Gardening 2017 #1: Beginning of a New Season!

Spring is finally here! And those showers are definitely soaking up Montreal and the sun is hiding away under those thick clouds and its mostly overcast when its not raining. Either way, when we finally caught a break from the rain over the weekend, I headed out for a few hours to tend to the garden. One mission was to see what was coming back and what didn’t. We had a particularly harsh winter, well, mostly because of that crazy storm in early March or end of February or something. Regardless, the garden looks decent. Still, pretty dead but things are mostly coming back.

Flower Patch in the front garden

Rose bush

Crimson Star

The front patch here is doing quite well. As usual, we have some perennials that struggling to come back. I’ll have to look into figuring out whether its zonage or whether its just the ground isn’t fertilized or just weather issues. Whatever it is, a good bit of this patch is back. Chrysanthemums, Crimson Star, Lilies and some flowers my mom gave me that I don’t remember the name of. The rose bush is back. Tulips are here. Its all looking really nice. We’re still waiting to see if the violets are going to come back. My guess right now is that it won’t, no signs yet. Still keeping our fingers crossed though.

Raspberry & Strawberry patch all cleaned up and pruned!

I finally got around to cleaning up and especially pruning my overgrown raspberry plant.It might not look it right now but I’ve actually trimmed it quite a bit and got rid of some of the spread that it has in anticipation for the lilies to be moved after the blooming season to somewhere it can thrive better. The strawberries are doing great as well and we already have bunnies sitting in our yard waiting to eat them before it even flowers. Those fearless bunnies are my biggest garden issues and why we have gone into planning vegetable garden fence mode. Unlike last year, where we realized too late and had to just wing a fence that actually worked remarkably well. Except this year, we want to add a little space and a decent trellis.

I guess its time for the vegetable garden update. Note that I didn’t have time to clean up this patch yet.

Rhubarb

Shallots

Vegetable Garden covered in broccoli buds….Yikes!

I’m missing at on of pictures because I got shocked by ALL the broccoli growing out of my vegetable garden. Apparently, when I didn’t have time to close the garden and left the plant there, all the seeds just grew out and now I’m stuck with this situation. However, my mom and Phoebe (aka Starry Traveler’s Road) has agreed to take some and we might put some in containers but they need much more space than that to grow so I’m guessing some of them will just naturally die off and not survive the pretty odd weather we’re having. Moving on from broccoli though, the rhubarb is doing fantastic like every year and last year, my mom gave me some shallots and they are growing fine also and pretty much ready for harvest.

As for things without pictures, my thyme seems to show signs of growing back. I was worried since I moved it pretty late in the season and it was getting pretty chilly. The asparagus is also back. On the side note, the echinacea which we planted last year is also back. It lines the fence mostly because it is a herb, looks pretty and apparently bunnies are fans of them so it was also to fend off neighbor cute pests. Its nice to see them back also.

Plans for this year

  • Raised flower bed (for butterflies and bees)
  • Another garden for Blueberries (and other edible food)
  • Some more restructure and sturdier fencing for vegetable garden

Do you garden? What flowers or veggies do you like to plant?

Double Feature: Violet & Daisy (2011) & The Gift (2015)

Welcome to another Double Feature!

Before we start, I’d like to apologize if things are and will be sporadic, they probably will still be for the next week. Real life work that pays the bills is taking a front seat right now and I foresee lots of overtime this week. However, if all goes as planned, there should be an unboxing this week some time and probably some reviews or TV Binge. The material is there, its just finding time and energy to write it up.

Today’s double feature is for Violet and Daisy & The Gift. Thrillers and a little odd. Probably The Gift deserves its own post but its a thriller and I don’t want to spoil it so just keeping it to myself although I’m fairly certain at this point, a ton of you have already seen it since a ton of people praised it when it was first released. Anyways, I finally got around to watching it. Violet and Daisy however is way overdue as I watched that on the train to Toronto for ComiCon so its over a month that I’ve seen it at this point.

Let’s check it out! 🙂

Violet & Daisy (2011)

violet & daisy

Director (and writer): Geoffrey Fletcher

Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Alexis Bledel, James Gandolfini, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Danny Trejo

Two teenage assassins accept what they think will be a quick-and-easy job, until an unexpected target throws them off their plan. – IMDB

Violet & Daisy is one odd and quirky movie. The reason for my choosing this movie is completely because I love Alexis Bledel (because of The Sisterhood of Travelling Pants and recently Gilmore Girls) and even more so, Saoirse Ronan who has never disappointed me even if the movie itself is not fascinating. Violet & Daisy may seem disjointed and way too weird for its own good but somehow it works and it has to do with the small but charming cast. Violet & Daisy are young teenage assassins out on a mission. They are each other’s best friends and have each other’s back especially as they fangirl and look forward to the newest fashion line by their favorite designer. It feels like they are everyday teenage girls except when a mission is given, they can also be incredibly brutal and efficient to get rid of their target. Their next mission is sent to kill a man who surprisingly seems like he wants to die and has someone else on his tail. This man who we never learn the name of is played by James Gandolfini and he delivered a wonderful performance as he changes what typically happens in these assassinations situation and in turn, open up Violet & Daisy and as we learn more about his story, we also learn more about Violet and Daisy’s which also puts their friendship or partnership in a dilemma.

Surprises and a pretty clever script gives these characters a lot of life. Even if it is weird and odd at times, there are some great moments and character development here that work really well. Not to mention, some really convincing performances in general. I liked this one a lot.

The Gift (2015)

the gift

Director (and writer): Joel Edgerton

Cast: Jason Bateman, Rebecca Hall, Joel Edgerton, Allison Tolman

A young married couple’s lives are thrown into a harrowing tailspin when an acquaintance from the husband’s past brings mysterious gifts and a horrifying secret to light after more than 20 years. – IMDB

The Gift is a tense thriller however, perhaps the best part of it is the way it builds its characters up and fleshes them through with their secrets as the finale unfolds and leaves us cleverly wondering what it all means. The Gift is smart. And yet, because it is best seen with the least amount of knowledge possible, it is very hard to write about.

I can say that The Gift is pretty great. Its a little slow at parts and really dives into building the tension with a lot of quiet moments as we suspect about this suspicious high school friend and re-enters their life and slowly reveals the true nature of these characters and why they are there and how certain things happen for whatever reason. Jason Bateman pulls off a fantastic performance, probably one of my faves. Joel Edgerton does a great role as well.

Its well-planned and executed effectively with some great character development and a finale that will kind of blow your mind and make you think about what it all means.

That’s it for the double feature!
Sorry for the delay!
I’d say to expect this for this week mostly because I don’t have the time I usually would to put these together. 
Things will be back to normal next week!

Have you seen these two movies before?

Here’s Jack Blogathon: Terms of Endearment (1983)

Today is Jack Nicholson’s 80th birthday. In celebration for that, Gill at Realweegiemidget Reviews is hosting the Here’s Jack Blogathon celebrating his work. Jack Nicholson is one of those actors that has been around ever since I was little, and way before. I can’t remember exactly when was the first move I saw Jack Nicholson but definitely one of the first that I remember vaguely was his role in Terms of Endearment even if I realized in this rewatch that I misunderstood a ton and was really too young back then. There were some scenes that feel familiar and it is a much delayed rewatch.

Let’s check it out!

Terms of Endearment (1983)

Terms of Endearment

Director: James L. Brooks

Cast: Shirley MacLaine, Debra Winger, Jack Nicholson, Jeff Daniels, Danny DeVito, John Lithgow, Lisa Hart Carroll, Huckleberry Fox, Troy Bishop

Follows hard-to-please Aurora looking for love and her daughter’s family problems. – IMDB

Terms of Endearment is a comedy-drama centered around Aurora, a single mother and her daughter, Emma who don’t exactly have a great relationship on the surface but deep down, they have a strong connection. From a young age, Emma had left her home against her mother’s will to get married to an English professor, Flap. As they live separately and keep contact, we see their lives as they both grow and change. Aurora, with the leaving of her daughter, learns to embrace being alone while also accepting and opening up herself to another relationship with her next door neighbor, Garrett. On the other hand, Emma grows into being a stay at home wife and then mother living in a less than perfect life economically as her husband moves them from city to city pursuing his career. It truly brings out the reality of life sometimes handing out both good and bad without any prior notice and having the ability to deal with it. The star of this movie is both in the script that carries out these events in Aurora and Emma’s lives and also the great performances from the entire cast which portray both the joy and devastation of the situations thrown at them.

Terms of Endearment

Terms of Endearment shines in their performances and more specifically the way we see the characters develop. Not only do Aurora, played by Shirley MacLaine and Emma, played by Debra Winger have depth to their characters and make us connect or simply believe in their story and love their mother and daughter relationship despite them have their differences in opinions. Their supporting characters also carry quite some depth. Perhaps the acting experience helps but playing opposite of Shirley MacLaine is the older gentlemen: an honorable astronaut but also a man who lacks commitment, Garrett who moves next door to Aurora and is played by Jack Nicholson. Garrett is not exactly a complex character but there is some depth as we grow to see him shift his views from the playboy that he starts off as who goes after young girls and tries to impress them to accepting to go on a date with the older Aurora and yet still be mesmerized by how she teaches him some things about life. We can see that he likes the simplicity of their relationship which is more physical than outwardly emotional and in their own bubble and he has a harder time when he starts to feel that he needs to be someone that she can rely on and feels that he will let her down. However, we do know that there’s something a little more to him than that. Sometimes, people aren’t exactly who we expect them to be: a lesson that constantly is reminded to us over and over again, and perhaps its these surprises that makes us want to keep watching this drama as they tug on our heartstrings over and over again.

Not to mention that these relationships are all quirky in their own way. These moments are the comedic bits that break up the dramatic parts and they are very well-timed and suitable to cut through the tension or change the pace or direction of the story. Perhaps this movie fits really well with the Here’s Jack Blogathon because what I remembered the most of Terms of Endearment from when I was little watching this next to my dad was Jack Nicholson’s role and as I watch it again, those are the parts that really make feel unsettled just like it should for Aurora. Jack Nicholson tends to remind me of many roles where he is a tad eccentric and its part of the fun of watching him because he fits into those roles so well. This is no exception for playing Garrett because he does the most unexpected things and sometimes also shares some deeper thoughts than we’d expect. He definitely was one of my favorite characters here. His scenes with Shirley MacLaine are possibly the most entertaining in the film in such an odd and uneasy way.

Terms of Endearment

Looking on the side of Emma and Debra Winger’s portrayal of it, who does a great job at really making us see her character a whole lot from the ups and downs. On top of that, her supporting role is her husband Flap played by Jeff Daniels. I’m the first to stand up for liking Jeff Daniels even in his not to big role in Speed, but this one he does a fantastic job, perhaps its the fact that his characters has a decent arc and that there’s something that contrasts about his character as well, there’s a hidden something there that opens up what this story is telling. Their relationship are some of the good moments as their relationship grows as their family gets bigger with the kids. The kids are pretty cool as well. They don’t have a huge part but there’s something written for them and how they accept who their parents are especially with their oldest played by Troy Bishop in the role of Tommy. However, they aren’t the focal point in this relationship but really how Flap and Emma’s marriage has changed as they also change over the years together.

Overall, Terms of Endearment is a movie with great performances by the cast and a fantastic script that leads us down the road of these two ladies as they grow with the things that happen to them separately and in different phases of their life. Its really nice to see a movie that has a great direction and execution of highlighting the characters and every one gets the same care including the supporting roles as well. Also a great pick for myself as I rewatch this and realize that this might be one of my most memorable roles of Jack Nicholson if not one of my first roles that I saw him in, not to mention that its one of those memories of movie watching with my dad and in one of the final scenes, it actually made me remember a moment with my dad that made that moment tug on my heartstrings even more.

A huge thanks to Gill for thinking this up! It was a ton of fun (and tears) to rewatch Terms of Endearment!
It also makes me want to rewatch some of his other movies and catch up with the ones I’ve missed (which are a lot)!

I’m at the brink of the date that Gill gave me to release this post (in my time zone), so here it goes! Hope you enjoyed! 🙂

What are your thoughts on Terms of Endearment? What Jack Nicholson movies stand out for you?

What’s Up…#2: One of Those Days…

It has been a while since one of these What’s Up things. Actually, I had been putting them off as a buffer thinking that it had been so recent. Apparently, I was wrong. Either way, I was supposed to have a double feature go up today for Violet & Daisy and The Gift but it isn’t done. This week has been odd. Busy and crazy and yet not really  motivated to do much when I get home especially after working on my family’s income tax since I’m the numbers person in the house. It isn’t particularly complicated, just time consuming, especially when my real life job is of the number-crunching variety and it has been super busy as well.

Aside from that, this morning has been just really ridiculous. I don’t want to complain but its one of those, “Can I just crawl back into bed?” days. However, I do have one other post that needs to get up in a timely fashion for Game Warp stuff. If only Google Drive app didn’t want to be stupid this morning, it probably would have been fine. Okay, I’ll stop now.

Anyways, not really sure what to do for this What’s Up segment but let’s give it a go!

Watching & Binging

My Neighborhood

My Neighborhood

The Client List

Riverdale

Riverdale is in its last few episodes before Season 1 ends. I’m really looking forward to writing up that post, while I have a feeling, I need to rewatch Season 4 of Gilmore Girls at this point. I’m getting all the seasons mixed up together and its why those recaps aren’t up yet. The Client List is still happening but I took a break because I need to write Season 1 recap and Season 2 is having a pretty slow start. For something more light and fluffy, I’m watchingt his Hong Kong series called The Neighborhood. Its not great but it is a ton of fun to watch and a change in pace from the norm. Especially as I wait to go home and watch the next episode of Riverdale tonight. Actually, I haven’t finished Gotham Season 1 yet but I haven’t watched that for over a month, not sure it still applies as binging it 😉

Reading

Freshly started reading this graphic novel this morning! Titan: An Alternate History from AH Comics and also one that I picked up at Toronto ComiCon. So far, I’m about halfway through and it is pretty good. Very creative and the art is fantastic. There’s this really cool contrast. Anyways, not reviewing it now. I’ll do it soon once I’m done. It has been quiet on the reading front mostly because I’m waiting for my f-ing books to arrive and its one of the reasons that has me a little down. Although I’m a little better now. #firstworldproblems, am I right? 😉 Anyways, the resolution now is a replacement order which I’m going to pick up at an Indigo store myself because apparently our postal service can’t get these orders to me without any hiccups.

No complaints…I’m taking a deep breath…let’s continue! I am thinking of starting Ready Player One and Cinder now. However, there are 3 books that take priority to it because some of our darling bloggers and writers were kind enough to send them to me to review so I’m stoked about that.

See, I told you this would get positive. 😉

Playing
(and the list is so much longer…)

I’ve been absolutely obsessed with PinOut which is a mobile pinball game on a time limit. I actually beat it just the other day and went into overtime, which I have no idea what that means but I’ve been jumping back into it and trying to unlock a few more achievements plus its just a really nice game to pass short bits of time. On the other hand, I’ve been spending lots of time on Steam. April’s Game Warp featured game is Guacamelee: Super Turbo Championship Edition and I only have just a bit left. Battleblock Theater is one I finished Chapter 1. I don’t think I can do chapter by chapter playthroughs as it gets harder but the first chapter was decently fun and simple.

However, I did get a stream for Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series – Episode 1 which was released on Tuesday. I actually posted up the playthrough. I had to remove songs because it turned on copyright claims so I’m sorry if its boring and if you sometimes hear me snickering in the background. It was the footage from the stream.

I’ll be doing an overview and quick review of Episode 1 over at That Moment In soon. Its been a tad busy and a few things to roll out before.

Listening

I’m still following The Voice Season 12. There’s some pretty good talent although a good part of the ones I like are gone. My fave is Johnny Hayes who unfortunately got cut. How I stay positive is that even though he is cut at least I now know of his existence and that he actually is in a band and I’ll be following that. His voice and style is awesome. Seriously love it! 🙂

That’s it for today!
Writing this up has been fun and honestly, I’m feeling a lot better. But its time for a little chill session.
One of the reasons for some structural change here is to make it stay fresh and fun.
I’ll make up for the missing segments in the next weekend. Gotta get some of the backlog out.

What have you been watching, reading, playing and/or listening?

Battle of Ingredients #2: Maple Syrup

Welcome to Round 2 of Battle of Ingredients!
If you missed the first round, you can find it here. I will be putting something on the side or above so that it’ll be easier to track soon.

This month’s Battle of Ingredients is all about maple syrup! Why? Because here in our lovely province of Quebec, we have the cabane a sucre (aka sugar shack) tradition. Maple syrup is a big deal around this parts (and apparently also in Riverdale according to the new TV series). It was a no brainer for myself and Phoebe that it would be our choice ingredient as well as trying out a new formula of doing a collaborated full course meal. All our dishes had maple syrup so lets just say, we were in for a sugar rush.

Let’s check out our menu, along with the wines we used to pair with it (although one of them we didn’t end up drinking…yet).

Wine

Wine

We drank the Kung Fu Girl which is one of my favorite wines. Apparently, it has somewhat of a sour taste which I never really thought about but always found it smooth. Regardless, hopefully we’ll keep the Fetzer in our fridge till the next Battle.

Appetizer – Kim

Bourbon Maple Glazed Chicken Wings

Bourbon Maple Glazed Chicken Wings

Recipe via Pinterest: http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/bourbon_maple_glazed_chicken_wings/

A very simple recipe to put together in general although you do need to simmer the sauce before putting it on the chicken wings and then have to simmer again to thicken it. I somehow managed to get it thicker the first time so that it wasn’t necessary to simmer again. I did have extra sauce however it was covered enough so I put it to the side in case anyone wanted anymore. This one was delicious and definitely a hit. Perhaps it had to do with the fact that I used our good bourbon without knowing it. Whatever the reason, these turned out much better than I expected and honestly, I kind of want to make another batch already.

From our friends: Not dry at all with the sauce, and it matched well. No extra sauce needed for me!

Main Meal + Side – Phoebe

Prosciutto Maple Salmon

Prosciutto Maple Salmon

Recipe via Pinterest: http://gardeninthekitchen.com/prosciutto-maple-salmon/

Phoebe chose this recipe off Pinterest. We don’t usually get the chance to use prosciutto frequently and never had thought to use to wrap around fish and yet, it came together really nicely. She hadn’t worked with dill before and I haven’t been a fan either, however we do have dill lovers at the table. This came together really nicely. Phoebe was a little nervous about the whole grilling part before baking it and we timed it all very nice to serve this and the sides, which we will talk about below.

From our friends: I personally find the dill to match well with the fish. Again, not dry the way it was made, the only slight annoyance was that the prociutto is hard to cut through, so putting any sort of pressure would crush the salmon under… But with patience of sliding your knife back and forth, it’s perfect.

Maple Syrup Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Maple Syrup Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Recipe via Pinterest: http://www.thewholesomedish.com/maple-syrup-roasted-brussels-sprouts/

Huge fan of brussel sprouts here, I found this recipe for Phoebe and she was totally into it, which is great. I’ve always wondered how maple syrup in Brussel Sprouts would work and actually it was the one the absorbed the maple syrup enough to actually taste it the most. It was much more subtle in the salmon for example. However, in the balance of the meal, it worked well.

Dessert

Chewy Maple Cookies

Chewy Maple Cookies

Recipe via Pinterest: http://www.cleverlysimple.com/chewy-maple-cookies/

I decided on making these cookies very last minute. Like an hour before our cooking meet-up. Fact is, I was going to make Maple Ice but that needed Maple Water and Ice Cream Maker, both things that I don’t have or haven’t figured out how to use yet. Then there was the idea of making little maple syrup tarts but that was really complex with heating the pizza stone plate in the oven beforehand and the worry that it would just fail because I was changing this complicated tart recipe from a pie pan to little tarts. Anyways, point is cookies are the safe bet and thankfully, it worked well to not hog up the oven and we were able to get everything we needed done and ready on track.

From our friends: Cookies were good! Wasn’t dry, but wasn’t butter fest either! Maybe it would be even better with some nut in it like cashew, but then again, might alter the taste… But it was great.

Maple Flavored Popcorn (Bad Monkey)

Bad Monkey Maple Flavored Popcorn

In addition, Phoebe brought this Bad Monkey brand Maple Syrup flavored popcorn to match with the theme. I don’t eat a lot of popcorn for health issues but I did try a few and it was pretty delicious. Phoebe did find it a little on the sweet side however our friends did like this one as well. they actually put the popcorn and the cookie together and apparently, it went well together particularly because of the contrast in textures.

That’s it for this Battle!
Maple Syrup was a fun adventure and on all fronts this was a win.
We learned some new recipes and had a great time with friends.
Next month’s Battle is still deciding what will be the star(s) of the show! 

Perhaps this will be the structure from now on as it is easier to get together an acceptable meal but we will shift the courses around to who is responsible next time.
We will see…like I said in the first round, a work in progress. If you have any suggestions, do share with us. 🙂

Opinion Battles Round 8 – Favourite Car Chase Scene

Round 8 of Opinion Battles is sharing out favorite car chase scene. I had to go with the fantastic Fast Five chase however there are some great selections here. Remember to head over and drop a vote for the one you like!

Movie Reviews 101

Opinion Battles Round 8

Favourite Car Chase Scene

Each year we seem to see an action film go out of its way to make sure we get a more jaw-dropping car chase scene. These will often become the most iconic scenes in what can be average action films but every time we sit at the edge of our seat filled with tension to what will be happening next. Today we will pick our favourite car chase scenes.

If you want to join in the next round of Opinion Battles we will be looking at our Favourite Talking Animals. If you want to take part email your choices to moviereviews101@yahoo.co.ukby 30th April 2017

Darren – Movie Reviews 101

Car Chase Including Fight – The Raid 2

The Raid 2 is easily one of the best action movies ever put to film and where the film built on the first…

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Archie Vol.1: The New Riverdale by Mark Waid

Archie Vol. 1: The New Riverdale
by: Mark Waid

Archie The New Riverdale

America’s Favorite Teenager, Archie Andrews, is reborn in the pages of this must-have graphic novel collecting the first six issues of the comic book series that everyone is talking about. Meet Riverdale High teen Archie, his oddball, food-loving best friend Jughead, girl-next-door Betty and well-to-do snob Veronica Lodge as they embark on a modern reimagining of the beloved Archie world. It’s all here: the love triangle, friendship, humor, charm and lots of fun – but with a decidedly modern twist. – Goodreads

I love Archie, you know the old comics in those little books. I remember Archie being one of the first comics I ever read along with Garfield and Peanuts along with For Better or For Worse and of course, Calvin and Hobbes. Man, the memories of all these comics are just great. I loved the simple art and the colorful characters particularly in these books. I probably read Archie before I should be however, they were on sale at some second hand book sale that we went to for a quarter or something and my mom let me have it. If I look hard enough, I’m sure I still have them in one of my boxes when I moved. While I am skeptical of renewing the Archie series, the new series Riverdale which is really just inspired by the Archie characters gave me slightly more confidence to finally pick up the first volume to give it a go.

The New Riverdale is the title of the first volume of the new Archie. Let’s just start with the art. The art style is beautiful and a little more graphic novel-esque, which I do enjoy. On top of that, the characters are a little more developed than from what I’ve read when I was younger however still holding their personality and individual charm. All the familiar faces are still there and it does stay true to the old comics while giving it a little more flair. Perhaps I’m a little skewed in my mind because I have been introduced to a darker Riverdale because of the new TV series so I like the fact that this one seems a little more mature and somehow seems like it grew up as I did (kind of…).

It is nice to see these characters in a more modern setting to give it a renewed audience. For one, the story now has Archie and Betty in a fresh break-up as Veronica Lodge moves into town with her rich family. Jughead is still the burger-loving chill guy who helps Archie out in his own way. You have Reggie who is the bad guy here who wants the rich girl or if not, the pretty girl and tries to stir up drama. Its a nice way to give an introduction to the characters in the series and let us see how they are created now. To be honest, I haven’t read a ton of Archie despite liking it a lot however, there are a lot of issues out so its a huge game of catch-up to even remember more of them.

Overall, Archie: The New Riverdale  Volume 1 is a nice start to modernizing the characters in the Archie-verse. Everyone get a first look and stays true to their characters and the art style of this new one is really nice as well.

As a side note, I’m waiting on Volume 2 to get here now, except the postal service is being stupid so my package is stuck in the Undeliverable Mail Office somehow. My guess is probably the packaging fell apart but I’m waiting for them to get back to me on either what happened or when it’ll be ready to be on its way to me. Anyways, that is coming up.