10 Great Movies You Probably Have Not Watched (or maybe even heard of).

My husband and I love movies.  We go to blockbusters at the theater and often buy them later.  He’s a comic book fan and I am well versed in all things Marvel and DC etc.  But there’s a special kind of movie that we both really enjoy, and it’s hard to define it.  A few days ago we went to see The Post, the new Spielberg movie with Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep.  It’s fantastic.  It got my wheels turning to try to define other movies of this caliber.

Here’s my poor attempt of explaining why these make my list: these movies are 1) great stories 2) beautifully set–many are period pieces and have worked crazy hard at capturing the dress, music, and cadence of speech of their time 3) well written 4) edited to perfection, in my humble opinion and 5) endearing characters–this one’s hard to define, but none of these movies have just one memorable character, they are a team working together that lets everyone shine properly.  I’ll make my list in order of release year.

  1. Calendar Girls (2003)MV5BMjE3NzcxMDU2MV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwOTgyNTc2._V1_

This first one makes the list while not being a period piece.  It’s based on a true story of a British women’s club who decide to raise funds by creating a topless calendar.  This movie is not dirty.  It’s beautiful and moving and hilarious.  Stars: Helen Mirren, Cirian Hinds, Penelope Wilton (Cousin Isobel Crawley in Downton), and tons more.

2. Good Night, and Good Luck (2005)

MV5BMTY0NzQ2NDg2Ml5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwMzcwOTY2._V1_ (1)This might be the most similar subject matter to The Post.  It takes place during The Red Scare and tells the brave story of Edward R. Murrow taking Senator Joseph McCarthy head on by continuing to broadcast even as he is accused.  It is shot in black and white entirely.  Stars: David Strathairn, Jeff Daniels, George Clooney (Directed and co-written by as well), Patricia Clarkson and Robert Downey Jr.  

3. The Queen (2006)MV5BMTQ3NTMxODg1Ml5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMjEyMjczMQ@@._V1_

Another starring Helen Mirren, she’s amazing.  This movie tells the story of the turmoil in England around the death of Princess Diana.  This film is beautiful to watch and superbly acted.  Michael Sheen plays newly elected Prime Minister Tony Blair.  I own this one.

4. Leatherheads (2008)


Another directed by and starring George Clooney.  The editing and acting in this movie is unreal.  The whole movie is cut with vintage looking stills.  I don’t skip the opening credits with this anytime that I watch it.  (I own this one too.)  The music is almost another character.  Stars: George ClooneyRenée ZellwegerJohn Krasinski, Jonathan Pryce, and Stephen Root (Jimmy James from News Radio)

5. Frost/Nixon (200MV5BMTYxOTI1OTg5MV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODgwNTcxMTE@._V1_ (1)8)

This is one of those movies that I didn’t know the history before watching it.  Those who remember Nixon being impeached and Watergate, may have actually watched the actual interviews that this movie dramatically depicts.  It’s a retelling of post-Watergate interviews by a British tv host David Frost played by Michael Sheen.

6. Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (2008)MV5BMTI3NDcyMzcxNl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMTA0MzU1MQ@@._V1_

Fictional story set in pre-World War II London.  The music is great.  It’s my favorite Amy Adams movie.  The costumes are beautiful.  The story is wonderful.  I love everything about this movie, and it’s so re-watchable.  Stars: Frances McDormandAmy AdamsCiarán Hinds, Lee Pace, and Mark Strong.  

7. Argo (2012)MV5BZWUyYzg3NGQtNzkxYi00ZjVlLTkzZDMtM2VhYmEyNzUxYWU3XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTc3MjUzNTI@._V1_

Okay, this you’ve heard of, and probably seen, but it so meets the requirements mentioned above.  The intensity of this movie is almost overwhelming. I barely studied the history of the hostage crisis in school, so this movie was educational too.  Stars: Ben Affleck (directed too), Alan Arkin, Bryan Cranston, and John Goodman.

8. Philomena (2013)


Another true story.  It was really well done, though painful, and very few people I know have seen it.  It’s one of those movies that you watch and say, “This happened?!”  It shows great bravery and grace.  Stars:  Judi Dench and Steve Coogan.



9. Chef (2014)

Writer, director and star Jon Favreau (Happy in Iron Man) made a movie with his friends: Robert Downey Jr.Scarlett Johansson, Dustin Hoffman, Sofía Vergara, Oliver Platt.  Seriously!  It’s the story of a restaurant chef who basically loses his mind temporarily and his job and has to start again.  I want to watch it again right now.  It has a lot of language in it, so if that bothers you it may not be the film for you.

10. Trumbo (2015)

MV5BMjM1MDc2OTQ3NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNzQ0NjQ1NjE@._V1_SY1000_SX675_AL_Picked this up at the library knowing nothing about it, but it had Helen Mirren in it.  (Like I’ve said before, she’s amazing.)  This tells the story of the screen writers who were blacklisted in Hollywood because of their membership in the communist party.  I had no idea until this movie the story behind the writer of one of my all-time favorite movies.  Stars: Bryan CranstonDiane LaneHelen Mirren, John Goodman, and Louis C.K.  


The number of repeating actors in this short list is extraordinary.  Apparently, if I were to make a movie, I would want it written and directed by George Clooney, Jon Favreau, and Ben Affleck and it needs to star Hellen Mirren, Michael Sheen, Robert Downey Jr., John Goodman and Bryan Cranston.  It should be about something historical and yet almost unbelieveable.  Great music and beautiful sets and costumes and done.

How about you?  What movies would you add to this list?



Cubic Space Saver

When I pack our clothes and essentials for a trip, I’m always on the hunt for a more compact and usable container.

Packing in a laundry basket was fun for a while, but it’s unbending, and clothes need to be in a squish-able something to fit more in a trunk if needed.

I’m fitting all of my clothes and toiletries and my kids’ too in…

My collapsible soft-sided cooler. Likely you have one of these too.


1. Because a square shape is more shape saving than anything rounded.

2. I often need a cooler at sometime on a trip.

I unzip the liner for the cooler when I pack clothes, but I keep it in the trunk if we bring grocery items back, then I transfer our stuff into empty tote bags I keep folded small in the trunk.

So here goes…

My clothes (folded vertically) and toiletries bag

Layer One

Both kids’ clothes folded vertically.

Their toiletries bag…

Then there’s still room for books and games!

And it zips!

This was super handy last summer for our beach house vacation and we needed another cooler when we moved out. Also the world’s best bratwursts are made here in West-Central Missouri and we stock up on the way home. Just being prepared.

No Bowl Needed

Well, it’s happened. I’ve come to the end of my own clever ideas. At least for now. Thankfully I have clever friends who say and do blog-able things

This is Rachael.

Her abilities are too numerous to even begin to cover, but I’ll try. She cooks, crochets, sews faster than people on Project Runway and manages to raise kids and take care of other people’s too.

Today, however, we celebrate her teaching me how to turn a bag of chips into a self-standing bowl that keeps chips on the brim. No more hands digging in the bottom.

The play by play…

Yep, she seriously folded in the bottom corners and tucked in the bottom of the bag, continuing to roll it inside until the chips are on top and the bottom is so flat it stands up.

My brilliant friend doesn’t take credit, she said she got it from somewhere, but I got it from her and now so did you!

A Walk in the Park

Last year we would return from picking up my daughter from school, and I made her sit at the kitchen table and immediately get homework done. In order for her to sit I would keep feeding her. Not only did this mean she ate two suppers, she also hated homework. She had no time to play.

This year I told her we were going to explore all of the parks (playgrounds) in our area. We’ve driven even 10 minutes to get to some of these parks, but that’s not so bad. Both of my kids play for 20-30 minutes and then we head home. Being me, I’ve kept a list of what parks we have visited and what dates.

We look forward to it every afternoon. I get to watch them while getting steps. I call it “Park Circling” in my head, well, now I’ve typed it and you can make fun of me for it.

My birthday present from my folks was a Garmin Vivofit. (Think FitBit). I set my watch for “walk” when we arrive at the playground then I just keep moving. Usually it looks a lot like laps. But I ran track in high school, so walking in a circle isn’t that bad. I usually walk the border of whatever playground we are on, staying on the soft fall-able ground cover. It’s better on my knees than a sidewalk. In 20 minutes at a park I can walk over a little over a mile. I keep moving unless my kids need assistance, but I’m usually able to keep a steady pace even while watching the kids.

How about you? How do you get in exercise in creative ways?

Putting it Off continued…

I didn’t make it to Wednesday. Running out of milk and stuff for making lunch won the day, but I only bought what I had to buy. You know, a house without chocolate chips is a house that can’t make chocolate chip pancakes. Sunday night I made a very quick Aldi run and spent less than $12 to stretch us hopefully to September first.

How is your grocery dare making it?

Putting Off ‘Til Tomorrow…

Keeping track of the grocery list as I run out of things is helpful. As soon as I use the last of the olive oil, it’s on my list. The Parchment paper, the Parmesan, the milk, the pickles (my kids can eat a jar every couple of days). Staples really.

But, today I’m putting off the list. I am daring myself to go as long as possible without going to the store. We are out of eggs, but I’ve got lots of frozen egg whites (I make frozen custard) that will do for many recipes. I bought a family size amount of ground beef that I portioned and froze in 8 oz, so we should be fine. Milk may be a problem, but we’ll see. I last went to the store on Monday, I’m trying to make it to next Wednesday or beyond.

How about you? Want to dare yourself to go as long as possible to make what you have before eating out or grocery shopping?

Lasagna for Two

Lasagna is delicious, but it can be expensive and then there's lots of leftovers. It reheats great, but what if you don't really want to eat 12 servings of lasagna.

I wanted to make just enough for my husband and me. I bring him dinner on most Wednesday nights at work, and this is perfect to make and take. Also, I usually have all of these ingredients when I make pizza or spaghetti.

No boil noodles are great. My sauce is this easy arrabiata, so it has kick. I only had about 1 cup left. Perfect for two. I cooked a small amount of ground turkey with Italian sausage seasoning. I like provolone as well as mozzarella. And I make it all in a bread loaf pan.

Usually I would mix my meat and sauce in a bowl, but why make a new dish.

I mixed 1 cup of cottage cheese, 1 egg, 1/2 t Italian seasoning and 1/2 cup grated Parmesan.

I grated 2 ounces each of provolone and mozzarella and tossed it right on the cutting board with a little more Parmesan.

All it takes is three noodles, and I snap 1/3 of the length off each to fit in my pan. Waste not, the pieces equal a fourth noodle.

After spraying the loaf pan I add 1/4 of the sauce.

Then a noodle and cottage cheese mix then grated cheese then sauce.

Repeat for three layers. (Noodle, cottage, cheese, sauce, noodle, cottage, cheese, sauce, noodle)

Top with the last of the sauce and more grated cheese. Spray some foil so it will come off the cheese. Tightly wrap the pan.

Place it in a 350 degree oven for thirty minutes. Rotate it half way if you think if it.

After 30 minutes remove the foil. Bake or broil for 15 minutes or until the top cheese is melted and a little browned. Watch it! Don't burn it. And just like kids, every oven is different.

Remove it to cool and let it rest. Please please rest your lasagna. It is more likely to cut if you let it cool down. Leftover lasagna is the proof.

Cut in half and serve!

Just the Recipe…

Makes 2 servings.


  • 1 c marinara or pasta sauce
  • 4 oz cooked ground meat (preferably with Italian seasoning)
  • 1 c cottage cheese, or ricotta, or sour cream. It really does work too.
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 c grated Parmesan, divided
  • 1/2 t Italian seasoning
  • 4 oz grated cheese, mozzarella and provolone, or whatever you like
  • 3 no boil lasagna noodles, 1/3 snapped off and reserved
  • Non stick spray


  • Preheat oven to 350
  • Spray a loaf pan with non stick spray.
  • Mix meat and sauce, set aside.
  • Mix cottage cheese, egg, 1/2 c Parmesan, and Italian seasoning, set aside.
  • Grate cheese and toss with remaining 1/4 c Parmesan. Set aside.
  • Spread 1/4 c sauce in pan. *Place one snapped noodle on top. Spread 1/3 cottage cheese mixture then 1/4 grated cheese then 1/4 c sauce. Repeat twice from *
  • Top with final noodle or the combined 3 snapped noodle, last 1/4 c sauce and 1/4 of the grated cheese. Wrap tightly with aluminum foil that has been sprayed with non stick spray. Bake for 30 minutes, rotating halfway through cooking.
  • Remove foil carefully and broil on high for 5-10 minutes, or continue baking for 15, or until cheese is bubbling and beginning to brown. Check often.
  • Remove and let rest on a cooking rack for 15 minutes. Cut and serve.