August 26, 2012

reflections on the creek

The other night, I finished watching Dawson's Creek. I watched the pilot episode in May, right before my gallbladder surgery. In the week following surgery, I watched all of seasons one, two, and three. The final three seasons I watched at a more reasonable rate—about one season per month. Now that I've finished, I have a few things to say about the series! (This is more for me than for you, so you won't hurt my feelings if you click away now—especially if you've never seen Dawson's Creek!)

  1. For a show called Dawson's Creek, I cared surprisingly little for good old Dawson Leery. In fact, I rejoiced whenever Dawson didn't appear in an episode, which happened surprisingly often in season six. Really, Dawson's Creek turned into the Joey Potter show, and that was fine by me. Even when Joey was making boneheaded decisions (like leaving Pacey for Eddie), I was captivated by the life and times of Miss Potter.
  2. As I watched the first few seasons, all the Tom Cruise references made me snicker, knowing that Joey's portrayer was actually married to the man. Then the news of the Cruise-Holmes divorce hit, and any Tom Cruise reference after that wasn't quite so humorous. Also, I found it interesting that two Cruise exes appeared in the same episode, though they never shared a scene: Mimi Rogers (ex-Mrs. Cruise #1) played Jen's mom in a season six episode.
  3. Is it just me, or does Capeside have the longest, most convoluted school year on record? Season one: sophomore year. Season two: sophomore year. Season one clearly begins at the beginning of their sophomore year and ends either at Christmas or summer break, as Joey is contemplating a semester abroad and would have to leave in a couple of days. Then in season two, they have homecoming. I've never heard of a spring homecoming, though I suppose it's possible ... but would the guys be wearing their football jerseys if that were the case? 
  4. Holy dropped story lines, Batman! Does anyone remember Eve? Anyone? In season three, she was the bad girl Dawson met on the bus from Philly (where Gail lived momentarily) who turned out to possibly be Jen's half-sister. She disappeared and was never mentioned again until the end of season six, when the writers did acknowledge that they dropped the ball. Jen mentioned her, and when someone asked who she was, Jack's reply made me smile because it was so true: "Long story. Ambiguous ending." And then there's Gail's new husband. The whole reason everyone goes back to Capeside in the finale is for her wedding, but after the actual wedding, Gail's husband is never seen again—not at the house, not at the hospital, not at the funeral. Even though he didn't know Jen, you'd think he would have been there to support his wife. Also, this doesn't constitute a dropped story line per se, but I wish they would have told us what happened to C.J. (Jensen Ackles of Days of Our Lives and Supernatural), Jen's season six boyfriend, as he was supposedly the love of Jen's life. 
  5. Boy, did the writers know how to do death! I did the ugly cry twice during Dawson's Creek. The first time was the episode after Mitch's car accident. I cried off and on through the entire episode as characters remembered how Mitch impacted their lives. And then there was Jen. I actually knew she would die because, for some unknown reason, I watched the finale when it aired, even though I'd never before seen a single episode. I had no idea, though, that Jen would end up being one of my favorite characters—especially since I loathed her through the first few seasons! Michelle Williams knocked that last episode out of the park, and I found myself wondering why on earth she didn't at least get nominated for an Emmy for that performance. I also found myself crying. A lot. And I was glad no one else was there to witness my farewell to Jen Lindley/Dawson's Creek meltdown!
  6. Pacey & Joey. In season one, I was pulling for Dawson and Joey. That was before Dawson got all annoying and Pacey got sweet. Once Dawson's went down the Pacey-Joey road, there was no turning back ... at least for me. The writers seemed to have another opinion, as they "forgot" about the Pacey-Joey magic for all of season five and the first half of season six. Fortunately, they found their way back to Pacey and Joey in the end! In my favorite episode of the entire series, season six's "Castaways," none of the other main characters appeared, only Pacey and Joey. Not only did it feature a return to the wonderful Pacey-Joey banter of yore, but it also marked the end of the hideous growth on Joshua Jackson's face—the ill-advised goatee. If you have Netflix or Amazon Prime, you can watch the episode free.
  7. I have never liked Paula Cole's "I Don't Want to Wait." Never. But I was still disappointed when I started watching Dawson's and realized that Paula Cole's tune had been replaced by Jann Arden's "Run Like Mad." That song ended up growing on me, and I could definitely sing the whole thing for you, but I felt sheer joy when I heard the strains of the original theme on the series finale! And without knowing the original theme, one of the funniest moments of the finale would make no sense: Sam (the Joey character on Dawson's show The Creek) comes into Colby (the Dawson character)'s room and says, "I can't take it anymore, Colby. I don't want to wait for my life to be over. I want to know right now. What will it be?" Love it!
  8. Some people (like Blendy) didn't like the finale. I loved it! I thought it stayed true to the characters in a way that had been missing for quite some time—and the return to greatness may have had something to do with the fact that creator Kevin Williamson wrote it. I thought it was the perfect combination of humor and sadness, and it left me feeling satisfied ... what more could you want from a finale? (Blendy's beef with the finale is that we didn't see Joey pick Pacey. But we see the aftermath of that choice, plus Williamson totally telegraphed that she would make that choice, and that's good enough for me!)
If you've seen Dawson's Creek, I'd love to know your thoughts!

    August 12, 2012

    the end of summer

    I feel like I haven't had a summer break ... and school starts again on Tuesday! (Is it just me, or does school seem to start earlier every year?)

    One reason my summer has felt shorter is because I have had an international student staying with me for the past five weeks. She came right after the Fourth of July to boost her English before beginning her senior year. She worked extremely hard, and her English improved greatly ... and I learned that it's hard work being a "mother"! She didn't even have any crises or behavioral issues; I just struggled with things like getting up in time to make sure she got around in the morning, making supper every night (when you live alone, you can do cereal ... or just go to your mom's if you're fortunate enough to live close by), and figuring out what on earth to pack for her lunch. Plus, I've gotten way less sleep than I need. If I've had trouble with a fairly independent and self-sufficient 17-year-old, I don't even want to imagine what an infant would be like!
    Hoa and me at Buffalo Wild Wings. She tried a lot of new foods this summer!
    Another reason my summer has seemed short is that I'm reading all the time. Remember how one of my goals for 2012 was to learn to say "no"? Well, while I have passed on many a book review, I probably need to pass on more ... because this is my current "to be read" bookcase! The top shelf is my review books (except for Attachments, which belongs on the shelf below—not sure how it ended up on the wrong shelf), and the bottom shelf is my "read when I don't have a review deadline approaching" section. While I've read some fantastic books this summer (like this one, this one, and this one), I think I'm going to have to cut back for sanity's sake!

    I did manage to go on a short trip this summer. Blendy and I try to take a road trip each summer, and this year we decided to go to Indiana and Ohio. Hoa went with us to Indiana, and then she met up with her cousins who attend Indiana University. Blendy and I went on to Ohio, where we spent a few days with college roomie Jodi, her husband Peter, and their adorable baby girl. Our friend Holly met up with us one day for mini-golfing and supper, and it was great to see her again. Back in Indiana, we had lunch with college roomie Jen and her adorable baby girl. And we spent time relaxing with Val. It was a short trip, but it was fun! Most of the pictures we took revolve around food ... if you want to see them, go here.

    While I'm sad to see summer's end, I'm also very excited for the return of my kids! When I go to work in the morning, most of the ones who are returning will be back at school. And tomorrow night, my mom and I are going to pick one up at the airport. I can't wait to see them all!

    meet my kitties

    Remember last year, when I so proudly announced I had kittens? And then said kittens disappeared just a few days later? After that, I was reluctant to blog about my new cats until I knew they'd be staying around. I've had them for six weeks now, so I'm going to tell you about them (while hoping and praying they don't go away).

    Isis is the oldest of the three. She turned up at NC, and my dad didn't want her to stay on campus, so he brought her over. She's still a kitten, but she's enough older than the other two that they somehow got it in their heads that she's their mother. So they try to nurse. All the time. You'd think after six weeks, they'd have figured out that they're never going to get milk from her, but they keep trying. Sometimes she won't put up with it, but other times she just gives up and lets them go at it. I feel so bad for her, but I don't know what to do to make them stop! A friend suggested that she's become their pacifier, and that has to be it, because I know they're not getting any milk!

    is a little piggy. He's so incredibly concerned about getting his fair share of the food, and he eats way more than the other cats, yet he's the smallest. Most of the time, he's very active, but when he's tired, he likes to be held, and he's fallen asleep in my arms twice in the past two days. His face isn't nearly as angular as it looks in this picture. Really, he's much cuter!

    Hammond is simply beautiful. His build and coloration make him so cute! He's the sweetest of the three, and he's the first to run over when I go outside to see them ... unless I'm bringing food, in which case Skaara beats him every time! (They have to be outdoor cats per my lease.) Hammond was the first to voluntarily climb onto my lap, and he likes being held the most.

    In addition to my three, I also have plenty of visiting cats. At first, it was just the two toms that roam the neighborhood, but now some other kittens and their mama have started visiting. There's an orange kitten I call Jack, a gray one I call Sam, and another gray one that I also call Sam (I think it's probably a sibling to Sam, actually) and Blendy decided we should call Fauxlivia, since it's clearly not the original recipe Sam. These cats don't stay around long, but they keep coming back. As long as they don't chase my kittens away, I'm okay with it. (Bonus points to anyone other than family who can tell me which TV show all the names except Fauxlivia come from! Hint: Sam is a girl.)

    This is quite possibly the only time I'll write extensively about my cats, but if you want to keep up with them, you can follow my kittens Facebook album, where I'll be posting pics every so often.

    August 6, 2012

    recipe: biscoff pretzel bars

    I have recently fallen head over heels in love with Biscoff spread. What's that, you ask? It's a spread that has the consistency of peanut butter, and it's made from Biscoff cookies. Apparently, Delta distributes Biscoff cookies on their flights; I found them at World Market. They are crispy, slightly cinnamony, and oh so addictive. I've been following the recipe blog Two Peas & Their Pod for the last several months, and that's where I first heard about Biscoff spread. After drooling over Maria's Biscoff recipes for months, I finally decided to bite the bullet and pay an insane amount of money to buy some Biscoff on Amazon. I tweeted about the spread when it arrived, and Meagan mentioned she'd seen some at her Walmart. So the next time I went, I checked it out ... and there it was, right next to the peanut butter! And several of the jars even had $1 off coupons on them! It's still expensive (regular price is almost $4 for 14 oz.), but so much better than nearly $14 for two jars!

    While I could eat an entire jar by the spoonful (and I have), I also wanted to use some in a recipe. So I went to Pinterest. (Where else?) First, I tried this Biscoff Puppy Chow recipe. It was good, but the chocolate and sugar totally overpowered the taste of the Biscoff. For my next attempt, I took this peanut butter bar recipe and adapted it ... a lot. I wanted to be sure the powdered sugar didn't overpower the Biscoff, so using half brown sugar, as the original recipe did, seemed like the way to go. But because Biscoff already is sweet, I didn't use all of the sugar called for in the original recipe. I also cut back on the amount of pretzels and upped the amount of Biscoff (instead of substituting it one-to-one for the peanut butter). And I cut the entire recipe in half ... it would be too dangerous for me to have a 9x13 of this stuff hanging around the house! The end result was quite satisfactory, if I do say so myself!

    Biscoff Pretzel Bars
    adapted from Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Bars on Make Happy

    1 c Biscoff spread (I used half creamy/half crunchy, but you could do all of one or the other)
    ½ c light brown sugar
    ½ c powdered sugar
    ¼ c melted butter
    1 c crushed pretzels


    ½ c bittersweet chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli)
    1 T butter
    1 T creamy Biscoff spread

    Line 8x8 pan with parchment paper and set aside. Mix Biscoff spread, sugars, and butter until combined. Add pretzels and stir until incorporated. (The mixture won't form a ball, but it should stick together. If it doesn't, add another tablespoon of butter.) Press mixture into prepared pan and refrigerate while preparing the topping. Place chocolate chips, butter, and Biscoff in a microwavable bowl. Microwave until melted, stirring after each 30-second increment. Spread over bars. Refrigerate until chocolate is set. Lift out of pan and use a sharp knife to cut into bars. Store in refrigerator to keep chocolate from getting too soft. Enjoy!

    The Biscoff and pretzels pair very well together. Pretzels are also great dipped
    directly into your jar of Biscoff!
    This is what you're looking for. It's so, so, so good!

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