Julie & Julia Review

Jason and I went to see Julie & Julia the other night. I liked part of it. Half of it, to be precise: the Julia half.

So, let me start with that.

Unsurprisingly, Meryl Streep was absolutely brilliant as the effervescent Julia Child. I thought she captured her so perfectly - the voice, the mannerisms, the uninhibited charm. Julia's storyline was intriguing. Through the lens of her character, we see the struggle for women to be taken seriously in a male-dominated profession, the devastation wrought by McCarthyism, the challenge of publishing a cookbook unlike anything American publishers had encountered before, and Julia's own private sadness about not having children. Stanley Tucci played the mild-mannered Paul Child with a nice subtlety, the affable yin to Julia's lively yang. I found myself smiling at Julia's various antics and cheering along with her when (*spoiler for those who've been living under a rock?*) she finally does get published.

Now, ahem. The Julie part? I think the word that best sums up my feelings is "blah," however inarticulate that may be. I was really put off by Julie's character. In the book, she comes across as witty and intelligent, if slightly self-absorbed. Now, granted, it's almost impossible to act opposite Meryl and come out on the winning end of any comparison, but I found Amy Adams' Julie Powell to be really, really annoying. The extent of her emotional range seemed to be employing a wide variety of pouty faces, teary self-realizations, and childlike tantrums. It was partly the way the character was written, but I also think it was grossly over-acted. And, to be honest, it was not very interesting. So, she has a depressing job? That definitely stinks. But were we supposed to feel sorry for her because she chooses to hang out with self-absorbed corporate fembots and lives in a 900 square-foot apartment with her adorable, loving husband, oh, except that it's in Queens (quelle horreur!)? Give me a break. (And by the way, did anyone else think the fights with her husband seemed totally unrealistic and contrived?) Now I realize that those were, in fact, Julie Powell's circumstances and I'm not suggesting that the movie should've switched up the facts, but I think it really glossed over the complexity of her unhappiness and her pursuit of a meaningful existence, which, in the book, is portrayed with nuance and self-effacing humor.

So, I guess this is what the kids like to call a "mixed review." Loved some parts, really didn't care for others. And, as a huge fan of the book, I really wanted to love it, so I'm surprised by the intensity of my indifference, if there is such a thing as intense indifference.

Those of you who've seen the movie...care to weigh in? Am I totally off in my annoyance with Julie? Was she supposed to be annoying and I just missed the point? Tell me what you thought!

P.S. I did like the Amanda Hesser cameo, even if it was sort of pointless since she said approximately two words. If you haven't read Hesser's book, Cooking for Mr. Latte, I highly recommend it.

Image via FoodieSuz.


The color of things to come

Where has this summer gone? I know it's cliche to say, but it truly has flown by. Particularly these past few weeks!

As much as I love summer (and especially this summer - our first in Annapolis!), I must admit that I'm pretty excited for fall. Fall has always been my favorite season. As the days start getting a bit shorter, my thoughts are turning to all the delicious things the season will bring: the beautiful changing colors of the leaves; cool, crisp air (such a relief after a steamy Mid-Atlantic summer!); cute scarves, boots, and hats; apple cider; football season (I've never been a serious football fan, but I think Jason's love of the Redskins is rubbing off on me); sipping tea on the deck in a big comfy sweater and warm slippers; my birthday (the big 2-5!); pumpkin pie; Halloween (maybe we'll even get some trick or treat-ers!). I'm also looking forward to taking a couple trips to Chicago to shop for a wedding dress with my Mom!

Alas, summer seems like it's here to stay for awhile, at least temperature-wise, so I'm trying to concentrate on the here and now. Now that things have finally calmed down a bit since the move (or, as much as things can calm down while one is planning a wedding), I'm focusing on taking care of myself. I've been running a pretty decent amount, doing yoga at home, and when the new gym opens in September, I plan to add weight-lifting and spinning classes to that regimen (not to mention regular sauna-ing and whirlpool-ing...ha). I'm drinking lots and lots of water and tea (it's amazing how something as basic as hydration takes a backseat when life gets crazy), and enjoying shopping for healthy foods, especially now that I've got a Whole Foods nearby. I'm also trying to take better care of my skin. For a time in my life, I was totally guilty of the whole falling-asleep-with-makeup-on routine and generally not taking great care of my skin, but I've since reformed my ways, and with the wedding in ten months, I'm extra motivated to get my skin in tip-top shape. I recently started using Philosophy's The Microdelivery Peel, and, at the risk of sounding like an informercial, I'm already seeing serious results. I highly recommend it.

Oh, I almost forgot, I'm going to see Julie and Julia tonight - finally! I can't wait. I've been dying to see it for weeks and haven't had the time, though I suspect it will instill in me a strong urge to run out and buy a copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking (MtAoFC) and start working my way through it. I'll keep you posted on that one. By the way, have you checked out the actual Julie/Julia Project blog (the blog Julie Powell kept while cooking her way through MtAoFC)? I love how she wrote, in 2004, "If, when my book is published, I sell twenty-five copies, I will count myself lucky..."

Well, that's about it for me right now. What have you lovelies been up to? Are you looking forward to fall or hanging onto summer?
Photo by Flickr user Denis Collette.


Wedding Inspiration

As I start planning my wedding, I am finding all kinds of great tools on the Web! I recently stumbled upon Style Circle, a social network for brides-to-be (and grooms-to-be!) that allows you to create your own inspiration board from hundreds of archived images. Style Circle is run by the same folks as the beautiful Style Me Pretty, one of the best wedding blogs I've discovered thus far. Even if you're not getting married, check out Style Me Pretty and Style Circle for gorgeous decor, fashion, and food eye candy.

This is the inspiration board I created on Style Circle. The look I'm going for is laid-back, yet elegant, with natural, feminine touches. What do you think?

Annapolis springtime


5 Things

You may have noticed that I've been posting less often these past couple weeks. So, what's been keeping me busy recently?

1. Party planning! I threw a surprise party for Jason's 24th birthday this past Saturday night. It was so much fun! I told him that we were completely out of toilet paper and asked him to run to the store to pick some up. While he was gone, a bunch of our friends assembled in our condo and when he returned, we jumped out and yelled "Surprise!" My sister helped me prepare a spread of delicious food: crackers, cheese, blue corn chips & pita chips, salsa, guacamole, white cheddar queso, crab & artichoke dip, hummus, bacon-wrapped shrimp, spicy garlic chicken wings, caprese salad (pictured above), salami, soppressata, and prosciuto, plus a chocolate espresso truffle ice cream cake from Maggie Moo's (also pictured above). It was pretty darn awesome, if I say so myself!

2. Getting the condo ready for company. These past couple weeks, we've been working almost non-stop on getting the place unpacked and spiffed up. In addition to the party this past weekend, we'll be hosting my sister, parents (and dog, Kiwi!) next weekend. There are a couple minor items remaining on the to-do list, but it's looking really good!

3. Wedding planning. We've checked out a few venues, and I think we've chosen a winner! I don't want to say anything yet, but I will share details soon.

4. Running. Jason and I have been running almost every day. I can feel my endurance improving, which is an awesome feeling. We are discovering all kinds of routes near our new place. Since we began running more regularly, I've noticed that I'm sleeping better and just generally feeling better. I hope to be able to start running longer distances and possibly train for a half-marathon sometime in the near future.

5. Mad Men. Yes, I have jumped on the Mad Men bandwagon and it's so very addictive. We started watching the first season, and now we can't stop. In addition to the intriguing story lines, I am loving the retro aesthetics and 1960's kitsch. Do any of you watch?

Well, that's all I've got for now. What's been keeping you busy lately?

Photos by my sister, Ilse.


Etsy Pick of the Week

I recently discovered the work of Kainkain on Etsy. Kainkain makes beautiful, colorful textiles inspired by botanical and geometric motifs. I've been needing some pillows to set along the back of our daybed (so that it can actually function as a couch when not in use), so I snapped up a few pillow covers! I just love the vibrant colors.

Images via Kainkain's Etsy shop.


An engagement story

Ok, mes amies, I know I'm a little late with this, but I promised details, so here goes!

Last Thursday evening, Jason and I went on a run and then made dinner together (which has pretty much become our evening routine). We were just hanging out after dinner, talking about random stuff, when I noticed that he was staring at me very intently. I wasn't sure what was going on, so I paused, thinking that maybe I had something in my teeth. "What?" I asked. "What is it?" I grew increasingly anxious as he continued looking at me, his face now flushed bright pink.

Him: "Will you marry me?"

Me: *heart starts thumping like crazy* "Are you really asking me? Like, for real?"

Him: *nods and gulps*

Me: *unable to speak for a few seconds* "Oh my gosh, of course I will!" *throws arms around his neck*

Afterwards, there was much hugging and tears of happiness and calling of parents/family members.

Apparently, he'd planned to propose sometime near the end of August, but then didn't want to wait, so it was somewhat of a spontaneous thing. He didn't have a ring yet, so we went and picked one out together on Saturday morning. (I found one that I absolutely love.)

Saturday night, he took me to Jerry's Seafood downtown Annapolis and we had an absolutely incredible meal. We were seated on the restaurant's rooftop terrace, which was très romantic, decorated with tiny white lights that twinkled against the darkening sky. I started my meal with a fabulous crab bisque, creamy with a hint of sherry and generous lumps of fresh crab, and then proceeded to tackle the aptly named "Crab Bomb," a humongous crab cake bound with a tangy mustard sauce and cracked black pepper, accompanied by crisp green beans in a shallot vinaigrette and the best stewed tomatoes I've ever tasted, washed down with a glass of crisp Pinot Grigio.

After dinner, Jason drove me to Jonas Creek Park (I didn't know where we were going - it was a surprise), which has a little beach that borders the water (pictured above). He took my hand and walked me along the shore to a point that juts out beneath the bridge, and then got down on one knee, asked me to marry him (for the second time!), and gave me the ring.

So, we have been happily engaged for a little over a week. I know it sounds corny, but I really feel like the luckiest gal in the world. I don't think I've stopped smiling since!


Evian Roller Babies

Have you guys seen this video?

How cute is that?!


Exciting news

I must apologize for my relative absence. These past few days have been a true whirlwind...

Because, this past Thursday evening, Jason proposed to me! And, of course, I said "Of course!"

So, yes, we are ENGAGED!!!

I truly couldn't be happier.
I don't think I've stopped smiling since. My face literally hurts!

I promise to share details soon!


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