TV

A Visit with “The First Lady”

You might have heard about a new series on Showtime called “The First Lady” which focuses on several trailblazing first ladies in our history. The ladies in question are:

  • Eleanor Roosevelt played by Gillian Anderson
  • Betty Ford played by Michelle Pfeiffer
  • Michelle Obama played by Viola Davis

And those are just the Ladies. This cast includes some stellar performances played by some stellar performers, not just the three mentioned above.

The concept is interesting, putting each in her own time and place but all three at the same time; at the beginning of her role as First Lady of the United States.

The times might have been different for each woman for a variety of reasons but the underlying theme of all three was ‘hope’.

I had the opportunity to watch the first two episodes via the Showtime Select channel on PlutoTV. This free platform gave me the opportunity to dip my toe, as it were, before I forked over any cash. Note: to watch all episodes in the series, you will have to subscribe to Showtime.

The platform is free, you can use it pretty much anywhere, so if you are inclined, check it out.

All that aside, ‘The First Lady’ brings an interesting perspective on a difficult position in times that were anything but calm and comfortable. Granted, as stated at the beginning of each episode, the writers did take some creative license with the subject matter and time period, but the end result is captivating, amusing, interesting, and occasionally wowing. Things you don’t always find in what could be termed a ‘docudrama’. Some complain about the bouncing from one time frame to another, but I found it interesting. I was able to compare and contrast rather than focus to the exclusion of the other stories.

Enjoy!

Movie Night · Movies

Death On The Nile

I love a good mystery! I love a good story! I love a movie that brings both and mixes them with beautiful photography and interesting twists and turns.

I had the opportunity recently to sit down and watch the 2022 version of Agatha Christie’s Death On The Nile. I’ve long been a fan of the 1978 version (pithy lines and all) so when this newer version was announced, I was intrigued.

The casting was interesting and made use of many a familiar (or unfamiliar) face. The setting is astoundingly beautiful. The story – including the backstory – provided context in ways that the original Christie story might not have.

And, to be honest, I simply can not read Christie. I can watch her. I can listen to her, but I gave up reading her decades ago. Part of the joy of audio books is the ability to have the stories told to you (luxury).

David Suchet will always be my favorite Hercule Poirot. He set the bar quite high. While this current cast is excellent, his is the only presence I really missed. But then… 🙂

If you get a chance to see the film, don’t let it pass you by. And, if you are really lucky and get a chance to see the 1978 version, don’t miss that, either. Maggie Smith is awesome!

A word of caution: Don’t expect the two films to be a copy of each other or of the original book by Christie. They aren’t. Each of the films takes poetic license from the book. Each has its own vision of the story. Enjoy them both!

At this point in time, however, I’m reflecting on beautiful visuals. Beveled glass windows. Stunning colors. And a love story that astounds.

Classic TV · Cord Cutting · Media · TV

Rediscovering Old Favorites

Are you a fan of classic TV? It could be dramas, mysteries, comedies or any combination in addition to other shows that don’t quite fit those categories.

I have a fondness for quite a few classic TV shows. Some going back quite a few decades. 🙂

While I understand TVLand was one of the pioneers in what I call the formal rerun network programming, since I don’t have cable, it was never a possibility for me to watch. However, thanks to MeTV, Antenna TV, COZI TV, and various other networks, it is now possible to revisit old favorites without the expense of cable or streaming.

In my neck of the woods, and not having cable, over the air programming tends to be at the mercy of weather. In other words, when weather is bad, signal is bad. This is where streaming platforms come in to play and are very helpful.

I recently rediscovered ‘Murder, She Wrote’ along with several other favorite shows on COZI TV. They have a great line up with lots of great programing. The problems arise when weather isn’t great. After being caught in the middle of a two-parter, I found myself searching to find the second half of the two hour season finale. Turned out that I was able to not only find the episode guide (IMDB.com) but also find the series for free – and all the seasons – over on the Roku Channel.

Now I know that not everyone has a Roku box in their home. But this does not mean that they won’t be able to take advantage of free streaming services. It just means that there might be a bit more research involved.

For the record, I do wish that all the classic (rerun) networks/channels would have a streaming platform for those who can’t or don’t have access, but <shrug> …

In the meantime, I’m checking out all my options to determine what I can find and the best way to access it.

FYI: If you subscribe to streaming services like Paramount+, AcornTV, or any other service, be sure to check all their programming options. And do it regularly. Why? Because these services add movies and shows often and you never know what you might find that you already have access to.

But don’t limit the check to just those subscription services. Check all your platforms to see what is available. IMDB.com adds a lot of programming (new and old) quite often. You might score the entire series of a classic show that you can binge to your heart’s desire. You might also find shows or films that you forgot you wanted to watch.

I’m on the lookout for my Summer Binge. This is the series I want to deep dive into during the summer months when the rest of TV is up to its collective ears in reruns.

So far, I’ve found ‘Julia’ over on HBO Max, which has quite an array of other programming that I haven’t seen yet. I also have a lot to catch up on over on Disney+.

I do spend a lot of time over on PlutoTV where I can binge on some old favorites and discover new shows, too. And, it is free!

So, what are you looking to curl up with? Let me know!

Around the House · Media · YouTube

A Visit To Family Affair

I remember watching ‘Family Affair’ when I was a kid – not much older/younger than the kids in the show. Uncle Bill’s New York apartment was the epitome of 1960’s sleek lines, warm colors, and luxury.

For those who love mid-60s modern, this is one of those fantasy homes that can inspire.

Marina Coates has quite a few video tours of TV and movie homes that are worth watching not just for the nostalgia but to learn a few tricks of the decorating and design trade.

She even has a few videos detailing the specifics of how some of those iconic homes became so iconic.

Check out her channel and let me know what you think.

Dining · Food · YouTube

New Kitchen Adventures

If you have been around for any real length of time, you will know that I enjoy cooking, eating, watching cooking shows/videos, and exploring new tools and kit for the kitchen.

Recently I came across a selection of videos on YouTube from the Sorted Food channel. What I first encountered were product reviews – and I have to say that what I saw was both interesting and entertaining. I’m slowly (because there is a lot to catch up on) getting into the cooking part of the channel.

This particular video really caught my attention:

As you might know, I’m a bit on the fence when it comes to subscription boxes, but I do think that some of the food oriented boxes could be quite interesting. This batch covered a lot of territory and I thought the reviews interesting. What do you think?

Overall, Sorted is proving to be a welcome addition to my regular rotation on YouTube. I’m curious about the cookbooks. I think the guys cover an interesting range of experiences. I have found the products testing informative. I admit to a bit of interest in one or two.

Update: There’s More To The Adventure!

I’ve been diving into this amazing YouTube channel and am hooked! I’ve discovered a lot. Enjoyed a lot, too. This particular video is a Keeper!

Pantry Updates

As we embark on food shortages and using ingredients that aren’t always in the cupboard, let alone on our menus, these ideas can and will enhance our cooking.

And, really, isn’t that what cookery shows are supposed to do? Provide ideas, inspiration, food for thought?

Have you seen Sorted? What do you think? If you like this post, please do me a favor and click the ‘Like’ button below.

Around the House

Ready For A Refresh?

It’s that time again! If you are in between deep cleans, the refresh is a great way to restart your week. Month. Whatever. LOL!

What is a refresh?

Refresh refers to a bit of a tidy up or clean out. Nothing major, just a time when you put things where they belong, clean a bit, and make your space look a bit less lived in and more liveable.

It can be choosing a specific location (bedroom, kitchen, bathroom) that might need a bit of a small clear out or reorganization.

You could choose to spend some time going through your wardrobe and putting away seasonal clothes you won’t need for a while, setting aside clothes you can take to the charity shops, and making sure there are no items that need repairs.

Have you gone through all the various products you use in your bathroom lately? Are there bottles, etc., that probably could be disposed of? Are there items you have never used?

Refresh doesn’t mean moving furniture about or taking down the drapes for laundering. It can simply be making sure all the bits and pieces are where they belong – or find them a space where they belong and get them situated. That being said, changing cushion covers or floor rugs can make a huge impact on a space you see every day.

One of the side benefits of a refresh is the way it energizes your space and you, too. It is almost like stepping into a new home, or like going on a short vacation.

So, pull out your calendar and schedule a few hours to tackle the spaces in your home. This may sound daunting, but if you alot, say 30 minutes for each space – or all spaces – you might be surprised at how much you can get done. Set your timer and dive in!

Don’t forget to take the time to enjoy the refreshed spaces. Settle in with a cup of tea, put your feet up, put some great music on, and sit back to relax and enjoy your efforts.

Cooking · Food

It Really Is The Best Tater Tot Casserole!

I love a good casserole! They can be quite flavorful, easy to make, provide delicious left overs, and even be budget friendly. Win/Win, right?

I came across this recipe thanks to Mandy In The Making over on YouTube, tried it and loved it.

The BEST Tater Tot Casserole

Simple, easy, flavorful, easy to change up if you want to.
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword Green Beans, Ground Beef, Tater Tots
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 9
Calories 420kcal

Equipment

  • 1 8 x 8 Baking Dish

Ingredients

  • 1 pound Ground Beef Leaner the better
  • 1/2 Onion Chopped
  • 2 Garlic Cloves Minced
  • Salt & Pepper To Taste
  • 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire
  • 15 ounce Green Beans, Canned Drained
  • 10.75 ounce Cream of Celery Soup
  • 2 cups Cheddar Cheese Shredded
  • 2 cups Frozen Tater Tots

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees
    Spray the 8 x 8 baking dish with vegetable spray and set it aside.
  • Brown the ground beef in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Drain excess fat.
  • Add the onions to the skillet and sauté for 4 to 5 minutes until translucent.
  • Add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, for an additional minute.
  • Stir in Worcestershire sauce and season with salt and pepper to taste. Combine with the soup and drained green beans.
  • Transfer the ground beef mixture to the prepared baking dish and spread evenly.
  • Top with the shredded cheese.
  • Finally, top with tater tots.
  • Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until tater tots are golden brown and cheese is melted. Serve immediately. 

You might want to play with seasoning a bit. You can also experiment with cheeses, but keep in mind you do want a good melting cheese.

Enjoy!

Around the House

Rethinking Clearing Out The Stash

It seems to be ‘the thing’ to do these days; clear out all, if not most, of the things you own to simplify your living space.

As one who has a history of having loads of things collected over time and then having to do something with them, I get it. But I came across an article a while back that made me stop and rethink the clear out ideology a bit.

I’m an avid reader, music, and movie fan. As a result, over the years I’ve had loads (tons?) of material that fit into those particular categories. Truly. When I moved into my home after being a long term renter, I not only had to find a way to get my stash from one state to another, but from storage to the house. And my house is not huge.

At the time my video library was pretty decent, my music library reasonably sized and my book collection was, well, substantial.

I ended up giving away loads of books. My video library has always been conditional; i.e.; I bought only those things I knew I wanted to watch multiple times. There have been a few acquisitions that didn’t meet that criteria, but, thankfully, not many. My music library is still pretty <gulp> substantial, but overall manageable.

What I learned after moving and reassessing my stash was that most of what I had, or kept were things that I was particularly attached to. If I rashly got rid of all the stuff just to meet someone else’s idea of whatever, I’d be pretty upset and a bit broke – these items were not cheap and they aren’t all easy to find, either.

As I perused that article I mentioned, I got to thinking about having to restock a household. I know of a couple of people who have had to do this due to either a home burning down or natural disaster. We often encounter these disasters thinking about the family photos and such, what we often forget is the regular things we need to exist in our homes.

Things like, dishes, pots and pans, bedding, towels, clothes, not to mention pet items like beds, litter boxes and toys.

Notice I never mentioned electronics, video libraries, and such.

The things we have in our homes reflect ourselves. Even if we don’t always understand that. Some collect items for the sake of accumulation. Shopaholics, if you will. Even those items purchased not necessarily because of ‘need’ but more ‘want’ are a reflection of the purchaser.

While I don’t think living in homes that are so crowded that we don’t actually have use of the space (been there) is necessarily a good thing, I do think that it is worth taking the time to clear out things that are no longer needed or wanted rather than just pick it all up and send it away.

In other words, you can go a bit too far following the latest trendy craze and doing a massive clear out.

First, give yourself permission to do the task.

Second, make a list of ground rules. What to keep, what to sell, what to give away.

Third, stick to the rules.

Fourth, allow yourself a bit of time to process the clear out. It can/will be a bit emotional. Acknowledge it. Accept it. Move forward.

Fifth, enjoy the end result.

What you will discover is that most of what you have removed from your home are items you never really had much attachment to, or use for, and don’t miss. That will be a bit surprising.

The odd thing about a clear out, no matter if it is physical or emotional, is that by removing things that no longer serve you, you make room for things that will. You will no longer be overwhelmed by the clutter of stuff and have the room and time to embark on new experiences.

And, you will hang on to those things that give you joy, make you smile, work for you and fit in your home.

Win/Win, right?

Crafting · YouTube

When Inspiration Goes A Bit Wild

I love this latest installment from DIY Danie! If you are a fan of anything you know how the wish to incorporate that fandom into your living space can take on a life of its’ own. You also know that sometimes, it can be a bit tricky. Check this out:

I love the imagination, the daring, the reaching a bit out of the comfort zone with this project!

What do you think?

Cooking · Dining · Food · Meal Building Blocks

Pantry Staples That Make Meal Planning Easier

Keeping these items in my pantry make meals easy to put together and less stress on my budget.

Pantry Staples

Pasta

I try to keep a variety of dried pasta shapes on hand, but in a pinch every pasta shape will work no matter what you put with it. While some of the more expensive pastas will have a better flavor, even the cheap boxes are worth trying out. I also keep some cheese stuffed tortellini in the freezer (talk about an easy mac & cheese) but there are other types there in addition to the ready to cook, rather than dried, versions.

Think mac & cheese, baked casseroles, soups, pasta and sauce, salads.

Bread, Tortillas or Buns

As a rule, I don’t tend to keep a lot of bread on hand because I can bake it myself when I take the urge. That being said, I do keep bagels for breakfast and I do enjoy tortillas every once in a while.

A grilled cheese or quesadilla takes less than 10 minutes to make, and are both quite versatile for whatever ingredients you already have.

Tortillas can also be turned into wraps, burritos, enchiladas, or even breakfast tacos.

Buns can be used to for sandwiches, hamburgers or even garlic bread in a pinch.

Rice

Rice is just as versatile as pasta, and can be used to make stir fry, burrito bowls, casseroles, soups, or as an easy side dish.

I love to have it with chicken as a simple meal.

Pasta Sauce

I used to buy pretty much anything organic and at a reasonable price. However, I recently tried Raos and now it is the only brand I buy. To be clear, I’ve never eaten pasta sauce from a jar before I tried the Raos. Now, I have to remind myself that the sauce it to go on the meal first. LOL!

You can use pasta sauce not only to make spaghetti or lasagna, but also as a pizza sauce or a dipping sauce for breaded mozzarella cheese.

Freezer Staples

Ground beef – good for a variety of meals from hamburgers to soups, to casseroles.

Chicken – Plain chicken pieces can be cooked for a variety of meals.

Breaded Chicken – These make a great quick meal along with a salad or rice. Find a brand you like and keep it in stock.

Tater Tots – I use these in a variety of ways. As a replacement for prepared hash browns they are a quick and easy substitute. You can either bake them as is or put them in a large skillet with a little bit of oil and break them down as you cook them. Tots are great accompaniments to burgers, too.

Pasta – Stuffed ravioli, tortellini or shells make a great meal that is easy to prepare, you simply boil the pasta, drain and add sauce. Viola!

Frozen Fruits and Vegetables – Packed at the peak of their freshness, frozen veg is a quick, easy and cost efficient alternative to canned. Easy to use, easy to store, these items can be part of a great meal.

Fridge Staples

Eggs

Eggs are flexible and easy on the budget. They can be used in a variety of meals, as part of salads, alongside breakfast meats or in baking.

Cheese

I always have cheese on hand. I buy a variety so I can use them in different ways and, when necessary, a variety of cheeses makes an amazing Clean Out The Fridge Mac & Cheese.

Don’t forget to pick up some soft cheese to spread on crackers.

Mix and Match

You can mix and match pretty much all of these items to make some great meals without having to have a lot of items on hand.

That being said, adding fresh fruits and potatoes or onions to your pantry, trying different things like couscous or grains will stretch your meal options even further.