Thursday, March 29, 2012

Minor Regrets

Sometimes I wish I would have had the guts to do these kind of things on my math tests when I had no clue (which was most of the time: I despise math)

When I think back on my education, I realize that I was too uptight as I would move up in grades. Like, once I got to Jr. High school I wish I wouldn't have been so worried about never missing in elementary school. And then once I got to high school, I wish I wouldn't have been so stressed to get good grades that didn't even count.

But I guess overall it was a good thing, since I guess college degrees aren't super common. I might not have gotten one if I hadn't had cared about my reaching my reading quota in the second grade and my times tables in the third grade.

So it all worked out.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Spoken like true Hunger Games fans

When the new "Twilight" trailer came on at the midnight showing, some people cheered, but they were overpowered by these shouts:

"Edward sucks!!"

"She (Bella) is ugly!"

Loved it.
And I mean everything about finally seeing this movie.

So, let's talk about it! (there will only be spoilers if you have never read the book)

I walked out of the theater completely satisfied with the film adaptation of The Hunger Games. If it hadn't had been 3am I would have watched it again. But then again, I realized that author Suzanne Collins helped write the screenplay, so it makes perfect sense that this movie was so good.

The casting was overall really great. But I still am not quite convinced of Donald Sutherland as "President Snow." Maybe he'll get nastier in the next movies, but he doesn't seem all that scary yet.

For Haymitch, I always kind of thought of him in my head to look like Mad-Eye Moody or something, but he totally made sense with Woody Harrelson.

Effie Trinkett was great. Peeta was fantastic. Gale was fantastic. And Katniss was perfection. Oh, and Lenny Kravitz as Cinna? He was awesome.

The thing that I anticipated the most of seeing a film adaptation of the book was how they captured Katniss's character and voice, since the book is told completely through her point of view. There are a lot of things you find out about Katniss through her thoughts so I was eager to see what they would do with the film. Would they maybe have a voice over Katniss narrator every now and then? Would they reveal things other ways? Or would they cut out those details all together?

They ended up handling it all really well, in my opinion. The truth is that the book and the movie really complement each other. You really need to read the book and see the movie to get the full effect of the story and the set up.

I'm talking mostly about point of view here. In the book, anything you see or any information you are given, it is coming from Katniss. When she is preparing for the Games, you know her frustration and anxiety about it all, even if she keeps quiet on the outside, you know she is screaming on the inside. And as she is waiting for the countdown, you feel just as nervous and scared as she does. You feel that eery feeling of isolation that she feels in the woods where it seems like she is alone and yet she is being watched from all angles. She has no idea what is going on in the outside world. What is Gale doing? What about Haymitch? Is he just sitting around drinking and not even caring to try to help her? The lack of information helps you understand what Katniss is going through. It really connects you to her character.

Then the movie comes along, and answers those questions for us. I wouldn't take away Katniss's point of view, which is why you need to read the book too, but it is also really cool and sometimes disheartening to see what's going on outside of the arena. I loved seeing Haymitch and how he really was fighting for her and Peeta, even though he seemed like a useless drunk. And the added stuff with Seneca Crane (the head gamemaker) was a cool foreshadowing of things to come. At first I disagreed with showing scenes of uprising in District 11, but after thinking about it, I really think it was effective in showing that there was a founded reason for the Capitol to be out to get Katniss for her "act of rebellion" at the end of the games, and not just paranoia.

One little complaint about the "staging" of the final scene of the games. Was it just me, or did it seem a little anticlimactic? I always imagined Katniss and Peeta on the cornucopia, still in the night, surrounded by the pack of mutts--chaos still around them as they plan a double suicide, and then comes the lights of the helicopter thing as it comes down to get them. I always imagined the chaos to make it more dramatic. Personally, if I were the producer or whoever decides this, I would have done it that way. But, oh well.

Still an overall success though. I wish I had it already on dvd so I could just play it on repeat, just like little kids do.

Any additional thoughts? Liked it? Didn't like it? Do share!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

My husband looks like Barack Obama part 2

(part one here)
Ok, ok. Maybe he doesn't look exactly like him, but they have the same haircut and the same chin in my opinion. And the thick eyebrows. 

But besides all that, he (my husband) got to sit in the exact spot where Barack Obama sat at Ben's Chili Bowl in D.C.! How exciting! Many people were envious. 

We went with a couple of my friends from the mission/MTC, and that chili really was yummy. I got the chili cheese fries. Extremely unhealthy, but I felt I had to experience Ben's at its full potential. 
That same day, it was "take your husband to work day." For us, anyway. Victor got a researcher's card to come do some work with me at the National Archives. Sadly, he wasn't as excited about it as me and my friend Lindsay were the first time we went up into the Archives. 
And of course, spring suits the Archives very well. I take so many pictures of this building. I just really like its stateliness. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Cherry Blossom Loving

I have always wanted to be able to see the cherry blossoms in D.C. This year they bloomed early, so we went up on Monday to see them at their peak bloom. And let me tell you, it did not disappoint! It was absolutely beautiful. And the smell: heavenly.

Spring is here now, and it's wonderful. For me and Victor, it's been a complete renewal or rebirth. As soon as Victor graduated from his training, the weather turned amazing. So it really did feel like closure for us. These last two weeks, Victor has basically not worked at all, so we have been spending the time soaking it up and catching up in quality time that we haven't had much of the past six months. It's been like Saturday everyday. We've gone on nature walks along the Potomac, played lots of raquetball, and have gone to D.C. for various festivities---and on weekdays, no less: that never would have happened before.

While we were visiting a friend's apartment in D.C., I was finally meeting a friend of Victor's from the mission who was there before my time. And while Victor was helping nail up some shelves in the other room, she was telling me about a time a couple years ago, before I got home from Romania, where she was asking Victor about his dating life. Victor responded with telling her about me: how there was a sister missionary still in Romania who was just amazing. How if she would just give him a chance, he would be so happy.

It was just one of those swoony moments for me when I once again realized how lucky I am to be with someone who simply adores me. It's lovely to hear those kind of things.

I love the springtime.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The night I made tofu for dinner

This post could also be called "How I'm trying to lose weight," or "How I'm trying to save money," or  "Why I'm not a food blogger," or maybe even "How I'm trying to make my husband miserable." I'm not really trying to make him miserable, but it kind of seemed like that from the look on his face when I told him we were having tofu for dinner.

First of all, tofu is really healthy. High in protein and low in fat. I ate it a lot in China, so I grew accustomed to it.

Second of all, tofu is cheap! I bought mine at the Commissary for one dolla!! It's a little bit more at regular grocery stores, but not too much I think. Way cheaper than meat. 
Tofu looks really gross when you're cooking it. But it gets better as you add stuff to it. I found this recipe from Pioneer Woman, and she's pretty reliable with her recipes, so I went with her recipe of making vegetarian lettuce wraps as a first time tofu maker.

Exhibit A of why I'm not a full time food blogger. These may be mediocre pictures taken in my mediocre kitchen, but you get the idea. 

Exhibit B of why I'm not a food blogger: the final product. The first pic is Pioneer Woman's. The second one is mine. But you know what? I thought mine was quite tasty. A definite success in my opinion. 
But what was my husband's opinion? Well, he wasn't quite as enthusiastic. 
He still ate most of it though, after dousing more soy sauce on it. He's a good sport. He's a meat guy through and through, but he was willing to try. But after tonight, I plan on making more of it in different varieties, so hopefully he starts to like it!

Anyway, I highly recommend making your own tofu dishes. And if you have any tofu recipes already, do share!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Hunger Games is NOT Twilight

I am so excited because of the fact that one week from tonight I will be watching "The Hunger Games." Of course I have been following all the details of the premiere that was held a few days ago, and I have been counting down along with this blogger who has done a weekly post anticipating the big event (this essay is my favorite). And I just have to say how much it bothers me that this huge movie event is being compared to the Twilight mania. Sure, it's comparable in its levels of popularity, but DO NOT compare the story or the fact that both stories have love triangles, etc. The Hunger Games is not in the same category at all.

I have loved this quote by writer Stephen King about the difference between Harry Potter and Twilight. And I think you definitely can substitute the "Harry Potter" for "The Hunger Games". 

"[The Hunger Games] is about confronting fears, finding inner strength and doing what is right in the face of adversity. Twilight is about how important it is to have a boyfriend."

So true. I'm not going to say that Twilight is a complete joke. It's entertaining: that's its sole purpose. I firmly believe that we all need some mindless entertainment once in a while. But not all the time. And when your discussions of the story can't extend much beyond the intricacies of a vampire and how he loves but also wants to eat his girl, then you should probably just leave it as that: entertainment. 

Back to the other reason why people compare the two: they both have love triangles. 

I sadly have read all the Twilight books, so I feel justified in boldly declaring that Twilight is no love triangle. There's never a doubt ever that the main character only cares about the vampire. Not the werewolf. Only the vampire. The thing that makes love triangles so awesome in the history of literature is when you see a character who really is conflicted on who to choose, and for good reasons. The Hunger Games does this. That's what makes it so real and it's also what places it into that more memorable class of literature.

A few friends of mine have told me that they don't want to read The Hunger Games for the reason that so many people compare it to Twilight so they think that it's the same thing and they don't want to be involved in it. If they only knew! It's not fair to place The Hunger Games in the same category as Twilight just because they're both in the young adult genre and because they both are wildly popular. 

So please do yourself a favor. Please please read The Hunger Games. At least the first book just to say you gave it a chance. It is not at all like or comparable to Twilight. I understand that these books are not for everyone. But you can't knock it or categorize it without having given it a chance. I did it with Twilight, and those books just weren't for me, so don't be all mad if you are a Twihard. To each his own. 

One more side note: they cast the movie wonderfully in my opinion. And I love Katniss/Jennifer Lawrence. And Peeta/Josh Hutcherson of course. But then again, look at Gale/Liam Hemsworth. I would have a hard time choosing too. But for the record, it was Peeta for me all along. 

Anyway, Happy Hunger Games!!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

latest happenings.

Before Victor graduated, we took a trip up to Annapolis to see "South Pacific" being performed at the Naval Academy. That's the show we saw on our first date, so it's dear to our hearts. And yes, it was pretty interesting watching the midshipmen sing and dance. Some were good, and others not so much. But we loved it all the same. And going back to Annapolis is great now that Victor isn't a student there. They treat him so much better now.

And then came the great day we had been waiting for: graduation. Victor's mom and step-dad came down and we had a wonderful time with them. And I learned a valuable lesson to never blog about things before they come to pass, because when we had waited our turn to shoot machine guns, they announced that they were out of ammo: tough luck. Yeah. Great planning. But we still got to hold the big guns. Woop de doo.
my face is a combination of being tired and cold, and also trying to look bad-a. 
The graduation was short and sweet which made it awesome. Then we peaced out of there and had a fancy dinner at a Spanish restaurant in Alexandria. The highlight for me was the classical guitarist and the flamenco dancer. It reminded me of Mission Impossible 2: the Mission Impossible movie that everyone says is the crappiest, but personally it's my favorite.

Speaking of Spain, we finally are heading to Europe the end of next month!! We will take a military flight there and then fly home commercial from Bucharest. We are so excited and I'm still a little antsy about it since the military flight is kind of like stand-by and we don't know where we're flying into. But it looks like it will most likely be Spain or Germany. We'll spend a week in Western Europe and then a little over a week in Romania.

It's funny, because as I've started to make a tentative travel plan, I always stop to the point of Western Europe. Subconsciously in my head, I think I view it like this: once we see Western Europe, the "vacation" part is over.  Meaning that once we board that flight to Romania, it's more like we're headed home. I know what to expect from Romania, and I know that everything will be okay. I always get antsy right before traveling somewhere new because I don't know what to expect or what kind of curve balls will be thrown my way. But with going to Romania, I know I'm going to see people I love, and I know that we will be taken care of. And I absolutely can't wait. And neither can Victor. 

Needless to say, it's been an exciting week.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Refashion Question: Help, please.

I bought this dress from Goodwill for like $4. I liked it for the bottom pleating. I knew I was going to need to spruce it up somehow. And I did, but I'm still doubting.

My first indication that this was going to be hit or miss was when I was having Victor take my "before" shot. It didn't help that I was sick and I looked gross, but when Victor took the pictures he was all, "I don't know about this one, Annie. I'm just not catching the vision." Ouch. O ye of little faith.  But seriously, it was bad. I blurred out my face because I'm too humiliated to show it for all the internet to see.
So, for this go around, I just took off the sleeves. And did my hair and makeup before I took any more pictures.
 But alas, Victor still wasn't convinced. He doesn't really like the top part of the dress. So I decided to wear it out for a night in D.C. to ask for my girlfriend's opinion. Below is a shot with it accessorized more with a blazer and scarf. (BTW is this look too 70s??)
 Anyway, this was two nights ago. Then, today I found this skirt on Anthropologie on sale. (Which let's be honest, "sale" price on Anthro is still steep: like $90 steep. Remember how I bought mine for $4? And THAT is why I love thrifting.
Left: Goodwill. Right: Anthropologie
So now the question for all of you is this: should I leave the dress as is? Or, should I keep refashioning it to be an Anthro knock-off skirt? I need some more opinions to take into consideration.

Pretty please and thank you!!
Love, Annie

Thursday, March 8, 2012

I Enjoy Being a Girl


It's days like these that I wish I were still living in Romania, where Women's Day gets the pomp that it deserves. For Women's Day, every girl gets the shout out. So to all my fellow women, I hope you have a good day. And celebrate being a woman!

I love being a woman because I love all things feminine.

I love being a woman because women get to be mothers.

I love being a woman because I have the option to be miss independent, or on the days when I don't feel like it, I can let a man take care of me.

I love being a woman because I love men. I love men, but I don't want to be one.

I love being a woman because I can wear makeup and do my hair to enhance my appearance. If you're ugly and a guy, you don't have many options.

I love being a woman because since women's fashion changes so frequently, I score big on clearance sales. I'm realizing with my husband that this isn't the case. I feel bad for him.

I love being a woman because even though girls/women sometimes are considered catty and manipulative, they still make great friends. Women are thoughtful and observant.

I love being a woman because I love my womanly body.

I love being a woman because they are essential to the plan of happiness.

Basically, I just love being a woman. Amen.

Why do YOU love being a woman?

Need some reading material to celebrate Women's Day? Here is some.
-- To Young Women by Jeffrey R. Holland
-- LDS Women are Incredible! by Quentin L. Cook

And my favorites
-- Happiness, Your Heritage and Your Happily Ever After by Deiter F. Uchtdorf

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

One Day More.

One Day More by Les Miserables on Grooveshark

This song is strangely in my head today as I think about the fact that my husband is graduating from his officer training tomorrow. The subject of the song may have nothing to do with this fact, but the excitement and emotion behind it is definitely what we have been feeling lately in knowing that these exhausting and annoying six months are over tomorrow. I may be being slightly dramatic, but not really. It really has been a long six months.

And I need to give a public shout out on the interweb to say how proud of my husband I am. There is no way in hell that I would have survived what he has been doing the last six months. From sleep deprivation, extreme temperatures, sleeping in a hole, to having to dig your own potty in the woods. I might have lasted for a day. And that's only the physical stuff. Then there's the emotional side where you are criticized by your peers for not joining in with the cliques and for maintaining your integrity. I admire my husband for staying classy and turning the other cheek. I tend to err on the side of bitchiness  (pardon my language) when I know people are being two-faced to me. Props to Victor. 

Needless to say, tomorrow will be a day of celebrating. And also some shooting of machine guns. Apparently before the graduation ceremony, the families of the graduates will be taken out to the shooting ranges to shoot the huge guns that they use. It's not something that I usually participate in, so I'm pretty excited.  But the question is: what does one wear when they go shooting machine guns? I still want to look cute, you know. 

Anyway, things are looking pretty good around here. Congrats again, Victor. Love you mean it. 

Sunday, March 4, 2012

A Diagnosis

Remember this?

The Office - The Jim Trains Dwight
Get More: The Office - The Jim Trains Dwight

I've realized that it is totally me after visiting the temple. Ever since I was twelve years old, I have been trained to crave a treat after the temple. It's mostly just any type of treat, but after leaving the temple on Friday, the craving for a cherry rainbow from Pace's Dairy Ann (the most frequently visited treat place post-temple) was all too powerful. I settled for a McD's hot fudge sundae.  Not quite the same.

But either way, it was a beautiful night at the temple. We trekked through the intense rain which just added to the tortuous traffic. But it was worth it. We got there right after the storm had cleared.