Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Inspired by : scream queens

imgae from here
Despite Halloween falling on a Wednesday, I hope you have an opportunity to celebrate! Of course, this means dressing up in costume. I'll be sharing some costume photos of myself later, and am pretty excited about this year's getup!

One of the best parts of Halloween season is watching horror movies. There are the classics, the teen slasher flicks, the thrillers, the cheesy 80's movies, the sci-fi weirdos. Our netflix "recently watched" history is full of these movies come Halloween. And let's not kid ourselves, the ladies that propel the great ones are pretty bad-ass. Elsa Lanchester (above) in The Bride of Frankenstein sports one of the most iconic Holloween hairdos of all time (did you see the homage in Frankenweenie? That movie was wonderful!).

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Alien is so. Bleep-ing. Scary. Once you can sleep with the lights off and the nightmares have gone away, you say to yourself, "Wow. Sigourney Weaver was awesome in that movie."

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Poltergeist is one of the must-watches of the season. Both the young daughter, Carol Ann (Heather O'Rourke) and the mom Diane (JoBeth Williams) are great. And everyone loves Tangina (Zelda Rubinstein) shouting, "THIS HOUSE IS CLEAN!!!"

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I, embarrassingly, had not seen the original Halloween until a horror movie marathon last year in Chicago. The movie itself wasn't one of my favorites, but Jamie Lee Curtis was so endearing and sympathetic that I would give that movie multiple viewings.

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I've only seen two of Barbara Steele's horror movies (The Pit and the Pendulum and The Mask of Satan/Black Sunday) but she is one of the top scream queens of all time, often called "Britain's First Lady of Horror" (she's also one of Dane's favorites). Some of her films are available on instant Netflix--but be warned, just because these movies are old does NOT mean they take horror lightly.

Obviously there are many other great women in horror films (I know, I know, Janet Leigh isn't on this list). Who are your favorites?

Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 29, 2012

yellowstone part 1 : north east loop

Yellowstone National Park may be one of the most beautiful places in America. Dane & I decided that every American citizen should be required to visit the park at some point in their lifetime. The park is way too big to fit into one day, so we had some decisions to make about what to see. Yellowstone is shaped like a big figure 8:
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We we driving from the North Entrance to the South Entrance, so we could choose which route around the figure 8 to take. To save a little time, we avoided the sites that would likely be very crowded (Old Faithful & the geysers), and drove the eastern road through the park. Not seeing some of the big name attractions gives me an excuse to come back (and this time, spend a week there). Don't get me wrong, we still saw dozens of amazing sites! So many, in fact, that I'm splitting the trip into several posts.

I didn't really know what to expect from the landscape at Yellowstone. I never really put a face to the name, so to speak, despite learning about the park many, many times in school. Yes, I knew Yellowstone National Park was in Northwest Wyoming, it's one of the largest national parks, it's the home of Old Faithful, but seeing it is a completely different experience. It's so large and diverse. There are forests, streams, waterfalls, plateaus, mountains, lakes, wildlife, geysers, sulphur pits...

Yeah, I'm definitely going back.

Friday, October 26, 2012

parking lot pumpkin patch

Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young once sang: "If you can't be with the one you love, honey, love the one you're with."

With those words in mind, on a sunny, 85 degree morning in Southern California, Dane & I headed to the nearest "pumpkin patch" that wasn't a cardboard box in front of a grocery store.

It was in a car wash parking lot.

A far cry from our last pumpkin patch experience on a small Wisconsin farm, where we got to pick our own pumpkins, feed the goats, and milk a cow.

The hot weather hasn't transitioned me into the normal cozy fall mood, but that is NO excuse not to carve pumpkins for Halloween. Celebrating fall in such a warm climate involves a lot more effort than it does in the Midwest.

Pumpkins and palm trees in the same photos. Strange, huh? Today we're off to another fall activity that I've planned for Dane's birthday. I've managed to keep it a surprise, which is no small feat for me--especially when I ask him every day, "do you want me to tell you the surprise?!" hoping he'll give me permission to spill my secret (he always says no).

Happy Friday! I hope you enjoy your Halloween weekend--it's time for that last minute costume scramble!

Monday, October 22, 2012

pumpkin cinnamon rolls

As you may remember, I had some ideas when it came to Dane's birthday shindig. The most important was making pumpkin cinnamon rolls in place of birthday cake. I'm actually not going to post the entire recipe, because I copied this recipe from smitten kitchen almost to a t (my only change was adding 1/2 tsp of pumpkin pie spice instead of the nutmeg/ginger/cardamom). I feel like it would be unfair to try to pass off this recipe as something I've improved or tweaked. Sometimes, you just have to follow the pro's instructions.

Oh yeah, I also have to admit that I cheated by using store-bought Buttercream frosting. Sometimes, you just have to save a few minutes.

Another confession: these photos were taken two days after I actually made the pumpkin cinnamon rolls. They finished baking at 8pm, and my kitchen has less-than-photogenic lighting. Yesterday I had to work, so these were the last three rolls left this morning when photo time "rolled" around (ha!). And I ate them afterward (in my defense, they were mini-sized).

We were excited to have our first party in our new home. We only knew a few people here before we moved to LA, so to have a growing group of new friends is exciting! Making new friends as an adult is difficult--luckily the other students in Dane's program are friendly and fun, and our friends from college are excited to show us everything LA has to offer. I feel so lucky to have friends living in nearly every area of the country, so I know that wherever I may go, there will be a familiar face to help with the transition. I do miss the familiarity (and autumn colors!) of Chicago, but I must say that I'm really starting to feel less like I'm visiting LA and more like I live here.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

big sky country

On the drive through southwest Montana, we started to see hints of the Rockies--needless to say, it made us pretty excited to get to Yellowstone!

I was blown away by the beauty of the mountains (a common feeling during this entire trip). It wasn't just because I'm a Midwestern girl used to rolling hills. I have seen the Matterhorn and been among the Colorado part of the Rockies, and I have visited my boyfriend's hometown nestled in the Alleghenies--and don't get me wrong, all of the aforementioned are wonderful. But this area was so untouched. There was the highway. There were farmhouses every few miles. A few power lines stretched through.  But traffic was sparse, the farms were small, and the power lines had specific destinations.  When we pulled over to snap some photos, we were engulfed by silence (or, that kind of "nature's silence" that seems so quiet at first. Once you get used to it, you hear the bubbling stream, the tweeting birds, and the chirping crickets and realize it's a different kind of silence that is simply devoid of the expected human noises).

I love these spontaneous photo ops. The national parks can be a bit crowded, so it's nice to have a "scenic overlook" area to pull over and take photos. I also was appreciative of the large, flat rocks that held my camera so I could set the self-timer--although, this one was far enough away that I had to sprint to get in the picture. Because of the combination of the wind & my mad dash, I had to keep a tight hold on my hat.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Inspired by: Laura Berger

I've mentioned Laura Berger's adorable artwork before, and her Etsy shop laurageorge is just the gift that keeps on giving. I love her whimsical, playful style--I double dog dare you to look at these illustrations and not smile. We have a couple of her prints in our home (Winter Animals & Holding Hands) and I absolutely love them. I'm itching to add to my collection even more--I'll take one of each, please.

all illustrations ©laura berger 2012

I also love that Laura is from Chicago! You should check out her blog--she just unveiled her holiday cards and prints, and seems like a genuinely lovely person.

Happy Monday! I just want to reiterate that it is going to be in the 80's this entire week, and I am very jealous of you coat-and-scarf wearing folks right now...

Thursday, October 11, 2012

retirement plan A

Bank and investment commercials tell me it's never too early to start planning for my retirement. I used to ignore it (and would rather plan for this month's bills) but after visiting Livingston, MT, I have decided that my plan will involve retiring to this adorable little town just north of Yellowstone. I've already planned to strap a canoe to the top my car, like the folks in this photo. The finances need some work, but the dream is there.

We set out for Yellowstone from Big Timber, MT, where we spent the night in a KOA campground. We rented a small one-room cabin (that slept up to 4 people!) for something in the area of $50. As a life-long spider hater, I'm happy to report that the restrooms were very clean and spider free!

We decided to stop in Livingston for some coffee and a little breakfast. We ended up at this tiny coffee shop, owned by a former MMA manager who had chosen a slower paced life.

We made our way into the downtown area of Livingston and immediately decided to stop and walk around, despite what we knew would be a long day in Yellowstone & Grand Teton. Luckily, we had left very early in the morning. Being able to stop at an unknown small town for the morning is the unplanned beauty of road trips! And we discovered a true gem of a town. Outlined by the shadowy mountains, Livingston still retained loads of charm--from 1800's restored storefronts to 1960's signage--that was incredibly well-maintained and clean. Not to mention that wikipedia tells me that the town is a writers' and actors' colony! I'm pretty sold on ending up here one day.

It was sad to say goodbye so soon to such a welcoming and homey place. I wish we could've had a full day to spend in this little town, but I know I'll be back someday. Livingston also launched us into an incredible leg of our journey: through Yellowstone, Grand Teton, and Bryce Canyon National Parks. I can't wait to share!