Thursday, September 29, 2016

Zachary Levi

For YEARS my best friend was trying to convince me to watch the TV show Chuck. She was raving about how awesome it was and how much I would love it, and I just never made time for it.

And then, I got tricked into watching the pilot and that was it. I was hooked. And I couldn't stop until I was caught up. Which took me, like, a week. Because when I binge watch, I binge watch until it's done.

And then I went and bought my first pair of Converse shoes, because, you know, Chuck wears them. And so does the 10th Doctor. So, I obviously had to own a pair. Because I'm a nerd. And it's awesome.

Any way, Chuck is played by Zachary Levi. And he is amazing. Not only is he Chuck Bartowski, he's also Flynn Rider on Tangled. He is also Fandral in Thor: The Dark World. AND, probably the best part, he's a nerd. Like, SUCH a nerd. And it's awesome. Check out his iMDB profile HERE.

He's been in a number of fantastic shows playing a wide variety of characters. He's also a fantastic human being in real life, which is why he has made it to the #2 spot on my top 5 list. Here's a PSA he did with Sesame Street:

And every summer he hosts Nerd HQ which happens the same weekend as San Diego Comic Con every year were he hosts so many amazing panels that are live streamed on both Facebook and YouTube. All proceeds from Nerd HQ go to Operation Smile, which is fantastic. Here is a link to a couple of the panels:

An interview with Tom Hiddleston (at the end he does an impersonation of a raptor that is HILARIOUS):

And here's a panel with some friends from Chuck!!!

And in this panel Zac mentions that he loves all things Cookies and Cream, which is why for his birthday I made Cookies and Cream Cupcakes as well as Cookies and Cream popcorn!

For the cupcakes, I highly recommend just going over to the blog I got them from RIGHT HERE.

For the popcorn, here is the recipe I made up a few years ago. The idea came to me when I was watching Hunger Games: Catching Fire and Gale leans over and kisses Katniss and says something like "I just had to know what that was like" and I leaned over to my friend and said "I just had the most genius idea. I really want to make cookies and cream popcorn" and then I worked up a recipe. So delicious.

Cookies and Cream Popcorn

2 bags Pop Secret Homestyle popcorn popped
2 cups white chocolate
2 cups mini oreo cookies

You can use whatever kind of popcorn you want, I prefer the Homestyle variety because it's got a hint of salt to it and isn't overly buttery. You can even just use fresh popped popcorn with no salt or butter. Just whatever you prefer.

First, pop the popcorn and seperate the kernals out. Then, melt the white chocolate until it's smooth. I am really picky about my chocolate because you want a chocolate that will stay smooth when it's melted. You don't want clumpy or gross chocolate.

After the popcorn is seperated and the chocolate is melted, sprinkle half the mini oreos over the popcorn and then drizzle half the melted chocolate over the popcorn and cookies.

Mix that so the popcorn is lightly coated, then add the rest of the oreos and drizzle the rest of the chocolate over that and mix until all the popcorn is evenly coated. Let it set, usually about 20-30 minutes, then eat away!!! You won't be able to stop, though. It's pretty addictive. Just like Zachary Levi shows.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Rupert Penry-Jones

Do I have any Spooks fans out there? How about Jane Austen fans? If not, keep reading, I may make a fan of it you yet!

Today's post focuses on Rupert Penry-Jones who I first saw in the 2006 BBC adaption of Jane Austen's Persuasion. He is Capt. Wentworth who, for those that don't know me in real life, if my FAVORITE Jane Austen guy. I love him more than Mr. Darcy. More than Mr. Knightley (even though I do adore both Jeremy Northam and Jonny Lee Miller) and more than Edmund Bertram. Capt. Wentworth is hands down the best. I can argue this point to the end of time. And Rupert Penry-Jones is my favorite portrayal of him.

He was also on the British show Spooks which, regrettably, I haven't seen. Despite the fact that it has, like, ALL of my favorites in it. But Mr. Penry-Jones was on it for quite awhile and, I believe, met his wife while filming the show.

And, let's not forget about his role in The 39 Steps, which was incredibly under rated. But he does a great job in that one as well.

He was also in the film The Four Feathers with Heath Ledger and Kate Hudson. It is a violent, but very moving story about a young man (Heath Ledger) who is in the military to make his father proud, but once war breaks out, he gets scared and leaves the military. Before his friends are shipped to Sudan. Rupert Penry-Jones is one of his friends who gives him a white feather as a sign of cowardice before he leaves. Heath Ledger's character then decides to redeem himself and save his friends. It's very interesting. You should check it out.

And then, last Christmas I was watching all the Hallmark Christmas movies with my brother and sister in law and saw his name on the opening credits of one of them and went "oh my gosh, what?!" neither of them care as much as I do about actors and actresses and did not understand my excitement until he was on the screen and my sister in law went "ooooooooooooooooh! HIM!" and then we enjoyed the rest of the movie where he plays the king of a small European kingdom.
He hires a maid from New York to be the nanny for his 9 year old daughter who has been struggling since her mom died several years earlier. Is it cheesy? Yes. But it's also adorable and I've added it to my list of Christmas movies I watch every year.

And, in case you need a great end to your night, here he is reading a bedtime story:

And, in honor of Rupert's birthday, I will be watching all the things and eating delicious Leige waffles. Have you ever heard of Waffle Love? These are kind of really similar to those. I found the recipe on the back of a box of Belgian pearl sugar-which is the secret ingredient to making these delicious waffles! Also, they are not a light and fluffy type waffle, but dense and very very delicious.


3 1/2 cups of flour
1 packet yeast
3/4 cup lukewarm milk
8oz softened butter
2 eggs
1/2 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Vanilla
1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
8oz Belgian pearl sugar

Add the yeast to the lukewarm milk and set aside. In a bowl mix together all dry ingredients except for the pearl sugar. Then add the butter, and eggs mixing well. Slowly pour in the milk and mix until well combined. Do not add the sugar yet. Let the dough proof until it is about double in size and then mix in the sugar.

Heat up your waffle iron and separate the dough into balls. I like to make smaller waffles so that you can try different flavors together, so I make my dough a little bit bigger than a regular sized cookie scoop. Then cook them in your waffle iron. It usually takes a few minutes to get them nice and golden crown. You'll hear the sugar pop as it heats up. These are a little messy, so be prepared to clean up your waffle iron after you make them, but they're so worth it!
I usually have a few different toppings available. They taste SO SO GOOD with Biscoff cookie spread over them with some fresh whipped whipping cream and strawberries on top. I also like cutting a slit in the side of the waffle when it's still hot and slide a piece of chocolate inside and let it melt. So yummy. The sky is the limit really! So go have fun and make these delicious waffles!!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Roald Dahl

I am going to break from our usual tradition here and we are celebrating Roald Dahl's 100th birthday today! He may not be a famous actor or musician, but he has touched so many lives through his writing. I love Charlie and the Chocolate Factory as well as The Witches, though ad a child I was terrified of them. He has had a huge impact on our childhoods and imagination and I think it's something we should celebrate!!

I have been reading and writing all of my life. As a child, my mom tells me, I would write stories and gather my dolls and stuffed animals and "read" to them. She would look at the books I'd written after I'd gone o sleep and it would be pictures and gibberish, but to me they were grand adventures full of Princess and warriors.

As I grew and learned to read I fell in love with books. I was always begging to go to the library to get new books and Roald Dahl was one of my favorites. I loved The BFG

and Fantastic Mr. Fox. I drank up the words on each page, often returning for a third and fourth reading before they were returned to the library.

And as I grew up, Hollywood decided to adapt several of the novels into
movies. How can anyone forget Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka? Or Angelica Houston in The Witches? I was terrified of accidentally running into a witch that would trap me in a painting. These movies defined a generation! These stories sculpted or imaginations and helped us look at the world differently!

I found this quote from his daughter Lucy, "his spirit was so large and so big he taught us to believe in magic."

And believe we did! To read more about Roald Dahl, you can visit his website here

And, in honor of his birthday, I made some Double Chocolate Pecan Cookies!! They've got Chocolate and are practically candy, which I feel is especially perfect today!!

This is a recipe I have seen very similar variations of all over Pinterest. I found this recipe in an old cookbook that's been sitting on my bookshelf for years, so I'm sure you will find it similarly all over the place, but I did not take this from any one specific blogger.

Double Chocolate Pecan Cookies

1 cup butter
1 ¼ cups light brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 cup uncooked rolled (or old fashioned)
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup roughly chopped pecans

Melt the butter in a saucepan on the stove. Once it is melted, remove from heat and stir in brown and granulated sugars. Move to the fridge to cool for about 10 minutes.

While that is cooling, combine the dry ingredients (flour, oats, soda, salt and cinnamon) in a bowl and set aside.

In a mixer, combine the vanilla and eggs and mix until combine. Then add the butter and sugar mixture. Once that is well mixed, add the dry ingredients. Once that is all mixed, add the chocolate chips and chopped pecans.

Now that the dough is ready, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and scoop the dough onto cookies sheets. Bake for about 10-12 minutes.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Andrew MacMahon

A few years ago my best friend Katie invited me to go to Vegas to see my favorite band, The Fray, play live. I had seen them once before, but they were my favorite band. And, I hadn't taken a vacation in years, so I agreed and we made plans.

Well, The Fray was headlining with Jack's Mannequin who I had heard a time or two but couldn't name any of their songs, let alone who was in the group. I was really lucky, though, because Katie LOVED them and it was a very educational week for me. I heard all of their music and fell in love with so many of their songs. I bought all of their music as well as all of Something Corporate's music because Andrew MacMahon is the genius behind both of them.

Katie also introduced me to Andrew's documentary Dear Jack which is his journey through cancer. It's on Netflix. There is some language, but over all, I think everyone should watch it. It is very raw and real. It is a front row seat of Leukemia. And it is powerful.

So, I became obsessed with everything Jack's Mannequin. I picked up one of their t-shirts at the show in Vegas and I wore it out. I still have the shirt somewhere in my room, but it's sooooo thin now, I can't wear it anymore. But I don't want to get rid of it. I LOVE that shirt. LOVE it. It's so soft and well worn, I just can't part with it. I'll figure out something to do with it, right? Right.
Any way, if you want to check out my introduction to Jack's Mannequin, you can check it out HERE.

One thing I love about Andrew MacMahon is that he LOVES jumping on his piano. He's done it at every show I've been to. It's awesome. And what's more awesome is his incredible talent. Currently he is playing under the name Andrew MacMahon in the Wilderness. He was actually just in my area and I couldn't go the night he was playing her and I nearly died to death. But it was okay....or it will be.

Here is his current top song:

I think the thing I love about this particular video for the song is that it focuses on his family, particularly, his daughter Cecelia for whom he wrote the song. There are three lines that I absolutely adore from the chorus and they are:

For all the things my eyes have seen the best, by far, is you.

For all the places I have been, I'm nowhere without you.

For all the things my hands have held the best, by far, is you.

I have stitched all three of those and framed them for people. Two of them for a dear friend who got married. I couldn't think of a better sentiment than those first two lines quoted above. And the last line I gave to a friend who was having a baby. Because Andrew has phrased them so perfectly. I love his perception on life. I really want to meet him one day. I have the utmost respect for him.

Also, have you heard that new Lindsey Sterling song for Pete's Dragon? Have you wondered who that guy is singing on the track?! It's ANDREW McMAHON!!!! And I love it. GO FIND IT, if you haven't already.

As I've been relistening to his music for this blog post, I am reminded how much his music has affected my life, my writing, my world. We need more artists like him in the world. And, in case you are new to his music, let me give you a list of songs you need to go listen to RIGHT NOW!!

Dark Blue
Cecelia and the Satellite
The Resolution
MFEO Pt. 1 - Made for Each Other / Pt. 2 - You Can Breathe
High Dive
All Our Lives
The Mixed Tape
Amelia Jean
Amy, I

And, once you've listened to all of those, you'll need the rest of his music and you'll be a fan. And I'll be happy. Because I know you're all out to make sure I'm happy. Haha.

But seriously, make sure and check out his music HERE and his website HERE.

And so because whenever I'm down I listen to Something Corporate, Jack's Mannequin, and now Andrew MacMahon in the Wilderness, I made double chocolate cookies. They are so so delicious. I LOVE them.

Double Chocolate Cookies
Adapted from (she calls them Sofbatch Cream Cheese Chocolate Chip Cookies)

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
2 ounces (1/4 cup) brick-style cream cheese (get the brick, not the whipped or spreadable kind.)
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
12 ounces (2 cups) semi-sweet chocolate chips

Okay, so start by pre heating your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. creaming together the cream cheese, butter, sugars, egg and vanilla together for about 4 or 5 minutes. This is important. Don't just mix it a little bit and call it good.

Scrape the bowl and make sure everything is well mixed and then add the flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt. Mix this until just combined. Then mix in the chocolate chips and make sure that everything is mixed in super good so that you can back them!!

Averie differs from my recommendations here, so if you want to try her cookies, you'll need to follow the link above. I tried her way first and didn't like them as much. Once everything is combined, I used my regular cookie scoop, patted them down so they were a little flat on top and just put them on the tray and threw them in the oven. I baked mine for about 10 minutes and then pulled them out, let them cool just a bit and then transferred them to a cooling rack. This method gave me about 24 cookies. And they are delightful.