Sunday, February 27, 2011

Winter’s Valentine - And Final Oscar Predictions!

The Oscars are airing TONIGHT so this will be my last Oscar Mission Update. I have had a busy couple of weeks so I only got two more movies crossed off the list. I wound up being able to see 9 out of the 10 best picture nominated films and 18 out of the EW Top 25 list!

Last week my friend Liz and I went to see Blue Valentine. This movie was pretty intense. Not thriller intense…but emotionally intense. Basically we follow a couple present day when the magic has been lost from their relationship. They are stuck in a state of poor communication and their relationship is tired. As we see them take a night away to try to rekindle their relationship, we see the story of their relationship in a series of flashbacks to when it began. I thought the movie was good…and the actors did a great job…and the ending sort of has a mystery of that you don’t know exactly what is going to happen (although you may have a good idea). However I sort of felt like in order for me to buy the ending (in the way that I was relating to the couple) I was missing an in between portion of their lives together. Liz didn’t necessarily feel the same way and I think that was just a matter of what you can relate to in their relationship or the problems they have. It was an interesting movie and I’m glad I saw it. Not sure it was my favorite…but it definitely made me think.              StarStarStar

This past week I rented Winter’s Bone. I have to say this movie had a hard time keeping my interest so I am not sure my opinion of this movie is super valid. But there is something to be said about how I couldn’t stay interested. What I want to say about this movie reminds me of what I said about Animal Kingdom. The premise sounded interesting and I felt like it had potential. A 17 year old girl goes out to find her father because he has put his house up as collateral for his bail and isn’t anywhere to be found. She goes out to find him and keep her family in their home while taking care of both her mother and younger siblings. I thought it sounded interesting but the whole time it was just whispery and slow moving combined with quick talking. I just had a really hard time staying interested in the film. Without giving too much away…there was an event toward the end of the film that made me feel a bit more interested and I thought Jennifer Lawrence did a good job overall. But I really don’t understand why this movie was nominated for Best Picture. I think there probably could have been a few others above it for this category. And even though Jennifer did a good job…it wasn’t a best actress winning performance for me.   StarStar

So with that I conclude the movie watching portion of my Oscar Snob mission. I as expected didn’t manage to see all the films on the official list, but I’m really pleased with what I have seen and I definitely think I have some valid opinions on who to root for. So I thought I’d post some of my predictions for the big awards! But not before my favorite Oscar gives us his! (NOTE: I see this video doesn't show up in Google Reader so you'll have to click through to my blog if you want to see it!)

Laura’s Oscar Opinions:
Here are my opinions on the major awards of Oscar Night! You can find a complete list of awards and nominees here. These are just some of my opinions on the major awards of the night!

Best Supporting Actor
  • Christian Bale in “The Fighter”
  • John Hawkes in “Winter's Bone”
  • Jeremy Renner in “The Town”
  • Mark Ruffalo in “The Kids Are All Right”
  • Geoffrey Rush in “The King's Speech”
I think that Christian Bale will most likely win this one and I think it would be deserved. Personally though I think Geoffrey Rush is equally deserving and for me its sort of a tie between the two (although I liked The King’s Speech as a movie more). I just have a feeling since The King’s Speech is nominated so many times…they will give this one to Bale. I saw all the films for which actors are nominated and I think Renner and Ruffalo gave great performances...but none of the other three I think deserve the win as much as Rush and Bale.

Best Supporting Actress
  • Amy Adams in “The Fighter”
  • Helena Bonham Carter in “The King's Speech”
  • Melissa Leo in “The Fighter”
  • Hailee Steinfeld in “True Grit”
  • Jacki Weaver in “Animal Kingdom”
I think Melissa Leo is the frontrunner for the win even though I think I enjoyed Amy Adams’ performance in The Fighter more. But I was the most impressed with Hailee Steinfeld in True Grit. I think even though she is really young I have this want to root for her. All of the other nominees also deserve the win here though…except for possibly Jacki Weaver…but it could be because I just wasn’t at all impressed with Animal Kingdom.

Best Actor
  • Javier Bardem in “Biutiful”
  • Jeff Bridges in “True Grit”
  • Jesse Eisenberg in “The Social Network”
  • Colin Firth in “The King's Speech”
  • James Franco in “127 Hours”
Unfortunately I didn’t see two of the films for which actors are nominated but I’m not sure that matters. I think Colin Firth has this award hands down and I would 100% say I’m rooting for him. I have always loved him…but he did an AMAZING job with this film and I think he deserves the Oscar this year. And that’s all I have to say about that.

Best Actress
  • Annette Bening in “The Kids Are All Right”
  • Nicole Kidman in “Rabbit Hole”
  • Jennifer Lawrence in “Winter's Bone”
  • Natalie Portman in “Black Swan”
  • Michelle Williams in “Blue Valentine”
I again saw all the films for which these actresses are nominated and I think they are all deserving of the nomination. However I think Natalie Portman will win and deserves to win this year. I also have liked her a lot from over the years, but she really put it all out there in Black Swan. After seeing the other films, the only one that I felt personally may have challenged Natalie Portman was Nicole Kidman with Rabbit Hole…but I think in terms of Oscar talk the only one who has a chance over Portman is Benning. Personally though…I will be pretty darn disappointed if Natalie Portman doesn’t take this one home.

Best Director
  • “Black Swan” Darren Aronofsky
  • “The Fighter” David O. Russell
  • “The King's Speech” Tom Hooper
  • “The Social Network” David Fincher
  • “True Grit” Joel Coen and Ethan Coen
I saw all of these movies but I always have a hard time picking a winner for direction. Even though I didn’t love Inception I sort of felt like the director should have been nominated. I think that David Fincher will take this one for The Social Network. I think the way that story was told was at first a bit confusing but interesting and actually really creative. But see I have a hard time distinguishing screen play from direction in that sense….was that just how it was written? Eh anyway my off the cuff feeling is that Inception was a bit snubbed but The Social Network will take it.

Best Animated Film
  • “How to Train Your Dragon” Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois
  • “The Illusionist” Sylvain Chomet
  • “Toy Story 3” Lee Unkrich
I didn’t ever get to see The Illusionist and I heard it was very good. But I really think that Toy Story 3 is going to take this one home. There is a piece of me though that wishes this category could have 5 nominations…there were a lot of good animated films this year that deserved nominations including Tangled and Despicable Me. But I don’t think there is any question that Toy Story 3 will walk away with this award.

Best Picture
Now for the big winner!! Instead of listing the nominees...I'll let Modern Family do the honors:

I saw 9 out of the 10 movies nominated (but know the true story of 127 Hours which is the only one I’m missing). After all my movie watching…I am rooting for The King Speech to win the big award. And I think it has a really good chance of winning. I think going in the two frontrunners are The Social Network and The King’s Speech. While I liked them both, personally I just thought The King’s Speech was a better. It was more moving and I think was appealing to a wider audience. So I’m picking and rooting for The King’s Speech to win this one!

And there you have it….my Mission Oscar Snob 2011 comes to an end with me being….well….an Oscar Snob! We will see if I’m a successful one when the Oscars air tonight! What do you think of my picks? What are your picks? You can be an Oscar Snob too and make your own predictions here! But I’d love to hear what you have to say! Have fun watching! I know I definitely will this year!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

So I Started to Sew...

About a year and a half ago, my old roommate showed me how to make a really cute quilt for my friend’s baby. Her and her mom are awesome seamstresses and quilters and she did a great job of showing me the ropes. Since then I’ve made a few more of those quilts for a few more babies and started to get curious about exploring other smaller projects. I invested in my very own sewing machine and my sister, Leslie, has gotten me some awesome sewing books and really nice sewing sheers for my birthday and the holidays. So to make good on those gifts…I started finding some projects to sew!


Triangle Neck Pillows

My coworker, Natalie, showed me this cute neck pillow pattern. I decided it would be a perfect side gift for each of my grandmothers for the holidays.

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These neck pillows are cute and comfortable and come together really quickly. I made my first one in just over an hour! Since the only things I had made before were the complicated quilts that take multiple weekends….you can imagine that making something so fast was a bit of a shock for me!

After the neck pillow I was a bit hooked on Sew4Home. They have a ton of cute projects to try with great instructions! They also respond to questions about each project really quickly in case you need any help. The rest of the things I’ve made recently have been from their website…but Leslie I PROMISE there are a couple of projects in the Amy Butler book I’ve got my eye on!

Retro Style Apron

My friend Shirin has been wanting a cute apron…especially with all the cooking she does for her blog! So for her birthday I told her I’d make her one and let her pick out the fabric! I found the perfect retro apron pattern and she found inspiring fabric!

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The detail in the apron made me a bit nervous. Especially with all the turns for the bias tape and the frilly bottom section. It took a lot of attention to detail but it wasn’t as scary as I thought. I even had enough fabric to put extra pockets on the reverse “back” side. The hardest part was turning the corners with the bias tape and getting the frilly bottom to line up evenly and correctly. My only complaint about the pattern is that I think the top part is a little narrow and I would make it a little bit wider next time. But I think the fit works perfectly for Shirin!

Plastic Bag Holder

For a long time I have been wanting for one of these plastic bag holders to keep my grocery trash bags from being an eyesore. When I found the pattern for it I had to try to make it myself!

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This was really pretty easy to make and I got it the whole thing done in one night. Its currently hanging in the front closet…but I hope to find a place out in the open to hang it for decoration too at some point! Especially being Portuguese, its lucky to have roosters in kitchen décor.


Sewing Machine Cover

I also wanted a cute cover for my sewing machine (the plastic one it comes with isn’t exactly the prettiest thing). Of course I found a tutorial on Sew4Home! (These pictures are small because they didn’t come out so great haha so don’t worry you aren’t missing any real details…they’d just be fuzzier).

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I modified it a bit so that it had an opening to access the handle in the back of my machine. And since my machine isn’t super boxy, I didn’t put the pocket on because I think it would get weirdly baggy with stuff inside. I may reconsider and add it later.

Cat Toys

Right before Valentine’s Day, Sew4Home got me again with these super cute heart mouse catnip cat toys! One of my best friends, Paul, and his fiancé Grady have 2 cats (UT and Cooper) so I had to send them these catnip toys for Valentine’s Day!


I thought this would not only make a cute gift but be a great way to get rid of some leftover fabric (recognize them?). But these toys were much smaller than I thought they would be from the pictures! It was really hard to get the tail to come out the middle of the “v” in the tiny heart. I also thought it was hard to get the curves to look smooth with the small shape and my hand sewn sections were a bit obvious. But they still came out pretty cute and I hope the cats enjoy them! Next time I would consider enlarging the pattern slightly…but not by much. They still need to be small enough for the cats!

Speaking of Valentine’s Day…I got this really cute Hershey Kiss candy bowl with pretty flowers from my parents! They always make me feel super loved!

Thanks Mom & Dad!!! LOVE YOU!! Smile

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Another Social Rabbit Town

I’m really enjoying making nonsense blog titles from movie titles for these it annoying? Because it's fun for me! Of course a nonsense post title means that it’s time for another Mission: Oscar Snob 2011 update! I only have 14 days left until the big show on Feb 27th and I have made a little more progress on EW’s Top 25 Movie List. Here are some of my thoughts and ratings on the movies I’ve watched over the past few weeks. You can find the official list of 2011 Oscar nominees here!

The other day I rented The Town from Netflix. The premise? Crime group/mostly family who rob armory trucks and banks. Of course there is a “nicer” bad guy who doesn’t want to hurt people. Upon checking in on a prior hostage (who doesn’t know who he is)…he falls in love. Of couse…the “nicer” guy wants to leave the group now and get away with the girl…but that proves complicated. This movie was pretty good…but it had its shortfalls. I liked the premise and the plot. It was shot well and it had me on the edge of my seat but not in a gory way. I think some explanations in the movie were a bit rushed while at the same time there were some parts of the movie that seemed to drag a bit. What winds up happening to the girl who was a hostage isn’t something I really anticipated and was interesting…but at one point they sort of dropped that part of the story a bit while the last long big heist was going on and that was sort of odd to me. All in all though this is another movie I was surprised to enjoy. Not my favorite…but I thought it was good! (Truth: I wish there was a way to give it 3.5 stars with these graphics…but its gonna get 3 because its not really my favorite type of movie).

I got lucky this past week and found out that Rabbit Hole was still playing at a small theater in NW DC and ran out to catch one of the last showings! And I was so glad I did. I thought this movie was really good. It’s not a movie for everyone, its not like there is a huge plot or much comedic relief or a happy ending. But I found it to be a really interesting portrait of a couple dealing with a tragedy. The interesting thing for me was that they don’t start the movie with the tragedy…but months after it has already occurred. And you also find out the details about what occurred pretty slowly. I thought that was a really good idea because you weren’t necessarily allowed to have your own reaction or attachment to the event…but really appreciate their story in dealing with it…as individuals and as a couple. Like I said…there isn’t necessarily a “yay happy” ending but I left the theater being really moved by the film. If your in the right mood…I really recommend seeing this film. This was really close to getting 5 stars from me…and I may change my mind later, but I’ll stick with 4 for now.

Netflix madeThe Social Network available on Feb 8th and its status on my queue immediately became “very long wait”…but to my surprise…I was one of the lucky ones to get the movie right away! I watched it this week. I was pleasantly surprised by this movie. I was convinced that it would paint a picture of Mark Z. as a bad guy and I don’t think it really did that. I thought it was really interesting and a story worth telling. It seems a bit odd to me because it wasn’t THAT long ago that Facebook was created. I remember the day…Oct 24, 2004…Loyola MD students were “allowed” to join Facebook back when it was all “exclusive” and it was really interesting to see the thought process going into the school networks. Facebook is so different now…only a few years later…and its crazy to have lived through the college expansion of it first hand. I sort of wish this movie was made a few years later….it seems so recent to already be a movie. But I really thought it was an interesting story and a movie worth making. The music was great. I think the way the story was told was good…sometimes a bit confusing (for the first few switches to past/present and between legal suits I wasn’t sure what we were flipping between) but in the long run it worked well. Overall it was interesting and I would definitely recommend this movie…especially if you use Facebook. This is one of the films nominated for Best Picture…I think I’m still rooting for King’s Speech to take home the Oscar for that one. But this movie is definitely worthy of being nominated.

Today I found a theater that is playing a few lesser known Oscar nominated films and I decided to check out the British film Another Year. Its hard for me to explain how I felt about this film. Well firstly I really liked it. Tom and Gerri are a couple toward the end of their careers (pre-retirement but probably not super far from it). They are happy and worldly and have a son who makes them very proud. You watch as a year goes by in their lives…but I sort of think you are watching “another year” go by for the people around them…maybe some more than others. It had a good amount of comedic relief but I have to admit a few scenes really made me tear up. I think it’s a movie that depending on your life you could relate to in different ways. My only critique might be toward some of the plot at the end of the movie. It moved a bit slower and I’m not sure if some of it was a significant addition to the film. But other than that I think it was a really good movie and if your looking for something different to watch this might be a good choice. And I’d be interested to hear what aspects you connected with…if any (because I’m sure none is also a realistic option).

Like I said when I started this mission, I don’t think I’ll be able to see every movie on the list. Some movies I simply don’t have access to (not available on DVD but not in theaters). But there's only 2 weeks left and I’m not quite sure I’ll have time to get to the movies. Some of my unseen movies were passed up in the nominations. I have noted in the list which films didn’t receive any nominations…and because of that, they will now be lower priority in my mission. I also must confess that I don’t have a HUGE desire to see 127 Hours because 1) I know pretty much the whole story having seen the TV special on the true story about a year after it really happened. 2) Because I know the story, I know how it will end so I feel like that ruins it for me. So 127 Hours isn’t exactly a top priority….but because it is a “Best Picture” nominee I will see if I can get myself to it.

However…definitely coming soon...Winter’s Bone & Blue Valentine. Stay tuned!!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Random Photo Scrapbook: Fall 2010 & Winter 2011

Something funny happens when you start a blog – you start taking a LOT of pictures…all the time. Pictures of random stuff that you wouldn’t have normally taken because “HEY! I can blog about this!” Something funny also happens when you don’t usually post more than once or twice per don’t always blog about the things you took pictures of. Combine those random blogging pictures with a new phone with a great camera (love my Droid Incredible!!!)…and you’ve got dozens of random snapshots…all intending to be shared…but too random to make into a nicely put together album.

I decided I’m going to share some “best of” random photos on my blog! The plan is to show off some photos (or events) that I was hoping on talking about on the blog…or maybe just random photos that I like and want to share…and that way blog entries that never came to life….can at least be shown in snipits of pictures!

I will do this more often than every 6 months so there should be less photos next time…but I just got this idea so this post might be a bit long! But pictures are fun right? Enjoy!

July 2010

I found this tie of the Presidents being sold at one of those mobile souvenir stand near the White House……I could be wrong…but I don’t think they know how to spell some of the names...oh and also it’s a bit out of date.


September 2010

It is rare that Milo falls asleep with his tongue sticking out…and gosh I love it when he does….its too cute!


October 2010

During my trip to South Carolina to visit Cody, cotton was clearly in season down south! You could see it all along I-95 and they were selling cotton bouquets in Charleston!

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At work that month…a mariachi band showed up at work outside the cafeteria…they were dancing and singing and it was quite loud…and pretty random. I have some video but…maybe I’ll share that at a later date.

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A few weeks later, we went out for Danielle’s birthday to a very fancy bar called The Gibson. Totally lit by candles…made for some pretty drink pictures.

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While we were out the next evening…my new phone jumped out of my hands…and CRACKED! I was so sad….(no worries it has since been fixed…haha very recently…yup I’m slow).


That was sad…but Milo’s perfect expressions of sleepy comfort...always make me smile again!


What else makes me smile??…SUPER random mugs at the office of course!!!


Oh yea…and my family coming to visit on a beautiful October weekend for Rally for Sanity! We had a great time biking around the National Mall (using Capitol Bikeshare) and just people watching. Oh and I took one of my best pictures of the Washington Monument too….

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November 2010

We had a health insurance fair at work before open season and I got a MetLife Snoopy!!! Which obviously reminded me of my college roomie Meghan who works there now!


I wrote a post for my birthday which featured a picture of my family’s traditional birthday cake! This is the box mix my family ALWAYS uses for that cake…no other mix is quite as good.


This fall, it was gorgeous out almost every single weekend….I couldn’t resist taking some pretty fall pics while out with Milo at the park!

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I got to see Rachel Ray live at the Cooking and Entertaining Expo with my pal Shirin! (She is a bit hard to see on the stage in this pic of course)…Shirin wrote more about it and has more pictures in her cooking blog! And look Rebecca! There were Whoopie Pies!! Smile

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December 2010

Shirin and I decorated our own cupcakes at an event hosted by Georgetown Cupcakes! We even met the owners who are on the TLC show! They were so nice…they let us decorate and take home another dozen! The moose cupcakes were the red velvets!!! (AKA my favorite Smile )

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Milo got sick right before Christmas and we went to the vet. He had symptoms but wasn’t ACTING sick…while we were waiting in the exam room for the vet he was VERY interested in the animal sounds outside the door….and did the cute dog concentration head tilt….a bunch of times…


Our division at work had a holiday door decorating contest for the holidays…my branch is pretty busy at the moment and it sort of got built into our design. My coworker, Natalie, and I made cartoon elves of everyone in our branch…we had a “Project Yeti” across the way throwing project snowballs at us that were hitting the wall above us….and then a decorated holiday tree and a naughty & nice list (we were mostly naughty of course because that is funnier)….

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Over the holiday, my sister Linda got us all tickets to go see a local production of Joseph and the Amazing Techicolor Dreamcoat! (A family favorite)…


January 2011

Rebecca and I were lucky enough (well she was lucky…I wasn’t as lucky but lucky to tag along) to score some tickets to the a special advanced screening of No Strings Attached. It was put on by 94.7 Fresh FM and CityShopGirl. It was a really great time and a pretty funny romantic comedy! To be honest, its hard for Natalie Portman to do wrong by me...and the very funny Mindy Kaling was in it too so…yea I enjoyed it haha. We had a ton of fun…and we got a goodie bag with a bunch of well…goodies…a mini movie poster…free popcorn…and some Georgetown Cupcakes! Oh…and best part of a private screening?? No previews!!! Smile You can read more about the event on Rebecca’s blog!


My favorite DC cupcake shop Red Velvet Cupcakery had a special Oatmeal cookie cupcake for a few days this month….it was YUMMY!!! Hey Dad…we might be able to join baking forces and attempt these next year!


Early February 2011

Milo enjoyed Puppy Bowl 7…I sort of thought this pup had some Milo traits (with shorter hair)…it says he is a “shepherd mix” which goes along with my theory that Milo has a some German Shepherd in him….hmmmmm. Meanwhile I made my first successful batch of deviled eggs to compliment Shirin’s tons of food at her Super Bowl Party. I was really excited to use my colorful egg serving plate!

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And for good measure….some more awesomely cute pictures of the mutt…not sure if you can tell…but he really loves his Nylabone.

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Oh….and this last two were taken tonight while I was finishing this post….not sure if you can tell….but I really love my Milo <3.

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