Sunday, July 8, 2018

Sunday Snapshot is Excited for Summer!

A summer sunset

Currently reading:

The Henchmen of Zenda by KJ Charles: This book is insanely boring. Such a disappointment.

The Alice Network by Kate Quinn: Gets progressively more depressing as the book goes on.


Take a virtual tour of the book towns of France with me! Plus some literary wines to whet your palate.

book towns of france

literary wine labels


nanette poster
Hannah Gadsby: Nanette

Calling this stand up special a "comedy" seems like a misnomer, considering I spent most it crying and am getting choked up [read: barely holding it together] right now just thinking about it, but it is really good. It's actually kinda fascinating, because it's a comedy routine that critiques the comedy industry and how we even tell jokes to begin with. Pretty powerful stuff. Plus there are a ton of art history jokes and y'all know that's my jam.

sicario poster
Sicario: Day of the Soldado, starring Josh Brolin and Benicio del Toro

When this movie started I thought I was going to be in for another iteration of Zero Dark Thirty, of which I am NOT a fan. However, it turned out to be pretty good! Sure, it's the type of movie where no one is innocent, not even the little girl they kidnap; and the whole thing with her needing to cross back into the US to be "safe" didn't make a whole lot of sense (where are her parents in all this?). But for what it is, it's a quality film with a ton of great actors. And Benicio del Toro is very handsome, even after he gets shot in the face.

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Set it Up, starring Lucy Liu, Zoey Deutsch, Glen Powell, and Taye Diggs

The best romantic comedy I've seen in years. Seriously. So much fun, and pitch perfect from start to finish. It reminded me of The Hating Game, which was one of my favorite books in 2016 and which needs to be made into a movie of its own asap.

jurassic world fallen kingdom poster
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, starring Bryce Dallas Howard and Chris Pratt

Feels like a movie for 8 yos. Yes, all the Jurassic Park movies are kid-friendly, but in this one, everything is dumbed down. Even the dinosaurs go from Fearsome Prehistoric Creatures to scavengers sorting through suburban trashcans like raccoons. I might wait for the third movie in this trilogy to come out on DVD.

get out poster
Get Out, starring Daniel Kaluuya and Allison Williams

I was super duper looking forward to watching this movie, and I was not disappointed! It's scary, but it's more of a psychological horror with pervasive creepiness a good amount of social satire thrown in the mix. A smart, old skool scary movie with a modern twist. I think Hitchcock would approve.

date with love
Date with Love, starring Shenae Grimes-Beech, Andrew W. Walker, Bailee Madison

Pretty decent by Hallmark movie standards. I liked how there were two romances in the movie and that the adult romance was balanced by a teen movie vibe. The ending was incredibly dumb.

These weeks in heidenkindom:

Well, I disappeared for a little bit again there. With one thing and another I didn't find a time to sit down and post anything in June. Whomp whomp. But I'm back now!

What have I been up to the past few weeks, besides working and writing? I've developed a new obsession: budgeting.

Apparently every June I start thinking about my finances (WalletHub was kind enough to remind me that I downloaded their app last June). But this year I've moved beyond just monitoring my credit score and accounts to actual budgeting.

It all started when I took a Travel Miles 101 course and decided to start using my cards more for points and cash back. But it's difficult for me to keep track of my spending with credit cards, which is why I stopped using them in the first place.

As I was pondering this conundrum (j/k, I was merrily using my cards to buy octopus shoes from ModCloth), I came across a book on Goodreads titled You Need a Budget. I do need a budget, I thought to myself. Unbeknownst to me at the time YNAB is a HUGE thing on the internet. It's not just a budgeting system, it's like a whole community/movement/the word cult's been thrown around a few times. The app costs $84 (outrageous) but I could get the book for free from the library, so I did. And I immediately fell for the concept.

YNAB is basically the perfect budgeting system for me because my income is so variable. With standard budgets they want to know what you're going to make in a month and most of the time I have no idea. But YNAB focuses only on the money you physically have today. You give every dollar a job, embrace your true expenses, and then you can start building a buffer so you're not living paycheck to paycheck. Plus you're tracking credit card transactions as they happen and treating them the same as you would a debit card transaction, so there's no "float" where you're spending money you don't have today and planning to pay off next month.

The book is just an introduction to the system. There are a ton of how-to videos online, free classes through the website, and subreddits where people discuss budgeting. Not that I've joined the subreddits. Yet.

To be honest, now that I've started using YNAB, I'm way more stressed out about money than I was previously. But then I probably should have been more aware of the state of my finances all along, instead of waiting until an unexpected expense popped up to make me start freaking out and trying to get my unpaid invoices settled.

I've also been thinking about opening an online money market account to take advantage of a higher interest rate, but I think I'll wait on that for a bit and see if I can save any more money using the YNAB system.

If you've been searching for a budgeting system or app, I recommend YNAB. There's a bit of a learning curve, but the book gives you a good introduction and for more details you can always watch some videos on YouTube.

Do you have a favorite budgeting app or system? Is this topic way too boring? Also, have you seen Nanette, because I want to discuss! Hope you all have a good week.

Discus this post with me on Twitter, FaceBook, Google+ or in the comments below.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Sunday Snapshot has More Paris Pics!

I stepped in a massive puddle and got drenched taking this shot. So, you're welcome.

Currently reading:

Warlock Holmes: My Grave Ritual by GS Denning: The boys are back!

Making Up by Lucy Parker: MUCH better than Parker's previous outing.


the post
The Post, starring Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks

MASSIVE eye roll. First of all, there's an unnecessary prologue wherein people xerox documents very dramatically. Second of all, watching a movie about the Pentagon Papers set in the offices of The Washington Post is like watching a TV show about space colonies set on earth (on the plus side, I'm now very interested in this awesome newspaper called The Failing New York Times). Thirdly, I hated Meryl Streep's performance. She was totally phoning it in (because the role didn't scream Oscar, perhaps?), and she wasn't the only one. There was absolutely nothing in this movie to indicate Steven Spielberg was ever on set; maybe he directed it over Skype. And don't get me started on the faux feminism bullshit the filmmakers seemed determined to pat themselves on the back for.

Paris à la heidenkindom part deux:

Last week I shared photos from The Louvre, Seine ducks, the National Archives, Père Lachaise Cemetery, and a cooking class. Now for the trip's exciting conclusion!

Day 5: I had an appointment to tour the Paris Catacombs in the afternoon, so I spent the morning wandering around the Notre Dame area. I was going to visit the Musée de Cluny (Museum of the Middle Ages), but it was closed for reno. Whomp whomp.

Fun street art
Sculpture from the Archaeological Crypt, a new museum right in front of Notre Dame with artifacts and excavations dating from Roman times.
Then, bucket list item: the Paris Catacombs! The line was insanely long so I was glad I bought my ticket ahead of time online, even if I did have to take an Uber to get there. Thanks train strike.

Entering the catacombs
Remnants of the original stone quarries

According to audioguide, people used to sneak down into this room for macabre concerts and parties.

I was surprised by how creeped out I was by the catacombs–usually that sort of stuff doesn't bother me, but it was really creepy down there. I was also surprised by how short the route through the catacombs actually was. More than half of it was just climbing in and out, and the whole thing took about 20 minutes! They really don't let you see very much. But it was still cool.

I also visited the Musée Zadkine, which was okay but nothing to write home about.

La Closerie des Lilas, an old haunt of Hemingway's that now charges $22 for the cheapest drink on the menu. Protip: do not drink where Hemingway used to drink. They're still trying to make up for his unpaid bills, apparently.
Notre Dame at twilight
Day 6 was miserable weather, so I decided to go to the Musée du Quai Branly, a new-ish museum of non-western art. 

Train strike graffiti at the bus stop 

Me getting creative with shots of the Eiffel Tower

The Musée Quai Branly is very thoughtfully laid out and presented. I was impressed, though I wish I'd picked up an audioguide, as the paper guide wasn't terribly informative.

After the Musée du Quai Branly, the weather was even worse. So I stopped in at the Orangerie, which has the best bathrooms. Seriously, I'm talking Japanese-level bathrooms here.

Before #metoo

Water Lilies

A cool building in evil weather

Bucket list item: drinking a sidecar at Harry's New York Bar. This is an awesome bar! It's the type of place where you go in for one drink, end up staying three hours, and leave having made new friends.
Day 7: St. Denis, one of my favorite stops on this trip! If you took an art history class you're probably familiar with St. Denis, since it's the first French Gothic cathedral. It's famous for the stained glass windows that paint the interior of the church like abstract watercolors; it's really breathtaking. The cathedral also houses the bodies of every French monarch, and some of their relatives, starting with Clovis I.
The mummified heart of Louis XVII, Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette's son. 

Truly heart stoppingly gorgeous

The graves of Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette, their son, and a few other people I forgot.

The cathedral's original crypt, which was looted during the Revolution and is now empty. The bodies of France's kings and queens were dumped in a mass grave, but escaped destruction and were recovered once the monarchy was restored. You get the sense that St. Denis' new tombs and effigies are something of a penance for the Revolution.
After St. Denis it was back to the Eiffel Tower for dinner. Yes, there's a restaurant in the Eiffel Tower now!
As far as eating in the Eiffel Tower goes, you're paying for the view–literally, what you're charged depends on where you sit, not what you eat. Therefor it should probably come as no surprise that the food was just okay, although the main course was quite good. The view, however, was pretty spectacular, and it was definitely a unique experience.
Day 8: Reims! Champagne country! Unfortunately I didn't get to do as much as I wanted, as the train was over 2 hours late. Uhg. But I did get to see the cathedral and tour a champagne house, so yaa!
Cathedral of Reims

I have no idea who this supposed to be, but I love her.

Inside the cellars of GH Mumm. Very cool! Literally and figuratively.

The Mumm wine library containing all their best vintages, dating back to the 19th century.

Sunset over Champagne (this is the greatest train station I've ever been in, btw)

Day 9: Montmartre. I loved Montmartre, even if the weather was miserable (again). It was so rustic and ridiculously charming and completely unlike any other neighborhood I visited in Paris. If I moved to Paris, this is where I would want to live.

View from the Sacre Coeur

Suzanne Valadon's studio in the Musée de Montmartre

Cat eye door

That one alley in Montmartre that's in, like, every movie.

The last vineyard in Paris
Day 10: Didn't do a lot. I wandered around soaking up some rare sunshine, then went to the Musée des Arts et Métiers, which I had confused with The Cité des Sciences et de l'Industrie and wasn't too impressed with as a result. I wish I'd gone to the zoo instead! Oh well.

Anyway, I promised I would give you some restaurant recommendations, so here they are!

  1. L'Etincelle: The first place I ate in Paris, and the perfect way to kick off the trip! The staff was super nice and my meal (I had the duck, at the not-so-subtle suggestion of the waiter) was delicious. I also took my café and croissant there in the morning and they were also very gracious and friendly.
  2. L'As du Falafel: There aren't a lot of cheap meals in Paris, but at about 10 bucks, this is a bargain. You order from the window, like a food truck, then follow the locals to one of the hidden gardens around the Marais and have a wonderful picnic lunch. The crepe place down the street is also good.
  3. Au Bougnat: Surprisingly affordable, considering it's just a few steps away from Notre Dame, plus really good food.
  4. La Petite Place: A random place I picked because I was hungry. I thought I was ordering a green bean tarte Tatin, I'm not sure why, but nope! It was beef tartare with green beans. And you know what? It was freaking delicious.
  5. Le Ceni's: Nice atmosphere and plenty of food for the price.
  6. 58 Tour Eiffel: As I said earlier, you're paying for the view, but it's a unique if touristy experience I'd definitely recommend. After all, how many people can say they had dinner in the Eiffel Tower?

That all for now! Hope I didn't bore you all with the Paris photos. Have a great week and fun Memorial Day weekend if you live in the US.

Discus this post with me on Twitter, FaceBook, Google+ or in the comments below.


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