Presto! Instant TV for Free!

By | March 28th, 2014|Categories: AAR afterhours blog, Television|

With season four of Game of Thrones right around the corner, I began thinking about how much my television viewing habits have changed over the last few years. I used to be a news junkie and would glom the cable news channels throughout the day to see what was going on in the world. I am still a news junkie, but I get most of my news fix from the internet these days. The television has been relegated to movie binges and series television show marathons. I blame that on getting my Roku. Several years ago, my husband and I were trying to figure out how to play YouTube and Amazon Prime videos on our OLD television set. The newer televisions had built-in HDMI hookups. Sadly, ours did not and I looked everywhere for a connector that would hook up my laptop to the television AND produce sound. During my internet search, I ran across the Roku and decided this would make a great Christmas present for my husband. For those not familiar with the Roku, it is a streaming player that runs off WiFi and allows you to access Netflix, Hulu, Crackle, Amazon Prime, HBO Go and hundreds of other channels, many of which are free to use. […]

Strangest Ear Worm Ever

By | March 11th, 2014|Categories: AAR afterhours blog, Music|

Sometimes I wonder about the originality of music - there's a ton of great musical artists, but so many of them sound so incredibly similar (you can look at the confusion between Katy Perry's "Roar" [...]

Star-crossed Indeed

By | February 19th, 2014|Categories: AAR afterhours blog, Television|

I’m a sucker for a good teen TV drama. Well, that is, a teen drama that doesn’t involve obscenely rich Manhattanite royalty-wannabes or were-vamp-warlock love triangles. So when I saw previews for the CW’s newest soapy offering for the under 18 set, I figured I’d check it out. I’m kind of glad I did because Star-Crossed, the love child of Roswell and Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet (with a good hunk of District 9 thrown into the mix) looks to have all of the tropes I love most in a TV program. September, 2014, brings about the day that an alien ship crashes to Earth, filled with Atrians looking for refuge after their home planet becomes uninhabitable. They had hoped to find at least a lukewarm welcome from us humans rather than the open hostility shown them in the form of armed soldiers and violent shoot-outs. Six-year-old Emery finds a terrified Atrian boy hiding in her family’s backyard shed and offers him kindness in the form of a blanket and a bowl of cold spaghetti. But alien-sniffing dogs suss out the poor lad who suffers a blaster shot when he throws his tiny body in front of Emery in a heroic attempt to save her. Cut forward ten years and Emery has grown into the beautiful Aimee Teegarden (hello, Julie Taylor!). […]

"Will They Or Won't They" – Done Right

By | February 9th, 2014|Categories: AAR afterhours blog, Television, Uncategorized|

With this week’s episode, The Locomotive Manipulation, The Big Bang Theory’s Sheldon Cooper and Amy Farrah Fowler officially became one of my favorite couples ever. I’ve been a fan of The Big Bang Theory from episode one, appreciating the quirky characters and silly humor supplied by producer Chuck Lorre, the amazing writing staff, and the hugely talented cast of actors. But it was the introduction of Mayim Bialik’s Amy Farrah Fowler as a romantic foil for the seemingly asexual Sheldon Cooper (played by the exquisite Jim Parsons) that really kicked the show up a notch, if you ask my opinion. The evolving relationship between these two characters has proven an absolute delight, and I would say it is one of the best examples ever of the will-they-or-won’t-they tease ever depicted on a TV program. […]

Another Kind of Winter Warmer

By | December 28th, 2013|Categories: AAR afterhours blog, LinnieGayl Kimmel, Real Life|Tags: |

I’ve so loved reading all of the Winter Warmer recipes shared by everyone at AAR. I plan to try out a number of them over the next few months (first up, Melanie’s potato soup).  But I find I’m now in the need of a very different type of winter warmer. A little over a week ago my apartment complex came through and installed a lot of energy saving devices in all of the apartments. As someone who tries to be energy efficient, I was very enthusiastic. I came home one evening to discover a new “low flow” shower head, new pipes (wrapped with some kind of insulated stuff) under the cabinets, energy-efficient light bulbs, and a programmable thermostat. Having only dealt with an old dial thermostat before, this programmable thermostat was a revelation. It came pre-programmed for optimal energy savings, set for cooler when people are assumed to be at work or sleeping. […]

Winter Warmers: Melanie's Potato Soup

By | December 12th, 2013|Categories: AAR afterhours blog, Cooking|

I have a love affair with potatoes. And cheese. And anything that I can put in a crock pot and not have to deal with all day. This recipe is one I found a while back and have made multiple times over the years – it usually gets fixed at least once each winter. Actually, I might have to make it this weekend… You will need: about 4 lbs of potatoes (I prefer golden potatoes, but russets also work well) 1 onion, finely chopped (about 1 to 1.5 cups) 5 ¼ cups chicken broth (42 oz) about 1 tbsp garlic ¼ cup butter 2 ½ tsp salt 1 ¼ tsp ground pepper 1 cup whipping cream or half and half 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese 3 tbsp chopped fresh chives 8 oz (1 container) of sour cream (optional) about ¼ cup cooked and crumbled bacon or bacon bits (optional) Extra shredded cheddar cheese (optional) […]

The Story Behind the Carol: Silent Night

By | December 10th, 2013|Categories: AAR afterhours blog, Maggie AAR, Music| On Christmas Eve of 1818 the young priest of St. Nicholas parish church in Obendorf faced disaster. The organ had been incapacitated by mice. The chance of fixing the instrument before the evening [...]

The Infinity Scarf: Yes or No?

By | December 7th, 2013|Categories: AAR afterhours blog, Fashion, LinnieGayl Kimmel|Tags: |

Sometimes I become obsessed with the strangest things, and at the moment it’s infinity scarves. Do I own any? No, not a single one. But I’m considering. In fact, I’ve been looking at so many online that wherever I go on the web my “pop-up” ads all now feature infinity scarves in a variety of colors and fabrics. […]

Winter Warmers: Lea's Chicken and Dumplings

By | December 5th, 2013|Categories: AAR afterhours blog, Cooking|

My dear mother-in-law, now 83 years old, is simply the best cook I have ever known. Cooking wonderful food for others remains one of her greatest joys in life and she continues to cook or bake for hours upon hours each week. Although she can compete with the chefs that rule today’s Food Channel, her upbringing in the hills of southeastern Oklahoma means she’s an expert with old Southern favorites as well. Our family has enjoyed many a cold winter day savoring her Chicken and Dumplings. This recipe is from her cookbook she penned for family and friends more than twenty-five years ago. Chicken and Dumplings Boil one fat chicken or use chicken pieces. Cover with water. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer until tender. Remove chicken from broth and take out 2/3 cup of broth for the dumplings. […]

Winter Warmers: Mary's Ham Bone Soup

By | November 28th, 2013|Categories: AAR afterhours blog, Cooking|

With the holidays upon us, in addition to turkeys on every table many of us will be cooking large hams to feed our loved ones. After you have eaten as many ham sandwiches from the [...]

Fill Your Heart With Thanksgiving

By | November 27th, 2013|Categories: AAR afterhours blog, Maggie AAR, Real Life|

The following poem captures beautifully the meaning of the coming holiday. The sentiment is such that it should be remembered all year long. […]

AAR at the Movies: Catching Fire

By | November 26th, 2013|Categories: AAR afterhours blog, Jean AAR, Movies| Friday night, my friend and I went to see the second instalment of Suzanne Collins’s massive smash hit trilogy, adapted for the screens. I wasn’t going to see it, honestly. I’d seen the first one, and there was something about seeing the physical and psychosocial trauma that hit me viscerally in a way that the books couldn’t translate. Yes, I knew it was fiction, and yes, I knew what happened anyway. But I found the experience quite frightening, to be honest. But then the reviews for Catching Fire came out (mainly glowing, in a nutshell), and my curiosity got the better of me. I also had a free movie voucher, and I thought, well, I could save it for The Devastation of Smaug’s Cumberbatched Voice (aka The Hobbit part 2), or I could suck it up, be my age, and see Lenny Kravitz, Jena Malone and Stanley Tucci do their thing. And you know what? I’m glad I did. […]

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The 30 Best TV Detectives and Sleuths?

By | November 25th, 2013|Categories: AAR afterhours blog, LinnieGayl Kimmel, Television|Tags: |

This week I saw a link to the “30 Best TV Detectives” from the Telegraph’s website. As a big fan of mysteries – both written and video – this was too good to resist. Since it’s a UK publication, I expected a lot of British detectives. Not a problem, as I’m a huge fan of many of the BBC mysteries that appear on Masterpiece Mystery. Truthfully, I was surprised at how many U.S. TV shows are featured on the list, and many that appeared over 20 years ago. […]

Easy, Ugly Cube Steak Casserole

By | November 23rd, 2013|Categories: AAR afterhours blog, Cooking, Uncategorized, Wendy AAR|

I chose another dish when I submitted my “Winter Warmer”, cold weather, stick-to-your-ribs recipe – but this one ran a close second. Its delicious, easy and filling, but man, is it ever ugly. I’ll provide the ingredients and directions, and you can decide the quantities. […]

Winter Warmers: Blythe's Best Ever Pumpkin Cranberry Muffins

By | November 21st, 2013|Categories: AAR afterhours blog, Cooking|

I traveled to Milwaukee for work last summer, and discovered their wonderful local coffee chain, Collectivo, that has that rarest of combinations – good food and good coffee. (Yes, I know it used to be Alterra, because nearly everyone I met told me that). One morning I tried a pumpkin cranberry muffin, and couldn’t for the life of me think why I had never heard of this genius idea. Two great fall flavors that go perfectly together! I hunted for a recipe when I got home, rejecting several because they used craisins rather than fresh cranberries (I was sure the muffin I had used fresh). The one I settled on apparently comes from, by way of Gourmet Magazine and the Smitten Kitchen. The only change I made was to substitute regular all purpose flour for the wheat pastry flour, which worked just fine. Best Ever Pumpkin Cranberry Muffins […]

Do you know this product?

By | November 16th, 2013|Categories: AAR afterhours blog, Uncategorized|

I hope someone here can help me locate another pair of the most remarkable pants. They're workout gear, men's, and they have the label "level 8" stamped on them. I own one pair, want 20 [...]

Winter Warmer's: LinnieGayl's Pumpkin Flan

By | November 14th, 2013|Categories: AAR afterhours blog, Cooking, LinnieGayl Kimmel|Tags: , |

Each year when Halloween rolls around my thoughts go to pumpkins. Not to decorating them, but to thinking of creative ways to use them in cooking. Over the last few years I’ve made pumpkin and peanut butter soup, added pumpkin to steel cut oats, made many loaves of pumpkin bread, and tried making pumpkin stews. But  as Thanksgiving draws closer I generally pull out a trusty old recipe for pumpkin flan. […]

I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar

By | November 11th, 2013|Categories: AAR afterhours blog, Maggie AAR, Music| Katy Perry's latest, Roar, has been something of an anthem for me the last few weeks. Love the music but especially love the message. We all need to go from zero to our [...]

Winter Warmers: Caz's Steak and Kidney Pudding

By | November 7th, 2013|Categories: AAR afterhours blog, Cooking|

I thought I’d treat you all to the recipe for a classic British favourite. When I asked my esteemed colleagues here at AAR – the majority of whom reside “across the pond” – I was told that steamed puddings aren’t a big thing over there. Well, if that’s the case, then you guys over there are really missing out on the ultimate comfort food which is really tasty and very easy to prepare. There are different ways of preparing this dish, but here’s the basic one that I usually use. This recipe will feed four people. For the filling: 400g Steak and Kidney. If you don’t like kidney, don’t worry. I have to make it without it now, as one of my daughters dislikes it, so I just use 400g of diced beef. Because the pudding is cooked very slowly, you don’t have to use the most expensive cuts – something suitable for casseroles is fine – just trim the fat and cut into cubes of roughly the same size. (If you like, you could add a few chopped mushrooms instead of the kidney) […]

NBC's The Blacklist – Are you watching?

By | November 6th, 2013|Categories: AAR afterhours blog, Television, Wendy AAR| NBC has a new drama that is surprisingly watchable. The fact that it stars the wonderful James Spader is a draw, of course, and the writing and excellent casting have kept me coming [...]

AAR at the Movies: Ender's Game

By | November 5th, 2013|Categories: AAR afterhours blog, Movies| This Sunday, we headed to the movie theater to take in Ender’s Game. Ender’s Game is one of those books that I’ve always meant to read but never managed to get around to.* I really enjoyed the movie, and while I understand from reading various reviews that a bulk of the political intrigue that happens on the page has been cut from the film, I now feel no strong drive to read the book. Indeed, given the complexity of the story’s science fiction aspects, I’m rather thankful that Hollywood provided visuals that my sci-fi-challenged brain would never have managed to make so cool. […]

Winter Warmers – Haley's Apple Brickle Dip

By | October 31st, 2013|Categories: AAR afterhours blog, Cooking|

I had originally planned a fun Halloween themed recipe to share today. I had two Halloween parties at my house over the weekend, so I tried out a few fun themed foods. I made my recipe I had planned to use for the blog and, well, it kind of bombed. The idea was to make these bone shaped sandwich cookies with raspberry “marrow” filling and dip them in white chocolate to complete the look. Sounds tasty, right? Not so much. They were so sickly sweet no one really wanted to eat them and, even though it was a Halloween party, people didn’t get the whole skeleton theme and thought they looked like dog bones. So, instead, I would like to share a nice, simple recipe that was a huge hit this weekend and is great for fall, Apple Brickle Dip. It is so easy and it is like dipping your apple wedges into a melted candy bar. Enjoy! – Haley AAR Ingredients: […]

Trick or Treat

By | October 30th, 2013|Categories: AAR afterhours blog, home, Real Life|

My having an October birthday has meant many, many Halloween themed parties over the years.  Then my youngest daughter came into the world on October 30 and we had two in the family born close to that veil between the living world and the dead.  I was actually finishing costumes for my two oldest children when I went into labor.  When each of my children were old enough,  I made costumes and drove my kids to other neighborhoods or attended church events on Halloween.  Unfortunately, the neighborhood we lived in for nearly twenty years was not conducive to trick-or-treaters and in all of those years we had exactly three trick-or-treaters…TOTAL. […]

Winter Warmers – Chicken Roast

By | October 24th, 2013|Categories: AAR afterhours blog, Cooking, home, Uncategorized, Wendy AAR|

This delicious, easy chicken dish is made on the stovetop, similar to the traditional pot roast. You have control over quantity, so you can feed two or a holiday crowd. Boneless Chicken Breasts (3-6 or [...]