Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

What the Beck???

Bucket List Update
Academy Award Nominated Movies

2007      There will be Blood
starring:  Daniel Day-Lewis, Martin Stringer, Matthew Braden                           Stringer, Jacob Stringer, Joseph Mussey, Barry Del                        Sherman, Harrison Taylor, Stockton Taylor
plot –      Daniel Day-Lewis plays Daniel Plainview, a miner. He and his                  son discover oil on a property and they begin to buy up                  all of the property to build a pipeline for shipping. This                  was a brilliant idea for his time. His greed begins to                      take over and causes personal problems.
This was a pretty good movie. The storyline was well developed and well acted by Day-Lewis. The choices he makes in his personal life enhance this story.

2001     A Beautiful Mind
starring: Russell Crowe, Ed Harris, Jennifer Connelly, Christopher                      Plummer, Paul Bettany, Adam Goldberg
plot –    A movie based on the life of John Forbes Nash Jr. He was a                  great mathematician who made an astonishing discovery.                Later in life he struggled between reality and                            schizophrenia.
This was a really good movie. He was such a gifted man, but it was hard to watch his delusions.

2008     The Reader
starring: Ralph Fiennes, David Kross, Jeanette Hain, Kate Winslet,                      Susanne Lothan, Alissa Wilkms
plot –    A teenager named Michael Berg has an affair with a woman                  named Hanna Schmitz in Germany. The relationship                    grows until Hanna disappears. Michael doesn’t                          understand what happened when he learns she was a                    guard at a Nazi prison.
This was a movie that irritated me. To me, Hanna Schmitz was a pedophile, who led a boy into a total mess and then left him. She went to prison for her war crimes, and they met later in life and he helped her out. The reviews make it sound like a love story, but I totally disagreed.

2009     Up in the Air
starring: George Clooney, Very Farmiga, Anna Kendrick, Jason                          Bateman, Amy Morton, Melanie Lynskey, J.K. Simmons
plot –    George Clooney plays Ryan Bingham, a corporate man who                  fires employees for other companies. His company hires                a young woman who wants to change the entire way he                  works.
This was a really good movie. I could not understand how anyone could fire people for a living. Clooney is fabulous, as usual. The story was something new and fresh.

2007     Atonement
starring:  Saoirse Ronan, Ailidh Mackay, Brenda Blethyn, Julia West,                    James McAvoy, Harriet Walter
plot –     This movie is based on a book about two lovers who are torn                 apart by a vindictive younger sister. The outcome of that                 lie effects all three of them, but the young man goes to                   jail because of the sister’s lies. The young lovers do                     meet again.
This was a really good movie. Jealousy is a harmful thing when it is directed at anyone, but especially a family member.

2007     Michael Clayton
starring:  Arthur Edens, Michael O’Keefe, Sydney Pollack, Danielle                       Skraastad, Tilda Swinton, George Clooney
plot –     Clooney plays Michael Clayton a man who fixes the problems                 of his big time law firm. He tries to help a fellow worker                 who appears to have had a mental breakdown of some                   sort. The fellow worker is in charge of a major class                     action lawsuit that the firm is handling. Clayton tries to                 help this man return to his former state of mind and                     solve the law firm’s problems at the same time.
This was a pretty good movie. I like that the viewer has to try to figure out who is working against Michael Clayton.

2009     Avatar
starring:  Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, Stephen                   Lang, Michelle Rodriguez, Giovanni Ribisi, Joel Davis                     Moore
plot –     In Pandora live the Na’vi tribe. The environment is                      poisonous, so for humans to exist, they must become an                Avatar which is connected through the mind. Sam                        Worthington plays Jake Scully, a wounded Marine. He                    becomes an Avatar and falls for a tribe woman. The                      human's battle with the Avatars.
This was a really good movie, which is shocking for me to say. I have never liked cartoons or movies with violence, but this movie was absolutely amazing. There was a violent part, but for some reason it wasn’t as gory as the other movies I have seen. I would love to understand how the movie people created the Avatars. Is this considered a cartoon? An animated movie?  How did the characters look so like the actual people? Was it makeup??? I love that I actually had this many questions after viewing this film.

2009     An Education
starring:  Carey Mulligan, Olivia Williams, Alfred Molina, Cara Seymour,                 William Melling, Connor Catchpole
plot –     This film is shot in England. It is the story of Jenny, a really                 na├»ve teenager who wants to go to Oxford University.                     She is groomed by a man who lures her to become his                   lover, and it all ended badly.
This was a bothersome movie for me. This is the second movie in a week about what I consider a pedophile luring a teenager into early adulthood.  I know this actually happens, but it is so sad that the kid’s lives are changed forever.

2009     A Serious Man
starring:  Michael Stuhlbarg, Richard Kind, Fred Melamed, Sari Lennick,                Aaron Wolff, Jessica McManus
plot –     This is the story of the life of Larry Gopnik. Larry is an                       average man who works as a physics professor. His wife                 wants a divorce, his son orders expensive items on line,                 and his brother moves in with the family. Larry is very                   stressed throughout this movie.
This was a strange movie. I began by feeling sorry for Larry, but became irritated with how he handled his problems. Larry was a mess!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Monday, November 28, 2016

Monday, November 28, 2016

What the Beck???

Recipe Review

Today’s Recipe and Location: Skillet Apple Crisp
Found in: The Pioneer Woman blog

I figured out that there are 642 calories, if 4 servings are made or 428 servings if 6 servings are made. (Please note that the calorie counts vary depending on the specific brands of ingredients that you choose to use.)

This was a wonderful rich dessert. I loved the texture. It is a perfect fall or autumn dessert. I took this dessert to my Mom's house and everyone seemed to enjoy it with ice cream. An easy recipe to follow.

Here are the ingredients that I used to create this recipe.

I began by making the topping.
I put in the flour and brown sugar.

I added in the granulated sugar,



and finally the salt.

I cut the butter into small pieces,

and used a pastry cutter to blend them 
in with the other ingredients.

Now, on to the filling.
I began by taking off the peels, and then 
cutting the sections into small pieces.

I melted some butter in a cast iron skillet, and then 
added in the apples and salt and cooked them.
I stirred in the brown sugar, cornstarch, vanilla, 
and lemon juice. I totally forgot to take the photos.

I sprinkled the topping over the apple mixture.

Ree said to cover the skillet and bake. After the time 
had passed, I removed the foil and continued to bake 
until it was brown and crispy on top. 

 I scooped it into a bowl, topped with ice cream and served it up.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Saturday, November 26, 2016

What the Beck???

It's over!!

 The beautiful mandevillas were amazing!

Now, they are gone to the big garden in the sky.

 The red ones were gorgeous this year.

Now, the blossoms are no more.

 I loved how they brought the garden upward.

Now, I have to chop them down.
Boo Hoo!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thursday, November 24, 2016

What the Beck???


    I am thrilled to welcome to my family, my new sheltie, Sabrina. She is three years old, has already had two litters, and is extremely meek and mild. My friend, Vanna, informed me that our breeder, Connie, had a sheltie that needed a new home.

    I jumped at the chance to get another dog, because Sage was not doing well after Willow died. She was lethargic, sad, and spent most of her days hunting for Willow. Sage has never been the only dog, and didn’t even want to go outside by herself. Since Sabrina arrived, Sage has perked up and seems happier.

Sage looked so sad all of the time

    Sabrina's initial name was Selena, but to me, Sabrina fits her better. I figured that it sounded close enough, and she doesn’t seem to notice the switcharoo. 

    Sabrina is a Blue Merle. She is so colorful. She has one bright blue eye and the other is dark brown. She is full of life and loves to run. She is extremely smart and unfortunately creative. She found some of my yarn, and ran through the house with it when I was outside gardening. I was stunned when I came in and wondered what had happened. The rooms looked like giant spider webs. She also tried to destroy one of my pillows, but I caught her in time. Phew!!!!  She now has a new rawhide and has left everything alone……at least for now.

    I am so blessed that Vanna and Connie provided me with this sweet dog. I feel so fortunate. Of course, Willow is still missed, and on many days I am still weepy, but Sabrina has brought laughter back into our sad little house.

Scary eyes!!! 

The End!!!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

What the Beck???

Bucket List Update
Academy Award Nominated Movies

2002     The Pianist
starring: Adrien Brody, Emilia Fox, Michael Zebrowski, Ed Stoppard,                    Maureen Lipman, Frank Finlay
plot – A Jewish pianist gets separated from his family in Warsaw and                  survives by using his wits through the German invasion.
This was a really good movie. This man was an artist, and figured out how to live, when many Jews were immediately put to death.

2003     Master and Commander
starring:  Russell Crowe, Paul Bettany, James D’Arcy, Edward Woodall,                 Chris Larkin, Max Pirkis
plot –  The Captain of the H.M.S. Surprise are ordered to capture a                     French ship near South America. Capt. Jack Aubrey will                 face all odds to complete his mission.
This was a pretty good movie. Russell Crowe is wonderful in the role of the Captain.

2003     Mystic River
starring:  Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Kevin Bacon, Marcia Gay Harden,                   Laurence Fishburne, Laura Linney
plot –     This is the story of three neighborhood friends who have to                 deal with the death of one of their daughters. Sean Penn                 plays a rough ex-con whose daughter is killed. Tim                       Robbins plays the friend who sees the girl last, and                       Kevin Bacon is the friend who is the cop investigating                   the crime.
This was a really good movie. Three old friends look and deal with this crime in different ways. Accusations fly, but the truth must be discovered.

2005     Capote
starring:  Allie Mickelson, Kelci Stephenson, Philip Seymour Hoffman,                   Craig Archibald, Catherine Keener
plot –     Truman Capote reads about a murder in the paper and                       decides to write about it. He and his best friend, Harper                  Lee, go to the town and search for information about                    the people and the crime. Truman bonds with one of                    the accused.
I couldn’t wait to see this movie, because To Kill a Mockingbird is my favorite book and was written by Harper Lee. This story shows insight into the type of man Truman Capote was, and tells this story in an interesting way.

2005     Good Night and Good Luck
starring:  David Strathairn, Jeff Daniels, Alex Borstein, Rose Abdoo,                     Dianne Reeves
plot –     This is the story of how CBS newsman, Edward R. Murrow,                   exposes Senator Joseph McCarthy and the horrible                       things he accused Americans of doing. Senator McCarthy                 seemed to see communists everywhere.
David Strathairn is fabulous in the role of Edward R. Murrow. This was a real eye opener for me. In my history classes, I had heard of Senator McCarthy and his witch-hunt for communists, but I didn’t understand the methodology or the lies he told to hunt these people down.

2001     The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
starring:  Alan Howard, Noel Appleby, Sean Astin, Sala Baker, Sean                     Bean, Cate Blanchett, Orlando Bloom, Billy Boyd
plot –    One Ring has been found and the forces are hunting for it.                   Frodo has it and is now in the Legend. He is now the                     Ringbearer.
This was the second Lord of the Rings movies that I have seen recently. This one seemed better than the first one I saw, possibly because I now had some background info.

2003     The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
starring:  Noel Appleby, Ali Astin, Sean Astin, David Aston, John Bach,                 Sean Bean, Cate Blanchett, Orlando Bloom, Billy Boyd
plot –     This was the last in Peter Jackson’s trilogy. This movie              shows that last battle between good and evil fighting to                  rule the Middle-Earth.
This was yet another Lord of the Rings movie. All I can say is that I am done watching this movie series and am relieved.

2006     Letters from Iwo Jima
starring:  Ken Watanabe, Kazunari Ninomiya, Tsuyoshi Ihara, Ryo Kase,                 Shido Nakamura, Hiroshi Watanabe, Takumi Yamaguchi,                 Eijiro Ozaki, Nae
plot –    The story of the Japanese troops who were stuck on an island                 and eventually died there during WWII.
This was a subtitled movie. That is just painful, and the story is a war movie on top of it.  Lord, help me!!  I am glad I got through this one.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Sunday, November 20, 2016

What the Beck???

Becky Cans Pickles

     Last summer, I took a canning class at Sur la Table in Naperville, for only one reason. Holly Van Tholen, the Mom of one of my previous students, sent in a jar of pickles with her wonderful son as a Christmas present. Now, I never liked pickles until I tasted one of her homemade bread and butter wonders. I was hooked!!!
    I was so blessed when Holly sent me her Great Grandmother’s recipe. So last week, I finally canned my first pickles. The recipe made 10 fabulous jars.

Here are the ingredients that I used to create 
the most fabulous pickles on the planet.

I began my washing and cleaning out the green peppers.

I cut them into thin strips.

On to the onions.

I thinly sliced them, too.

I put half of the green peppers, onions, garlic, canning 
salt, and pickles in this very large bowl,

and the other half in a strainer over a bowl and covered
both of them with ice.
I let it sit on the counter for 3 hours adding ice
if it melted too quickly.

Now, on to the brine. These are the ingredients 
that I used to create it.

I began by putting the sugar in a pot.

I added in the tumeric,

celery salt,

and mustard seed.

The final ingredient to add to the 
brine was the regular white vinegar.

This is what it looked like after the sugar had melted, 
and the ingredients were all stirred together.

I drained the water and ice and gently rinsed.
The jars had been sanitized and heated as were
the lids and rims. 
First, I added in the pickle mixture, and then
scooped in the brine, being careful not to touch
the lid of the jars.

Here are the jars. I waited until I heard
the 10 "pops" which proved that the canning
had actually worked.

The pickles are ready to go!!
I was so proud of myself because they
tasted just like Hollys!!!!
A giant thank you to Holly Van Tholen.