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February 14, 2011 / ebretzel

Happy Heart Day! <3

Love it or hate it, there’s always room for some cute heart-shaped animals on Valentine’s day! I tried to find the story behind the photos as well. Now for your viewing pleasure, HEART ANIMALS!

Slowly spreading the love - Mr. Snail.

Meet "Heart-kun" a Japanese Chihuahua with a big heart!

"Old Spot" piglet with a heart spot!

Say hello to "Heart" the calf! Born just in time for V-day 2009

Love Kitten from a Humane Society photo contest.

"Nam Choke" and "Boonrawd" (babu cow elephants) show the love

This baby Emporer penguin wears his heart on his chest. Apparently a natural formation when they are molting!

Ok so this is not "natural" but I had to end with a hamster!

-Emily

February 12, 2011 / ebretzel

Keep calm!

I’m really excited about my new Etsy purchase:

A cute 8×10 poster by WestWilllow. It’s a BOGO so hurry and buy yours now! My plan is to hang this little guy in my kitchen!

 

-Emily

January 8, 2011 / ebretzel

Ree Ree Ree REE!!

I’ve recently been on an Alfred Hitchcock kick. Luckily, I’ve been able to find some of them at the good ol’ public library. The following is a review of the 4 I’ve seen so far and my opinions about them. Be forewarned, they may contain spoilers.

Rear Window
This was one of my favorites so far. An adventurous photographer gets stuck in his apartment after suffering an injury which covers half his body in an extremely uncomfortable-looking cast. With nothing else to do he starts speculating on the activities of his neighbors. He begins to think that one of them has killed his wife and eventually drags his girlfriend and nurse into his personal investigation into the crime.

First of all, I don’t think there’s a single person who hasn’t thought about staring at their neighbors through binoculars. Actually, now that I think about it, it’s kind of like a real-life Facebook from the 50’s! I enjoyed the vivid personalities of the characters, as well as the slowly building paranoia … a signature of Hitchcock. Even though the entire perspective of the movie came from the inside of a small apartment (and it’s view of the outside), the movie managed to pack in quite a bit of action, complete with a hokey – I mean… super realistic… special effect of him falling out the window.

The Birds
I had anticipated this movie to be more compelling than it was. I’ve often thought about “The Birds” when I see an ominous swarm of birds in the sky or roosting in trees, but didn’t really know the plot of the movie except that there were scary birds involved.

While it is a terrifying thought to be pecked to death by a swarm of evil birds, I found the scenes to be quite redundant, and the main character a bit stupid. I mean, if you were boarded up in a house, and you knew that you were surrounded by thousands of birds that wanted to kill you, would you wander away in the middle of the night by yourself to investigate a mysterious flapping noise?!?! But then again, it’s classic horror movie mistake so I guess I can’t give her too much grief for acting mindless as women tend to do in this genre.

Psycho
We watched Psycho on the “big screen” at a friends home theater, which definitely enhanced the movie experience. Despite the cheesy acting (the norm for the time period) and being in black and white, the movie provides a lot of bang for your buck. It starts right off with a steamy love scene and before long jumps right into the shower killing scene. And the music is great also.

I don’t think there’s anybody creepier than Norman Bates, with his stuffed birds and “special” relationship with his mother, and for this I give it a 2 thumbs up!

Vertigo
This movie was long and seemed to drag on a bit too long for my taste. Do we really need uninterrupted minutes of silent driving and scenes of staring without dialogue? I confess I did have to watch this movie twice after falling asleep. That being said, it really was a masterpiece of a plot with many interesting twists and turns along the way – although it ended rather predictably after the “big reveal.”

I particularly enjoyed the hokey dream graphics (which I’m sure were thrilling at the time), as well as the whole vertigo special effects. All-in-all a class act flick despite the lengthiness.

A fun fact about Hitchcock, he has a cameo in all of his films. I personally enjoyed watching for them.

-Emily

January 3, 2011 / ebretzel

Meli Keuliseumaseu! (메리 크리스마스)

Even though Christmas has come and gone, the euphoria of gift-giving and receiving still lingers. I had wrapped everyone’s presents in red and gold wrapping paper from a humongous roll I purchased from a department store I used to work at a decade ago (talk about the gift that keeps on giving!), and even put a few sparkly bows on them. There they sat, in perfect color-coordination glory, under my tree in the living room until it was time to pack them up and haul them to Wisconsin.

At the big Bretzel family Christmas, the pajama-clad children get to open their gifts first while the adult crowd waits for the take-away exchange. My eyes started to glaze over as they unwrapped toy after toy in a seemingly unending stream of presents. After an indiscernible amount of time the kids either conked out or started to throw fits which signaled the time for such adult appropriate goodies as lottery tickets, cheap screwdriver sets and packer-themed items. After a few rolls of the dice and some loud arguments about how many times we would exchange the presents I ended up taking away a packer planter with self-watering glass orbs and Ryan a salad-spinner. Not bad!

Grandpa trying out the Wii under Austin's instruction

My father-in-law and I were the only two able to wake up for the 8 o’clock Christmas mass. Turns out we didn’t have to get there one hour early, but it was nice to spend the morning at church, saying all the familiar prayers and singing Christmas carols. We had an eventful day with Ryan’s mom’s family which involved the eating of much food and cookies, playing the new family Wii – we even got Grandpa to try it! He was very displeased that I took a photo of him, but it was worth it. I was very much obsessed with my gift from Ryan’s parents, a Kindle, and spent some time finding free books to download and read.

We weren’t able to have our Anderson family Christmas until a week later after my parents and sisters returned from a trip to South Korea. We feasted on Roast Beast and mashed potatoes, and my dad popped the cork on a bottle of Champagne to celebrate the new year. Among many wonderful gifts including hand-knit booties complete with pom-poms from my grandmother, we received a plethora of goodies from Korea. As we all know, I love everything tiny and cute and therefore was ecstatic when I got a pile of tiny stickers from my sister Carrie and friend Joyce, but who knew that my brother Ben was also obsessed with tiny stickers?

The following photo is a montage of all of the Korean things that were gifted to myself and Ryan:

1. Korean Beer
2. Cute “His n’ Her” Cell Phone Charms
3. Cute tiny Stickers (Have you ever seen a Panda?, Robots, Bunnies, Fruit and little characters shouting things in Korean)
4. Tiny Post-it Notes with a cartoon character shouting things at you
5. Korean Vodka
6. Assorted Hard Candies
7. A Karate Guy Breaking a Brick with his Elbow Statue
8. Various cosmetics and face masks (some including “whitening” for your skin)
9. Christmas pencils
10. Origami in the shapes of Arctic creatures.

I managed to follow these instructions for the origami polar bear. It turned out just as cute as depicted on the package, though I may have squashed it a bit. Note the cute ears on top and paws on bottom!

All-in-all I would say that we had a very nice Christmas and are blessed to have such wonderful family and friends to have spent it with.

Oh yeah, and happy New Year. :-) I say “twenty eleven” is the pronunciation route to go!

-Emily

December 28, 2010 / ebretzel

Just slide with me

Another example of treacherous weather here in Minnesota, my dad slides down the driveway after an ice storm.

-Emily

December 14, 2010 / ebretzel

And this is why they call it MinneSnowta

December Blizzard. Snowmageddon. Snownami. These are just a few terms that people have coined to describe what happened out here this weekend. The amount of snowfall rivaled that of the infamous ’91 Halloween blizzard, which I happily remember as a snowsuit bundled kid, wading through the snow to gather a bagful of candy from the neighbors.

The news of this weekend’s blizzard gave me mixed feelings. On the one hand, I was excited about the idea of sitting inside all warm and cozy, pretending to be in a snow globe and having every excuse not to leave the house. On the other hand, I was scheduled to work at Santaland in Minneapolis, and we all know that Santa cannot afford to take a day off this close to Christmas, blizzard or not. They haven’t closed Santaland in 25 years, so it was unlikely that a mere 20 inches of snow in a 24 hour period would stop them on Saturday.

I anxiously waited for an appropriate time to call and ask if they rrrrrreally needed me to drive the 20 miles through whiteout conditions to fulfill my duty as an elf. I held onto the phone nervously as the manager “checked” and then hung up joyously when she told me I was off the hook. I proceeded to do a victory dance around the house and got straight to work making cookies and watching Christmas movies. At that moment I felt as giddy as a kid who has a snow day from school.

The events that happened this weekend inspired me to make a list.

You know it’s a blizzard in Minnesota when…

… your shovel breaks while you’re trying to dig yourself out of the driveway.

… your snowblower breaks after your shovel breaks while you’re trying to dig yourself out of the driveway.

… you look down the street to see every single one of your neighbors out at once with their snowblowers.

… your street doesn’t get plowed until 8pm a day later. Or 2 days later. Or 3 days…

… the Metrodome roof collapses from the weight of snow!

… the baking aisle at the grocery completely empties out as people prepare to stay home and bake cookies during the blizzard.

… the Holidazzle parade gets canceled. (first time canceled due to snow in 19 years)

… you have 7 foot high (or higher) piles of snow at the end of your driveway!

I also wanted to add that this weekend my family was discussing the upcoming Christmas lutefisk party. No joke! Luckily, Ryan and I will be in Wisconsin.

-Emily

PS. Hank is now 30. End of message.

December 9, 2010 / ebretzel

Happy Anna’s Day!

Today, December 9th, is Anna’s Day, one of Sweden’s “name days.” In 1901 they assigned a name to almost every day of the year. Some notable names include Edit (Halloween), Eva (Christmas Eve) and Viktoria (March 12th, my birthday!) If you have a Swedish name, or know a Swedish version of your name, you might find your own day here.

Anna’s Day is special because it is the day that you must start to prepare the lutefisk in order for it to be ready by Christmas. For those of you who are not of Scandinavian heritage (or not from Minnesota) here’s the lowdown on lutefisk. It starts out as a white fish and is gradually transformed into a smelly, gelatinous blob through a process of preparing the fish with lye and then, as lye is toxic, soaking the fish in water to remove the lye.

It is then eaten with much merriment with spicy sauce and bacon on Christmas.

I, personally, have never worked up enough courage to try lutefisk. However I think I would jump at the chance were I given a choice between that and Balut. (Warning: Images may disgust the weak of stomach.) Balut is basically a partially developed duck or chicken that is eaten directly out of the eggshell. In the Philippines and Southeast Asia it is considered to be quite the delicacy, and you might even be able to find them in the U.S. at an Asian Market somewhere if you dare to try it.

For a list of other terrifying foods that people actually eat, including maggot-filled cheese, and rice wine with baby mice, check out this article.

Lutefisk is starting to look pretty good, eh?

-Emily