The Magnificent Pond-Williams

As you can tell from a previous post, I am a bit of a Doctor Who fan.  I have a fondness for the Eccleston era and the Tennant era, but there is something about the current Matt Smith/Steven Moffat era that has made my already high levels of fangirl-ing over the show to previously unheard of levels.

There are many reasons for my fangirl-ing for this era:  the intricate writing, the quippy dialogue, the use of off-Earth adventures.  But, I think the biggest reason is the Ponds-Williams.  While initially skeptical about Miss Amelia Pond (Donna was more than a little awesome), she won me over within the first few episodes.  Soon “Come along, Pond” had replaced “Alonzy” as my go-to Doctor phrase.  Rory Williams, at first, just seemed like another version of Mickey.  But then the writers kept building his character and showing the depth to Amy and Rory’s relationship, and “the Nose”, as he was styled in “The Impossible Astronaut”, became a heroic and oddly charismatic character.  Over the course of these last 2.5 seasons of Doctor Who the Ponds-Williams have become two of the longest serving companions on the show, which made their departure last Saturday so heartbreaking.

I won’t go into the details of the episode (“The Angels Take Manhattan”) because I don’t want to be accused of spoilers and there are plenty of other excellent recaps floating around the interwebs.  What I will say is that the final third of the episode had me crying more about fictional characters than I have since the seventh Harry Potter book.  I’ve spent the past few days pondering why my reaction was so strong, and it hit me.  Saying good-bye to them was like saying good-bye to good friends.I am fully aware that these are fictional characters, and that they are not actually my friends.  But, I think that anyone who becomes engaged with a story knows what it is like to feel a bond with characters.

The Ponds-Williams began on the show when I was a sophomore in college, aka 19.  Their first adventure with the Doctor takes place when Amy, and presumably Rory, are 19.  I suppose I related to them because they were my age, and my attitude towards them mimicked my attitude towards my friends from college.  When they were married at the end of season 5, it felt like watching two college friends get married.  As I went through those formative years and grew up, so did they.  Seeing their growth as characters was akin to seeing your best friend from high school or college grow from a lovable goof into a proper adult.  Saying good-bye to them on the show this past weekend felt like I was parting with two old friends.

That last bit was what really hit home.  Having graduated from college this past June,  I’ve spent the summer watching my friends step into the big kid world.  A good friend got married, another made a permanent move to a distant city, others found good jobs and started their lives on their own.  Unlike with Amy and Rory, these have not been forever good-byes, but I know that my relationships with them have shifted from what they once were and cannot shift back.  We, like Amy and Rory, are growing up, and with that comes changes and good-byes.  Those characters’ biggest step towards growing up was saying good-bye to their time with the Doctor and to the viewers.  Change is happening.

With that I will officially bid adieu to Amelia Pond and Rory Williams, the Girl Who Waited and the Last Centurion.

P.S.  Anyone want to explain to me Rory’s sudden fondness for hair product in these past 5 episodes?

 

I am a sucker for skin treatments.  I could spend ungodly amounts of time in the skincare aisle of Bed, Bath, & Beyond trying to decide what new face mask or cream I should try.  I’m not quite sure where this love comes from.  When I started to come across all these home made treatments on Pinterest, I kept my eye out for the right one to try.

This is where the salt comes into play.  The treatment I found is a mixture of baking soda, salt, and a basic face wash.  Mix together 1 part baking soda and 1 part small grain salt (normal table salt works fine) and add enough face wash to create a paste.  I used my Simple face wash because I am obsessed with it.  I highly recommend it if you’re in the market for a new face wash.

The next step is to apply the paste to your skin.  It is meant to remove blackheads, so apply it on the nose and the bridge of your cheeks.  Let it sit for five minutes, and then rinse it off with warm water.

What results from the treatment is incredibly smooth skin where it was applied.  The blackheads are gone, and your skins feels amazing!

Overall, this is an easy, at-home skin treatment that you can make with kitchen basics and get great results.  I will be doing this one again!

The Doctor muses about the TARDIS to a sleeping Amelia Pond, and in doing so, he recites one of my favorite speeches Steven Moffat has ever written.

As you can tell by the opening picture, this post is going to be somewhat about Doctor Who.  After discovering the long running British sci-fi staple while working on my college applications back in the day, I have been hooked on the show for going on 5 years.  Time travel, adventures, bow ties, what’s not to love?  Well in the episode I got the picture from, the Doctor has a wonderful speech describing his ship, the TARDIS.  My favorite section is as follows, “A daft old man who stole a magic box and ran away. Did I ever tell you that I stole it? Well, I borrowed it. I was always going to take it back. Oh, that box, Amy. You’ll dream about that box. It’ll never leave you. Big and little at the same time. Brand new and ancient. And the bluest blue ever.”  If you notice, his description is reminiscent of the old wedding adage “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue”.  For whatever reason that description of the TARDIS has always stuck with me.  The point of all this is that I adore the shade of blue that the TARDIS is and try to find any excuse to use it.

Well, an excuse came along.  A while back, I attempted to make one of those ombre calendars using paint samples.  I took my inspiration from The Little Lovebirds blog.  My results left something to be desired.  My lines weren’t straight enough; one of the paint strips was the wrong color; it just looked messy.

My original attempt –> not fantastic

Then, I was boping around Home Depot and meandered up to the BEAR paint samples.  There was a gorgeous blue that reminded me of the TARDIS, so I decided to give it another go.  I’m quite please with how this version turned out.  Check it out!

Material:

Paint strips (7-8; 7 different shades of the color)

Gluestick

White Paper

Pencil

Scissors

Large picture frame (I think mine was 12×14)

Process

I really recommend using the BEAR brand paint strips. They are big enough to create a variety of sizes of calendar squares, and they have a huge range of colors. I, of course, went for the blue that is TARDIS-esque when in the darker shades.

Cover the backing board with white paper. I overlapped four sheets of printer paper , and it turned out well.

The first column of color was successfully put in place. You will have to trim your paint samples to the correct size, and I found that measuring and marking the columns on the white paper was very helpful.

4/7 complete!

All seven strips made it onto the board without me messing up! Huzzah!

The finished product.

Once done, you can use a dry erase marker to write on your picture frame to create a calendar for that month.  When the next month comes along, just erase and write in the information for that month.

I am really pleased with how the blue version turned out.  Now I can use it to count down the days until the Doctor shows up to take me on adventures through all of space and time.  I would quite like to meet an Ood!

My family’s old school, UFO-esque grill that I’m fairly sure is at least 2 decades older than me.

So summer has come to a close, or at least the culturally recognized end of summer.  Fun fact:  The actual end of summer is the autumnal equinox, which is September 22nd this year.  Still, we all still think of Labor Day as the conclusion, and we have barbecues and pies and whatnot.  In keeping with that spirit, I grilled and made a pie.  The grilling turned out far better than the pie.  The pie wasn’t anything special, just a kind of blah lemon cream pie recipe from some cooking magazine.

Now the grilling, I am quite proud of.  A few years ago, I noticed that my family wasn’t grilling in the summer as much as we used to.  When I asked about this, the response was if you want grilled food, then you can grill it.  So, I took it upon myself to learn the ways of charcoal grilling.  Doesn’t give me any of those gas grills; no barbecue tastes better than something cooked over charcoal.  As the years have gone by, I’ve gradually improved my skill.  Though sometimes I believe my successes are more due to luck than actual skill.

Thus, with that delicious dinner, summer came to an end.  It’s been a strange, limbo sort of summer, and all I can hope for is that things will be a bit more settled the next time the season comes around.  For now, I shall focus on the glories of fall:  apples, pumpkins, and lots and lots of cinnamon.

Happy Fall!

Outside of her family and her friends, the two most beloved things in my Mom’s life are her cats and meyer lemons.  The house had various tiny monuments and shrines to both (dish soap, cat fridge magnets, etc.).  Thus, I grew up with a deep appreciation for both these things, which is why I decided to do a post about them.

For those of you who don’t know, meyer lemons are cross between the standard lemon and the standard orange.  Their taste is a bit more mild and sweet; the skin is a fantastic bright yellow and develops an orangish hue as the lemon ripens.  Also, meyer lemons are fantastic for cooking and baking!

We sometimes find ones the size of grapefruits!

In the backyard, when my parents moved in, they came upon a meyer lemon tree in the backyard that has been consistently bountiful over the years.  They’ve never paid any special attention to it, just let it take in the sun and the run-off from the neighbor’s overwatered yard.  With an ever present supply of meyer lemons, its hard not to be always using them in the kitchen.  Two recipes that are consistent performers are this lemonade and this lemon curd.

The Bountiful Tree

Regarding the cats, they’re in this post pretty much because they were frolicking around the backyard while I was photographing the tree.  The little grey one, Izzie, loves to hide under the branches and peer out to watch the goings on.  The other cat, Elvis, always looks so elegant in his tuxedo markings.  They are quite the pair.

Izzie aka Isabel aka Izzles aka Izzie Bizzie aka the Cat of 1000 Names

The Elegant Elvis

I am a Southern California kid, born and raised.  I’ve become accustomed to the standard SoCal summer:  June Gloom in the beginning, hot and dry in the middle, and thick, muggy August air.  Never in my childhood do I remember in raining in the summer.  Yet, this summer, we’ve had several minor showers on muggy afternoons.  Very strange.  Anyways, all of that is a roundabout way of me getting to my point:  Thunder Cake!

One of my favorite authors growing up was the wonderful writer and illustrator, Patricia Polacco.  Her book Thunder Cake is one of her best.  It tells the story of a little girl who is spending the day with her grandmother when a storm starts rolling in.  The girl is frightened of the thunder, so her grandmother distracts her by having her help collect the ingredients for thunder cake, a very special chocolate cake.  It is a special cake, partially, because it includes tomatoes.

These summer showers kept bringing the book to my mind, and last week I just happened to have some freshly picked tomatoes on hand.  I figured why not reenact a beloved childhood story.

The final product!

The cake turned out well!  The taste of the tomatoes disappeared into the chocolate.  I would recommend keeping a closer eye on the cake than I did when it was in the oven.  It came out a tad dry, which probably wouldn’t have happened if I had taken it out 5 minutes earlier.  Still, it was a fun and nostalgic way to spend an afternoon.

The recipe (taken from Patricia Polacco’s website):

Thunder Cake!

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream together one at a time:
1 cup shortening
1 3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 eggs, separated
( blend yolks in. Beat whites until they are stiff, then fold in.)

1 cup cold water
1/3 cup pureed tomatoes

Sift together:
21/2 cups cake flour
1/2 cup dry cocoa
11/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

Mix dry mixture into creamy mixture. Bake in two greased and floured 8
1/2 inch pans at 350 degree for
35 to 40 minutes. Frost with chocolate butter frosting. Top with
strawberries.

*Rather than buying a can of pureed tomatoes, you can make a quick puree by throwing tomatoes into the food processor.  Leaving the skins and seeds on/in the tomatoes is up to you.  Works both ways!

*I didn’t top with strawberries for fear that the fruit would go bad before the cake was consumed.

I have a problem.  I have become a tad addicted to Pinterest’s DIY section.  It’s really not healthy.  As I spend hour after hour digging through the DIY pages, I keep coming across pins and repins of crayon art. When I clicked through to the links, I saw how easy it is to make this project, so I decided to give it a go.

Materials:

-Canvas (your size depends on how big you want your artwork to be; mine was about 24 inches wide)

-Crayons (I used somewhere between 65 and 70)

-Hot Glue Gun

-Blow Dryer

*Also, you don’t necessarily have to go out and buy a brand new box of crayon for this project.  I loved coloring as a little kid, so I used my old crayons, which, though a bit beat up, melt just as prettily as a brand new set from Staples.

There are three simple steps to the project:

1)  Arrange the crayons into the rainbow of your choosing.

2)  Glue the crayons along the top of the canvas with the tips pointing towards the bottom.  If you’re OCD like me, you may want to arrange the crayons for the labels are all facing up.

3)  Attacked the crayons with the blow dryer set to high and hot.  I found it was easiest to focus on one color at a time.  This helps to prevent the colors from running together in an ugly way.  Also, make you have newspaper or a dropcloth underneath your canvas, so you don’t get crayon wax flying everywhere.

*It would be a good idea to do this project outside or at least by an open window.  I didn’t and got loopy off the crayon fumes.

The result is a really fun, colorful piece of art to hang!

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The arranged crayons. Is it sick how much I enjoyed getting them neat and organized?

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About 5 minutes into the melting.

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Moving along.

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The finished product!

This past Saturday, the boyfriend and I decided to take advantage of living in the LA area and take a jaunt to the Hollywood to see Pixar in Concert with the Bowl’s orchestra.  The Hollywood Bowl is one of the highlights of LA.  Despite being only about 2 blocks from the chaos of Hollywood and Highland, it is an excellent concert venue.  You’re surrounded by beautiful green hills, and the sound quality is stellar no matter where you sit.  I know this for a fact because our seats, while both comfortable and affordable, were in the nosebleed section.  Having never sat that far back before, I was a little worried, but, like I said, the sound was fantastic.  Also, I discovered that in the cheap seats, you can see the Hollywood sign peaking between the hills behind the bowl.

As for the music, it was stellar!  Of the four composer Pixar has worked with, my favorite has always been Michael Giacchino.  He did the music for Ratatouille, The Incredibles, Cars 2, and, of course, Up!  For each movie, the orchestra played highlights from the score, and there were big screens showing clips from the movies.  Up! was the first half’s closing number, and the highlights package was, essentially, the opening montage to the movie.  If you’ve seen it, you know exactly what I’m talking about; you’re, also, most likely tearing up at the thought of it.  Needless to say, by the end of the number, I was a sobbing mess.  The second half of the show was just as wonderful as the first.

Ooohh, also! If you’ve been to the Bowl, you know that parking and then later getting on the freeway after the show are both somewhat challenging.  This trip I tried parking at the Methodist church that is a couple of blocks down from the venue.  Its right on the corner of Franklin and Highland, is $10, and is non-stacked.  Getting in and out was a breeze!  When we were leaving, rather than trying to fight our way back up Highland to get on the 101, we took Highland the opposite direction one block and then turned right onto Hollywood Blvd.  That street, if you follow it to the end, will put you right at the base of Laurel Canyon.  Take Laurel to the 101, and you’re golden!  I’ve never had an easier Hollywood Bowl driving experience!

The view from our seats

Hooray for Hollywood!

A few weeks ago, I was in the Claremont/Mt. Baldy area and got a chance to hike the peak.  Granted, I’m still a bit of a hiking newbie, so we didn’t complete the whole trail.  What we did hike, though, was fantastic!  The trees were green and lush!  The creek was cool and full!  The only downfall was that I took a bit of a tumble on my way down.  It was nothing too serious, but my shin did get banged up a bit.  Other than that, it was a great hike, and the town of Mount Baldy is adorable!  If you’re in that area, definitely give it a go!

A random little house along the trail.

The view from the trailhead.

Ever since I was a little kid, my go-to favorite cake has been yellowcake with chocolate frosting.  It’s not the flashiest of cakes.  There are no sprinkles in the batter.  The frosting isn’t some cream cheese confection.  But, it’s always made my belly very happy.  Thus, due to my love of yellow cake, I am always on the look out for a good recipe, in particular one that works for cupcakes.  There is a recipe I’ve used in the past, but I stopped using it because the cupcakes always sank in the middle as they cooled.  Dented cupcakes are never fun.

In my perusal the various yellow cake recipes out there, I came upon the one I used for this post.  The recipe is for a layer cake, so  I just guestimated and put the cupcakes in for about 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees fahrenheit.  I was a tad overzealous and overfilled my cups with batter.

In the end, despite my overzealous filling, the cupcakes turned out wonderfully!  No sinking at all!  This one has earned a spot in my recipe box!

The Ingridients

The Slightly Overfilled Cups

The Final Product