Movies

Leonardo DiCaprio – 5 Films You May Not Have Seen

(…And For Which He Probably Should Have Already Won an Oscar!)

A couple of days ago I was talking to my sister-in-law, who’s just recently been to see The Revenant, about Leonardo DiCaprio’s Oscar nomination and she mentioned that the first film she really saw him in was Titanic. When I was a kid, my friends and I were huge fans of Mr. DiCaprio and being the super nerds we were (shout-out to Katy. C., queen of all us film nerds) we basically made it our mission to watch everything he’d ever been in. Anyway, it occurred to me that, since Leo’s mainstream appeal didn’t kick off until he boarded that doomed ship, there are probably quite a few people who are unaware of his back catalogue, so I thought I’d share some suggestions of DiCaprio movies that you really should see:

Total Eclipse

Leonardo DiCaprio - Total Eclipse

Leo stars as Arther Rimbaud, a French poet who lived in the late 1800’s, and looks at his relationship with fellow poet Paul Verlaine. The whole storyline is incredibly intense and despite the fact that DiCaprio was just 19 when it was filmed, he portrays the complex character incredibly well, steering through the plot with a maturity beyond his years. Period dramas are often difficult to get right, especially when they’re biographical, but this film is spot-on.

This Boy’s Life

Leonardo DiCaprio - This Boy's Life

When an actor in their teens can hold up against a performance from Robert De Niro, you know they’re good, and that’s exactly what Leo does here. The film is a truly harrowing account of abuse, control and a less-than-charmed childhood which should probably only be watched when you’re in a fairly strong frame of mind, but it’s definitely one of this films which should be on everyone’s ‘must see’ list.

The Basketball Diaries

Leonardo DiCaprio - The Basketball Diaries

Yet another ‘gritty’ drama, The Basketball Diaries is based on the book of the same name, written by ‘jock-turned-junkie’ Jim Carroll. The film depicts Carroll’s descent from rising basketball star to heroin addict and should come with a WHOLE bunch of trigger warnings, including abuse, prostitution and death. It’s another film which isn’t exactly ‘light-hearted’, but Leo is testament to the fact that movies don’t always need a happy ending (even if I AM convinced that Jack could easily have fit on that door with Rose…)

What’s Eating Gilbert Grape

Leonardo DiCaprio - What's Eating Gilbert Grape

Despite the fact that Leo is technically only a ‘supporting role’ to Johnny Depp’s lead in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, his portrayal of Gilbert’s developmentally delayed younger brother Arnie is as brilliant as it is heartbreaking as it is uncomfortable. Playing someone with a mental disability must be an absolute minefield; a balancing act of not being so over the top as to be hammy and insulting, but not being so subtle that you can’t tell that the character is supposed to have an impairment, but Leo manages it with startling ease, stealing the show from his older, more well-known co-stars.

Romeo + Juliet

Leonardo DiCaprio - Romeo + Juliet

Even if you aren’t a fan of Shakespeare, you NEED to watch this film. Baz Luhrmann is one of my all-time favourite directors for the simple fact that he makes everything he turns his hand to a work of beauty, and this film is no exception. Leo’s raw depiction of love-struck Romeo, juxtaposed against the modern backdrop of ‘Verona Beach’, is simply stunning and the fast-paced shooting and striking sets make you almost forget that everyone is speaking 16th century English. Dash Mihok, most recently of Ray Donovan fame, is another stand-out performance as Romeo’s right hand man Benvolio, while John Leguizamo kills it as Juliet’s cousin Tybalt.

Cooking and Recipes · Food · Slow Cooker

Slow Cooker Hunters Chicken and Ultimate Baked Potatoes

Slow Cooker Hunters Chicken and Ultimate Baked PotatoesAnother week, another slow cooker experiment! Today, we’re having slow cooker Hunters Chicken and I kinda devised the idea myself from a few other things I’ve seen on slow cooker forums and the like.

Husband is still being really disciplined with what he eats and sugar is one of the main things that he’s trying to avoid (he is on a keto diet and having great success with ample k), so instead of using a barbecue sauce from a bottle which is absolutely LADEN with sugar, I’m using the same recipe that Kate at WitWitWoo uses for her slow cooker pulled pork, but slightly modified for our tastes. As a sweetener, we use erythritol, which is granular like sugar and about 40% less sweet.

In terms of baked potatoes, I’m pretty fussy. The insides need to be super fluffy and soft, while the skins should be firm and crunchy so this method of cooking has been tried and tested over the last few years. I’m serving ours with sour cream and chives as it goes beautifully with both the chicken and the barbecue sauce.

Anyway, here’s the recipe and method for Slow Cooker Hunters Chicken and Ultimate Baked Potatoes:

Slow Cooker Hunters Chicken and Ultimate Baked Potatoes
Recipe Type: Slow Cooker
Author: Jayne Crammond
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4
A slow-cooker, low-sugar version of Hunters Chicken.
Ingredients
  • For the chicken:
  • 5 Chicken Breasts (or one per person)
  • 100g Cheddar Cheese
  • 14 rashers of streaky bacon
  • ___________________________________________________________
  • For the sauce:
  • 500ml passata
  • 1 teaspoon of mustard powder
  • 1 tablespoon of garlic powder
  • 5 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce (I subbed this with 10 teaspoons of Soy Sauce)
  • 3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons of sweetener
  • 2 teaspoons of cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ___________________________________________________________
  • For the potatoes:
  • One baking potato per person
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
Instructions
  1. Slice the cheese, allowing one large slice per chicken breast
  2. Slice each chicken breast lengthways, almost all the way through, creating a flap
  3. Place the cheese inside the flap and close
  4. Wrap 3 rashers of streaky bacon around each chicken breast, fairly firmly
  5. Place in the bottom of the slow cooker
  6. In a saucepan, add all of the sauce ingredients and stir whilst bringing to a simmer
  7. Once the sauce has started to simmer, give it a good stir and pour over the chicken breasts
  8. Cook on low for 2-3 hours
  9. Place your baking potatoes in a mixing bowl
  10. Drizzle olive oil over the potatoes
  11. Give the oily potatoes a healthy sprinkle of salt
  12. Get your hands in the bolw and rub the oil and salt all over the skin of the potatoes
  13. Place in an oven at around 120°C (about gas mark 1 or 2)
  14. Cook for about 2-3 hours or until you’re ready to serve

 

Here’s the finished result, although I took the photo before I put the sour cream and corn on the cob on the plate, hence it looking a little plain!

Slow Cooked Hunters Chicken and Ultimate Baked Potatoq

Humour

British Comedies – My Top 5

We’re huge fans of all kinds of comedy, here in the MTW house, but British comedy is in a different league and there are so many shows that we’ve loved, some of which span decades. Comedy is a great source of stress relief for me; nothing takes away the stresses of the day better than sitting down to watch something that’s so funny, I can’t help but laugh. Mayfair Granite have asked me to share some of my favourite British comedies with you, so here they are:

The Young Ones

The Young OnesSome of my earliest memories are of watching taped episodes of The Young Ones when I was even smaller than Sausage but the humour definitely had an effect on me as I was growing up (perhaps I can blame my slightly anarchic leanings on Rik?!). The characters are so perfectly ludicrous and it also introduced me to bands like Motorhead and Madness, forming a lifelong love of both.

The Good Life

The Good Life

The Good Life, if you haven’t already seen it, was a mid-70’s comedy about a Surbiton couple who decided to get out of the rat-race and become self-sufficient by farming their own land, growing fruit and veg and keeping various livestock (including Geraldine the goat!), much to the disgust of their close friends and perennially middle-class neighbours. The Good Life is one of those shows that’s a bit like a security blanket for me, I can watch it over and over again and always feel happy when I watch it.

Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge

I know a lot of people can’t watch Alan Partridge purely because of the extremely high cringe-factor, and I must admit to watching through my fingers sometimes (“Lynne. The brass dimmer switches, the granite worktops and your eight thousand pounds a year are all paid for by Eurovision thong contest, boob olympics and a wet Christmas.”) but it’s genuinely one of the funniest shows of all time and well worth trying to watch if you haven’t already.

Pulling

Pulling

Pulling was a mid-noughties show about three women who live in Penge, one of whom had just recently jilted her fiance at the alter. The characters are hilariously outrageous (Tanya is my absolute favourite) and the whole show is just brilliantly written. Sharon Horgan, who you’ll probably recognise from the more recent show Catastrophe, is perfect as Donna and the cameos by Paul Kaye are some of the funniest parts of both series’.

Only Fools and Horses

Only Fools and Horses

You can’t talk about British Comedy without mentioning Only Fools and Horses. This show is loved by 90 year olds and nine year olds alike (I once overheard Sausage and one of her cousins “playing” a game of OFAH, but no-one wanted to be Cassandra!!). I think the reason this show worked so well was because we genuinely cared about the characters (the episode where Uncle Albert runs away from home still gets me in the feels every time…) and it’s so cleverly written that even slightly adult humour is included in a way that the kids are still oblivious to.

There are SO many more I could write about individually, but I don’t want to bore you, so if you haven’t already, may I also recommend that you watch Red Dwarf, Peep Show, Father Ted, Black Books, The IT Crowd, Black Adder, Ideal….there are just too many to name! What’s your favourite British comedy?

Family · Life · Love · Personal · Relationships

Almost a Third of my Life…

Today is a bit of a special day here in the MTW house – it marks the exact day TEN years ago that Husband and I became a couple. Ten years have passed, not without some major ups and downs, but quite honestly, I think Husband and I have basically beat the odds. No-one expected us to last as long as we did, especially when we announced our engagement just six weeks after meeting, but a decade later, almost a third of my life, one dog, two babies, eight house-moves, new careers and a whole load of life in between, here we are. As much as I’d like to remain dignified in my self-satisfaction, what I actually want to do is give a MASSIVE middle finger to all of our doubters.

via GIPHY

I think most people who’ve been with someone for a whole decade will agree that marriage takes work. Unless you’re one of those weird couples who never argue (and I’m not sure they truly even exist, if I’m being honest), there will always be friction. Sometimes that friction feels too much to bear and I’m terribly guilty of failing to communicate at times, but Husband and I both work to make sure our relationship stays strong.

What I will say, though, is that although we sometimes argue, although things aren’t 100% perfect all the time, I’m still convinced that I made the right choice. I still find Husband absolutely hilarious, I still love our shared interests and tastes in music and films, as well as our differences and the fact that we learn from one another all the time. And, obviously, I still fancy him rotten *blush*.

With all that in mind, in honour of a DECADE of not killing one another, I thought I’d write some new vows for the next ten years together, just because no relationship is completely unchanged after ten years and I’m certainly not the same person I was when I was 21.

I promise…

…to do my best not to turn into my mother.

…to try to keep my tendency to over-react and be passive aggressive to a minimum

…to avoid rolling my eyes when you tell me how much you hate washing up

…to try stay awake through at least ONE film per week

…to be considerate of the fact that you’re not a happy passenger in cars and not take it as criticism when you point things out when I drive

…to never use the kids as a weapon or use you as a method of discipline when you aren’t here

…to put up with your farts…as long as you put up with mine

…to serve you smaller portions of dinner because I KNOW you can’t not clear your plate

…to try to stay young at heart and enjoy each other as the years go by

Romantic, huh? Maybe not, but sometimes it’s the practical considerations that we make for one another that remind us how much we’re loved. The fact that Husband knows how I like my coffee, or when he hoovers the car out even though I’m the one who let it get disgusting, or when he listens to me talk endlessly about the dramas which have turned me upside down over the past couple of years, always remaining on my side. That’s love, that is.

So, here’s to another ten years with my best friend and the best Dad I could wish for, for Sausage and Burrito Baby. Now, if he’d just vow to put his clothes in the washing basket, life would be perfect…!

Maldives, August 2006
Look how young we look! (Ignore the random Maldivian man in the background…!)
Home

Housework Hacks – My Top 5

As I’ve mentioned about a billion times before, I’m not a fan of housework. I’m not ashamed to say that if I were rich, I’d probably pay someone to do it. It’s a thankless task that is never done. As soon as you think the place is spotless, someone wears something, eats something or pees somewhere and you have to start all over again.

Just recently, I’ve discovered a few little things that have helped to make the cleaning process a little easier, which is something we could all do with. Since we moved, we’ve had a few different cleaning challenges to deal with, such as laminate flooring in the hallway, which is something I’ve never had to care for until now. We all know about white vinegar, lemon juice and newspaper being a great help, but the ones I use may not be so well-known. So here are a few things that could make your daily chores a bit less of a, well, chore!

Housework Hacks – Fabric Softener

Housework Hacks - Fabric Softener

This is an odd one, but I’m not a massive fan of polish or aerosols in general. I find it smells pretty rough and as is the modern way, I don’t really have a lot of true wooden furniture, mostly Ikea-tastic units that don’t actually like polish very much. I don’t know where I read this one, but instead of polish I use a tiny bit of fabric softener on a cloth instead. We have oak effect laminate flooring in our hallway and not only does this get it shiny, it makes it smell lovely as we walk into the house! It smells nicer and helps you to pick up dust and remove drinks rings far better than a dry cloth. I wouldn’t recommend this if you have antiques or wooden units as it’ll dry out the wood, but for anything laminate or laminate floor. You can also combine it with tip number 5 and use old socks as your dusters…saving you a whole load of the money in the process.

Housework Hacks – WD40

 Housework Hacks - WD40

WD40 is one of those things that most people have in the garage or shed but never think to use for cleaning. In fact, WD40 is AMAZING a getting rid of grease. Just recently, I cleaned our cooker hood using WD40 and a soft cloth and not only did it cut through the cooked-on grease with seriously minimal effort, the cooker hood came up to a beautiful shine too. In the grand scheme of things, WD40 doesn’t even smell too bad either and I can’t convey just how easy this made the whole job.

If you go to the WD40 site, there’s actually 2000+ uses for it and Husband informs me that it’s also amazing at getting waxed crayon off of painted walls and laminate flooring!

Housework Hacks – Bicarbonate of Soda

Housework Hacks - Bicarbonate of Soda

This is a pretty well-known one, I think, but it’s pretty old-fashioned too so I’m not sure if it’s as well-known to my generation. We keep bicarb in the house constantly as it is so cheap and so useful for so many things. We’ve used it on a saucer in the fridge to wick away any unpleasant smells, diluted in boiling water to brighten stained mugs, made into a paste and used with a toothbrush to clean tiles and the bit round the base of the taps that goes scummy. We even used it to get the smell of sick out of our memory foam mattress after Sausage did an EPIC chunder one night and no amount of cleaning product would get rid of the odour.

Housework Hacks – Chamois Leather

Housework Hacks - Chamois Leather

If you have a dog which is a short-haired breed, especially at this time of year, you’ll notice that those spiky little hairs are BLOODY EVERYWHERE. You can’t brush them like you can with a longer haired breed, but rubbing their coat with a slightly damp chamois leather a couple of times a week helps to get rid of all of the loose hairs and will make their coat come up a treat. Plus, if your dog is anything like our big baby, they’ll just love the fuss! (It has to be a proper chamois though, not an artificial one)

Housework Hacks – Old Socks

Housework Hacks - Old Socks

This is another slightly odd one, but old socks actually make excellent dusters! If you’re like me, you probably do a 6 monthly blitz on socks, where you go through drawers and separate anything which either doesn’t have a partner or has holes in the toes. Don’t throw them away – stick a sock over your hand and it does a really good job of picking up dust and can be washed and reused time and again.

So there you go, five little tips which may make your day a bit cheaper and easier. If you have any of these little gems, let me know! Also, check out Floors Direct for some excellent flooring solutions. Two more things which are great for laminate flooring maintenance are acetone-free nail polish remover and ice. The nail polish remover will help to remove stubborn marks like paint, oil, tar or markers. Using ice to freeze substances like chewing gum before gentle scraping them off of laminate flooring is also a really efficient (and free!) way to care for your laminate.