve seen around the more fragrance-centered parts of the blogosphere is the concept of a “perfume self-portrait” (or selfie, I suppose, if you’re worried about being old-fashioned). It’s basically a snapshot of one’s perfume habits at a point in time.

Perfume is a bit like wine. At first, you might only know if something tastes yummy or gross to you, and many people are happy to just stay at that stage; it’s only after extensive-but-fun experimenting that you start to be able to taste the different flavors, learn terms like terroir and corked, and so on.

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I have a small army of tiny sample bottles…

I’ve only recently — like in the past couple of years — started regularly wearing fragrances more sophisticated than scented soaps and lotions and stuff (if we ignore that period of overambitious fruity glitter body splash in my teen years, which we are definitely going to ignore). So, I’m still learning about perfume and haven’t ventured entirely into “fumehead” territory yet, but I’m certainly learning to appreciate all kinds of stuff that I never had a clue about before!

Without further ado, here’s my current perfume self-portrait….

Scents I reach for by default on the daily:
  • Burberry My Burberry Eau de Toilette — This is my “summer scent” this year. I think the slightly-citrusy peony note is youthful and feminine, but not too girly. Usually light florals like this don’t last long on me, but the rosey musk it dries down to sticks around for at least a couple hours.
  • The Thymes Lavender Cologne — I wear this when I want to feel particularly calm and uncomplicated. I like having a single-note scent that isn’t too flirty or bold to turn to on days like that.
  • Chanel No. 5 Elixir Sensuel — This is a discontinued formulation of one of the most well-known classics in perfumery. It’s kind of a gel that you apply to pulse points instead of spraying on, and I think it smells simultaneously gentler and sexier than the regular version. Sillage (basically “volume”) is low but longevity is impressive. It’s honestly my absolute favorite fragrance right now, but since it is discontinued I’m trying to make the bottle last as long as possible, so I don’t wear it every day.
Scents I’ve sampled and want a bottle of:
  • Dior J’Adore Eau de Parfum — I think this must be one of the most popular perfumes out there right now; it seems to flatter most and offend few. I can see this becoming my “everyday” scent after I’m done with the Burberry and Chanel perfumes above.
  • Miu Miu Eau de Parfum — It starts out as a green-woodsy floral, but dries down into something rather peppery. At first I didn’t like it! But I kept trying it again because it was just so intriguing, and in the end I’ve decided that this one is actually interesting in a good way.
  • Gucci Bamboo Eau de Parfum — I got a sample set that included this one as well as the Burberry perfume, plus a certificate to redeem for a full size version of any of the scents included in the sample set. I nearly got this one instead of the other, but my husband said it reminded him of his mom (a perfectly lovely woman, whom I’d prefer not to smell like all the time). It’s kind of a warm floral with a sandalwood background, and fantastic longevity.
Scents I have to be in just the right mood for:
  • Chanel No. 5 Eau de Toilette — This is supposed to be a more “relaxed” version of the original perfume, but I honestly find it quite a bit more in-your-face than my prefered Elixir version. I wear this when I want to feel sophisticated or, honestly, when I’m feeling a bit bitchy. This is what I wear when I want to project, “Don’t F with me today, or I will (sexily) tear your heart out.”
  • Victoria’s Secret Dream Angels Heavenly Eau de Parfum — Bluntly put, this is my “slutty” perfume. (It does not get used so much these days.)
  • Hermès Terre d’Hermès Eau de Toilette — Yeah, it’s supposed to be for dudes. In fact, it smells very similar to my husband’s usual cologne. But it’s just androgynous enough, with a greeny-citrus start and a spicy-incense finish, that I can get away with wearing it when I’m feeling a little outlandish.

Movie Musicals Challenge –
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

June 20, 2016 Just for Fun, Movies 6

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I made the mistake of watching this film the day after I rewatched The Sound of Music.

This one does not quite live up to THAT, and in my case suffered quite badly in comparison. I remember watching this movie with my mother a couple of times as a kid. She enjoys it, but I was not at all into it at the time. I thought that perhaps my feelings for Seven Brides for Seven Brothers would change now that I’m an adult. Well, I’m still just not into it — but at least now I can sort of articulate why.

First, though, let’s talk about the good stuff. After all, the film made it onto the AFI’s Top 25 Greatest Musicals list, so it must have some redeeming qualities!

Adam (the main dude character, played by Howard Keel) reminds me of a young, fit, handsome Santa. I know that sounds weird, but whatever, it’s true. Must be the red hair and the old-fashioned haircut/beard — don’t believe that poster image up above; the color version of this film gives Adam red hair + he starts off with a full beard. And I have to admit my L-O-V-E for Howard Keel’s voice. The man can sing.

The ultra-athletic dancing & fight scenes are also great. The studio actually hired mostly professional dancers rather than actors to play the brothers and their brides, and I have to applaud this choice. Thinking about it now, I kind of want to go ahead and rewatch a bunch of the dance scenes just to sigh over the choreography.

The scenery was not done particularly well, but again, I watched this just after finishing a film where the scenery was A+++ top notch amazing, so perhaps I’m not being fair. Milly (the main lady character, played by Jane Powell) has the most boring songs and — now this really is petty — her bright orange-pink lipstick was distractingly anachronistic (#makeupnerdproblems, #historicalcostumingnerdproblems). But, again, the dancing was SO GREAT that I could easily have overlooked this stuff if it hadn’t been for the particularly grating storyline.

This is where a lot of people are going to disagree with me, but I could not get past the grossness of the plot:

Bros want gals to cook/keep house/get sexy for them, bros can’t get gals to volunteer for this duty, so bros KIDNAP said gals, but really it’s fine because they’re totally nice guys, then Stockholm syndrome sets in and the gals decide that this is fine, meanwhile the one actually-married bro abandons his pregnant wife for the entire winter because she yelled at him for KIDNAPPING PEOPLE and he’s too much of a manchild to apologize, and anyway when the rescuers finally show up they elect to leave the gals in the hands of the kidnappers because one of them had a baby therefore they have all been deflowered and are ruined unless they marry the bros.

What the everloving heck? This is SO GROSS. Can we just acknowledge that no amount of cute puppy eyes and sad (yet totally on-beat) Lonesome Polecat stuff and impressive dance moves will change the fact that it is basically a subtly misogynistic retelling of the Rape of the Sabine Women (referenced several times in the show itself)? Even as a little kid this whole thing bothered me.

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Does this musical deserve a spot on the AFI’s list? Probably. Do I have to personally like it? Nope nope nope. I vaguely remember enjoying this as a stage play done by a small theater company ages ago, though I can’t at all remember when/where. Perhaps they did a better job of playing up the funny bits and smoothing over the more troubling themes.

Tell me — do you like or dislike this musical movie? Or have you seen a cool version of it on stage? I’d love to hear some other opinions on this!


Movie Musicals Challenge –
The Sound of Music

June 4, 2016 Just for Fun, Movies 0

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Um, I am way they hey behind on my Movies Musical Challenge right now! SHAME.

Anyway, I actually watched (well, re-watched) The Sound of Music a month or so ago, and am only now getting around to writing a little something about it. At least I took notes at the time, right? And I’m very glad that I did spend an afternoon with this movie because I was reminded again why it has always been one of my favorite musicals.

I forgot how beautiful the scenery is. The aerial views of the Alps in the opening scene are especially impressive, just unbelievably gorgeous. And the Austrian town/countryside, too. The cinematography in general is amazing. I have to say that this is one of those shows that has just been done so well as a movie that no live stage play can really compare — although I have seen a couple of very entertaining stage versions of it.

I’d also forgotten how snarky the Captain is at first and how silly all the crying at the first dinner was. There are some very funny lines + scenes in this film; it isn’t all just epic music and anti-Nazi sentiment. Although there is plenty of that, too, both on purpose and accidental. I mean, I know that the “You are 16, going on 17” scene/song is supposed to be cute and romantic, but really it’s a bit creepy the way Rolf calls Liesl “little girl” and treats her like one, too, while at the same time being super flirty. Oh, well, the associated dance sequence was lovely and quite athletic, so I suppose I can’t be too critical.

The children are generally adorable without being too sickly-sweet (always a danger in old movies — or heck, even modern ones). Their little German costumes were especially charming. Yes, German, because even though they lived in Austria they were culturally German, which is a big part of why the Nazis took over the area, and anyway the whole history of the thing is quite complicated but also fascinating, if you like that sort of thing (and I do).

You have to appreciate The Sound of Music not only for its impressive soundtrack, but for telling the based-on-a-true-story story of non-Nazi Germans during WWII. ‘Edelweiss’ is incredibly sad in this context. Of course the song was invented for the film, but the flower was a cultural symbol for the people of the Alps well before that.

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Watching the movie again was like seeing an old friend. Though the particulars of her face might be forgotten over the years, she is instantly recognizable and it is as though no time has passed at all.


30 by 30 Project Check-In

March 23, 2016 Just for Fun 0

Another year older now — both me and my little blog. I’ve been working (off and) on this little 30 by 30 Project, a list of 30 goals I want to reach by the time I turn 30 years old. 2 years down, 1 more to go! Here’s a little progress report:

  1. Read at least 250 books
  2. Read at least 20 new-to-me classic books
  3. Participate in SpoT High 2014-2017
    ✓ Grade: B

    I had back out of this commitment after only 1 year, because my job changed and I am no longer working in teen services or building teen book collections at our local public library. Still, I worked really hard on this committee’s project while I was a member, so I’m calling this an overall win.

  4. Write at least 40 book reviews
    ✓ Grade: A
  5. Write at least 100k words for my multi-year NaNoWriMo project
  6. Finish cataloging our home library
  7. Research my family tree
  8. Build a genealogy website to share with my family
    ✓ Grade: B

    Started building it in May of 2015, and started keeping track of my research and posting about particularly interesting finds in January of 2016. It definitely still needs some work, though.

  9. Organize + digitize all of our personal photos
  10. Organize and back up my hard drives
  11. Have a movie marathon
  12. Visit a vineyard or attend a wine festival
  13. Go on a picnic
  14. Go to a geekish con or fest — bonus points for cosplay
  15. Leave the state for a vacation
    ✓ Grade: A

    We went to San Diego in October of 2014.

  16. Spend a day at a spa
  17. Have a party at our place
    ✓ Grade: B
  18. Write a fan letter
    ✓ Grade: C

    I wrote a letter to my all-time favorite author, Terry Pratchett. Knocked off a few grade points because I only managed to write it after he died.

  19. Give up video games for good
  20. Lose weight — ideally, about 50 pounds
  21. Go a month without fast food or delivery
  22. Visit a dentist
  23. Stitch at least 10 wearable/usable things for myself
  24. Sketch or paint at least 10 things
  25. Craft at least 5 gifts for other people or pets
  26. Cook, really cook, at least once per week
  27. Cook my way through a cookbook or food blog
  28. Start a custom recipe book
  29. Vote at least once
    ✓ Grade: A

    Voted in the Texas state + local elections in 2014.

  30. Buy a house
    ✓ Grade: A

    We closed on our first house in September of 2015.

Many of these goals are in progress, meaning I’m either actively working on them or have definitive plans to do something about them in the near future. For example, I’m currently researching my family tree (as evidenced by the genealogy website!) and I’m planning to dress up and go to the Ren Fest next fall!


Movie Musicals Challenge –
The Wizard of Oz

March 5, 2016 Just for Fun, Movies 2

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I finally got around to watching another selection from the Movie Musicals Challenge!

I’m so behind on this challenge already… and it doesn’t help that right now, I’m trying to manage a behind-the-scenes blog move. So, I’ll be brief with this post.

I chose to watch The Wizard of Oz because I got a copy on DVD as a gift this past Christmas, along with a set of the books by L. Frank Baum. (I’m thinking of doing a read-along or something like that with them soon, but don’t hold me to it.)

I’ve seen the movie many times before, of course, and it’s something of a comfort-watch for me now. I watched part of it the night that our cat died a couple of months ago. I was too torn up to sleep, but there was something so calming about listening to Judy Garland sing “Over the Rainbow”… it was just what I needed at the time.

This time I did it properly and watched the whole thing, popcorn and root beer in hand. I admit that I sang along just a little bit. (Um. Maybe a lot. Maybe every word?) And don’t let Gary fool you — he sang along just a little bit, too. He was playing some sort of violent video game in the other room, but he was still enjoying the movie from afar. It’s just one of those movies that grabs you like that, I guess!

It’s interesting, the things you see when you rewatch an old favorite again after a gap of a couple of years. I never noticed before how mature Dorothy looks for her supposed age — of course, Judy was about 16 years old at the time. Apparently she was forced to stick to an abusively strict diet and wear a special corset to help her look more child-like. Some of the acting and staging is so exaggerated as to be silly, but of course movies were still being made like modified stage plays back in the 1930’s.

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But let’s be honest, Toto is the real star of this show!

Have you watched The Wizard of Oz lately, or read the book(s)? Do you have any favorite scenes?