Saturday, March 18, 2017

Beauty and the Beast Movie Review

My honest take on Beauty and the Beast controversy...

Last night, I took my sister and her oldest daughter to Beauty and the Beast. The theatre was packed with mothers and fathers with small children. One child was even dressed up in a costume ball gown - like the one Belle wears in the Christmas animated Beauty and the Beast movie. She was adorable!

My background: I'm super conservative, BUT, I do enjoy crime and forensic shows, sitcoms, etc. (basically I'm not a strict Christian program watcher although I enjoy those too).

So there is much controversy surrounding the new real-life musical remake of the Disney animated Beauty and the Beast. Mostly an "exclusively gay moment" as quoted by the director, some material that supports/promotes LGBTQ lifestyle. Because of the controversy, I watched with a more skeptical eye. For the purpose of this post, I'm only going to write about the "controversial" parts.

The only parts of the film that could be seen as controversial, in my opinion, involve scenes with Josh Gad's character La Fou and a couple scenes with one particular villager.

La Fou can be viewed as a character with feminine traits but in my opinion, that is reaching. What I would say about the character portrayal is that he is more concerned with emulating Gaston than anything. He wants to BE Gaston, not be WITH Gaston. He stands up tall when he is standing near Gaston, tries to mirror Gaston's facial expressions and even his words. I don't think La Fou is in love with Gaston, I would see him more as admiring Gaston's character... until he realizes that Gaston is a cruel man to Belle's father, Maurice.

As for the villager, there is a scene where the villagers are attacking the castle and the furniture is fighting back. The opera-singing wardrobe fights three men by dressing them up as ladies. This happens with one man in the animated film as well. The part where is turns fuzzy is when two of the men run away horrified but the third man embraces the women's clothes and looks pleased as he glides away down the stairs. Is it right? No. I don't believe that cross-dressing is right. Was it funny? A little.

The "exclusively gay moment" happens at the very end of the movie. There is a scene where all is restored to normal and there are many men and women dressed up very formally (think Marie Antoinette-esqu) dancing to music. The dancing is a more formal, hand-touching only, type of dancing. The moment occurs when everyone switches partners and La Fou and the villager from earlier end up together. The moment lasts about three or four seconds and then the view switches to other dancers. La Fou and the villager don't seem to change their facial expressions during the dance to somehow show that they enjoy dancing with one another, it's more like an accident that happens and then the movie moves on.

My conclusion:
- La Fou didn't seem controversial to me.
- Did those scenes with the man in a woman's dress and the men dancing together need to be included? No, I don't think they add anything to the story.
- Do I think kids will even catch on? Not really unless they're told about it.
- Does this worry me? A little, but not enough to not watch the movie.
- Do I think this was made to be a lot bigger than it needed to be? Yes.

I believe that the point of including these things is to normalize what shouldn't be normal. Are the occurrences needed to tell the story? No. Do I think they're harmful? I think it shows a comedic side of the story. Obviously, this movie isn't real life so will kids make the jump from this to seeing that a man in a woman's dress in real life is okay? I doubt it. It's almost too extravagant that it doesn't apply. But then, do I think it's right? No. I think that if the director didn't say anything, it wouldn't have amounted to much. His comments which I don't even think are correct, soured so much publicity and I'm sure that was the point.

They could have kept the scenes out and kept true to the original animated film, but it's done... and Disney is not going to change it.

I think I rambled but I hope you get what I'm trying to say.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Christmas Gifts - Quilts and Sewing

I love to quilt but with a new baby this year, it's been hard to find the time. That said, I decided to make quilts for my nephews on my husband's side this year for Christmas. I also wanted to make quilts for two special little friends of ours in Florida. I also wanted to make quilts for my nieces and nephews on my side but I knew I would run out of time (ahem, and money) to make them for Christmas. Instead, it was hinted by my sister that they would enjoy my "toy poufs". I'll explain further on...

My husband was heading to Florida for a "Guys Trip" in early December so I knew I had to get those ones done first and quick! I was running out of time to plan for shipping for the Florida girls so I went to Mook Fabrics in Medicine Hat and picked up some Tinkerbell flannel and some matching pinks, yellows, and greens. Due to time and fabric miscalculations, I make strip rag time quilts for them. I had the dark purple from some pajama pants I made for my niece so I used that in there too. Here's how they turned out:

Quilt 1

Quilt 2

THEN came the boys' projects. For them, I started shopping on my favourite website: fabric.com. I found the perfect flannel for all the boys. I had a lot of fun sewing the Rag Time Quilts for the boys. There are three boys (plus my son and daughter) in the family. I still have to do my son's quilt but I got the other boys' done in time for our family gathering. Here they are below:

All the squares cut up (lots of cutting!)

X's Quilt
 

N's Quilt
 

S's Quilt
 

What do you think??

So after those were all finished, it was time for the next group of projects: Toy Poufs. Years ago, I made my son a cube out of canvas fabric and added a handle and a zipper to stuff in soft teddy bears and other stuffed animals. It helps with clutter and you end up getting a comfy cushion/seat out of it! This time, I decided on a smaller, hexagon version. I shopped - again - at fabric.com and got fabrics that match their rooms/favourite colours. The results are kind of hard to see in the photos but they work awesome. The best example would be in the purple one. You can see it a little more stuffed.

My son's cube

Niece #1

Nephews #1 & #2

Niece #2

Nephew #3

I have been told I should make a sell them. What do you think? I'd love to hear your feedback on the Rag Time Quilts and the Toy Poufs!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Happy Birthday Hubby!

Today is my husband's birthday. He has been struggling at work lately so I just wanted to make tonight special. Last night, I was in town for our quilt guild meeting so I did some shopping. I got him a couple new movies, popcorn, Fudgee-Os and a card from our kids. I also picked up stuff to make an ice cream cake! I've never done it before but figured that it couldn't be too hard. I wasn't going crazy with a big fancy one. I just filled a Pyrex glass loaf pan.

Here was my process:

Gather the ingredients (vanilla ice cream, chocolate ice cream, Smuckers hot fudge sauce, Oreo cookies, and icing - I didn't end up using the icing)

Layer chocolate ice cream in the bottom. My ice cream was soft enough to get a good layer but it was a little tricky making it stay in the bottom of the container.

Then I microwaved the fudge and put probably half the bottle on top of the chocolate. Dairy Queen cakes never seem to have enough fudge so I wanted a lot. That's the best part anyway, right? I didn't take a picture for some reason but it just kind of looked like gooey chocolate-y goodness ha ha.

I put 10 Oreos in a Zip-loc back and smashed them with a (very clean) meat hammer. Depending on how big your cake is, you can choose to use more or less. I could have used less but this made a healthy cookie layer.


I added the cookie layer on top of the fudge by spooning it out of the bag and sprinkling it where needed. I then tried to pack it down with the back of my spoon.


After the cookie layer, I actually put everything into the freezer so it would harden up. After about an hour, I took it out and added the vanilla. Doesn't this tub of vanilla ice cream look so perfect?


I covered the pan with the lid and popped it back in the freezer until after supper. More on this later!

For supper, I made Sweet and Sour Meatballs for the first time. Actually, I made meatballs for the first time. It was not as intimidating as I thought it would be. Meat always freaks me out but this wasn't too bad. Here's the recipe I followed: http://www.thekitchenmagpie.com/sweet-and-sour-meatballs/. It's easy to follow using the photo description below the recipe. I made a double batch and it does make a lot of sauce so I put only half the sauce in the pan with the meatballs and the other half, I saved in the pot which I reduced down to a nice sauce for extra. I made rice to go with it and I really enjoyed it. Hubby loved it too.

Here's the recipe: (my notes are in brackets and italicized)
Sweet and Sour Meatballs
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 40 mins
Total Time: 45 mins
Servings: 6
Author: Karlynn Johnston

Ingredients:
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup dry bread crumbs (I used crushed focaccia croutons - from Costco)
  • 1 in onion diced (I used about 1/2 a medium onion)
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour or cornstarch (I used flour because I didn't have cornstarch)
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup distilled white vinegar (I used pure vinegar, I don't know the difference)
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup ketchup


Instructions:
  1. Mix the brown sugar, soy,vinegar, water and ketchup in a pot.
  2. Combine the breadcrumbs, egg and ground beef together in a bowl.
  3. Roll the meat mixture into meatballs, whichever size you want. I prefer slightly larger ones, they don’t dry out as quickly.
  4. Pop them into the 375 degrees oven and start them cooking.
  5. Mix your flour or cornstarch in cold water then whisk it into the sauce.
  6. After about 20 minutes, take the meatballs out for a second, and drain the fat out of them. (I baked them first on a cookie sheet on parchment paper and then transferred them to my Tupperware Ultrapro Lasagna Pan)
  7. Now you can cover those meatballs up with sauce.
  8. Finish cooking them until done, and they look oh-so saucy and delish like this!
  9. When cooking meatballs I like to insert a thermometer in them and make sure they have reached a temp of at least 165 degrees.



I missed the in-between pictures because my daughter hasn't been feeling well so it wasn't really my priority at the time.



Then it was finally time for dessert! Here's how it turned out...



The vanilla was a bit soft so I think if I did this a day in advance, it would have been much better. Still, it tasted so good and the fudge and cookie layer was so yummy! J said after we had the ice cream cake that it was good, but that my supper was better. Win-win for me! I hope I was able to brighten up his day a bit!

Happy birthday J!

Friday, February 10, 2017

Switching Gears

Hey everyone, I know it's been a while. I just wanted to let you know that instead of etsy, I've decided to sell my patterns on Craftsy! Here's a link to my "shop".

https://www.craftsy.com/profile/cotton-cooties

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Formula Fed Baby and Mom Shaming

I am not ashamed that I formula feed.

When my son was born, I exclusively breastfed him until he was two months old. He fed often and slept well. I didn't mind feeding often too much because I knew I was doing right by my child. He was scrawny though. I look back at pictures and see his lack of baby chub.

We had our 2-month vaccinations appointment and doctor's check up in the same week and my little boy was the same weight at his appointments than he was at birth. I cried when the doctor told me to switch to formula so that he would gain some weight. I broke right down sobbing. Thank goodness my husband was there to comfort me because I was a wreck. I wanted so badly for things to work. My milk was plentiful, for sure, but the amount of fat needed for my boy to grow wasn't.

I then would hear from others about how they or someone they knew were basically milk cows. They could breastfeed so well, their babies were gaining exponentially, and their supply was so great, they could feed their children and probably donate too. I'm sorry, but the last thing I wanted to hear was that I was a failure at what a woman is supposed to be able to do and having it shoved down my throat. That's basically what they were saying to me with their words although in sure they didn't know it.
   "When I pumped, there would be a thick layer of fat on the top. Almost more fat than anything else."
   "My friend's kids got so chubby, it was hard to find clothes that fit them."
   "My daughter-in-law could probably feed triplets and still have plent left over with her supply."

My fake-smiled reply was simply, "That's good," all while I'm dying on the inside. I'm not sure if they were trying to make me feel better but it sure didn't feel like it. I knew their intentions weren't to hurt me but they didn't know that it cut deep! Obviously almost four years later, I still remember the comments so they did make an impact. Remember that next time that before you make a comment, look at it from her perspective.

Anyway, let me just say that my son was a happy baby. He ate well, he slept through the night from two weeks old, and he wasn't a fussy baby. He was a great baby and we were so proud of him. He was just skinny.

We switched to formula and almost immediately, he started gaining weight. I was sad but also happy that there was an option for moms like me. I just wanted to do right by my babe and have a healthy child. Praise the Lord there was someone who developed formula. I don't want to think about what I would have done without the options we have available today! *Side note: my grandpa was a twin and was actually fed powdered milk to supplement feeds because of weight gain! I'm thankful for that, otherwise, I might not even be here!

Fast forward to this week. My little girl is just over two months old, the same age as my son when we switched over. It's been a similar story with my girl except we have been giving her formula from the beginning so we wouldn't have a repeat of last time. She is gaining slowly but very well and sleeping great too. The only drawback is that my supply is a bit lower so we've decided to switch completely to formula. I was hesitant to exclusively formula feed, mostly because of the expense and (annoyance of bottle cleaning) but I know it's in the best interest of my little girl.

I know what to expect. I know that I may get comments that I won't appreciate. Mom-shaming is what they call it and it's all too real. No mom should be shamed for making decisions for their child that are sometimes out of their control.

To the mom who breast feeds, good for you! That's awesome and I hope you continue to do it for as long as you can. Way to be a great mom!!

To the mom who formula feeds, good for you! You're feeding your child the nutrients they need to grow and be healthy. Way to be a great mom!!

To the mom who feels like she can't do it and it's about to crumble around her, don't give up. There's hope for you and your babe(s) too. Don't be afraid to ask for help!!

To the mom shamers, shame on you!! There is no perfect mom. There are seemingly perfect Facebook or Pinterest or Instagram moms but that's only one side of the story. The green grass side of the story. But we all have weeds in our backyard. There's plenty that happens behind closed doors and you're not above reproach. Instead of shaming, let's think before we talk (or type!!).

Support your fellow mom. She's doing the best she can and she might be struggling with it. Love her. Take her out for coffee or buy her a flower. Let's remember that no one is perfect and that we all want what's best for our families - whatever that may look like.

Being a mom is hard. Making important decisions that may or may not affect your child's future is intimidating, even as a second-time mom. I don't know if anyone will even read this but I'm glad that I can look back and say that I know I did the best I could for my kids. They deserve the world and will inherit it one day but while they're young, it's up to us parents to make the hard decisions.

Good for you, moms. You make the world go 'round!!




P.S. By the way, my husband is amazing. With both of our kids, he has been 100% supportive on any feeding decisions and has been there for the meltdowns and struggles. I appreciate him so much as a man and husband but his actions as a father have made him that much more attractive to me. I love you J!