May & June Highlights

I haven’t done a highlights post in forever! It feels nice to be back into blogging regularly :)

Here is what I was up to the past two months…

I read 8 books.

Hitchhiker's Guide  Jurassic Park  Persuasion harrypotter whereshewent

      Fables  Seconds  Stealing the Groom

Which is a lot considering I was still coming off my reading slump last month.

Most Popular Posts

Where I’ve Been – It was nice to finally share with everyone our exciting news and explain why I’d been absent for several months.

25 Things: Ever After’s Château de Hautefort – I love that this post from last summer is still so popular, especially since it was on my bucket list for so long & I’d love to revisit it!

What I Watched

I finally got to catch up with my favorite web series! I updated my ‘Literary Vlogs’ sidebar to reflect some of the new YouTube shows I’ve been watching, like Northbound and From Mansfield With Love (adaptations of Northanger Abbey and Mansfield Park, respectively).

Northbound

I relate very much to Catherine Morland…and of course, who doesn’t love Henry Tilney?!

I also caught up on From Mansfield With Love, finally. It’s a harder Jane Austen novel to adapt, but the frequent cameos from the minor characters make it pretty interesting :)

May & June Highlights

  • Traveling – I traveled a lot the past two months. Probably more than a pregnant lady should, but I always had a buddy with me (either family members or Solo) and it was nice to visit friends and family.
  • 2nd Trimester! – After the first trimester’s ups and downs, it’s been like a breath of fresh air being in my second trimester. We also got to see our “little baby french fry” up close and found out it’s a boy! Since then we’ve been preparing our tiny apartment (and ourselves) for his arrival. Every time I see a friend has had her baby I get a tiny bit jealous! For now, labor doesn’t scare me, but I’m sure that’ll change in a few months!

    24 Weeks

    24 weeks as of July 6th!

  • VACATION! – Last week we went on a family reunion cruise. It was wonderful :)
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    My husband and me in Key West (we also visited Cozumel).

    Carnival

    Carnival Ecstasy

    Cruise

    My mom’s side of the family :)

    Matt and Ian

    My brother would probably kill me if he knew I put this online, but I love this picture so much! We were all pretty exhausted on the drive back from Miami.

    We also got to spend 4th of July at EPCOT so my husband and I got an unexpected Disney fix (thanks to my aunt’s sister who works at the parks).
    Epcot

    Matt

    Isn’t he cute? ;)

May & June Challenges

  • Feeling hungry all the time – This has been the one pitfall to my second trimester. I feel like I’m hungry so often, and most of the time the only foods I want to eat are sweets and junk food =P I’ve always been active and have had a fast metabolism, so it’s hard for me to limit myself but I don’t want to overindulge at the same time.
  • Missing having a job – I wasn’t able to find a job before we moved to Wilmington, and after I hit the 12 weeks mark I figured it would just be best for me to take it easy and pick up my job search early next year. But I miss having a routine and that extra income. If anyone knows of some reliable, non-telemarketing, work-from-home jobs, PLEASE let me know!

Things I’m Looking Forward To in July

  • More traveling – Hey, it’s better to get all this traveling in now than when after the baby arrives!
  • Catching up on reading – I’m trying to put a big dent in my Classics TBR plus I have tons of unread books on my shelves that I’d like to get to sometime this year.
  • Summer activities with friends – We have some game nights and beach days penned down for the summer that my husband and I are both looking forward to (although I’m much more hesitant about the ocean after the 8th North Carolina shark attack this year was reported a few days ago…).

July To Be Read

harrypotter  The Martian Wives and Daughters

My husband and I are continuing through our read along of the Harry Potter series. I started reading The Martian last month and although it’s holding my attention, it does take a while to read. I’m seriously behind on my Classics Club list, so I’m picking up Elizabeth Gaskell’s Wives and Daughters this month.

What was your favorite moment from June?

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Autumn Afternoons & Pumpkin Patches

IMG_5852Last week, my husband, my mom, and I took advantage of a lovely autumn afternoon and visited a local pumpkin patch to scope out some perfect jack-o-lantern candidates.

We found a quaint little rustic farm where they had 3 acres of pumpkins to choose from!

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We each picked out a pumpkin and then had a lovely chat with the farmers, who told us that it only takes a few months to grow their pumpkins.

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And then it was carving time! Matt and I both picked Disney stencils, big surprise ;)

IMG_0102 IMG_0087Rapunzel for me, and Mickey Mouse for him.

Have you carved any pumpkins yet this season? Show me a pic in the comments!

 

Disney Dates: Beauty and the Beast

16e076e56aacf18bb2b727de1bca00b3My husband and I are huge Disney fans, and Disney has always been a major theme in our relationship: the first time we said “I love you” was at Disney World (where we also had our honeymoon), last year we celebrated our first anniversary at Disneyland Paris, and for one of our first dates Matt took me to see Beauty and the Beast the musical.

Beauty and the Beast is special for us, and we both fell in love with the film years before even meeting each other. When I was in 9th or 10th grade I finally came to embrace Disney love stories (before that I wasn’t a fan of sappy romances, and my favorite movie had been The Jungle Book because it was “all about friendship”), and I remember watching Beauty and the Beast at least once a night for weeks (I am not exaggerating) and I really came to identify with Belle.  Matt had always loved Belle, and when he was younger he even vowed that he would marry her one day… *awwww*

So last week, when we finally arrived at Beauty and the Beast in our Disney marathon (since we got married we have been watching all of the full-length animated Disney movies. Currently there are 52, with #53 Frozen coming out next month), we decided to make it into a date night. Ever since the Be Our Guest Restaurant opened at Disney World, we have been really wanting to visit, and since we haven’t been able to do that yet, we decided to bring the magic to our home by having a themed dinner and movie night à la Belle et la Bête.

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I made a three course meal, with the appetizer, main course, and dessert all coming from the Be Our Guest Restaurant menu:

  • French Onion Soup: This recipe is easily the best recipe for French Onion Soup I have ever tasted. I cut out some of the spices simply because I didn’t have any in my kitchen, but I really loved the flavor that the balsamic vinegar added (I love balsamic vinegar).

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  • Chicken Provençal: This recipe was incredibly simple to make, and I only cut out the mushrooms because I can’t stand them. Originally I was planning on serving this with green beans, but after I got back from the grocery store I realized we didn’t have any so I served it with pasta instead. The extra sauce went well with that. And the marinade for the chicken was so delicious and simple that I will probably be using that for my chicken from now on!

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  • “The Grey Stuff”: This is basically cookies and cream pudding. I used this recipe from The Disney Diner, with some alterations…mainly I had to substitute the Cool Whip (which we don’t have in France) for homemade Chantilly (whip cream). I also used canned Mont Blanc crème dessert à la vanille because they also do not have boxed pudding mix here. Therefore the dish came out more of a brownish-grey as opposed to a true grey color, but it was still delicious. So delicious, in fact, that I forgot to take a picture before digging in.

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Of course my husband, who loves presentation, did some quick decorating and rearranging of the furniture to replicate the ballroom look from the movie:

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Mickey & Minnie and Rapunzel & Flynn also joined us;)

And he even brought me home a single rose to complete the theme :)

Having themed dinner and movie nights is something I want to do with our children one day, so this also served as a test run for that (a very, very, very early test run). I got inspired after finding this post from a super-cool mom who hosted Disney movie nights for her kids.

The next movie on our Disney marathon list is Aladdin! Maybe we’ll turn that into another themed dinner night ;) Mmm… For now, let me leave you with my favorite B&B meme ever:

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Hahahaha, I seriously never get tired of this one.

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Recycling in the Disney Animation Department

SleepyHollowThe Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving
Published July 1820 by C.S. Van Winkle
Classic/Short Story/Suspense
Format: e-book; 102 pages
Also From This Author: Rip Van Winkle
Goodreads | Amazon
My Rating: 4/5

When I was a teenager I ran both Cross Country and Track, and because my Florida high school was practically in the middle of nowhere, we mostly ran down dirt roads and through the woods. There was one trail in particular that I always loved, and I nicknamed it The Sleepy Hollow Trail. Picture this (or take a look at the picture on the right, because it looked a lot like that minus the Headless Horseman): to get to this trail you had to run across (or jump over, if you’re cool like me) a narrow stream and then tread up a steep hill before you could enter the woods. The trail wove around tall trees, the branches of which blocked out most of the scorching Florida sunshine, creating a shady, damp, and breezy wooden environment. It was the perfect way to recuperate after a 5 mile run, especially since there was obviously no headless fiend chasing after me.

Fast-forward to this month, when I finally read Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow for the first time, and I must say that I was humorously surprised. Up until now, I had only experienced the 1999 Tim Burton film, which I love, but now I can see that it is clearly only loosely based on the original text. Nonetheless, I still love the gothic Johnny-Depp-featured depiction, despite the fact that Ichabod Crane is not supposed to be this handsome:

IchabodCrane2

Ok, clearly I like the geeky ones

But what’s with this “recycling” in the Disney Animation Department I alluded to in the headline? Back in 1949, Disney produced an animated Sleepy Hollow film that is spot on, and Ichabod resembles every bit of his original character description: “He was tall and exceedingly lank, with narrow shoulders, long arms and legs, hands that dangled a mile out of his sleeves, and feet that might have served for shovels. His head was small, and flat at top, with huge ears, large green glassy eyes, and a long snipe nose, so that it looked like a weathercock perched upon his spindle neck, to tell which way the wind blew.” Yeah, I’d much rather look at Johnny Depp.

However, something that my husband and I both picked up on while watching this movie (and I know we are not the first ones to make this connection) is the uncanny parallel between it and Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Excepting the fact that Belle is beautiful (literally and etymologically) while Ichabod is…lanky, they are both bookish, awkward, and also happen to have run-ins in the woods with frightening creatures.

BelleIchabod

“Look there [he] goes that [man] is so peculiar…”

But the most incredible similarity was not between Belle and Ichabod, but between Gaston and Ichabod’s counterpart, Brom Bones, who is basically Gaston sans a hunting rifle and Le Fou. Perhaps that’s what an extra dozen eggs a day gets you? Besides the obvious similarity in looks, these two brawny villains also loved to rile up the villagers with their “It’s a Beast!” battle cries in a final desperate attempt in vanquishing rival suitors. Spoiler alert: it only worked for one of them.

DisneyConfessions

But apparently Beauty and the Beast isn’t the only Disney film to have borrowed from Sleepy Hollow…check out where Cinderella, released just one year later in 1950, got the inspiration for her original pink ball gown from:

KatrinaCinderella

Fortunately Cinderella only borrowed Katrina Van Tassel’s style…

Now everyone who knows me knows that I love all things Disney. I don’t even care that they recycled some of their own ideas. At least they threw in some catchy songs that I don’t mind having stuck in my head (“No one hits like Gaston, matches wits like Gaston; in a spitting match, nobody spits like Gaston…”).

And I really did enjoy The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. It was a quick read (it is only a short story after all), plus multiple parts had me chuckling while the climatic action at the end created a nice amount of suspense. Perfect October reading :)

[Here’s a link to the 30-minute 1949 version of Sleepy Hollow on Youtube, for those who are interested in finding more Disney film parallels: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dxX66vLSZoQ]

Also, has anyone watched the new Sleepy Hollow tv series? I kind of want to give that a try…

→UPDATE Oct. 25: This week Oh My Disney (an official Disney blog) posted this article about Sleepy Hollow, and they even addressed the Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast similarities. 

Also, I started watching the Sleepy Hollow TV series and I love it! Very loosely based on the original story, but the acting is wonderful :)