What You Do When Your Sister Moves to Alaska

Me, our mom, and my sister during our Mother's Day antiquing and burrito extravaganza.

Me, our mom, and my sister during our Mother's Day antiquing and burrito extravaganza.

My sister just moved to Alaska.

We've never lived more than 30 minutes from each other, so it basically feels like losing a limb. We knew there would eventually be a "last thing" we did together, and the obvious choice for sisters like us was to see a movie.

We pulled up to the sprawling theater and suddenly remembered that it contained in its bowels a tinier theater that served pub food and (more importantly for our emotional state) alcohol. Maybe there's something good playing in the tiny theater and we can also drink!

When the lady behind the desk said that Inside Out was playing a night before it officially released, we looked at each other, eyes wide, and awkwardly shouted, "YES, THAT ONE." 

The Emotions: Anger, Fear, Joy, Disgust, and Sadness

The Emotions: Anger, Fear, Joy, Disgust, and Sadness

We settled in with a tub of popcorn the size of a small country, a sawdusty microwaved chocolate chip cookie, and a cocktail that 100% tasted like suntan lotion; it was glorious. 

The movie started, and I knew we were in trouble. A little girl moves to a new place, and her emotions wade through the bog of change, disappointment, and wishing things could go back the way they were. Hannah and I laughed, cried, and dreaded leaving the theater, knowing that Alaska would be waiting in the parking lot to take her away.

I'd say to not see Inside Out before your sister moves to Alaska, that it's too emotional and suffocating and The Worst, but I'd be wrong. Nothing else could have been more perfect to experience together. 

And as we sat in the parking lot, holding to each other tightly, crying like lunatics, hearing the summer downpour drown out any noise in the car (a super dramatic scene, y'all), I had never been more grateful for a movie.

Hannah's new backyard

Hannah's new backyard

Inside Out reminded me that memories and moments can contain more than one emotion. I can rejoice with my sister and her family as they live this new adventure 4000 miles away and simultaneously be positively heartbroken. Emotions don't need to always make sense; they exist together, swirling around your moment, freeing you to feel what you need to feel exactly when you need to feel it. 

So if your sister is about to move to Alaska, go see Inside Out. Be prepared to suffer from dehydration after All the Crying, but it's a practically perfect film. Best Picture level, you guys. Plus it's cheaper than therapy and has popcorn. (My therapist sadly does not have a snack bar.)

My babydoll of a niece in her new backyard

My babydoll of a niece in her new backyard

I miss you, Hannah. Watch out for moose and earthquakes. Enjoy the mountains and the salmon. I wish you were with me in my kitchen, thoughtfully taste-testing cookies, but I'm glad that this newly discovered time with your family is much sweeter than Cumbercookies could ever be. I love you, sister. Your first visit back can't come soon enough.

11 Best Movies About Vacation

It's the middle of June, and we're all itching to get somewhere that's not here. Can't leave yet? No worries. Here are 11 movies about taking a vacation. All of the movies are good; all of the vacations are not. 

1. Little Miss Sunshine

photo source ny times

photo source ny times

Olive Hoover gets a last-minute spot in the Little Miss Sunshine pageant, so her fiercely dysfunctional family goes on a twelve-hour road trip to get her there. The dad is a failing motivational speaker. The mom is fed up with it. The grandpa is a brash drug user. The brother is on a talking strike. The uncle is a recently dumped suicidal Proust scholar. Much of the movie takes place within the van, and the chemistry among this cast is heartbreakingly dear. 

Little Miss Sunshine is beyond delightful, was nominated for a ton of awards, is my third favorite movie of all time, and will make you cry and smile and feel all the feelings in the best way. Watch it.

2. The Holiday

photo source hooked on houses

photo source hooked on houses

Iris Simpkins (the incomparable Kate Winslet) just found that her ex - the man who never fully let her go - is engaged to someone else. Amanda Woods (the meh Cameron Diaz) has been similarly romantically jilted when she finds out her boyfriend has been cheating on her. Both women need a change of scenery, so they switch houses for the holidays. 

And naturally, all kinds of things happen, including Jude Law in a blue sweater that will burn your irises to ash. Be warned.

3. An Affair to Remember

photo source movie bucket list

photo source movie bucket list

Go on a cruise, meet Cary Grant, fall in love, plan to meet up later, get hit by a cab, miss the meeting, pine and grieve, buy a painting, and see what happens. 

Not a bad vacation.

4. Castaway

Now this? This is not a good vacation. But, man, what a great movie. Tom Hanks can literally carry a movie on his own. All he needs is a volleyball. That's a professional right there. 

5. The River Wild

photo source all movies

photo source all movies

I. love. this. movie. Meryl Streep and David Strathairn are in a tumultuous marriage and go on a white water rafting trip with their son, Roark, to celebrate his birthday. They meet Kevin Bacon who is simultaneously sexy and terrifying and not exactly what he seems. It's creepy and exciting, and you'll fall in love with Meryl's spunk and David's legs. Reeeeeally nice legs. 

6. The Way Way Back

photo source ny times

photo source ny times

I've written about this movie in detail before, so I'll simply say this: The Way Way Back is basically perfect. And not just because Sam Rockwell is perfect in it. You will love this movie. It's impossible not to love.

7. The One I Love

photo source variety

photo source variety

Some stories benefit from zero explanations. You just need to enjoy them. It's how I feel about The Night Circus and also why I hate book jackets. But this is a great movie for those of you into quirky indie movies that aren't short on language. A couple goes away on vacation to rekindle the romance in their marriage; the rest you must discover for yourself.

8. Into the Wild

photo source ny times

photo source ny times

A lot of us graduate college and wonder what to do with our lives. We try and "find ourselves" by taking an art class or getting into Zumba or maybe spending an entire weekend without our phones, but this guy? He gives away all of his money and stuff and hitchhikes across the country. It's definitely one of your dirtier vacations, but it's an inspiring one.

9. The Talented Mr. Ripley

photo source blu-ray 

photo source blu-ray 

A fantastic vacation. A horrible ending. It's a fascinating portrayal of manipulation and perception. Plus it's a blast to see Jude Law, Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Phillip Seymour Hoffman as babies on screen. 

10. Roman Holiday

photo source moma

photo source moma

Did you know that Gregory Peck is practically a perfect human being? He was one of our grandmother's crushes, making the rest of us jealous for being born in the wrong decade. Yes, his best performance was in To Kill a Mockingbird, but this movie is a close second. Audrey Hepburn plays a princess who wants to be normal, so she spends a day in Rome with Gregory Peck which is... normal?

11. Dan In Real Life

photo source hooked on houses

photo source hooked on houses

When I used to imagine big family vacations, this movie was it. A cabin in the woods, all the cousins, game nights, talent shows, football in sweatshirt weather, everyone still in pjs eating pancakes... it seemed perfect. Even though Dan's vacation is far from perfect, it's impressively real. There are twists and displays of tragic timing, but none of it is trite or annoying. If you've never seen Dan in Real Life, you're missing out on a fantastic movie that will tug at your heartstrings and make the most beautiful tune.

What are your favorite movies about vacation?

16 Celebrity Lookalikes That Will Totally Creep You Out

1. Zooey Deschanel, Emily Blunt, and Katy Perry

RIGHT?!?! It's like David Blaine has been here to blow all our minds. 

2. Dave Coulier and Jeff Daniels

Uncle Joey and the guy from Dumb and Dumber were separated at birth. Somehow that makes sense. Hilarious that Uncle Joey is the sensible one.

3. Juliette Binoche and Julia Ormond

They even act in the same kinds of movies. It's hopeless, you guys.

4. Joseph Gordon Levitt and Heath Ledger

Teenage hearts burst in unison, and the rest of us cry because Heath is gone.

5. Jenna Fischer, Amy Adams, and Isla Fisher

When Amy Adams was on The Office, Michael called her Pam 2.0. If only Isla had played Pam's sister, we could've had the redhead trifecta. 

6. Emma Stone and Mila Kunis

If only they were pretty, you know?

7. Jeff Bridges and Kurt Russell

It took me one full minute to figure out which was which.

8. Selena Gomez and Lucy Hale

I don't know who either of them is... which doesn't help matters when I'm supposed to identify only one of them. I always say, "It's either Justin Bieber's ex-girlfriend or that girl from that Liar show."

9. Christopher Walken and Scarlett Johansson

So many laughing emoji. Followed by a surprised face.

10. Ellen Degeneres and Owen Wilson

The new queen of daytime and the king of being in movies with Vince Vaughn.

11. Helen Hunt and LeeLee Sobieski

If a Hollywood producer doesn't cast them as mother and daughter, then Hollywood is doing it wrong.

12. James McAvoy and Luke Evans


13. Natalie Portman and Keira Knightley

Keira played Natalie's royal double in the new Star Wars movies, and when they were both in makeup, Natalie's mom couldn't tell them apart.

14. Stephen Colbert and Bob Saget

We can only hope that when Colbert takes the reigns of The Late Show, he'll have Bob on as a guest and they'll pull a Parent Trap on us.

15. Zoe Saldana and Jada Pinkett Smith

The universe a) doesn't deserve two women this beautiful and b) two women this beautiful who look exactly the same.

16. Steven Tyler and Melissa Rivers

Aaaaaand I'm out.

The 6 Uncommon Ingredients You Should Have in Your Kitchen

1. coconut sugar

It's expensive but healthy. Seriously. It's sugar that's good for you. I use it for breakfast and snack recipes instead of brown sugar; that way I can have something sweet throughout the day without paying the Sugar Consequences. I use it to make the granola that will literally change your life, and it tastes 98% the same. It's a fantastic cup-for-cup brown sugar substitute if you want an easy way to snack better. 

2. whole wheat pastry flour

Just a few pennies more than good all-purpose flour or regular whole wheat flour, and I use it constantly. It's harvested differently, so it has the same tenderness as all-purpose flour and the fiber and nutritional umph as whole wheat. It works the same way that coconut sugar does; I generally substitute whole wheat pastry flour for half of however much all-purpose flour is required in a recipe, especially in breakfast treats and chocolate desserts. Believe it or not, wheat brings out the flavor of chocolate, so it's a health hack and a flavor hack. 

3. mirin

Mirin is sweetened rice wine, and I use it in every Asian-inspired dish I make. Soy sauce is great, but it's often one dimensional - salty. Add a little mirin to the soy and then maybe a little fresh ginger or a drop of sesame oil? Bam. Baller marinade at the ready. 

4. grade B maple syrup

You put grade A syrup on your waffles. Grade B is perfect for baking. It's milder in flavor than honey (that can give certain baked goods a flora you don't want), but it's not processed granulated sugar. You get depth of flavor and richness without feeling like you're walking in a garden or that you're going to crash in an hour. It's a workhorse around here.

5. chorizo

Chorizo is a spicy sausage that your tacos and nachos require. Brown it up just like ground beef, and you'll be your family's kitchen rockstar.

6. garam masala

We have chicken tikka masala almost weekly. Indian flavors are surprisingly liked by my relentlessly picky children, so it's a regular. Garam masala is an integral part to all Indian cooking, and it's a spice mix you'll love having around. You can buy the mix already blended, or you can make your own. I use this ratio give or take a little. Cumin, coriander, cardamom, cinnamon, clove... it's really delightful. 

So which one are you most likely to try?

The 8 Characters Who Would Make the Best Summer Flings

Your teenage self is spending the summer at your Uncle Harry and Aunt Edna's beach house, and while they love you, they're supremely annoying. We need to make this summer count, and a fling is the best way to do that. Here are your choices.

1. Captain Hook - Once Upon a Time

He's sexy as hell, and he has a boat. I'm not sure you can get a better summer fling than that. He'll also call you "love" and bore his eyelinered eyes into your soul. It's a dangerous pick, but that's what makes a summer fling a good one, right?

2. Peter Quill - Guardians of the Galaxy

He'll make you laugh, he'll get you into just the right amount of trouble, and he'll make you a baller mix tape to remember him by when you have to go back to Minnesota.

3. Harry Potter

He can do magic. Duh. Plus he's sweet and perfectly nerdy with a little bit of a dark side. Again, summer flings have to have at least a little edge to them. It's practically a rule.

4. Tony Stark, aka Iron Man

He'll wine and dine you relentlessly, make you laugh if you're not put off by narcissism, and if you happen upon his Iron Man lair, maybe he'll take you for a ride in his suit. (No, that is not a euphemism... unless you want it to be.)

5. Buddy the Elf - Elf

Okay, he has no edge to him at ALL, but he's unabashedly enthusiastic and kind and would treat you oh so well. Just go ahead and book a dentist appointment for when you go back home, hashtag candy.

6. Jack Kelly - Newsies

Umm, spontaneous rooftop dance routines hellooooo! Jack is hot, sassy, trying to stick it to the man, and you could borrow his vest if you get cold. P.S. Here is why I love Newsies and you should, too.

7. Guy Patterson - That Thing You Do

Guy isn't a bad boy either. He's just solid, funny, charming, and would make you laugh but never make a move. Seriously, you'd flirt for two months, and then you'd get a single goodbye kiss at the end of the summer. If that's your style, Guy is your... guy. 

8. Daryl Dixon - The Walking Dead

Master of beach camping. Can fish, hunt squirrels, and skin mud snakes. The dirtier he is, the hotter he gets. And he won't talk much, so if you're just looking for a guy to sit next to on the beach and give the occasional sideways glance to, Daryl wins. And he'll never make a move. Ever. Daryl is a relationship enigma, but he's got to eventually kiss somebody, right? I miss The Walking Dead so much, y'all. Here's why you should watch it despite your feelings about zombies.

So who would you pick for your fling?