Books, Baking and Bon Jovi

One More Thing…

It’s been an interesting week.

I think I’m finally getting used to a 4 AM to 1 AM schedule. The secret, I’ve learned, is pretty much making time to pass out whenever available. My alarm clock = my new best friend. I should give it a name. I don’t know, do alarm clocks come off as more feminine or masculine to you? I’m digging ‘Shelby’, personally.

Speaking of feminine vs. masculine, French class. Why, you fanatical Francophones? Do tables really exude effeminate qualities? Who decided that my copy of Virgil’s The Aeneid must be of the male persuasion? I just don’t understand. (A side note: Turns out Shelby is actually  Sheldon. Awkward.)

I got to see Rock of Ages yesterday! (Hence Bon Jovi in    the post title. Because they sang one of his songs, and his  name starts with a ‘B’. 🙂 ) I was thinking about writing a  review, but the thing is there isn’t really much to  write  about. Not that it was bad; I mean, the story’s about as  unoriginal as you can get, but the thing is, it wasn’t  about the story! It’s about crazy eighties music and  having fun, and sometimes having a good  time is  vindication enough without having to explore the nature  of justice or lost innocence, or any other stereotypically ‘  profound’ topic. And I could spend a whole review trying  to explain that, but this just seems easier.

I can’t exactly say the same for the movie coming out, though; I mean, the stage version works because you’re in a theater, part of a crowd, singing along to the songs and swept up in the energy, more like a concert than a musical. That doesn’t work for a movie. A movie needs a plot.

And I actually did manage to get around to cooking something this week!! Check it out!! 😀

That’s right, legit devil’s food cake cupcakes made straight from the box, hand-frosted by yours truly. Psssh, who said cooking in college is difficult? (I mean, I did, but that’s beside the point.)

Oh, I almost forgot! I have a new favorite word to share with you. 🙂

‘Tarantism’ – noun
A mania characterized by an uncontrollable impulse to dance.

English is just so wonderful in so many ways.

Till Monday,

– Amy

🙂

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Livin’ Little

Bohemian Infusion 

 It was a few months ago, while flipping through ‘The New Yorker’ (which is really way too smart for me, but just having it on my desk makes me feel more sophisticated), that I discovered the phenomenon known as ‘Tiny Houses”. I would link the article in question, but obviously it’s a lot smarter than this one, and if you’re planning on ditching me for The New Yorker I don’t feel like making it that easy for you. (I will say that it’s a lovely piece written by Alec Wilkinson. Quality stuff, man.)

Anyways, a tiny house is just what it sounds like it is; a very small house, generally occupying less than a 500-square-foot space. They’re not for decoration, or for storage, but for habitation. And they’re not cobbled-together sheds or cabins; they are designed like genuine houses, only miniaturized. Think of them as the architectural world’s answer to fun-sized candy.

Inhabitants of tiny houses obviously possess limited space. The living area generally consists of a small kitchen, a bathroom, a loft bed, and maybe room for an armchair or bookcase.

The inside of a tiny house.

As such, the owner of a tiny house must be willing to sacrifice many of the comforts we who reside in houses of normal stature take for granted. Wardrobes must be whittled down, your wide-screen TV and hulking computer kissed goodbye, and the retainment of any household pets should probably be carefully thought over.

While the practice of living in a tiny house seems well-suited to a certain minority of people; those dedicated to clean, green living, working to live as lightly as possible (both in the material and spiritual sense); the fad has attracted a larger following than you might expect.

In such a grim economy, paying off a new house is more difficult than ever before, not to mention those who have lost their homes due to inability to cope with ever-increasing debt. The tiny house offers an elegant solution; an affordable home free of property taxes that can be placed and moved, generally for free, anywhere you choose (However, I wouldn’t recommend trying to park your tiny house on a neighbor’s lawn. It won’t be appreciated.).

 Aside from being economically reasonable and environmentally responsible, they’re also just plain adorable. It’s like living in a dollhouse; everything’s in reach, every architectural feature is in your control, and the exterior can easily be designed in any way that suits you.

Personal favorite. (Photo from Tiny House Blog)

But I think my favorite feature of the tiny house is that they are usually built on trailer platforms. Seeing as in many places houses of such small proportions aren’t strictly legal, if found out the occupants merely hitch up their house to the back of a truck and drive away. Way to fight the system.

The tiny house craze is just the latest addition in a series of radical, eco-friendly endeavors. It’s anti-materialism at it’s most attainable, and a simultaneous statement on today’s increasingly excessive lifestyle and the importance of making environmentally-conscious choices.

Check out Kent Griswold’s blog, ‘Tiny House Blog’, for more on the tiny-house craze:

http://tinyhouseblog.com/

Culinary Cognition

So far I’ve told you that I like philosophy, crew, traveling, Cat Stevens, theater, Harry Potter and Tom Felton. But one thing I haven’t gotten to yet is cooking! 😀

I happen to love food, possibly more than theater and Tom Felton combined, especially when cheese and/or chocolate is involved. 🙂 So it’s only natural that I would love cooking food!

And that’s why the plan was to dedicate Wednesdays to cooking! I was going to make a recipe every week and take pictures and rank taste and be all thrifty and impress you with my resourcefulness; but it turns out motivating yourself to buy ingredients and cook food in college is more difficult than I thought.

So the contents of my fridge look a little less like this:

And a little more like this:

A glimpse inside my freezer.

Consequently, it looks like cooking is out, which means I need to find a new topic. So while I figure out what to do with poor, forlorn Wednesdays, I thought I’d share with you one of my favorite recipes:

Creme de Menthe Bars  –

http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/creme-de-menthe-bars/detail.aspx

It’s ridiculously easy and ridiculously delicious, which is always the best kind of recipe. 🙂 Just make sure you let everything cool long enough before frosting the next layer! They’ll be yummy no matter what, but they’ll be better with more time to set.

And the amount of butter in this recipe is slightly obscene, so it’d probably be a good idea to cut in half. Or even in quarters, if you feel like it. Any recipe with that much sugar and that much chocolate does not need four sticks of butter. Just saying’. 🙂

‘Where Heaven Meets the Earth’

I love traveling.

Well, I haven’t really gone anywhere yet, but I love the idea of traveling! When I was little, I dreamed like every kid of a trip to Paris, or London, or the Bahamas, and while they’re all amazingly beautiful places, I’ve since learned that there’s a lot more world to discover than just the biggest dot on the map.

So I thought I’d dedicate Tuesdays to showcasing all the places I hope to someday visit, a kind of geographical wish list. I’m sure you’ll recognize some of them, but most of them (hopefully!) will be new, and maybe give your inner explorer a little inspiration. 🙂

I wasn’t sure if I should save it for later, but I decided to start out with my number one dream destination:

The Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

No, you’re not looking at a painting, or some computer-rendered image; you’re looking at the world’s largest salt flat, part of the Bolivian Altiplano.

The Salar de Uyuni is simply beautiful beyond expression. Every time I see a photograph, it takes my breath away all over again! Allow me a moment of gooey sentimentality; the images conjure up emotions difficult to place, though no less powerful for their lack of a name.

To make a tie-in to my last post, I think these pictures look a little bit like what a Cat Steven’s song feels like, or maybe a Jack Johnson melody (everything ties back to music 🙂 ).

The Salar’s surface is covered by a thick salt crust (the plane contains more than 10 billion tons of salt), which cloaks 50% to 70% of the world’s lithium preserves lying underneath.

It’s a thin layer of water present in the rainy season that coats the plane and lends it the appearance of the sky meeting the earth. But even during the dry season, when the water recedes, the Salar de Uyuni still displays a striking beauty. Salt is actually raked into pillars, akin to those of the Dead Sea, to be dried and then transported. These mounds keep up the appearance of sky-meets-the-earth nearly as well as the water with their pristine white, cloud-like shapes.

Salt pillars in the Salar de Uyuni.

I have faith that one day I’ll get to visit the Salar for myself. 🙂 I guess the only question left is when! Part of me wants to jump on a plane tomorrow, but the other part feels that a visit to a place so spiritual calls for a particular sort of occasion. I guess time will tell. 🙂

Anyways, to conclude; there are thousands upon thousands of beautiful places in the world, but for me, the Salar de Uyuni remains unrivaled, and that’s why I had to share it with you!

I’ll leave you with one last image:

(For more photos of the salt flats, check out http://www.atlantisbolivia.org/tunupagallery.htm  ,  http://tunari.tripod.com/landscapes.html), and http://www.amusingplanet.com/2011/08/salar-de-uyuni-in-boliva-worlds-largest.html)

Bad Day + Cat Stevens = All Better. :)

It’s not exactly a hidden gem or anything, but it’s been stuck in my head all week, so without further adieu your song of the week is:

Wild World – Cat Stevens

Cat Stevens is possibly my favorite artist of all time. It’s a cliché, but his songs really make you want to smile and cry at the same time. Maybe it’s just me, but although his staple is mellow music and whimsical tunes, there’s always an intense, mournful emotion simmering under the surface.

Of course, not gonna lie, I haven’t listened to any of his recent stuff as ‘Yusuf Islam’, but his old music is beautiful enough to listen to for a lifetime.

Some other Cat favorites are ‘The Wind’, ‘Sad Lisa’, and of course, ‘Peace Train’!!

Review: How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying

So, the plan was for Monday entries to be all about music, photography and video, but since I got out to see ‘How to Succeed’ this weekend, I thought I’d try writing a review! So here, for your reading pleasure:

How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying


Like all aspects of pop culture, Broadway shows 
are always coming in and out of style. While just a few years ago edgy, rock-grunge musicals, à la Rent, Spring Awakening and American Idiot, were all the rage, the trend seems to have re-geared in an entirely unexpected direction. The demand for cutting-edge has been replaced with a call for nostalgia. A slew of revivals (and a few originals) set in and between the roaring twenties (Anything Goes) and the corporate world of the sixties (Promises Promises) have taken the Great White Way by storm, filling NYC with the sound of show-stopping tap numbers, upbeat tunes and fabulously cheesy one-liners. The plots and time periods obviously vary, but they all share a delightful light-heartedness and abound with the charms of yesteryear.

The latest of these shows to come along is How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, a revival featuring former Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe as J. Pierrepont Finch. The show originally debuted in 1961, and like many of its contemporaries has begun to show some age. When Finch’s love interest Rosemary, played by a time-period-appropriately cheeky Rose Hemingway, sings about her dreams of keeping an emotionally-distant husband’s dinner warm as he climbs the corporate ladder, more than a few pairs of eyebrows are bound to shoot upward.

But nonetheless, the vibrant cast attempts to blow off the dust with infectious zeal. Daniel Radcliffe proves himself a capable leading man with an adequate singing voice, impressive dance moves, and the pairing of a remarkably enthusiastic presence and lovable grin. He is at every moment wide-eyed, bristling with an energy and earnestness that threatens to distract from the character itself. But this sort of vigor and projection of innocence may be exactly what is required in order for the audience to fall in love with the otherwise duplicitous Finch. Impressive too are his comedic chops, as evident whenever he, spotlit, shares with the audience his knowing, impetuous grin to signal that his latest scheme has pulled through.

John Larroquette secures a lot of laughs as Finch’s amiable yet morally dubious boss, whom we know the unstoppable Finch must eventually succeed. While he does project presence, his limited theater experience is evident; too often he dissolves into mumbling or attempts to use subtleties that work for the TV screen but not for the stage. Rose Hemingway is appropriately cute and feisty, bringing strength and sympathy to a character that could easily be scoffed at by the modern American woman. Tammy Blanchard is entertaining as wobbly tart-with-a-heart Hedy La Rue, and Christopher J Hanke manages to make us both love yet not root for Finch’s bumbling nemesis Bud Frump.

Derek Mclane’s set design is very reminiscent of recent productions of Bye Bye Birdie, Promises Promises (both directed and choreographed by Robert Ashford), and the short-lived 9 to 5; a cubic style that suggests a certain type of set instead of actually having the suggested set present. Why these productions find so much appeal in spending equal amounts of money on sets that pretend to be one thing, instead of building the actual thing, is a bit perplexing. Perhaps the style’s popularity derives from its ability to lend a modern edge to otherwise dated scripts.

Catherine Zuber’s chromatic outfits liven up an otherwise metallic backdrop, chock-full of sleek suits and twirly skirts. Ashford’s choreography is impressive and lively, although it’s been pointed out in other reviews that each number tries a little too hard to be a showstopper (of which How To Succeed really possesses only one; the effervescent ‘Brotherhood of Man’.)

Although constrained by its age, this production of ‘How To Succeed’ navigates through the script’s shortcomings with aplomb, and an irresistibly charming Radcliffe keeps the spark alive throughout the performance. How the show will fare without his star power remains to be seen (although with Glee’s Darren Criss and The Jonas Brothers‘ Nick Jonas lined up as replacements, I’d wager fairly well), but if you’re in search of a little animated, frolicsome entertainment, ‘How To Succeed‘ is certainly worth your time.

Shmen 4-Evah

One More Thing…

___

Aloha, mes amigos! (I think I just used three languages in one sentence) I hope life has been treating you well!!! Life has been treating Hempstead with daily torrential downpours. And can I just say that humidity + non-stop rain + superfine hair = hot mess.

Sidebar – I was just cruising on Facebook when I saw this add:

Which I accidentally misread as:

Coincidence? I think not.

So, anyways, I’ve never really been an athletic kind of girl (unless you count occasionally showing up for rock climbing team practices), so as a college shmen I promised myself I was going to sign up for at least one sport, and somehow I ended up falling into crew. (That’s rowing, if you weren’t sure. 🙂 )

So far, this is what I’ve gained:

Me after erging. (Why am I doing this again?)

And this is what I’ve lost:

Zzzzzzzzzzzz’s

(Thank you 5 AM practices)

But aside from the blisters and the lack of sleep and the sore muscles and the fact that at the moment I kind of suck, I really like it! Enough to choose it over rock climbing and Quidditch (and please, who among us hasn’t aspired to join a Quidditch team?) So I guess we’ll just see how it goes. 🙂

Aaaaaand speaking of Quidditch (I’m not sure why I keep capitalizing it), that segues nicely into my next update!! My parents are here for the weekend, and they’re taking me to see ‘How To Succeed in Business’ with Daniel Radcliffe! I’m kind of a Broadway dork, and I’m kind of a Harry Potter dork, so it’s like two of my favorite things got married and had a baby and tomorrow I get to meet that baby and I’m so excited!!

The current plan is to look really nice, run into him by the stage doors and mutually fall in love at first sight.

Or, he decides to introduce me to Tom Felton:

I’ll tell you how it goes. 🙂

Jusqu’à lundi, bonne nuit!

– Amy