Friday, September 19, 2014

Friday Round Up

It's already time for another Friday Round Up! This week somehow went by both incredibly slowly and incredibly quickly.

It has been incredibly hot here in Los Angeles this week, making the apartment living situation quite unbearable. Of course, we can't afford to have a nice apartment that has air conditioning and whatnot, because the rent is too dang high. This site has a bunch of graphs displaying the sad situation. People are paying too much of their paychecks toward rent, and the paychecks aren't getting any higher, but the rent sure is. It's depressing, for real.

My boyfriend and I live in quite close quarters right now thanks to that rent issue, making the subject of this video about weird things all couples fight about even more hilarious to me. Some of those things hit close to home for sure!

Writing is one of my passions, as hopefully most of you who read this know. I've written stories since I was a little kid, but have also kept a journal since I was really young as well. Now a study is showing that writing helps both your emotional and physical health. Like, wounds physically heal faster if you write about your thoughts and feelings! I've been telling a certain someone they should try writing in a journal for a while, and you can bet I used this article as further proof that it would be a big help.

We live in a world now full of screens - TV, Movie, Phone, iPad, Computer.. now even watches are going to have screens. But are they so great for our health? Not so much, though I'm not sure this is a huge surprise. But basically, this article talks about the effect of the blueish light that emanates from said screens interfering with proper sleep, but also hurting our eyes as well. I write this, of course, from a computer, but I do try to not look at a screen other than my Kindle Paperwhite, which I think is one of the okay ones (I hope!), before going to bed.

I know I've featured creepy places before, but this time I've got a link for you that focuses solely on places in the United States. Some feature some quite mysterious stories. I'm not sure I would want to ever actually visit some of these places, other than the Winchester Mystery House which I find interesting.

Have you seen the lip synch battles that Jimmy Fallon hosts on The Tonight Show? I think they are pretty hilarious, especially the one he had with Emma Stone. But this week was another funny battle featuring Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani. I'm not sure it tops the Emma Stone one, but it's still pretty fun.

And for my last feature this week, have you ever wondered what some old timey black and white photos would look like if they were in color? Well, wonder no more, because this site has a bunch of colorized old photos. Some look more realistic than others (some look like they were painted rather than a real photo), but some are pretty cool.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Vanilla Blondie Bars

You guys, it has been HOT here in Los Angeles the last few days. Normally, since I live pretty near the beach, the heat isn't as much of an issue, as it is at least 20 degrees cooler than going inland, but damn man, it's been hot even here! Which makes baking a bit of an issue, as you might imagine, in a small apartment with no air conditioning. During the winter? Sure, it heats the whole apartment right up! In the dregs of summer when it always seems to get super hot in SoCal? No thank you.

Luckily, I made these bars just one or two days before the heat wave really hit, so they didn't heat up the apartment too heinously. I also was able to use this fancy ground vanilla a coworker brought back from Mauritius for me, so that was fun as well! I've never used ground vanilla, and it took me a little bit to figure out that's what it actually was in the first place too! But really, you just use it in place of vanilla bean or vanilla extract. I can't compare these bars when using the other two, but feel free to scrape a full bean into the batter or just put in a couple teaspoons of vanilla extract and I'm sure they will still taste great!

These bars are super easy and take only a handful of ingredients, making them a great little bar for when you want something fresh-baked, but don't want it to take ages, and especially if you aren't in the mood for brownies. They keep pretty moist for a couple days afterward if you store them properly wrapped away from the air, and are especially delicious if slightly warmed, or straight from the oven. The ground vanilla gives these an extra something as compared to just vanilla extract, but if you can't get ground vanilla (or vanilla paste as it may be called), then I would recommend scraping one 1 vanilla bean rather than using extract if possible. Who doesn't love the sight of the little brown-black flecks?!

Vanilla Blondie Bars

  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat your oven to 350F. Line an 8x8 inch pan with foil.
  2. Cream together your butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add in your vanilla paste. You can also substitute the beans out of 1 vanilla bean if you so desire. Beat that in with the egg and salt until well combined.
  3. Finally, slowly stir in the flour until it is just mixed. Your dough will be thick, but try your best to get it into your prepared pan and smooth the top into an even layer.
  4. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the bars a tester comes out clean and the edges are just slightly browned. Let cool in the pan, then lift out your foil and slice 'em up! 
Recipe via Baking Bites

No step-by-step photos this time around, as they really weren't very exciting. I may stop doing the step-by-step photos on a general basis unless the recipe is particularly difficult, as most of the time, the steps are very similar in most baking recipes.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Friday Round Up

Apologies to any dedicated readers of the blog that may exist out there as my posting has been light this week and that is all a big no-no and whatnot. Well, I've been having myself a bit of a mini vacation visiting my hometown - Portland, Oregon. And gosh, every time I go there lately, I just want to move back! Anyway, on to this week's Friday Round Up, featuring some of the stuff around the ole web that I thought was interesting or neat or whatever.

Back in the day, I was totally against reading Harry Potter. It was this "trend" and I was against being trendy. But on one magical day at the movies, I saw the preview for Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and thought - damn it all! I would like that. And so, I started reading. And just basically devouring the entire series that was available at that time, which I think was up through book four. Anyway! The point is - I love Harry Potter. And I love all of the original artwork on/in the books. But now they are going to be updating them with new artwork for the next generation, which I have been a bit dubious about. While I don't think I would want to exchange the old art - this new art by Jonny Duddle is pretty cool too. It has a much more modern feel to it, with a more exaggerated take on some of the characters. Kinda neat!

I've never smoked a cigarette. Truth. I have always found them disgusting and really had no desire to even try one. This article has some cool graphics demonstrating how taxes have increased on cigarettes over the years throughout the country, and the subsequent drop in sales over the years. Probably there is also a correlation to the health issues with smoking as well as it not being "cool" like it used to be, but I'm sure money has a lot to do with it too.

Did you know a person can function without a cerebellum? Apparently one woman was born without one, and though she has some difficulties with her motor skills and such, has been able to live for quite a long time. Pretty crazy how the brain can compensate for certain deficiencies!

I was going to post a link to a video of the alternate ending to How I Met Your Mother, but Fox has already blocked the video. But, apparently, in the alternate ending, things ended on a happier note for Ted and the Mother rather than the ending they actually went with. Personally, I was not a fan of the ending they decided on. It felt like a big ole waste, particularly when the Mother was actually so cool.

OkCupid sometimes features blog posts on some of their data trends. Their latest post is on race and attraction. It's actually quite fascinating to see that, in general, certain races get a bit of a short shrift on dating sites, which probably means they get a short shrift in the dating pool in general. It's pretty glaring in some cases.

And on one last final note, the first Supernatural season 10 official promo has been posted. Give it a watch and let me know if you are excited for the new season and some Demon Dean. I'm on the fence, though I am looking forward to them mixing up Dean's character a bit as it always used to be Sam getting the weird things happening to him. Wondering how long he will be kept a demon as well. Guess we will start to find out in October!

That's it for this week! Have a great weekend!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Friday Round Up

I'm back for my second Friday Round Up! Hope you are finding it interesting so far. And hopefully I will not ever run out of fun/informative things to share. I suspect that will not be the case, but I suppose you never know! What's that? Get on with it? Well okay then!

That weird Saved by the Bell unauthorized tell-all film was on this week. I haven't watched it, but I am a big SBTB fan. On that note, are you? Take this quiz to find out. (I got 37/50 - Zack - "Just smart enough without being showy") But let's not stop there! TVLine discussed some of the top episodes, and for the most part I have to agree with these as well. Though I do agree with the comments at the bottom that I loved that all in the mall episode a lot as well.

Abandoned buildings are weird and cool and creepy. Just check out this list. There are some seriously creepster places on that list, and some that are just interesting. Like the insane North Korean Ryugyong hotel, perhaps better know as the Hotel of Doom! It was abandoned for 16 years in the middle of being built, but they have "finished" it now. That is, they've finished the outside and some of the inside. You will be in awe, but not in a good way.

You may or may not know that I love Game of Thrones. We are in the doldrums in between TV seasons right now, and the even longer doldrums in between books, so (don't click if you don't want spoilers!) everyone on the web is talking about fan theories. No, I won't discuss these spoilers out in the open here on the blog because I know many people are spoiler averse. But I will say that I agree with some of these but disagree a lot with others. If you want to get more specific, I suppose we can start a convo in the comments section!

For something more serious, this story about a girl who went to jail for being part of Occupy Wall Street is sad. It really just speaks to the corruption in the justice system, which only serves to make me upset. Man oh man.

Okay, back to something fun! Do you love '80s movies? I love '80s movies. Here are some fun facts about quite a few of them! Some of these I already know, of course, like that Eric Stoltz was originally going to be Marty McFly in Back to the Future, but some of the others are new, like how Ferris Bueller was supposed to have more siblings?! Also, if you are a big fan of BTTF, there are these crazy life-like figurines going on sale soon. I mean they are realistic enough to be eerie.

And, to end on a bit more of a serious note this week, do you know what dystonia is? This month is Dystonia Awareness Month, so I'm spreading a little awareness. After all of the attention that ALS received, it's time to let another, lesser-known, neurological disease get some attention.

That's it for this week! Have a fabulous weekend!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

SYTYCD Season 11 Finale

Well, my friends, it is truly the end of summer now that So You Think You Can Dance is coming to a close. The real question is - will it be renewed for another season? It would really be nice to know ahead of time so we could have a sort of retrospective of the best dances ever, wouldn't it? Alas. Anyhow, tonight is not about that, tonight is about Ricky, Jessica, Zack and Valerie, the final four of season 11. As you know, before we find out the results, we get treated to some of the best dances from the season along with some new ones to join the mix.

So let's get on with it! On the judging panel is Tara Lipinski, Adam Shankman, Jenna Dewan Tatum, Debbie Allen, along with Mary and Nigel of course. So let's see their favorites and the final four's favorites as well (all are clickable to view)...

Mary Murphy - Jessica & Casey - Travis Wall contemporary

Debbie Allen - Ricky & Valerie - Pharside and Phoenix hip hop

Zack Everheart - Zack & All-Star Amy - Sony Tayeh contemporary

Nigel Lythgoe - Rudy & All-Star Allison - Ray Leeper jazz

Valerie Rockey - Valerie & Zack - Anthony Morigerato tap

Ricky Ubeda - Ricky & Jessica - Sonya Tayeh contemporary

America's Twitter Choice - Carly & Serge - Luther Brown hip hop (it's the one I voted for!)

Jenna Dewan Tatum - Tanisha & Rudy - Sonya Tayeh jazz

Adam Shankman - Zack & Ricky - Pharside and Phoenix hip hop

Tara Lipinski - Emilio and All-Star Jasmine - NapTab hip hop

Jessica Richens - Jessica & All-Star Robert - Travis Wall contemporary

Cat Deeley - Ricky & Valerie - Travis Wall contemporary

Throughout the show, the results were given. Zack was in fourth place, Jessica in third... which leaves it down to the duo of Ricky and Valerie.

And the winner is....


To me it was a bit of a foregone conclusion this season, but that's not to say he isn't deserving. Yay Ricky! And congrats to Valerie for making it as far as she did, because I didn't really see that happening, I must say.

Well, here we are at the end of the line. Are you happy with Ricky's victory, or were you hoping someone else would win? Let me know in the comments!