Saturday, October 1, 2016

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The script of the magical return to Hogwarts, 19 years since we last saw our heroes. All of our favorites are back, and we get to meet England's next generation of wizards.

First thoughts: SO MUCH NOSTALGIA. I wanted to cry in the first few pages, reading their dialogue was like seeing old friends after a long time.

Favorite quote: "This is chaos. This is magic." -p60

Something's Different: This is a play and must be read as such - slower at first, to get used to the different characters and their voices, then quicker as the action picks up and races on. Once I got into the format it felt like I was back at Hogwarts.

Worth the Hype?: I wasn't sure what to expect from this tale, as I stayed away from all reviews before reading. I enjoyed the action and the nods to the books by way of key interactions and phrases. Yes, there were a few plot holes, but the emotion and atmosphere kept me floating along.

Ron & Hermione: Not everyone will agree with me, but I enjoyed the exploration of their relationship. Any writer would have loved to try out various iterations of a story, and Rowling does so with care for her fans, but also a curiosity of Why Not? & What If?

Recommended for: HP fans of all generations, people without the cash money to fly to London to see the play live on stage, anyone who likes to be in the know.

Final thoughts: I laughed, I cried, I said hello and goodbye to old friends, I met some new ones. I fell back in love with the wizarding world, and was approached by strangers on the train who asked me how I felt about it all.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Friday Night Links 34

Because there's not much else on the internet these days (exaggeration, but you know what I mean), a few political links for your perusal. And if you missed it, check out the articles I linked before Monday's debate.

Obama's time is dwindling, but he leaves behind a food legacy like no other President before him.

Laughter is the best medicine, and it may be the last weapon we have to take down Trump.

This article takes some time to get there, but echoes my sentiments from Monday: we can't afford to vote for a third party candidate in this election.

"There's no weakness in asking for help:" POTUS on service members seeking treatment for PTSD.

Very interesting breakdown of the specific phrases Clinton used during the debate to discuss race.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

What I Know About...How to Give Within Your Means

I consider myself a frugal person, but that doesn't mean I can't also be a generous person. The ultimate goal of my frugality is remaining financially independent while also having the luxury of spending my money on what I truly want - and that includes causes I believe in. How do I feel good about my own charitable giving while also making sure I can save, pay bills, and buy wine? Here's what I've learned...
  1. Choose With Your Heart AND Your Head. We all have causes near and dear to us - I love food and reading, so I gravitate towards organizations working to end hunger or promote literacy. You may be an animal person, a human rights advocate, or a champion of clean air and water. Start there and look for an organization that will use your donation for what you want most for the planet. The trick is to not stop with the first thing that comes up in a Google search - do your research on any charity you want to support. Are they reputable? What do they use donations for (direct services and programs, salaries, or "administrative expenses")? Use a website like Charity Navigator, CharityWatch, or Give Well to see how the charity of your choice uses your dollars.
  2. Stay Local. To avoid worrying about giving money to a faceless organization, find something close to you or close to someone you care about. Your church, school, and place of work are great places to start, but check out nonprofits that are literally in your neighborhood. Odds are you already know about these places and their reputations, and you can be sure your donation is directly assisting programs in your community. 
  3. Donate Smarter, Not More. Once you've decided on a charity, an organization, or something else you'd like to support financially, make a smart donation. Check to see if they have a matching program, where your donation is doubled by another (larger) corporation. Look into how the organization uses the money and see if you can mark it for a certain project or request that it be put into a certain fund (ie, an endowment fund where the original donation is never used, only the interest accrued from it). Look at the agency's calendar of events to see if they have any upcoming fundraising drives or events.
  4. Speaking of Events...Attend, volunteer at, and be involved with your charity's events. That's the best way to learn more about an organization and how they benefit from donors. Your involvement will also further invest you in their mission, which will help boost your feeling of generosity. Don't undervalue your donation of time and/or talent!

Monday, September 26, 2016

Let's Get Political

It's Debate Night, people. Watch on almost any channel. Drink if you must. Be nice online and informed at the proverbial water cooler tomorrow.

For those who are undecided: Really?

For those of you who already know who you're voting for (myself included): watch to stay informed, or at least for a laugh.

For those who think their 3rd party vote will enact change at a federal level: start smaller, my friends. Get 3rd party politicians into local and state offices first, then go for Congress. "This is not the time for a protest vote."

For those of you who aren't voting: please rethink your decision!

Saturday, September 24, 2016

This is Your Life

This is Your LifeThis is Your Life by Meg Wolitzer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The story of several lives and how we influence them, or let them influence us.

First thoughts: This is definitely a Meg Wolitzer - character driven, with beautiful poetic lines - yet I can tell it's an early Meg Wolitzer.

Favorite quote: "She was not a deep well, a bottomless pit, as she used to imagine herself. There were limits, she thought, and it was a relief to feel that there were edges around you, a membrane that kept you from spilling out into the world." -p256

Recommended for: lovers of characters and human interactions, larger-than-life personas, those who try to hard, and those who don't have to try at all.

Final thoughts: This is Your Life is entertaining, but not all parts were cohesive. I'd like an updated version, or just something Wolitzer has written more recently.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

S'mores Treats

Summer may be over, but it can keep right on going in your kitchen with this campfire-esque recipe. S'mores Treats are Rice Krispie Treats, with Golden Grahams subbed for Rice Krispies and a few chunks of chocolate added in to the mix. Here's how I made mine, adapted from Rian Handler at delish and Christy Denney at The Girl Who Ate Everything.


7 cups Golden Grahams (I used Cinnamon Toast Crunch)
3 tbsp butter (I used coconut spread)
1 package mini-marshmallows with 1 cup reserved
1-2 chocolate bars, cut into pieces
  1. Grease bottom of a 9 x 13 glass pan.
  2. Measure cereal into a large bowl.
  3. Stir together butter and marshmallows (minus 1 cup) in a large pan over medium heat until creamy.
  4. Add marshmallow mixture to cereal and stir until cereal and marshmallows start to come together. Add a few pieces of chocolate and continue stirring until completely mixed.
  5. Spread mixture in glass pan (tip: use a buttered rubber scraper) and top with remaining marshmallows and chocolate.
  6. Let cool, then cut and enjoy!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Cat's Eye

Cat's EyeCat's Eye by Margaret Atwood
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Female relationships are hard. Margaret Atwood explores these dynamics with the story of Elaine Risley, painter, friend, and woman.

First thoughts: I can think of the Elaines in my life. And the Cordelias, Graces, and Carols. Atwood brings complex relationships to life in a way only someone who's been there can.

Favorite quotes:

"There is never only one, of anyone." -p6

"...everyone else my age is an adult, whereas I am merely in disguise." -p15

"I see that there will be no end to imperfection, or to doing things the wrong way." -p154

"I know too much to be good. I know myself." -p170

"I could live without this. I have before. But I like it all the same." -p417

Recommended for: women, girls who will become women, anyone who has friends who are women.

Final thoughts: I love the language and imagery. This was a haunting tale, one that sticks with you after you finish reading.

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