Christmas Marathon: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)

I finally finished National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation!

The last weekend, I watched a part of this before falling asleep halfway through. Its been happening a lot. Work stress tends to do that.  I made time for it last night and wrapped it up.  This is my first time seeing this so I’m not exactly sure what to expect. I have been avoiding it because it really doesn’t look like my sort of movie.  Like I’m sure I’ll appreciate it but I won’t be in love with it or anything.

Lets see if its what I expected!

christmas vacation Director: Jeremiah S. Chechik

Cast: Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo, Juliette Lewis, Johnny Galecki, Randy Quaid, Doris Roberts, John Randolph

This year, Clark Griswald and his family are hosting the Christmas celebrations for the rest of the family.  Clark has everything planned for the holidays except as the family arrives, things start going off track.  With his mind set on the annual bonus, he tries to keep his spirits high and bring the Christmas spirit to his family.

I’m not exactly sure how to review this one.  What to talk about?

christmas vacation

For one, maybe because I watched it in two sittings, I’m wasn’t exactly impressed with anything. It was exactly what I would expect.  Wait, that makes me sound like I didn’t like it.  Its more like I was entertained for the most part but also slightly indifferent.  Maybe its just not my type of humor? It was a little silly and witty.  John Hughes did write the script and I’m a huge fan.  There’s quirky humor that I really like.  It was pretty fun. I guess its kind of crazy to watch how a family can be dysfunctional to that extent. There is A LOT of foreshadowing so by the end, you you guess what disaster is going to happen next and still the reactions are funny.

christmas vacation

Christmas movies really don’t get any more Christmas-y than this one.  There’s the whole chopping down the tree to the impressively lit house, eggnog, family dinner, waiting for Santa Claus, Christmas shopping and the likes.  That is pretty great. We’ve exactly had a really out of control Christmas so I’m not exactly sure this happens but I mean, we do watch movies to break out of our normalcy.  Even if I could see what was going to happen in that scene, there is still an irresistible laugh out loud moments.

christmas vacation

I’m guessing now is a good time to end this because its really going nowhere.

Point is: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is a very festive Christmas movie and it has some laugh out loud moments. I’m not incredibly impressed by it nor will it go on my absolutely favorite must-watch Christmas movie but it has its own charm and I do have to admit that at various parts between the weird and quirky moments, I did buy  into that charm.

Do you like National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation? What are your thoughts? 

Zucchini Fritters!

I’m on a cooking thing right now.  I promise you baking will happen soon.  I really miss it but I’m just so indecisive when it comes to what to make.  There are so many choices and just not enough time (or ingredients).

I’ve had a pack of zucchini waiting desperately for me to cook.  The plan was to make zucchini chips but I never got around to it since I made those bacon avocado fries (if you missed that, check it out HERE).  Thats the plan for this weekend (or at least some time this week).

When I searched up Pinterest, the first thing that popped up at me was Zucchini Fritters. Don’t know why. Maybe its the good balance of veggies and protein from eggs so it seemed like a good choice for dinner.  Regardless, I love Pinterest and all the ideas its offered me.

You can find the recipe for this right HERE from Damn Delicious!

I did mine in 3 different batches testing out the heat and whatnot.  The first time turned out in a disaster…

Zucchini Fritters

First try—fail

Well, it still tasted good and not burnt even but it did not look appealing…at all!

Second try was a little bit better…still needed a little bit of patience to get the flipping over part better.

zucchini fritters

Second try

Actually, this looks pretty nice, no? Its too bad that the flip side is not so good.

And then the third one, testing with a big one because I’m lazy and impatient at this point. I’m a pretty lousy cook mostly because I can have impressive amount of patience for baking (and crafts) but with cooking, I just really find it so difficult.

zucchini fritters

Big piece is not a good idea.

Now, there is one big change I made for this.  The link to the recipe is up there if you want to take a peek before checking this part out.  I didn’t grate the zucchini as I should have so thats why it was harder for it to stay together in one piece.  I just absolutely loathe grating and I couldn’t find where mine went. It always seems to disappear on me.

Other changes:

  • All-purpose flour was gluten-free
  • Omit parmesan (next time I will try with lactose free cheese)

Another baking adventure done :) This one I’m definitely going to revisit.  It was so good! Sure, it didn’t look too pretty and dicing those zucchini in little pieces was incredibly tiresome and long to do but it paid off and thats what counts.

Next goal: Zucchini chips!

How do you like to  make zucchini? Have you done fritters before? Any tips you’d like to share?

Pumpkin Pancakes!

My boyfriend and I don’t spend a lot of time making breakfast together in the mornings because of our work schedules but we totally love making breakfast style dinners.  Usually it involves potatoes and sausages and eggs.  On Sunday, I had this sudden craving for pumpkin pancakes.  Don’t ask me why.  Maybe its because I remembered I had a can of canned pumpkin or maybe it was looking through the Looneyspoons recipe book and finding the recipe for pumpkin pancakes but he agreed with the idea and after I mixed up the batter, he cooked it (because he’s better at it than I am).

As mentioned before, this is from the Looneyspoons collection cookbook. After the recipe, I’ll talk about the changes I did.

pumpkin pancakes

Pumpkin Pancakes

Makes 12 medium pancakes

*1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
*1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
*1/2 tsp each baking soda and salt
*1 can evaporated milk
1 cup canned pure pumpkin
1/4 cup brown sugar (not packed)
2 eggs
2 tbsp butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup each vanilla-flavored yogurt and pure maple syrup1. Preheat griddle to medium-high heat.  Combine both flours, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.  Mix well. In a medium bowl, whisk together milk, pumpkin, sugar, eggs, butter and vanilla.

2. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir just until dry ingredients are moistened.

3. Spoon batter by 1/3 cupfuls onto preheated griddle that has been lightly coated with cooking spray.  Gently spread batter to about a 4 inch diameter.  Cook for about 1 1/2 minutes per side, or until pancakes are golden brown and cooked through.  Be careful not to burn them.  Serve immediately topped with vanilla yogurt and maple syrup.

pumpkin pancakes

As any recipes, I worked with what was available to me.  You will notice changes or omissions shown with  the asterisks (*).  In this one, the only omission with baking soda.  I know its sad that I don’t have any at home. Other than that, all-purpose flour and wheat flour was replaced by gluten-free all-purpose flour. Pumpkin pie spice was replaced with allspice. The evaporated milk was replace by 1 cup almond milk.  I only topped with vanilla-flavored yogurt and my boyfriend only topped it with maple syrup.

Another change would be that I don’t have a griddle so no preheating of that.  I just put together the batter and made it in a non-stick pan. We also always have a problem with the thickness of the batter so we always have to add more milk or water to make it a little more liquid.

I love pumpkin pancakes (although I should try making other flavors eventually). This one was pretty good. It wasn’t too sweet and it tasted a little of pumpkins and all that.  It was fluffy and delicious :) How else do you describe pancakes anyways? I thought they were really great and its easy to put together. Plus, vanilla yogurt is absolutely awesome as a topping and I’m not a huge fan of it to begin with.

Do you like pancakes? 

Christmas Marathon: The Legend of Frosty the Snowman (TV 2005)

Netflix is making me seem like I watch the weirdest Christmas movies.  LOL! Still, Frosty the Snowman is kind of iconic in this holidays spirit.  He’s a magical snowman, what more is there to say, right? It was short so with limited time, I checked this one out.  I still have that half finished movie lingering in the background calling out to me.  Really need to get to that.

Here we go! I present to you: The Legend of Frosty the Snowman.

frosty the snowman 2005Director: Greg Sullivan

Cast (voice): Jeannie Elias, Bill Fagerbakke, Tom Kenny, Tress MacNeille, Kenn Michael, Larry Miller, Kath Soucie, Tara Strong, Burt Reynolds

Evergreen is a small town run by mayor Mr. Tinkerton, a man with many rules, order and routine set into place for not only his family but everyone.  There is little for anyone to imagine or dream up.  Thats until Frosty graces his magical presence into the lives of the children one by one.  Through Frosty’s guidance, Tommy Tinkertown, Mr. Tinkerton’s youngest son learns about the legend of Frosty the Snowman and how they need to act with the other kids to prove the magic and existence of Frosty the Snowman.

frosty the snowman 2005

The Legend of Frosty the Snow is definitely one geared towards younger kids.  I love children movies and I watch a ton of them all the time. Modern TV cartoons feel slightly dumbed down compared to when I was a kid.  I can’t really sit around and watch morning cartoons anymore.  And if anything’s convinced all of you, I pretty much can sit through a lot of really bad stuff and still see some good out of it. Don’t get me wrong, there’s just no other time that I could rant about horrible morning cartoons.  The Legend of Frosty the Snowman is for young kids because its set on a pretty simple premise.  The animation is nice and colorful and its mellow and sweet for the most part.  Sure, there’s the evil principal who wants to be mayor and not let anyone believe in magic but its a short movie and reminds its audience that its important to believe.

frosty the snowman 2005

Personally, if I wanted an animation to believe, I’d go for Polar Express but you can’t really compare the two. I never knew of the story of Frosty the Snowman so to me, this was pretty interesting for that aspect.  Frosty also brings back that horrible time in Grade 3 when we had to sing Frosty the Snowman revamped with a modern song and then we kept having to redo it in rehearsal because the guy playing the piano accompaniment kept messing up. Frosty doesn’t bring me any crazy awesome memories because of that embarrassing moment. Nothing to do with this movie. It didn’t capture me too much unfortunately and I started playing Criminal Case (Facebook game) halfway through.

Okay, I’m ranting now.  I’m going to say that I’d group this with the previous two cartoons I reviewed.  Its for around the 8 years old or younger group. 10 is stretching it a little, I think.  Kids are more knowledgeable than they used to be, not exactly sure they’d believe or enjoy this as much. But then, I’m not a parent so who am I to judge? ;) It does send out some good messages.  I always think its great to reinforce believing in magic and this has a lot of fun times with snowball fights and fighting for what you believe, working as a team, etc.

Have you seen this 2005 TV version of The Legend of Frosty the Snowman?  

Christmas Marathon: Home Alone The Holiday Heist (TV 2012)

I’m finally getting ahead with this Christmas/Holiday marathon business.  Its been a while and I don’t guarantee that I can keep it up although I’m trying really hard, especially since I set up a whole rundown and all but Netflix is adding more movies that interest me so who knows, maybe it’ll change.

This weekend, I got in 1 and a half movie.  Well, the other one, I fell asleep halfway and will wrap it up tonight but last night, I watched Home Alone The Holiday Heist.  It was direct to TV so please lower those expectations a little.  I really thought this was the fourth one but apparently this is the fifth one.  How far has this gone since the original with Macauley Culkin, right?

I’ve actually reviewed the first three so feel free to check those out if you’d like: Home Alone, Home Alone 2, Home Alone 3.

Now we’re going to skip the 4th because I don’t know where to find it but here’s the 5th one called The Holiday Heist. After the 3rd one, lets say I didn’t have high expectations on this one, if any…

home alone holiday heistDirector: Peter Hewitt

Cast: Christian  Martyn, Jodelle Ferland, Malcolm McDowell, Debi Mazar, Eddie Steeples, Ellie Harvie, Doug Murray

The Baxters move to Maine from California due to mom Catherine’s (Debi Mazar) new job.  They buy a new house for an exceptionally good deal.  Reluctantly, their kids: teenage daughter Alexis (Jodelle Ferland) and son/video game addict, Finn (Christian Martyn) are dragged along.  When they arrive, Finn hears stories about the haunting of their house and he sets traps as precautions.  One night for a Christmas party, their parents end up stranded on the other side of town while him and sister are left to defend themselves against what turns out to actually not be hauntings but three thieves on a heist for a hidden painting.

Home Alone The Holiday Heist really goes a little farther from Home Alone but surprisingly, I enjoyed it more than I expected.  The beginning is really not that great but once the heist actually goes underway, it does start being a little funny.  Its a little modernized version of Home Alone and you know right away that somehow the kid Finn’s video gaming life will contribute to it. There’s a whole lot exaggerated acting and the “final battle” or trap or whatever you call it doesn’t really make any sense even but I believe in the process of building up being good.

home alone holiday heist

The sister is possibly THE most annoying ever but I guess it was portraying the modern teenage obsessed over their technology and whatnot.  Other than that, the parents, although a little over-exaggerated in certain parts kind of does make it really funny at times also.  This movie has a lot of pretty silly characters.  It does feel a little dumb at times (man, I haven’t said that word in so long).  Except, Finn does have some nifty tricks up his sleeves and he really isn’t too bad.  I mean, he’s obsessed with video games.  I can picture a million other things that he could be bratty and stupid.

home alone holiday heist

The bad guys, sad because they never will hit that bar of Marv and Harry, aren’t all that bad.  The sidekicks are little useless because they really don’t do anything except for get caught in traps and worry about their own petty problems.  Its a way to add in humor, I guess. The two are lead by a much better actor in Malcolm McDowell.  I can’t really remember if they impacted me or anything.  I’m actually already starting to forget the movie.  The funny stuff was not even how they fell for the traps because the outcome was a little too over the top and not so believable but rather, it was the whole interaction of his parents and Finn and the sister.

I really have nothing much to say about Home Alone 5.  Its nothing special and I’m pretty sure it’ll vanish from my mind by the end of the day or before even.  Toss out logic and it could still be a little fun and entertaining.  Its better than I expected so that’s already a plus but I’ve also said that my expectations are low so interpret it the way you want. Anyways, enough of this negative, it was fun..thats what matters.  Just do what I do and have a glass of wine and a very nice dinner beforehand ;)

Are you a fan of Home Alone? Have you seen this fifth one?

The Girl In Between by Laekan Zea Kemp

This month, you should be seeing a good bit of book reviews.  I’m well behind on my reading challenge in Goodreads but thats all going to change :)

This next review is for a book by one of own bloggers and indie writer called Laekan Zea Kemp.  You can find her right HERE. She’s written a few other books before this one I’m reviewing called The Girl in Between. I’m definitely going to make time to give those a read as well.

A huge thanks to her for reaching out to me and  sending me a copy of her book to review.  I really appreciate this a lot.

THE GIRL IN BETWEEN (The Girl in Between #1)

by: Laekan Zea Kemp

the girl in between

Bryn has a rare disease called Klein-Levin Syndrome (KLS) that causes her to fall into a deep slumber for unknown periods of time.  During these periods, she enters into another world built by her memories.  That is until one day she finds a boy washed up on the shore unconscious and saves him.  He has no memories of why he’s here and she has never met him either so would he just be a figment of her imagination?  As time goes by, her symptoms gets worse and her body is deteriorating. A German experiment lead by Dr. Banz leads her to discover a little more about KLS and it makes her determined find out who this boy in her dreams is and to track him down before its too late.

First of all, I adore stories with multiple narration.  The Girl In Between fluctuates between the thoughts of Bryn and the strange boy.  Of course, I know the name of the boy but you have to read it to know what it is.  Its considered spoilers unfortunately.  One stuck in real world searching for the mysteries while the other stuck in dream state, unsure whether he is even real.  When an author uses this method, we get to know the characters a little better on both sides and I think that makes the story stronger.

The premise of The Girl in Between is rather original. Because its using the concept of being in another world and this world holds its own dangers as well.  Its a mystery what these dangers are and it makes us wonder if something paranormal is also in there along with the memories.  Although its about both Bryn and the boy, in her real life, we get a good look at her own personal struggles of losing weeks and months and even though she is just a teenager, it brings us to understand how she wants to try to be normal: go to college, have a  boyfriend, etc.

I always talk about pacing of a novel because its really important.  One of the reasons I fell behind in my reading challenge was starting a book that I just couldn’t get into and eventually I had to give it up because it just murdered me.  The Girl in Between is NOT one of those books.  It starts off really strong because it makes us want to understand Bryn and her situation and as we get more narratives of the boy trapped in her dreams, we also learn a little more about both of them.  As things worsen, it climaxes and then ends in somewhat of a cliffhanger.  I’m not a huge fan of those sorts of endings but somehow, I don’t really mind because guess what, the second book is available also.  I’m going to be picking up a copy of that one really soon.

Yes, I definitely recommend The Girl in Between.  Its an awesome book: premise is captivating, the characters are engaging and developing well, and the narration for both of the main characters is done very well. I had a lot of fun reading this one and I sure hope you give it a chance.

You can check out The Girl in Between and all of Laekan’s other novels and where they are available right HERE. The Girl in Between is currently available for FREE. Isn’t that awesome? I think it is! :)

These are all the links where you can find The Girl in Between and get yourself a copy:

My Weekly Adventures!

December has been hard to get anything up.  Its really funny because I’m not particularly busy or going out but rather I’m just sitting around binging on series and movies and kind of getting life back to a healthy routine.  Trust me, that takes up a lot of time and then blogging falls behind. I try everyday to get something up and for the most part, its working out. I just wish I could compile these Weekly Adventures because seriously, I’ve had a few interesting things to talk about. I just get tired and lazy…when in doubt, blame the weather so I’m going to do that ;)

Anyways, I haven’t completely been blog-less, I think about stuff for here all the time.

1) TV Binge!

witches of east end

So, I’m done all of the two seasons of Witches of East End and of course, this show is recently announced to be cancelled by Lifetime which really sucks because they ended the second season so strong and at such a good place for this to just kick ass. Maybe it’ll get picked up by another network? I just regret that I didn’t find it earlier. It does get a little frustrating in the second season and plus, there just wasn’t enough of the handsome Killian (played by Daniel diTomasso).

witches of east end

My boyfriend is rolling his eyes as I talk about this…again! Daniel diTomasso gets extra points other than being brooding and handsome for being from Montreal and loving the Habs :) Although Eric Winters is not quite the same, he is quite good-looking as well but in this unknown evil sort of way.

life unexpected

Since I finished this now, I have a bunch of series ending in January on Netflix. I chose the easiest one to finish with only 2 seasons: Life Unexpected. I’m almost done Season 1.  I really love Britt Robertson and wish she would have more stuff.  This show is really fun to watch with lots of funny moments mixed with some drama.

What shows are you watching right now?

2) Black Friday shopping!

wpid-20141129_151056.jpg

I haven’t really gone Black Friday shopping like physically at a store and last year was just stupid deals all over the place.  This year, its a completely different story.  There were some good buys.  Now, for physical purchases, I got these movies.  Along with some Yurbuds earbuds for women which are fantastic because they actually don’t fall out even when I run for the bus.

Aside from that, I ordered Sharknado, A Good Day to Die Hard and Fast and Furious 6 for a pretty awesome price on Amazon.  On Cyber Monday week, there was a one day deal for the complete series (5 seasons) of Flashpoint for $29.99 and that was THE BEST DEAL! :) My boyfriend’s still not in the Sharknado thing but I say he should because its just epically bad but awesome at the same time.  Haha!

Did you do any Black Friday/Cyber Monday shopping?

3) Salon des Metiers d’Art du Quebec (aka arts and crafts fair in Quebec)

I’ve been going to this show for many years. Its a great place for unique gift ideas and as I got older, its a great place to try out new ice ciders/ice wines/food, etc.  We went last weekend to check that out.  Its gotten a lot smaller throughout the years but the food/wine area was still great.

I figured now that a bunch of family is on Facebook, I won’t post up the pictures because then everyone will know their own gifts if they land on my post and that kind of ruins the surprise. But, some very nice finds includes:

I’ve linked up some of the ice wines so you could check it out if you’d like :)

4) Day Trip to Plattsburgh!

Last weekend was all about shopping and getting all those gifts covered. After a little bit of discussion, my girl friends and I decided to head to Plattsburgh last Sunday. I didn’t really spend a lot since my day before at Salons des Metiers d’arts was pretty intense totalling at about $200. I ended up spending mostly on groceries and got myself some knee wraps for workout. Target had these awesome Slow Cooker Sauces which I’ve never seen in Canada. Plus, I bought two candles at Bath and Body Works and some car freshener at Yankee Candles.

My goal was to scout to see if Chromecast was cheaper but with the exchange rate, it actually wasn’t. Plus, Canada has a $20 Google Play credit in addition for the same price so I’d say that pretty much seals the deal ;)

Still, I tried out Applebee’s for lunch and that was pretty alright. Here’s what I had:

Applebee

Boneless Chicken Wings

wpid-20141207_115247.jpg

Double Crunch Shrimp

Applebee’s has a pretty nice atmosphere to it. You know, nice cozy family joint.  Me and one of the girls took the 2 for $25 meal which includes an appetizer to share and each of us a meal.  The Double Crunch Shrimp was a bit oily and heavy but I guess thats to be expected, right? I ended up getting a cup of tea at Starbucks and it helped settle my stomach a little ;)

5) Christmas wreath! :)

wreathGenerally, its the same wreath as last year.  I added a few more ornaments to spice it up a little. I’m still figuring out how to use my ribbons to tie a nice bow to finish it up. My girl friends just give me a really good tip on how to do it so I just have to go get some nice ribbons and then it’ll be all good to go :)

6) A few blog recaps (in case you missed it)

  • Advanced Screening of Serena (review HERE)
  • 007 Blogathon entries for MovieRob HERE and HERE (click on MovieRob to go to his site and check out other entries)

To wrap it up, lets end with a quote that is absolutely awesome.

tact

I need some of that, well, more of that, to be so masterful.  :)

This week has been exceptionally long and I actually think weekly adventures will change to biweekly adventures soon. I think I have next year pretty much set with a few projects so expect something going up soon.  Every year I wait till the last 2 weeks and then its all Christmas and New Year’s celebrations so not so much feedback.  I’ll try it earlier this year and hope for more feedback ;).

Happy Thursday, my lovelies!

Its Friday tomorrow! YAY!