Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Review: The Walking Dead, "The Distance"

I've been pretty vocal about my love of The Walking Dead. It's the one show I can't wait to watch, the one show I will watch as it comes on and suffer through the commercials. For the first time, last night, I realized I didn't watch it Sunday night and had to watch it on DVR. I was surprised that I had forgotten, to be honest. But this season hasn't been my favorite one, at all. There have been episodes in the past five seasons I have suffered through, I call them "story fillers" - they are only there to move the story along, but are incredibly boring. This season, so far, it's not that the episodes have been boring, it's that I am getting really tired of the plot line not going anywhere different. The show has repeated the same cycle since the beginning - our survivors wander until they find a place to stay, the people they find are crazy, they kill everyone, then they move on until they do it again. Last week, we saw them at their wit's end. Tired, hungry, thirsty, and filled with despair over the life they have had to lead, we saw them wondering through a lush desert, unable to find shelter, food, or water. This week, hopefully, we have been given some hope.
We meet Aaron, a well groomed, well spoken, kind stranger who has admitted to following our group and has asked them to come to his community, where he promises safety and refuge. (Hmm, where have we heard this before? Terminus? The Governor's camp?) So, with good reason, our fearless leader Rick is hesitant to trust him. He distrusts him so much that he puts his group in danger to make sure this man is who he really says he is. Although I have to admit, barreling through an endless hoard of walkers was pretty awesome to witness. Finally, Michonne has taken a stance on what she feels like the group should do, and admits to Rick that it would almost be better to suffer the consequences of more crazy people if it means they get somewhere they can all rest, even for a short time. I am not sure how I would feel either, and we hear Rick admit that he isn't sure anyone could say anything at this point to convince him that this new community is a good one, he just has to witness it for himself. I am with you, Rick, can't say I'd be any different.
What we do see in this episode is that these people have been asked in the last however many months? Years? to constantly adapt to new surroundings to survive. We have gone past the point in The Walking Dead that the walking dead are the number one enemy. The number one enemy is fighting against yourself, trusting when you shouldn't trust, killing when you don't want to kill, and going against all you have learned in a life pre-apocalypse to survive in a new world with new rules that change constantly and swiftly. I am glad we have finally gotten to this point because I do know a bit of the comic book story and I feel like this place will be a positive place and Aaron will be a trustworthy friend, even if the peace won't last all that long. However, we all know that the comics and the show don't always reconcile together, so who knows what will happen. But we do know that we finally see Rick's eyes show a glimmer of hope when he hears the laughing and playing of children and he sees the possibility of giving his baby girl a life where she can learn to run and play, and cry like it's every baby's right to do, within the safety of walls. I hope for the viewers sake that we have finally changed the cycle of this show, because I don't know how much more of these horrible plot lines I can take and keep wanting to watch.

How Did You Spend Your Ice Day?

We had such a lazy couple of days around here.
We did make it outside for just a little while.
My crazy pup loves to eat the ice. She couldn't get enough! The dogs also loved playing in the ice. They went nuts!! That is, until they came inside and proceeded their lazy life on the couch.

We even got some hot chocolate afterwards!

Jason lets the kids eat ice, which grosses me out, but hey. I guess one parent has to be the fun one. Avery loved being outside, even though we were only outside a total of about 10 minutes.

The streets looked decent enough to get out of the house, so we went and had some breakfast for dinner at Denny's. I haven't been to Denny's in ages, but boy, they have some good pancakes!

And now, getting back to Day Two of inside fun!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Birdman: A Review

As I sit here attempting to figure out what I thought about Birdman, I am having a hard time deciding whether I really liked it or simply appreciated it for what it offered while being incredibly annoyed at the entire experience. The line between artistic, unique filmmaking and ridiculous nonsense is often so thin that it's difficult to determine what a movie actually is. In this case, I can see both sides of the story.
If you don't like reaching out of your comfort zone in a movie and having numerous questions that are never answered, this movie isn't one you should see. The entire movie is based on an attempted comeback of a has-been superhero actor played by Michael Keaton (whom I have always loved and loved in this movie). He has spent the majority of his career playing Birdman, but hasn't done much in the last twenty years. In an attempt to prove he is a real actor willing to take risks, he writes, directs, and stars in an theatrical adaptation of a book that will premiere on Broadway, which he and his lawyer friend (Zach Galafinakis) spend all of their money to produce. We are introduced to Keaton's character from the beginning with questionable "powers." In the opening scene, we see him floating in his dressing room while meditating, which is the beginning of many "magical" occurances that happen thoughout the film. These occurances are eventually shown as his hallucinations; in one scene. he is angry and begins destroying his dressing room using telekinesis. But as other people come in, we see he is actually picking up the items with his hands. This storyline is essential, as reality and what is going on in his head are constantly at battle and contributes entirely to what will end up providing the debate of the ending of the movie.  
As the film continues, it becomes obvious that the character of Birdman is a second voice in his head that taunts and tempts him into self-doubt. We see the film over a series of four nights, three previews of the Broadway show and opening night and the entire movie is filmed in one continuous shot - which made me wonder if this unique technique isn't the reason the movie received such accolades. If this hadn't been the case, would the movie have been as good? I hardly think so. The filmmaking itself is what deserves the praise here, not the actual storyline. I realized as I was watching the movie and began reading some background on the director and his vision, that I appreciated the movie much more, once I learned the challenge of making a movie like this is. I don't think I should have to read background to know a movie is good, but in this case, it was necessary to me fully appreciating the film.
There are several character studies going on here as well. The main antaagonist in the film is played by Edward Norton, a narcissistic yet legendary theater actor known in New York, whose style of acting is offensive and crude, yet incredibly effective. I felt like the underlying tone of Michael Keaton's character is that he questions what would have become of his career had he opted not to play such a popular character and chosen to play serious roles instead. Norton's character is who he would have been - a man so successful onstage, yet so incredibly unrelatable as a person offstage. Norton plays the character flawlessly, I love him but really didn't care for him most of the time, which was the point. We also get to know his daughter, played by Emma Stone, a grown woman struggling to come to grips with her father, who had been non-existent in her childhood but more than present through adulthood. We see through her perspective that she is as quirky and odd as her father, but has spend her adulthood overcoming a dad who wasn't bad, he just wasn't there. By the end, we see her come to terms with his reality as we watch her see her father "fly away" in the end scene after seeing him jump out of a window.
I came out of this movie thinking on a certain level, it was a cool film. During the movie, I was annoyed at several things. I feel like the movie was longer than it needed to be. I also got very annoyed at the constant sound of drums as the background music. I felt as if the music was there to serve as an effort to keep the suspense going but I started feeling very distracted by it. This was an addition to the film I could have lived without, or perhaps lived with less of. As far as the magical parts of the movie, I felt like it was very difficult to connect what we saw to what he was thinking. Perhaps I am too dumb to make the connection, but I felt like it was a real reach to tie the two ideals together. I almost can't really put my finger on what the "magic" was supposed to represent, other than just to show how disconnected he was becoming from reality at this stage in his life and career. Or perhaps it was him finding it more difficult to disconnect from the powers of his character, Birdman, even though Birdman's powers are never revealed. Either way, it was ambiguous at best.
Keaton's performance was amazing. He did a great job of playing the character he was expected to play and I will be voting for him to win the Oscar. He is the reason I liked the movie, because with the wrong actor, this movie would have been borderline unwatchable.
Bottom line - if you don't like artsy movies, don't even waste your time. It is hardly entertainment and it is certainly not feel good. It is billed as a dark comedy, but I would bill it more as darkly twisted and ironic. This is one of those movies where there are no redeeming qualities of the main character and while we see him, in the end, get what he wanted - relevance and a successful play - we still watch him descend into the madness of his brain with no hopes of coming back out. It's not the worst movie I've seen, but it certainly isn't the best. Watch it when it comes out on Netflix where you won't feel guilty turning it off, since you didn't pay $6 for it, like I did.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Cause it's Friday Morning and the Kids are Jumpin, Jumpin...

Urban Air in Mansfield has a deal on Friday mornings for pre-school kids - $5 for a 2 hour jump and parents pay nothing. This is a GREAT deal. So, my sister and I took the girls and went JUMPIN!
The girls had a blast!! We will surely be going back.

This foam pit was a big hit, even for us big girls! Jumping in and climbing out was a workout!

Not a bad way to spend a Friday morning!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Why I Love Blankets

I love blankets.
Colorful and cozy throw blankets can add so much to a room. They add warmth and a feeling that people are actually living here! I have loved blankets as long as I can remember. I think it's because my mom always had blankets accessible in rooms growing up. We keep the house pretty cool, so we use blankets constantly, and I have at least two in each room where there are couches and chairs.
Along with providing warmth and being functional, blankets can cover up a host of décor problems including ill-fitting slip covers...
Or adding something to boring backs of couches...

and they can even help tie décor together.

I found two throw blankets on clearance at Target for cheap, cheap, cheap. They weren't exactly what I had in mind, but for the price, I figured, let's make it work.
My mom gave me that great candle holder...not sure if it's going to stay there, but we will see. I need to find some great candles to go with it.

This room is just expansive. I love it. I fell in love with the ranch style beams and high ceilings and great windows the moment I walked in. Taking down the enormous brass chandeliers and putting up those fans was the BEST thing we did.

The other problem I had when I moved into this house was the sliding doors. I am not a huge fan of these doors, French doors would look better, but French doors are PRICEY, so for now, I am dealing with it. I have two sliding doors, one in this room and one in my breakfast nook, and they both lead out to the sunroom. I did the windows two different ways, but in here, I decided to get three curtains and when they are closed, they look like one big curtain.

But when they are opened, they allow in the maximum amount of light and we don't have to mess with constantly opening the curtain to go outside.

I decided to move that picture from the fireplace to the side because it just never looked right to me. I always dreamed of putting a large black and white family picture on that fireplace. I thought the picture would be big enough but it still looked so puny. It is 25 X 36. It is an engineer print from Office Depot that cost me $5. I put it on black foam board from Dollar Tree. It turned out beautiful. That will be my next project for my gallery art hallway I have in my head, but that's another day.
Here is how it looked before the blankets..
and after. Blankets made a huge difference! I also turned the pillows around and moved the ottomans. I just love the way this room is coming together.


The New Family Room

I told you I moved the TV into our other "formal" living room. Well, I like the idea of having a family room and a den, not a den and a formal living room. While our big room is technically "formal," I still think of it as the den. So, now, we have a family room. I love that it's right by the dining area. I feel like it really is a great place to spend time as a family.
Of course, the dogs aren't allowed on the new couches, but they still have to at least one place to relax. Their lives are very stressful, after all.

I still have some painting to do, but as of now, it's just kind of a mish-mash of stuff together. It goes together OK for now. It feels very comfy and cozy and that's what I wanted.

There is a bit of a glare from here, but we don't spend much time watching TV during the day at this point, so for now, it's just fine.

The curtains make more sense now, I think they "match" better than before. And like I said, it's comfortable. That's what we were missing before - I truly comfortable room to spend time. I am very happy with how it all turned out!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Stream of Conscienceness - Decorating Edition

I thought I would give you a little insight to my decorating process - I am sure you were thinking, "Why in the world did she paint that thing PINK?"
First, let me tell you how I even got this thing. I love garage sales. I was driving down a main street in our town on my way to drop off my daughter to my parents house because we were literally going to Florida that day. It was sitting in someone's front yard and I saw it and made my husband U-turn so I could just see what they wanted for it. When I asked and they said $40, I was floored. This piece is heavy and very unique. $40 was an excellent price. The problem is that we were on our way out of town and didn't have time to take it home that day. I got lucky because I said, "If I pay you, can you keep it for me until Tuesday?" And they agreed. Normally people don't do this, so it was cool that it happened that way. After we got it home, I knew I wanted to do something special with it, but just not sure what.

As I looked around this room for the last two years, I just couldn't figure out what I really wanted to do with the space. It's a ranch style house so I thought about going "western chic" with it, you know, antlers, Texas décor, stuff like that. But, that style just isn't me. I also knew this room is used a lot for gatherings so I wanted a place that encouraged mingling and conversations. I also couldn't put expensive pieces that could break because let's face it, I still have kids and they run around and do Nerf wars, and something expensive and breakable is just a disaster waiting to happen.
When I was ready to do some redecorating, the first thing I knew we needed was new seating. We knew we wanted something that would hide stains from kids, so we weren't going to anything white or cream colored (although that probably would have been something I would have done if I thought it would never get dirty). When we went shopping, we were looking for a couch and loveseat but I just couldn't find any I liked. Then the salesperson says, "Why don't you just get two couches?" And I thought, yes! The price was the same either way, so that's what we did. I saw a chair in the store and I really liked the idea of pink as a pop of color and that's when my vision started coming together.
We then started going shopping for accent chairs. We went to At Home, Ross, Marshalls, Target, and could find nothing. Well, nothing that was the price we wanted to pay. At Marshalls, I saw these ottomans for $30 each. They were really sturdy and I loved them, so that's when they came into the picture. As I was looking for pictures, I just couldn't find any I liked either. I hate floral pictures (pretty, just not my style). I wanted something that wasn't super cheesy, that was large and that had a pop of the coral I wanted to use. I came upon this print at Ross and I thought, that's the one! I took a picture of the print and went up to Home Depot to find some paint.

Normally I am a spray paint girl. You all know this about me. But I am also the type of person that once I decide to do something, I want it done now. Well, the weather last week was terrible and spray paint has to be done outside. This thing is heavy and I wasn't excited about waiting to move it outside until the weather got better, and I also wasn't excited about moving something so heavy, so I opted for the old fashioned paint and brush. I picked Fresh Salmon in Glidden and got my tools. I hate paint brushes, I usually opt for rollers or foam if I can help it. But there is so much detail on this piece I was going to have to use a brush for some of the painting.
The thing you have to be aware of when painting furniture is the finish. That's why a lot of people use chalk paint and wax, it gives a gorgeous finish. You also don't want brush strokes. So, this little roller and tray set is perfect for pieces like this. I hate cleaning brushes, so at $2.50, I can use this, then toss it. It also is the perfect size for painting things like dressers and small shelves. It won't go the distance on something large, but for something like this, it's great. I probably put about 4 coats on this piece to get the finish looking good.

Here are my other key items...
Image result for Poly Foam Brush
These brushes are cheap, like usually under 90 cents. They are great for detail painting. They have a small point that is perfect for painting inside corners and up against painters tape. They come in several sizes and can be bought anywhere paint is sold.
I also bought a cheap paint brush for the detail parts, but the bristles were too long and not very strong. I actually went and reached for my daughter's Crayola paint brush for the small details. It worked great.
The whole thing took me about 5 hours to paint. It was a labor of love, for sure. But I loved the results. It was pinker than I would have liked, but I think once I get some accent pieces, I will love the dark parts of the room with the light pops of color.
Let's do one more before and after...


Monday, February 9, 2015

So, I Got This Wild Hair

Jason and I were sitting in our living room the other night and both said to each other, "Ugh. I hate the stuff in this room. I wonder how much we could get for our furniture..." So, we put our furniture on Craigslist that night and had someone come pick it up the next day. We then used that money to do a little redecorating.
Let me just tell you - decorating this huge room has been the bane of my existence. Nothing goes in here!! It has these enormous walls that I just don't even know what to put on them. We had been using this space as a TV room. We have this huge room with this gorgeous fireplace and all of the furniture pointed to the TV! It drove me nuts. And the whole floor is marble so it's not comfortable to lay on and watch TV, and it's cold and hard and you have to turn the TV up so loud because you are so far away from it. It was just driving me bonkers. So, here is what I did.
I found this beautiful piece of furniture in a garage sale one day and you couldn't even see it because of the amount of stuff surrounding it and on top of it. I just couldn't take it anymore!
So, I did some painting and some simplification. I resisted the urge to feel like I had to put a million things on that big old wall. And I love it.

I had this piece of furniture here...

And now it's my piano.
Yes, I know, the paint looks so pink in these pictures!! It's SALMON! Ha ha.

We got two new couches that face each other. We have people over quite a bit - this has really been nice to help with conversation. It will be even nicer with salmon colored pillows and blankets.
Here is the furniture before, when we first moved in...
And after.
We also got these little ottomans that serve as extra seating. They can be moved easily and also contain storage space for blankets. And there is my daughter, playing Legos.
I love these couches!!
And I got a special treat from my very dear friend and it was the best surprise EVER...

She made a star in her house and I love it. Every time I go in her house, I tell her how much I LOVE that star. And now I have one of my very own!! That shelf is getting painted - again. I can't wait to show you how I arranged the TV in our new TV watching room!! And this star will be so beautiful on top of a turquoise shelf, don't you think?
Ugh. I am tired just thinking about all of the work I did. I am going to bed.