Friday, December 31, 2021

Golden Good-bye: Jest in Peace, Rose

I called my sister earlier today, and the first thing she said was, "Are you calling about Betty White?"

"No," I said, "I just wanted to see how you were."  Then, more, hesitantly, "Why?  Did she die?"

And my sister said she had, just weeks shy of her hundredth birthday.

I don't have to tell you that Betty White is a national treasure.  Or that I'm a huge fan and have posted about her many times over the years.  So hearing that she'd passed was strange, even though I sort of expected it.  There was so much hoopla about her upcoming milestone birthday that I couldn't help but think, isn't that tempting fate?  What if . . . 

She wasn't sick.  And I imagine -- and very much hope -- that she went peacefully.  But ninety-nine is very old, and I don't think it's too much to ask that someone that age not keep going.  Betty had a beautiful life, beloved by people of all ages, and she brought the world so much laughter.  So I've decided to focus on that.       

Good-bye, Betty.  May you enjoy many a cheesecake -- and hot dog -- in heaven.

Thursday, December 30, 2021

Sunset Duet of Poinsettias

Tights: Hue, Amazon

Scrunchie: Ella & Elly, Zulily; Rhinestones necklaces: Macy's; Yellow necklace: So, Kohl's

Dress: Xhilaration, Target

Bag: Wet Seal

Sweater: Kohl's

Fabulous Felt Red Poinsettia Barrette

Shoes: Katy Perry Collection

I postponed this post because I was holding out for a pic with my Christmas palm tree.  But technical difficulties (I'm talking to you, bum extension cord) put the kibosh on that pipe dream.  So here's my festive foliage in the form of, not palms, but poinsettias.  

I wore the dress on Christmas day (yes, it's the same style as my red one!) and the sweater and jeans on Christmas Eve.  Which is kind of funny, because when I was a kid, it was the other way around.  Christmas Eve was dress up time, whereas Christmas was more like an all-day pajama party.  But this year we opened gifts with my nieces and nephew on Christmas Eve, and that was definitely a sweater occasion.  So I saved the dress for Christmas dinner with the husband and my parents.  

I like the poinsettia print on the dress because it kind of looks like needlepoint.  And I like the poinsettia barrette because, well, I made it.  No false modesty here!   

The sun may be setting on Christmas, but this blog is a hothouse of holiday horticulture.

In other words, I haven't given up on that palm pic.     

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

A Cozy Snooze for Winter Blues: It Takes a Village, People

Could winter get any cozier than snuggling up in a seaside English cottage?  In this always-cold blogger's opinion, yes!  Once upon a time, I lived at the beach, and come winter, it was bitingly bitter.  I imagine that U.K. beach winters are even more frigid.  But Jenny Bayliss's A Season for Second Chances sends us on a glacial getaway that doesn't chill to the bone; if anything, it offers the warmest of hearths, radiating comfort and joy.  Last December, I read and loved Bayliss's debut novel, The Twelve Dates of Christmas.  So, when I heard about Bayliss's sophomore book, I knew it'd be just as winsome.    

Star restauranteur Annie Sharpe's life is turned upside down when she catches her husband with a waitress.  Unable to look the other way this time -- Max has strayed before, although Annie's never had to see it -- she leaves London for remote Willow Bay to look after an elderly stranger's cottage.  Which sounds crazy.  But a disappearing act is just what Annie needs.  And the denizens of her new beach village are only too happy to help her.  (So much for British reserve!)  Part of me is always surprised when this sort of story captivates me -- I mean, I'm the kind of person who avoids not only strangers, but people I know.  Yet then I remember that in books like this (unlike real life!), almost everyone has good intentions.  In A Season for Second Chances, that goes double for everyone, including the homeless guy camping out in Annie's tearoom.  Before you get the wrong idea, no, he's not her curmudgeonly love interest.  That would be the big, bad developer (okay, the big, bad developer's friend) who's itching to bulldoze the cottage.  

For yes, this book has some romance.  Bayliss serves it up along with delectable baked goods and enough tangy humor to keep your teeth from rotting.  Even Annie's grown sons are well-adjusted and funny, an affable pair of twins supportive of their mother's new-found independence.  No boys club vibes in this village!

That said, A Season for Second Chances is an engaging mix of old-fashioned charm and modern mores, making for an enlightened, rural, feel-good yarn.  

Which is my way of saying that it's a story well worth being marooned with.

Saturday, December 25, 2021

Christmas Wreath Thief

No Photoshop here!  This is my very real head poking out from a very fake forsythia wreath -- and my neck has the scratches to prove it!  If the wreath looks familiar, then it's because I snatched it from my fireplace before slapping on a red bow.  

That said, here's wishing you a very happy - and scratch free! -- holiday filled with all the things and people you love  No touchups needed. :)       

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Merry Christmas Eve Eve from Our Pal Steve

Zahn, that is.  Because I'm talking about the HBO Max original movie 8-Bit Christmas (which does indeed, however indirectly, have something to do with this pic.  But we'll get there.).  As nostalgic and charmingly rough around the edges as A Christmas Story8-Bit Christmas strikes a chord with anyone who's ever made a Christmas list, but especially those of us who grew up in the '80s.  Jake Doyle (Neil Patrick Harris) tries to connect with his cell phone-obsessed daughter by telling her the tale of how his tween self would stop at nothing to get a Nintendo.  So starts the setup for a classic Christmas frame story as Jake detours down memory lane.  And it turns out that scoring an NES is a tall order for young Jake (Winslow Fegley) and his ragtag group of friends.  First, because Nintendos are hard to come by in 1988.  Secondly, because, in a rare case of conscience over consumerism, the local parents' protest against video games has convinced stores not to sell them.  Jake's own dad (Steve Zahn) would rather Jake spend his time helping him with his endless home renovations than snagging extra lives and getting to the next level.  That is, when he's not nagging Jake to pick up the dog poop dotting their yard.  But Jake doesn't listen.  When he realizes that he's not getting a Nintendo for Christmas, he enters a competition to win one.  His tunnel vision pursuit of Super Mario Brothers bliss begets one disaster after another.  Yet somewhere in this caper -- which also features girls' Esprit snow boots, counterfeit Cabbage Patch Kids, and a steady stream of upchucked SpaghettiOs -- is the meaning of Christmas.

This was only one of my takeaways from the movie.  The other was that I won a Nintendo in 1989 for drawing this:

Never mind that the "little" girl is too big to fit through the door of the candy cottage.  Or that the angel doubles as a banner plane.  No, the most questionable thing going on here is the seemingly inexplicable sentence scrawled at the bottom: "I'm a girl!"

 All I can say is that for Halloween that year, I'd gone as an astronaut, and some young thug at the mall (because, yes, that's where I went trick-or-treating) hooted, "Hey, look at the little astronaut dude!"  Although I now see this as the compliment it was, I was filled with all the righteous indignation of a serious seven-year-old, my fury so fierce that it made its way onto my art contest entry more than a month later.  Which, now that I think of it, has a bit of a gender bender parallel, however tenuous, with something that happens in the movie.  Not to worry; as my gift to you, I'll squelch my spoiler impulses.  

None of this is the punchline of this yuletide anecdote, though.  That would be that I already had a Nintendo, kind of sort of making me the spoiled kid in 8-Bit Christmas -- minus the power plays and bullying.  (Always on the other side of the bully divide, I played my two Nintendos by myself, thank you very much.)  But nerd or not, I was still a nerd with multiple gaming systems, and this embarrassment of riches is just one of the reasons I (briefly) considered not blogging about this humble brag of an art contest win.  

We all knew how that would turn out.

Now the NES is a relic and kids play with something called the Switch.  But even if 8-bit doesn't mean what it used to, it's still better than a two-bit anything else.

And also picking up dog poop.

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

North Pole Stroll

Tights: Isadora, Zulily

Merry Kitschmas Necklace

Bag: Violet Ray, Kohl's

Bag: Nordstrom

Boots: Mix No. 6, DSW

Dress: Xhilaration, Target

Boots: ShoeDazzle, Zulily

Clutch: Merona, Target

Top: Xhilaration, Target

Ring: PinkBopp

Happy first day of winter!  Given my hatred of snow and ice, you'd think I'd be the first to snap, grumpy-old-woman-style, "Oh yeah?  What's so happy about it?"  But Christmas being just four days away goes a long way to soften the blow.

As does a Christmas-themed winter wardrobe.  For yes, I'm still trotting out the Kris Kringle clothes -- minus the hat.  Unless you count my Santa hat and stocking-print dress.  It's an oldie but a goodie, like most of the things I'm wearing.  Including my fabulous PinkBopp ring, which I proudly bust out each year.  And my ugly sweater-print top, which I wore to cruise Christmas lights.  And last but certainly not least, the lovely lime and black plaid infinity scarf that my sister made me.  I could go on, but I won't.

I wouldn't want to upset the elves.

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Christmas Lights, Camera, Action

"This is not my beautiful house, this is not my beautiful wife" isn't just a lyric from a Talking Heads song.  It's what's going on in this picture.  (Well, okay, except for the wife part.)  This lights lollapalooza of a house isn't mine.  But it was the most striking house I saw with the husband and my parents when we drove around looking at Christmas d├ęcor over the weekend.  (My mom found it on a Facebook self-guided tour list, so hopefully the very talented homeowners won't mind that I posted a pic.)  It's as dazzling as the Griswald residence.  Only better, because it has a castle.  

Speaking of Christmas Vacation, there's nothing that eases 'tis the season tension like a crazy Christmas comedy.  So when I saw a commercial for the Comedy Central original movie A Clusterfunke Christmas, I had to check it out.  Written by Rachel Dratch and Ana Gasteyer, it's a rom com spoof of those so-bad-they're-good Hallmark holiday features.  Holly Jenkins (Mr. Mayor's Vella Lovell) isn't looking for love when she descends upon a Christmas-themed village.  She's looking to buy a heap of an inn run by eccentric spinster sisters Hildy (Gasteyer) and Marga (Dratch) Clusterfunke.  What follows is a walking, talking Christmas card complete with all the, ahem, hallmarks of a made-for-TV-movie.  You know.  The struggling mom and pop (or should I say sister and sister?) business.  The cookie cutter townspeople.  And, of course, the sophisticated, stressed-out businesswoman and hunky local yokel (Call Me Kat's Cheyenne Jackson) who despise each other on sight but must-have-each-other-now although they barely lock lips.

It was fun to watch a Christmas movie that put a new (i.e. snarky) spin on things.  Not that I don't enjoy the odd Hallmark flick while I'm crafting or wrapping a last-minute gift.  But after stringing my third necklace, I sometimes find the stories too saccharine to keep my interest.  No spurned suitor ever even so much as tosses a mug of hot chocolate in his lady love's Botoxed face.  And that's just not normal.  

Nevertheless, even as A Clusterfunke Christmas satirizes the genre of holiday romance, it's an (albeit tongue in cheek) homage to it.  Which is to say that it takes the best parts of a merry meet cute and then -- bam! -- spikes that sugary eggnog.  Because a little sarcasm never hurt anyone.

And you always hurt the ones you love.

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Decoration Vacation: Mites and Lights

Coat: Jou Jou, Macy's

Gloves: So, Kohl's

Sweater: Nine West, Kohl's

Candy Cluster Barrette Brooch

Yellow top: Merona, Target

We all have our holiday high points.  You know.  Baking, decorating, cards.  Maybe even carols, ice skating, and/or a gag gift exchange.  My focus has been on wrapping presents, as well as reading Christmas novels and coming up with festive outfits.  Which makes sense given my still-bare Christmas tree.  It wasn't until tonight that I lifted the lid off the first storage box of decorations.  Not these, but aren't they fun?  

Anyway, as I arranged some knickknacks around the fireplace, I couldn't help but think that it was beginning to look a lot like Christmas -- at least until I ran into a cave's worth of spiderwebs and thought, more like Halloween!  Not that I was surprised; I'm no housekeeper.  Oh, I do what I have to, but to me, sweeping away the handiwork of arachnids falls somewhere between the to-do list of a Victorian maid and a '50s housewife.  Still, the dust-choked filaments served as a reminder that all was not as it should be -- and, indeed, seldom is.  I guess that's why I liked this passage in Leslie Meier's Christmas Cookie Murder:

"Lucy flopped on her back and stared at the ceiling, gray in the dim light from the hall nightlight.  Above its smooth blankness, she knew, was a jumble of wires and insulation, a century's worth of dust, insect colonies and, no doubt, families of mice.  Tinker's Cove was the same, she thought, a quaint little fishing town with a drug problem." (182)

We're all harboring webs and insects and rodents (although hopefully not in the form of narcotics).  Some of us are just better at keeping them hidden -- whether in clean houses or behind other fronts.

On an, ahem, lighter note, despite getting a late start on my decorating, I made it a point to check out the lights at nearby Smithville.  That's where I am in the first pic.  If you're from across the country or world instead of here in South Jersey, then suffice it to say that Smithville is a faux old-timey shopping village with a big lake and an inn.    

It was crowded and raining a little.  But seeing the sparkly reds and greens gave me all the old Christmas feels.

Unlike those spiderwebs.

Sunday, December 12, 2021

Ginger Snap Wrap

A few days before Thanksgiving, I found myself ordering a can of cranberry sauce from Target (I was making a JELL-O mold).  To complete the order, I had to spend thirty-five dollars, so I thought, why not stock up on Christmas wrapping supplies?  So I did, and the paper I was most excited about was this one exploding with gingerbread people.  Two days later, the cranberry sauce arrived with everything else -- except the gingerbread paper.  I tracked it, and the status came up as damaged.  I shrugged and figured it wasn't coming.  

Last week, I started wrapping with the paper I had.  That was another thing.  Unlike last year and the year before that, I was not waiting until the last minute.  Who needs to wrestle with Scotch tape and weirdly shaped packages with Krampus Rudolf's Type A dad breathing down her neck?  Not this girl.  I was going to take my time and carefully wrap and decorate each and every gift while cheesy Christmas movies played in the background.  And that's just what I did.  

A couple of days ago, I was nearing the end when a pole-shaped package arrived on my doorstep.  A few swipes with a scissors revealed my beloved -- and undamaged -- gingerbread people.  As far as Christmas miracles go, I know it's a weak one.  But I'll take it.  

On that note, I hope your wrapping is going gangbusters and that no anthropomorphic baked goods were harmed in the process.

Also, that you outrun Krampus.

Friday, December 10, 2021

Smurf Turf: Bringing New Meaning to Blueheads

Headwrap: Mixit, JCPenney

Last week, I was deciding what to wear for a doctor's appointment when I noticed that the ground was frosty.  Wanting to be warm and comfy, I bundled up in my floral sweat suit (not just for running and reading!), fuzzy blue coat, and favorite headwrap, scarf, and gloves.  But by the time the husband and I arrived at the doctor's office, the sun was bright, and I felt like a boiled burrito.  Still, I kept my cold weather accessories on for a photo op by this boss blue sculpture.  This was a new doc, so I'd never seen the sculpture before and was psyched to match it.  It's the little things! 

As they say (okay, as I say), one blue hat begets another.  So I fished out the others from the ice pond of my closet and styled them with dresses -- no examination required. 

Sweat suit: LC Lauren Conrad, Kohl's

Palm Flings Necklace
Hat: Betsey Johnson, Macy's

Mesa Medallion Necklace

Dress: So, Kohl's

Bag: Mellow World, Kohl's

Hat: Mixit, JCPenney

Rainbow Cherries Necklace

Dress: Lily Rose, Kohl's

When I'm an old lady and my hair turns blue, I look forward to rocking red headgear.