About Me

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A 30-something living in the foothills of the Virginia mountains; I'm saved by grace, addicted to coffee and my little sister is my best friend! I devote most of my time to exploring, reading, attending as many Nationals games as possible and documenting life here. My Prince Charming got lost somewhere along the way...but I'm trying to remain hopeful that true love exists.

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Sunday, February 1, 2015

What I Was Into in January

January - often a fairly dull month. Certainly this January was no exception; there were plenty of days filled with dreary, drizzly and misty stretches that went on and on. Not to mention more snow in the span of one month than I've probably seen in my previous thirty years combined. Ha! No matter where you live, January is pretty much a dreary month...which is why it's perfect for reading lots of books, seeing lots of movies and just doing a whole lot of nothing, ha-ha!

Books I Read

Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography - Listen, I am a die-hard NPH fan and when I saw that he was releasing an autobiography, I knew I would have to snap it up...so when I was strolling through Target sipping my Starbucks and I saw it on the shelf, I grabbed it. Now I'll admit I was never one of those kids that liked the choose your own adventure books and I wasn't thrilled with the layout of this book; I like people to tell me the story...I don't want to have to choose, ha-ha! Having said that, it was an easy read with plenty of laughs but what I really enjoyed most were the parts about his time on How I Met Your Mother and what he wrote about his twins. I'm really glad I added this book to my collection.

An interesting read - if you can choose correctly...
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruis Zafon - A book I would have never picked up on my own but thanks to the Long Branch book club, I read this book! The book follows a young man named Daniel who is introduced to the book The Shadow of the Wind and spends the early part of his life trying to track down the reclusive author of the book. Along the way, he encounters many fascinating characters and his life is changed dramatically. The last 100 pages of the book really tie everything together and give the story a dramatic and satisfying ending. I'd recommend this book if you are looking for a great read - no matter the genre you normally like, this book is just flat out great!

Book club reading at it's finest!
A Breath of Snow & Ashes by Diana Gabaldon - The sixth book in the eight (currently) books in the Outlander series. I keep having to put these aside to pick up book club books...or I put them aside a bit to read something else, ha-ha! And while I'm in the middle of this one, I must confess that I've put this one down again to pick up a couple other books...ha! I promise book, I will finish you one day!

Slowly but surely making my way through the series...

Books in the Queue

The Professor & the Madman by Simon Winchester - the book for our February book club meeting. I've got to get to reading this one....haven't even started it yet and book club meets on the 3rd! Yikes!

American Sniper by Chris Kyle - Now that I've seen the movie, I'd like to read the book! I am (and always have been) one of those people that wants to read the book and see the movie/TV show. Books almost always win out...if we're making a comparison. And I'm already reading this one, so maybe it's wavering somewhere between being read and being in the queue!

Can't Miss Television

Downton Abbey - Who doesn't love a chance to get back to the drama of both life upstairs and downstairs at the Abbey? Mary still can't make up her mind about just who she might want to marry...Edith is trying to love her baby while keeping her a secret...Branson is still trying to figure out exactly who he is and what he wants and Lord Grantham just wants things to stay the way they've always been! And that's just the upstairs drama! Can Bates and Anna make it through just one season without some kind of turmoil? I doubt it. And just what exactly is going on between Carson and Mrs. Hughes? Only time and a few more visits to the Abbey will tell.

Do you remember the water bottle scandal?
The Golden Globes - Yes, I'm one of those people that live for Hollywood award show season! I love seeing all the glamorous dresses and the men dressed so jauntily. I love to hear the jokes (although the Cosby joke made by Tina and Amy was too far...too far) and see if any of the movies and TV shows I have enjoyed in the past year will win. This year nothing that I was really rooting for won except Joanne Froggat, who plays Anna on Downton Abbey. There are still a couple movies I'd like to see before the Oscars; maybe my picks (Benedict Cumberbatch for Best Actor, Rosamund Pike for Best Actress, The Imitation Game for Best Picture) will fare better there! 

They were pretty funny....except for that one joke!
House of Cards - Oh my, well I've finally taken the time to watch House of Cards and I understand all the hype. This show will keep you on the edge of your seat and you'll be so engrossed that when the credits roll you'll wonder where the last 50 minutes went. The story follows House majority Whip Frank Underwood and his wife Claire as they scheme, plot, claw and connive their way to the top of the DC food chain. The cast of characters surrounding them are equally intriguing and I've about decided that what makes this show so fascinating is that this is probably a fairly accurate depiction of how Washington DC is run. Which quite frankly (no pun intended) is terrifying...but it makes for good TV. If you can call anything off Netflix TV...which is debatable...but I guess we'll leave it classified as such for the blog post's sake. 

A completely riveting show.

North and South - A BBC miniseries from almost eleven years ago that I stumbled upon because it stars Richard Armitage and when I googled him on NetFlix, this came up. The story follows Margaret Hale; the daughter of a pastor who moves with her family from the bountiful South of England to a desolate mining town in the North of England where she encounters the owner of a cotton mill, Mr. John Thornton. The story plays out during a union worker's strike in the mill town and the changes brought about from the pastor uprooting his family from the South to the North - two places that are very different. This started slow but picked up as it went and I was really thrilled with the ending. If you have Netflix and like things like Downton Abbey (spoiler - "Mr. Bates" is in North and South) this might be up your alley!

The Adventures of Mr. Thornton & Miss Margaret Hale!

Movies I Watched

Unbroken - Oh wow. What a movie. I had read the book before we all went to the theater to see the film and I was looking forward to seeing how it translated on the big screen. I wasn't (too) disappointed. Well, maybe I'm phrasing that strangely - the movie was excellent and told a wonderful; if at times hard to watch, story. Louie Zamperini is certainly the definition of not only a hero but also a survivor. The one thing that was so crucial to his story was that on his return from the war, he was plagued with an intense desire for revenge against his Japanese captors. He turned to drinking and was going down a violent path when he was begged by his wife to attend a Billy Graham revival - he went and on the second night, he gave his life to Christ and became a new man. He would return to Japan later in life and seek out his captors to ask their forgiveness for the revenge he held in his heart for a time after the war. The film left this out - which I guess isn't shocking coming out of Hollywood - it was still an amazing film and I'd encourage anyone to see it, I just wish they'd added that little bit more.

An amazing movie about an amazing man - & the actor that played him was pretty cute too.
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies - I can't believe it took me almost a month to get to the theater to see this but I finally got there and thoroughly enjoyed this final chapter of the Hobbit movie trilogy. The film wrapped up the story of the Dwarven Companies quest to take back the Lonely Mountain and their kingdom of Erebor, which also ends Bilbo's unexpected journey. The road home after the quest is more bumpy than not with the return of the Darkness, Thorin's battle with dragon sickness and the battle between the five armies mentioned in the title. The movie was amazing and and all encompassing, taking movie watchers along for the ride from one end of Middle Earth to the other. I loved this movie and I especially loved how it ended by bringing everything full circle!

The armies are massing...
American Hustle - Oh Lord...this movie was a hoot. I don't necessarily know if it was meant to be, but it was pretty funny. The costumes and hairstyles alone are enough to give you a good laugh and the storyline is interesting as well. You follow a con man and his protege as they pull minor scams...and once they get caught, they're persuaded to help the FBI pull off a major scam in exchange for their freedom. Jennifer Lawrence made the movie for me; her character Rossalyn is a ditzy, brash and nutsy blonde who seems to always be in the middle of mishaps throughout the film...and Bradley Cooper with those curlers in his hair, hilarious! 

Some seriously classy fashions...
The Imitation Game - Such a great movie! I almost fell out when I saw that it was finally playing at a theater here near us and within 24 hours of seeing that it was showing, I was sitting in the theater to watch it! The movie tells the story of Alan Turing and his team's work at Bletchly Park during WWII trying to break the Nazi Enigma Code...with some insanely complicated math that made my head hurt, ha-ha! The story under that one is the persecution and subsequent death of Alan Turing after being prosecuted as a homosexual in 1951...a man who helped end the war and was handed only scrutiny and cruelty by his country. The film is incredibly interesting and of course, I was even more interested in it because it starred Cumberbatch! My Dad obviously knows this because when it started, he said "tell Natalie to be calm, there's Cumberbatch up there!" Oh geez.

Absolutely excellent!
American Sniper - Another excellent movie; I cannot stress enough how good this movie was. It was also an extremely intense movie. I think I spent 90 of the 120 minutes that it ran on the edge of my seat because there was no way to know what was coming next. I think Chris Kyle's story is so very heroic and heartbreaking; I know it is receiving a lot of criticism from certain media outlets but I can only view him as a courageous man who used his talents to serve his country and fight for the freedom of our nation. I enjoyed this movie...as much as a person can enjoy a movie about the topic of war. I do have to say that it obviously touched everyone in the theater as there was next to no talking once the movie ended.

What a movie - amazing.

Music I Listened To

The Story of My Life by One Direction - Oh lordy...a song by One Direction. I hear this song playing over and over while I work during the day (and night) and it got into my head and I couldn't get it out. It has a nice catchy tune and a good beat, so I popped it onto my cell phone and have been singing along to it ever since!

Lips Are Movin by Meghan Trainor - I must admit, I was one of probably 10 whole people who really didn't get into All About that Bass but I do really like this song. It's catchy and has a good beat. Plus, it's good to listen to as I wander around the neighborhood with my pup!

The Imitation Game by Alexandre Desplat - The soundtrack to the movie; I'm always a sucker for well written classical music and this score is one of those. I love the rhythms and melodies that this soundtrack have and I've spent many a drive to and from work listening to the songs on this soundtrack!

The Last Goodbye by Billy Boyd - The song that accompanied the credits to The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. I love the song and the message it leaves fans and moviegoers with. Not only is it a beautiful and haunting song but I love that they brought back Billy Boyd (for those of you who don't watch LotR related things, he was one of the hobbits in the original trilogy made almost ten years ago) to sing this song!

Theater & the Like

Nothing to speak of in this section this month....but in February, well in February there will be something to speak of! Yay!

Yummy in the Tummy

Well - not to toot my own horn, but I certainly enjoyed my Italian Cream Cheese Chicken! It was especially delicious and I will certainly be adding it to the rotation of things I love to cook!

I have really enjoyed trying out new creamers this month - laugh if you must, but I love coffee and I love to have strong coffee with flavored creamer. Scoff if you will, but to each his own when it comes to the coffee game. A new favorite for me is Coffee Mate Chocolate Chip Cookie creamer - it has made many a cup of morning coffee absolutely delicious!

Yes please - I'll take all the bottles.

What I'm Looking Forward To

Sleepy Hollow by the Washington Ballet - Yes! We are going to see Sleepy Hollow at the Kennedy Center on February 21st and I cannot wait! Ever since I saw it in the quarterly magazine we get from The Kennedy Center back in November, I have been quietly but persistently asking about it. And I got my wish - we will be going to see it! Yay!
I can't wait!
Massanutten Mountain - Apparently my parents won a trip out to Massanutten Mountain Resort and while they aren't going for the trip in February, they are going for the day to tour the resort and just check out the place. They have tons of cool things to do - the largest indoor water park on the East coast, ski slopes, a spa and shopping! Even going for the day to check the place out sounds like an adventure in itself...and I'm always up for an advenutre!

So - there was January in a nutshell - like I said, all the snow, rain, sleet, freezing rain and crazy wind kept me indoors more than out and so I passed my time watching all manner of TV and movies. I have a feeling February might be much the same - based on the comments of so many people who live here in the Commonwealth of Virginia, Spring is likely to be here anytime soon!

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