July 22, 2015

Adult Coloring Group: “Color and Cuss”

Filed under: Culture,Current Events — Emily Reeves @ 9:13 pm

I jumped on the adult coloring book fad after reading articles from NPR, The New York Times and The New Yorker. I was embarrassed at first, but having now spent more time that I would like to admit coloring in my adult coloring books, I can not say enough positive things about it. When coloring, I find myself using the creative part of my brain, relaxing and generally feeling happy. For someone who feels like every moment in life must be spent being productive toward an end goal, finding happiness in coloring is truly amazing.

This past week, I was on a family vacation at the Buffalo River. Three of the six families brought adult coloring books and pens and pencils with them for use during the trip. And none had talked prior to know that coloring might be an activity that week. I was one of them.  Over the course of the week, seven adult women colored while sitting together and visiting.

My group of girlfriends, collectively known as The Boss Ladies, now all have coloring books and crayons courtesy of our friend Stephanie. Steph thought we could all use a little relaxation and mindless activity. Now, we find ourselves coloring together while drinking our wine and visiting.

My mom used to be part of a group of women who would get together to cross-stitch occasionally. They called their group “Stitch and Bitch.” They rarely stitched and always bitched, and I loved that my mom had found friends and a shared activity. Our recently found camaraderie through coloring has me thinking we should name our meetings “Color and Cuss.” You heard it here first.

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Favorite Summer Camera

Filed under: Culture,Photography,Travel — Emily Reeves @ 8:37 pm

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I have a bad habit of buying new cameras regularly. I do take a lot of photos, but not enough to justify my extensive camera collection. One camera that has been totally worth the space it takes in my purse is the Fuji Instax. This cute pink instant camera has been so much fun on all our travels this summer. There is something about light and film that is flattering on all subjects. The old-school prints delight everyone who sees it. And my favorite thing about the photos is giving them away to the friends and family that we are visiting. This camera will continue to get a lot of use by our family. I am thinking about graduating to this fancier version at some point:

Summer Memories

Summer Memories

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July 7, 2015

Best of Shreveport, Louisiana Dining

Filed under: Culture — Emily Reeves @ 7:46 pm

Though I grew up in Shreveport, Louisiana, I have been living in Arkansas since I was 18 years old. However, I frequently go back to Shreveport to visit my dad and my friends.  When I go home, I definitely have an opinion about where and what I eat. And surprisingly, a number of people I know from Arkansas end up visiting Shreveport and always ask for restaurant recommendations. Here is my round-up of favorite restaurants in Shreveport, Louisiana.

Shreveport Favorites:

  • The Cub: I remember The Cub for its bar rather than its restaurant. But in my adult life I have come to know the restaurant, too. And it is good. This is a true hole-in-the-wall that has been a favorite Shreveport haunt for decades. The steaks are great and the atmosphere is cozy. Try to call ahead for a table as the restaurant is small and fills quickly with locals.
  • Herby K’s: You might think you are driving to a dead end of town, but when you hit Herby K’s, there is a party. Truly a hole-in-the-wall and truly tiny, a visit to Herby K’s is unforgettable. Poboys, gumbo and onion rings are great, but what you really need to order is the Shrimp Buster. It what they are known for and there is a reason for that. Sitting outside means you will be sitting a table with strangers and likely sweating. Sitting inside means you will have those who are next in line staring at you. Either way, it is a good time.
  • Johnny’s Pizza: Trust me on this: there is something different about this pizza and it is different in a good way. They are known for their “sweep the kitchen” supreme pizza, but all flavors are good. Get it to go and enjoy an evening on the couch with Johnny’s Pizza and a vodka freeze from one of the many drive-thru daiquiri stores around town.
  • Monjuni’s: This little eclectic Italian restaurant is now a chain, but I remember when it was just one location and I still only like to go to the original. Their sauce is sweet, which doesn’t appeal to everyone, but I love it. Rather than chips and salsa, they serve toasted bread and their sweet sauce. I like everything on the menu; you can not choose badly.
  • Strawn’s: My brother’s first job was making strawberry pies at Strawn’s Eat Shop. Growing up, we went here after soccer games, for Saturday lunch and any other time they were open. Now a trip to Shreveport is not complete for me until we eat at Strawn’s. The are famous for their ice box pies (my favorite is coconut cream), but they cheeseburgers and fries are greasy and perfect.
  • Superior Grill: Oh, the memories lost from their strong margaritas. You must have a margarita here and order a double. The bar and restaurant is always packed, so you will definitely be waiting for a table. They don’t take reservations, but have been known to move you up the waitlist for a well-placed tip. I don’t mind the wait though. The TexMex is good, but that’s not really why you are there.

Not every restaurant in Shreveport is a greasy hole-in-the-wall — though those definitely have the most character. For those looking for some “white tablecloth” options, here are the good ones.

Fine Dining:

  • Bella Fresca:  This romantic Italian restaurant has been known to host more than a few celebrities in town filming a movie. I’ve heard reports that Katie Holmes visited several times while shooting Mad Money. Did you know Shreveport has become a bit of a movie making hotspot?
  • Chianti: Authentic Italian and a Shreveport favorite. I’ve heard from a reliable source that Christina Hendricks ate there while shooting Dark Places.
  • Ernest’s: Regardless your age, but I can guarantee you will might be one of the youngest people dining at Ernest’s. It sits atop a hill, has an air of exclusivity to it and feels as old as the people regularly seen dining there. The food is good and it is a Shreveport classic. You really can’t go wrong with a meal at Ernest’s.
  • Superior Steak House: A classic steakhouse with the bit wooden bar and brass accents throughout, Superior is a fine meal. And, a scene from the 2006 Kevin Costner/Ashton Kutcher film The Guardian was shot in the main dining room.
  • The Village Grille: To be perfectly honest, this is one of those places that we went to with our prom dates. It feels fancy. But don’t let that diminish it as a great place to go. Valet parking, intimate dining and good food make this a place to visit over and over again. It also happens to be next door to the original Monjuni’s restaurant (see above).

Enjoy your visit to Shreveport!

July 6, 2015

Summer Reading Recommendations

Filed under: Books — Emily Reeves @ 7:13 pm

Are you looking for a fun summer read? Here are my five favorite light-read books from my 2015 library, so far.

Summer Reading July 15

Big Little Lies: Set in Australia, a group of women become friends when their children attend school together. There is a mystery strung throughout but you have to wait until the twisty ending for the big reveal.

The Knockoff: A Novel: A fashion magazines tries to go tech by kicking out the old and bringing in the young. And it all goes wrong.

Luckiest Girl Alive: A Novel: A young woman living in New York seems to have it all. However her dark past is revealed as the book progresses.

The Rosie Project: A Novel: A professor with Asberger’s Syndrome decides it is time to find a wife. So naturally, he approaches it scientifically. The Rosie comes along.

What Alice Forgot: A fall leaves Alice without her memory from the last decade. She awakes to the person she was 10 years ago, who was much happier (and nicer) than the person she has become now.

July 3, 2015

Binge Watch TV Favorites

Filed under: Home,Movie Review — Emily Reeves @ 3:48 pm

Rainy long weekends are perfect for binge watching a TV series (or two) on Netflix. Here are my recommendations:

Alias: Black-ops kick-ass spy with an element of the supernatural.

Jennifer Garner in a La Femme Nikita-like role. It is great fun watching her go undercover in various costumes. Because it is a J.J. Abrams series, the story eventually takes a turn to the weird and supernatural. My mom and I used watch this together, so it holds special memories for me. I can watch the series over and over again.

Bloodline: Complicated family drama in a beautiful setting.

A beach-front, hotel-owning family with four grown kids deals with a big brother black sheep coming home after the patriarch’s death. It has a character you love hating and a mysterious death foreshadowed throughout the season. You will be on the edge of your seat watching this one.

The Bridge: A Texas/Mexico version of True Detective.

A dark cop drama starring Diane Kruger in her most unglamorous role. The series is set in a Texas border town, with half of the time spent in Mexico trying to solve serial crimes occurring on both sides of the border. Kruger’s character has a dark and disturbing past that is revealed across the two-season series. Much like the True Detective series, you have to pay close attention to the details of the story to understand all the nuance.

The Fall: Irish serial killer being chased by a lady cop in high heels.

A serial killer that is way too good-looking to be a serial killer eludes a police investigator played by Gillian Anderson. This series is set in Northern Ireland, is dark and gloomy throughout, and will have you cringing but wanting more.

Fringe: Crime-solving mystery adventure with an element of the supernatural.

I missed this show when it originally aired. When my husband introduced it to me a few months ago, I was skeptical. But I am fan of all things J.J. Abrams is involved in producing, so I gave it a fair chance. And I loved it from the first episode. Every spare minute I had was spent watching Fringe until I made my way through all five seasons.

Luther: Sherlock Holmes-like cop in London.

Three seasons was not enough of this show for me. The character of Luther, played by Idris Elba, is highly intelligent with bad habits. Luther is a British cop show in which the title character is a detective that forms an unlikely friendship with a female serial killer. It is strange, gripping and smart.

The West Wing: Behind-the-scenes drama at the White House.

Oh, how I love this show. The President, played by Martin Sheen, is a good man making hard decisions. His motley crew advisors and staff come across as real people that everyone can identify with as they work in a high-pressure environment. The show is full of history, references to current events of its time and intelligent banter. This is another series that I can watch over and over again, never tiring of the stories.

To keep it cozy (even in July), here are a few of my favorite things.

Binge TV Board

1 · 2 · 3 · 4 · 5

June 29, 2015

Book Review: Leave Your Mark

Filed under: Books,Social Media — Emily Reeves @ 5:16 pm

This is a quick read, behind-the-scenes dish from the original DKNY PR GIRL on Twitter (@dkny) telling how she got her start, her secrets for success and her early leap into social media as a brand. I have enjoyed following DKNY PR GIRL for years (and been jealous of her adventures), but I never knew the story behind the handle. It was a fun read and one that I recommend to any fresh college graduate looking for a job in the communications business. From dress, to language, to attitude, Aliza Licht has advice for taking a career to the next level and embracing change along the way.

June 25, 2015

Fly Me North For The Summer

Filed under: Current Events,Personal — Emily Reeves @ 4:22 pm

I think summertime is beautiful from inside my air conditioned house or car and behind my tinted windows or sunglasses. That is the only time I enjoy summer. The bright sun gives me a headache and I sweat profusely if exposed to temperatures above 75-degrees for longer than 15 seconds. I avoid sun exposure to my skin as if it were delivering the plague. I wish I were exaggerating.

The South is my home. I was born in Louisiana, raised in Louisiana, went to college in Arkansas and now live and work in Arkansas. I am no stranger to hot and humid summers. But that doesn’t make me any more tolerant of the heat.

When I get hot and start sweating, my mood degrades rapidly. I don’t want anything or anyone near me. I fret about my appearance as sweat runs down my face, back, stomach and legs. My shoes get tight. I literally can think of nothing else but how hot and uncomfortable I am.

To be perfectly clear: I hate summertime.

I would be completely happy spending my entire summer inside my house, working from my computer and accepting deliveries for all necessities, a la Sandra Bullock in The Net.

Why do so many people not understand my misery in the heat? No one really likes to be hot, but it seems everyone I know LOVES the summer for outdoor activities, water activities and long sunshiny days. I want overcast skies and cool, breezy temperatures.

Don’t get me wrong; I am not all “emo:”

“Emo has been associated with a stereotype that includes being particularly emotional, sensitive, shy, introverted, or angst-ridden.” – Wikipedia

I am a generally happy person. I enjoy spending time with my friends and family, and the summer typically provides more opportunity for these gatherings. As a result, I work hard to tolerate and be tolerable when the days are torturously hot. That means no makeup, lightweight and quick-drying clothes, and a lot of alcohol.

That's me on the golf course last summer, covered from head to toe in sun protective clothing. Note I am smiling. But for the record, I was not comfortable.

That’s me on the golf course last summer, covered from head to toe in sun protective clothing. Note I am smiling. But for the record, I was not comfortable.

I even went to Haiti in the summer of 2013. I have never been so hot in my entire life. Again, note that I am smiling despite the fact that my hair is dripping wet with sweat.

I even went to Haiti in the summer of 2013. I have never been so hot in my entire life. Again, note that I am smiling despite the fact that my hair is dripping wet with sweat.

So, there is proof that I am not a complete wretch when I am hot. But I can assure you, I am much happier in cooler temperatures. Forgive today’s rant, but 100-degrees outside today I can think of nothing but how miserably hot it is outside my air conditioned home right now.

June 23, 2015

I Am Not A Gamer, But The Music Influences My Mood

Filed under: Culture,Home,Married Life,Research,Step-Motherhood — Emily Reeves @ 8:34 pm

This morning, as I was getting ready for work, my background soundtrack was the “music” of the video game Minecraft as my eight-year-old step-daughter played before she left for day camp. It was driving me crazy; it felt like it was music that would be used for hypnotism and even felt sad. I remember playing Super Mario Brothers, Excitebike and Zelda in my youth. The music in those games seemed to go with the activity on the screen with the sound effects of motorcycles, doors sliding open, and such. Not having played a video game since circa 1988, I am understandably unfamiliar with how these games work and sound.

My curiosity was piqued and I did a little research this morning on game music. The first record of a game with music is from 1978 (the year I was born!) in the game Space Invaders in which four chords were used throughout the game, increasing in tempo as the gamer progressed further in the game. Now there are music scientists that analyze video game music and conferences for the experts to talk about techniques.

The things they research, discuss and do make total sense: they try to replicate the emotions that the game makers want to induce in the players and the express the emotion of the activity in the game. The music mimics what your body does when you feel emotions in real life: if your avatar is running, the music speeds up to mimic your heartbeat as if you were the one running.

But none of this explains the somber music of Minecraft. A little deeper digging, and I came across this article in The Guardian. From the creator of the Minecraft soundtrack, Daniel Rosenfeld:

“…I decided to work with experimental simplistic acoustic music that doesn’t actually tell you anything about the game.”

It works because the slower tracks give players permission to take their time – Minecraft is a game about making stuff, and Rosenfeld’s gentle minor key songs provide a peaceful sonic playspace.

He also wanted the music to be unobtrusive enough to be easily phased out in the player’s mind. “I almost hoped that they’d only notice it when something interesting happens in the game,” he explains. “That way the player automatically identifies the music specifically with events that they themselves created. Imagine you’re building a house and the sun starts setting, and the theme the music comes in – or you go into a cave and there is lava and there are diamonds, and then the music plays. People still come up to me and tell their story of how they did this or that and then the music came in and it was like magic to them – even though it’s completely random.”

While not a completely satisfactory explanation for the Minecraft music, it is at least an explanation. And now I know more than I did this morning.