Friday, March 29, 2013

Dream Home

I spend a lot of time daydreaming. I've always been this way. When bullies picked on me in kindergarten, I imagined the Beast from Beauty and the Beast coming to rescue me from the metaphorical wolves. Even now, I imagine a life on an acreage in Colorado with five chickens in a Tardis-looking Hen House.

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Fun, huh? I love the idea of raising chickens. I hear they make great pets. I'd name them Rose, Martha, Donna, Amy and Clara. If I ended up with boy chicks, until I got rid of them (no early morning wake up calls for me), their names would be Doctor and Jack. I'm a total geek.

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I love this house. Two stories. Three bedrooms. Nice big kitchen, dining room and fire place. I'd put a theater in the basement. And probably a guest room. The upstairs bathroom is humongous. Big enough for the washer and dryer (No laundry shoot!) and a snazzy clawfoot tub.

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I've always loved a clawfoot tub. Something old fashioned and romantic about them. My dad wanted to put one in the basement bathroom of our house, but there weren't funds. Pity. But this would be nice. Maybe have a nice view of the backyard garden and/or chickens. 

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This bedroom is gorgeous. I would add more purple tones, but it's very serene. 

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This list is basically a grouping of me spending WAY too much time on Pinterest. Found this when looking for home theaters (I'm such a movie nut, I HAVE to have a theater in my home.)

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Stinking adorable. I would so do this! It looks like the Disney Cruise Line ships. Art Deco and Old Hollywood. 

I have dreams. Big ones. And Pinterest is a fun place to store those dreams until they become a reality. I've been seeing lots of things about never letting go of your dreams. This comes about a week after having a breakdown in my car that my life isn't going where I want it to, and crying out to God. I guess He knows I need a lot more reminding. I'll take it.

Follow your dreams! No matter what!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Ten Commandments and Easter

Want to know the greatest Easter movie of all time? Before rushing to name off every movie about Christ's crucifixion, or the very few involving the Easter Bunny ("Hop" and "Rise of the Guardians" are the only two that hop to mind), hear me out. It's not either of them. Not by a longshot.

It's been a longtime tradition in my family to watch The Ten Commandments sometime during the week leading up to Easter. As a child, I hadn't the foggiest idea why. As a teenager, I didn't care. The 1956 film (Cecile B. DeMille's second attempt at the epic story of Moses!) is the greatest movie about the Bible, EVER. Purists might curse me by saying that it's The Passion of the Christ, because that movie literally IS Easter, and it is a good one. It's well done as any Biblical film I've ever seen, but before the story of the Passion ever happened, there was the story of Moses, the savior of the Israelite slaves.
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The story of Moses is when the Israelites first observed a "Passover." It was the last curse that God put against the stubborn Pharoah, Ramses, to convince him to let the Israelites go. It's a tradition that is still observed by many Jewish families to this day. When Jesus and His disciples were eating the Last Supper, they were having Passover. Only this time, Jesus was the sacrifice to save everyone.

But that's enough seriousness. When I was in college I watched The Ten Commandments every year around Easter and NONE of my friends understood it. But it's so well done. It's bright, colorful, the performances are amazing, espcially by Ann Baxter (All About Eve1950), who played Moses' first love interest and Ramses' eventual wife. She is really the star of that film. She steals every scene she's in. I have a bit of a girl crush on her, but she's just so fabulous. She's almost Cleopatra, generations before Cleopatra lived. 
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Charlton Heston is known for epic films, and he's done several Biblical ones. This one shows him in several different ways. There's the hot young prince at the start of the movie, followed by the shepherd being fawned over by several young shepherdesses, and then there's the man who saw God, with big white hair and a long beard. He plays each part of Moses life as if he was really going through those trials. Yet another reason for me to love him.

If you get a chance, check out this version of The Ten Commandments. The 1923 original Cecile B. DeMille is pretty good, and even has a "modern" (1920's) portion of two brothers who both love a girl, and they regularly break all ten of the commandments. There is also the cartoon musical from 1998, The Prince of Egypt, starring every big name under the sun from that time. And what junior high school didn't sing "When You Believe" that year? I know mine did. And we sang it again in high school!



Yes, the Resurrection was the first Easter. It's why we celebrate it, but I like to think God was preparing everyone for sacrifice with the story of Moses. What kind of dinner would Jesus and the disciples be having if they didn't have a passover to observe? Something to think about.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Amanda Knox: An Opinion Piece

I don't like to write controversial things in this blog because it's just not who I am. It's not what I enjoy talking about, or writing about. But I have to say this to the ten people that follow me regularly. I honestly stand behind Amanda Knox.

Knox, the day she was acquitted (Source)
If you don't know the story, Amanda was a student in Italy, living with another student from England, and along with her boyfriend, was accused to murdering said roommate, Meredith Kercher back in 2007. When Amanda and her boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito were acquitted last year, I was glad for them. Amanda, specifically. If you watch her on the stand, in the courtroom, she looks scared and devastated. She looks like she wants to wake up from a terrible nightmare, but this is somehow her life.

Let's compare that to another murder scandal that rocked America: Casey Anthony. Casey was accused, and also acquitted of murdering her only daughter. The case went on for weeks with so much media coverage, and all signs pointed to Casey as the true killer. She didn't seem as scared. She didn't seem as devastated. She looked relieved, obviously, when she was acquitted, but she hasn't done anything to change her life or her ways. Amanda returned home and tried to move on with her life. Amanda was beloved among Americans, who continue to believe in her, whereas Casey Anthony is practically in hiding, because there are so many outraged for her daughter.
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There's also the Jodi Arias case right now, accused of killing her boyfriend, and all signs point to guilty as sin for her, as well. Some cases are just more obvious than others. Amanda's case is a lot more gray. And Italian Courts aren't known for being thorough, and that was a big issue when her lawyers were fighting for her.

Now that Amanda's case is returning to an Italian court, she's thrust back into the spotlight. I do find it interesting that it happened right around the time that her memoirs were to be released. I still believe she was innocent, but timing really is everything, right?

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I hope this is solved issue, and I do hope and wish Meredith Kercher's family could have closure, but I, personally don't believe that Amanda Knox killed her.

There's my controversial post for the year. Happy 100th Post.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Movie Review: Oz, The Great and Powerful

Somewhere over the rainbow, way up high, there's a land that I heard of once in a lullaby.

When I was a little girl, I was obsessed with The Wizard of Oz. I wanted to go to Oz, skip along the yellow brick road, meet the Scarecrow who would be my best friend, and my dog, Toto, would help us defeat the Wicked Witch and uncover what a fraud the Wizard was (No, really. I have a stuffed dog named Toto that I got from some nuns when I was two at a production of Cinderella Still have him. He's the best part of my childhood).

Last week, we went deeper into the Ozian History books to uncover how the Wizard, a traveling showman from Kansas, got to Oz and how the Wicked Witch of the West became so Wicked and Green.

While performing his flim flam act in a small Kansas town, Oz (James Franco) cheats his partner, Frank (Zach Braff, so nice to see him again! Thought we'd lost him after Scrubs was cancelled!), out of money, womanizes at least two different women, and let's his childhood sweetheart, Annie (wearing a blue gingham dress), accept the proposal of farmer, John Gale (Blue gingham, last name Gale. Ring any bells?), so he can go on to do great things with his life. While running away from the boyfriend of one of his conquests, he jumps in a hot air balloon and escapes...right into the path of a tornado. We know the rest of the story. The tornado, much like Dorothy in the Original Wizard of Oz stories, Oz is wisked to the land of Oz (how many times can I say Oz in this review?), where he lands in a pond and meets Theodora the Good Witch (Mila Kunis), who tells him of the prophecy of their former ruler, that a great Wizard would come and rescue the Ozians from the Wicked Witch. From there, we meet Theodora's older sister, Evanora (Rachel Weisz), who was delightfully unhinged and a little twitchy in her role. Evanora sends Oz on a hunt for the witch, and to destroy her wand, which is the source of her power. Along the way, he takes his flying monkey, Finley (also Braff), who he'd saved from a lion on his way to the Emerald City, and they meet the little China girl (Joey King), who'd lost her entire China family when the Wicked Witch attacked. With the help of Glinda the Good (Michelle Williams, who also played the part of Annie, Oz's childhood sweetheart), the group defeats the real Wicked Witches (let's be real. We ALL know who they were!), and Oz stayed where he was, despite not having the Hogwarts-like powers of a real Wizard.

I was floored by how beautiful the production was. They paid homage to the 1939 Wizard of Oz, while also making sure to create a new world thanks to all the technologies created since then. We got to see exactly why and how the Ozians believed Oz was the Wizard they were waiting for, and Oz got to be the great man he wanted to be (Anyone who's seen the original knows where they end up). He used the tips and tricks that he'd used to fool hundreds of carnival goers for years to fool a race of people who had no idea what fireworks or projections were. It was fantastic to see how great Oz's imagination could be.

My favorite character was Finley. I love Zach braff anyway. He's loveable and adorkable, and he's not afraid to be silly. What's sillier than a monkey? Especially a flying monkey in a bellman suit. He acted as Oz's true conscience, telling him when he was being a selfish tool, and doing his part to help Oz become the great man he wanted to be.

It was interesting to see the family dynamic between Theodora and Evanora. I like watching sister relationships because I have a sister, myself, and I like to see how we differ or compare. I think everyone always knew that Evanora (Or, the future Wicked Witch of the East) was the more evil, because Glinda said so in the original. Evanora was manipulative and had Theodora wrapped around her finger. I think Theodora wanted to be just like her sister, or wanted to believe she was good, and was easily manipulated by her. Thankfully, this relationship is nothing like my relationship with my older sister.

I'm game for anything Wizard of Oz. When I got older, I truly appreciated what a messed up, yet wonderful movie Return to Oz was, I adored Wicked, the musical, and Tin Man from Syfy a few years ago. I will admit that I didn't care for Wicked: Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, as it was much darker than any of the films I'd seen. I will admit that I haven't read the books, but I do think that Sam Raimi and his entire team did a fantastic job and I honestly think L. Frank Baum would have been proud to watch it. It was beautiful, fun to watch (in 3D, even), even if I did think a few things (which will remain a mystery) a little trite and copied from other fairy tales. However, I guage a movie on my overall experience, rather than break it down into little bitty pieces. I left the theatre with that giddy feeling, like when you find something you loved as a child, and experience it again. It was fantastic for that reason, alone. It was old and familiar, yet new and exciting. The perfect warm fuzzy.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

I was nominated for a Liebster Award!

First of all, thank you to Ellen of My Mother Stuttered for nominating me for Liebster Award. The Liebster Award is to acknowledge up and coming Bloggers with fewer than 200 followers. This has actually created a bit of a challenge for me because most of the blogs I follow have a LOT of readers, and I get to nominate eleven other bloggers. I think I can get up to that number, but let's just see!

Rules:
  • Thank your Liebster Blog Award presenter on your blog and link back to their blog. 
  • Answer the 11 questions from the nominator, list 11 random facts about yourself and create 11 questions for your nominees
  • Present the Liebster Blog Award to 11 blogs of 200 followers or less who you feel deserve to be noticed and leave a comment on their blog to let them know they’ve been chosen.
  • Copy and Paste the blog award on your blog

Questions from MyMotherStuttered:

1. What was your favorite book series as a kid?
The Babysitters Club. I loved them and between my sister, Kiri, cousin, Tashi, and I, I'm almost positive we had the entire series. I read those books until the covers fell off and the pages fell out!

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2. What was your first CD?
I'm probably dating myself, but my first cassette tape that was mine and no one else's was Amy Grant's House of Love
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3. What book have you re-read the most?
Call it sick and/or twisted, but I have always come back to The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. I first read it in high school when I was trying my hand at being the cynical, smart chick from Ten Things I Hate About You (Kat Stratford), but then reread it several times when things got rough for me. Call it Scadenfreude.
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4. How many times have you watched your favorite movie? (and state what it is)
I'm such a movie nut it's gonna be hard to say which is my favorite. A few years ago, I would've said Little Women, which was the entire reason I became a writer. That was the movie I could watch whenever I wasn't sure what I wanted to watch. Probably still rings true today. That or A League of Their Own. What Can I say? I love me a good chick flick.

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5. Your idea of camping is:
Every year, my family goes to this small lake near Falls City, NE (Name withheld to protect our space! It's QUIET!) and set up our Pop-Up Camper (Seriously. If we had tents, it would rain all weekend. We've tried tent camping and it always rained. The year all the families got Pop Ups, we didn't get rain until the last night). The only *ahem* facilities are his/hers outhouses where we have to supply the TP, and there are no showers. Shower before and take baby wipe baths over the course of the weekend. Lots of cooking out, s'mores, flea marketing and reading. It's nice.

Source (Not Our Camper)
6. Who was your Hollywood crush when you were a teenager?
Hmm...I don't know that I had one. I had a thing for a guy I went to church with (rather, two guys who never even noticed me), so I didn't really have a consistent high school crush, but for college, it was the new Superman, Henry Cavill. Until he got engaged, then he was unappealing. Rumor is he's single again. Hmm...

Source *Purrs*
7. What's your favorite concert?
Most of the concerts I've attended are instrumental. As a kid, my there were concerts in the park that were free (My Aunt Pat had the skinny on free events in Omaha. And still does, I believe), but the best concert I remember going to was Rebecca St. James when I was in college. It was an amazing show at the Kansas City Music Hall with a couple of my sister's friends who went to college near me. I love Rebecca St. James. She's an inspiration.

Source (My Favorite Album)
8. What's your favorite vacation?
Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy. When we went on a Disney Cruise last year. It was a family reunion cruise (though it was the family that we see all the time, but whatevs). We went on the Disney Dream to Nassau and Castaway Cay for four days. We celebrated my parents' anniversary and my cousin Laura's 13th Birthday. It was a blast.

Me and the Birthday Girl at the Enchanted Garden Restaurant
9. What's your cosmetics philosophy?
I wish I would wear more, but I just don't. I get up really early for work and church, and what I'd like to do is too much effort. I like the way I work with it, and one of the ladies at church told me I should really make an effort more (because she didn't recognize me at the wedding we saw each other at). 

10. Say Anything, High Fidelity, or Serendipity?
Say Anything. "I gave her my heart. She gave me a pen." Have sadder, more heartbreaking words ever been uttered? John Cusack's performance had me in love with Lloyd Dobbler for years. Still am. I should watch it again.

11. How many books have you written (not necessarily published)?
Completed? Two. Published? One. The second book should be published shortly. 

All Right My Turn. 11 Questions.
  1. If you could vacation anywhere, where would it be and for how long?
  2. What kind of animal/pet do you prefer?
  3. What Tiger Beat cover boy/girl did you have all over your walls as a kid?
  4. What was your favorite class in junior high?
  5. What do you do to prepare a blog?
  6. Why'd you want to start writing a blog?
  7. Reality TV: "The end of decency as we know it" or "a fun escape from my own life?"
  8. Who is the best product spokesperson? My favorite is the Trix Rabbit.
  9. Where is your ideal home?
  10. What do you do when you're not blogging?
  11. Which color of Peeps taste best?
And 11 Bloggers to honor, in no particular order
  1. The Little House in Little Rock
  2. Obscura Operandi
  3. He Gives Me Grace
  4. Samantha Stroh Bailey
  5. Lori The Author
  6. Wendy Ely's Books
  7. Books by Banister
  8. Thoughts on This 'n' That
I know if says pick 11 other blogs, but I don't know of any other blogs that I would consider good enough. But All of these bloggers definitely deserve recognition, so be sure to check them out. 

Thanks again, Ellen for nominating me!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Facebook Friends Forever

Say what you will about Facebook, but without it, I think it would be a lot harder to keep in contact with some of my nearest and dearest. My girlfriends from college, we're so busy that it's hard to keep up with each other's day to day, and letter writing was a thing of the past even before Facebook and email took over the internet. Kaity's a busy mom, Amanda's a newlywed, Jess is a college student again, Lauren's starting a new job, Christina works about five thousand jobs (you know it's true, Chica. LOL). We are all crazy busy!
Also, without Facebook, or my old blogger stomping grounds, LiveJournal, I never would have "met" my friend, Shannon, who provided me with the perfect encouraging Bible verse to take with me to work today.

Shannon and I have never met in person. Our mutual friend is Kaity, who studied Creative Writing with me at Stephens College, and grew up with Shannon. After making comments in agreement on Kaity's LiveJournal (and taking it over, too. Whoops!), we started following each other's blogs, and friended each other on Facebook when that came around, circa 2005.

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After the disaster that was yesterday, this morning, I posted a message on my personal FB page, requesting encouraging verses and words from my friends. So many posted so many and they helped me remember God's goodness and His plan. The one that hit the Epiphany button, however, was Luke 1:45.

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To provide a little context, this verse comes when Mary has recently learned of her impending pregnancy, and has gone to visit her cousin, Elizabeth, an older woman who'd recently become pregnant with her first child who would become John the Baptist. Yesterday, on my way home, I was literally crying out to God, praying for an answer. This is my validation that God keeps His promises. I've always believed in my future plans. Always. Even in the hard times, I've always held onto this belief that I would be successful with my life.

Work has been hard on the Martin crew, and this verse is for my sis, too. Job hunting. She's got her Master's Degree and is looking for a Human Resources job. She's awesome, if anyone out there is hiring!

How has this verse never crossed my path before? I am utterly shocked at how perfect it is. Makes me feel so much better about my prospects. On top of that, my first interview came out today. Check it out! A little more blog and book traffic would be fantastic, but just remembering that it's a journey and a process has helped me decompress and take a break. Today was better. Hopefully tomorrow will be awesome. And this weekend?

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Final thank you to all my friends who contributed to my verse directory today. It was appreciated more than you will know. And Shannon, thank you for introducing me to Luke 1:45. We really need to meet someday!

  • I never really jumped on the bandwagon of getting to know strangers over the internet. Have you?
  • My friends, Jess and Sara bonded over one of my Facebook statuses regarding "Bones." They've never met.
  • Anyone else have a similar story?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

How Much Jane Austen Means To Me

I had a crappy day. Of the Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day persuasion. I was fine when I woke up, but when I was halfway to work, I got extremely tired. I knew that today was going to be bad.

Work was bad. Not gonna go into detail, but I honestly think my time there is coming to a close. I'm looking for something else, but I'm not going to hold out hope. It was just draining in so many miserable ways. I came home, crying, started crying again when I talked to my mom, and started crying again when I saw kind messages from my facebook friends on my status. I have some great friends and family. And you guys are right. This will pass. This isn't forever. I will take comfort in the friends I have at work (whom I love and adore), and remind myself that it's not the be-all end-all of my career.

When I got home and had time to myself, I watched a couple episodes of Rules of Engagement before switching gears to watch Emma. I am in love with this movie, despite it having Gwyneth Paltrow. It's just done so well. I also made lemon bars for work tomorrow (yes, I still like them well enough to give them sugar), and while it was baking, I wanted something sweet for me. I found a box of instant chocolate pudding in the cabinet for when I wanted to make my dad's birthday cake (I got instant when I should've gotten cooked), so I stirred that together. It was a chocolate and chick flicks kind of night.

Arizona Theatre Company

One reason I treasure this story so much (Though, I don't love it as much as Pride and Prejudice) is because when I decided to go to Stephens College, I figured, "It's a women's college. I'm bound to study Jane Austen sometime!"

FIVE YEARS LATER...

I think my Literature teachers got sick of my begging to study Jane Austen, so for my Women Writers: Novels class, we got to study Emma. I learned so much about the story, and was so thankful she'd let me do the projects on it. She even liked my final paper on it more than any other. It stems from a passionate love of love stories. I've always been kind of romantic, even more so when I see characters who are really good for each other end up together. Everyone learns something (at least the redeemable characters) in Jane Austen stories. Lizzie and Darcy learned that they judged people too harshly, Emma and Knightley learned that she should control people's lives less, and Knightley learned that the little girl he'd grown up with was now a young lady, and despite trying to direct her life, he realized she could make her own decisions. Marianne learned to control herself and her emotions, Col. Brandon learned to be patient (though, he was 38. God knows he was patient!). You get the idea. People always learn in Jane Austen books.

I can quote this movie. I absolutely love it. Jane Austen always makes me feel a lot better, thankfully.

Original Film Poster

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Story of Stella: A Perspective

I have a hard time writing in first person narrative. It always comes off sounding...bitchy. I mean seriously bitchy. It never comes across as genuine. It comes across as ranty and I don't think people would want to read that. When I set out to write the Spy Sisters books, I knew going into it that it couldn't be in first person, since I wanted more than one perspective, and the reason for that is simple.

Stella is an unbelievably selfish woman.

Most of the action in the book happens to Stella. We hear her stubborn ideas, see how she responds to people who don't agree with her, and how she treats her superiors. She's selfish and always right. She can be condescending, rude, immoral, dangerous. How would anyone sympathize with a woman like that?

Through all the ugly horribleness that she can be, Stella has a soft spot for her sweet step sister, Riley. Riley is Jane to Stella's Lizzie Bennet. Snow White to Stella's Rose Red. She's the good in Stella's life, the one person that can make Stella remember what being a spy means. Riley is a housewife, trying her hardest to properly raise two polite, intelligent daughters, and Stella sees her as the person Stella would be if she didn't like her gun so much.

Stella's partner, David, has seen Stella through thick and thin. He's rescued her on many occasions, stood up for her and kept her from being bored when their jobs got boring (which happened more often than not). They became good friends during their downtime, and she was able to show her vulnerable side to him every so often.

Stan is Stella's best friend since college. They both speak Russian, both have familial connections to government organizations, and both have a sick sense of humor. He doesn't take her crap, and is madly in love with her sister. He's going to stay around for a long time.

My point is, to really understand what Stella is like, you need to get to know the ones she loves. These three people see through her ugly temperament to what she really believes, and what she really fights for. Inside Stella's head is a dark, ugly place, and I don't think anyone would want to spend any amount of time there. She's as dark and twisty as Meredith Gray, only not nearly so slutty (unless she needs information).

This is why I write in third person omniscient. I feel like my characters would be more likable if we saw them from other people's POV.

That is my Thursday blurb. I need to get back to writing about writing, and my process. Ciao, readers!

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All That Matters Now (Finding Neverland)

I've been a MASSIVE Peter Pan  fan since I can remember. Disney , Mary Martin version, I loved  this story. I actually have several memo...