Gardening for Dummies

On the Otago Peninsula, it is possible to grow food year round. During the winter, the ground never really freezes as Dunedin is at sea level, unlike Ohio, and being New Zealand, there is plenty of rainfall. Thus, many homes have their own vegetable gardens and glass house (greenhouses if you are from the States). The garden still has a healthy supply of vegetables, considering its winter. There are still some tomatoes, lettuce, carrots, and a few spices. I have helped with some of the gardening for my final two weekends on the Peninsula. I helped plant broccoli and cauliflower in one of the beds.

 
The glasshouse with compost bins  


The vegetable bins

Here’s the list of what’s in the garden:
Available now
Garlic
Parsley
Rosemary
Fennel
Potatoes
Carrots
Leeks
Tomatoes
Lettuce

Available later
Broccoli
Strawberries
Blueberries
Onions
Rhubarb
Black currants
Apples
Plums

 
Planting cauliflower and broccoli    


The finished product

I have also started cooking. A miracle, right? On July 17, I made my first batch of fresh baked bread today. The whole wheat sandwich bread recipe was from the ‘Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day’ book and was very easy to make. These recipes don’t require you to knead the dough, which cuts down on the time required to make the bread. It also saves money because bread in NZ costs $2.99 a loaf for basic white bread and up for fancier breads. I also made a vegetarian with mushrooms and tomatoes pizza from the ‘Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone’ cookbook. The dough wasn’t quite done, but the pizza was very tasty. The next weekend, I made a caramelized golden tofu stir-fry for dinner with brown rice. It was delicious.

 
The pizza 


The stir-fry

                                                                           

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The End of an Era

Harry Potter and the Dealthy Hallows Part II


Before I get into my review of Deathly Hallows Part II, here are my thoughts on the previous movies.

Sorcerer’s Stone

This is the movie that started it all, and I didn’t even want to see it in the first place. The Quidditch game was so awesome.

Chamber of Secrets

This is still one of my favorite movies. Harry gets to be a hero, saves a damsel in distress, and kills a giant snake with a sword.

Prisoner of Azkaban

POA was the most visually stunning movie of the group. However, it was not my favorite , too many elements from the book were removed.

Goblet of Fire

I really enjoyed this one. It had an epic feel to it while pitting students against one another in a potentially deadly contest. Plus the return of You-Know-Who.

Order of the Phoenix

I really liked this movie. The DA was awesome and Umbridge so evil.

Half-Blood Prince

This is probably my favorite book, but the movie was disappointing. There was way too much teenage awkwardness in it.

Deathly Hallows Part 1

Slow, like the first half of the book. The acting by the trio was wonderful.

And now…

Deathly Hallows Part II

The End of an Era

First of all, movie theater food is the biggest rip-off of all things in any country. It was almost $7.00 for a pack of M&Ms. So I walked two doors down to the Night and Day convenience shop and they were $2.50 a pack there. That is a 64% markup. Second, commercials and previews totaling more than 10 minutes should be banned, especially if they include the preview to the next Twilight film.

On to the movie itself.

Gringotts was simply amazing. Helena Bonham Carter trying to act like Emma Watson acting like Hermione was brilliant. Oh Griphook you double crossing greedy little goblin. Good thing the sword anticipated this. The poor dragon; talk about your animal cruelty. I was almost gleeful when the dragon toasted a couple of goblins during its escape attempt. This was also some great CGI; I could believe that dragon was real.

I would have liked to have seen more of the Dumbledore backstory once the trio arrived at the Hog’s Head in Hogsmead. Also, the dementors have not played as large a role in the movies as they did in the book. Harry does not summon the patronus when they arrive in Hogsmead because there are no dementors around.

The room of requirement was set up like in the book with the hammocks as a sort of refugee camp for the students. But then why did the students leave to go to Snape’s meeting in the Great Hall?

I did like how the filmmakers included the scene of Harry confronting Snape in the Great Hall. “I think you have a bit of a security breach.” Hahahaha. For a moment, it really looked like Snape did not want to duel with Minevra McGonagall. After watching it, I wouldn’t want to either. She’s a tough old witch.

 I’m glad that the Chamber of Secrets scene was filmed. In the book, it happens off screen. It was nice to see it. Good spot to put ‘the kiss.’

 Ron running after Malfoy and Company about threatening his girlfriend was sweet. Fiendfyre is really scary stuff; has a life of its own; and destroys everything, including horcruxes.

 I really wanted to see Fred’s death scene, especially because Percy’s redemption is tied in with it. The Weasley twins were not in this movie nearly enough. This also goes for Lupin and Tonks.

 I was not expecting Lavender Brown’s death scene. In the book, Hermione stops Greyback before he bites her, but in the movie Hermione is too late. But since the film makers decided not to bring back Colin Creevy or his brother Dennis, they had to have some of Harry’s other classmates die.

Someone give Alan Rickman an Academy Award for his performance in this film. It was simply wonderful and so sad.

 One of my personal favorite scenes made it into the movie. Molly Weasley vs. Bellatrix Lestrange plus the appropriate dialogue.

The scene with Voldermort hugging Draco after he defects, again was awkward. Voldermort isn’t really a father figure, is he?

The Malfoys leaving during the battle. Since Voldermort has heaped loads of grief on their family, it’s only fitting that they took the first opportunity to turn tail and run.

I thought the Elder Wand wasn’t supposed to work against Harry? But for the simplicity of storytelling, apparently Voldermort could beat the crap out of Harry until the snake was killed, which was done by Neville, the true hero of this story. And I would have liked to have seen more of Harry taunting Voldermort.

Harry snapped the Elder Wand in half and threw it over the side of a bridge. That was not in the book. Forget to repair your Phoenix wand first Harry?

The Epilogue was not long enough and was kind of awkward. In terms of aging the actors, Hermione looked the same; Ginny looked the best out of all of them considering 19 years had passed. I would have like to have seen more of the book scenes here in regard to dialogue and who’s kids were going to Hogwarts, Ron taking driving lessons, etc..

 I am happy with the choice of music that played during the epilogue and the end credits. The original music from John Williams made a grand comeback. I have missed his composition of the theme song and it was really fitting to hear “Leaving Hogwarts” and “Harry’s Wondrous World” during the epilogue and the end credits. This was a great way to conclude the franchise, bringing it full circle.

In conclusion, this Potter movie was one of my favorites. It was definitely much better than the Deathly Hallows Part 1, which was really just a set up for the finale. I like many others, have Post-Potter Depression now. Thanks to JK Rowling for writing a wonderful tale and thanks to my mother who dragged me to the first movie when I didn’t want to see it in the first place.

Update:

The 3-D Version

So on Friday, I decided to try out the 3-D version of Deathly Hallows Part II. Man, these tickets are not cheap, and I even had a $6 discount. Total price for one movie plus the glasses? $13.50. Sheesh. However, without the discount tickets, the price is $19.50.

I’m not sure if I am sold on the 3-D movies yet. I think if I had seen it in IMAX 3-D then it would have been worth it. Some scenes looked cooler with the 3-D such as Voldermort’s disintegration at the end after Harry defeats him, but for the most part I couldn’t tell the difference between the 2-D version and the 3-D version.

 



Thanks for a wonderful series!