Weekend Watchlist: Black History Month

February is Black History Month, so I wanted to incorporate some celebratory movies into our regularly scheduled couch surfing. I should have posted this Watchlist on the first of the month, but I had a hard time finding a family-friendly movie to recommend. Since the history of African Americans includes many afflictions, most of the movies I wanted to include are not appropriate for little eyes. I finally found a good one today, so I am writing this post as fast as I can.

c/o Wikipedia

c/o Wikipedia

Starting with the oldest released film, I recommend Do The Right Thing released in 1989. This is not just a movie about a Brooklyn pizza delivery guy and his friends sweating it out on a sweltering summer day. It’s about how deeply ingrained racism is in our society. People are not good or bad but good and bad. Writer/director/actor Spike Lee was nominated for Best Original Screenplay, and Danny Aiello was nominated for Best Supporting Actor at the 1990 Academy Awards. Do The Right Thing is available for rent on Amazon Instant.

c/o Fox Searchlight

c/o Fox Searchlight

You probably watched 12 Years a Slave when it was released in 2013 or after it was nominated for practically every award at the 2014 Oscars and won Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Adapted Screenplay. However, it’s still worth a mention. Based on Solomon Northup’s memoir of the same name, 12 Years a Slave shows the horror and struggles of a free-born New York man who is captured and sold into slavery in Louisiana. If you haven’t seen this brilliant movie, you should. I may or may not have cried at the end of this movie. 12 Years a Slave is available on DVD at Netflix.


c/o Walden Media

Please do not watch the aforementioned R-rated movies with your toddlers. (Or at least don’t blame me if they don’t like them.) It was not an easy task to find a film about Civil Rights for children, much less a well-made one. This film is based on the children’s book of the same name by Christopher Paul Curtis, which won several awards including the Newbery Honor. This movie might be a little slow for younger viewers, but it is still appropriate to watch with all ages. Your kids also might recognize the voice of the mom from The Princess and the Frog. That’s right. Princess Tiana is now a mom of three.

This movie is about a family from Michigan who goes to visit their grandmother in Birmingham, Alabama during the tumultuous year of 1963. I have a special place in my heart for Civil Rights movies that include Birmingham and the 16th Street Baptist Church because I visited the church and the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute when my husband and I relocated to Birmingham in 2012.The most heart-breaking part of the Institute was the portion dedicated to the little girls who died in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing. There can be no greater evil than the murder of innocent children.

I learned a lot while I was in Birmingham. Did you know that Asian American children were segregated in schools too? Chinese American children were segregated, but Indian American children were declared to have the same ancestor as Scandinavians and therefore declared white. I learned about it at the Civil Rights Institute. It’s weird because the 60’s were not that long ago. It could have been me attending a colored-only school or having to sit at the back of the bus. I feel very grateful to everyone who was part of the Civil Rights Movement, and I celebrate the proud history of African Americans.

Mani Monday: The Thrill of Brazil and Lots of Hearts

I apologize for my lack of “themeing” this month. I had many more Valentine’s Day-themed things planned, but I have been preoccupied celebrating my husband’s movie and trying to watch all of the Oscar nominees before the awards show (which did not happen).

Speaking of the Oscars, wasn’t Lady Gaga’s Sound of Music tribute well done? Lady Gaga is not only an amazing singer, but also a lady who loves a theme. Have you seen her engagement ring? It’s heart-shaped of course.

As another lady who loves a theme, I pull out my heart-patterned purse every February. I bought it for $5 from J.C. Penney when I worked there one summer break from college. This purse was in the bottom of a clearance bin, and a customer brought two over to my register in another department. When I told her how much I loved them, she hurried over to the bin and fished the last one out for me so that I could buy it on my break. Working retail was fun, but it was not that great for my savings account.

My classic red nails are The Thrill of Brazil from OPI, which was the first bottle of OPI I ever bought. I have a theory that the old nail polishes had longer lasting power due to all of the chemicals in them that were bad for the environment. I’m glad nail polish is now more eco-friendly, but sometimes I miss the good ol’ days of long wear time.

What old things do you miss? Beanie Babies? Milky pens? Ignorance of how bad processed food is? Let me know in the comments!

Weekend Watchlist: 2015 Oscars Edition

This Oscars are this weekend, and I will be watching it despite my misgivings about the academy (previously & briefly discussed here). Usually, the best part of the Oscars is the red carpet pre-show. However, since Neil Patrick Harris is hosting, I assume that the best part of the show will be his musical opening number.

What should you watch to pre-game the 2015 Oscars? Here are my picks:

February is Black History Month. I actually wrote a Weekend Watchlist post celebrating this fact during the first week of February but didn’t post it because I am looking to add a kid-friendly film. I will say more about this movie and Black History Month next weekend. However, if you would like to learn a little bit more about Civil Rights Movement (which wasn’t that long ago), then Selma is the movie for you. David Oyelowo’s performance is perfectly nuanced, and there’s some fun camera moves in the film.

“Glory” by John Legend and Common is nominated for Best Original Song.

I haven’t seen all of the Oscar nominees yet, but Whiplash is my favorite thus far. As a former student musician (with far less talent than anyone in this movie) and a person with an addictive personality, I might even enjoy this movie for the wrong reasons. Whatever the case may be, I really like this film and must give props to a guy who will play the drums until his hands bleed.

Whiplash is nominated in several different categories: Best Picture, Best Actor in a Supporting Role (J. K. Simmons), Best Editing, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Adapted Screenplay. The last nomination is crock because Whiplash was originally written as full-length screenplay. However, parts of the screenplay were turned into a short film, which is why it is egregiously allowed to be a part of this category.

Big Hero 6
You haven’t seen any of the Oscar-nominated movies yet. What do you do? You go see/rent Big Hero 6 because it is nominated for Best Animated Feature Film and also include Best Short Film: Animated. The animation for Big Hero 6 wasn’t as revolutionary as How to Train Your Dragon 2, but the story was far superior (and really the animation is nothing to sneeze at). Also, the short film, Feast, is beyond adorable. Spoiler alert: Feast involves a puppy!

A Star Is Born

You don’t care about the Oscars and want to watch something at home in your pjs. Good for you. My pick for you is the original 1937 version of A Star Is Born (available on Netflix streaming). Not only is this an excellent movie that won Best Writing Original Story and Special Award for color photography, but also it includes a scene at a fictional Oscars ceremony.
Whatever you decide to watch (or not watch), may you have an amazing and cold weekend. As for me, I’ll be enjoying the cold weather by renting Box Trolls on Saturday and playing Jessica Jones’ annual Oscar Bingo, which can be downloaded for free on her blog here.

Mani Jami


Recently, my old college buddy Vanessa (AKA Vee-Booty during the Big Booty cheer) sent me a sample of some Jamberry nails. A couple of days later, my old grad school friend (AKA no nickname) suggested I do a review of Jamberry nails. My friends have good timing.

I decided to spice up my Jamberry review by comparing it with other nail wraps/stickers/whatchamacallits. My sweet husband picked these Essie and Fing’rs wraps up at the Dollar Tree for me. I would love to tell you what each wrap is made of, but I cannot find any information on any of the packaging or websites of all three of these companies. It’s a mystery!


The first picture is of my nails on Saturday after the wraps were first applied. The Fing’rs wrap is on my thumb and the Essie wrap is on my middle finger. These two wraps did not file away cleanly from the edge of my nail. The Fing’rs wrap looked especially ragged. The Jamberry nails had the shiniest finish (although the Essie wraps were purposefully made half matte as part of the design).

The second picture is of my nails as of an hour ago. The Fing’rs wrap did not last long. The Jamberry wrap on my pointer finger had a wrinkle in it when I applied it, so it went bye-bye during my extra-hot shower today. The Essie wrap is chipped away from nail edge and cuticle.

My friends say that Jamberry nails last up to two weeks for them. I am obsessed with hygiene, so my manicures never last as long as my friends’ do. However, I will say that Jamberry wraps were the best out of all the wraps I have tried. They look the best. (I have formerly used OPI x Sephora wraps. They looked like stickers but had good lasting power.)

If you are a person who does not have time for a regular manicure or believes that the manicures on Pinterest are attainable with a regular nail brush, then these Jamberry nail wraps are for you. Check out Vanessa’s website here. Also, let me know if there are any other things you would like me to try out for you.


P.S. Did you watch the 40th Anniversary of SNL last night? Martin Short has still got it!

Weekend Watchlist: Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is one of my favorite holidays. My husband and I take turns being in charge of it every year because it’s really not fair to make the men do all the work (just like women shouldn’t have to do all the housework). I have planned a whole weekend of fun for him, but I can’t tell you about it because he reads my blog. He might even be my only reader this weekend.

Anyway, here are my picks for this weekend:

via TV Guide

c/o TV Guide

If you missed it yesterday, you can still watch Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown online here (if you are a cable subscriber). I’m really bummed that all of the Charlie Brown specials are no longer on Netflix, but I guess it was a really good strategy for ABC.

c/o zap2it

c/o zap2it

If you want a little less romance and a little more laughter, I know the perfect show for you. Whether you’re a cynical singleton or a hopeless romantic, you can never go wrong with the SNL Valentine’s Day special. It’s on NBC tonight at 10:00. Also, don’t forget to watch/DVR the 40th anniversary special tomorrow night. I’m so excited for it that I almost wish Valentine’s day was over. (Almost.)

c/o Old Fashioned

c/o Old Fashioned

I saved the best for last. This might be a shameless plug since my husband was the lead editor on this movie, but Old Fashioned is a realistic look at how hard it is to date (specifically for those who are Christians). The cinematography is beautiful, and the music is great. (I would say something about the editing, but you know I’m biased). Check it out at your local movie theater.

I hope you’re having a great Valentine’s Day. I ate so much chocolate that I gave myself a stomach ache.