Friday, February 12, 2016

5 Netflix Offerings to Watch on Galentine's Day.

In the past, I haven't tried to hide my distaste for February. Truly. Despite the fact that it's my dad's and best friend's birthday month, this isn't the best month for me.

Then, Parks & Recreation came around with the idea of "Galentine's Day." Galentine's Day is February 13, and is a day set aside to celebrate your best Gal Pals. My best Gal Pals are spread across the country, so I can't see them all at the same time.


Starting last year, my sister and I celebrated with getting Marvel-themed Build-a-Bears (I made a Captain America dog, she got Toothless, the dragon from How to Train Your Dragon, and put him in Avengers pajamas). Afterward we went to Olive Garden for dinner (and they gave us ALL of our food at once. That was weird).

Anyway, I was thinking about how to celebrate this year (Kiri and I are planning on seeing Deadpool), but what I loved doing most in college with my girlfriends was watching movies. I thought I would list five things to watch on Netflix to watch with your Gal Pals. Make a night of it. Order pizza, drink wine, and have fun!

Parks & Recreation "Galentine's Day"

You can't experience Galentine's Day without seeing the episode that started it all! In this episode, Leslie treats her best friends to breakfast (the most amazing meal of the day!), and gifts. For her mother's gift, though, she tries to set her up with a lost love, who turns out to be insane. It's pretty epic. 

For a Good Time, Call...

FYI, this movie is rated R for sex and language. This is the story of two women who become unlikely roommates, and in the process of starting their own business, go from enemies to best friends. This is one I'd watch with Lauren (and all of our Stephens friends, actually). It's funny and quirky, and highly inappropriate. Seriously, unless you're over 17, and like raunch comedy, don't watch it.

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

This is another quirky movie that puts to unlikely characters together. Yes, it's a man and a woman, but I think when it comes down to it, if the world were ending, I'd want to be with the people I love the most. My family AND my best friends. It's fun.  


You're Not You

This film is about a concert pianist (Hilary Swank) who gets Lou Gehrig's disease, and while losing both her ability to care for herself, and also losing her husband, she befriends her ne'er-do-well caretaker (Emmy Rossum), who helps her enjoy her last few months. It's very sweet. Plus, it's about a classical musician, which is close to my heart. 


Kill Bill Vol. 1 and 2

Again, this one is rated R, but for violence. It's Quentin Tarantino, who loves his blood and guts. And while it might seem to be a bit odd watching a Revenge movie on a day celebrating Girlfriends, but before all hell broke loose, these women were close. It reminds you that you should keep your friends close (and your enemies closer). I would also watch this with my friend, Kaity, who introduced me to Quentin Tarantino (I still don't understand Resevoir Dogs or Pulp Fiction). 
So, those are my Netflix Picks for Galentine's Day! What movies or TV show episodes would you add to the list?

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Netflix Pick: 5 Romance Movies You Need to Watch

When I was a kid, I never thought I'd be a romance movie fan, but like a lot in my life, the big change happened when I was nine, when I saw Little Women for the first time (If you've been following me for any length of time, you know that my life seems to center around this film).

Just for fun, I thought I'd share my favorite Netflix Romance movies. Sometimes, when you're looking for a good romance, it's hard to know where to look. If you get too far down into the Bowels of Netflix, as I call it, you can either find a diamond, or nothing but utter crap. Unfortunately, the crap outweighs the diamonds, much like in life.

Without further ado.

The Decoy Bride

I know. I just wrote about it on Monday, but this film, starring David Tennant, Kelly MacDonald, and Alice Eve is one of my absolute favorites, ever.

In Case You Missed it, the long and short of it is that Alice Eve is Lara Tyler, film superstar who just wants to privately marry her boyfriend, James (David Tennant), a writer of a terribly long book about the Isle of Hegg, a fictional island in Scotland. When a famed paparazzo, Marco Bellani, invades their wedding, Lara's publicist, Steve, sneaks them away to the Isle of Hegg, where Katie lives, for a remote wedding with just the two of them. Upon discovering that their location has been sold to the press, and Lara has disappeared upon finding Bellani while on a hike, Steve hires Katie to pose as Lara in a wedding dress and heavy veil, to fool the press (and James).

Katie (MacDonald) is extremely likable and has the best lines ("I'm kryptonite to men. Kryptonite dipped in cellulite"). Her chemistry with David Tennant is the cutest thing on Netflix, honestly. And Lara is such a likable character that you root for her, too, despite wanting Katie and James to end up together.

Plus, it has blessed us with this gif:


I don't know what I was doing when I found this gem of a movie, but it's been like six years since I first saw it, and it just hits me in the feels every time.

In a world where your DNA can tell you down to the day when you'll meet your soulmate, 20-something Oona has been waiting a long time. A company installs a timer into your wrist to count it down, provided your soul mate also has one. Oona and her stepsister, Steph, both fear and revere the Timer. It's what brought their parents together, and created their perfect family. Oona's TiMER hasn't lit up despite having had it since she was a teenager, and Steph won't meet her soulmate until she is middle-aged. The two have completely separate life philosophies, and after finding out their younger brother will meet his soulmate in a week, Oona throws caution to the wind and goes for a one-night stand with grocery checker, Mikey, who flirted with her early in the story. When Oona starts to really fall for Mikey, she starts to wonder if the Timer system could be wrong.

This movie really makes you think about the way the world ticks when it comes to love and relationships. Do soul mates exist? Is love something that is biological or is it a choice you make every single day. The ending is also open to interpretation, which is just like life.

In Your Eyes

Anyone who knows me knows that I greatly admire Joss Whedon as a writer. He's got the ability to pull on your heartstrings and make you cry in the corner for weeks (Still crying over Tara on Buffy, and it's been over ten years).

He wrote this lovely story about two people who are somehow psychically linked, and in the process of getting to know each other, make each other better, and fall in love.

I love the movies that might not necessarily get a full-blown marketing treatment. It's sad, but sometimes, those movies that come around quietly and aren't pretentious in their intentions are the absolute best.

If I Stay

I'd heard about this one for awhile. I have a teenage cousin, and I'm sure she probably read it and told me about it. Or, maybe I just saw the trailer somewhere. When I found it on Netflix, I knew I had to watch it. I actually related to the musically inclined protagonist, though I'm not as great a musician as she is. 

This film isn't just about a young woman making a choice to not wake up from a coma, it's about her choice in staying close to home to be near her boyfriend, or following her dream to go to Julliard. We need to figure out what matters most to us, but there are always repercussions to any choice we make.

Pride & Prejudice (2005)

You know I had to include this one, right? It's relatively new to the Netflix family, and while I was super jazzed to see it, I was disappointed at where the film ended. There are two different endings: One ends when Darcy and Lizzy ask permission to marry. The American version ends with Darcy and Lizzy at Pemberley. This one ends with them asking permission (The British Version), which, unless you're prepared for that, it comes as a shock. Or, at least, it did to me. 


People do have very strong opinions about which version is best, and while story-wise, I think nothing can beat the 1995 version with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle, this version is just gorgeous. The music, cinematography, costumes, everything is beautiful.

  • Hit me! What movies do YOU love on Netflix that I should add to my list?

Monday, February 8, 2016

Why "The Decoy Bride" is the Movie to Watch this Valentine's Day

I'm in love with Romantic Comedies. With a blog called The Modern Jane Austen, you'd expect me to love them, and you'd be right. I like love and like comedy. Since Valentine's Day is coming up, I thought I'd share with you one of my favorites.

Have you seen The Decoy Bride starring David Tennant and Kelly MacDonald? If you haven't you're missing out on the best RomCom on Netflix. Want to know why?

David Tennant, is absolutely adorkable.

Seriously. As a massive Whovian, I'll watch anything David Tennant is in (though, Jessica Jones might have scarred me for life). Plus, this movie gave us David Tennant doing this:

But he plays writer, James Arber, who is engaged to famous actress, Lara Tyler (Alice Eve), and they just want to have a private wedding ceremony, so they travel to the remote Scottish island of Hegg, which is the location for James' premier (and verbose) novel.

Kelly MacDonald is the heart broken single chick everyone relates to at one point or another.

Kelly MacDonald plays Katie who returns to her hometown to nurse her broken heart. She also arrives just in time to see the wedding of the last single man on the island, Angus, who had been carrying a torch for Katie and finally gave up.

But after returning home, she's at the point where we all are most of the time: ready to focus on nothing but bettering ourselves, because obviously nothing better is going to come along. Right? I know I'm pretty convinced that I'm not alluring to men. ;-)

It's written by Shazzer (Sally Phillips) from Bridget Jones' Diary.

Yeah. The same character who dropped lots of F bombs in Bridget Jones wrote and co-stars in this fun movie as the assistant to Lara's agent, Steve. 

Poor woman needs a vacation and a raise, but since she essentially is assisting the man who is running a Starlet's life, she doesn't get a break. 

Personally, I love it when writers take small parts in their own movies. Maybe it's a desire to do it myself, one day. ;-)

Katie's mom has the best bucket list, even if she goes about it the wrong way.

Katie's mom runs the local bed and breakfast, and is very sick. She can no longer walk, and believes that it's her fate to travel the world and be thrown into a volcano, to her death. She's a bit morbid, but she definitely has Katie's best interests at heart throughout the film. 

She even goes about blackmail to get what she wants. She's not perfect, but she knows what she wants.

Lara is a surprisingly relatable character, despite being the hottest actress in Hollywood.

When I first saw the logline to this movie on Netflix, I expected Lara Tyler to be an unlikable Diva, but she's absolutely not. She's kind and considerate, as well as talented and beautiful. I really wanted to hate her (so I could easily root for Katie and James), but I really liked her. She's sweet. You really want her to have the privacy she desires for her wedding, even when a group of paparazzi shows up on the island. She can deal. She even knows how to disguise herself to look old with basic cosmetics.

If you loved Michael Urie in Ugly Betty, you'll adore him in this. 

He's got some of the best lines in the whole movie. He's shrill, bossy, manipulative, judgemental, and doing the best he can for his client. You just kind of love to hate him. It's pretty great.

Katie is an awkward but loveable heroine. 

Despite being down and out, Katie is open to trying new things, even if she doesn't think they'll work. She goes back to working at a local bookstore, and at her boss's suggestion, she writes a guidebook to the island. This is suggested after stocking several copies of James Arber's book, The Ornithologist's Wife, which is not as accurate as the citizens of Hegg would want. 

She also tries to talk herself up, even if it comes out as the most awkward thing in the world. We empathize with her embarrassment. After meeting the first new man to come to Hegg in generations, she gives him this:

She's also not afraid to stand up for herself, her family, or her precious island. No one can make fun of it, except her. Don't we all feel that way about our hometowns?

If you have Netflix, I highly recommend this amazing movie. It's just fun, sweet, and absolutely hilarious. Plus, we could all use more David Tennant in our lives, since Doctor Who is no longer on Netflix. 

  • What movies on Netflix do you think I should watch?
  • Have you see The Decoy Bride? What did you think?

Thursday, February 4, 2016

On Writing: My Thoughts on Scrivener

I've been writing stories since I was nine years old. I started on the family computer using a really old version of Word (which was probably relatively new in 1994) and tried to write wherever I was, whenever I could. I would come home from school, and write until bed time (Homework be damned. Whoops), and do it all again the next day.

I was actually watching this movie, Ruby Sparks last weekend, starring Paul Dano and Zoe Kazan, who also wrote it. Dano plays a writer who actually writes Ruby (Kazan) into existence. What I found interesting was the he wrote on a typewriter. In the age of computers, writing on typewriters seems wasteful, and like it's making your life a lot more difficult.

I've tried several different writing programs, all on my computers, ranging from Open Office (Like Word, but free), Five Sprockets (Now defunct, sadly), Google Docs, and then this summer after winning Camp NaNoWriMo, I was able to get Scrivener at a discount.

I've spent the last couple months just playing with the different functions, starting different stories and screenplays (It has a screenplay function!!!!), and attempting to write using the index card method. I've never used index cards before, as I always considered myself a pantser (someone who writes by the seat of their pants), but within the last year or so, I started to realize that while pantsing it might be exciting, it resulted in uneven storytelling, lots of plotholes, frustration from writer's block.

Buy Scrivener for Windows (Regular Licence)
Click Picture to purchase Windows
What's great (though tedious) is that you can upload stories you've already written into Scrivener. With my plans to rewrite my first book, I uploaded it to take a look at the different scenes and see what will work, what does, what needs to be changed, and who can forget how much I hated the original ending?

I'm very optimistic that I can use this software to keep me organized in the long run. I'm not an organized person, by nature. Using the index cards, you can rearrange anything by dropping and dragging.

It also helps you keep track of characters, places, how they look, you can drag and drop inspiration pictures. It's all great. I love it!

Buy Scrivener 2 for Mac OS X (Regular Licence)
Click Picture to purchase Mac OS
A lot of writers are turning to methods like Scrivener to keep everything in one place, and I think I'm just another one in a long line. But it's also got versions for logging, you can download different templates to help you plan our your writing (I've found several on Pinterest). I'm pumped to try them for some of my stories (Like my Betsy Banks Mystery Series).
  • What programs do you like to use to write your stories?
  • Do you use Scrivener? How do you like it?
This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive a percentage.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Kitchen Cravings (Sponsored Post)

Frisket is probably the cutest puppy in the world. Not probably. He is. All of my friends think so, random strangers think so, he's just the best. Quite the little love, too. When Lauren visited, he did his normal "Intruder Alert" bark before realizing who it was, and then he was all, "My friend is here! My friend is here!"

He's going to be celebrating his fourteenth birthday this summer, but being a tiny dog, he'll always be a little baby to me. A cuddly little Ewok when his hair gets too long, with the sweetest eyes in the world.

Yeah. I love my pup, which is why it's important to give him quality food.

A few years back, when I lost my first dog, Charmie to gastric torsion, I read up on how to prevent it in the future, and diet is a big part of it. Smaller dogs like Frisket don't necessarily have to worry about it, but nutrition is always important.

I really do love Blue Buffalo treats. They're real meat and real ingredients, which makes it easier for dogs to digest. There's no corn, wheat, or soy, and no artificial anything.

The Kitchen Cravings Homestyle Dog Treats specifically make for good training rewards. When we were training another dog a few years ago, I took what we learned, and worked with Frisket at home, and he caught on pretty well.

He likes the taste, as well, which is always important. He got some fancy treats for Christmas that unfortunately he doesn't seem to like. People who say dogs will eat anything have obviously never owned a dog.

He's a pretty docile dog most of the time, but sometimes he just needs a little more motivation. These help us rewards him for doing what we ask. Who says you can't teach a dog new tricks?

  • What treats do you like to train your dog?
This post has been sponsored by They provided the product in return for my honest review. 

Monday, January 25, 2016

Weekend Fun

To say I was excited for this weekend would be an understatement. Don't get me wrong, last weekend, my best friend came to town, and we had a ball, but this past weekend was getting my schedule more or less back to normal, and as most people know, getting back to normal is very calming, but energizing at the same time.

I did have some big plans to go to the gym on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and then today, but it won't be happening. Friday and Saturday, I was too tired to do much of anything, and sitting at the beginnings of a cold. Never fun. Sunday, it got worse. I had a fever, I was tired and achy. The works. Thankfully, I'm feeling a wee bit better today.

But I don't want to talk about sickness. I want to talk about my first ballet experience in almost twenty years. Yes, you read that right. TWENTY YEARS.

If you recall one of my previous posts, The Moscow Festival Ballet was coming to Omaha to perform The Sleeping Beauty for us. On Saturday night, despite unbelievable exhaustion on my part, Kiri and I made our way out into the cold night for a spectacular sister date.

I was amazed at our seats. We were in the orchestra middle. I haven't had theater seats that good since I saw the Santa Fe Opera back in 2010!

My season seats to the opera aren't this good (though they are still great).

I mentioned in my previous blog that I was a big fan of the music, since Disney used it in their version, and it's been stuck with me ever since. What was different was how it was used in two different mediums. Different scenes, etc.

During intermission, Kiri got a picture with a member of the chorus. It was great that the dancers mingled with the guests. I've always enjoyed meeting performers, and even meeting the audience when I WAS a performer.

The dancers were stunning, the story beautiful. It's true what they say, I'm sure. Ballet dancers do it because they love it. They have to have incredible control over their bodies, which is so difficult, but the results are obvious.

Thanks again, Omaha Performing Arts, for the opportunity to see such an amazing show!

Friday, January 22, 2016

Tea Time for Cats (Sponsored Post)

We all know how I love my cats, right? I'm pretty sure that if Jane would let me, I'd get about ten more. As it is, she hates Henry and only sometimes tolerates Tris. But, they're all my loves and I adore them.

When we moved into a smaller house a year and a half ago, we had to figure out where to put their cat boxes, since our house is so small. We decided one downstairs, which my mom takes care of, and then there's one in my bedroom, which is always open for them to get to. 

Having a cat box in my bedroom is actually like going back to my senior year of college when I had Henry and Jane in my dorm, and to hear my neighbors talk when they came to my room, you wouldn't know two cats lived in the space to smell it. 

We've been using a conventional clumping litter since we moved in, and when reached out to me to try some products for my cats, I got pretty excited when I saw WeRuVa Hinoki Wood and Green Tea cat litter

I've never heard of Hinoki wood, but apparently, it's used in Japanese architecture because of its ability to stand up to humidity. The green tea contains compounds with antibacterial properties that prevent odors.


So far, I like it. It's been two days, and there's still no cat odor in my room. The bag, itself, was really lightweight, which is great when carrying it upstairs. When I poured it out, there was no dust. The old stuff I used covered everything with dust. There wasn't any dust with this, which was great. 


The cats do seem to track this a bit more, but that might be because the pieces are bigger than the sand of what we're used to.

I use sifting liners, and these don't really sift which was disappointing, as the bag said it was clumping. If I switched to this permanently, I'd have to get a scoop. 

What do Jane, Henry, and Tris think?

Jane and Tris are quite the troopers. Tris was an outdoor cat when my sister brought her home, so she's pretty content with what she's given (though she's quite the Queen if you look at her). Jane is like me, and she'll probably use whatever lady's room is available to her. Jane hopped right into the box, did her thing, and left.

"Mom, I'm really not sure about this..."
Henry, on the other hand, has been acting like I have committed the ultimate betrayal against him. He's quite spoiled, having only lived with me or my parents his entire life. I think he could get used to it if he had to.
  • Do your cats like the litter you buy?
  • Have you tried WeRuVa?
This post was sponsored by The litter was provided for my honest opinion, which are my own.