Reviews

Review: The Old Guard

I can’t stress how much I enjoyed The Old Guard. A group of immortals who have been around for varying lengths of time (several thousand to a couple hundred years) use their badassery to fight for what they feel is morally right. The level of death these people can unleash is crazy high, and none of them are impacted much at all by the lives they take. Since they only do jobs they feel are right, I guess there’s no reason to be torn up by the people who die.

One of my favorite elements of the movie is the way that the immortality allows fight scenes to be constructed. The good guys can get shot, fall, ‘die’, get back up, and then continue fighting so the fights are really entertaining. But immortality doesn’t mean immune to pain, so there’s still a “let’s not get shot, please” vibe to the whole thing. At one point one of their intestines are on the outside, and it appears to be very uncomfy.

There’s also an epic love story that is quite possibly my favorite movie love story ever. Imagine spending hundreds of years with the love of your life. I’m down. I don’t want to say too much about this, because it’s so dang delightful everyone should go in to it without knowing details. I’ll just say that it’s amazing and I’m a huge fan.

I don’t know if this is due to the director, or the actors, or screenwriter, but The Old Guard is full of little touches that make the relationships in the movie so much more real. There are significant glances, winks, nods, head tilts, touches, and on and on. I think a lot of them could be missed, and I’m sure I’ll catch more next time I watch it, but it’s not something you see in shoot ’em up action movies.

Something else that I love but don’t want spoil for people is the search for the “why” of their immortality.

On top of all the awesomeness above, this movie is super inclusive and diverse. If you’re looking for a movie directed by a woman, or a black woman, Gina Prince-Blythewood is here for you. You want a group of mercenary types headed by a woman? Got it. Would you like to see a bit of queerness in your action movies? Take it. Black characters who aren’t one dimensional and survive to the end of the move? Yep, the movie has that too.

Just watch it. It’s amazing. Ten out of 10.

Sarah

photography

My Favorite Photos From July

Boy, I did nothing exciting this month. So here’s a bunch of cat pictures.

  1. Tau decided I should be done with work, and communicated this by invading my space.
  2. Tau loves flowers, plants, etc. These are fake, but he’s decided to try them out anyway. He had knocked the vase over repeatedly so I was holding it on my lap, but that didn’t stop him.
  3. He’s super helpful when working on a puzzle, too. Loves to hold down the completed bits and also keeps the free pieces warm.
  1. Living his best life, Tau relaxes on the back porch.
  2. My dad bough Tau this little toy stuffed with catnip and he is obsessed.
  3. We have a bunny visitor super frequently. Sometimes it’s in the neighbor’s yard, but he’s always around.
  1. Gooses!
  2. Different angle on the gooses! They were using our backyard as a path from one pond to another. They’ve also used our front yard to get around. One is limping and it bums us out.
  3. We thought Tau would be freaked out by the geese, but he was unbothered.
Life & Family

A Head’s Up

I’m going to be posting off and on this week and next week. I was sick over the weekend (see Monday’s post) and I have a bunch of stuff to catch up on. I also want to watch a tv series with Shane instead of writing, and I’d like to get some reading done.

I’m writing this as if I have a vast readership who will notice – more likely I’ll forget why I don’t have consistent posts for the next couple of weeks and this will remind me. Also, it’s good to be accountable for things you’ve promised, even when no one else will notice.

See you later,

Sarah

Life & Family

Stress, Anxiety, and 2020

I think it’s incredibly interesting that the human body can react to stress and anxiety in so many different ways. The most obvious is a straight up panic attack, when your entire body suddenly reacts to a situation as if it’s life or death. Right now, in 2020, everyone is becoming more familiar with all the other expressions of stress and anxiety.

The human body can come up with all kinds of ways to express that it’s being stressed to much, from worrying a lot, to not wanting to do anything, to not letting your mind quiet, to not being able to sleep, and so on and so forth. Even acne.

I think that a lot of people have never really thought about the fact that a night of bad sleep or an acne breakout has a direct relationship to a stressful event. Now, however, a lot more people have the time to experience their stress in a whole new way, so they’re making those connections now. I also wouldn’t be surprised if people’s stress/anxiety reactions have been ratcheted up and are a lot more obvious. There’s no proof of any of this, by the way, just my observations and thoughts.

This isn’t what I was going to write about today, but a couple of days ago, my stomach went haywire. Non-stop heartburn and chest pains, it feels like food gets stuck in my esophagus and is super painful, I have stomach pains, it feels like it’s constantly burning, and I have no appetite until I’m suddenly starving but when food is in front of me and I’m not hungry anymore. It’s a perfect, and horrific, marriage of my GERD and the intense anxiety/stress of living in a Covid hot spot in the year that keeps throwing unanticipated curve balls. So earlier, I was eating some applesauce and decided that I wanted to talk about this.

I’ve heard people say that their headache is from stress, or that they have been having trouble sleeping, but it’s so rare to hear someone talk about stomach problems beyond a “I have stressful event today so I have a sour stomach.” People also never seem to talk about acne, or being depressed because of stress/anxiety (they’ll talk about being in a bad mood, but not just lethargic). I obviously haven’t been hanging out with many people, and when I talk to my friends we actively try to not talk about the pandemic so it’s possible that everyone is always talking about all the weird stress effects on them and I’m just missing that riveting conversation.

I don’t have any advice or ways to make your body not be weird, but I can say that if you’re acting weird, or your body is being weird right now, give it (and yourself) a break. When the world stops falling apart, things will get better.

Thanks for reading my ramble!

Sarah

Goals and Plans · Life & Family

Creating a 5 Year Plan

Last week I thought I’d make a 5 year plan. I don’t really go in for “if you write/envision it, it will automatically happen”, but I do think that there’s something powerful in writing down the long-term vision of your life. After I did a ton of Googling and reading and thinking, I decided to write this post instead of creating one so I haven’t actually made my 5 year plan yet. I promise to post mine soon, though, and link it from here.

The Goal Setting

Make concrete, measurable goals for 5 years from now and then work backwards from there to make ‘stepping stone’ goals from when you start your plan to when it’s finished. A linear path to the finish line – like a race. Start your goals with a version of this sentence: “I want to (do/have/be/get)…”

Goal Setting

  1. Create a list of categories you would like to have goals in.
    • Ex: Love, Hobbies, Career, $$$, Travel, etc. You can have as few or as many as you’d like.
  2. Make a list of your goals & group them by your categories.
  3. Take your goals by categories and start breaking those goals down into smaller goals.
  4. Continue breaking those goals down into manageable chunks of actionable items.
    • Goal: I want to buy a house
      • Save $25,000 by the end of 5 years.
      • Save $5,000 each year
      • Only eat out once a month
      • Stop buying coffee
  5. Repeat for each goal.
  6. Make a game plan for how to do those actionable things.

Example Goals

  • I want to move to Big City and own my own apartment/house.
  • I want to get a new job.
  • I want to have enough money in the bank to jump on a plane to wherever I want to go.
  • I want to be the boss of my department.
  • I want to run the NYC Marathon.

The problem I have with this (for me, you do you) is that my life never looks the same from year to year or even month to month. What I want as a goal now may not be a goal I care about anymore in 5 years, or even in 6 months. I realize you can modify your goals as you go, but I would still prefer to start with a slightly different premise.

Loosening It Up

Instead of, or in addition to, creating goals to meet at the end of five years, you can also add more general statements about the future and the person you want to be to your plan. They can be anything, really. Maybe “I want to be someone who is active in my community” to “I want to be active in a martial art” or “I want to be a person who is trusted by my coworkers.” Whatever floats your boat.

Not-Goal Setting (Exactly Like Goal Setting)

  1. Create a list of categories you would like to make changes in.
    • You can definitely use the one you made earlier, and modify it if you want to.
  2. Think about those categories in a different way from above – think about how you want to be instead of what you want to achieve.
    • I want to be a person who regularly has people over and throws parties.
  3. Start to think about what steps might be helpful for this, and then think about things you can do today to help make that a reality.
    • Statement: I want to be a person who regularly has people over and throws parties.
      • Extend an invitation to at least one person every X weeks.
      • Plan parties for various holidays – Christmas, etc.
      • Create a regular game night or supper club.
      • Become involved in local activities.
  4. Repeat that process for each statement.

Example Statements

  • I want to help others reach their goals and support them in their ambitions.
  • I want to be the kind of person that others know they can rely on.
  • I want to enjoy my personal life while also excelling in my career.
  • I want to be comfortable, content, and confident in the life I lead.
  • I want to live a fulfilled life.

Combining It All Together

If you do both of these exercises, you will end up with a fairly comprehensive idea of how you want your life to look in the next five years. There’s a concrete path, as well, since both parts of your plan have baby steps to take to get there. So at the end of the process, you put your goals, statements, and baby steps together in one list/document/plan. Trim if needed – you don’t want to overbook yourself for the next 5 years. Next, decide where to start and move forward from there.

The planning is really that easy – the execution is much harder since 5 years is a long time to work towards things, but it’s a worthwhile endeavor.

I can’t believe I just wrote almost 800 words on 5 year plans. 🙂 Enjoy your planning!

Sarah

Cooking

Sarah & Shane (Try to) Smoke Some Ribs

Disclaimer: This is not a recipe, this is a story about our weekend shenanigans. Just want to put that out there.

This past weekend, Shane and I decided that the St. Louis pork ribs in the freezer should no longer be in the freezer, and should be eaten instead. We recently bought a grill/smoker combo, so we figured we’d try out the smoker function for the first time. There was a trip to the grocery store (masked and with liberal use of hand sanitizer, of course) for a couple extra racks of ribs and wood chips.

Then the business began – we opened and rinsed the ribs, dried them off, then added the rub. While all this is going on, Shane set up the fire in the smoker. It was almost ready when the rain began. We sat on the back porch for a few minutes waiting for what we assumed was a summer shower but then it just got worse. So much worse. It became a rain going sideways, full-on creek in the backyard, impossible to see through storm. There was much steam off the smoker, and much grumbling from Shane.

So, change of plans. The ribs got wrapped up in what still seems like an excessive amount of aluminum foil and put into the oven on low heat. When I say that the house smelled delicious a couple hours in, I mean it. It was mouthwatering. They hung out in there for about 4 hours.

By the time we were ready to pull the ribs out of the oven, the weather had cleared up enough to fire up the smoker again and finish them in there. We had 4 racks of ribs and had one with just apple cider vinegar and the rub, one with a mustard based sauce, one with Stubbs Sweet Heat (I’m a sucker for anything Sweet Heat), and then one with my favorite bbq sauce – Sweet Baby Ray’s. We usually make our own barbecue sauces (well, Shane does. I don’t.), but there is no shame in the store bought stuff.

After we smoked them for a bit and basted a couple times it was on. Shane said he was “truly impressed with the amount of ribs [I] ate.”, so you know it was a success. It was a bummer that we weren’t able to spend a summer afternoon just hanging out drinking hard lemonade and White Claws, but the ribs were worth it in the end. Also, it was almost 100F outside, so I guess it wasn’t too much of a loss.

I put the pictures up above – they were truly delicious.

Life & Family

An Old School MySpace Survey

I got a MySpace profile my Junior (I think) year of high school and kept it through the Freshman year of college. I might have checked in on it later, but I don’t think I used it a ton after 2005/2006. Anyway, one of my favorite bits of MySpace was the weird obsession with surveys we all had. They were always really random but fun to complete. So, for your Monday reading, after much Googling, here is a MySpace throwback. Oh, and I cut this way down, MySpace surveys could be over 100 questions long. I stuck with 47 (my lucky number), even though no one has time to read all that.

  1. Last beverage: Dr Pepper
  2. Last phone call: Actual phone call – Shane; Zoom call – the insurance lady
  3. Last song you listened to: Vices by Mothica (on repeat)
  4. Zodiac sign: Pisces 
  5. Height: 5’1” or so
  6. What are your three favorite colors: teal/turquoise, coral, & light green
  7. Piercings: Just my ears, I’ve thought about getting my ears pierced again or my nose.
  8. Tattoos: None yet, but I’m planning on getting Laurie & Tau’s paw prints as tattoos.
  9. First school: AFCENT International School (my dad worked for the Army
  10. Believe in luck? Yes, or fate.
  11. Believe in love at first sight: Not really. 
  12. Believe in Heaven: Yes
  13. Have you ever been on the computer for 5 hours straight? Every workday.
  14. Did you ever watch TV for 5 hours straight? Multiple times. 
  15. Did you ever fail a driver’s test? Failed the road test twice.
  16. What could you eat any day of the week and never get tired of? Potatoes. I love potatoes.
  17. Last thing you spent money on? Chick-Fil-A
  18. Do you like the snow? I don’t have enough experience with snow to not be excited when it does snow.
  19. Do you like the outside? Love it.
  20. What makes you happy? So many things. Way too many to list here. 
  21. Have you ever seen someone you knew and purposely avoided them? Definitely.
  22. Ever been outside your home country? I was born outside of my home country.
  23. Ever been on a road trip longer than 5 hours? Twice – Mom and I went to New Orleans (12 hours) and Shane and I went to Nashville (I think it was 6 hours?)
  24. Are you afraid of the dark? Yes, when I’m outside. 
  25. Do you believe in true love? Absolutely, but I also believe that a person can have more than one true love. 
  26. Do you wear make-up? I don’t, usually. I love watching makeup tutorials on YouTube, though.
  27. How many windows are open on your computer? Too many.
  28. Who last texted you? My cousins.
  29. Who did you last text? My cousins.
  30. What are you craving right now? The Cool Whip that’s in my fridge right now. 
  31. Would you live with someone without marrying them? We lived together for like 7ish years before we got married. 
  32. What’s irritating you right now? The headache I have right now.
  33. Do you want any pets: Besides the cat we already have, I really want a puppy.
  34. Do you want to change your name: Kind of – Sarah is a boring name. When I was younger I wanted to be called Catriona. 
  35. Lost glasses/contacts: Constantly, I have awful vision so I frequently can’t see where I put them.
  36. Been arrested: Nope
  37. Milk chocolate or white chocolate? I hate white chocolate, milk chocolate is fine, but I love dark chocolate most of all.
  38. Twirl or cut your spaghetti? Twirl.
  39. Do you type fast? Yep.
  40. Do you sing in the shower? Now that there’s an Alexa in the bathroom, I play music and sing embarrassingly loudly.
  41. Have you dated someone twice: Shane! There was a year between the first time we dated and the second time.
  42. Moved out of town: I’ve moved around a bit – 3 towns in Germany/The Netherlands & 4 in South Carolina. 
  43. Where is your favorite place on earth? Currently, my house. But overall, Bar Harbor, ME.
  44. What’s your favorite thing about yourself? That everyone tells me everything. Even strangers tell me their life stories. I like that I give off the type of energy that shows I can be trusted.
  45. Something you hate to do? The dishes.
  46. What would be the best gift ever? Books, notebooks, cool pens, journals, so many things.
  47. Do you wish on shooting stars? I do. 

-Sarah

Reading

My Favorite Books From the Last 6 Months

I’ve actually been reading this year (not enough for my Goodreads challenge, but that’s beside the point), so I wanted to look at my favorite books from the first 6 months of 2020.

Non-Fiction

  • If You Tell: A True Story of Murder, Family Secrets, and the Unbreakable Bond of Sisterhood by Gregg Olsen
    • This book is a nightmare in written form. The fact that it’s non-fiction is a nightmare unto itself. It’s a horrible tale of child abuse, murder, and the awful compiles on top of awful. I listened to the audiobook which lessened the emotional distance between me and what was happening. It feels weird to say this was one of my ‘favorites’ but it basically blew my mind like no other so I think it deserves a space on the list.
  • Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed by Lori Gottlieb
    • I loved this book. I bought the ebook, and I definitely plan on reading it again. I recognized myself, or people I know, in a lot of the stories she tells throughout the book. I don’t know why this was so easy to connect with when I have struggled to connect with similar books. Highly recommend.

From My Favorite Authors

  • Alone in the Wild by Kelley Armstrong
    • I’ve read all of the Rockton novels, and knew I was going to read this one as soon as I found out it was being published this year. I haven’t read any of her other books/series, but they’re on the list for sure. I really enjoy the concept behind the Rockton novels – basically a hidden town in the Northern bits of Canada for people who have something to hide from. It’s a bit of a romance series, but the mystery (read: insanity) is the big draw.
  • Silence for the Dead by Simone St. James
    • I’m a huge Simone St. James fan, and this was my second read through of this novel. I like the time period – post WWI – and the creepy atmosphere she gives most of her books. She does have 2 modern day novels, and the one I’ve read was also great and I definitely have the other one on the to be read list.

Other Fiction

  • The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
    • This is a rough read, but it was also really satisfying to finish. It didn’t make me cry, but I definitely had some serious feelings about it. The setting is Alaska and I found it really interesting to read about life (even fictional) in rural Alaska. Definitely check it out.
  • Seveneves by Neal Stephenson
    • Shane has been bugging me to read this for literally years, and I finally did. It is a crazy roller coaster ride. It’s super depressing in parts, but it also left me with a really interesting sense of hope. I only guessed about half of the major twisty twist, which doesn’t happen often these days, so that’s a cool plus. I don’t really want to talk too much about it, so I don’t give away any spoilers. Needless to say, I’ll be reading more books that Shane recommends.

I’ve been saying “oh, I only want to read things that aren’t challenging – I don’t want to think” for a couple of years now, and this list is showing me that I really do like to challenge myself sometimes. I might need to push myself to expand my reading circle and try out some more mentally challenging reads.

In case you’re wondering, I’m 4 books behind on my 2020 reading challenge. I’m just not worried about it. 🙂

Sarah

Life & Family · Reading

Reading Through A List of Authors My Mom Left Behind

The day my mom passed, I was standing in my parents’ kitchen aimlessly looking around. Under a magnet on their secondary freezer, I saw a couple sheets of notepad paper entitled “Grocery Author List”. I snuck it into my pocket as if my dad wouldn’t have let me have it if I had asked. I didn’t have a plan for it, I really just wanted her handwriting.

When I got home, I tucked it into the back of the little notebook I record all the books I’ve read (well, the past 2 years worth). I didn’t really forget about it, but also didn’t think about it much. At some point (I’ll have to check my twitter), I declared I would read through the list and I did indeed read a book or 2, but didn’t go further than that. I’ve thought about it off and on the past few months and decided to go for it.

Recently, I went through the author list and added the first books of series (or a stand alone if there wasn’t a series) for each author. I made a Goodreads list specifically for this little side project of mine, which topped out at 50 books. I did leave/add a couple of books that I’ve already read, since technically the authors are on the list. The authors write one of 3 genres: cozy mysteries (most with puns for titles), non-cozy mysteries, and fantasy. Luckily, I enjoy all of those genres, to varying degrees. I also have a soft spot for puns, so I’m not mad that a number of them are named things like “Thyme for Death” and “Lye in Wait” (both are actual titles on the list).

I’m a little concerned that I won’t be able to find a lot of the books, since a lot are from the 90s/early 00s and most don’t seem like they were best sellers. I haven’t checked the library yet, so hopefully several will appear there. I can think of a few that I know they have, though, so that’s promising.

Is this a weird thing to do? I’m going to do it anyway, but I do wonder about that a bit.

Read: 2/50

~Sarah

Cooking

25 Recipes I Really Want to Make

There are a ton of recipes I want to make, but I have a “One Day” section of a Pinterest board that has 25 recipes that I really want to make. Well, not really those specific recipes but they represent the food I want to make. Now, some of these recipes are difficult, but a lot are just recipes I can’t easily find the ingredients for, keep saying I want to make but don’t, or just haven’t found the right opportunity to make. The below list is in no particular order.

The Recipes:

  1. Red Lobster Cheddar Biscuits
    • Who doesn’t want to make these? They’re delicious.
  2. Gyro
    • I love gyros, and I already make a mean tzatziki sauce, so the next step is obviously making the actual meat. And the flat bread to go along with it.
  3. Mushroom Brie Fondue
    • I love fondue, and I think this specific type of fondue sounds amazing.
  4. Tortillas
    • We would save so much money if we made our own tortillas. We go through at least 20 a week.
  5. Russian Dressing
    • This type of dressing is weirdly hard to find, but I love it, so I want to have a backup plan.
  6. Peach Jalapeno Jam
    • I’ve never made jam before and would like to.
  7. Gochujang
  8. Kimchi
    • This and gochujang are really for Shane. He loves kimchi, and we get it homemade from a local Asian grocery store, but it’d be nice to make it ourselves sometimes. I’m just interested in fermenting the gochujang.
  9. Pretzels
    • The soft kind, that you can rip up and dip in cheddar beer sauce.
  10. Lobster Roll
    • Please take me back to Maine.
  11. Gravlax
    • This is something my parents used to make, and while I love gravlax themselves. there’s definitely a nostalgia factor in play.
  12. Jaegerschnitzel
    • This just looks tasty and I’m into it.
  13. Summer Rolls
    • I don’t like egg rolls, spring rolls are okay, but summer rolls are my jimmy-jam. They’re so refreshing.
  14. Fried Green Tomatoes
    • These are so delicious, so if I can find green tomatoes, I definitely want to try my hand at it.
  15. Vietnamese Noodle Salad
    • When we go get Vietnamese, Shane gets pho and I get a cold noodle salad. They’re so good, I’d like to have one in my rotation.
  16. Ravioli
  17. Gnocchi
    • Ravioli & gnocchi are 2 pastas we’ve never made and take the skill up a notch from what we normally make.
  18. Khachapuri
    • I didn’t even know this existed until early this year, but it’s my favorite food to get at a little place we like to go. I’d like to make it once, and then let them make it for me the rest of the time. It’s called “Georgian Cheese Bread” in case you’re wondering what it is.
  19. Beignets
    • Another one based solely on how tasty it is.
  20. Beef Wellington
    • This just seems like a good challenge. I don’t think I’ve ever actually had it.
  21. Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich
    • We didn’t get to try this when we were in Nashville last year, and I’d like to see if we can recreate them here. Though I guess we won’t know how they compare. Oh well.
  22. Hush Puppies
    • I didn’t know I loved these until last summer, and these are definitely another “want to learn how to make just so I can have them whenever I want them”.
  23. Crab Rangoon
    • My #1 comfort food definitely needs to be on rotation.
  24. Naan
    • I’m beginning to realize that most of this list isn’t about techniques, it’s about things I enjoy stuffing into my face.
  25. Seafood Chowder
    • I seriously miss Maine.

And that’s the (current) list, it’ll definitely be updated continually. One of the reasons we bought the house we did was the amazing kitchen and I’ve been really enjoying it. I can’t wait to explore some of these recipes.