I Hate Orange Lilies

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012 by Rachel

This wasn’t always the case. A few weeks ago, I stood in the Big Lots gardening aisle and held two bulb boxes in my hands. Day lily bulbs were on sale for only $2. Which should I choose? Pink or orange. The answer seemed so obvious. I left the store with an orange bulb, ready to plant it in an empty green pot immediately when I got home.


A few weeks ago, I was amazed to watch the first flower come to life in our yard. Since we moved here in winter, we didn’t know that the homeowners had planted flowers up the bank on the side of our house. I couldn’t believe it when I saw the orange lily pop open. I spent that day and the next few days taking pictures of these orange lilies. I was so excited to see flowers. I guess I’d never realized that Milledgeville was too hot for flowers like these. Even though they aren’t mine, I thought it was good practice taking these pictures for when my own container plants eventually have their first blooms.


But apparently orange lilies aren’t anything special. They keep showing up, day after day after day. I see them everywhere. Out our windows. In our side yard. In our backyard. Peeking out of our ravine. In the ivy at our driveway’s end. Across the street. In every house’s yard. In front of businesses. In the grassy median on the way to Walmart. Everywhere.


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How Rachel Got Her Gardening Groove Back

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012 by Rachel

As a freshman/sophomore in college and environmental science major, I always kept plants in my dorm room. I admired my lab partner Dustin’s super green dorm room that overflowed with plants. He gave me several “spider plant babies”, which I kept in the tiniest of pots. Plastic cups. Those plastic lids from empty CD dispensers. I loved keeping these guys alive on my window sill. I loved anything alive in my dorm room, which is why I ended up with several tanks of betas, rescued an aquarium of deformed guppies, and even brought Mudd the hamster into the picture (though he was evicted after three months by a lamo RA).


After changing my major and moving out of the dorms and into a real house, I lost all of the fish to age or accident, and Mudd escaped to live wildly in the walls. The plants stayed around until I adopted Bogie the cat, who will eat anything grassy and green. I tried putting plants on top of the refrigerator, but they died without access to sufficient light. In my next house, I kept a fern in the empty fireplace (where it was chewed on a lot before it died), and a few plants on hooks on the porch outside (which got too cold and died). I tried to keep “fridge plants” again in Flagstaff, but, again, they died. Plants on hooks on our Georgia porch didn’t work out too well either (they burnt out before the winter, when they… you know). I missed plants around the house, but between school, cross-country moves, and a crazy cat, they weren’t a priority. I couldn’t justify keeping them around, and the constant cycle of death depressed me.


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Things I learned about teaching while I haven’t been teaching

Thursday, April 26th, 2012 by Rachel

Until this January, I taught every semester for the past four and a half years. That’s nine semesters in a row. Nine semesters when I was responsible for one to three classes, constructing syllabi, planning lessons, checking homework, taking attendance, holding office hours, holding student conferences, grading four to eight papers, helping students channel their inner creative writers, orchestrating mini-workshops, etc.


This semester (yes, I still think of my time in terms of semesters), I have been focused on perfecting my performance as a Real Housewife of Hendersonville. The house is clean. My flower pots are thriving. Our pantry is stocked. I make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich every day when I pack my husband’s lunch. Dinner is almost always on the table when I hear my husband click his garage door opener. I have hosted one party and several overnight guests. I go to bed early, and I’m up early. It’s a good life.


There are constant reminders everywhere that I am not teaching. The 90% of my friends who are still teaching. The TV. The Little Red Riding Hood centerpiece on my desk (a student gift). The books downstairs I’m not teaching out of anymore. I think about it a lot.


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Elvis and Anabelle

Friday, March 9th, 2012 by Rachel

I like Lifetime movies. I have no shame in my love of Lifetime movies. But today I watched a movie on Lifetime Movie Network that was sooo much better than a Lifetime movie. This movie is proof that you should not turn your nose up at something just because of the channel it is on. Yeah, I’m saying it. Don’t judge a book by its cover and all that jazz.


Elvis and Anabelle is one of the best romance movies I’ve seen in a while. I was a little turned off by the opening scene of embalming, simply because the last undertaker movie I watched (After Life) really rubbed me the wrong way. I actually paused it and told myself, “Power through; maybe this character will make it worthwhile.” He did. I had no problems once I got past the opening scene.


This is a movie that brings two misfits together when an undertaker’s son (Max Minghella) saves a beauty queen (Blake Lively). I’m hesitant to bring specifics into this for fear of spoiling things, but this romance is really a modern day fairy tale. Though the problem that eventually brings a rift between them seems a little contrived, the chemistry is there, the love is there, and the kindred spirits are believable, despite their very different attitudes and backgrounds.


I don’t know much about Blake Lively, as I’ve never gotten into Gossip Girl, but we saw her last weekend in a very different role as a Boston drug addict and tramp in The Town. She is definitely a talented actress with a lot of potential in terms of her range. I also want to make sure to point out amazing side characters—Elvis’s dad (played by Joe Mantegna in the best role I’ve EVER seen him in) and Anabelle’s mom (played by Mary Steenburgen, who I mostly know as Ted Danson’s wife, but she is fantastic in every project she takes on).


I’m no expert in terms of cinematography, but I know when I like how something looks. And this movie has some really beautiful scenes in it. The movie becomes progressively lighter (visually and thematically) as it works from beginning to end, and it’s interesting how/when more and more color is introduced. The shots of Elvis’s house and the surrounding area are awesome. This movie makes me want to pack up and go buy a farmhouse in Texas…or maybe just visit sometime.


Two thumbs up for Elvis and Anabelle. Keep an eye out for it if you are wanting a nice, relaxing, surprising movie that covers a lot of thematic ground, from suicide to disability to near death experiences to what happens when a Harold meets a Maude.

And Soon the Darkness

Thursday, March 8th, 2012 by Rachel

Let’s be honest here. I watched this movie for the title. Darkness is one of my favorite words. I saw this movie on Starz the other day when I was clicking through channels, and I DVRed it, knowing it would be right up my alley. I watched it today because I wanted a break from Lifetime and Melrose Place, and it was the first movie at the top of my DVR list that fit the bill.


And Soon the Darkness is a remake of a 1970s British thriller of the same name, which I have not seen and may or may not add to my list. Two women are cycling through Argentina. When one of them goes missing, the other one is left to find her. It’s pretty obvious early on that it’s 1) dangerous for women to be in a foreign country, 2) dangerous for women to be alone in a foreign country, 3) strange foreign men are dangerous. We’re just waiting for one woman to be alone so a man can abduct her. It’s REALLY obvious.


Because it’s so in your face from the beginning of this movie that things in Argentina are dangerous, this movie is definitely lacking in the thrills area. I watched a Lifetime movie yesterday called A Deadly Encounter, and this movie (even with its horrible and unintriguing title!) was more suspenseful. I’m not sure where And Soon the Darkness went wrong. The abduction scene wasn’t scary. The rescue scene wasn’t scary. When characters get killed, I’m not scared. I’m just like… well, that’s what happens when you’re in Argentina. Shouldn’t have gone to Argentina. You should’ve gone to Las Vegas. Nothing bad happens in Las Vegas.


It’s so unfortunate that this movie falls flat, because the two main lead actresses are actually pretty good. Amber Heard plays the “good girl”, and I saw her (and enjoyed her performance, if you remember) recently in Drive Angry. Odette Yustman (who is now…Odette Annable? Seriously, actresses should only keep their maiden names or hyphenate married names, because it’s confusing) plays the “bad girl”, and I really liked her in The Unborn, which I saw a few years ago and thought was pretty underrated as a horror film. Both Heard and Yustman/Annable played their roles well separately and together, and they are really believable as best friends. I wanted more of them. I empathized with them. But I still wasn’t scared when bad stuff happened to them.


So, today brought you a lukewarm review. I don’t want my 90 minutes back, but I’m not sure if I’d recommend it. Lesson learned: Titles can be more interesting than movies.

Melrose Place — Season Four

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012 by Rachel

I gave up on Melrose Place for a while. I posted my Season Three review on September 30, 2011. Yeah, last year. After completing that post, I got six or seven episodes into Season Four and just stopped watching. There are a few reasons why this happened. First, I began watching Law and Order (the original) more regularly. Second, I was preoccupied with submitting poems like a crazy person and helping plan our move. And third, the most important of my reasons for stopping watching Melrose Place, was Brooke.


I complained about Kristin Davis in my Season Three review. Her Brooke is manipulative and obnoxious and screws up everything. She is the reason for the two week hiatus I took while watching Season Three, and she is the reason I took this FOUR MONTH hiatus in the middle of Season Four. I can’t stand her.


I resumed watching Melrose Place because I finished watching all of the available Law & Order seasons on Netflix streaming (all eight. Where are the other ten+??? That’s for another entry). I watched Melrose Place only out of my Law & Order heartbreak and a sense of obligation to this website, as Melrose-related keywords bring me a lot of traffic for some reason. I powered through only hoping that something could happen. Brooke made everything worse and worse. It even got to the point where none of her fellow characters liked her anymore. I disliked Billy for being a Brooke-fan; once he became a Brooke-hater, I rooted for Billy again.


And guess what, the Melrose Gods stepped in and killed her. Brooke is dead. She fell and hit her head. Then she drowned. In the pool. I have wanted a pool death forever! I have been very very careful about avoiding spoilers in all past season reviews, but I don’t even care. I hate her! She’s gone. Since she died, I was able to power through the rest of Season Four easily, watching sometimes four or five episodes in a row without a shred of anxiety or angst.


Ignoring Brooke, Season Four isn’t a bad one. Dr. Peter Burns has grown on me. Dr. Mancini is always my favorite, and he had a lot of good moments with his never-changing trio of women: Jane, Sydney, and Kimberly. I also enjoyed some of Jake’s romances this season, and he’s a character I’ve been bored with for a while. Season Four brings a few celebrity cameos (my favorites being Priscilla Presley and Denise Richards) that I wasn’t expecting (perhaps because the show was more successful by this point?), and I hope that more celebrities show up in Season Five and beyond. So now that I’ve knocked this entry out, I’m starting Season Five immediately. My love for Melrose has been restored. I’m so excited!


Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012 by Rachel

During our first week living here, we created tons and tons of trash. Boxes, bubble wrap, wadded up balls of tape. You just can’t help the amount you generate when you move. We couldn’t believe it when we called to set up our first trash pickup to find out our home was not eligible. Derrick and I must live a tenth of a mile outside the city limits. This was panic time. We couldn’t live in trash forever!


We knew many of our neighbors had trash pickup from private companies, but finding a private company that fit our needs seemed to be much more of a hassle than it was worth. Some required special blue bags. Some required that you own your own trash bins. We couldn’t even compare the companies and cost-effectiveness of each, because all of the requirements were so different.


The owners left us a note with helpful Hendersonville tips, and one of them was that if we took equal amounts trash and recyclables to the city dump, it was free. Still, the idea of hauling trash in my little Grand Am didn’t seem ideal. It’s different for van/truck/SUV drivers. I just imagined vegetable juice and litter spilling all over the inside of my trunk.


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Tuna Melt Omelet

Friday, February 10th, 2012 by Rachel

I had tuna salad yesterday with a side of a tortilla. It was good, but I didn’t want the same meal again today for lunch. Inspired by my successful salmon scramble of last week, I thought I’d try bringing egg into the mix. It was a delicious success! The mayonnaise and mustard kept the inside of the omelet flavorful and moist.


Tuna Melt Omelet


2 organic cage-free brown eggs
½ can Starkist Autentico Chunk Light Tuna in Oil and Vegetables
Smart Balance Cooking Spray
Smart Balance Mayonnaise
Brown Mustard
1 handful Kraft Mexican Four Cheese Mix


Pull out two small bowls and a frying pan. Preheat frying pan to medium. Crack two eggs in one bowl and mix with fork. Put tuna in second bowl, and add your desired amount of mayonnaise and mustard. I used a small spoonful of mayonnaise and a dime-sized squirt of mustard. Mix together. You have made tuna salad.


When pan is preheated, you are ready to make your omelet. Pour in egg. Hold pan up, and swirl it slowly so egg will reach all edges of the pan in a perfect circle. Replace on burner. Cook until edges begin to curl up and you can slide a spatula under them. You do not want the top of the egg to be wet, but it can still be shiny. When it is dry, spread tuna salad on one half of omelet. Sprinkle cheese on top of the tuna.


Fold other half of omelet on top, so you now have a half moon shape and you’ve got the tuna salad and cheese melting yummily on the inside. Cook for one minute. Carefully flip omelet (I had some tuna want to gush out the edges), and cook the other side for one minute. Enjoy! I served with a side of tortilla chips, but a tortilla or a piece of toast would also work well.


If you finished a can of tuna, let your cat lick the can.

Movies Make Me Cry

Thursday, February 9th, 2012 by Rachel

The Vow is coming out on Friday. Every time I see the trailer for it, I almost cry. It’s terrible. The instant I hear that the wife can no longer remember her husband and he’s going to work to bring those memories back to her and rebuild their relationship, my eyes well up uncontrollably. It’s happening right now. I can’t even stop it. And I want to see this movie so terribly. I’ve never requested a Valentine’s movie date before. Ever. But I can’t help myself.


Now let me just say that in general I am a cryer. Yes, this is my confession. I’m Rachel. I cry. Most people who have known me for a long time have seen me cry. But most people also would know that I don’t go out of my way to cry—it just happens, spontaneously (but still appropriately).


I have watched five movies this week… and four of the five made me cry. Perhaps these tears are because my movie selection this week has been a little different from the chainsaw/murder-fest I usually put on for background. Our HBO/Cinemax/Starz trial has brought me movies that wouldn’t normally show up in our DVD lineup. Maybe this is a seasonal problem/craving, brought on only by my mild obsession with The Vow. Still, not all of the movies that have made me cry have been tragic romances. I’ll stop blabbering now. Here are my little mini-reviews… Perhaps you want to cry too?


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Drive Angry

Saturday, February 4th, 2012 by Rachel

We traded in Bridesmaids last night for an in-store movie. We took our time in the store, which was a comfortable temperature and was pretty busy for a Friday night. Derrick was recognized twice by old high school friends (this IS a small town. That would never happen to me in Greensboro!) Trying to select a Blu-Ray instead of a DVD narrowed the field a little bit, and I chose Drive Angry early on as a possible contender. I carried it around the store with me, and Derrick thought I was crazy for thinking this could be our Friday night movie. I suggested several other movies (which I won’t name in case they end up being reviewed), but I was most excited about Drive Angry.


I remember seeing the title on our theatre’s marquee last year. I don’t remember ever seeing a trailer for it. But Nic Cage hasn’t steered us wrong lately (I take that back; a few months ago, I DID shut off Season of the Witch 10 minutes in). I didn’t want to pick out a comedy—or rather a comedy that was SUPPOSED to be a comedy. I wanted something fun that we didn’t have to think about too much. I like explosions. Derrick thought I was crazy, but he skeptically went along with me.


Drive Angry is probably one of my favorite movies I’ve seen this year…I know 2012 hasn’t been around very long, but still! I don’t want to go into any specifics about plot or characters because I think the surprise worked in the movie’s favor for us. Drive Angry is an over-the-top (purposefully, mind you!) hilarious action movie originally filmed in 3D (expect some of 3D’s cheesy antics, stuff flying at the screen, etc.) There are lots of explosions (YAY!) and goon killings. Nicholas Cage is believable, both tough and compassionate. Amber Heard was a likeable female lead. Derrick’s favorite character was The Accountant, played by William Fichtner (who we know best from Entourage, Go, The Dark Knight, but he’s in a ton of stuff—you’d recognize him if you saw him).


About forty minutes into the movie, Derrick looked over at me and asked, “Do you think this movie had the wrong title?” This is a legitimate question. I don’t know what Drive Angry sets you up for, but I imagine it turns some viewers off—Derrick, for example. But ultimately, this was a movie that we both enjoyed, and I’ll end up buying to watch again.