Monthly Archives: February 2014

Academy Awards With “The Besties” Of The Red Carpet

award goes to

This Sunday the Academy Awards will be on TV.  It’s one of my favorite television events.  Which is odd, considering I generally don’t know the majority of the actors nor have I seen the majority of the movies.  I’m actually not sure exactly when this phenomenon took place.

I used to know things.  Now, sadly, not so much.

I can vividly remember listening to the radio or watching TV with my parents and asking their opinion on this song or that artist or some movie star, only to look up at their faces and see them looking back at me.  Blankly.  They had no clue who I was talking about.  Nor, for that matter, did they seem to care.  Their mid-lives were occupied with other pressing things and my young self couldn’t fathom how any of that would take precedence over knowing who was who and what was what in the entertainment world, let alone not really caring about it.

And now I get it.  The kids ask me if I like this song or that group.  Do I think this star is beautiful or that one just plain crazy? And I search the very little brain space I have left in my head to recall any shred of detail about the people and things they are referring to so I can respond in a way that they don’t think I live in a completely oblivious black hole of numbing monotonous adulthood.  But nine times out of ten, I’ve got nothing.  And I look back at them.  Blankly.

This always seems to ring home very loudly just as the world gets ready for the Academy Awards.  I catch snippets of previews of the movies that are nominated and what the beautiful and glamorous stars will be wearing.  And I realize I have not heard of half of the stars and have only seen one of the movies they are talking about.  And I wonder WHEN DID THIS HAPPEN?! 

It wasn’t always this way.  As young married adults with a little bit of disposable income we saw every movie the first weekend it came out.  Every weekend.  Every movie.  We went to concerts and listened to the radio turned up too loud.  I shoved entertainment magazines in the grocery cart and we stayed awake watching late night TV.  I knew who was who.  I knew what was what.

But somewhere along the line things began to change – jobs, babies, kids, responsibilities, sleep deprivation.  There was not enough pocket change to keep up with all the movies and concerts and People magazines and nowhere near enough hours in the day to justify staying up with late night comedians on television.  I went from knowing all the actors and movies to knowing very few.  And nowadays if we do see a movie, it’s on the couch at home and I am lucky to make it through the previews without falling asleep.  Shameful.  I laugh as I look back and remember telling myself that this very thing would never happen.  But here I am and so it has.

I still love the Academy Awards.  I love watching the stars arrive in their beautiful evening wear, ohhhing and ahhhing at their jewelry and hairstyles.  What’s there not to love about the red carpet?!  The girls have started to enjoy it too.  For a few years now we have watched the red carpet coverage and discussed who had the best dress, hair, etc.  The girls are still too young to see most of the movies nominated, but they are not old and out of touch like their mother, so they know the names of the actors arriving in limousines and posing for cameras.  The red carpet pre-show and opening acts are about all that they get to watch since we are east coast viewers and I am the mean mom who likes everyone settled and in bed on time on Sunday nights.  But we make the most of it before they go off to bed and I fall asleep in front of the TV.

Last year we decided to have some fun and make our own awards for the red carpet.  The girls made up the categories and named the awards  “The Besties.”  The only rule was the categories had to be positive (i.e. no award for “biggest train wreck” or ” worst fashion disaster”).  Some of my favorite categories that they came up with are “best smile,” “kindest eyes,” “most genuine,”  “best normal hair,” and “happiest to be there.”  We watched together, and everyone voted on their own papers for who they think won each category.  Surprisingly, we had near unanimous winners.  So either we all have similar styles or the standouts were pretty clear.  I’m not sure which.

If you are looking for some entertainment while watching the red carpet download this printable and play along.  We’ll see who wins “The Besties” in our house this year.

And we’ll see if I can make it through the awards show without falling asleep.



Sometimes Joy Comes In A Vase

daffodils in the snow

 “No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn.” – Hal Borland

We’ve finally started to warm up around here.  If last year was the winter that wasn’t, this year is the winter that won’t end.  Mother Nature and her pal, Polar Vortex, have tested our sanity these past few months to say the least.

Look what were poking their little heads out of the last few mounds of snow the other day.  Yep, the daffodils.  It makes me so happy to see them each year.  I know they are down there and yet it takes me by sweet surprise when I see them bravely emerge from the ground.  They always seem to pop up just when I begin to think winter will never end, when I need a little sign of spring, of color, and new life.  The blossoms, though not even open when I took this picture, are such a welcome nudge to the bright side of life, aren’t they?  To think that they lay quiet all winter and survive the freezing temperatures and endure blankets of snow only to blossom and blossom is a small miracle.  Such a simple sign of hope and joy.


This morning we had several blooms.  They look so pretty in the yard.  So bright and happy and simple.

daffodils in a vase

Tomorrow morning they will look like this, because guess what is back in the forecast?  Yep.  A chance of snow.  Not much, thank heavens, but enough to be irritating.  And to freeze the very blossoms I am excited to see.  So these little babies will come inside this evening.  They will sit on the kitchen counter and remind me that one of these days spring will be here and “wintry mix” will no longer be in the forecast.  I will smile when I see them, knowing some things are worth waiting for.

I guess sometimes joy comes in a vase.


If You Want An Hour To Watch Downton Abbey …

chocolate pudding cupIf you want an hour to watch Downton Abbey, you will need a chocolate pudding cup to go with it.

If you watched the Super Bowl with your husband and son, more grateful for the time with them than what was actually on the TV,  then you did not get to indulge in a cup of tea and the one hour (God bless it!) of TV you let yourself watch each week precisely at 9 pm on Sunday nights.

If you didn’t get to watch your one hour of Downton Abbey because of said national TV sport holiday, you will take complete comfort in the little red light glowing on the cable box, indicating that your show is recording.  A luminous beacon of delayed gratification.

You will keep your eye on the little red light, oddly giddy with the thought of watching the show tomorrow.  You envision yourself being able to sit down in peace and quiet (in the middle of the day!) and watch Downton. Maybe even make a cup of tea. And put your feet up on the coffee table.  Luxury. Indulgent.

If you think for even a nanosecond about turning on the TV the next day, you will immediately look up the words luxury and indulgent in the dictionary and find they are close in alphabetical order to guilty conscience. Who turns on the TV and sits down on the couch in the middle of the day?!!

If you cannot justify sitting down to watch your show,  you will promptly think of 50 things on your to-do list that you could do mindlessly so you could multitask, be productive, and ahem, not feel guilty about catching up with your English friends.

When you think of the things you could do while not really watching your favorite show while not drinking a cup of tea and not sitting down on the couch,  you will realize you could tackle the basket full of cloth napkins that were washed and (sort of) folded after the holidays and still need to be ironed.  Which makes you wonder why you bother with cloth napkins in the first place.  Does anyone else in this day and age still do this?  The Dowager would be pleased to know that some still use cloth napkins (even if mostly on holidays) so you decide to break out the ironing board.

Setting up the ironing board will remind you of your great-grandmother, GG, who you miss terribly, even though you get to say her name out loud each day because her namesake is your oldest daughter.  You will remember that she taught you how to iron when you were probably way to young to handle a hot appliance in your small hand.  You will recall that you nearly burned a hole through one of your grandfather’s handkerchiefs while under her supervision because both of you got distracted by what was happening on The Guiding Light, which you most certainly were too young to handle.  You will smile and think of the large, weighty prayer-book bound with several stretched rubber bands that she shared with you – sometimes after daily mass and sometimes after The Young and The Restless. Sometimes after both.

After you set up the ironing board you will head for the basket of ignored napkins.  You will look at the disheveled assortment before you and wonder why you put off ironing for so long.  GG would have had these taken care of after they came out of the dryer –  the day after they were used. And she would not have missed a beat in her daily mass, soap opera, and prayer routine.

If you have procrastinated and did not heed your great-grandmother’s example and you have waited weeks to iron cotton items left in a basket, you will need to use lots of steam while pressing them.  You will notice that the water level in the iron is low and not surprising, the gallon of distilled water to refill the near empty iron is, well, nearly empty itself.

So you will head to the store to pick some up.  Your brain will fire on all cylinders for two seconds and you will remember to take your grocery list with you, all set to grab the few things that you need for dinner.  Efficient.

If you stay on task at the store, you will find the distilled water, grab your few items, and make your way to the check out line.  But first you will notice that apples are on sale and since GG is on your mind, you remember the homemade applesauce she used to make.  You turn on your heels with blazing, focused determination and grab a bunch of apples.  The world could come to an end, but you would be making homemade applesauce today.

You will return home, dump the bags on the kitchen counter, and realize you have no recipe for GG’s applesauce.  Did she even use one?  You will think of Ivy and Daisy working away in the Abbey kitchen while you search Pioneer Woman for a recipe you are confident she is sure to have.  You will revel in your mad computer skills when you find it on the first try.  Skah-ills.

Your determination or sentimentality or love of GG’s homemade applesauce will have you peeling and coring apples and making a mess in the kitchen.  You will not really be doing what you had planned for the day.  You will look at the clock and realize that the day is speedily passing by and soon it would be time to head to carpool and start the long evening routine of homework, dinner, practices, taxi service, etc. etc. etc.  Extra emphasis on the etc. part.

Your day will slip away, leaving you in an urgent, mad dash to finish the applesauce, prep dinner, and head out the door to fetch children.  You will realize that you will not be watching your show from the couch.  Nor will you be watching while standing at the ironing board.  You will embrace the notion of delayed gratification, yet again.  Another sentiment the Dowager and company might appreciate.  Well, maybe.

You will relish the idea of watching Downton (once again on the couch with a cup of tea and in PJs) after all children are in bed and all menial household tasks are completed.  You will start to look forward to your night.  You will look at the pot of simmering apples on the stove and decide the evening is looking up!  You determine that it will be positively over the top if you can snuggle up with the remote and a little bowl of warm applesauce and a little scoop of vanilla frozen yogurt. Or full fat creamy ice cream.  It will be hard to choose.  Some decisions are taxing.

You will start counting down the hours until you can park it in front of the TV and you will buzz about the afternoon and evening, finishing all that needs to be done.  You will dish out round two of food to constantly hungry children home from practices and realize, to your horror, that you just doled out the last of the applesauce.  The very last spoonful.  The children will delight in its goodness and you will delight in telling them about how you loved it when GG made it when you were a kid.  You will tell them again how much you loved her.  You will tell them for billionth time how much you love them.  And you will tear up because that’s just what you do.  You will promise to make it again (more for your sake than for theirs) as you send them to bed and tuck them in.

After they are all in bed, and all is quiet, you will find the remote and start your show.  And because of genetics or ovaries or something, your sweet tooth will come calling as you start to sit down.  You will remember that there is no coveted applesauce as you stare into the fridge.  But then you will spy a lone chocolate pudding cup hiding behind they mayo which will remind you of your best friend Susan in far away Texas who is probably pining for the couch and a chocolate pudding cup of her own.  And since you share a brain with her you decide the pudding cup will have to do.

And it does.  Quite perfectly.