Ode to Oats

Last night I was in conversation with one of my favorites, Jenn, you all know her as Mischenko on here, and we were talking about healthy eating habits. She’s like my health guru because if you ever need to know what vegetable or fruit can cure your ailments, she’s the one you need to talk to because she’s full of amazing advice! I forget how we got on the subject of breakfast eating but we were talking about oatmeal and I remember telling her I found a link for some really good looking overnight oats. I’ve made overnight oats in the past but it wasn’t a successful, tasty endeavor. These recipes however sounded very appealing to my tastebuds. I shared the recipes with Jenn and she really liked the sound of them and we both got this idea that she’d make one recipe and I’d make another and then we’d both write a blog post about it today sharing out thoughts. So here we go:

I decided to make the berry overnight oats without the greek yogurt. I didn’t have any greek yogurt to begin with but also because I seem to have an aversion to it for now. All the other ingredients I had though. Prep for these oats takes literally 3 minutes. I had a mason jar suprisingly from back when it was cherry picking season and my boss made cherry jam for everyone. If you don’t have a mason jar though, I’m sure you could use any type of sealed container. Here are the ingredients:

  • Berries and Cream Overnight Oats:
  • ½ cup Rolled Oats
  • ⅔ cup Almond Milk (can substitute coconut or cashew milk)
  • ⅓ cup Greek Yogurt
  • ½ Tablespoon Chia Seeds
  • ½ teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • ⅛ teaspoon Salt
  • 1-2 Tablespoons 100% Real Maple Syrup
  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries

So what you want to do is put all the ingredients in a jar in the order of which they appear on the list. The other ingredient I didn’t add was salt because I just missed the step I think. Now, I used frozen blueberries and strawberries. The recipe wants you to add them after but I put them right in with everything else. Mixed it up and plopped it in the fridge. This is what it all looks like mixed up in the jar:

So my oats sat in the fridge from 10pm to 7am. I ate them when I got to work at 8 and let me tell you, I was not prepared for the first bite. Good lord is this super delicious! I don’t know what I did wrong the first time but there is no comparison to this recipe! It doesn’t even taste healthy; it tastes like a dessert! I’m truly blown away and thinking this my be a regular staple to interchange with my egg breakfasts (cause I freaking love eggs).

Do yourself a favor and check out Jenn’s post (click the word post to be redirected :P). She made the chocolate coconut recipe so you have to see if her reaction to the oats was as great as mine!

Also, here’s the link to all the recipes if this sounds like something you want to try in the future: http://www.modernhoney.com/overnight-oats-5-ways/

Things Learned Watching Anime Movies

As I regularly do these past few weeks, I messaged my great, amazing friend ❤ Mischenko ❤ to talk about this and that. I’ve got a lot going on in my life currently and she’s really good at listening, laughing at  with me, and generally giving me some really great advice. I forget how we got on the subject of anime movies but I remember asking her if she had ever watched Howl’s Moving Castle especially since I knew her kids would love it. Her daughter, especially loved the movie because she got it for Christmas. This of course led to further anime movie discussion and I got to thinking about the things these Studio Ghibli films have in common. So today I thought I would share with you some of my favorites and why they’re so fantastic.

Image result for howl's moving castleHowl’s Moving Castle is a story about beauty, curses, and overcoming your inner demons. Sophie is the main character who leads a very boring life until one day she meets a powerful wizard named Howl. He’s being chased by the evil witch’s shadow demons and Sophie unknowingly comes to his aid. The witch then gets jealous of Sophie and curses her by stealing her youth and beauty and turning her into an old lady. From there Sophie joins Howl, Markl and talking flame Calcifer in the castle and learns about this world of magic as well as the additional curses and struggles this little family is going through. It’s really a great film that teaches a person that you are stronger than your inner demons ans when you have a nice family backbone to help you, you realize that beauty comes in all forms, shapes and sizes and believing in yourself can enable you to believe in the unimaginable.

Image result for princess mononokePrincess Mononoke is a story featuring natives living and working the land when a living disease infects one of the animals they normally hunt and begins to plague the people and land it treks through. Ashitaka, prince of the village, gets in the path of disease to save his sisters and the cursed plague infects his arm which has a few alarming effects. He decides to go on a journey to find a cure for the curse. Along the way he meets a wildling girl named San who was raised by wolves and is trying to drive the modern coal farmers away because they’e destroying the forest and the forest Gods are not fans of this and have decided to fight back. It’s a war of nature versus the mechanical all while trying to cure this nasty plague. This film is a little bit darker than the rest of the Studio Ghibli films but the main takeaway is how important the environment is and why it’s essential that we save it. It’s also about compromise — informing an individual why you feel the way you do without shoving your anger and hatred down their throat; making them open their eyes and mind and seeing a different side of the coin.

Image result for spirited awaySpirited Away is a story about a little girl who has been told by her parents that they are moving. She is quite reluctant to do so because she’s built such a home where they are now. While driving to their new home, they take a wrong turn and Chihiro and her parents is pulled into a world they never imagined. Her father insists one exploring this area and they stumbled upon some delicious looking foods. What they did not expect is the side effects of eating food in this magical place — they turned into pigs! Chihiro is frantic and all she wants to do is go back home but she has to figure out how to get her parents to turn back into humans. She ends up discovering all types of things about the people of this world, the culture, foods, and even makes friends with a boy who can turn into a dragon. The main takeaway from this film is courage; To not be afraid to face the unknown and have the courage to overcome your fears. Life isn’t planned out for you where you know exactly what’s going to happen when. You probably hear this all the time but you really should live life to its fullest. Fear holds you back from what could be the greatest moments of your life. And if they aren’t, well, you learned a lesson which makes you smarter, braver, tougher and more able to handle anything life throws you in the future. Nobody is perfect but if you make the best of the hand you’re dealt, you will find that you can conquer the world.


Since this post is coming up on over 800 words and I didn’t know I had all that in me, I’ll leave it at these three today. I still have a couple more movies I can talk about but I’ll leave it for a later post. I also want to note that I originally watched all of these in their Japanese version with English subtitles but now there are English voice acting versions if reading this post has you intrigued.

These are better than Disney right?!?! 😉 Have you seen these three movies or any Studio Ghibli film? What do you think of the takeaways I got from these? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Different Interpretations

So I don’t know if you follow baseball or not but the team, Cleveland Indians, have had their logo as Chief Wahoo for many years. Yesterday, it was announced that in 2019 they’re removing Chief Wahoo from all uniforms, merchandise, etc. This has actually been a controversy for many years because people began to deem that the logo was racist to Native American indigenous peoples. To give you more context to where this story is going, here’s a picture of the logo in case you’ve never seen it:

Image result for chief wahoo

Because this final decision has been made, there’s even more controversy surrounding it because die hard fans see it as iconic and don’t want it removed while others are cheering that it finally happening.

Curious as always, I read the comments of an article about it. One woman stated she was sad to see it go because she thought it was a symbol showing strength and power of Native Americans and that other teams should fear the Cleveland Indians over this symbol. A different commenter responded to her by saying she was wrong because it was racist cartoon propaganda used many years ago and should have never been etched in sports. Tension rose as it usually does and the comments started getting angry. I looked to my husband and asked him what he thought. He, like me, never really thought much of it because we don’t follow baseball so there’s no reason for it to bother us.

From here however, my husband thought of a music video he watched by the Red Hot Chili Peppers and how he viewed the video at first. So, he made me watch it to see what my reaction would be. Here’s the video:

So my initial thoughts were literally, how did they get so many black people to do this video. Then I thought about some of the typical stereotypes that were shown like the gold teeth, hair braiding on the porch and the grandma feeding him watermelon and I was like, “huh..” BUT! the tune is so damn catchy, it didn’t affect me as much as it probably should have and I thought the video was actually quite fun. My husband said when he first watched it, he felt like it was all wrong. But then he found out that Chris Rock directed the whole thing and his view of the video shifted from feeling wrong to feeling fun. Isn’t that quite interesting? He was so ready to be a little frustrated with this portrayal but to find out a prominent comedian directed the whole thing made him look at it differently.

All of this made me think of book reviews. I was reading a few on a book last night to gauge if it was something I would be interesting in reading since the cover drew me in and I came across some thought provoking comments. One reviewer rated the book 1 star then listed a novel’s length on everything he liked and disliked about the story. Many of the commenters found his review helpful and decided they’d steer clear of the book. Some agreed with some of the things he said but told him that they were sorry he didn’t like the book because the loved it. One commenter however was genuinely upset that he rated the book 1 star. She told him that he didn’t understand the book correctly and used phrases like “that’s not how the author portrayed the story”. He in turn got upset because he was being reviewed on his review and felt that it was his opinion and shouldn’t take flack for it because someone disagreed.

It got me thinking about all the books I read. Not every book can be a 4-5 star winner. I think of 3 star and below books I’ve read and left reviews on and I’ve never really thought about if a person would be upset about reading my review or not. Stories, videos, movies, logos, they’re all going to be interpreted differently when you have different people. I don’t think no one person can be right or wrong and they shouldn’t get shredded or told they’re opinion is inferior because they didn’t see the big vision that everyone else was supposed to see. Where’s the fun in that? Nobody likes to be told what to think or that their way of thinking is inferior you know? Specifically when it comes to books, authors release them hoping readers views will be aligned with theirs but it definitely should not be expected or condemned and belittled when it’s not.

Do you accept different interpretations of media or art? Have you ever been told a borderline snide comment because your interpretation didn’t color in the lines? Let me know in the comments below!

 

Modern Movie Adaptations of Classic Stories

I was speaking to my Swaziland bestie the other day about music with great lyrics. That lead me to talk about a song off one of my favorite movie soundtracks and got me thinking about modern movie adaptions of classics. For those who don’t know what I mean when I say modern movie adaptations, it means stories created by such authors like William Shakespeare or even such tales like Cinderella, are revamped to be set in the 20th century instead of the teenth-century they were written in. So instead of horse and buggys, there are cars and planes adapted to fit the story. It’s still related to the story’s overall plot and the endings but it’s also a little bit different. I actually think it’s quite brilliant when writers and directors do this but anyway, here are a few of my favorites:

  • Romeo + Juliet (1996 film)Image result for romeo + juliet

Okay first thing we must talk about is the cast line up. You have Claire Danes who plays Juliet, Leonardo diCaprio who plays Romeo, John Leguizamo who plays Tybalt, Harold Perrineau who plays Mercutio, Pete Postlewaithe who plays Father Lawrence and a whole host of other cast members that just make this movie so amazing to me. On top of that, instead of speaking in modern tongue, they literally speak the exact dialogue of the story, swords are brand name guns and there’s a bit of a musical feel to it. It doesn’t have the highest rating by movie critics so I’m probably in the low minority of people who love this film but I believe it’s worth watching plus the soundtrack is FANTASTIC!

  • O (2001 film)Image result for o film

Another film with a great cast line up! O is a modern retelling of Othello but it’s set in high school with the premise of teen violence. Mekhi Phifer plays Odin (Othello), Julie Stiles plays Desi (Desdemona), and Josh Hartnett plays Hugo (Iago). It’s also another film that doesn’t have super great ratings but I liked it enough especially since the cast was so diverse plus I was on a Julia Stiles kick back then and she was featured in so many of my favorite movies back then!

  • Ever After: A Cinderella Story (1998 film)Image result for ever after

There’s a trend with cast line ups! I don’t care what anyone thinks but but this is literally the best Cinderella film I’ve ever seen and I’ve seen a lot of them! I also want to point out that I’ve never really been a huge fan of Cinderella’s story in general but man does this movie change my mind. Drew Barrymore plays Danielle (Cinderella), Dougray Scott plays Prince Henry (Prince Charming) and Angelica Huston plays Rodmilla (evil stepmother) along with a whole host of others. One of the things I adored about this film was how they were able to meld a fairy-tale with a bit of a historical feel. Leonardo da Vinci (played by Patrick Godfrey) is featured in the film especially when it comes to creating Danielle’s gown for the ball. Cinderella is also not portrayed as this quiet mouse who only talks to animals. She’s this strong female who has a huge thirst for adventure and love!

  • 10 Things I Hate About You (1999 film)

Image result for 10 things i hate about youRemember how I said Julia Stiles was popular? Well, here she is again. What a lot of people don’t know that this teenage romantic comedy is actually based off another William Shakespeare story; The Taming of the Shrew. Heath Ledger plays Patrick (Petruchio), Julia Stiles plays Katarina (Kate) and Larisa Olyenik plays Bianca (Bianca) along with a whole host of other awesome actors. Looking back I can’t say there are lot of teenage based films I would watch again because adult Nel thinks they’re quite cheesy now but this one definitely has special place in my heart. If you know the story of The Taming of the Shrew, Patrick is the bad boy kid new to school who’s not interested in much but then his friend suggests he “courts” Katarina because none of the other hormone driven boys have been able to even crack a smile out of her plus her dad has really strict dating rules. The film centers around Kat creating this list of the things she hates about Patrick, in the form of a poem.

Honorable Animated Mention: Treasure Planet (2002 film)Image result for treasure planet

Have I mentioned how much I love space operas? Because I freaking love all things space opera! Treasure Planet is a modernized version of Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson set in space. Joseph Gordon Levitt voices Jim Hawkins, Brian Murray voices John Silver and Emma Thompson voices Captain Amelia. The story revolves around a restless young adult looking to join a ship and go on a fantastic journey. He joins up with John Silver thinking he’ll be part of a cool crew only to find out that John Silver has his own secretive, nefarious plot. This film is Disney made and got a decent enough review. I always thought it was so unique for someone to turn a very old classic, into a fun, intergalactic twist.


There are PLENTY more that I could discuss so I’m thinking of possibly turning this into a monthly series. What do you think? Have you seen any of these adaptations? Do you have favorites of your own that you would like me to discuss in a later post? Let me know in the comments below!

Book Review

There are a lot of things going on in my life at this very moment and if I talk about them out loud it might give me homicidal tendencies so here’s a book review. My book reviewing skills are completely rusty and I don’t have specific directions about how to do it the most informative way but I hope you enjoy these!

Over the weekend, I went on a huge binge reading spree and was able to finish 2 books as well as read a third one. To the left are two of the books that happened this weekend. I started Archangel’s Heart over two weeks ago but life got in the way but I was able to finally finish it. Archangel’s Heart and Archangel’s Viper are book 9 and book 10 of Nalini Singh’s Guild Hunter series. Here is the review I wrote on Goodreads for Archangel’s Heart:

Archangel's Heart (Guild Hunter, #9)

I just want to start by saying, NOBODY writes love, like this woman. Oh my goodness, this book cemented that for me.

Archangel’s Heart begins with the Cadre being summoned by the Luminata to come and discuss some important matters. The Luminata reside in Lumia which is a small town in Morocco where angels go to seek luminescence. The path of luminescence is different for every angel be it through education, art, etc. It’s decided that of the Seven, Raphael and Aodhan will go and Elena is consort so she has no choice in the matter. You do not ignore an invitation from the Luminata. In the midst of this, there are still questions about Zhou Lijaun’s status as Archangel of China after the events in the last book (You’ll have to read it to find out what those events were).

Once in Lumia, things are definitely not as they seem. The Luminata seem a bit off. They are all wearing hoods covering their faces, they don’t seem to care about basic angel etiquette and Elena and Raphael as well as the Ancient angels Caliene and Alexander feel as if there are always eyes on them even in their private rooms. Then there’s also the fact that everyone looks at Elena and seems to see ghosts of the past. This essentially leads to Elena, Raphael and Aodhan digging a little deeper into the happenings of Lumia. They investigate the town and learn quite a few things which builds up to astounding revelations close to the end of the book.

I can’t really go into more detail without spoiling it but I want to say that Nalini Singh can write no wrong in my eyes. Every time Elena and Raphael said “I love you” to one another, I got the warm fuzzies inside. My emotional meter was all over the place in this one from sadness to anger, to happiness and disgust. I was feeling it all and I loved it. The plot buildup was truly artful. The conversations between characters and scene transitions were flawless. After closing this book I literally turned around and picked up Angels’ Blood (the first book in this series) to relive the beginning of Raphael and Elena all over again. Their character development keeps me glued to this series and then some. Just when I think they can’t get any more beautiful, Nalini takes me to an even higher level!

If you’ve been keeping up with the series this long, then I can assure you, you will not be disappointed when you read this book. Definitely my second favoriteof the 9 books!

Now, you know when you read a series for a while, you always hope it will continually get better right? I figured Archangel’s Viper would be pretty good but I lost hours of sleep last night as well as woke up almost late for work this morning because I couldn’t put the book down until the very end! Here is my review for Viper that I’m actually going to write here first and then paste to Goodreads:

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Before I get into the nitty gritty, I guess I should start by giving you a general synopsis of the story. Archangel’s Viper takes place during the period of time as Archangel’s Heart. While Elena and Raphael are away in Morocco dealing with Luminata, Dimitri is in charge and delegating duties to everyone because it’s a bit of high alert situation when an archangel is away from his territory and someone as ruthless as Zhou Lijuan is AWOL. Everyone needs to be prepared for anything. Holly is tasked with picking up Venom from the airport because he’s been away from the Tower for two years on some secret mission. When she picks him up, they encounter some goons who are following them trying to ambush Holly because there’s a bounty on her head. From that point on, Holly and Venom explore the slums of New York in order to figure out who and why anyone would take a bounty out on her.

The story has come back full circle since Angel’s Blood. Holly was one of the girls who was brutalized and tortured by bloodborn, rogue archangel Uram. Nobody believed she would survive what she had to endure but she changed her name to Sorrow for a while and members of the Tower, most especially Dimitri were able to get her to see a fraction of her old self. She’s not human but she’s also not vampire nor angel. Holly struggles with that a bit because she feels like a burden to the occupants of the tower. Venom is in a similar situation. Most people keep their distance from him because of his eyes. He’s not human or vampire or angel either. They are both of their own breed; similar in some ways but different in others. Venom begins to help Holly to stop treating herself as weak while Holly sees behind Venom’s sunglasses, as well as his facade that he puts up for everyone else’s benefit.

Nalini Singh truly has a way with words that always speaks to me in this amazing world she’s built. Holly has a lot to deal with where her own self emotions are concerned. She also has to contend with a possible mind and body invasion by this other force that’s making her do things she normally doesn’t do or thinking of nefarious things that would normally disgust her but don’t. It’s a bit of a constant struggle of Holly fighting herself throughout the book and Venom doing all that he can to make sure she fights for herself more than hating herself. The book complete and utterly flows in the character development department. I can literally put myself in any one character’s shoes and understand where they’re coming from. We got a lot more information about the nature and rules of 100 year contracts when a mortal is Made and what is expected but also what is unacceptable. That really added another element to the overall world that going forward, will make stories even more interesting.

I can go on and on and on but I literally can’t wait for the next book. Maybe an Illium story?? (Pleeeeease!?)

Can you tell I’m hooked? That is just two books out of 10! I adore this woman’s writing style. The best way to describe it is by saying it’s just so real. There’s a lot of cursing in her stories but honestly it fits. Most of the characters are either normal mortals who deal with some crazy shit due to their jobs on a regular basis or the they’re immortals who have lived so long that they either don’t have much care for mortals or they are just completely nonchalant about the happenings of the world. When you lived hundreds of years or more, I imagine it can get quite dull until a person or event one day smacks you out of your black and white stupor and you start living in color again. The series just continually hits my feels and I’m such an emotional person that I can’t deny this special brand of torture to myself.

As with any and all books, my opinion will probably be different than yours. However, if you decide you would like to venture into the world of paranormal, urban fantasy romance, you can’t go wrong starting with Nalini Singh’s Guild Hunter series. 🙂 I hope you all enjoyed my two for one special. 😉

Edit: I should mention my ratings. Duh. I rated the first one 5 stars and the second one 4 stars.