Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Halfway Point

We've somehow made it to the middle of 2015. The year is halfway over, and it's a doozy. In the span of three months, both of my roommates, my boyfriend, and I will have started new jobs. One of my roommates is moving out, someone else is moving in, and then, at the end of July, I'm moving out. It's both scary and exciting - the Naw has been my home longer than any other place, except two of the houses I grew up in. Still, I'm ready to make a new home with my forever roommate. (You know, once I actually find an apartment to move to - more on that later.)

This transitional period has forced me to hurry up and wait, then wait some more. I'm tying up loose ends at Mercy and in my #nannylife, but I can't dive in to the next phase of my life just yet. I purposely gave myself some time to reset and recharge - even though all I want to do is be there, at the next place, wherever that is.

Instead, in honor of tonight's Leap Second, I'm going to stop and be here, now. It's the only place I can be.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Lemon Blueberry Muffins

I'm the designated dessert maker in my apartment, and in Jesus's family. I wouldn't refer to myself as a baker, but I sort of fell into the role. And since I have a sweet tooth, I guess I'm okay with it. For Mother's Day, I made strawberry cupcakes (using blended strawberries in the batter). They were just okay (meaning I will try again). For Father's Day, though, there was no try. Just 100% knocking it out of the park with lemon blueberry muffins.

I adapted/doubled this recipe from Cookie and Kate, who followed this one from Smitten Kitchen, which is itself adapted from Cooks Illustrated...meaning just about everyone on the Internet has made a variation of these. The end product was light and sweet and not too guilt-inducing.

Lemon Blueberry Muffins (additions/substitutions in parenthesis mine)

10 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1 c sugar (I used 1/2 c white sugar and 1/2 c cane sugar)
2 eggs
1 1/2 c plain yogurt (I used coconut yogurt)
1 tsp grated lemon zest
(I also added the juice from one lemon)
3 c flour (I used regular white flour)
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 c blueberries (I used a whole container of fresh blueberries, but frozen would also work)

  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Line a muffin tin with paper liners.
  3. Using an electric mixer, cream butter and sugars.
  4. Add eggs, beating well after each. Add yogurt and zest, beat until smooth.
  5. In a separate bowl, mix dry ingredients.
  6. Add dry ingredients slowly to batter, beat on low speed until mixed.
  7. Fold in blueberries.
  8. Fill muffin liners 2/3 full. Batter should be thick, so you can just use a spoon to scoop and fill.
  9. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until tops are golden.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

The Maze Runner

The Maze Runner (Maze Runner, #1)The Maze Runner by James Dashner
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Sum it up in a sentence (or two): Teenage boys are sent via an elevator thingy to a social experiment compound, once a month, until Thomas shows up as the last boy. Now the group has to figure out where they came from - and why they were sent to the Glade to begin with.

First thoughts: Nothing really happens until about 100 pages in to The Maze Runner, except a lot of confusion and questions. After that, things speed up a little - our hero gets in and out of trouble and the story moves forward.

A strange concept: Like the characters, I was never quite sure why someone would send a bunch of teenage boys to a remote location. The end of the book begins to explain what's going on, but it's clear that Dashner wants us to keep reading to find out the real story. I can't honestly say I'm chomping at the bit to find out.

Why not? : I think my indifference in starting the second book in the series is due to my indifference towards basically all of the characters. I thought Thomas was super annoying, and only cared about Minho and maybe Frypan.

But still: I'm interested in seeing the movie to help visualize the Maze/Glade.

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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Breaking Fasts in Chicago

Weekend Brunch has always been a happy occasion for my family and me. Growing up, Dad would either make pancakes/french toast, eggs, and bacon/sausage after church, or we would go out for brunch with extended family. I still love a slow Saturday or Sunday morning when I can drink coffee while flipping banana pancakes or scrambling eggs. Sometimes, though, I want someone else to serve me while I wake up...that's when I turn to these faithful standbys. Whether I need a quick pick me up or something to keep me going all day, these establishments have my back.

Coffee Klatch

Bang Bang Pie Shop
Good For: Sweet. Savory. Pies. And coffee!
Ambiance: Hipster-Kitsch
Notes: Not a lot of space + unique menu items means lines for Bang Bang can stretch out the door, especially on sunny weekends. Pies are limited, so call ahead to reserve!

Red June
Good For: Getting together with friends over a cuppa and a sandwich (I'd say "sammy," but then I'd hate myself).
Ambiance: Quiet, Quaint, Quirky.
Notes: They've got a walk-up window, outdoor seating, and wi-fi...plus they're local/independent! #supportlocalbusiness

Good For: Feeling literary. And caffeinated.
Ambiance: Inspiration meets Productivity. (Plus a lot of Macs, but what are you gonna do.)
Notes: These guys take coffee to another level ("Ipsento" roughly translates to "self-discovery"), plus all their sandwiches are named after writers. Win!

Full On Brunch

Kitsch'n on Roscoe
Good For: Feeling full, not bloated.
Ambiance: Pretend you woke up in a groovy diner. Now Kitsch'n is serving you breakfast. Chill, man.
Notes: This place is cozy and casual, but even better, they serve up some cool dishes without taking themselves too seriously.

Cozy Corner
Good For: Hearty meals with family, whatever "family" means to you.
Ambiance: Cozy. Hectic. Awake and Alive. "Order's Up!" With a side of hash browns.
Notes: I've only been to the Milwaukee/California location, and I've learned to come early or wait in line with the rest of Logan Square. Cozy Corner is no nonsense, which is exactly what a person needs before/during her first cup of coffee.

Over Easy Cafe
Good For: "Breakfast with a Twist." (And free coffee while you wait.)
Ambiance: Upscale yet Unpretentious.
Notes: Let's just say I won't be the last person to tell you to try the Banana-Spiked French Toast.


Victory's Banner: Vegetarian/vegan, yes. But from what I've heard, the defining characteristic of Victory's Banner is their zen service backed up by what happens to be delicious meat-free food.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Summer 2015

While summer's been unofficially here since the end of May, this weekend brought the official/calendar beginning of summer. And here is my official/not serious list of summer activities to partake in and moments to enjoy:

  • Read
  • Beach
  • Bike...for fun
  • Drink coffee
  • See fireworks
  • Eat/drink on a patio
  • Farmer's Market
  • Take walks
  • Slow down
I intentionally didn't list any concrete activities with dates - over-planning stresses me out and can get overwhelming, especially considering Chicago has a new festival every weekend. Let's just say there are plenty of options for me to choose from when it comes to committing to something. Plussss I left out a few (exciting) for-sure things that I know I'll be doing this summer because they are nonnegotiable (and things I won't forget to do, so I don't need a list to remember them).

I like this small, manageable list of things that mostly come natural, but can get forgotten amidst all the festivals, shows, concerts, and flashy events. And I'm excited to soak up this summer!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Sunday Night Survey: Father's Day Edition

My father spent his day motorcycling the Great Plains, which I guess is the best present my siblings and I could give him, if you count us not really doing anything except letting him trek across the country without complaint a present. I celebrated here, with Jesus's family (where we "let" his dad grill). I spent the rest of the longest day of the year (and the other days this weekend)...

Working: on a resume (but not my own!).
Eating: Puerto Rican food.
Forgiving: silly annoyances.
Drinking: lemon water.
Feeling: like a minority.
(not) Caring.
Using: the Bloomingdale Trail/606 to make my weekly trek to the library/Aldi.
Prepping: lemon blueberry muffins=
Taste-testing: batter. (Result: approved.)
Reading: Rejection Proof by Jia Jiang and A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
Making: roasted vegetables and an Asian-inspired salad.
Finishing: Season 3 of Orange is the New Black.
Wishing: the Time Hump Chronicles were a real thing.
Thanking: God for my Dad, and all the great Dads in my life.
Waking: up to birds and the neighbors.
Driving: Jesus's car so he could nap (#bestgirlfriendever).
Planning: the last weeks of my old routine and the first weeks of summer.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Pride Month Book Report

Welcome to Pride Month! This past year, I read a number of non-fiction books about being gay, coming out, having gay fathers, or books of other various topics where the author happened to be gay. I'm hoping to do more collective book reports like this in the future (sometimes I'd rather discuss several exciting books at once rather than just my usual one/week). Without further ado, here is my Pride Month Book Report:

Girl in Need of a Tourniquet: Memoir of a Borderline PersonalityGirl in Need of a Tourniquet: Memoir of a Borderline Personality by Merri Lisa Johnson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

First thoughts: this memoir is both interesting and confusing. I have little to no context for the subject matter, so I can only say that I both liked and got annoyed by the writing style. The story itself seemed to have a borderline personality. I wish I had more of a frame of reference to give a more informed opinion.

Where I read: over the span of three days, mostly while I was alone in my room.

Favorite quote(s):
"I will still believe the problem is outside me--a matter of being in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong people." (This sentiment is so relatable.)

Final thoughts: This book had a hopeful, bittersweet ending. I definitely want to check out more books dealing with borderline personality disorder, if only to expand that particular horizon.

Seriously... I'm KiddingSeriously... I'm Kidding by Ellen DeGeneres
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

First/final thoughts: Sometimes I wish Ellen wasn't kidding in this book. Everything serious she hints at gets undermined by a joke. Everything. I can watch her show for one-liners--I want more out of a memoir. What makes it more frustrating is the fact that I'm pretty sure Ellen is an introspective person and I know she has stories that are more interesting than silly digressions or cracks at her time on American Idol. I was disappointed.

Fun Home: A Family TragicomicFun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

First/final thoughts: As one of the few graphic novels I've read (not skimmed), Fun Home (short for Funeral Home, ha!) stands out as a complete story enhanced by the illustrations. I wanted to look at the story as much as I wanted to continue reading. Bechdel is a no-nonsense writer and I appreciated her honesty.

Recommended for: English majors, people figuring themselves/their relationships to others out, readers, visual learners, parents, and children.

Editor's Note: Now a Tony Award-winning Broadway musical and a Pulizter Prize Finalist!

Confessions of a Fairy's Daughter: Growing Up with a Gay DadConfessions of a Fairy's Daughter: Growing Up with a Gay Dad by Alison Wearing
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

First/final thoughts: I'm not generally big on memoirs (although you wouldn't guess that by this book report), but Wearing's prose/voice/writing style is so graceful and thoughtful, I couldn't help but be drawn in to her story. That the subject matter is interesting, fresh, real/personal, and important also helped. Wearing and I have little in common, but I could still relate to her story, which I think is a true measure of her talent.

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Thursday, June 18, 2015

A Practical Commencement Speech

I had the honor of attending a local eighth grade graduation last week, where the keynote speaker was Representative Will Guzzardi. Today I want to share his three main points, because they apply to more than starting high school (or to a politicians "freshman" year in Springfield, which is the experience Guzzardi draws from) - these are tips we can all put to use wherever we are in life.

Don't Be a Jerk.
This one, Guzzardi admitted, is simple to understand yet not always easy to put into practice. Being a jerk - making fun of others, thinking selfishly, making assumptions before doing the work to learn the ins and outs of something - comes naturally to many of us. We might know we're wrong, and we might feel bad or guilty after the fact, but we still mess up a lot. Instead, we need to take those few extra steps to think about how our actions affect those around us, and to remember that nobody wants to help out a jerk. (So yes, being nice can have payoffs above and beyond feeling better about ourselves.)

Don't Believe the Stereotypes.
We all have our groups of friends who are more or less like us. That's well and good. But that doesn't mean people outside of our comfort zones aren't worth befriending. And it definitely doesn't mean that people outside of our friend groups are defined by the broad stereotypes that we assign to them. In fact, people who seem different than us might just be the best friends we could have, and more than likely they're not anything like your preconceived notions of them. (Which leads to...)

Look for Similarities, Not Differences.
Once you've set aside the stereotypes, it's easy to see how much we all have in common versus where we disagree. And in order to get anything done with a group of people, we've got to focus on common ground. Yes, we can acknowledge our differences, but we shouldn't let them get in the way of working, creating a community, and coexisting with each other.

Monday, June 15, 2015


The Blackhawks won their third Stanley Cup in six years tonight. That is all.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Sunday Night Survey: Sweaty and Sticky Edition

Where am I at this weekend? A lot of places, mentally. Not enough, physically. A weird one, emotionally.

Taking: life day by day.
Waiting: patiently for chapters to end and to begin.
Being: purposely coy.
Celebrating: new adventures and new challenges.
Meeting: future friends, future coworkers, future thinkers, and future heartbreakers.
Soaking: in what I can.
Saying: goodbye to a huge part of my recent life.
Inhaling: several steak tacos from Taquiera Moran.
Hugging: my boyfriend for possibly the millionth time in four years.
Walking: the 606 again! (It's still crowded up there, but it's also the most direct route to Aldi.)
Rearranging: my room. Possibly for the last time? (!)
Sweating: finally, but also profusely.
Watching: the Blackhawks take the lead in the Stanley Cup Finals!
Drinking: Redd's Wicked Mango Hard Ale.
Listening: to fireworks and rain.
Waking: up to more rain. And a few ceiling leaks.
Making: Scrambled Pancakes (known as Flunkies in our house, but every German family seems to have a different name for them!).
Finishing: Saint Mazie, by Jami Attenberg.
Starting: The Spectacular Now, by Tim Tharp.
"Cooking": cilantro-lime shredded chicken (in the crock pot).
Wading: through puddles left by opened fire hydrants.
Napping: through the sticky heat of an afternoon.
Going: to Movies in the Park to see Jurassic Park.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Reconstructing Amelia

Reconstructing AmeliaReconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Sum it up in a sentence (or two): In the aftermath of Amelia's death, her mother, Kate, must reconcile with her past to reconstruct the last few days of her daughter's life. Told from Kate's point-of-view in the present and Amelia's in the days leading up to her death.

First thoughts: I both struggled and raced through this mystery thriller - the red herrings, twists and turns, cliffhangers, and sketchy characters kept me reading while the similarities of Kate and Amelia to my boss and her daughter gave me pause.

Whodunnit: I changed my mind on trusted characters versus suspects almost page by page. [Spoiler-y Examples] Ben went from an innocent friend to slightly too involved to way to mysterious to not be up to something. Liv went from helpful to a bit too chummy to unprofessional.

High School Drama: I had a hard time believing some of the interactions between Amelia and her "friends" (and mom). While some where realistic to the point of annoyance, others had me shaking my head in doubt.

Recommended for: mystery/crime lovers, voracious readers, NOT parents of teenagers/high schoolers.

Final thoughts: [Spoiler!] Uff. So many "guilty" parties...and this whole thing is an accident/caused by the best friend? Heart-wrenching. The ending/knowing the truth is still sad - the closure isn't comforting.

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Friday, June 12, 2015

Friday Night Links 21: Highs & Lows

Summer break starts tonight! Both kids from my #nannylife are officially done with school (and off to various summer camps and activities), which means goodbye homework checks and hello leaving work early on Fridays (And maybe other days? Sure, why not.). I'm excited about having more time to enjoy summer, but it's not all beach days and street festivals in this city. Here are some highs and lows about Summer in Chicago:

And a high from Italy, just because:
One teacher's Summer Homework list (that's applicable year round, and for adults too).

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Empanadas, Etc.

Latin America = most of the countries south of the US border. Latin American food = a billion different things. A review of "Latin American Restaurants" is difficult, because while they might be similar in some respects, each country's cuisine is unique. I'm lucky that I live close to a lot of restaurants who identify as Latin American, whether they be Costa Rican, Cuban, Mexican, Argentinian, Puerto Rican, or just "Latin American" in general, but I'm even luckier that all these places feature one of my favorite comfort foods: empanadas.

Good For: Dinner, patio drinks, getting together with friends.
Ambiance: Casual, with several seating areas depending on your party's size.
Notes: I've liked everything I've gotten from D'Noche. Along with the always popular Trio de Empanadas, the rest of their "Starters" pair well with their cocktails (my favorite is the D'Noche Mojito).

Good For: Dinner, patio drinks, getting together with friends...and oatmeal shakes!
Ambiance: Casual, open air, cozy, festive, and celebratory. It's always a party at Irazu.
Notes: The sweet plantain empanada is my favorite, but they are all worth a try (with Salsa Lizano on top!). Irazu is BYOB, vegetarian friendly, and cash only. They are also closed on Sundays, which I've learned the hard way (standing outside on a Sunday evening, hungry and craving a steak sandwich).

El Nandu
Good For: Empanada takeout!
Ambiance: I've honestly only ever gotten takeout from El Nandu. Eating in is on my list.
Notes: Order empanadas with confidence - they are all good. My favorites are the Tucumana (steak, olives, green onion, eggs) and the Maiz (corn, green onion, red pepper, egg, and cheese).

Honorable Mention
90 Miles
Good For: Empanadas and Cuban coffee.
Ambiance: Intimate, somewhere in between casual and formal, low lit.
Notes: 90 Miles isn't my favorite place to dine (it's kinda pricey and every time I'm there I wonder why it's so dark inside), but they do have awesome cafe con leche and they're BYOB, which makes it an easy spot for group gatherings. They may also need to adjust their slogan ("Taste the Forbidden").

Monday, June 8, 2015

The 606 on 6/06 (and 6/07)

The things you see on/from The Bloomingdale Trail/606 on Opening Weekend:
  • Babies in strollers
  • Bikes in abundance
  • Rollerbladers of varying skill sets
  • Babies in baby carriers
  • Scooters of every imaginable type
  • Groups of kids getting lost in groups of adults
  • Singers
  • Sunshine
  • Maps
  • Skateboards
  • Billboards
  • Sunsets
  • Teenagers
  • Income disparity
  • Elaborate rooftop gardens
  • Big screen TVs
  • A potentially naked dude in his kitchen
  • Well-lit paths
  • New parks
  • An easy way to get to Aldi
  • Kissing couples
  • Weird bench arrangements
  • Old graffiti
  • New donors
  • The highway
  • Playgrounds
  • Continuing construction

Saturday, June 6, 2015


Spinster: Making a Life of One's OwnSpinster: Making a Life of One's Own by Kate Bolick
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Sum it up in a sentence (or two): Kate Bolick explores the dynamic of being single v being married while delving into five of her "awakeners," women who have guided her on her "spinster wish" quest.

First thoughts: This book wasn't what I was expecting. I wanted more of the preface/intro and less of the history lessons. (A common theme I've been noticing in my reading habits: I like the intros and the conclusions, but the bodies get too technically involved. Does this say more about me as a reader? Probably.) Hearing about Bolick's "awakeners" was interesting, but I didn't necessarily need/want to to know their life stories, I wanted hers.

Reflections: It's interesting to read how another person connects with literature (and to know I'm not the only one to feel such connections). I found myself continually comparing my feelings on being a single woman (albeit one in a committed relationship) to Bolick's desire for spinsterhood (which she redefines in order to include, yes, all women).

Favorite quotes:
"Besides, I decided, isn't that how falling in love so often works? Some stranger appears out of nowhere and becomes a fixed star in your universe. My susceptibility to the seeming poetry of random chance is both blessing and curse." p9

"As always, the buildings of my youth were exactly where I'd left them." p9

"If you're lucky, home is not only a place you leave, but also a place where you someday arrive." p40

"Very deep down there was a kernel in me that thought maybe someday far in the future I'd want to read these failed attempts - as if they weren't trying to be poems after all, but cryptic letters to a version of myself I'd yet to meet." p45 (On poetic endeavors of her youth, and how I feel about the binders of old poems/stories I have.)

"How do you embark on your adulthood when you don't know where you're headed?" p45 (YES, EXACTLY! HOW?)

"Sharing an apartment with a roommate had at first felt refreshingly temporary, and then, eventually, unnervingly so, as if it were a way station to some indefinable, always-distant destination rather than an actual home." p188 (How does she know exactly how I'm feeling?)

"...everyone in my life had convinced me that you don't turn down a job until it's offered." p191

"When you're insecure about your appearance, trying to make yourself look better is a fraught endeavor. The home is a blank canvas, or empty vessel - a place where the will toward beauty can be expressed unchecked, without the messy complications of the self." p227

"When you're a writer, you don't want to waste your time or energy on people who require you to be social. She never sought that comfort. She sought independence, experience, and observation. She wanted to experience the world." -Yvonne Jerrod, Maeve Brennan's niece, on Brennan, p267

Awakeners: I love that Bolick has a "secret coven" of women writers to converse with. I do too, in my own ways. But that's not what I wanted to read about when I chose this book. I'm more interested in the personal aspects of the book - Bolick's own relationships, feelings on single life, hesitations about marriage, and the ways being single is challenging and different for women versus men, the same way marriage is also challenging and different for wives versus husbands.

Recommended for: Women, both single and coupled, writers and readers, champions of women's rights.

Final thoughts: Hmmm. Bolick makes me think. I definitely have my own "spinster" time (like right now, as I eat breakfast, read, and write this) and I love it, but I know that I'm meant to be with someone, to share a home and a life with someone (a man, my husband). I think the world needs a mix of both, really, and I say you go girl to all the self-chosen spinsters out there.

Editor's Note: I received a copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

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Wednesday, June 3, 2015

What I Know About...Saving $$ on Food & Groceries

Saving money in general is easy: buy less. Then there are the specifics of frugality: spend less money on things I have to buy. Food is one of these necessities, and with a little thought and minimal effort, it's easy to keep my budget balanced. It should be noted that I love food (cooking, making, and eating), and after rent and health insurance, that's where most of my money goes. Still, I've found ways to get the most bang (or bites) for my buck.

I know:
  1. Cooking at home keeps costs down. Eating out will always be more expensive than buying groceries and making your own food. People have tons of excuses for not cooking, but if you're watching your wallet (and your waist), eating in is a no-brainer.
  2. Shopping at Aldi (or your local equivalent) keeps costs even further down. First, you save by not eating out, and second, you save by getting the best deals on (almost) everything on your list. People are always surprised at the variety and quality of items at Aldi. Except for a few random items (soy sauce is the only one I can think of right now), all of our groceries come from Aldi. Even our dish soap, laundry soap, and things like aluminum foil, plastic wrap, garbage bags, and light bulbs are from Aldi. They have local/in season produce, organic options, and a rotating selection of name brand quality food items. Another no-brainer.
  3. Making things from ingredients instead of from boxes saves some sweet cash. Stick to non-processed foods (produce, dairy, some grains, meat) and buy in season: your meals will taste better and be better for you along with cutting down your grocery bill.
  4. Every little bit counts. A lot of times we go to the grocery store and stock up on anything and everything that looks good, especially when we're hungry. That always leads to throwing things out in a week or so when fresh stuff starts to go bad and we haven't used it yet. I've learned that we waste much less food if I have a plan for meals for the next week and I only buy what we need for that. Yes, this means being on top of the grocery shopping and getting creative with what's in the pantry/fridge, but it also means throwing less food (aka money) away.
  5. If I'm gonna eat out, I have to eat smart. This means getting lunch instead of dinner, splitting a meal, or waiting until the place I want to go to has a special. I'm a rewards member for places I like to frequent when I don't want to cook (Native Foods, Noodles & Co, Moe's Southwest Grill) and I save "going out" for when they send coupons my way. 
While I consider myself frugal, I've never been one to scrimp on food. These guidelines keep my grocery budget in check, but my kitchen and my appetite don't know that. That is to say, it's possible to eat well and save money. I hope you noticed I didn't mention coupons - if you're shopping at the right store, you don't need them! (Remember, a coupon is only saving you money if you meant to spend that money in the first place.) And one final tip: never grocery shop while hungry!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Boxtrolls

Based on the book Here Be Monsters! by Alan Snow, The Boxtrolls is a movie with lots of fun, lots of heart, and very few words. Jesus and I meant to watch it in theater or at the very least as soon as it came out on DVD, but instead we found it on Netflix last night. We enjoyed the simple story and we loved the stop-motion animation. (This after credit scene was actually our favorite.)

The titular characters, the trash-collecting, gadget-hoarding, thingamabob-loving trolls themselves, reminded us of Despicable Me's Minions: they gesture more than they speak, and they rely on haphazard teamwork to collect their coveted trash-treasures and retreat to their underground space without being seen by the humans of Cheesebridge. These humans are convinced that Boxtrolls are evil, and there is in fact a team of men whose only job is to apprehend the "thieving monsters."

Eggs, one of the Boxtrolls, is actually a human boy, who has been raised by Fish (they're named after the items their box clothes used to hold) since he was a baby. When the only family he knows starts disappearing (victims of Snatcher, the Boxtroll exterminator), Eggs sets out to find and rescue them. He enlists the help of Winnie, the strong-willed daughter of the mayor. 

Dark (sometimes gross) humor carries The Boxtrolls along, filling in for a stripped down script and minimal action. The happy ending happens only after several close calls, the best cheese joke I've heard in a while (Cheesebridge has a Curds Way and a Milk Street. How does one get to Curds Way? "Milk turns into it."), and the realization that "Cheese, Hats, Boxes. They don't make you. You make you."