July 29 2017

Atomic Blonde Vs. Despicable Me 3

Now this might seem an odd pairing but let me explain. Both of these movies use music from the 1980s to set the tone for the story. If you know me, you know that I feel the 1980s was a musical era like no other. I’ve been pleased that filmmakers have embraced 80s music the past few years. It is in this spirit, that I offer my review of these two movies. I will not go into plot detail or give away any spoilers.

On our way to see Atomic Blonde, we were listening to the 80s channel (of course) on Sirius XM and Charlize Theron was guest hosting and waxing poetic about her movie and the wonderful music in it. Needless to say, this got me pumped up to see it. Well, let me just say that while there were some good tunes in the movie, it often felt forced to me. How do I put it? Like jamming a square peg into a round hole. They just wanted the music to fit the scenes soooo badly. Sometimes it worked, mostly it didn’t. This movie was such a complicated and convoluted mess. To call this the female James Bond is a travesty. Sometimes I think that filmmakers don’t think that movie goers can watch a movie that isn’t full of constant action. It’s ridiculous. This is a seriously dark movie with very little humor to lighten the load. I also have trouble with a character (especially a very waif-like female agent) that can repeatedly get attacked, punched, thrown down stairs, etc. and still walk away without so much as a broken bone.

In contrast, I had no idea that Despicable Me 3 was going to be using 80s music when I went to see it. Consequently, I was pleasantly surprised when I realized the movie’s villain was a former 80s child star and had grown up obsessed with music from that time period. Every song was spot on perfect and worked beautifully to fit the story. I suppose it helped that I have always been a huge fan of this franchise. Was it the best of these movies? No. I doubt that they will ever be able to capture the magic of the first movie simply because it was all new and unique at that point. Still, this was fun and certainly not a disappointment.

So to sum it all up:

Atomic Blonde had a difficult plot to follow and I never found myself rooting for the main character. Frankly, it was an atomic bomb!

My score: D

Despicable Me 3 was fun, full of great 80s humor and music, and had those delightful minions.

My score: A

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July 28 2017

Five Favorites Friday – Ice Cream/Gelato

It’s summer time and that means perfect weather for ice cream! I think most people love it but I have to say that as an adult, I tend to gravitate to other sweet treats more than ice cream. One reason may be that my teeth are extremely sensitive to the cold and it’s not as fun to eat ice cream as when I was a kid. Still… I recently discovered something. I love gelato. It’s creamier, smoother, and silkier than ice cream. Oh my! Who knew? I gotta say the Italians win hands down when it comes to frozen dairy desserts! And the wonderful thing is that it’s much more readily available in America now. So my five favorites for this Friday are a mixture of ice cream and gelatos!

Chocolate Almond

My favorite place to get this kind of ice cream is at Cold Stone. They mix in a delightful amount of almonds with the ice cream. But a gelato version is good as well.


Chocolate Vanilla Swirl

This flavor is best in a soft serve cone from Dairy Queen.


Cookie Dough

I really don’t like hard pieces of chocolate in my ice cream but I make an exception for this flavor – bonus if there is more dough than chocolate chips, of course.


Orange Vanilla

I’m not sure which I like more – a soft serve version or a sherbet version. Either way, vanilla is meant to be paired with orange when it’s not pairing with chocolate.


Raspberry Cheesecake

This gelato from Breyers is positively sinful. Cheesecake gelato intertwined with a raspberry sauce and topped with a graham cracker crumble! You’ll think you’ve died and gone to heaven.

But wait! Before you run out and go get some, here are some fun facts about ice cream:

For all of you Neopolitan ice cream lovers, did you know that the early version of this ice cream was actually made with green pistachio, vanilla, and cherry ice cream to resemble the Italian flag?

Professional ice cream taste-testers (what a dream job!) use a special gold spoon to try ice creams because it leaves no trace flavor of what was on the spoon last.

Food photographers sometimes use modified mashed potatoes as a stand-in for ice cream in photos.

Ice cream flavors in US colonial times are still mainstays like vanilla and strawberry.  Others, however, didn’t have staying power like oyster, parmesan, and asparagus.  I wonder why…

The last thing Elvis Presley ate was four scoops of ice cream and six chocolate chip cookies. I don’t even want to know how that was figured out. But was this how cookie dough ice cream started?! A quick internet investigation reveals that it was an anonymous suggestion to Ben & Jerry’s. So it could have been Elvis!

Now go out there and get some ice cream or gelato!





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July 27 2017

Shadow of the Mountain


Part time work has always suited me and I am fortunate that I am have the choice to work part time as I see fit. I like the routine of a job but I also like my time at home and being able to pursue other interests (like blogging!) I’ve worked at churches for many years, first at a Catholic church and now for a Disciples of Christ Christian church. Both places have taught me a lot about people and my faith. Don’t worry! I have no intention of expounding on that. I believe wholeheartedly that everyone must find their own way to what they believe or don’t believe. It’s a personal journey and one I will be on my whole life.

The church I work for is called Sombra Del Monte and that means “shadow of the mountain.” It’s a beautiful name and very appropriate for Albuquerque. This coming December I will have been the office manager there for four years! It’s a small congregation and, consequently, I have come to know all of its members in one way or another. They are generous and kind people, very devoted to their church and caring for each other. As with all churches, they’ve had highs and lows, harmony and disagreements, triumphs and losses. When I started my job, I had big shoes to fill as the office manager before me had been working there for 38 plus years. I was hesitant to make any waves or changes but the OCD part of my nature kicked in after a while and I just had to start organizing and putting my own stamp on things. It soon became a joke that if you couldn’t find something it was because I had put it away. Haha! Eventually, they realized they always knew just where to find something. I’m nothing if not consistent and dependable! So it has been my pleasure to work at Sombra Del Monte and learn all about the people and their faith. Being accepted by the congregation has been a huge blessing. Sad to say that these days the congregation numbers are dwindling. There is talk of the church eventually closing down. It saddens me to think that a church founded in 1954 will one day be sold and possibly demolished, depending on the buyer. I don’t know the magical equation to making a church grow. I can only do my part to the best of my ability. For now, I will be grateful for the days I have there, even if my main view is a brick wall! No time for daydreaming by looking out the window but look how organized it is!

I can always go into the sanctuary for a different view and some serenity.

One of the things I love about Sombra Del Monte is how homey it is. There are pillows in the pews as well as shawls to borrow if you are chilly.

They also have a meal for everyone after worship service every Sunday. It really fosters community and friendship.

So I generally feel a sense of peace while at work (well, maybe not on Mondays!) but the past two weeks have been decidedly different. You see, the church has been vandalized. A giant red brick was recently thrown through one of the windows. We all figured it was just a random act of stupidity and tried to shrug it off as best as we could. But the following week, the same thing happened – another giant brick thrown through a window. This time, however, they did not stop there. They also launched some sort of rocket into the building which left a huge scorch mark in the carpet and caught a podium on fire.

It is miraculous that the church did not burn down and, instead, the fire was fleeting and burnt out quickly. For the church to be targeted twice in such a manner has been extremely unsettling for me. I’ve spent the past two weeks on edge, jumping at every sound. I’m angry that someone would do this, especially to a quiet little church. I’m angry that my sense of peacefulness has been taken away. There are just some things that defy comprehension. But I’ve come to realize that giving into fear is not productive. I will be mindful and cautious but I won’t let someone else take away my peace of mind.

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July 21 2017

Five Favorites Friday – Junk Food

It’s been one of those weeks – maybe you know the kind I’m talking about. Lots of unexpected snafus and happenings that seem to suck the hours out of your day and the energy from your body. I am disappointed to not have been able to write more. And here it is Friday once again. So I shall at least do my regular Five Favorites Friday post if nothing else! Last Friday was National Mac & Cheese Day and I did a post about my favorite cheeses. So I decided to find out what “national” day it is today – haha. It’s crazy that there are so many “national” days that every day of the year has at least one thing to celebrate. Come to find out, today is National Junk Food Day. As if we need a reason to celebrate junk food! In order to narrow down my choices to five, I decided to focus on the junk food that I only eat when on a road trip. Because when you are on the road, lots of junk food is allowed, right? Or is that just me? Please say it isn’t just me!

Funyons  – these are the worst! They give you horrible breath and tear up your mouth because they are so hard and crunchy. I love them.



Lorna Doone Cookies – I have a serious weakness for shortbread and these are so deliciously buttery and good.



Peanut M&Ms – these may or may not be only reserved for road trips. *wink*



Pizza Combos – I can’t fathom why I like these so much but they are made with real cheese so they can’t be that bad for you, right?



Snickers (Peanut Butter) – does this one really need an explanation?  Nope.


As always, I would love to hear what your favorites are, especially the ones you get on road trips! In the coming week, I hope to write more and I am also planning on doing something new to share with you. Stay tuned!




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July 14 2017

Five Favorites Friday – Say Cheese!

Today is National Mac and Cheese Day! And let’s be honest, what would this comfort dish be without the cheese? Just a bunch of wet noodles! The best mac and cheese I ever had was at a quaint little place called Home Restaurant in Greenwich Village while vacationing in New York City. Unfortunately, that restaurant is now closed; but I did learn that the secret to a wonderful macaroni and cheese dish was in using several different cheeses making it incredibly decadent and a nightmare for the lactose intolerant! Cheese has been around for thousands of years and because it is so long-lasting and versatile, just about every culture has found a way to make it their own. There are about 2000 varieties of cheese including maggot cheese. Yeah, Google that one. I kid you not. Anyway, it was tough but I managed to choose my five favorite cheeses.


This cheese is from Italy and is lumped in with the family of Romano and Parmesan cheese. I prefer the sweeter and nuttier taste of Asiago. It also has a much softer texture and is wonderful when melted and combined with other cheeses.


Ah, good ‘ole cheddar cheese – one of the most popular cheeses and it can be used to make any dish better! It’s the bacon of cheeses.

Cream Cheese

Two reasons this makes my list: cheesecake and green chile chicken enchiladas. You gotta have cream cheese for both!


The most popular cheese worldwide and it’s all because of pizza. Okay, it’s also a cheese that is made for melting so it’s wonderful to cook with. And let’s not forget mozzarella sticks with marinara sauce. YUM!


As much as I like cheese, I was never fond of it on a hamburger. That is until one day when I had a burger with a slice of provolone. *lightbulb* I prefer light-colored cheeses with mellow flavors.


Here’s some more cheesy fun:

You need ten pounds of milk to make one pound of cheese.

The people of Greece are the largest consumers of cheese worldwide. The US produces the most cheese in the world annually.  You’re welcome, Greece!

A giant wheel of cheddar cheese weighing over 1,000 pounds was given to Queen Victoria for a wedding gift.  Normally, a cheddar wheel weighs 60-75 pounds. You have to wonder what prompted that gift but it seems she didn’t know what to do with it and so she sent it on a tour of England. Haha! In contrast, President Andrew Jackson once had a block of cheddar cheese delivered to the White House that was four feet in diameter and two feet thick, weighing in at nearly 1400 pounds. He invited 10,000 visitors to the White House to eat it and it was gone within two hours. So there you go. Now you know have two options of what to do when someone gives you a giant wheel of cheese!

Turophilia is a love of or obsession with cheese.

When you say “cheese”, your mouth forms into a smile-like shape, hence the phrase “say cheese” when you are getting your picture taken!


All of a sudden I’m very hungry.  Hmm… This turophile is off in search of the perfect cheesy dish for dinner.






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July 10 2017

What’s Behind Me is Not Important

This blog post will be a bit of a departure from the usual for me but I really want to help a good friend reach a goal! I met John almost a decade ago when I was working at a church that we both attended. Back then, John volunteered his time every week creating beautiful audio/visual presentations for the church services on Sunday. The thing that first struck me about him was his sense of humor. He was always ready with a quick one-liner or funny anecdote. John and I eventually started working together and I saw first hand his passion and dedication to whatever he was working on. I would always look forward to seeing his smiling face when he arrived at the office, the inevitable giant cup of iced tea in his hand. He was always busy but never too busy to listen and share a joke. While those particular days are over, we still get together for lunch when we can to catch up with each other. If you spend just a few minutes with John, it quickly becomes evident that his family and friends mean the world to him. He has such a positive outlook on life and that is inspiring. He is unfailingly supportive and so it’s no surprise that he is now dedicated to raising funds for awareness and research for multiple sclerosis. In his own words:

“This will be my sixth year to participate in a Bike MS event and I could simply say that I ride for a family member or friend but the story has more depth. I took up biking in 2010 after my knees told me that my running days were over. In the beginning, I abhorred cycling. But I had just enough stick-to-itiveness within me to finally find the joy of riding. I had an old Wal-Mart million-pound bike that I borrowed from my son. I rode round and round the neighborhood until I had the courage to venture out a few miles from home. Every day the miles increased and so did the desire to ride more and more.

On September 10, 2011, I participated in my first organized ride, the Cowtown Classic in Fort Worth, Texas. I chose the 45-mile route and felt like a champion. I actually cried with pure joy and happiness at the first rest stop: this was the coolest thing I had ever done. I was hooked. Thus, began my search for more rides with more miles. I continued training and since I rode the same routes around Albuquerque day after day, I wanted to see some new horizons. I read in a bike magazine about a ride that was held in all 50 states and the next scheduled one was in May of 2011, starting in Monmouth NJ and traveling the ocean front ending in Cape May, the southern tip of NJ. Two days, 180 miles, ocean, and 1,200 strangers that I had never ridden with before – welcome to my first Bike MS Coast the Coast!

To me, the ride was an organized event, rest stops every 10-12 miles, dinner Saturday night, and some comradery among the cyclists. At that point, there was no established connection between the event and its purpose. Multiple sclerosis was just another cause for which money was being raised. I was after the bike ride experience. And goodness did the experience sneak up on me. If I can pinpoint a single item that changed my thinking, it was not the biking. Instead, it was the people. I began to meet person after person whose life or family was affected by MS. The conversations were amazing. The stories grabbed me like none other. I had been hooked again; not by cycling, but by the MS Movement!

We were riding not only for fundraising for research and services, but for awareness of the impact that MS can have on an individual, their families, their work, and their life. The more I learned, the more I wanted to know. Then came the next awakening back home: I had friends that had MS. While I knew the name of the disease, I knew little else. Suddenly my eyes were opened to whole new world of the impact that MS had on people that were personal friends of mine.

Six months later I traveled to Cherry Hill, New Jersey to ride in the City to Shore along with 7,000 of my closest friends. And every year since, I have completed two Bike MS rides per year. I have ridden thousands of training miles for these rides to bring awareness of those living with MS, and fundraise in support of programs, and research and development. Support for my riding is incredibly important to me. Everyone’s financial generosity makes a big difference to all those whose lives are affected by MS. Together we’re making a better world for them.”


As someone who suffers from a chronic illness myself, I am grateful for the people who support and encourage others with a devastating disease. I know without a doubt that if the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation had a bike ride to raise funds for research, John would be out there riding for me. During one of our lunches recently, we were talking about the twists and turns life takes at times and he mentioned a favorite quote from the movie, Gumball Rally. Raul Julia, playing the Italian driver, Franco, is about to embark on the race when he rips off the rear-view mirror in his car and throws it away. He then says,

“What’s behind me is not important.”

Words to live by indeed. Don’t dwell on the past. Keep moving forward!

John has already done a number of bike rides for MS and his enthusiasm has not waned. He is currently in training to do the Pedal los Pueblos ride on August 26 & 27 which traverses more than 150 miles in northern New Mexico. 150 miles! If you would like to help John reach his goal, please visit his fundraising page: Bike MS Fundraising Page for John Turney

Of course, the donation would be tax-deductible, but more importantly, you would be supporting a great cause! MS affects millions of people. Let’s help in finding a cure.

You can also follow John on Facebook: John Turney Bike Adventures

Godspeed on your upcoming ride, John!

I know you will give it your all!



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July 8 2017

Spider-Man: Homecoming – Movie Review

This is the third reboot of Spider-Man. Here’s hoping that three is a charm because multiple reboots of the same character gets annoying. I will say that this movie at least spares us the details of Peter Parker getting bitten by a spider, the death of his Uncle Ben, and the whole spiel of “with great power comes great responsibility.” Okay, let me just say that Spider-Man is not my favorite superhero by any means. The name alone can bring on an attack of arachnophobia for me. Plus I’ve always had issues with his web-slinging abilities. To me, he should have the natural ability to web-sling with an endless supply of webbing material at his disposal – after all, he’s got super strength and agility, clings to most surfaces, and has that “spider-sense.” Why not an endless stream of webbing? In this movie, Spider-Man’s web-throwing is provided by wrist devices that can run out of material. That does not impress me.

Now that I have that out of the way, I will say I enjoyed the movie for the most part. It picks up a couple of months after the events of the last Captain America movie. Peter Parker is back home with the Spider-Man suit that Tony Stark (aka Iron Man) has given him. The suit has technological advances but has been programmed to be in training mode. So Peter is pretty much left to his own devices without any further assistance from Stark. Oh yes, Stark keeps tabs on him just to make sure he doesn’t do “too” much.  To his credit, Peter does his best to be a local hero. The movie’s primary focus is on his teen struggles and his high school classmates. His school mates are believable and well thought-out characters. Peter’s friend, Ned, is especially endearing. His sheer excitement upon finding out his best friend is Spider-Man is adorable and funny. These are the parts of the movie that I enjoyed the most. After all, Peter is only 15 and he’s often distracted by school matters and his budding love for a special girl. On top of that, his struggles to use his super powers effectively is refreshing. He’s not perfect and doesn’t have all the right moves.

Of course, Peter eventually gets in a bit over his head when he stumbles upon the villain of the movie. It seems implausible to me that Tony Stark (as well as all the Avengers) would not have been more concerned about Vulture who is making weapons from alien materials. Oh, if you were expecting to see a lot of Iron Man in this movie, you will be disappointed. I was personally okay with it as this movie is supposed to be about Spider-Man. Besides, Tony Stark is oftentimes not that nice despite being an Avenger. So Peter is doing his best with little guidance on how to proceed in his role as hero. Stark only steps in when he doesn’t like how Peter uses the suit and just takes it away. Granted, Peter’s friend, Ned, had helped him turn off the training mode of the suit but I can’t say I blame Peter for wanting to do that. Why didn’t Stark take Peter under his wing more? Oh yeah, because Stark is a self-centered ass the majority of the time.

At this point, the movie goes more into action mode and some of it was hard to follow at times. I did enjoy the scenes in which Peter discovers all the new modes of a suit without restrictions. The interrogation mode, in particular, will having you laughing out loud. I do feel the movie was a bit long at 2 hours and 13 minutes but when all is said and done, the ending was satisfactory. Tom Holland gives us a likable Spider-Man with heart and humor. He is very convincing as a teen hero.

One side note: the video clips of Captain America during the movie were hilarious. Stay to the very end of the credits for one last laugh!

My score: B


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July 7 2017

Five Favorites Friday – Vintage Disney Movies

I’m back on my nostalgia kick and this week’s Five Favorites is brought to you by Disney!

Walt Disney Studios is a champion film production company in my humble opinion. I’m much more likely to see a movie if Disney is involved. Of course, Disney is known for their wonderful animated movies but they made a lot of fun live action movies that I loved to watch over and over again back in the day. Some of these movies have been remade by Disney but the originals are always the best – that’s why they are classics after all!

The Apple Dumpling Gang

Tim Conway and Don Knotts – what a comedic duo. Watching the two of them try to break into a bank vault is hilarious! If you’re into movie trivia, Bill Bixby, the star of this film, went on to play Bruce Banner in the TV show, The Incredible Hulk.

The Love Bug

What’s not to love about Herbie, an anthropomorphic car, that is determined to help its owner’s love life and wins a race coming in first and third place! If you don’t know how that could happen, watch the movie!

The Parent Trap

One of my all time favorites. I love all the actors in this movie and they play their parts so well. I still giggle when I think of the twins tricking Vicky into banging two sticks together to keep away the mountain lions, just one of many pranks these “two” pull off. Love Hayley Mills!

That Darn Cat

Another fun Hayley Mills flick with the equally awesome Dean Jones. The plot centers around the FBI following and being eluded by DC or “Darn Cat” who has been in contact with a kidnapping victim that they are trying to find. Watching them chase this ornery kitty is comedic gold.

The Ugly Dachshund

Brutus, the Great Dane, is raised by a family of dachshunds and consequently thinks he’s one too. I love a fun dog movie and this one is so cute. I just realized that Dean Jones is in this movie as well as The Love Bug. Hmm… maybe I had a slight crush on him.

Honorable Mentions:

The Cat From Outer Space

Freaky Friday

The Incredible Journey

The Shaggy D.A.







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July 4 2017

Happy Independence Day!

It’s time to celebrate America’s 241st birthday! Time for BBQ, watermelon, parades, ball games, concerts, and fireworks. Most importantly, it’s time to give thanks for our freedoms. Oh, and it’s time for some new patriotic photos of Maxwell Smart!

I’ve dressed up Max so many times over the years and he’s always such a good sport about it. Of course, he does get a lot of treats for each photo shoot so it’s not too ruff on him! This is one photogenic pup if I do say so myself! This guy stole my heart from the first moment I saw him. He is sweet and smart but he has no grace whatsoever – haha! Watch out if he’s after a toy or hears something outside – he’ll run roughshod right over you. And I’ve been head-butted quite a few times over the years. But I love him bunches. So you can imagine how distressed I was when I recently discovered a small growth on his eyelid. My vet took a conservative approach at first by shaving off the tumor in hopes it would not grow back. Well, it did grow back. I was not looking forward to Max being in that dreadful “cone of shame” for two weeks so I scheduled the surgery for a few weeks later. In the interim, I noticed that the tumor appeared to be getting smaller and smaller! Yesterday I took him to the vet and she confirmed that no surgery was needed! Max’s immune system was taking care of the problem. Now it’s possible the tumor may return but I am confident that it won’t. I am so very thankful that my boy does not need surgery. Look at that sweet face!

Thanking God for my many blessings and wishing everyone a very happy Independence Day!

Make sure you keep your pets safe tonight!

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July 1 2017

O Canada!

I’ve never been to Canada but I have lots of friends who live there. How wondrous is the digital age that has allowed me to connect with people from all over the world, in particular my friends to the north! I have to say that before I “met” my Canadian friends, my knowledge of their country was limited to random images of Mounties, moose, geese, maple leaves, snow, and hockey. But over the years, my knowledge and respect for Canadians has increased and I hope to one day see their beautiful country for myself and meet these lovely people in person. I mean, this country has incredible landscapes – mountains, lakes (over 2 million!), and forests that look breathtakingly stunning from the images I’ve seen. Ryan Reynolds, Michael J. Fox, and Bryan Adams were all born in Canada. And one of my favorite books, Anne of Green Gables, was written by Canadian Lucy M. Montgomery. Thanks, Canada!

Today is Canada’s 150th birthday and I’d like to share a few things I’ve learned about my northern neighbors from my interactions with them on Facebook.

  • They have an extreme tolerance for cold weather.  If you come to Albuquerque, you might want to avoid the summer months, my friends!
  • They’ve built special highway overpasses for wildlife.
  • They have a wicked fun sense of humor.
  • They love their Tim Horton’s! You gotta love a country that consumes the most doughnuts in the world!
  • They like to end their sentences with “eh” which can mean agreement, confirmation, or question.
  • Their money smells like maple syrup. Makes me think American money should smell like apple pie, maybe?
  • They love mac ‘n cheese more than Americans do!

It is always a pleasure to interact with my Canadian pals on Facebook.  I look forward to learning more about your country. You are true friends to your neighbor to the south. Wishing all of you a very happy holiday.






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