Oz The Great and Powerful

Okayish. Yeah, there were problems but there were also highlights too. My two favourite characters were Finley (Zach Braff) and China Girl (Joey King). I’ve got to say I thought Zach Braff was great and I can’t say I’ve liked much else he’s done but he was perfect as the the winged monkey, Finley. Just the right mixture of humour and humanity. Joey King was a wonderful mix of bravery and sweetness.

The print I saw was 2D but it was really marred by the 3Dness of the production. Special effects became more obvious and less immersive, and it was definitely irritating when you could tell some, so called, 3D ‘magic’ was happening but the image became flatter and less interesting. For example, when Oz danced with Theodora, it was really obvious when they were actually dancing versus being swung round and around. The Wicked Witch of the West’s make up was pretty plastic, as were many of the townfolks, which was not bewitching but rather irritating.

Definitely would no pay to see it again but might watch as sequel entitled Finley and China Girl’s Adventures in Oz.

Current Temperature: here 21F/-6, there 4C/39F

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Adventures in Weather

Weather has definitely been happening in this part of the world. Even after living out on the prairie for more than 20 years it is still possible to see something new. Morris covered in a sheet of ice rubble is definitely a new one for me. Driving in town feels like off-roading in a 4 wheel drive vehicle, even in our tiny Honda Fit. Walking on the pavement is a nightmare for staying vertical. Our penguin shuffles are well developed at this point. This morning I drove Nic to work to ensure a broken boneless arrival on campus.

It’s hard to guess how long the ice rubble will remain. Temperatures don’t look like they are going to warm that much, though if it’s sunny during the day slush may ensue.

Fingers crossed for remaining upright.

Current temperature: here 16F/-9C, there 12/28F

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Tomato Sauce for Pasta

This is the first of a number of tomato sauce recipes I want to share with my mum so I thought I’d post it here for posterity.

This is a pretty intense sauce and surprisingly made with tinned toms. It’s adapted from a recipe in The Geometry of Pasta by Caz Hildebrand and Jacob Kenedy, a brilliant book Nic bought me because of the cool illustrations. You should definitely check out the geometry web page plus look for manskills on YouTube with their groovy vids to cook food to. For example Farfalle Pasta With Broccoli, Anchovy & Cream (Not that I can eat it, but it still looks delish.)

4 cloves of garlic, sliced
7.5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
pinch of red pepper flakes
2.25lbs of chopped canned toms
0.75 teaspoons salt

Gently fry garlic until it begins to brown. Add remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil and then simmer gently, stirring frequently, until the sauce is nice and thick. This cooks for a good while and tastes better the more time you take, IMHO.

This recipe produces enough sauce to go with a pound of pasta so I’d recommend, after cooling, putting whatever sauce is leftover in ice-cube trays and freezing. Once the cubes are solid, remove them from the trays and store in the freezer in freezer bags. Next time you want sauce all you need to do is pull out a number of cubes and warm them in a saucepan as you cook your pasta.

Current temperature: here 21F/-6C, there 3C/37F

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Adventures in Pasta

Inspired by my latest favouritist blog, The Art of Doing Stuff, I made pasta for the first time today. And, oh yay, it was spectacularly great tasting despite the ineptness of the pasta maker.

Beginning with, How to make pasta dough, I made one substitution and used semolina instead of regular flour. Working with two eggs, it did not take long to mix and kneading was a breeze. I even made use of a wood board we’d been given by Mutti many moons ago. The final dough ball just looked just like the piture at the bottom of the instructions.

While the dough rested, I set up my pasta machine. I purchased the machine a while ago at a local garage sale for a couple of dollars and this was its first outing in this house. I had to set up on the dining table as the counter top in our decrepit kitchen was too wide to clamp the machine to. I laid down some parchment paper to protect both the wood table top and the pasta.

The instructions, How to use a pasta machine, were easy to follow, though it turns out my machine counts from 8 down and I found levels 2 and 1 so super fine it was impossible to stop the pasta ribbon from tearing. The cutting rollers worked a treat and I used the wide setting since this was my first attempt and that seemed easier to deal with.

Fresh pasta, it turns out, really likes to stick to itself so my ribbons of pasta began to clump up before I realised what was happening. (So next time I’ll spread the lengths out after I’ve cut them.) Nevertheless I dumped my pile of pasta into some boiling water for about 4 minutes.

For sauce we winged it. We both used a little extra virgin olive oil. Nic then added some fresh parmesan while I added a little salt and freshly ground pepper.

It was way delish!

I will definitely do this again plus I’m now super keen to put my ravioli cutters to good use.

Current temperature: here 34F/1C, there 2C/36F

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Thor

Popcornalicious. This was an absolute hoot and exactly what was needed from a summer blockbuster: lots of energy, explody things, overthetopness, hot guys, and a complete lack of stick-up-arse, as they say in the vernacular. It made me laugh out loud on more than one occasion and permitted the consumption of butter drenched popcorn and high fructose corn syrup. What more could a gal want? Hell, there was even an interesting female character who was more than eye candy and actually talked to another female character about something other than getting a date with some hot guy. Wow, my cup runneth over!

Current temperature: here 64F/18C, there 12C/54F

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Spring has Sprung

You can tell that spring has hit hard in Minnesota when the quiet sunday afternoon idyl is disturbed by the mechanised sound of mowers mowing.

Spring is definitely here and the grass has become rampant. As have all the weeds that thrive therein. We’ve been trying to mow for a few weeks but it wasn’t until yesterday that dry weather and free time coincided appropriately for the rampaging plant life to be mown down. And boy was it rampageous! Took me forever, with my handy dandy electric mower, to make it all the way around our corner lot. It doesn’t exactly look like a beautifully manicured English lawn but at least the city won’t come round and complain.

Afterwards I sat and watched the local wildlife indulge in a feeding frenzy of bug consumption. There were a pair of robins hopping across the lawn looking for worms who were particularly interesting.

Current temperature: here 64F/18C, there 12C/54F

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UMM Student Art Show 2011

This year two of my aluminium sculptures were juried into the annual student art show at UMM. The base for the first piece is walnut. Photos taken by Nic McPhee.

Mother and Child

Mother and child

Hairball #1

Solid as (h)air

Current temperature: here 64F/18C, there 12C/54F

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Harry Potter 7 part 1

Tense. Despite having read the book and knowing what happens this is an incredibly tense movie that keeps you on the edge of your seat for its entire length. The visuals are quite stunning and the ending left me wanting more. I’m ready for part two right now, damn it!

Current Temperature: here 14F/-10C, there 0C/32F

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Day and Knight

Yawn.  This movie can’t quite make its mind up what it is, there’s just not enough wit involved to pull it above the mediocre level for which it has settled.    The action is not quite spectacular enough to be a draw and there’s not enough witty humour to amuse.

Current temperature: here 14F/-10C, there 0C/32F

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Ah yes, this is winter!

So we’ve had snow, of and on, these last few months but today was the first time I needed to shovel knowing that if I didn’t the sun wouldn’t fix the situation. The storm didn’t bring much in precipitation but the wind blew everything around enough that there was plenty of snow to be dumped in the driveway by the ploughs as they cleared the street.

I managed to start shovelling early in the afternoon, so the sky was clear and a bright blue, and standing in the sunlight was pleasant. The shadow of the house only crossed the pavement in one corner so I didn’t get to stand in the cold for too long. The job took about 40 minutes and was not too onerous. The tricky spots as usual were the end of the front walk, which was filled in up to 6 or 7 inches by the wind and the two spots where the pavement intersects with the street which the snow plough had filled in.

Current temperature: here 14f/-10C, there -1C/30F

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