January 29, 2015

American Sniper, 2014 (movie review)

Exceptional... but extremely bloody.

Last Sunday evening after Mass, I made the snap decision to catch the late show of Clint Eastwood's American Sniper, the true story of Chris Kyle, a U.S. Navy SEAL and the most lethal sniper in U.S. military history. He is called a legend. His job was to combat evil. He has over 160 confirmed enemy kills to his name and had served four tours in Iraq. At one time, he was the most wanted man in the Middle East. It was difficult work, what he did, but it's what needs to be done at times, and no one did it better than Chris Kyle.

Based on Kyle's autobiography, American Sniper opens on a city devastated by the Iraq war, a place that has become the temporary home of American troops, and Kyle (Bradley Cooper) far from home, behind the sight of his sandy-colored Mk 12 Special Purpose Rifle with a pocket-sized New Testament by his side.

January 27, 2015

because HISTORY

The view from floor 13.
The group with whom I went to the March for Life this year had an extra day to wander and explore the city. This is the first time I've had so much extra time on my hands, and I was surprise how quickly it went by. A handful of us left our hotel around 10:30 a.m. after savoring the softness of the establishment's furniture and the warmness of the beverages, and made our way to our nation's capital via the metro. I had been to the Capitol once before, but that was years ago, I was younger and mostly uninterested in the history, but this time the dozen of us took advantage of a tour given by an assistant of Congressman Tim Walburg.

Our Capitol is a stunningly beautiful building, and it's full of little artistic secrets that I never would've noticed or imagined.

January 24, 2015

Stuck in Pennsylvania

This week, I went to a dog show, went to Washington D.C. and got stuck in Pennsylvania on the way back because one of the busses in our caravan broke down. Wheeee! Watch this week's vlog:

January 23, 2015

March for Life 2015

Our journey began on the freezing night of 21 Jan. That sounds a bit like the beginning of a horror story, doesn’t it? Really, it isn't.

I met Erin, my traveling companion (and at this point the only person I knew that I knew on the same bus as I) at the park-n-ride from where we would begin out trip to Washington D.C., and piled all of our things into the huge busses. Soon we were rumbling down the highway towards our nation’s capital, and since I’m really an old woman, I was already becoming drowsy after work in the morning and the excitement of last-minute errands and packing. So my pal Erin and I became engrossed in word searches for about an hour, until we found chair-dancing to Gang of Rhythm and Shut Up and Dance with Me much more exciting.

January 21, 2015

Away we go.

Here we are again... the week of January 22, the day when hundreds of thousands of people converge upon Washington D.C. for the March for Life. I've been there 8 times already, and I still get as excited as ever when this time of year rolls around.

In a few hours (as of Jan 21, 2:30 p.m.), I will be rumbling along the interstate, packed neatly in a bus with forty other people, the familiar smell of human ripeness and gasoline teasing my nostrils. Just kidding. It's not bad.

If you were able to watch last week's vlog (embedded below), I told you that I'll be there with the radio station I work for, working behind the scenes to produce some short videos for our station's YouTube channel, and interviewing a few people.

January 19, 2015

Sheenazing It Up

How un-gangster does that sound?

Why hello there, Hanlin family! (That's the new name I'm trying out for you folks. I didn't really like "Inspireds". Not that you're not inspired... Let me know what you think.)

It appears that at least one of you dear people went a little heavy on the scotch, because as I opened my email on the freezing, grey morning that was January 19, I noticed a message from the lovely Bonnie, informing me that I'd been nominated for a 2015 Sheenazing award in the category of "Best Vlogger." Whaaaaat? You guys rock! Thank you! I'm surprised and honored.

If you're unfamiliar with the Sheenazing Awards, here's a quick run-down: The Sheenazing Blogger Awards gets its name from the Venerable Fulton J. Sheen, who dedicated his life to using the newest forms of media to communicate the beauty of the Catholic Church and his love of Christ to the world, and also happened to have one of the most thunderous and compelling voices I've ever heard. These awards are a fun way to celebrate the excellence of the Catholic blogosphere and honor Fulton Sheen.

So here's the self-promotion: Pretty please pop on over and vote for me!


Also, pass the scotch.

January 15, 2015

Thoughts on The Battle of the Five Armies, The Judge, Interstellar, Into the Woods, The Hundred Foot Journey, The Good Lie, and Big Hero 6.

How's that for the longest title ever?

In this post you'll find the videos I've been promising to make since December of 2014...

The idea for this video is credited to Miss Abbey Noelle, a lovely girl who writes a lovely blog. She asked me:
Annnnnd, one of my favorite things to write/post about are movies! I love watching movies and doing movie reviews, so that's what I'm doing today. Thanks, Abbey! (Go visit her blog if you haven't already.)

January 9, 2015

the cross (1 minute read)

The Cross of Christ is under constant attack. Constant. And a good deal of the reason for that attack is because of the suffering involved.

We fear suffering as humans, for two main reasons, I think. First of all, we don't like pain. And second, we fear that it will be useless, and I'm in the same boat as anybody else. I do not like to be uncomfortable.

Satan himself appealed to the human nature of Jesus, coaxing him to just jump off the temple. "The angels will catch you," he said, "and you will win the hearts of everyone. You won't have to suffer anything, whereas crucifixion is both painful and humiliating." That's an obvious paraphrase of the gospel, but you get the idea. Even Peter, Jesus' right hand mam, the future first pope, said "God forbid" when Jesus told his disciples of the coming crucifixion. "God forbid that happen to you, Lord." And for that remark, he received the most scathing rebuke in the bible: "Get behind me, Satan."

January 7, 2015

prayers for twins (3 minute read)

Good morning, friends and readers. Or good afternoon. Or evening. Or night. Or whenever you're reading this.

I'm just popping in quickly today to beg for prayers. I've witnessed (once or twice firsthand) the faithfulness and dedication of the blogging community, Catholic and otherwise, and I know the good that has come out of it in the past. I'm hoping some of that good will carry over to this.
Photo by Melanie Reyes Photography.

January 6, 2015

Favorites of HONY

Because I'm on a "favorites" roll...

If you're connected to me in any way on the Book of Faces, you've probably realized that I have an unabashed photographer's crush on Brandon, the photographer behind Humans of New York. And if you haven't heard of HONY, man, are you in for a treat today. Or night. Or whenever you're reading this.

Every day, Brandon walks the streets of New York and takes photographs of strangers. Years ago, he lost his job in Chicago, and came to New York with no real plan, only knowing that he loved to take pictures, and when he had collected about 600 portraits, he said he figured it would make a "pretty good blog." Eventually, his hobby grew into a sort of ministry, picking random people off the street, no matter who or where they happened to be, and celebrating them.

He makes a point of conversing with his portrait subjects, and highlights the one or two things that stood out to him when he publishes the pictures. "Paired together with that photo," he says, "it creates a real beautiful portrait with images and words."

January 4, 2015

epic apple pie cobbler {recipe}

Every Christmas, my aunt Nancy gives us a selection of some of her homemade canned food - ghost pepper salsa among a other recipes, but my favorite of all is her apple pie filling. Dear Aunt Nancy, your apple pie went to a goooood cause.

Last weekend, I baked her apple pie filling under a beautiful cobbler topping. I brought it with some vanilla ice cream as a desert to a family dinner, and it was quite a hit.

Cast of Characters:

January 2, 2015

My Favorite Posts of 2014

Hello, Inspireds! Welcome to 2015 (whaaat).

I hope you had a wonderful and safe celebration to ring in the new year. I had intended to go to one of my dearest friends' traditional new year party, but I ended up coming down with a stomach bug, so I stayed in with the family. We watched The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and some other good movies, and ate too much and drank champagne. (Surprisingly, champagne seems to help an upset stomach. Don't quote me on that, because I'm no doctor and I don't want to get sued, but hey... it worked for me.) Anyway, as I type this, I'm lounging in the basement apartment with the kitten on my lap and a box of Ferrero Rocher* by my side, and I smell like campfire smoke from earlier this afternoon. (Thank God for a snowless winter so far.) As you read this, I'll probably be answering phones for one of the radio shows I help produce. Life is good.

*This is not a sponsored post. But hey, FR, if you want to sponsor me, by all means hit me up.

 A few days ago, I shared The Starving Inspired's most viewed posts, so today, I thought I'd share seven of my favorite blog posts from this blog, since most of them didn't make the popular club.
I know, I know, the heart is super-cheesy.

These seven posts I most enjoyed writing.