Review – Movie – Sicario

sicario

** This review contains spoilers.  So if you keep reading this, and it ruins the move for you, it’s not my fault and I don’t want to hear about it **

Once I mustered up the courage to watch this movie (I was especially concerned about rape scenes, as I am with all movies/tv shows, which is a topic for another day), I was disappointed to find out that it was pretty boring.

I think all of the actors in this film have solid characters and performances.  I also love how the director messed with my mind by making me think things were going to happen, and then not making those things happen.  Well done, truly.

But in the end, this movie was boring to me because it’s been done before (about a bazillion times).  

Can anyone out there say they were truly surprised to find out that the US was involved in the “business” of drug trafficking?  Were any viewers actually shocked to find out that Alejandro had a revenge backstory with the cartel the operation was trying to bring down?  Of course not, because we’ve seen these things so many times now that we expect something new.  So the only shock is that it’s not new, it’s actually the same story all over again.  When you realize that as a viewer, it’s a serious case of lunchbag letdown.

My one other huge beef is that Alejandro told Kate to never point a weapon at him again, and you believe him.  Then when she does at the end, the psycho just walks away because he has a signed piece of paper?  I’m not sure I buy that.

It makes me sad that this movie didn’t do more for me, because the actors really did play their characters well.  And the story seemed like it was going to be gritty and compelling.  But aside from the minor psychological guessing game it played with me only because I was expecting more, it wasn’t a very well told story.  

Recipe – Classic / Basic Lasagna

For a long time I’ve searched for the perfect basic lasagna recipe.  I can make lasagna, but every time it’s a bit “off”.  Too soupy.  Too dry.  And don’t even get me started on “shrinking cheese”.

Today I went back to the basics and made a lasagna with the intent of having a proper build.  I did some reading through recipes on the internet and came up with a basic structure, then I picked super simple ingredients.  It ended up being the best lasagna I’ve ever made!

I’m sharing this recipe with you because I think it’s a great base and offers a lot of opportunity to customize with different sauce, cheese, veggies, etc.  When you add your own ideas, just remember that any meats need to be cooked first.  You can swap out the sauce for your own, cheese for your own, and you can add pretty much any veg/meat you want.  Just remember that when adding enough of an item, to remove some sauce or cheese, otherwise you won’t have enough room!

 

Classic / Basic Lasagna

Prep time: 30 minutes

Cook time: 1 ½ hours

Serves: 6-8 adults (1 substantial piece each, with leftovers)

Ingredients:

    • 12 lasagna noodles (you can use regular or whole wheat)
    • 2 jars (approx 6 cups) of your favourite tomato sauce (I used Tomato & Basil, but anything works.  Even making your own!)
    • 475g extra smooth ricotta cheese
    • 2 eggs
    • pinch of pepper
    • 6 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (you can swap this out for other cheeses to experiment as well)
    • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
    • 2lbs lean ground beef
    • 2 tbsp olive oil (or any cooking oil, to cook the ground beef)

Optional: You can add spinach, onions, basil leaves, sausage slices, garlic, or anything else your heart desires on any layer.  If you add meat though, just make sure to cook it first.

Directions:

  1. Put oil in frying pan.  Fry ground beef until it just cooks.  Drain.  Set aside to cool.
  2. In a large pot, boil 12 lasagna noodles in salted water.  Remove and drain noodles when they are 1-2 minutes short of al dente according to their package.  Lay them flat on paper towel.
  3. In a bowl, mix together the ricotta, eggs and pepper.
  4. Pour 2 jars of tomato sauce into a clean bowl.  Add cooked beef and mix.  (Note: If your sauce is too acidic, add a tbsp of sugar.  This trick works well for pasta dishes too.)
  5. In 13 x 9 inch baking dish, spread 1 ½ cups of the meat sauce evenly.
  6. Arrange 3 noodles on top.
  7. Sprinkle 2 cups mozzarella cheese and spread evenly.
  8. Add 2 ½ cups of meat sauce and spread evenly.
  9. Arrange 3 noodles on top.
  10. Add and spread all of ricotta mixture evenly.
  11. Arrange 3 more noodles on top.
  12. A 2 ½ cups  of the meat sauce and spread evenly.
  13. Arrange 3 more noodles on top.
  14. Spread the remaining meat sauce evenly.
  15. Spread 2 more cups mozzarella cheese, then sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
  16. Cover with foil and bake in oven at 375°F for 45 minutes.
  17. Uncover, and spread remaining mozzarella cheese on top.  Bake for another 15 minutes uncovered.
  18. Remove from oven and let stand for 30 minutes before serving.  

I served mine with caesar salad.  Enjoy! 🙂

Review – Board Game – Sheriff of Nottingham

As a tribute to the wonderful Alan Rickman, who passed away earlier this month, I would like to review the Sheriff of Nottingham.  Not only is it an awesome board game, but it’s one of the characters I enjoyed watching Rickman play (Robin Hood, 1991).  

For those of you who only remember him as professor Snape, “the cheating husband in Love Actually”, and the “bad guy in Die Hard” (apparently his character names are entirely forgettable), here is a photo that I hope brings back some cheesy memories!

alanrickmansheriffofnottingham

You will be missed Mr. Rickman.  (Just look at him… So good at being scary. And creepy. And gross.)  

In the board game Sheriff of Nottingham, you too can be slimy like Alan Rickman’s Sheriff too!

sheriffofnottinghamgame

It’s a 3-5 player game that is relatively easy to teach and a lot of fun as players swindle their way to victory.  Whether you’re playing with casual gamers or hardcore players, this game will likely win everyone’s favour.

Once per round, each player will take a turn as the Sheriff.  It’s the Sheriff’s job to inspect the goods coming into the market, searching for contraband and taking bribes to turn a blind eye on suspicious bags and nervous stand owners (i.e. friends and family that have a hard time lying to you with a straight face).  But the Sheriff must be cautious, because honest players can do very well in this game.  While one player is the Sheriff, the other players are business people trying to get their goods to market in order make their fortunes.  Declaring the contents of their shipments out loud to the Sheriff, players can also try to sneak in illegal items like Pepper, Crossbows and Royal Roosters.  At the end of game, the player whose stand has the most product, cash, and bonus points for highest quantities of certain types of items, wins!

It’s a casual game with easy to navigate rules, colourful graphics and soft velvet bags for smuggling in style!  

So pull out this game and pop in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves for an evening of merry gameplay and nostalgic Rickman memories!

Oh, hello diet. I’ve missed you. (Said no one. Ever.)

So I’m on the diet train… again. A few years ago I lost close to 35 lbs and kept it off for a while.  Recently however I’ve seen the weight slowly but surely creep back on in amounts that I can no longer convince myself are “just bloating from eating a bit too much salt”.  

The truth is, I’ve probably gained about 15lbs back and it makes me feel like crap.  My clothes are getting tight (not shrinking in the dryer), I can eat giant portions again and my chin is getting “its groove back” in a very bad way.  So I’ve decided to combine two dieting methods I know well but haven’t had independent success with recently: Weight Watchers and FitBit.   I’m also hoping that by publicly writing about my progress, I will have a stronger drive to succeed in order to avoid shame. 

Why is this on my nerd blog?  Because FitBit & WeightWatchers both have achievements, stats and because I said so, okay?

So in case you’re interested, here are my rules:

1. Track all food in FitBit Calorie Tracker, which is set to a 500 calorie daily deficit (to lose a pound a week).

2. Get “in the zone” on my Fitbit every day except 1 day a week (because of 1 meal only where I can stuff my face with whatever garbage I want).

3. No need to track fruits or vegetables (a WW rule that I think is essential to weight loss and programming your mind to enjoy more of the good stuff).  Treat fs & vs as zero calorie and/or zero point foods.  You’re not fat because you’re eating too many fruits & veggies, trust me.

4. Weigh myself only once a week (on Thursday) which is also a WW rule.  It prevents people from second guessing every portion of a pound they think they’ve gained while suffering by not eating the foods they love.

5. Hit my Fitbit step goal 3 days a week (and once that’s a regular thing, increase it).  Better to set something realistic and get better at it than to fail at a the pipe dream.

So I think that’s it.  I’ve lost weight before, so I can do it again… right? Right!

By my 30th birthday (in June), I want to be the healthiest I’ve ever been in my life.  I want to get back to the 130lbs that I was.  

So without further ado, let the shame, and badges, and h-anger commence!  (If you never hear about this again, you can just look for me in the chip aisle at the grocery store.)

“Have you worn the bird?” Pepe, Pippers & WoW easter eggs

pepewarcraftbird

I’m not a very good WoW player.  Some of my “friends” say, rudely, that I belong to the class of “huntards”.  Jerks.  Not because they think I am truly unskilled but more because I’m a girl, I like pets and they love how predictable that is.  In my defence, I’m also playing as a human and not as an elf (which got me SOME redeeming rep points).  Anyway, class problems aside, I have yet to play at max level (right now I’m the closest I’ve ever been at 95 and change).  But I find things that my “friends” don’t.  I find things like Pepe & Pippers.

One evening a few weeks ago I was wandering around my garrison when I noticed something clickable in a tree.  After close inspection, I realized it was an adorable little bird named “Pepe” sitting in a nest just out of reach with an action icon as a I scrolled over him.  “Is this a game bug?” I thought to myself.

I tried jumping and right clicking over & over again, getting angrier and angrier.  It must be a game bug, right?  Not knowing if my efforts were worth anything, I looked up Pepe’s purpose.  Turns out if you manage to click him you get to wear him on your head for an hour.  Totally worth it. 

I tried jumping and clicking for more time than I’m willing to divulge, but my efforts proved Pepe-less and I eventually gave up.  When Forrest got home, I told him about my cute find and how pissed off I was that I couldn’t get this magical little creature onto my head.  Forrest was proud of me for finding something new & fun, and two minutes later, had a new bird hat and a very angry girlfriend. 

To this day I have yet to successfully wear Pepe and it makes me angry.  Rage quit angry. (almost)

Then there is Pippers.  Pippers is a cute little dog that runs around your garrison in circles, for what appears to be no reason.  Being the nonchalant player that I am, and clearly in no rush for max level, I followed Pippers one day and was happy to discover another fun little easter egg.  Pippers leads you around to small piles of garrison resources (that look oddly like piles of dog poop).  Not enough to really make your time worth it, but enough to make you feel special for finding these little nuggets of knowledge.

So for all you haters out there, I guess the point of this is that I may not be great at WoW (and that’s probably why I play a hunter), but in true Hunter form I found some animal bonus fun that made everyone smile.  So suck it, jerks.

Orchestral Instrument Mayhem: Welcome to my life 2cellos and Lindsey Stirling!

lindseystirlingsteampunkroundtablerival 2CELLOS-The-Trooper-Overture-concert

I woke up this morning with the intention of writing two blog posts today: one about a new game called Empire Engine and the other about The Witches of East End.  Then I found Lindsey Stirling while coasting the www and all hope was lost (just for today) for those other two posts.

Last weekend we stayed with friends and played some games, including Empire Engine.  Later into the night, and into the alcohol, they introduced me to 2cellos; two European dudes (who I have to say look way too much like the Winchester boys!) with the ability to perfectly cover modern and classic songs with their, you guessed it, two cellos. 

This music doesn’t just make me want to get up and dance, it makes me want to go on some sort of adventure the way epic adventure movies did when I was a kid.  The music gets all up in your head like some wonderfully fun-yet-safe drug.

So this morning with my coffee and baileys, I was reading 11 women who are changing geek culture, which is an article I had open on my computer for a few days waiting to be read.  Lindsey Stirling sits at number 1.  So being curious after the awesome new discovery of 2cellos last weekend, I decided to check out her YouTube channel.  Well let me tell you… Roundtable Rival is going to annoy the shit out of Forrest for the next few days because it’s all I want to listen to!  Not only does it sound awesome and make you want to get up and go, it’s a steampunk western video that is positively delightful!  While that particular song is definitely my pick, she has many others worth listening to again and again.

So hooray for new music discoveries and lazy weekends! But not so much for feeling guilty about not getting to those two other posts done just yet, even though the trade off is totally worth it!

Review: The Iron Duke (The Iron Seas Book #1) by Meljean Brook

irondukecovermeljeanbrook

**I’m pissed.  Let this be a lesson to everyone not to type your drafts in WordPress (obviously, because smart people just don’t do that)…  WordPress ate my previous, finished, magical, beautiful, best-ever-because-you-can’t-prove-any-different post like a real a**hole.  So here we go again, and obviously it won’t be as good.**

On the weekend I finished reading my first ever steampunk romance, The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook.  I really enjoyed it.

What’s funny is that about 50 pages into the book, I almost put it down because I was so bored.  Then I read some reviews written by readers with whom I share similar tastes (i.e. Vaginal Fantasy Crew) and they loved it so I kept going, and I’m happy I did.

The series seems to bounce around to totally different characters and stories within the world of the Iron Seas.  While I don’t think I will continue with the series because I’m happy with how the story ended, this steampunk world does seem elaborate and fun.

What I find so endearing about this book is the main character, Mina.  She is a small and slight woman (of course) but she is also strong-willed, ambitious, and crime fighting.  Also, her primary life focus is not finding love and for this reason, she wins.  The duke is your typical romance novel dude (misunderstood-not-actually-evil, never loved another, etc.) but he is important for the story to work, so whatever.  Also, when you have that light bulb moment and realize the double entendre of the title, The Iron Duke, you will smile and forgive (sort of) the ultra cheesy and awful cover.

The story also has a fierce female airship pirate captain who swings on ropes and is generally pretty badass.  I’m pretty sure she’s the main female in book 2.  It also has animal-machine hybrids, including “ratcatchers” which are essentially evil and super strong modified house cats.  And what good is a pirate tale without steampunk sharks and kraken?

I definitely recommend this book to anyone who likes adventure, sex, and strong women.  While you may find the beginning a bit boring, try to stick it out if the above sounds like your thing.

And on a final note, if I had to give this book a rating, it would be Arrrrr. (You knew that was coming.)

Happy reading folks!

**Final final note: When I complained about WordPress on Twitter, they re-tweeted me?!?  Dear WordPress, if you are reading this then please spend the time finding my draft. Thanks.**