Productivity is Relative: This Weekend’s Netflixing Activities  

Netflix is the best and worst thing that ever happened to me.

This Saturday, with no plans and no obligations, I watched 16 episodes of a new TV show.  I finished the show on Sunday.

The Blacklist is only one season complete so it will be another year until I watch any more of it, but I already can’t wait.  First of all, it stars James Spader as Raymond “Red” Reddington, the show’s loveable antihero.  I’ve been in love with James Spader since Stargate and in lust with him since Secretary.  So that was the first selling feature for me!  Second, it’s a thrilling FBI cop drama with spies, mysteries, and drama.  If you don’t like this genre, GET OUT.  Don’t you love Bones and the X-Files?  Yes, okay, you should try The Blacklist.

The show begins as Red enters and FBI building, presenting his passport and requesting a meeting with an assistant director.  As the skeptical guard inputs his information, Red calmly kneels and places his hands on his head, ready to be arrested.  Sure enough, he is on the FBI’s most wanted list, a high-rolling international criminal, and he is pitched into a holding cell.

A treasonous naval academy grad who was being groomed for Admiral, Raymond Reddington mysteriously abandoned his wife and child, promising career, and country to become a criminal involved in high-end arms dealing, money laundering, and espionage one fateful Christmas twenty years ago.  Now he has a list of other criminals he wants to FBI to track down, mostly his competition.  His demands include immunity and to only speak with an unknown rookie FBI profiler, Elizabeth Keen.

Elizabeth Keen’s first day on the job in DC is the day Red turns himself in.  She is married to a fourth grade teacher, Tom, who has little family and seems a bit buff for a guy who teaches long division. Liz wants to adopt a baby because of her own experience as an adopted child. Her only memory before age four, when she was adopted by a single man, Sam, who was a criminal of an undisclosed nature, is of a fire.  Liz bears a scar on her wrist and has a stuffed rabbit exhibiting scorches, souvenirs of her early childhood.

What is the connection between Red and Liz?  Foreshadowing and hints litter each episode.  Why did Red abandon everything so many years ago?  Why did Red turn himself in?  Is Liz’s husband really a fourth grade teacher?  As Liz and the viewer connect the dots and find answers, new questions continually pop up.

Here is a link to the trailer:

The first season is available on Netflix and can be watched in a weekend, if you delegate you time right.  The second season starts soon on NBC.

Here is a link to 21 GIFs of Raymond Reddington being sassy.

http://www.buzzfeed.com/h2/osmo/theblacklist/red-reddington-gifs#2s384qy

Don’t forget to eat and shower!

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Things I Did With a Three Year Old

1. Went to Broad Street Market.  Aunt Tanya has a stand called Apple Dumplings Etc.  It was too hot for a dumpling but Lexi had a cookie and Emmi and I had smoothies.  I bought the Wildberry because Lexi declared that she wanted to have a “purple” smoothie but then she ended up only drinking Emmi’s which was peach.  This market is a great place to grab lunch and pick up some produce, meat, and baked goods.  It was my first trip but will not be my last!

mmm cookie

mmm cookie

Um that is Aunt Emmi's peach smoothie

Um that is Aunt Emmi’s peach smoothie

2. Went shoe shopping.  This kid loves to try on shoes, and I was in a work shoe deficit.  Now that it is past Labor Day I am supposed to wear stockings and everyonw but the people who wrote the dress code at my wok knows that open-toes shoes look ridiculous with nylons.  The trouble with women’s shoes is that one shoe does not match all. Some outfits call for flats, some for heels.  My ankle books are worn out, too.  Sheesh, that’s a lot of shoes.  I ended up with a pair of flats, kitten heels, high heels, and ankle books in black as well as a sweet pair of blue flats because they were only $8.  The best deal was either these Ivanka Trumps for $10 or these ridiculous heeled clogs for the three year old that were only $7.  Hey, the kid needs to learn how to walk in heels sometime, right?  Quotes from the shopping trip include when she left Emmi’s aisle and somehow didn’t see me in mine.  I heard her ask a stranger, “You know where Icky is?”  She can’t say “Alyssa” or “Sissy” so her pet name for me is Icky.  I’m sure the lady was baffled.  The clogs were connected with a string but that didn’t stop her from hobbling around the store in them.  After a few shuffles she pointed to her feet and asked, “Icky, you cut da tring?”  Yes, but we need to BUY the shoes first!

These boots were too tight....

These boots were too tight….

Necessary

Necessary

Competition:  Whose shoes were a better deal?

Competition: Whose shoes were a better deal?

3. Watched a movie.  Current obsessions are “Monty Ink” (Monsters Inc.) and  “Meemo” (Finding Nemo).  We were at Emmi’s house but couldn’t watch a new movie; it had to be Nemo.  Whatever.  There is nothing like snuggling under the blankets with your loved ones to watch a favorite move and eat popcorn, watermelon, and candy.  Her favorite scene seems to be the “Shark Bait Hoo Ha Haa” part.

4. Went “out ta eat.”  Kid loves to eat out.  Well, me too, so that works.  Sunday morning we tackled a Minnie Mouse pancake from my favorite diner and colored with crayons from a Minnie Mouse cup.  When I asked what we should draw, the answer was “You draw your mommy and I draw my daddy.”  Fair enough.

My mommy is actually Lexi's Grammy, so this is a portrait of a well loved lady right here!

My mommy is actually Lexi’s Grammy, so this is a portrait of a well loved lady right here!

This is mostly her daddy, but also she asked me to draw some feet.

This is mostly her daddy, but also she asked me to draw some feet.

bla bla bla

5. Baked a cake.  Well, cupcakes.  I babysat the other evening and I always give Lexi a lot of opportunities to make her own choices for activities.  Often with me her request is either “Icky you paint-a my nail?” or “Icky, we bake a cake?”  Sometimes she cannot be satisfied with baking a pretend cake in her play kitchen so we have to bake a real one.  What kind of cake should we bake? “Pink!”  Well, that’s not really a flavor of cake, child, but okay.  We decided on a pink (vanilla) cake with brown (chocolate) frosting.  Here is how to bake pink cupcakes with a toddler:

 

  • Ask her to get the recipe box.  It’s stored where she can reach.  When she brings you just a recipe for sugar free cream cheese icing, ask her to bring you the whole box because this isn’t the pink cake recipe.
  • Use Paula Dean’s 1-2-3-4 cake recipe.  It’s easy and it can be converted to non-dairy.
  • Beat the butter but do not let the toddler stick her finger in the butter. Ask her to get her bench while you unwrap two sticks and begin to beat it.
  • Have her measure two cups of sugar.  When she decides to measure with a teaspoon instead of a cup, fill the cup yourself but immediately surrender it when she sees you evening off the top and shouts “No, me!” because she wants to measure everything.  Quickly dump into the fluffy butter and continue to beat for about 8 minutes, or until the other ingredients are measured. Because that will take at least 8 minutes.
  • Let her measure baking soda, baking powder, salt, and flour to make about three cups of self-rising flour.  Just use the recipe in the back of the red plaid cookbook (Better Homes and Gardens).  Let her whisk the flour together.  Ask her to go wash her hands because she just stuck her finger in some spilled sugar and licked it.
  • Ask her to count four eggs with you.  Crack the eggs into their own bowl and while she is running to the play kitchen to retrieve her tiny whisk because ALL EGGS MUST BE WHISKED AND SHE HAS A WHISK get out the milk and a liquid measuring cup.  The eggs actually get added one at a time to the butter/sugar mix and by now the butter and sugar are crazy fluffy to just let her break the yolks and add the eggs slowly to the mixer.
  • Ask her to watch as you pour milk into the liquid measuring cup.  We need one cup of milk so just ask her to tell you to stop when we get to “this line” and pour slowly, asking “is that enough” every 2 seconds so she stays focused.
  • Add the flour and milk a little at a time, beginning and ending with flour.  Tide the kid over because she is not allowed to add anything to the mixer when it is on by teasing her about the color of the cake.  “We’re making a blue cake, right?”  “Are you sure you don’t want a yellow cake?”  Just laugh when she gets panicked and tearful “NO. PINK!!!” (stomp stomp, pouty lip) Ask the kid to wash her hands because she just stuck her finger in the butter wrapper and licked it.  You can turn on the oven now – it will be several more minutes before we are ready to bake this cake.  Trust me.
  • Add pink food coloring.  Use the gel because it is better but do not let her touch the bottle or the toothpick.  “No touchy.”  Yeah, it stains.  Badly.
  • Remind her that we do not lick the batter yet, her tongue is not pink because there is not enough food coloring in the batter to turn it pink, nobody wants to see her tongue right now, and can she please go was her hands AGAIN because she just stuck her finger into batter and licked it and you promised your friends at work they could have some of these cupcakes.
  • Let her put the cupcake liners in the tins.  They are pink and she will do a great job because sorting and matching are developmentally appropriate tasks and she needs the fine motor skills practice.
  • Fix the cupcake liners that are doubled and scoop the batter into the liners.  Bake for 25 minutes at 350º.
  • Get everything into the dishwasher immediately because you hate doing dishes and you will need the mixer bowl for the icing once the cupcakes have cooled.  Clean the kitchen by yourself because suddenly your tiny helper would rather lick the scooper and put on pretend makeup and costume jewelry than wipe counters.
  • Wipe the flour dust from the sides of the cabinets and ask loudly whose fingerprints are all over the cabinets.  Agree when she declares the prints and smudges are the work of Murphy, who is a small gray cat without fingers.
  • Make dinner and eat dinner. Pull the cupcakes from the oven to cool. Play a little and then realize you better get the icing started because it is close to bedtime.
  • Take the mixer bowl out of the dishwasher.  It’s in the drying cycle so it’s hot but clean.  Curse your bad timing and slow dishwasher.  Follow this simple chocolate frosting recipe but use ¼ cup of black cocoa powder to make the frosting very dark.  The recipe is pinned on your SWEET NOMS board so you won’t ever forget it!
  • Unwrap the butter while she is washing her hands.
  • Let her measure and even out the cocoa and sugar. It’s her thing and she is REALLY good at measuring.
  • Pick out sprinkles from your epic sprinkle collection.  Having this many sprinkles doesn’t hurt anyone.  Pick purple of course.  Set up the sprinkles for her.  Ask her to wash her hands because she just swiped a handful of sprinkles and is licking her fingers.  Again.
  • Frost the cupcakes and let her decorate.  Since it takes her about a thousand years to decorate each cupcake, decorate the prettiest cupcakes for you to take to work so your colleagues have less toddler spit in their treats.
  • Agree that it is okay for “my take dis cupcake por my daddy.”  Pack a cupcake in a container so she can take it to her daddy.
  • Eat cupcakes for a bedtime snack.
  • Swiftly send the kid to do teeth, jammies, and stories because you are god awful exhausted and there is coco powder on your clean kitchen cabinets.  Bed is early tonight. Feet hurt..  Thank goodness you have cupcakes!
MMMM Cupcakes!

MMMM Cupcakes!

More Pottery… Labor Day Weekend

Labor day weekend always marks the start of college football. Time to start entertaining myself!

The PYOP studio where we held my sister’s bridal shower closed. It’s a tough business with inventory that can sit for ages. Fortunately, a new place just opened in Elizabethtown!

Artspress is more than just a pottery studio. They have an oxygen bar, laughter yoga, espresso and tea, art lessons, writing lessons, Reiki massage and more. The owner, Jeneva, is a kindred spirit who loves art as much as I do!

Lea is the detail-oriented plotter when painting pottery. She pencils in tiny details and researches quotes and symbols on my smartphone every time we paint. Once she took two days to complete one piece. I literally brought her back to the studio the next day to finish. Usually her pieces pay homage to a favorite fandom or genre and this weekend’s choice was no different. Artspress had a pie-shaped plate. The opportunities are endless! A Pi plate, a pizza plate… these ideas were passed over for the obvious choice – a Supernatural pie plate.

unfired

unfired

Supernatural Pie Plate

Finished product

Finished product

If you don’t get the reference, Supernatural is a TV show that you can watch on Netflix Streaming. In a nutshell, two brothers cross the country in an Impala, staying in tacky motel rooms and slaying demons, ghosts, and other, well, supernatural beings. One character likes pie a lot. It’s an endearing show and if you are mildly interested in the genre of fantasy TV shows you should check it out.

Speaking of fantasy/sci-fi TV show fandoms, yes, she is wearing a Firefly tee shirt.

Emmi made a set of measuring spoons and cups. Because she likes to bake and because the set is ADORABLE.

Measuring teacups

bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla

I needed something to look pretty enough for my desk at work to hold paper clips and binder clips. All I have are ugly plastic dip cups and they are stuck in a drawer behind me. After scouring the inventory I settled on a divided baby plate.

So zebra prints have been my thing since before animal prints were hip. I’ve always collected zebra stuff. At my last job I was never given a tape dispenser or stapler or scissors so I eventually tired of borrowing these tools from my coworkers and bought a set at Marshalls – zebra of course. Once I was established in an office again I brought my own tools along. It makes for a cute conversation started with customers.

I think the zebra print is easy to paint. This was my first attempt. But that may be because I stare at this pattern all the time.

bla bla bla

divided plate

bla bla bla bla bla bla

We ended our painting session and Jeneva gave us a quick laughter yoga session.

I’m a big believer in smiling to feel happy. I perfected the genuine fake smile as a waitress in college and I’ve utilized it ever since; the weird thing is that after a while, the fakeness fades and you really start to smile because you are cheerful. There was a recent study linking this phenomenon to Botox. It’s a chicken/egg debate in the psychological community whether smiling induces happiness or happiness induces smiling but I for one never considered injecting poison into my forehead until reading this article. They suggest that because you cannot frown after receiving the injections you actually develop a better overall mood. Of course it is possible you feel better because your forehead isn’t wrinkly and old looking. If you can’t afford Botox, Laughter Yoga is a good alternative.

Laugh Captain Jeneva lucked out because we three sisters are already at ease with one another and tend to laugh a lot. What can I say; funny is genetic. The interesting thing is that the laughter begins as an exercise without a joke. You just laugh. But it becomes a real giggle quickly as you make eye contact and practice and eventually your muscles and voice just take over. Having the session in a beautiful old house like the one where Artspress operates only helps.

Lea, Emmi, me, and Jeneva after laughter yoga

Good use of my time on the first football weekend of the season, eh?