Amanda Cade

Worth It! (Things to try, read, watch, hear, and discuss)

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Today is National Call a Friend Day, intended to motivate everyone to take the time to have a conversation. A lot of our communication these days happens digitally, through emails, social media posts, texts, and so on. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it isn’t quite the same as a real time, back and forth conversation. I’m a big fan of conversation (I prefer face to face, but on the phone is still pretty good), and make an effort to have regular talks with the important people in my life. Even so, when I took some time to reflect and take stock this morning, I easily thought of several friends I haven’t actually talked to in weeks.

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I’m going to be making some calls and catching up with them over the next few days, starting today.

Let Me Know

Are there people you need to catch up with? How important do you think it is to have phone or face to face conversations?

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My parents and I had been planning to see Knives Out since we saw the first trailer, and after all the great reviews we were even more excited. So last night we went out to dinner and then settled in for just over two hours of whodunit fun. Did it live up to our expectations? Well, let’s see:

  • Appropriate Setting? Check. The central location is the Thrombey estate, which at one point is very accurately compared to a Clue board. It sets (and maintains) the perfect tone for the film.
  • Interesting Victim? Check. Christopher Plummer plays Harlan Thrombey, a mystery writer who is found dead on the day after his eighty-fifth birthday. In flashbacks, we get to know Harlan, a very successful mystery author dealing with a family that hits all the standard wealthy family tropes. We soon learn that he was extremely intelligent, clever, and sympathetic.
  • Quality Suspect Pool? Check. Harlan’s entire family had gathered to celebrate his birthday, so there’s a collection of children, grandchildren, and in laws to suspect, as well as his housekeeper and nurse. They all have secrets, and most of them are eager to get their hands on Harlan’s money and property, as well as the rights to his novels.
  • Charismatic Detective? Check. Daniel Craig gives a great performance as Benoit Blanc, a famous private investigator who is hired anonymously to look into the death, which the police are about to rule as a suicide. Watching his investigation is a delight, especially when he discusses a few extended metaphors that are absolute writing gold.
  • Twists and Turns? Check, Check, Check. It’s hard to say too much about this without spoilers, which I always avoid (and in the case of a whodunit, that’s even more important), so let me just say that the movie definitely leaves you guessing.

A few other notes:

  • The movie has a lot more talk than action, which contributed to an old school feel that I really enjoyed.
  • The entire cast was excellent, with Chris Evans’s performance as the family’s black sheep a definitely highlight. He has some of the best lines, and it’s especially fun to see the man best known as Captain America taking a turn at sarcasm, insults, and callousness.

Highly, highly recommended.

Popcorn

Seen any good movies lately? What’s on your watch list?

So I’ve technically finished Blogmas (and I’m so proud of myself for completing the challenge), but I still have a few things I didn’t get to, so I’m going to keep daily posting up for at least a few more days.

My niece Catalina (age 8) chose cookie decorating for her holiday experience, so we went to a bakery called Sweetology that allows drop in decorating. You choose what you want to decorate, and they provide you with icing, pastry bags, unlimited sprinkles, and advice. You can also upgrade with candy and other extras. We decided to decorate six sugar cookies with buttercream frosting, and added a few bonus items as we went. Because I’m the aunt, I basically let Cat get whatever she wanted. (I also let her eat too much frosting.)

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I wasn’t expecting that we would be coloring and flavoring our own frosting, but when they explained that step to us it made perfect sense, and was a lot of fun. We divided it into five bowls, and used a different color and flavor for each.

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We started simple, with candy topping and sprinkles:

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Then came the Sprees:

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Then a combo:

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And we decided we needed to showcase all five of our frosting colors:

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After that, we discovered that writing is NOT as easy as it looks:

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Cat’s Pikachu cookie definitely took the longest, since we had to redo the nose and mouth several times.

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After a little over an hour, we had six unique cookies, two of which went to Santa.

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We’re going to do this again!!!

chef

What fun activities have you done lately?

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It’s going to be a busy day today! In a few hours, I’m off to decorate cookies with my niece Catalina, who has been infinitely patient as we’ve had to reschedule her special holiday activity twice (if you missed the posts about my outings with my other nieces, click here for Cassidy and here for Carly). I’ll post details and photos later in the week.

After that, I’m rushing back home before friends start dropping by for my Christmas Eve open house. I’ll have gifts, food, and holiday fun available all afternoon and into the evening, for people to come and go as they please. Luckily, I finished house cleaning, food prep, and gift wrapping yesterday.

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What are your Christmas Eve plans?

Lights Entrance

After my first attempt at seeing Christmas lights didn’t go entirely as planned (see Blogmas Day 2), a friend suggested going to the Winter Wonderland display at Tillis Park. So last night, we grabbed a box of cookies and a thermos of hot chocolate and took a drive through the St. Louis County Parks Department’s annual light show.

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It was festive, beautiful, and full of holiday spirit.

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I’m almost ready for Christmas. How about you?

If you’re still stumped on gift ideas for someone, you might consider one of my go-tos: assemble the tools they need to enjoy a special evening. This gift is easy to put together, can cost as little or as much as you want (depending on how many things you include), and is fairly universal.

A Night Out

This one is great for couples, but also works for singles, who can take a friend or family member. You could include:

  • A restaurant gift card
  • A movie theater gift card
  • Tickets to a play or concert
  • A gift certificate to an activity (a cooking class, craft making, etc.)
  • New accessories like ties or jewelry
  • A clothing item or gift card to a clothing store
  • A babysitting coupon (if applicable)

A Night In

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Give someone everything they need to enjoy a quiet night at home. This one works for singles or couples. You could include:

  • Pajamas and/or slippers
  • A blanket
  • A book
  • DVDs, Blu Rays, or a gift card for a streaming service
  • Microwave popcorn or a popcorn tin
  • Favorite beverages (soft drinks, hot chocolate mix, flavored coffee, etc.)
  • Candles, wax melts, or scented oils

merry Christmas

What are some of your favorite gifts to give? Tell me all about it!