Sunday, February 25, 2024

Oscar 2024 Nominated Best Picture Movies with Short Update on Those Watched and What are Left to Watch

The Oscars are approaching on March 10, 2024. I have some movies to catch up on before the ceremony, but I have watched some of the nominees. Here is a break down of those I have enjoyed and what I have left to watch.

The Holdovers
Carrie and I watched this movie during our holiday break. We both really enjoyed this movie. The whole story and the characters. By the same director that did Sideways so I could see some similarities, but I enjoyed this movie a lot. The character development was excellent for all the characters in this movie. This is up there for my best movie from the lot even before I see all of the movies.

American Fiction
I have not seen this movie yet. It is on our list of course to watch. Sounds like an interesting movie that I plan to see in the theater. It will take a lot for this movie to beat out the leader for me, but I am looking forward to seeing this movie.

The Zone of Interest
I did not know anything about this movie until I heard about it on NPR this past week. A movie about a family living next to unthinkable camps. More on this movie after I am able to watch it.

I watched this movie in the theater along with the next movie in the list. It was good. I did enjoy the movie. It was not the best movie I have seen from the list of nominees. The cast was great, the set was just how I would see a "Barbie" set. However, it is not my favorite movie from the list of nominees.

A long movie at over three hours. A movie that could have been maybe two hours. It was a story I was not familiar with hearing. The movie did a good job of telling the story, but it could have been shorter. A powerful film that was synced up with the prior movie with people watching both movies.

Poor Things
Another movie I have not seen yet. Carrie and I plan to watch this movie. It will be interesting to see Emma Stone in a different type of character. More on this movie later.

Past Lives
I was able to watch this movie recently. It was well done and good. The cast did a good job in this one. I found the movie to be entertaining, but not a great movie.

Anatomy of a Fall
Another movie that I do not know anything about. I read through IMDB on this one and it sounds interesting. More on this movie after I am able to watch it.

I really did not know the story about the conductor. I thought Bradley Cooper did a great job and Carey Mulligan was excellent playing his wife. Bradley Cooper throughout this movie and I found myself forgetting it was him that was in the movie. From his appearance to his voice, it seemed like a different person.

Killers of the Flower Moon
Another movie that I was able to watch during the holiday break. I did not know anything about the story until watching this movie. A long movie that could have been shorter. Lily Gladstone I thought stole this movie as Lily did a great job in her role. 

The update for this week is more for myself to track the movies I have watched and what I plan to watch. I do plan to watch the remaining movies before March 10. Some of the movies left for me to watch are still in theaters, so I am hoping to get to the theaters to watch them in style.

Sunday, February 18, 2024

Valentine's Day Dinner at Soliloquy was a Fun Experience

Valentine's Dinner Menu
Menu from Soliloquy

Valentine's Day had Carrie and I at Soliloquy for a fancy Valentine's Day dinner and drinks. We had a fun time. Carrie saw the announcement about the event on FaceBook and had sent it to me a week or two ahead of Valentine's Day. It looked good and different, so I booked reservations. The menu was already set along with drinks to accompany the meal. The picture to the right is the menu from Soliloquy on Valentine's Day. I believe I heard this was the second time Soliloquy had done this for Valentine's Day. It was fun!

When we arrived, we walked in and did not even give our name, but they seated us. Carrie and I laughed as we were not sure how they knew who we were, so we asked the waitress and she told us that she just knew. There were only a certain number of guests as the 6:30 pm seating sold out, so she knew we were one of the couples.

Fluer de Lavende Drink
Fluer de Lavende Drink
Some of my favorite items from the menu included the zucchini salad. The first drink we had which was Fluer de Lavande. The Wellington took the show. It was amazing! I had never had a Beef Wellington before and it lived up to the hype. I have seen it done in movies and even cooking shows, but I had never had it before. the flaky crust with the perfectly cooked prime tenderloin was delicious. To finish the night I had the Irish coffee which was a take on the original recipe which was also very good.

As we finished our meal and they brought out the the Irish coffee and final dessert, we were discussing if we would do this again next year if offered. We enjoyed the experience. Some of the food was different, but we enjoy trying different things and experiencing new things. I think we would do it again. 

We paid for our reservation a week or so ahead as I had mentioned. When they dropped off a card, I thought it was the bill. It was sealed with wax. When I opened the envelope, it had the menu inside. No bill, so everything was done and paid for including the tip for our table service. It was nice as we left and had enjoyed a new experience.

Carrie and I had a fun night out experiencing something different. Food prepared in different styles along with drinks. It as a fun night and so glad I was able to spend it with my Valentine. Love you so much Carrie!

Have a great week and I will talk with you next time.

Sunday, February 11, 2024

Super Bowl Sunday and Kansas City Chiefs are in SB Again... So Excited! Let's GO!

Chiefs Shoes for the Super Bowl
Chiefs Shoes for Super Bowl
Quiet Sunday morning as we prepare for the Super Bowl this evening. It is hard to believe that the Kansas City Chiefs are playing in their fourth Super Bowl in the past five years. It has been so much fun and a good reminder to never take anything for granted in life or sports. I am so excited for the game tonight, I can hardly stand the wait.

Carrie and I attended the Washburn mens basketball game on Saturday. Washburn lost to Northwest Missouri State. It was a good game, but came up short on a three point attempt and let the game slip away. Northwest Missouri State is always a tough game and their #22 player was hitting three point shots like he was doing layups. He had 18 points in the first half. There was a really good crowd at the game, so it was fun. Only a few games left in the season before the post season starts.

Saturday night was the Kansas Jayhawks game who took on Baylor. Got off to a good start, but let Baylor stick around and only won by three points. After losing the prior game to the Wildcats, it was good to get a win. Monday night will be tough going up against Texas Tech. The Big 12 league is wide open this year and it is tough to win on the road so hoping we show up and ready to play Monday night.

Ok, back to the hype for the big game tonight. I shared the picture of my Kansas City Chiefs shoes that I am wearing for today. I actually got the shoes early in 2023, so it will be fun to wear them today for the Super Bowl. Looking forward to taco bar we are doing this evening for the watch party.

Have a great rest of your Sunday and a great week. Go Chiefs!

Sunday, February 04, 2024

Cooked Beef Stir Fry in the Rain on Saturday Night on Big Green Egg Using a Wok ... Turned Out Great!

Peppers and Onions Ready for Stir Fry on Big Green Egg
Peppers and Onions Ready

Saturday night was time to do stir fry in the Big Green Egg (BGE). I believe this was the fourth time we have used the wok on the BGE. It had been raining most of the day, but that did not stop me from firing of the BGE and getting the wok ready. It did take a while to the fire going with the rain. I was finally able to close the lid to the BGE and leave the top open which helped and got the temperature up to around 400 degrees. I wanted the temperature to be between 450 and 500 but with the rain during preparation and then when I was finally cooking the stir fry, the temperature was consistently around 400 degrees.

Marinated Beef Ready for Big Green Egg
Marinated Beef Ready for Wok
The beef was done in a sauce that Carrie had put together. Some spice, soy, and a little more spice. The beef smelled so good as it marinated and I got the BGE ready. With how long it took to get the BGE going in the rain, the beef marinated for about 45 - 60 minutes. Carrie knows that I like to have a lot of sauce, so it was nice a saucy ready for the wok. No, you cannot tell from the picture to the right that it is saucy, but it was very nice and smelled so good.

We had the veggies and meat ready to go and the fire was right. I put the wok on the BGE to let it warm up for about five minutes. The temperature was still right around 400 degrees. Added some oil and then the meat. Immediately started sizzling and a lot of smoke with the coldness outside. Carrie came out to help me and held an umbrella over us while I cooked. I cooked the meet for about five minutes and then spread it out to the edges of the wok. Now it was time to add in the veggies that I put right in the middle. Still a lot of liquid from the sauce, but it worked out great as the veggies kind of boiled in the liquid. 

Finished Beef Stir Fry in Wok from Big Green Egg
Finished Stir Fry from BGE
I cooked the veggies in the middle of the meat for three or four minutes. It was then time to mix everything together and continue starring in the meat to the veggies. For another minutes or two and then it was time for more sauce. We used a packet for the stir fry sauce that needed to thicken up a little after it was added. After about two minutes, I could see the sauce had thickened and it was time to take it inside. 

Another success as it was delicious! Carrie did some rice in our rice cooker and we have enough for leftovers for us both tomorrow for lunch. We had some kimchi in our fridge that went along great with the stir fry. 

Following dinner, I went out to put the BGE back together and prepare it for the night. I noticed that it had cooled down very quickly with the chill in the air and rain. Normally, it takes a few hours for the grill to cool off, but tonight it had cooled down quickly.

Another successful night of grilling with the BGE using a wok. We loved it and I cannot wait to cook again with the wok. Our plan is to do multiple wok cooks this summer so we can have leftovers of various options through the week. Rice works great, but we also want to try doing noddles with with one of these cooks.

Have a great week and I will talk to you next week for Super Bowl Sunday.

Sunday, January 28, 2024

We Made Our First Trip to the Kansas City RV Show on Saturday to Look Around... Thinking About Future and Camping

Explore 2024 NB20.3
Explore 2024 NB20.3
Carrie and I have been tent camping for a few years now. We really enjoy the experience of tent camping although having a travel trailer would help us to be able to camp earlier and later in the season. We do have long-term plans to get a travel trailer, so this weekend we made a trip to the Kansas City RV Show to look around. 

We had a fun time walking around looking at the different options from small dome options to full motorhomes. It is truly amazing how much can be fit into the various options. Still, we are pulled to the direction of a travel trailer because we can hitch it to our Pilot, get to most any location, and leave the trailer while we site see or go to hiking locations.

Explore 2024 NB20.3 Floorplan
Explore 2024 NB20.3 Floorplan
The travel trailer that we reviewing is the Explore 2024 NB20.3. We are a few years out from doing anything about this new adventure, but it is fun to review and look at options. Some things we need to figure out include towing capacity of our Honda Pilot. I see it has a 5,000 lbs towing capacity, but the NB20.3 lists figures over the 5,000 lbs. Futher research is needed to understand if our Honda Pilot could haul this device not to mention also need to get a hitch for our Pilot.

It is exciting to review and think about getting a travel trailer. We are still a few years out before we do get one though. So, who knows, maybe at a future future Kansas City RV Show we will get a trailer once we have figured out hitch, storage, and exactly what we are wanting to buy.

As we look to camping for the spring, summer, and fall, we already have one spot reserved and talking about getting other dates selected for other camping adventures throughout the summer. We only went twice last year, so hoping to double, or triple, the amount of camping adventures this year. One day, we will have a travel trailer and be able to camp earlier and later into the season which will be a lot of fun.

Have a great week and if you are using a travel trailer, I would love to connect and discuss what you selected and why.

Sunday, January 21, 2024

Cold, Snow, Ice, Sweaters, and Spring Right Around the Corner

Oliver Keeping Warm in Sweater
Oliver Sweater
Cold, snowy, and short days the past few weeks but days are getting longer. I did notice this past week when driving home from work that the sun was setting and it was almost 5:30. I had left work late and driving home noticing there was still light in the sky and pink in the western sky. It was beautiful! No, I did not get a picture taken, but I did enjoy the fact that it does mean the days are gradually getting longer.

A few times when letting Oliver out to do his business, he would stand to lift one paw and then the other. He immediately started shivering as it was sub-zero temperatures. Poor guy! Carrie would carry him out to the middle of the yard a few times just to help his little paws. He was a sweater puppy when it is cold and seems to like wearing the sweaters. We did have one day where it got up in the twenties or so and Oliver wanted to spend time outside enjoying the sun. Crazy guy!

It has been below zero multiple days and snow on the ground multiple days which is longer than I recall in the past few years. As a kid, I recall having snow on the ground for days, or weeks, but the past couple of years it seems like it will snow and be gone after a few days. Not with the latest snow falls we have had lately. The temperatures hovering around zero allow the grassy areas, and even some streets/pavement, to keep a covering of snow. 

Last weekend, the Kansas City Chiefs played in one of the coldest games in NFL history. I was glad to watch the game from the comfort of a home and my beer not freezing. It was not a game I wished I was at while watching on television. I spoke to friends who did attend and it sounded miserable although they did say how they can say they were there and stuck it out to the end... well, almost the end. They left partway through the fourth quarter. Stories to tell though of frozen beers, ice for feet, and noses freezing. Good times!

Rest assured that the days are getting longer and it will soon be spring here in Kansas. The warm weather will be here before we know it and Oliver cannot wait!

Stay warm and I will talk to you next week...

Sunday, January 14, 2024

My Flickr Year 2023 in Review and Background on My Flickr Account Through the Years

MyFlickr for 2023 Stats

The majority of pictures posted on my site come from my Flickr page where I upload all of my pictures. I have been a paid member of Flickr since 2007. I have almost 10,000 photos on my Flickr account and trying to take more and more pictures each year. I often go back and look at past years through Flickr to remember what we did during a specific period of time. Of course I also often go back in my blog to review a trip or what we did during a specific week. 

For 2023, my most viewed picture was from a sunset I took one morning from Washburn University campus as I was walking into work. I entered the picture in a Your Best Shot 2023 group to try and win. I did not win, but it was fun having visitors view and comment on the picture. In the Flickr group, there were over 11,400 members with over 9,000 photos ranging from a variety of photographs. It was the second year I had joined a group for "Your Best Shot" and had fun reviewing all of the member posts with their "Best Shot" for the year.

The picture of the sunset had over 775 views since it was posted on November 3, 2023. The majority of the views coming from being part of the Your Best Shot 2023 group. Overall, I had almost 12,000 views for all of my pictures.

My goal for 2024 is to not only post more pictures to Flickr, but be more active on interacting in groups, other members pictures, and the big one which I have found helps to get views is to include tags on photos. A tag is similar to a hashtag on a tweet but does not necessarily need the typical "#" for a hashtag. Those do show up, but most of my tags are simply "Sunset", "Dog", "basketball", etc. Gives another way for others to search and possibly have whatever was posted show up in their search. I also try to put a title and description on all pictures that I upload. Again, I find that this helps when looking through stats to see how people found a picture.

Brief background into the site that stores pictures I post to this blog that I wanted to share. Hopefully in 2024 I will post more pictures and have more interactions with visitors to my Flickr photos.