Grace and Frankie, Netflix

Lets preface this conversation that when I saw Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda back together for a show, I got super excited. I wasn’t so excited to see their husbands in love…but hey, win some and you lose some. Grace and Frankie is a series about two women who are taken to dinner by their husbands for an announcement. Their husbands are lawyers and partners at the same firm. But low and behold, when the women thought that the announcement would be retirement, they got “We’re in love” instead. Shocker!!!

The series is only about 13 or so episodes, at 30 minutes each. The main characters are Grace and Frankie who were married to Sam Waterston (Sol) and Martin Sheen (Robert). Oh the greatness in these four awesome characters. Grace is an uptight woman who used to be the CEO of a skincare line, and was replaced by her daughter. Frankie is a weed-smoking hippie. The two couples have two children each: Grace has two daughters and Frankie has two adopted sons. The family dynamics are incredibly interesting and all the characters and actors are great. The plot is even better.

I guess with the initial premise of the plot, there could be some mediocrity of the plot lines after the initial upset of the two husbands’ affair. Yet, the plot continues in hilarious ways. Grace goes on match.com, Frankie tries to commit suicide with peyote, and the two husbands want to have a family dinner with all the kids and without the wives. Queue drama. And those were just some of the great plots. Props to the writers. And on that note, the only negative I have is that Netflix only had 13 episodes for the first season. Too few!

Overall, the show was great and I really enjoyed watching it. It made me laugh, it made me sad at bits and pieces for the two women cuz their 40 year marriages went down the drain. Otherwise, it was really good and isn’t a huge time commitment. Take a peak and see if you like it!

Advertisements

Witches of East End, Lifetime

Two years ago I started watching the show “Witches of East End” and I at first thought it was a bit corny, but it grew on me with time. The Beauchamps are the main characters: Joanna (Julia Ormond), Freya (Jenna Dewan Tatum),  Ingrid (Rachel Boston), and Wendy (Madchen Amick). Joanna and Wendy are sisters and Joanna is the mother of Freya and Ingrid. All four women are witches in a town called East End and that’s where the story begins.

The first season was very simple in that it explored the every day lives of the Beauchamps and the hunt for who was trying to kill them. The four Beauchamps were cursed centuries ago in which Wendy was cursed to be reborn countless times, Freya and Ingrid die at the age of 30, and are reborn by Joanna (Joanna having to see them die each time). Freya was stuck in a love triangle the first season between two brothers: Dash and Killian. Freya was engaged to Dash, the handsome doctor, and Killian was a troublemaker.

The second season was much darker and not as soap opera-y in that it had some real plot development. The Beauchamps were cursed by their grandfather/father, the king, and he along with their brother Frederic, came to East End to wreak havoc. I enjoyed the second season much more than the first, but each had its pros and cons.

Witches was based on the novel by the same name, and while I have read the novel I think it would be pretty good. Overall the plots were well-developed, yet some of them were pretty sappy. Also, because it was a Lifetime produced show there were quite a few racy scenes. At face value this makes sense, but sometimes were pretty unnecessary. Additionally, it took the show’s writers to develop the script so that the characters were speaking like real intelligent people and not “choppy.”

Unfortunately, the series was not picked up for a third season so the ending in season two was the series finale. It left off with a few huge plot twists. Many main characters died, one was left in jail, one just found out she was pregnant, and two switched souls with each other. Lets just say that was quite the series finale, and my bet was that the writers believed they were gonna get picked back up by Lifetime, but ended up not. It’s pretty sad, for the show didn’t have the opportunity to truly wrap up and end on a positive note. Quite frankly, it ended on a really sad one!

In the end, this series was fairly good and interconnecting science fiction and romance with some witty discussions and decent plot twists. If you want fluff, but are in for some witchcraft, this is the show for you. All the actors are awesome, especially Julia Ormond. Enjoy it, watch it, and revel in the magic.

Lindau, Germany

A few of my posts have mentioned my travels to Germany, but I haven’t mentioned where in Germany I went. Lindau is a small island in the south west of Germany on Lake Constance (Bodensee in German). It borders Switzerland, Austria, and (obviously) is in German territory. The island is about 1.5 in cross section so you can walk the entire length of the island in 20 minutes. There are two bridges onto the island: train and car. Obviously, because it is on a lake, you can access it via ship.

The buildings on Lindau are cute and colorful. The streets are all cobblestone (very little of the island is paved, even the cars drive on cobblestone). It was first described to me as the Myrtle Beach of Germany where many Germans go to vacation. I can totally see this for there’s lots of shopping and daily activities for families. There are sections of the lake in which you can go swimming (I did not) and many of the locals did. Moreover, sailing is huge there for the Bodensee is a huge expansive lake with lots of space for sailing and stuff. The locals on the island were fairly nice. Many were classic curt Germans, but if you were looking and it seemed like you were shopping they were pretty nice. I mastered the look of fear in my eyes when they spoke to me in German and I had no idea what they were saying. Many spoke English or at least enough English to communicate necessities.

The town center of Lindau

Shopping district of Lindau. The bottom is a jewelry shop.

lighthouse

Outlooking onto the Bodensee towards the Swiss Alps from Lighthouse on Lindau.

I enjoyed lots of food on the island too! Because it’s so close to Italy, not only is there a lot of Italian shops with Italian brands, there’s also a ton of pizza shops. I ate at this one place twice, actually, and the pizzas were thin crusted and so delish. Now that I think back on it, I ate a calzone my last night in Lindau and OMG so good! I also had some traditional German food. My first meal on the island at a small German restaurant was Schnitzel, not fried. The chicken piece was topped with chopped bell peppers marinated in paprika and chili spices. It was served with french fries, which was a little weird but whatever. The other dish that I enjoyed was a veal piece covered in a horseradish cream sauce and served with delicious boiled baby potatoes. Many of the days, food was provided at the conference venue so we did not have to go hunt a restaurant down on the island. The caterers offered a meat dish (beef stroganoff, chicken legs, etc.) and a vegetarian dish (gnocchi, vegetable strudel, etc.). I was pretty impressed with the array of vegetarian dishes and their tastiness. Not often do you get great vegetarian dishes served.

Veal

Veal in horseradish sauce and golden potatoes.

yummy dessert

Three flavored ice cream.

My last full day on Lindau was spent on a boat traveling to a neighboring Island Mainau. Even though it was 95 degrees out and disgustingly hot, the island was so beautiful. I really enjoyed all of the gardens and flowers that were in full bloom. The island is owned by Count Bernadotte, the conference organizer. The entrance fee to come to Mainau island is the main financial backing provided to the conference I attended. Now, his humble palace has its own church that has beautiful granite everywhere and has 360 degree views of the surrounding Bodensee. Just magnificance. I wouldn’t mind living there!

DSCN2952

Mainau Gardens

DSCN2957

Count Bernadotte’s palace.

DSCN2965

Count Bernadotte’s gardens.

Overall, I really enjoyed my time on Lindau. The wine was great and cheap, the city was clean and lovely, and the people were pleasant. I’m not sure I would go back, perhaps if I was in the area, but there are so many other great little towns like Lindau in the world, I want to explore them first. I definitely recommend visiting. The city is pricey, again its a vacation destination, but still there aren’t many places like it!

On the Road by Jack Kerouac

So one of the books on my list of 100 books that you must read in your life has not been available to me in any used book store I have been to. Finally, two years or more of searching I finally got the book. Oh Keroauc, one of the best American novelists of our age. Or so that’s what all the reviews are of.

In short, the novel is of the main character Sal and his travels across the United States from New York to California to Denver to Chicago through Texas and go back and do it again! And thats the plot of the story: go to this town, sleep with this girl, spend all their money on food or whatever, then get a temporary job and get another car and be on their way to another town and guess what? Restart the cycle!

This is going to be an extremely short post because it took all of my strength to get through this novel. I began it on my travels to Europe for I thought “oh a travel book would go well with another travel book.” Lets just say I hardly read it while in Germany, for it was so boring. When I got back I just powered through and finally finished it, thank goodness.

In reality, the book had two major flaws: the stupidity of the characters and their lackadaisical manner through life was a real turn off and Kerouac’s writing style. The characters never finished anything they started. They were always moving on to a new city, whether because drugs or they got bored, they never completed anything. The happiness with being poor and not establishing any routes in a city is such a bad portrayal of Americans. Perhaps a fraction of Americans do it, but this book gave us a bad name. Now, Kerouac’s writing style was like run-on sentences.  Every paragraph was not a coherent thought, but multiple coherent thoughts. They were not very complex but almost gave a bit of intellectual whiplash. “Sal is in this city with these friends. He got sick and tired of the city, and got on a bus to New York. Now he is in Texas enjoying the heat and thinking he may stay in the Midwest.” All in one sentence!

Anyway, I guess there are many people who enjoy this book and think this is an American classic. It may be, but it is neither well-written nor one of my must reads. Go for it if you are bored, but beware, you may be even more bored.

Call the Midwife on Netflix

By many of the documentaries I watch on Netflix, the overall theme of these shows are: learn as much as I can! The best shows that I have seen on Netflix, be it film or TV series, are historical fiction based on real people in history with a bit of fictional additions. My new favorite TV series on Netflix was the historical fiction series “Call the Midwife.”

“Call the Midwife” is based in 1950s era London of four midwives living in a nunnery who are all nurses and help deliver children in impoverished homes. Jenny Lee is the main character of the series, yet many of the supporting midwives and nuns get large portions of the plot. Every episode is not just a birth of a baby, even though lots of those happen, but the series showcases what life was like in London in the 1950s and the medical treatment that patients received. The personal lives of the nuns and moreso the midwives were a part of the plot, but not to a great extent which really kept this show true to its core.

Overall, I really enjoyed all of the characters of the series and there was no one character that I disliked, which is very uncommon for me in a series (I usually hate someone, haha). The nuns as a group of ladies really added to the show. They gave it spunk, attitude, and a uniqueness that no other show really had. Specifically, I really enjoyed watching Chummie’s character development. In her first episode she learned how to ride a bicycle, then went on a date with a police officer, gets married, has a child, and buries her mother. Her character went from a weak woman who escaped her mother’s power clutch and began a family of her own and was quite independent. Overall, the women were exceptionally strong-willed and added substantially to the show’s plot.

This may be weird but the only thing I didn’t like about the show was the birth scenes. Don’t get me wrong, they were so gory, bloody, and had real babies that it was really quite amazing. However, watching every episode of screaming women and having to turn the volume up to hear the conversations and down to quiet the woman’s screams was a little much. Obviously, the show is called “Call the Midwife” so I knew what I was getting into, but in it being so real I finally know was nurses in labor and delivery must feel like every day at work.

I would highly recommend this series for anyone. It is extremely catered to females, and is pretty G-rated, even some of the characters don’t kiss on camera so there’s no weird sex stuff or anything that most American shows have in them nowadays. It also gives a good look at how people lived back then. And those poor women, no epidural, or pain relief. EEEK. Anyway, enjoy if you do watch it and let me know what you think!

Turkey Veggie Patties

I really enjoy making some new recipes with meat in them. I feel as though it’s a challenge for me if I can make something delicious that’s made of meat. Usually I dislike these recipes a lot! These were so yummy! I would though try to chop all of the veggies up in a mixer if I had one. Regardless, even with a bit of larger pieces, I still really enjoyed it.

Ingredients: salt, pepper, 1.5 pounds turkey, box of mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, chopped orange bell pepper, dried parsley, oregano, soy sauce, (worcestshire sauce), chopped onions. orange 1/3 bell pepper, 1/2 onion, mushrooms, chopped sun dried tomatoes

Directions:

1. Chop onions, mushrooms, and orange bell pepper. Mix in big bowl.

DSCN2971 DSCN2972

2. Season with salt, oregano, parsley, and pepper.

DSCN2973

3. Mix in ground turkey in sections. Incorporating well.

DSCN2974

4. Make 2 inch patties and place on baking sheet.

DSCN2975

5. Cook at 350 for 30 minutes.

DSCN2976

Enjoy the patty on a sandwich with lettuce and tomato or served by itself with some side dishes. I paired this dish with corn, zuchinie and grape tomatoes sauteed in skillet. So good!

Slow Cooker Chicken Fajitas

I was in Germany for over a week, and while there will be two blog posts all about why I was there and the over experience of Germany, I missed American food. And by American food I mean ethnic food I like (aka mexican). So obviously, when I came home I had to cook some delicious that hit the spot. I also haven’t used my slow cooker in a while, so I pulled that puppy out and used it. I made two different dishes with this concoction. The fajitas themselves could be served over spanish or brown rice for like a rice bowl. Alternatively, I made mini taquitos by rolling the slow cooker mixture in flour tortillas and baking it for 30 minutes. The taquitos were great as leftover lunch entrees, where the rice bowls were a little more messy but oh so good for dinner. I paired these with a spanish rice (yes, I was lazy, from a package) and some vegetarian refried beans. Oh so tasty! Hope you enjoy!

Ingredients: bag of frozen black beans, chopped peppers and corn, can of chopped mexican tomatoes, 2 large chicken breasts (skinless), green/red/orange bell peppers, onion, fajita mix, olive oil, 2 cups of chicken stock, flour tortillas, can vegetarian beans, and bag of spanish rice.

Directions:

1. Cut onion and peppers into matchsticks. Place in a large ziploc bag.

DSCN2967

2. Rinse chicken breasts and place in a large ziploc bag.

DSCN2968

3. Drizzle both vegetables and chicken with a bit of olive oil. Pour 1/4 of package of fajita mix in each bag. Mix thoroughly. Place in fridge until ready to cook.

4. Place all ingredients into slow cooker (not rice and beans). Place the rest of the fajita mix in slow cooker. Cook on high for 4 hours and low for an addition 3 hours.

DSCN2969

5. At the end of 4 hours, take the chicken out and shred. Place back in the slow cooker and cooker for a bit.

DSCN2970

6. When done, wrap the slow cooker mixture in flour tortillas and place in pyrex dish.

7. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Remove and set aside.

8. Serve with mexican cheese, rice, and beans. Top with a bit of sour cream and fresh salsa.

Let me know how this recipe goes!