Davidsons Watch Oscar Films IV

Hi friends!

This year, Chris and I embarked on our fourth annual Oscar movie watch! This year was rather different; instead of waiting for the nominations in January, we got a head start. We’ve basically been watching movies most of the year, with Chris diligently reading articles and blog posts with Oscars predictions since the fall began! This year, we simply didn’t have time to squeeze 10+ movies into an approximately six-week span. But I’m glad we took this approach, because I had way more fun without stressing about the time crunch!

Another reason this Oscar watch was different is that we only watched the nominees for Best Picture (and then, by default, those for Best Director). In years past, we’ve had enough time to fill in the additional categories for acting and writing; you can read about my experience in previous years here, here, and here. But, with a whopping spread of nineteen movies nominated for such categories, and our full-time jobs and (loosely-defined) social lives, we just couldn’t make that happen. But, honestly, after seeing all the Best Picture nominees, I looked at the list of additional movies and realized I wasn’t excited to see any of them. The Best Picture list this year was just excellent enough to make me feel like I wasn’t missing anything worth my time.

I stared typing this on my phone from a hotel room in Raleigh, and I’m finishing it up in the car on the way to Trader Joe’s, because we’re having a weekend away and I kind of forgot to blog until just now. So, I’ll be keeping this short and sweet, just like this year’s #davidsonoscarwatch!

  
This year I posted a micro-review on Twitter after seeing each film, using the probably-too-long hashtag #davidsonoscarwatch16. This was incredibly helpful for remembering my immediate thoughts after the credits rolled! (The only one I didn’t tweet about, I’m realizing, is Mad Max: Fury Road, because we saw it way back the day it was released and the Academy Awards weren’t on my mind so early in the year; suffice it to say, I would’ve given it A+!) Here’s this year’s list of nominees for the Academy Award for Best Picture, listed in the order that we saw them, and with the letter grade I awarded it via tweet:

  1. Mad Max: Fury Road. A+
  2. Bridge of Spies. B
  3. Spotlight. A
  4. Brooklyn. A
  5. Room. A-
  6. The Big Short. A-
  7. The Martian. B+
  8. The Revenant. A

When I list them all out like that, I’m reminded that over half of these films have one-word titles (articles excluded), a fact I noticed sometime last year when Chris and I lost two hours of our lives watching movie trailers when we discovered a program called, and this is not a joke, Nothing But Trailers on our Dish guide, and far too many of the films had one-word titles. (This is probably not a story I should have shared because, at the time, we were horrified to realize that we had actually spent so long literally just ingesting three-minute movie promos, and we should probably be embarrassed by this fact even know. Oh well!)

  
I honestly don’t know what else to say about these films. I know I could die happy if Mad Max won the Oscar for Best Picture, but it’s such a long shot and will likely sweep many of the technical awards (those effects though!). Chris’s prediction is that Spotlight or The Big Short could win because they are about Important Real Things. I enjoyed watching Bridge of Spies, Brooklyn, and The Martian, but none of them were the best film of the year. The Revenant was excellent, if not a bit painful to watch.And I’ve not kept my love of Room, an artfully dramatic movie, a secret, but it wasn’t the overall Best Picture of this Oscar cycle, though Brie Larson was arguably the Best Actress in a Leading Role (having not seen all the performances in this category). That film haunted me for days after we saw it.

So I guess instead of having strong opinions that don’t matter, I’ll just wait for the results to roll in on my phone, because Chris and I will be driving back from North Carolina tonight when the ceremony begins. And then we can get a jump start on next year’s #davidsonoscarwatch!

Thankful for What I Have: November Decluttering Challenge

I love our home.

I love the skylight and the floral wallpaper in the kitchen. I love the little window in the bathroom that makes it feel bigger. I love our tall dining table that fits perfectly in its spot. I love the way the afternoon sun pours into the bedroom through the windows.

What I don’t love is the clutter.

whatisallthisjunk whenwasthelasttimeiworethat whydoistillhavethesetextbooks

We Davidsons have problem spots: closets, cabinets, drawers, bookshelves. There’s hidden clutter in every room. It causes me anxiety when I know I need to find something cute to decorate for fall that’s buried in our entryway closet; I get frustrated when I can’t find a food item in our pantry and end up buying a replacement. Our clutter drains our time, money, and personal energy.

doievenknowwhatsinhere couldntfindanythingifitried

I’m over it. I’m going to show my clutter who’s boss this November.

To celebrate Thanksgiving, I am embarking on a decluttering challenge with the theme of thankfulness. In springtime, Ann Marie Heasley of White House Black Shutters does 40 Bags in 40 Days, a “decrapifying” challenge wherein participants remove a bag (typically a grocery bag, but overachievers can do a trash bag) of clutter from their homes each day of Lent. I have loved participating in 40 Bags in 40 Days, but I can’t wait until February – the clutter has got to go now. In the month of November, I’ll be using the hashtag #thankfulfordecluttering on social media while I purge the junk from our problem spots.

Want to join me?

Later this week, I will share my personal plan to declutter my home and be Thankful for What I Have. To get started, I’ve created a calendar to help me keep track of each area that needs to be decluttered this month! If you would like to use it, you can download it at the link below!

freecalendarprintable1

Click here to download the free November Decluttering Challenge calendar!

Need some ideas for areas in your life that need to be decluttered? Ann Marie has a pair of helpful lists that helped me get started! See Areas to Declutter and Non-Stuff Things to Organize to get going.

If you want to come along for the ride, follow me on Instagram or Twitter and use the hashtag #thankfulfordecluttering! I’m already so excited for a cleaner, tidier home and happier us.

thankfulforwhatihave

One-Pot Chicken and Broccoli Pasta

Hey everybody!

I’m fresh off a three-day weekend and feeling great. Chris and I did almost nothing for three days. (Okay, we did run some errands, clean the apartment, go to church, hang out with some friends… but it was restful, man.) I’m expecting to have a somewhat exciting week at work as I’m training for a brand new position, so I really needed the break! I hope you and yours had a relaxing Labor Day weekend, too!

This post is the first of a few which I am going to be sort of migrating over from my old blog. This recipe is based on a pseudo-recipe I found on Pinterest and recreated a few years ago. The original MarthaStewart.com recipe was not super helpful for me at the time, because here’s a secret: as a newlywed, I had no idea what I was doing in the kitchen. I was still learning how to cook, so the vague list of ingredients on Martha’s recipe made me wary. But I’ve learned a ton in the intervening years, and I now want to share the reworked recipe with you!

One-Pot Chicken and Broccoli Pasta! // Wayward Sunflower blog

Yes, this is a one-pot recipe perfect for feeding two adult humans! The ingredients amounts listed here are super simple to double or halve for however many people you need to feed. Don’t like broccoli? Sick of eating chicken? Make sure to check the end of the post where I’ve shared some ideas for altering this super adaptable recipe!

One-Pot Chicken and Broccoli Pasta! // Wayward Sunflower blog

Ready to dive in? Here’s what you’ll need!

One-Pot Chicken and Broccoli Pasta! // Wayward Sunflower blog

At its most basic, this recipe only calls for some protein, a veggie, a pasta, garlic, and a bit of cheese. I went with some boneless, skinless chicken breasts, a head of broccoli, some Parmesan cheese, and some whole wheat penne, because that’s what was in the pantry! Not pictured: you also need some oil (I used extra virgin olive) and salt and pepper (I used grinders because they are the best).

One-Pot Chicken and Broccoli Pasta! // Wayward Sunflower blog

Start by heating the oil over medium heat! This is your titular Pot, so make it a good one. It needs to be plenty big for cooking the pasta and veggies.

One-Pot Chicken and Broccoli Pasta! // Wayward Sunflower blog

Next, mince your garlic. Garlic and I have a thing together. “Too much garlic” in a pasta dish is a foreign concept to me. You can use one garlic clove if you want, but I used… five. Yep.

I prefer to crush fresh garlic in my garlic press, but I’ve been known to use the jarred stuff too. Use what you have lying around!

One-Pot Chicken and Broccoli Pasta! // Wayward Sunflower blog

Dice your chicken breasts too! The smaller the pieces, the quicker they cook.

Toss the chicken and garlic into the pot with the hot oil. Add salt and pepper to taste and give it all a good stir…

One-Pot Chicken and Broccoli Pasta! // Wayward Sunflower blog

One-Pot Chicken and Broccoli Pasta! // Wayward Sunflower blog

…and cook the chicken all the way through.

I like my chicken to be deliciously browned, so toward the end of the cook time, I crank up the heat and stir very little!

One-Pot Chicken and Broccoli Pasta! // Wayward Sunflower blog

That is the good stuff, y’all. I could eat it all by itself. Remove the chicken from the pan and keep it warm; I threw it on a paper plate with a paper towel over it because I am very wasteful.

With the chicken set aside, you can get the water boiling in your Pot for the pasta and broccoli. Salt the water!

One-Pot Chicken and Broccoli Pasta! // Wayward Sunflower blog

Give the broccoli a good chop! Broccoli is a good-lookin’ vegetable, don’t you think?

Now, while I was taking these pictures, I kind of got a little carried away and ended up cooking my broccoli a smidge too long. The best way to cook the pasta and broccoli is to throw the pasta in the boiling water, and when there’s just five minutes left in the cooking time, add the broccoli. Or else it will get mushy. Trust me.

Luckily for me, my husband likes his broccoli over-done. If you prefer broccoli with a bite to it, add it toward the end.

One-Pot Chicken and Broccoli Pasta! // Wayward Sunflower blog

When the broccoli is bright green and the pasta is al dente, drain it all!

One-Pot Chicken and Broccoli Pasta! // Wayward Sunflower blog

Try not to eat it all right there. It will be tempting while it sits there steaming.

One-Pot Chicken and Broccoli Pasta! // Wayward Sunflower blog

I am a firm believer in using freshly-shredded cheese; the packaged stuff has anti-caking agents that prevent the cheese from melting smoothly. However, since you’re not making a sauce with this recipe, bagged cheese works fine. Freshly-shredded is always better, though.

Toss your cooked, drained pasta and broccoli back in your Pot…

One-Pot Chicken and Broccoli Pasta! // Wayward Sunflower blog

…and add the cheese and the chicken.

Seriously, you guys. This is so good and so easy. Please try it!

One-Pot Chicken and Broccoli Pasta (serves: 2)

Ingredients:

  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 head of broccoli, chopped
  • 1 cup of dry shaped pasta
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Method:

  1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Dice chicken breasts. Mince or crush garlic cloves. Add chicken and garlic to pot when oil is hot; add salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Cook chicken thoroughly. When chicken is almost cooked, turn heat up to medium high and brown the chicken for one minute, stirring minimally but not allowing it to burn. Remove chicken from pot and keep warm.
  3. Add water to pot and bring it to a boil. Add pasta to pot and cook according to package instructions. With five minutes left in pasta cook time, add chopped broccoli. Cook until broccoli is bright green and pasta is al dente.
  4. Drain pasta and broccoli in a colander. Add back to pot and toss with shredded cheese and cooked chicken.
  5. Enjoy!

One-Pot Chicken and Broccoli Pasta! // Wayward Sunflower blog

Like I said previously, there are so many ways you can adapt this recipe to suit your tastes!

  • Change the meat! Try it with ground turkey or even shrimp.
  • Change the veggie! This recipe works great with asparagus, cauliflower, or carrots; frozen veggies work fine! You can also make a “southwest” version with a drained can each of corn and black beans and tossing with a few spoonfuls of salsa!
  • Change the pasta! Don’t have penne on hand? Use what’s in your pantry! Shaped pasta works best because it takes a little longer to cook and that gives the broccoli (or veggie of choice) plenty of time to cook. But if you want to use angel hair pasta or something similar, just give the package instructions a glance and adapt the cook time!
  • Change the cheese! Shred your own cheddar, or add a little slice of cream cheese while everything is still hot!
  • Add a splash of lemon juice or your favorite dressing or sauce! Pair a few tablespoons of your favorite marinara or even pizza sauce with some mozzarella. Seriously. Pizza pasta.

Can you think of any other cool ways to change this recipe up?

Teaching kids about praise + free word search printable!

Hey friends! It’s been a while since my last post about my book page wreath. The last couple of weeks have been nuts, but I think things will slow down some now, so expect more frequent posts!

Today I taught my first real Sunday school lesson with our new fall curriculum to my new crew of third graders! Our children’s ministry uses Standard Publishing’s HeartShaper curriculum, which I like. However, as I looked over this year’s introductory lesson, I rather wished I had held on to last fall’s lesson book. The 2014 inaugural lesson discussed where the Bible came from and how we’ve come to have different translations. I thought it was a great lesson, and the 2015 intro leson didn’t touch on these crucial topics, instead focusing on why God is worthy of praise. Don’t get me wrong: I think this is an excellent lesson topic! But I thought last year’s focus on the inspired nature of the Bible started the year of study off right and clarified some things that middle elementary-aged students may find confusing about scripture.

When I expressed this disappointment with a coworker, it dawned on me that I could just write my own lesson. Duh! God had given me the resources to rework the provided curriculum to what I felt He wanted me to teach. (Isn’t it funny how God holds on to these obvious solutions until the right moment?)

As I said, the provided lesson focused on why God is worthy of praise. I get to my classroom around 9:00 am on Sundays, but technically our lessons don’t start until as late as 9:45, since the kids trickle in throughout the morning. Because of this, I like to have a welcome activity that the earlybirds can complete slowly or the latecomers can finish quickly. For today’s lesson, I made a quick word search full of fourteen ways kids can practically praise the Lord, such as being thankful and showing love, alongside the conventional ways such as singing and dancing.

Teach kids ways to praise

For the lesson proper, the kids and I studied the provided passages on praise (Psalm 66:1-5 and Romans 11:33-36) in their contexts of the Old and New Testaments, respectively. We discussed the figures and themes of the Old Testament (the kids shouted out phrases like “God created everything!” and “David and Goliath!” while I made a list on the left side of the board) and the structure of the New Testament and its events (“Jesus performed miracles!” and “He died and rose again!” on the right side of the board). I think the kids really enjoyed showing what they already knew about God’s word and seeing the white board fill up with their recollections.

Sing the glory of His name;
Make His praise glorious. Psalm 66:2

For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen. Romans 11:36

When I explained how Paul had written the letter to the Romans, one of the kids looked at me very seriously and asked me how that was possible, because they didn’t speak English. (KIDS ARE SO SMART.) God made it very clear that I was still supposed to discuss the origins of different Bible translations and versions just like last year. I was blown away.

If you’d like a copy of my word search for use in your children’s ministry classroom, I’m making it available to download totally for free! You can download the PDF on Dropbox.com (link below). You may have to create a painless and free Dropbox account to download it! Pair this word search with a devotional on praise or a full-fledged lesson from the Psalms or other passage of scripture. The 14 ideas listed here can lead to a fun discussion about what it means to praise God. Just don’t try to pass the word search off as your own or sell it in any way. 🙂

Click here to download the free Praise Word Search for Kids!

Disclaimer: the word search has words going backwards and diagonally, so some younger children may need some help finding the words! Have fun!

Teach kids ways to praise

DIY Book Page Wreath for Bibliophiles

Well hey, friends!

This was a super busy weekend as I wrapped up the summer and my first course for my master’s degree! My brain was pretty tired after writing and proofreading my final project, which means it was time for a mindless but super rewarding décor craft. Are you ready for this thing?

DIY Book Page Wreath for Bibliophiles – Wayward Sunflower blog

GUYS. I have been eyeballing these book page wreaths since my friend Jaime made TWO: one for a baby shower (made with the pages of Little Women), and another for her home (made with a hymnal). Jaime has a lovely and sweet blog called Hatcher Homemade that you have to check out! After seeing her book page wreaths, I decided I had to have one.

As a former English major, I wanted to use a book that was meaningful to me. If you know anything about me at all, it’s probably that I love Harry Potter. I grew up reading those books; they epitomize my childhood. I’ve been to two Potter conventions and have a whole friend group – arguably my most enduring friendships – who I met due to our mutual love for the series.

Needless to say, I figured Harry Potter would be a good choice for this wreath.

Between Chris and me, we have multiple copies of the complete series of Harry Potter, but there was no chance I was going to tear up one of those. Instead, I got my hands on a used, slightly battered copy of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. That installment is pretty significant to me because it was the first book I really anticipated. I faked sick the weekend it was being released so I wouldn’t have to go on a family camping trip; I knew if I stayed with my grandma, she’d take me when the morning came to get my brand-spanking-new copy. I toted it around summer camp that July, prideful because it was easily the fattest book I had ever read. I read and re-read it; it never gets old.

DIY Book Page Wreath made out of a Harry Potter book! // Wayward Sunflower blog

I hesitate to call this a wreath for bibliophiles because I know some would argue that, if I loved books, why would I destroy one? But let’s be real: Harry Potter books aren’t exactly an endangered species. I will admire my wreath forever.

In lieu of posting my own tutorial, since I basically synthesized directions from Restoration Beauty and Makely School for Girls, I decided to just share some pictures of the process of this lovely DIY! If you have any questions about my specific process, you can feel free to ask them in the comments.

Let’s dive right in!

DIY Book Page Wreath for Bibliophiles – Wayward Sunflower blog

If you want to make a Book Page Wreath like mine, you need:

  • Book
  • Wreath form (I used a 16″ one)
  • X-ACTO knife
  • Hot glue gun and glue sticks
  • Mascara tube or similarly-shaped implement
  • Ribbon
  • Optional: acrylic paint and Q-tips for applying

DIY Book Page Wreath for Bibliophiles – Wayward Sunflower blog

I read in Restoration Beauty’s tutorial, which Jaime linked to in her blog post, that she painted the edges of her pages in order to give them an aged look. Well, she didn’t provide any instructions for this step, so I found directions on Makely Home School for Girls’s tutorial. Instead of using a paper towel, however, I used Q-tips to apply. I didn’t paint the whole book; I just estimated how many pages I would need for my wreath. (I ended up using pages 1-200, which means I needed 100 pages total. I’m happily hoarding reserving the remaining book for later projects.)

DIY Book Page Wreath for Bibliophiles – Wayward Sunflower blog

Then, I got to slicin’.

DIY Book Page Wreath made out of a Harry Potter book! // Wayward Sunflower blog

Okay, it was really lovely to skim these pages and remember what it was like to read them for the first time as an eleven-year-old.

DIY Book Page Wreath made out of a Harry Potter book! // Wayward Sunflower blog

DIY Book Page Wreath made out of a Harry Potter book! // Wayward Sunflower blog

My favorite tip from Restoration Beauty’s tutorial was to use a mascara tube to form the ruffles and keep your fingertips from burning off with the hot glue!

DIY Book Page Wreath for Bibliophiles – Wayward Sunflower blog

At this point, Chris came by to see my progress and paid some mild compliment about it looking nice. It wasn’t until later, when he got home and he saw the finished product on the wall and said, “Well that looks like a wreath!” that I learned he was worried about whether or not the project would actually turn out. Haha!

DIY Book Page Wreath for Bibliophiles – Wayward Sunflower blog

DIY Book Page Wreath for Bibliophiles – Wayward Sunflower blog

DIY Book Page Wreath for Bibliophiles – Wayward Sunflower blog

Alright. Are you ready for this? Because I was honestly not prepared for how gorgeous my Book Page Wreath would look on the wall above our bed.

DIY Book Page Wreath for Bibliophiles – Wayward Sunflower blog

DIY Book Page Wreath for Bibliophiles – Wayward Sunflower blog

DIY Book Page Wreath for Bibliophiles – Wayward Sunflower blog

And that’s all I have for you! This is a really not-too-complicated wreath to make for your home. It took me a few hours, though my progress was kind of slow because I kept stopping to take pictures. And these wreaths are even more beautiful when you pick a book that is significant to you and your family!

If you were to make a Book Page Wreath, which book would you use?

DIY Book Page Wreath made out of a Harry Potter book! // Wayward Sunflower blog