2015 Goal Update: 75% Awesome

The end of September marks the point where I should be 75% on all my goals for the year, something I know because I scribbled it on my work calendar next to “monster chef hat”. Being a children’s librarian is weird.

Anyway, I’m pleased to report that I’m headed for success!!! Which proves that I’m either doing a lot better than last year, health-wise, or that I’m just better at choosing reasonable goals for myself. Probably both. Here are the deets:

1. Read one book a month I think I’ll disagree with: 75%

July: Here’s the Situation: A Guide to Creeping on Chicks, Avoiding Grenades, and getting in your GTL on the Jersey Shore “by” Mike Sorrentino

I downloaded a library ebook to avoid immense shame at work

I downloaded a library ebook to avoid immense shame at work

You can read my more detailed thoughts on this here.

August: The O’Reilly Factor for Kids: A Survival Guide for America’s Families by Bill O’Reilly

I feel like he's trying to channel Mr. Rogers on the cover and I don't like it

I feel like he’s trying to channel Mr. Rogers on the cover and I don’t like it

I guess I didn’t disagree with this book as much as I thought I would. Some of his advice is fairly standard. Deal with bullies by talking to your parents and teachers instead of trying to fight them yourself. Be honest. Be respectful to adults. Don’t do drugs.

Of course, there was plenty to laugh at. Chapters were prefaced with quotes from “real teens”, which always sounded as legit to me as ELJames’ “American” dialog. On the other hand, any kids writing to Bill O’Reilly are probably sheltered and home-schooled beyond recognition so maybe their weird 1950s phrasings are 100% real. Also, the end of each chapter included “a few brief O’Reilly i-messages for you,” which were just bullet points that used weird abbreviation “Internet slang” that he made up, like “jja” for “just joking again.”

September: Trump: The Art of the Deal by Donald J. Trump

I read this for Hate Book Club, so you’ll hear more about it later. All I’ll say is that it was suuuuuuuuuper boring, and that afterwards I was compelled to watch the “That 80s Guy” episode of Futurama.


2. Finish I Detonate Around Him: 100%

Okay, so technically I finished this one, even though I then decided to do an addendum of ELJames’ incredibly stupid “50 Shades of Grey from a different perspective” novel.

3. Visit Every Restaurant on my Restaurants To Visit List: 84%

Yay!!!!!!! This goal is the most fun goal. The best restaurant I’ve been to for it recently has to be Chuck’s Burgers in Raleigh. I’m a sucker for a place that gives you multiple dipping choices for your fries, and the veggie burger was insane. Plus, creative milkshake flavors!!!

I only have 5 restaurnts left, actually! A fancy steak place, a fancy French place, Ethiopian, cheap Vietnamese that’s the farthest away from my apartment on the list, and a tapas place where parking’s probably going to be annoying. I feel like I can solidly conquer this by the end of the year!

4. Review at least 1 thing a month online: 75%

This goal is turning out to be the hardest, weirdly? I guess I find myself not feeling comfortable sharing my opinions in such a public way, especially if they’re negative. I keep wanting to preface them with “I mean, this was just my experience” or “Maybe it was just an off day” or whatever. Clearly I do not have the fortitude to be an Internet troll.

5. Plaid Pladd blog: one guest post per month: 75%

This might be my favorite goal!!! In July Cynthia wrote a hilarious write-up of the REAL story of her whirlwind trip through Europe, including a lot of amazing pictures, of the sort that I always take and then never share with anyone. Keep telling your truth, Bova! In August, my dad wrote a guest post about being my dad that serves as a great counterpoint to the one my mom wrote earlier about being my mom. Being my mom seems to involve a lot of cute pictures, while being my dad involves a constant barrage of insulting birthday cards. NOW YOU KNOW THE TRUTH. Most recently, Brian wrote a great write-up of things he missed in college that made me nostalgic and happy to not live in H-town anymore at the same time. But Brian is already an accomplished writer, so you knew he would rock it.

I have some exciting guest authors lined up for the last part of the year, but December is still wide open, if anyone wants to try their hand at it!

6. Knit a sweater: 80%

I am so close to being done with this, but the closer I get, the more nervous I become about the Moment of Truth when it’s finally revealed how lumpy and strange the sweater looks. I’ve done the sleeves and the neckband. All that’s left is blocking and sewing it together.

7. Get hella into a different Dewey Decimal class each month: 75%
Last month was my favorite! The 800s are literature, so I got to read some interesting books about the history of 1910s literary life in London and a famed 1700s children’s book author kidnapping an orphan and trying to raise her in secret as his perfect child bride. You know, the usual.

Total: 81%!!!

Previously: Halfway point

All the Stuff I Forgot to Do in College

Graduating Rice in three years is hard. It’s hard, specifically, to fit in all the cool/dumb stuff college students in Houston are supposed to do. I only got 75% of the shenaniganery, 75% of the bad ideas for Fourth Meals, 75% of the totally unnecessary personal drama. Also, I graduated before turning 21.

This past weekend, my old roommate Rory and I created a Houston Bucket List of Stuff We Really Should Have Done By Now, and then we did them all. Here’s that list, plus a few other Essential Rice Experiences I finally got around to in the years after graduating. They’re mixed together randomly. Also, they’re graded.

Going to Beer Bike. Freshman Year: old friend from elementary school arrived in Houston during Beer Bike. Missed it. Sophomore Year: lived off-campus, slept until 11 a.m. Final Year: it rained.

Two years after graduation, my chance finally came. The Rice alumni tent was the best part, anyway, because it had free St. Arnold beer. It doesn’t anymore. You have to pay for it.

The bike race was kinda fun, and some of the old alumni were fun to catch up with. Some of the other ones were more of the “ugh, I was hoping not to see you” category. Probably not worth it now that the drinks aren’t free. Grade: B-

The sculpture in front of Rothko Chapel is dedicated to Martin Luther King. Let's ask Patricia's dad what it means!

The sculpture in front of Rothko Chapel is dedicated to Martin Luther King. Let’s ask Patricia’s dad what it means!

The Rothko Chapel. Houston’s modern architecture sanctuary for meditation, with all-black paintings by Mark Rothko. This is one of the few times where Rothko paintings have worked for me, because they’re explicitly placed in a setting meant for quiet contemplation. Also, the chapel has copies of all the sacred books, including Baha’i, which is cool.

“This would be a good place to think about a major life decision,” I told Rory.

“This is a great place to dress like a Goth and stare disapprovingly at everybody,” two girls told us inside. Only they didn’t tell us. They just dressed like Goths and stared disapprovingly at us. Grade: A- Read the rest of this entry »

Hate Book Club: Here’s The Situation


Full disclosure: I read this book over a month ago and did not take notes because, at the time, Brian seemed like he was not serious about reading it for Hate Book Club. Then Brian wrote a fancy for real article on it, and also a Hate Book Club review that you should totally go read. So this review will be more about what actually sticks with you from The Situation’s ghost-written words of wisdom over time.

As always, I’ll begin my review with three nice things about the book:

1. It included a lasagna recipe!!!
2. It included a sewing pattern!
3. It had a ridiculous fairy tale called “Grenadilocks and the 3 Abs” that was basically a parody of itself

I’ve never seen an episode of the Jersey Shore, which is probably a prerequisite for really understanding this book. However, I have watched all five episodes of Jersey Shore Gone Wilde, the youtube series where Importance of Being Earnest actors read lines from The Jersey Shore, so I felt I was semi-prepared.


I can’t remember if the book includes a glossary, but it should, because The Situation introduces you to a whole new vocabulary. “Grenades” are women who are going to wreck your chances of having sex with other women, for instance. “GTL” is the important, almost ritualistic routine The Situation adheres to: Gym, Tanning, Laundry.

The gender politics in this book were hella offensive, of course, but it was also just plain silly. An extensive section detailed how to GTL if lost in the wilderness, including improvising free weights from logs and woodland creatures, and using your car’s mirrors to aid in tanning. There was a sewing pattern which you could use to make your own little ab pillow to cuddle up to at night if you aren’t “lucky” enough to be sleeping with The Situation. I don’t know why the pattern is for a single ab and not a six-pack.

The only other thing I really remember is that he constantly referred to sex as “smooshing,” which hopefully does not speak to his sexual prowess because that sounds really unappealing. Like being slowly crushed to death by The Blob.

I searched my files for any notes I may have taken on this book, but all I found was this single screenshot:

I guess I thought it said all it needed to about this

I guess I thought it said all it needed to about this

In all, this book seemed to sort of be making fun of itself, which is interesting, because it might mean that The Situation is more self-aware than seems possible. Or his ghost writer is. Either way, I didn’t hate this book as much as I thought. It benefited hugely from my low expectations and the fact that I paid $0 for it. My reaction gif is therefore:


Since I can’t remember a lot of this book, I decided to make my requisite chart based on the Amazon/Goodreads reviews, which varied pretty significantly:

From the site whose purpose is to sell you books

From the site whose purpose is to sell you books

From the site whose purpose is to sell you ads

From the site whose purpose is to sell you ads

You should make sure to read Brian’s better-researched review, and also his review of the lasagna recipe!

Previously: The Natural

An Engineer’s Guide to Art

The Town of Cary always has various kinds of public art on display in all of its buildings. They host art loops and artists’ receptions, and seem to work hard at bringing the public different kinds of art in different mediums. So I thought the best thing to do would be to go on a tour with the person I know who would least appreciate it: my dad. I was actually surprised that he made stabs at what things might symbolize, although not at all disappointed by his amazing summations of exhibits. Behold:

Beth Palmer: Fiber Art – Exploration in Color
Gallery Description: Beth Palmer is an artist who explores color and surface design in her work. Trained as a painter, she is always investigating new materials and techniques to enhance her work. History has always intrigued Beth. Found objects as well as old and antique materials are a fascination and one of the themes of her work.
Ron’s Description: “It was dyed cloth with a bunch of crap on it.”

Poseidon's Revenge by Beth Palmer

Poseidon’s Revenge by Beth Palmer

Ron: The first one they had was “Poseidon’s Revenge”, which, when I looked at the title, I was thinking “Oh, we’re going to have something about Greek mythology,” and it’s just a bunch of loops and odd colors and everything else and if anything else it may be some abstract art of Medusa, but certainly not almighty god of the sea Poseidon. And it’s even got a bunch of browns in it, when you’d expect some greens and blues of the sea.

Crossroads by Beth Palmer

Crossroads by Beth Palmer

Ron: There’s two white squirrelly lines that look like they do cross, so I suppose there’s something there. But all of these other little things there, like the embossing [note: I think he means embroidering] and the circular embossing… it’s just clutter as opposed to art.

Who and Movements #1 by Beth Palmer

Who and Movements #1 by Beth Palmer

Ron: There’s another one called “Movements #2”. I think maybe she forgot that she named one of them Movements, and then she named the other one Movements, and, what the hell, she had to add the 1 and 2 on them to differentiate them. Though they are different, they’re not that different, so who cares? And this one named “Who” looks more like a bunch of red blood cells than it does anything like the interrogative nominative pronoun or the musical group. It doesn’t look like ethier of them. It looks like a bunch of red blood cells and blood. Actually, it’s much too thick.

Sticks and Stones by Beth Palmer

Sticks and Stones by Beth Palmer

Ron: This one is sort of nice. It’s called “Sticks and Stones,” and it’s got this rectangular pattern that does have sticks and then it’s got stones in it. This is the most literal one of all. And, you know, just seeing stones isn’t all that great a deal.

Me: So is that your favorite?

Ron: Oh yes… my favorite… my favorite… is… is… is… uh… that one’s really the most bizarrish thing. What’s it titled?

Inner Dance by Beth Palmer

Inner Dance by Beth Palmer

Ron: So it’s just chaotic totally. It’s difficult to try to make anything out of it, so maybe that’s the one I can give up on the quickest, so I wouldn’t waste as much time on it.

Me: So it’s your favorite?

Ron: It’s my favorite, yes.

Me: Would you put any of these in your house?

Ron: Uh… The only thing I could see useful is that you’re out in the garage and you’re using them as rags for painting or working on your machinery or something. That’s about all I would ever use them for.

Me: Burn.
Read the rest of this entry »

What It Was Like Being “Dad Ladd” For Little Patricia

My dad wrote this post after unearthing some embarrassing things from my past!–PLadd

After Robin’s Guest Blog was posted a few months ago, I figured it was inevitable that I would get the communications from Patricia that it was my turn to author a guest blog.  Patricia gave me some ideas, like what I am going to be doing in retirement, but none of them seemed like they would be of particular interest to the great volume of devoted readers of her blog.  I wondered what would be of interest to the blog’s readers (and also to me), and I decided upon a review of some of the artifacts of being Dad Ladd, which I have kept over the years.  Some of this was motivated by finding some “art” produced by Patricia and Thomas when they were very young, while I came across when cleaning out the 20-year accumulation of items from my office when I retired last month.

So those of you who have been subjects of some of Patricia’s writings over the years (Tamiami Times, Wiess Cabinet minutes, etc.) will recognize in the following samples the evolving wit and insightful observations for which Patricia became renowned in her later writings.  Unfortunately for me, I was generally the only person providing her material for her style of expression during those early years, so many of these examples are not so complementary to me.  [Mom Ladd comment:  If you were not such a doofus, Patricia would not have had so much material for these.]  As she went out into the world, many more people provided her material and I tended to get off easier.  (And maybe I did not look so bad by comparison.)

{One note here – Patricia was frequently called Tricia or Trishe in her younger days and this name shows up in some of these examples.}


So on to what you really want – Plaid PLadd original material.


Maybe this video of Patricia, when she was 2.33 years old, provides some subconscious justification for some of her comments below.  (Certainly it could not be my characteristics and actions.)


This item was pretty early on, before the written portions and my characteristics started to dominate the items which I received from her.



This looks like a kindergarten or 1st grade assignment to draw and write about herself and her family.  Interesting title, already knew how to throw around the “big” words.

MarvelousMe0001 MarvelousMe0002

At this age she already knew what she liked and what she wanted to do.  (Teacher is pretty close to Children’s Librarian for this age.)

MarvelousMe0005 MarvelousMe0007


Patricia was pretty good at getting us to do things.  She even had a T shirt that said “SLAVE MISTRESS”.

Read the rest of this entry »

The REAL Story of the Dahlgren’s Trip to Europe

This is the true story…of Cynthia and Matt Dahlgren…who chose to travel around Europe…and have their lives taped…find out what happens…when they stop sharing only the happy photos…and start getting real…

The Real WorldVacation to Europe 2015!”

The struggle is real! This was right before I limped into a "chemist" to buy bandaids for my poor blistered feet.

The struggle is real! This was right before I limped into a “chemist” to buy band-aids for my poor blistered feet.

Important Disclaimer: My main fear in writing this post* is that people will think I am an ungrateful, spoiled brat for complaining about what was clearly an amazing and probably once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to travel and experience some beautiful places with my wonderful husband. I totally appreciate how lucky we are to have been able to afford two weeks in Europe as our Honeymoon/ 1st-anniversary trip. In retrospect, the positive and wonderful moments from our trip completely outweigh the struggles and, given the choice, I would gladly do the trip again in a heartbeat. However, I have to admit that our Facebook album and accounts of the trip to family and friends share a flattering version of our experiences. We selectively edited out some of the stressful and less fun parts of the trip. So here, I will share the REAL version of our trip, unflattering photos and all!

*Of course, I should probably be more concerned about my rambly and incoherent writing style being judged by Patricia and many of her readers who are excellent writers…I apologize in advance for any grammatical errors and confusing, run-on sentences that are my signature.

Random sad time: when the lens cover on Matt's phone cracked, so we had to use our point-and-shoot camera the rest of the trip.

Random sad time: when the lens cover on Matt’s phone cracked, so we had to use our point-and-shoot camera the rest of the trip.

The Backstory of our Trip:

In August of 2014, Matt learned about a trip to Italy that was being offered for interested students at his school. It turns out that the “group leader” of this trip was looking for a male teacher who would be a chaperone. Matt came home and excitedly told me about this opportunity for an all-expense paid trip to Italy with 19 high schoolers and (most importantly) that he could choose to pay a $100 fee to change his return flight to anything he chose, since the other chaperones said it was fine for them to handle the return journey to Phoenix with the students. We had previously discussed taking a big trip in June of 2015 since we didn’t have a honeymoon right after our wedding and this would give us time to save up and plan a big trip to coincide with our first anniversary. Well, this opportunity seemed too good to turn down, and so he went to the first info meeting and signed up as a chaperone! The tour was organized through the EF tours company: http://www.eftours.com/educational-tour/beautiful-italy and the itinerary ended in Rome, so that is where I booked my ticket to meet Matt, a couple hours after the students were scheduled to leave.

Matt's selfie skills were kind of weak, until I showed up. Here is one of his photos from the time with the school group. GRASPIN!

Matt’s selfie skills were pretty weak, until I showed up. Here is one of his photos from the time with the school group. GRASPIN!

One of my favorite cousins, Ashley, lives in London with her family and as soon as I knew we were going to Europe, I knew I wanted to visit her! Ashley and her daughter, Natalie, had planned to attend my wedding and Natalie was even going to be a flowergirl in the ceremony, but soon after purchasing their tickets to Pensacola, Ashley discovered she was pregnant with her third child and would be unable to travel to the wedding in June, 2014.  Her sweet baby Zoe was born the next month in July.

Anyway, so we went ahead and booked our return flights from London two weeks after his trip with the school group ended, which meant we had a blank slate between Rome and London to plan whatever we wanted! And in the spirit of “getting our money’s worth,” this meant cramming as much stuff as physically possible into two weeks. Looking back, we were definitely overly-ambitious with our plans. We have both agreed that in the future, we should consider spending a whole vacation in one location, or at least following a tested itinerary through a tour company.

My face here is so ridiculous. This was after our all-day tour of Versailles, which included miles of biking and walking.

My face here is so ridiculous. This was after our all-day tour of Versailles, which included miles of biking and walking in hot weather. I just could not even smile anymore by this point. LOL does this remind anyone else of “chicken run”?

Matt and Cynthia or animated Chickens? You decide!

Matt and Cynthia or animated Chickens? You decide!

In an effort to organize this blog post: I have chosen three main aspects of the trip that we struggled with to tell the REAL version of our trip.

#1 Transportation Issues

This was definitely our single biggest issue of the trip. Before I even arrived, when Matt was traveling with his school group, their bus broke down. In his words:

We were driving to Florence and all of a sudden we heard a loud thump. The bus driver pulled to the side of the road. I thought someone’s luggage had fallen out and been run over, but it turns out we had blown not one, but two tires! So we had to wait on the roadside for another driver to come with a second spare. When the other driver arrived, they couldn’t remove the lug nuts and there was another issue as well…so we needed another bus altogether. Being trapped on a bus with high schoolers for several hours is not fun.  

The broken down bus.

Matt stuck on the broken down bus.

The trip from Phoenix to Italy is not easy, and doing it alone was pretty stressful for me. Even though I knew that I should sleep and I really wanted to sleep, I could not seem to fall asleep on the entire 10 hour flight from Chicago to Rome. So I arrived in Italy feeling like a weird zombie and it was only 11 am in Rome after going through customs and everything. We couldn’t even check in to our Airbnb for several hours, so it’s not like I could nap either. But I was so happy to see Matt and be in Italy that of course I agreed to go out sightseeing around Rome! It was not until a few hours later that my tiredness suddenly caught up with me and I switched from “happy and fun Cynthia” to “angry and whiny Cynthia.” Luckily, Matt understood and quickly got me back to the apartment before a full meltdown could occur on the first day.

Other transportation issues included a number of train-delays. Before the trip, we purchased train tickets between destinations using the Italian website Trenitalia, which seemed like an awesomely cheap and convenient way to get around Italy! However, we quickly discovered that many of the automatically generated trips that the website provided were actually impossible. For example: getting from Rome to Florence included taking a little regional train in Rome from our apartment to a bigger train station where we would catch the high speed inter-city train to Florence. The scheduled tickets allowed for 10 minutes between trains. However, the first regional train was delayed by about 25 minutes so we missed the big train by at least 15 minutes. Luckily for us, a nice man who worked at the second station helped us out by writing down our situation in Italian for the conductor and got us on the next train leaving for Florence, so the delay was only about an hour. This was particularly stressful since we had arranged with our Airbnb host in Florence to meet us at the train station upon arrival! Happily, we were able to get wifi on the train and let our host know about our delay so everything worked out…but this was just the first of several stressful missed-train connection problems we faced.

I am faking a smile at this train station, but we were probably dealing with delays. And I'm wearing glasses in public...which means I was exhausted.

I am faking a smile at this train station, but we were probably dealing with delays. And I’m wearing glasses in public…which means I was exhausted.

The overnight train from Milan to Paris was delayed for more than three hours due to 60 undocumented people being found on the train at the border with Switzerland. I realize this was technically not the fault of the train company, but we were still miserably delayed by 3 hours…some people we met ended up missing international flights and a wedding, etc. with no compensation or anything. We were lucky to have no real deadline to arrive in Paris, so it could have been worse. But being aggressively searched and questioned by Swiss border guards at 4 am on a train was surreal and uncomfortable, to say the least.

Finally, the most ridiculous transportation issue we had was in the Paris Metro. I am the first to admit that Matt and I did not study much French in preparation for the trip and I realize that having more knowledge of the language might have helped. However, compared to all of the cities in Italy that we visited, Parisian public transportation was particularly unhelpful and confusing for tourists. And the underground stations literally felt like insane rat-mazes…who designed this place?

So the morning of our bike tour at Versailles, we had carefully planned our metro journey to get to the meeting point of the tour and left plenty of time in case of issues. I was walking just steps in front of Matt and saw that our train was in the station with the doors open!  I hurried and stepped on, when suddenly: with literally no warning that I was aware of, the doors quickly closed and the train started moving! I will never forget Matt’s shocked face through the window as I sped off down the track! This was probably one of the scariest moments of the trip for me, as Matt was carrying all of our cash and he was the only one with a cell phone. Luckily, I remained calm and remembered I had a credit card and I knew the destination we were trying to reach, so I just went on my own and everything was okay in the end!


Paris Metro: so confusing. This is a stock image, I only wish I had captured the look of fear and panic on Matt’s face that I saw through the window as I went zipping off into the unknown by myself!

#2 Physical Discomfort

I am actually amazed that we made it to as many places as we did, especially considering my usual level of physical activity, which is pretty minimal. I spend long hours most days sitting on a piano bench, then laying around on the couch. I miserably go to the gym 3 to 4 times a week for approximately 45 minutes of slow jogging or speed-walking on a treadmill. I personally like to describe my lifestyle as “nuglife.” Nugget, abbreviated as Nug,* is our affectionate term for each other and our rather fat dog.

*I just did a google search for “nug” and discovered that other people use this to describe either high-quality marijuana or a “naked hug,” LOL!

Nuggets! (I was so hungry and tired at one train station, that I insisted on a McDonald's snack. Matt was disappointed in me, but these were the best-tasting nuggets of my life.     Nuggets! I was so hungry and tired at one train station in Italy, that I insisted on a McDonald's snack. Matt was disappointed in me, but these were the best-tasting nuggets of my life. Sono irresistibili indeed!

Nuggets! I was so hungry and tired at one train station in Italy, that I insisted on a McDonald’s snack. Matt was disappointed in me, but these were the best-tasting nuggets of my life. Sono irresistibili indeed!

Anyway, while in Europe we walked like crazy. Matt has a step-counter app on his phone which told us that we “broke our record” several times. 33,600 steps in one day is the new record, though we also had several other days about 25,000 steps. According to Google, 33,600 steps is probably about 18 miles! I was warned several times about breaking in my shoes before the trip, which I totally thought I did. However, blisters, sore feet and legs were constant struggles for me. We started doing stretches in the morning to help prepare for long days of walking, which helped…but I still think we just planned too much into every day.

Holding onto this street lamp for support. I remember being so tired this day that I couldn't even smile for this picture. You can see I am trying, but failing to smile.

Holding onto this street lamp for support. I remember being so tired this day that I couldn’t even smile for this picture. You can tell I am trying, but failing to smile.

In the category of “physical discomfort” I would also include the night when we tried to have a fancy dinner in Paris. We got dressed up and walked half an hour to a nice restaurant recommended by our guide book. After finding the place, we were told that we needed a reservation (and the waiter was not nice about it either, he was quite insulting which made us both feel really bad). I said “Maybe we should just not eat dinner tonight,” because I was so tired that I could have just given up and gone to sleep. But Matt, my knight in shining armor, did not let that happen. He cheered me up, found a cute cafe, and ordered us tasty food and dessert so we salvaged our “date night.”

Here is Matt's face when I said we should just give up and skip dinner.

Here is Matt’s face when I said we should just give up and skip dinner.

Also, the heat was not pleasant. Italy in general was quite hot, like in the low 90s most days with high humidity. Paris was not as warm, but still muggy. We wore a lot of sunblock because we were outside for a long time most days, and one of the uncomfortable side effects of this was that Matt got sunblock in his eyes frequently. (This doesn’t really happen to me, so I’m not sure if I’m just lucky or better at applying sunblock or what?) Luckily, London was cool and amazing…we got to wear jackets and actually feel nice outside!

#3 Museum-fatigue

The final category of this post is what I call “Museum-fatigue” which was definitely a real issue we faced on this trip.

Classic "museum fatigue" face.

Classic “museum fatigue” face.

Here is a list of the museums we visited (I am including the major churches too, since those are basically museums):

The Vatican Museums

St. Peter’s Basilica

The Pantheon

The Uffizi Gallery

Florence Duomo

The Sforza Castle Museum (including the Musical Instrument Collection)

The Last Supper (this is in it’s own little chapel, so not exactly a whole museum, but still.)

The Louvre

Palace of Versailles

The Tower of London

The British Museum

As you can tell: we went to a museum on almost every day of our 13-day trip. The best experience we had by far was at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, because we arrived at 8am with our pre-purchased tickets, so as soon as they opened the doors, so could freely explore the museum with basically no crowds. I would definitely recommend arriving at opening time and trying to get ahead of annoying tour groups whenever possible!

The worst experience was the Louvre. This was probably because we had spent the night before on the overnight train from Milan (see above, Transportation Issues) which meant we were operating with very little sleep. We arrived at the museum in the early afternoon on a Saturday (peak time on the busiest day of the week) which meant we had to deal with huge crowds. I realize that the Louvre was originally a royal palace, so it was not designed to be a museum, but still…for being one of the world’s most famous museums, you would think they would make it a little more easy to find the really famous pieces of art! The little map and guide they hand out is not very helpful. Luckily, you can just follow everyone else directly right to the Mona Lisa, so that was the first place we went.

The room containing the Mona Lisa, which is the little square on the right wall.

The room containing the Mona Lisa, which is the little square on the right wall. It was literally insane in this room. I started feeling dizzy and went to sit down outside, while Matt got closer to the painting. He is much more determined and patient than I am.

The Mona Lisa is not the only super-famous piece of art at the Louvre, but for some reason everyone made it seem that way. For example, we wanted to find the famous Venus de Milo statue…and since we were prepared with the map in English, you would think this would be a simple task of just following the map and finding the statue. NO! It took us almost an hour of crazy staircases and endlessly-long hallways to locate her. Ditto for a lot of other famous pieces in the Louvre…we overheard many tourists searching for things. The Louvre is like a giant treasure hunt.

Finally, we found the damn thing!

Finally, we found the damn thing!

The other thing about visiting so many huge collections of art in such a short period of time is that these museums often have copies of art or statues when the original is somewhere else. Several times I would see a piece of art that I recognized…only to read that “the original can be found in the Uffizi, or the Louvre, or whatever” where we just were! Also, there are only so many religious scenes someone can absorb before feeling like you have seen them all…and I can definitely say I feel like I have seen them all!


Yet another religious scene. Definitely feeling the “museum fatigue” at this point, as you can see on my face.

Most of the art we saw seemed to be from the same period, like the Renaissance masters and all of that, which is amazing, but can get a little overwhelming. Refreshingly, the Vatican Museums actually had an awesome modern section. The wing of modern art was on the way to the Sistine Chapel. Since most tourists were determined to get straight to the chapel, with no unnecessary detours, this meant we were virtually alone in the rooms featuring 20th century art, so that was cool.

Salvador Dali painting in the Vatican Museum.

A cool Salvador Dali painting in the Vatican Museum.

So basically, I would recommend getting to major museums early in the day and checking out a variety of collections to keep things interesting. But even the crazy crowded Louvre was amazing in it’s own way, and I would have been disappointed not to have gone…so I don’t regret any of the museums we visited.

Overall, our trip was beyond amazing and we both had a wonderful time! I did want to add that one of the things I was most worried about turned out amazing. We used Airbnb instead of hotels in Europe so that we could save money and still stay where we wanted in each city. We did decide to reserve private apartments instead of just a room in a shared house or something, but I’m sure that would work for a lot of people too and that’s even cheaper! I was most nervous about finding the host and picking up the keys for each place, especially because we did not have an international plan for our cell phones, and could only access the internet when there was free wifi. But it worked out great…the apartments were all nice and comfortable and the hosts were amazing. Our host in the Cinque Terre was also a wine maker and gave us a free bottle of white wine! The hosts were all so kind and willing to give us good suggestions of cheap local restaurants and good things to do, etc…so I am definitely a big fan of Airbnb now, and would definitely consider checking it out in America for future travel as well as recommend it for traveling abroad.

The trip was better than I imagined it was going to be, but I will admit that I was very happy to come home. I almost cried when I climbed into my comfy bed again. Thank you to Patricia for allowing me to tell the “real” version of our trip on her blog and I hope you enjoyed this guest post!

The 10 Best BBC Miniseries Adapted from Novels

My friend Alana wrote this great top ten of BBC Miniseries for June!! There are definitely some I have to watch now!–PLadd

So, I LOVE watching BBC miniseries! (Honestly, most of their regular series could be counted as mini by American standards since each season only lasts 8-10 episodes plus a Christmas special – I’m looking at you, Downton Abbey!) Generally, a mini-series is one “season” and lasts 2-10 episodes with no sequel.  And for those of you who don’t know what BBC is, it stands for the British Broadcasting Corporation, and it’s responsible for some of the best and worst television shows ever made.  In this blog post, I have narrowed my rantings and ravings down to only include those miniseries that were adapted from novels because this could have easily been “My Top Favorite 50 BBC Miniseries.” Also, I like the ones adapted from literature better anyway because I like to read literary works (books, plays, epic poems) first – this earned me my double major in English Lit. – and then watch all available film and television media adapted from those works (including the loose adaptations, like Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde = Fight Club; Emma = Clueless; The Odyssey = O Brother, Where Art Thou; etc).   Anyway, Patricia (who officiated my wedding!!! to the anime-loving mad genius who brought you this guest blog post) was gracious enough to give me a forum for voicing my passionate and vastly well-researched opinions on this subject matter. Now, when I say passionate, I mean I would like to see someone get me talking about this and then try to change the subject in under an hour, because that would be a feat of will the likes of which I have never seen.  And when I say vastly well-researched I mean that I have been watching and rewatching and force-feeding my friends and relatives these miniseries for at least 15 years, (so like since middle school). I hope I will be forgiven, in light of this confession about my scholarly tendencies, for most of the list just devolving into me comparing the relative dreaminess and you-go-get-em-girlfriendedness of my favorite characters.  Also, I guess I’m bound to say that there are some spoilers in my list, but I tried not to totally ruin any of the lesser-known stories.


The List

So the order of this list changes frequently – usually depending on what I have read/watched last. But #1 never changes and that’s really all that matters. Also, it’s worth mentioning that it really does help if the show’s source material is entertaining, interesting, and/or well-written and the characters likable and/or eccentric.  For example, Tess of the D’Urbervilles (2008) is beautiful, well-acted, and true to Thomas Hardy’s novel about a rape victim who never stops being victimized by her own bad decisions and the general cruelty of the society of which she is a part until her horrible end, but I dislike the story and all of the characters so much for some reason??  I just couldn’t enjoy it and will leave it out of any favorites list.

And away we go…!


10. Great Expectations (2011)

Check out those pouty lips!

This version of Dicken’s Great Expectations is surprisingly fun!  I’ve always had a great time watching it – possibly because Pip and Estella are so distasteful and entitled, and I secretly root for karmic justice for the both of them.  But in the end, I find it very satisfying that they have each other to make overdramatically miserable.

Speaking of overdramatic misery, Miss Havisham is played by the beautiful Gillian Anderson (who will be mentioned again further down the list) and she plays up the drama of this crazy spinster forever obsessed with the wedding cancelled by the con artist who left her at the altar and took a bunch of her money.

Her special brand of crazy is fun to watch mostly because it is difficult to find any real sympathy for her.  She passes on her paranoia and inability to love to her ward, Estella, who she practically brainwashes beginning in early childhood.


All dressed up and no one to wed.

All dressed up and no one to wed.

On the other hand, Pip is an orphan being raised by his aunt and uncle and he is a mixed bag of ambition, sympathy, and blind devotion to Estella because marrying her will mean that he doesn’t have to work and can live the life of a gentleman of leisure. I love when his uncle Joe yells “don’t forget where you came from,” at Pip’s carriage as he is being sent to London to learn to become a gentleman by his anonymous benefactor and the look on Pip’s weirdly pouty face says very clearly: “I’ve already forgotten where I’ve come from.”



9. North and South (2004)

Hot Thorin!!!

That Thorin is so hot right now!

Instead of longing for the Arkenstone, he longs for… her.














That was all I was going to say. Just a quick reference to the fact that 6’2″ tall Richard Armitage who plays a dwarf lord in The Hobbit, is also in this dramatic miniseries.  But the show deserves more than that from me.  It’s actually a really interesting look at the Industrial Revolution in Northern England and the changing mindsets of the people who earn their wages in these giant textile factories.  Hot Thorin plays a factory owner and general manager who treats his employees with tough fairness and allows for zero nonsense.

The story is technically about Margaret Hale who moves from Southern England to the North with her father after he resigns from the clergy.  She must adapt to the cold climate and even colder reception she receives as an outspoken, unmarried woman.  The series falls apart for me a little when she falls in love with Mr. Thornton (Hot Thorin) after his disastrous Darcy-esque declaration of love for her.  She begins to think better of him after learning more about the type of man he is hiding under his callous exterior, but it should not automatically follow that she is suddenly in love with him.  He does not significantly soften toward her like Darcy does when Elizabeth is at Pemberley; he is just as cold and abrupt as before and she just seems okay with it.  At the end he does show signs of changing, but not enough to make the love story really satisfying as a viewer.

The other great aspect about this miniseries is Margaret’s relationships with the other women around her.  This part is much more fleshed out than a lot of other shows with a female lead protagonist.  She develops friendships and rivalries and finds purpose in helping the poor thanks to Bessy – played by the lovely and seemingly ubiquitous Anna Maxwell Martin.

So intense. So tragic. So Bessy.

So intense. So tragic. So Bessy.

I particularly enjoy the rivalry that the ladies of town believe they have with her for Mr. Thornton’s hand in marriage, which she does not care for at all until much later in the story.  The cattiness is just funny to watch.



8. Middlemarch (1994)

Rufus Sewell’s afro!


I started reading George Eliot’s novel Middlemarch when my then-fiancé, now-husband’s mom was reading it and was disappointed that more people didn’t give it a fair shot.  I mean, it is long and not everyone has the literary stamina to really appreciate this 900 page masterpiece, but luckily, I DO! I ended up really enjoying it and was happy to discuss it with her last Christmas.  We talked about the characters we loved and hated, how its being published was a feminist victory, and how we would both like to sit down and chat with George Eliot.  She suggested I watch the miniseries and I did not have to be told twice – as I stated before, I LOVE BBC miniseries.  It’s more fun than I expected since it left out many of the scenes in which men talk about politics, only leaving in the funny/important political scenes.

This is the oldest miniseries on the list and it has many of the elements of a mid-90s production that endear it to me.


Such as, strange flashback sequences:

How could this happen! Over and over and over again!

How could this happen! Over and over and over again!

And weird hair styles:

Rocking the 19th century 'do

Even old Sir Godwin is laughing at her hair

Besides those things, this miniseries has its ups and down as far as entertainment value goes.  It can be a bit tedious at times (usually when the men are talking), but when something dramatic happens – and it frequently does – I am often caught gasping and covering my mouth from the scandal of it all!  George Eliot’s story is a marathon of a read and the miniseries is 6 1-hour long episodes, but if you get through them, you find a better understanding of human folly and a realism you don’t find in other stories on this list.  Not all the good characters end well and the bad characters don’t end as badly as you would wish.  Poor Dr. Lydgate, for example, made a very unfortunate marriage (a common occurrence in this story), and he has to give up his lofty ideals and ambitions to make the world better through scientific inquiry and reform of medical practice in order to care for gouty old rich men so he can pay for his wife’s pretentious and extravagant lifestyle. The epilogue offers no comfort for his fans who just want to see him end well.

In any case, the female characters really take the lead in this story (shouldn’t be too surprising since George Eliot was a woman).  Some are great and inspiring (Dorothea Brooke and Mary Garth), some are harmless non-entities (Celia Brooke and Mrs. Cadwallader), and some are entitled and manipulative (Rosamond Vincy).  They all showcase different possible aspects of a woman’s character and the story is richer for giving them all a unique voice.


7. Northanger Abbey (2007)

Felicity Jones waiting for her Oscar moment.

Felicity Jones waiting for her Oscar moment.


So you know how Kiera Knightley seemed to be the British it girl of the last decade? Well, I believe this decade belongs to the lovely Carrie Mulligan.  She is so in right now! Her character Isabella Thorpe is so wicked and sensational that you will find yourself much drawn in by her charm, much in the way our main character Cathy is.

The cast of this miniseries is just so much yes… Oh my stars, is that Felicity Jones before she was nominated for an Oscar!?  Yes, yes, it is.  Jones plays Austen’s heroine

Hmm... I wonder what happened here.

Hmm… I wonder what happened here, Isabella.

Catherine Morland in this satirical treatment of a Gothic novel. She is brought up in the country and her mind is allowed to run wild with what she reads in novels – including novels about naughty monks and vampires.  Then, she is taken by some wealthy family friends to Bath to enjoy city life. She is quite swept up in the drama (both real and imagined) of her new acquaintances, including Isabella and Mr. Tilney and the mysterious, possibly haunted Abbey he lives in!

What's your dowry look like, Ms. Morland? Are there... onions?

What’s your dowry look like, Ms. Morland? Are there… onions?


Also,  Sir Davos Seaworth of Game of Thrones was there!  Only meaner and less open-minded.

Northanger Abbey also enjoys the great distinction of having Mr. Tilney as its main love interest, as he is easily the most likable of the Austen heroes (yes, debatable).  In defense of this controversial claim: he enjoys dancing (take that, Mr. Darcy!); he is funny and likes a good joke; he is wealthy, but amiable (which helps when he is maybe less wealthy later on); and he is oh, so handy with picking out a nice muslin for a new dress!  Beyond all that, he is just smart and kind and fun in a way that most of the other Austen heroes are not!





Poor Mrs. Allen!


6. Jane Eyre (2006)

OMG why is Mr. Rochester so smoldery?!

Hello there, ladies. Watch while I smolder.

This is a really beautiful and faithful adaption of a story that gets mired in controversy and general haterism (Yes, I have read Wide Sargasso Sea AND Madwoman in the Attic. No, loving Jane Eyre does not mean I’m anti-feminist), but all I can say is I’m really digging this Mr. Rochester.  For all his adultery and locking up of mad wives, he is just plain lovable in this adaptation.  He loves Pilot (his Irish Wolfhound), he’s rakish without being too vulgar, and he really does love Jane.  And what’s not to love about this Jane!  She is full of life and spirit and you-go-get-em-girlfriendedness!  They try their best to make her appear plain, but she is still beautiful in a very real way, as opposed to the clasic Hollywood way.  I love that she’s outspoken and stands up to both people she loves and people who wish her ill. As Dumbledore once said,

Neville = the real hero

Her situation is sucky, but she uses what little agency her own meager means afford her and she makes her own decisions.  She loves whoever she wants, gives away her fortune to whoever she wants, and runs away and WANDERS IN THE GOD-FORSAKEN MOORS for as long as she wants.  And you gotta love her for that.

(Side note: St. John Rivers is the WORST.)


5. Emma (2009)

Shine bright like a diamond, Emma.

Shine bright like a diamond, Emma.


This treasure of a miniseries stars Romola Garai, who is just a delight!  She is almost as perfect as Jonny Lee Miller as Mr. Knightley! This miniseries is tinted in mostly soft, pastel palettes, reflecting how truly light and happy Emma’s world is.  She never has to suffer from poverty or deficiency in health or anything worse than the emotional growing pains that come from maturing into a better understanding of herself and her place in the world (yes, she loses her mother when she is very young, but even she will tell you that she does not remember or feel the trauma of it).

Mr. Woodhouse looking properly wary of your cake.

Mr. Woodhouse looking properly wary of your cake.

Her father, played by Dumbledore 2.0, is wretchedly terrified that something will happen to Emma and is crazy over-protective. Like, won’t-let-her-have-cake protective, despite his physician seeing nothing wrong with having some cake at a wedding.  True, his wife died of a sudden illness or something like that, but come on, Mr. Woodhouse, no cake?

Emma’s peers are not as well-off as she and each has to deal with their own important dilemmas, most of which, Emma makes worse in some way.  I always feel bad for poor, talented, tragic Jane Fairfax, who is orphaned, brought up by rich friends, but destined to be a governess unless she can find some rich, equally tragic fool to marry her. Sigh.  But Emma’s own troubles, even the main ones driving the plot, are relatively very small, which can be a comforting world to retreat into when your own troubles are piling up around you.  And even though it is hard to determine if Emma is really worthy of the wonderful Mr. Knightley, who is wise AND dreamy, I always root for her in the end!



4. Bleak House (2005)



Bleak House is a slightly less well-known novel by Charles Dickens.  In fact, I had not even heard of the novel until I read the description of this miniseries on Netflix a few years ago.  I watched it, LOVED IT, but have not been able bring myself to read the novel.  There is just something about Dickens novels that is so blah and samey, but this does not affect the miniseries adaptations because Bleak House is SO FUNNY despite its bleakness. It follows a group of characters all waiting for the courts to make a ruling about a certain estate that doesn’t have a single clear will guiding its disposition.  This estate is worth CRAZY MONEY – like never have to work a day in your life for a couple of generations money.  There are rumors that there might be a last will lost somewhere that would clear it all up, but until it is found the possible heirs have to wait and watch as lawyers do nothing to further their case.  I actually learned a lot about the inner workings of the 19th century British court system (sexy, I know) through Dickens’s satirical lens.



The best character in the whole show is Mr. Guppy.


I’m Guppy and I know it. – gif by WEEDgoku420

He is tragically in love with our main heroine, Ms. Esther Summerson, whom he frequently refers to as “my angel.”  Mr. Guppy doesn’t have the class, tact, moral fiber, or even properly posh accent to woo Esther, but he does try his darndest.  Some might try to belittle his feelings of TRUE LOVE because he abandoned his courtship when he saw that Esther’s face was scarred by small pox, but he took up his quest for her hand again as soon as her scars faded tolerably well!

This story is full of twists and turns and I think its relative obscurity helped make every scandalous reveal a real surprise.  Since I had never even heard of the book, I was genuinely excited to see what happened next and was delighted that the miniseries is 8 50-minute long episodes!  YAY!

Also, Anna Maxwell Martin and Gillian Anderson (both mentioned previously in this list) are in this miniseries and they are just perfect!

If you need anymore reason to love this one, Tywin Lannister shows up pretty frequently and is surprisingly unchanged as the strategic, hard-hearted Mr. Tulkinghorn.

And using this impressive bit of lawyering on my part, we shall take the North!

And using this impressive bit of lawyering on my part, we shall take the North!


3. Sense and Sensibility (2008)

Guess which one the more "free-spirited one" is.

Guess which one the more “free-spirited one” is.


I know nothing beats Professor Snape as Colonel Brandon, but this Sense and Sensibility has it all!  Captain America’s Howard Stark as rascally Mr. Willoughby, an amazing tubby ginger kid as little Master Dashwood, Colonel Brandon’s ward and her Zoey Deschanel bangs, sword fights!, adorable Dan Stevens as Edward Ferrars before Downton Abbey, and Margaret.  Margaret is one of my favorite examples of a non-character in a book who gets an amazing character makeover and becomes the best part of the entire adaptation.  Seriously, I wish that someone would make one of those fanfic sequels based on this rendering of Margaret. (Okay, fine! I’ll do it! Haha!)  Margaret, who is only about 11, follows in the great literary footsteps of Shakespeare’s Lady Macbeth and Beatrice by wishing that she and her sisters were men because if they were men, no one would dare treat them so badly; men can go out and do things and women have to wait for things to happen to them and she is sick of it.  She hates living in a society where their home and worldly goods can be lawfully taken from them because their half-brother is easily led by his mean-spirited wife.

"I'm going to hide down here until feminism is a thing."

“I’m going to hide down here until feminism is a thing.” -Margaret

Despite her many winning qualities, Margaret is not the main character, of which the book/miniseries has two.  Elinor and Marianne are faithfully portrayed and, as in all good adaptations, they are given depth that is easier to convey in a visual medium.

Elinor is shown having an emotional break down out of sight of others because of the INNER TURMOIL she must conceal.  And you can actually watch Marianne falling for the dastardly Mr. Willoughby and you are maybe falling for the scoundrel a little, too.  The slight blue tint of the world in this series reflects the ocean – the literal one that is always just in the background ready to dominate the setting, and the figurative one that seems to separate our heroines from fulfilment and happiness and self-knowledge.

And then, there’s Anne Steel with her whole thing with London men being either “smart beaux” or “nasty preening beasts,” which is just hilarious!

"Uh oh, did I do that?" - Anne Steele

“Uh oh, did I do that?” – Anne Steele

Bonus photo of tubby little Master Dashwood!

Bonus photo of tubby little Master Dashwood!











2. Henry Fielding’s Tom Jones, A Foundling (1997)

It's not unusual to be loved by anyone! Oh, wrong Tom Jones.

It’s not unusual to be loved by anyone! Oh, wrong Tom Jones…


Tom Jones is a romping good time! – like for reals, I often feel like romping around when I watch this one. The titular hero is so full of life and mischief that I begin to feel infected by the same joie de vivre! – that is until he is hit by misfortune after misfortune with no end but a bad one in sight.  Tom is the good-natured scamp who is taken in by Squire Allworthy after he is abandoned by his mother for the perennial sin of being a bastard child.  Mr. Allworthy raises him side-by-side with his own legitimate heir/nephew/wanker, young Master Blifil (that’s right, Blifil, Fielding sure can name characters).  Tom makes some bad choices here and there, but his heart is usually in the right place, even if his pants aren’t (if you know what I mean ;D ); meanwhile, Blifil is just a low, conniving, weedling sissy-pants who does all that he can to bring Tom down in the world.  Besides Blifil, there are other antagonists you just love to hate, like Mr. Square and Rev. Thwackum, both also aptly-named.

The main female character is Sofia Western, who is fun and curious and good-natured as a child and, though she becomes hilariously spoiled as she grows up, she never changes in essentials.  She loves Tom, but doesn’t trust him to be faithful, for good reason, so she wants the best for him, but won’t commit to him – a real integrity-move for her time.  Misfortune befalls her too, as her father (the best-acted part in the show) agrees to marry her to Master Blifil (eww, gross!) and she decides to run away to relatives who might be more sympathetic living in London.

There are a lot of reasons to love this miniseries and the book from which it’s adapted – the satisfaction of seeing good people end well and bad people end poorly, the bawdy humor, every scene with the INSANE Squire Western



– but I have to admit that my favorite part is the twisty turny love story filled with obstacles and uncertainties. Those are the ones I usually find the most satisfying when told in a long ( I’ve read all 1000+ pages of the novel), brilliant work of art.  Speaking of romantic works of art…


1. Pride and Prejudice (1995 aka “the good one”)

"The Good One"

“The Good One”


To be honest, I tried hard not to let P&P take the top spot.  I wanted to seem cool and a little “anti” by listing this as anything but first, but let’s be even more honest here: THAT WOULD BE AN OUTRIGHT TRAVESTY.  To put it mildly, this miniseries is an Andrew Motherloving Davies masterpiece.

I will begin with the confession that this has for years been my go-to sick day show (originally inspired by my great and often-ill delicate flower of a friend, Anne).  I’m sick, staying home, made some soup, and I snuggle in and must make the difficult decision between Disc 1 and Disc 2 of the DVD boxed set.  Disc 1 is for a long illness or for when I am feeling ambitious about staying awake through the cold/flu medicine.  Skipping to Disc 2 is for when I know I don’t have the luxury of being able to watch watch both because Disc 2 is where it all goes down: the aftermath of the proposal, the spiteful letter, meeting the new and improved Darcy, Lydia’s scandal, and the story’s wonderful resolution.  I can recite most of the show as it’s playing out on my screen (usually from “Disc 2,” and often with Anne reciting along) and I usually laugh before a funny scene has quite gotten to the funny part out of sheer anticipation.  One thing I have really enjoyed mastering from so many viewings is the ability to read into all the little twitches of Mr. Darcy’s/Colin Firth’s mouth and eyes and learning to interpret them as intense and profound emotions.  You’ll notice that, for a romantic hero, he doesn’t show a lot of outward emotion (besides the fencing and the lake diving), so you learn to read the tiniest of smiles as broad grins of unabashed joy and the almost-blank stares as heart-wrenching looks of longing, which is a lot more satisfying than you might think.



A couple of other things you notice as a frequent viewer is the myriad of extras with absurd facial hair and the adorable extra scenes, such as when the dog begins to howl along with Mary’s piano playing at the assembly in Meryton.

Another confession: even though I was for years an adamant Mrs. Darcy hopeful, I was always secretly in love with Bingley.  Yes, yes he is easily talked out of his convictions and he has a shockingly low opinion of himself, but at least he is kind and mindful of other people’s feelings and doesn’t go around insulting everyone to their face (or even behind their back probably) like some other dreamy hunks we all know and love.

Like night and day.

Like night and day.

Speaking of dreamy hunks, any form of opinion given about this miniseries is incomplete without at least a mention of the infamous wet shirt scene.

I usually start a-swooning in Darcy’s scene before this one where he is spiritedly fencing with an older gentleman in order to repress his RAGING INNER PASSION AND ANGUISH. But I definitely hit full levels of figurative swoonage when he plunges into that lake to soothe his ACHING *SOUL (*read loins if you choose).

Okay, enough about the male leads, the real stars are the females in this one.  Elizabeth Bennet is accurately praised as being one of the greatest and most complex characters ever written.  She refuses to let her circumstances dictate everything about her life and defies the people who would see her “put in her place.”  Many people will argue that she never really had any hardship and she was just stubborn, but those people can keep their ill-formed opinions to themselves and steer clear of making a real scholarly debate with me. Anyway, Jennifer Elle is the best Elizabeth Bennet who has ever graced the screen and it is a testament to the great casting in this show that no one character is outshined by any of the others – they are a very harmonious ensemble. Jane is appropriately pretty, Mary is plain and sullen, Kitty is fairly non-descript, and Lydia has them crazy eyes. Mr. Bennet is amused by everything, Mrs. Bennet is sent into nervous fits over everything, and Mr. Collins is an oafish brown-noser who can’t stop talking about Lady Catherine de Bourgh. It’s all perfect.

The Sisters Bennet

The Sisters Bennet

2015 Goal Update: Halfway!!

It’s hard to believe we’re already halfway through 2015 already!! Time, once again, to check in on my yearly goals. Honestly, these updates are the only thing keeping me honest about them. Here we go.

1. Read one book a month I think I’ll disagree with: 50%

I had to break out of my habit of reading these in conjunction with Goal 7 because there wasn’t a lot to choose from in, say, the language section. I pretty much agree with linguists about the history of the English language, for instance. All the books this time around I got as ebooks for free, either through Amazon or Overdrive.

April: Neverland by Anna Katmore

I was pretty sure this would be terrible because Sexy YA Captain Hook

I was pretty sure this would be terrible because Sexy YA Captain Hook

What if a girl from our world was magically transported to Neverland? And Captain Hook wasn’t a sketch old dude trying to murder children, but a hot, misunderstood teen? This book wasn’t as terrible as I thought. There was some legitimate world-building there, and I remain mildly curious about the sequel. However, I was judging it leniently based on the $0 I paid for it, not the $2.99 it’ll cost you if you don’t have Prime.

May: How to Spice Up Your Marriage in 7 Days by Imogen Barnet

Okay, this book was legitimately hilarious. Most of the advice was pretty standard, basic information, like “talk to each other about what you like” and “remember to kiss sometimes.” But there were some key tips that taught me my marriage is in no way spicy.

Look deep into each others’ eyes for four full minutes. Set your phone alarm.

This is supposed to make you feel “closer” and help you bond, but it is legit just creepy.

Give gifts, even simple things like a flower, shell, or stone.


June: Radical by David Platt

In this book David Platt attempts to come to terms with megachurch culture in America in light of the basic Christian tenets of humility, charity, and simplicity. It was interesting to get an insider perspective on megachurches, although some of his solutions for cutting back seemed kind of pale to me. “One day a week we study the Bible instead of using our pyrotechnics.” Nice try.

2. Finish I Detonate Around Him: 100%


Ugh, then just a month after my last post, ELJames released a terrible side book from Christian’s POV, so now I’m doing that too. But I’m still counting it as done.

3. Visit Every Restaurant on my Restaurants To Visit List: 74%

The best one I’ve been to since last update is Battistella’s, an awesome Cajun restaurant in downtown Raleigh! Definitely worth the drive!

4. Review at least 1 thing online a month: 50%

I’m also proud to say that I’ve finally given a place less than 5 stars!! The Cary Cafe near me got 4 stars (because they are sometimes too crowded to find a seat, and their hours can be weird), the Neverland book (see above) got 2 stars, and Rick Moonen’s RM Seafood got 3 stars. I know that seems weird after the awesomeness that is the ice cream dessert, but unless you are going specifically for that, I would definitely not go back.


5. Plaid Pladd Blog: One guest post per month: 42%

In April, Melissa wrote some craft tutorials, in May my voice-twin Anna taught me how to make the best soup, and before the end of June, Alana should have an amazing guest post up! Then this will jump to 50%

6. Knit a sweater: 70%

I haven’t done too much since the last time we talked. I now have a front, a back, and a sleeve. I’ve been putting off doing the other sleeve because ugggh I already did that once, so boring, and then there’s sewing it together and blocking. But I don’t really have motivation to do it in the 100 degree weather.

7. Get hella into a different Dewey Decimal Class every month: 50%

This is definitely the goal that’s suffered the most when I get busy, but I have managed to read some cool science books this month, particularly children’s ones. Plus, I didn’t quantify what “hella into” means, so I can still count it. It’s all about leaving yourself outs.

Total: 62%

Woooo ahead of schedule for once!!

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