Saturday, July 30, 2011

Super Summer Saturdays: Bucket List

I cannot believe that on Monday it will be August. WHERE has this summer gone? Soon it will be September, which for me means back to school (plus an apartment...more on that later). I decided to dedicate this Super Summer Saturdays post with a list of things that I would still like to do in this last sweet month of summer. You and your family can follow along and do these things, too! Enjoy!

1. Day trip to the lake/beach
2. Finish the baby quilt I've started
3. Zoo to see the new polar bears
4. Cover every square inch of my sidewalk in chalk
5. Try something new
6. Finish reading the Harry Potter series for the umpteenth time
7. Read Heaven is For Real (just bought it today!!)
8. Make some homemade ice cream
9. Check out some "haunted" places in the area
10. Visit a museum (or two)
11. Live up every minute :)

What are YOU going to do for the rest of your summer? I'd love to hear about it!

Friday, July 29, 2011

This One Time At Band Camp

The other night, I went to visit my high school's band camp. They were having a cookout that was mostly for their parents but former band members were invited too.

I can't even begin to describe the flood of memories that filled my heart when I pulled into the driveway of that place. Like bombarding the guys with water balloons, stealing the director's underwear and freezing them, shaving cream fights, silly made up songs, late nights of just talking, the senior dinner, dances, crazy American Pie-worthy quotes, it goes on and on.

Band is one of the few parts about high school that I can honestly say that I miss. When I was with the band, I felt like I belonged. I felt included. When we (FINALLY) made it to State my junior year, I felt like I was a part of something bigger than myself. That is just one of the many gifts that band gave me.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Super Summer Saturdays: Tips From Other Bloggers

I recently posted a discussion over on MckMama's Blogfrog Community asking other bloggers to share their tips for beating the heat. You can read their tips below. Check out their blogs, too!

I want to thank everyone who participated in this shared tips post! You all have wonderful ideas for beating the heat!

    Saturday, July 16, 2011

    Super Summer Saturdays: The End of an Era (SPOILER ALERT)

    If you read my last post, you know how excited I have been about the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. I, along with many others, attended the midnight release (in full costume). This is my take on the movie. Warning: Lots of spoilers ahead, many more than in my previous summer movie reviews.

    The movie begins by repeating the final scene of DH part 1, when the evil Lord Voldemort steals the legendary Elder Wand from the grave of Albus Dumbledore. We then get to see our beloved heroes as they finish the search for the Horcruxes (if you don't know what a Horcrux is, it is an object that has a fragment of another person's soul concealed inside it and can only be created by killing another person. When a Horcrux is created, its maker can never truly "die" until the Horcrux is destroyed. Very dark magic). It comes to mind that one of them (old Voldy has/had 7) may be in the Gringotts bank. So what do they do? They hatch a crazy plot to break in, of course. The bank scene was really cool. Much cooler than the first time that Harry visited the bank during the first story. I will warn you though-- if you get dizzy easily, this scene may make your insides spin. The dragon (yeah, dragons guard the bank) scene is very well done, especially when it flies over the countryside- beautiful!

    Our heroes later return to Hogwarts, their school, which is in a (for lack of a better word) apocolyptic state. Everyone's favorite professors will be seen, including the ever-strict McGonagall, who has developed a very cool "Don't mess with me" attitude. The Horcrux search continues with the help of some fellow students and friends, and the cup and diadem are destroyed, putting Harry and company one step closer to victory.

    A sentimental moment comes about 3/4 way through the movie, when, during Professor Snape's last seconds of life, his past is finally told. I won't lie. I cried during this part. Lots. I knew I would. I cried during that part of the book, as well. I won't spill this secret in my review, but I will say to have a tissue ready.

    Lots of loud battling, fighting and firing occurs before good finally prevails over evil and the Boy Who Lived saves the Wizarding World forever. Voldemort's death was very different in the movie than the book, but I still thought that it was well done. I will say that I was extremely dissappointed that the movie did not show Harry visiting the Headmaster's office after the victory. In the book, Harry visits the office to see the portrait of Albus Dumbledore crying tears of pride. That was one of my favorite parts in the entire series. I was sad I didn't get to see it.

    The movie closes with an epilogue, where the heroes are seeing their own children off to the no longer threatened Hogwarts. The kids are beyond adorable, by the way.

    I thought that, other than the ending, this movie followed the book extremely well. More so than the past several movies. I couldn't have aasked for a better ending to the book and film franchise of a generation.

    "All was well".

    Wednesday, July 13, 2011

    A Decade of Magic: Harry's Impact on My Life

    If you've even paid a second of attention to the news/social media/etc over the past few weeks months, you know that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 is to be released in theaters on July 15th (which also happens to be my 20th birthday). While I am so excited for the epic conclusion, I also find it to be a little bittersweet. It feels as though a chapter of my life is closing. This is a reflection on how the series impacted me, one of the millions to grow up with Harry.

    I remember the day I received the very first book. Ninth birthday. July 15, 2000. Exactly eleven years before the final movie wraps everything up. Back then, there were no movies. The books had only very recently "took off" on this side of the Pond (they started in Britain, if you didn't know). My cousin who gave the book to me had started reading it a few weeks earlier. He swore I would love it. I was skeptical. Ever the girly girl, I took one look at the cover and deemed it a "boy book". But I gave it a chance. My mom and I started reading it together, a chapter each night before bed. And you know what, I fell in love. I was hooked after just one page. The characters and plot captivated me. I loved using my imagination to picture what that great castle looked like, how Quidditch looked from Harry's point of view, mean old actually nice Snape... I was hooked. I got the second story (Chamber of Secrets) shortly after. To this day it remains one of my favorites in the series. I loved everything about it.

    Then, the movies came out. I remember how excited I was because Hagrid was exactly as I had pictured him. I felt silly when I realized how many of the pronunciations I had gotten wrong (Quidditch with a K, anyone?). Mostly, though, I was blown away by the performances of Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint, who, at the time, were my age. Well, they're still my age, actually. But that's besides the point. I wanted so much to be in their shoes. To fight through the third floor corridor past three headed dogs and the like. I wanted to be in that world.

    My eleventh birthday came and went. I checked the mail daily, wishing, hoping and praying for my Hogwarts acceptance letter. Deep down inside, I knew that it was all fiction, but I just couldn't admit that to myself. Everything was described in such rich detail, there was just no way it could all be "made up". It had to be real, it just had to.

    I never did get that letter. But I got as close to the magical world as I could with toys and other memorabilia. I had a Hermione doll, which later received a very butchered haircut, as did all of my Barbies. I had a plastic Goblin figurine, complete with goo to pour over his head. I had two board games and a cooking set. But my most favorite of all was my castle. My Hogwarts Castle. This castle had it all. Sights, sounds, music. Plus, a "magic" element that made Harry float through the corridors effortlessly. Ok, maybe he got stuck once. Or twice. I remember sitting for hours on end, acting out my favorite scenes with the tiny figures. I figured that was as close as I was going to get to the "real thing", so I took advantage of it.

    As I have grown up, so have the characters. There is much more teen romance/angst in the later novels than the earlier ones. As I became older, I found that I was able to relate to the characters more so than ever before. I remember many a dance where I was scrambling and panicking at the last minute because I still didn't have a date, much like Harry and Ron in the Goblet of Fire (book 4). I also remember a particularly horrible (ok, it was horrible at the time) week during my sophomore year when it seemed like literally the entire school was against me, and all because of a silly (not true) rumor. Harry went through that too. More than once. Like the time when everyone thought he was attacking his classmates just because he can talk to snakes. I know this sounds cliche, but the little subplots like that truly did make me feel less alone.

    Feeling less alone is only one of the positive effects that Harry has had on me. I've also noticed that he has a knack for bring people together, despite Hagrid sized differences. When you see literally thousands of people standing in a line that wraps in and out of every isle of Barnes and Noble, shouting Alohamora to magically "open" the crate containing the newly published books at midnight, you get this crazy sense of unity. A sense of togetherness. For just a few minutes, everyone puts their differences aside to focus on one big common interest. And in this day in age, that's worth more than 1,000 words.

    Harry has, over the years, been an escape for me. A chance to get away. This past weekend wasn't easy. I might blog about it at a later time. Maybe. In the midst of being sad, I went to my futon and curled up with Goblet of Fire. And everything melted away. I was away from reality for awhile, in a world that is completely make believe. I was able to put aside the hurt and sadness, even if only for a few hours. These stories have been an escape for me and thousands of others. For that, I am grateful.

    As I look back on the past decade (HALF of my life--wow!), nothing but wonderful memories fill my mind. I hope that one day, I can share Harry's story with my own children, and if they're anything like their mama, they'll fall in love after just one page. Will J.K. Rowling publish any more books? For now, she says "never say never". Even if Harry's epic saga doesn't continue, I think that there is one big thing that we can all learn from his seven part story. Even when everyone says you can't, never stop believing in the impossible.

    "All was well".

    Monday, July 11, 2011

    What's New With Hershey and Bella

    I realize that it has been awhile since I did a post on my pets. So, this post will be dedicated to them. They're both enjoying the summer. Hershey enjoys playing in the pool, catching frogs in said pool and just laying in the shade of the many trees surrounding our house. Bella looks forward to her daily outdoor playtime, too. She loves chasing dragonflies, chilling in the shade under our back deck and climing trees in search of birds. Summer is her favorite. Mine too! Here are some recent pictures of my little furbabies :)

    Yes, she's drinking out of the toilet. Yes, my toilet has a sticker that says "Flush Twice, It's a Long Way to Michigan". Don't ask. 

    She adores bags. 

    My good old girl :)

    Besties for life

    Sitting Pretty Outside

    See, I told you Bella loves it outside :)

    Saturday, July 2, 2011

    Super Summer Saturdays: Recipe

    Since it's July 4th Weekend, I'm sure many of you are having cookouts and BBQs with your families. Today I'm going to share a dessert recipe that we often whip up for summer get togethers. It's super easy.

    Oreo Pudding Dessert

    • One Regular size package of Oreo Cookies (not Double Stuffed)
    • 2 small packages French vanilla pudding mix
    • 8oz soft cream cheese
    • 8oz Cool Whip
    • Milk
    What to Do:
    1. Make pudding with milk (check pudding box to see how much milk you'll need). The pudding doesn't need to be set up just yet. Add the other ingredients first.
    2. Add cream cheese
    3. Add Cool Whip
    4. Mix with an electric hand mixer until well blended
    5. Crush enough cookies to thoroughly cover the bottom of a 9x13" aluminum pan
    6. Pour pudding mixture over the cookies
    7. Chill in refridgerator for several hours to set it up
    8. Prior to serving, crush a few more cookies and sprinkle over the top (just for decoration- don't need to cover it completely)

    I hope you and your family enjoy this recipe. Try it for your next cookout/BBQ and let me know what you think! Have a GREAT 4th of July Weekend!