Still Living with Martha Stewart

Last night I watched the Martha Stewart biography — or unauthorized tell all?— streaming on CNN/MAX/HULU. It reminded me of why I loved Martha then and why I still admire her. Back in the day, I recorded her TV show and watched it religiously. I saved episodes until I no longer had the ability to watch them because technology moved on. I’ve hung on to one final stack of magazines long past their expiration dates and through our recent move. Her books are still in my treasured library that came with us to the condo.

As pointed out in the show, The Many Lives of Martha Stewart, she has been a pioneer in business throughout her long career. She’s also got the heart of a lion. When confronted with adversity, she just takes a deep breath and gets on with moving forward the best way she can.

I’m not sure she was like that in the beginning, but I love that now she is so totally comfortable in her shoes (Skechers and Easy Spirits, of course) that she can laugh at herself, all the while figuring out a way to make money while she laughs.

I’ve been pondering how to share my pondering, since Facebook is now determined to show me ads and a few posts from friends and family. I’ve held on to my blog for years while not writing in it very often. Perhaps an old-school medium is where this writer needs to get back to these days. I can barely remember how to use WordPress — I should probably go to the library and check out a recent copy of WordPress for Dummies. In the meantime, perhaps you will leave a note to let me know that you and I are both alive and waiting for Martha’s next act.

Treasured copies of Martha Stewart Living

RIP What Not to Wear

Last night, I watched the finale episode of What Not to Wear via my DVR with tears streaming down my face.

It hit me hard that I’ll never get a chance to see the interaction between Stacy and Clinton again. Their partnership should go down in history as one of the best couplings ever by two people who are not actually a couple.

Although I haven’t always liked the public humiliation that is part of the concept of WNTW, for the most part, the “contributors” (victims) are happy that they were part of this ten-year phenomenon. And I have learned a lot from WNTW.

I had breakfast with some friends this morning and brought this up as a possible topic for my blog. It was interesting to hear that I’m not the only one who has learned something from Stacy and Clinton. Here are some examples:

  • Never wear mom jeans — especially those in a light wash. Our closets are full of dark wash jeans that fit our derriere.
  • One’s accessories do not have to match one’s clothing — my friend showed us the beautiful purple and black animal print infinity scarf she was wearing which looked smashing with her teal shirt.
  • Never go out in public in one’s gym clothes — and NEVER in white sneakers.
  • Don’t show both your “girls” and your legs — some mystery is sexier than none.
  • Don’t dress for the body you wish you had; dress for the body you have now.

I could go on and on, but if you’re a What Not to Wear watcher and you are in mourning right now, you understand my pain.

If you’ll excuse me, I have to go put on my completer piece before leaving the house. Love you, Stacy and Clinton.

Cooked: A Manifesto for Summer Reading

As tech week for Godspell continues to have its way with me, I’ve actually started to think about life beyond Sunday. And that life includes being careful about what I eat.

It’s not that I haven’t been eating and cooking more carefully. We don’t eat takeout food for supper nearly as much as we did when I was teaching. We know which organic fruits and veggies are musts, and which don’t have to be organic. I’m learning how to make my own salad dressing to control salt, fat, additives and sugar. I’m limiting my morning trips to McDonalds for breakfast. I’m MUCH better than I was a year ago.

But I’m still eager to do more. Yesterday I sent out the call on Facebook for midweek farmers’ markets and found options for Tuesday and Wednesday. With my hometown Saturday market and the Sunday market that is on the way home from church, I can buy most of what we eat this summer from our nearby Michigan, Wisconsin and Illinois farmers.

But it’s not just eating close to the soil. It’s actually being proactive about reading labels and knowing what’s in my food.

I’ve been watching Food Network Star on Sundays, and one of the chefs is staking his big chance to have a network food show on what he calls the “culinary sins” including sugar, fat, bacon and liquor.  I’m interested in watching how this plays out, because in his real life back in San Francisco, Russell Jackson “takes local, fresh ingredients and gives them a whimsical twist.” His website for his underground restaurant company is as shrouded in campy mystery as his point-of-view is on Food Network Star, but I think I’m going to like what he cooks. There’s nothing wrong with adding a little wine to one’s skillet.

You’re probably asking how my avowed plan to “eat healthy” connects with the seven culinary sins.

I also saw on Facebook — and don’t lecture me about how Facebook has become my major source of news — that Michael Pollan has written a new book. The reviewed Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation, and I am eager to hear what else Pollan has to say. I’ve read The Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food, but I think I’ll start again with a revisit to Pollan’s writings before I read Cooked. After a year of purposeful eating, I think I’m in a better mindset to read and internalize Pollan’s manifesto, but I can’t actually remember how far he wants me to go in avoiding those “culinary sins.”

So watch for reviews of Michael Pollan’s books this summer, and maybe some recipes. I’ve got my reservations with some reading!

The Sunday Review: I Want to Dance with the Man Who Danced with the Girl Who Danced with the Prince of Wales

Somehow I just can’t get enough of “the 20th century’s greatest love story,” which is apparently what Madonna called the romance of the man who was on his way to being king and his American girlfriend.

You probably already know the story about how the future king of England fell in love with the already-divorced-American who was still married to her second husband. Despite which film-maker’s version of the story you accept, it’s fact that Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David Windsor became Edward VIII with the death of his father and eleven months later abdicated his throne in order to be able to marry Wallis Simpson. His brother Bertie became George VI and was the father of Britain’s current monarch, Elizabeth II.

I was excited when Netflix finally had Madonna’s film, W/E, available for streaming. I missed it in the theater (perhaps because it was here and gone in a box-office failure flash), but really wanted to see it. Madonna chose to tell Wallis and Edward’s romance as a story-in-a-story with a modern-day heroine providing opportunity for flashbacks to a companion story about the Windsors. It was only somewhat successful, as reviewed here and here, but I loved the costume drama elements and it piqued my appetite for more about Wally and David.

When the Netflix gods found out I was interested in Wallis and David’s story, they started sending me suggested movies as companion pieces to W/E, and from there comes today’s Sunday Review post. I got hooked on watching a seven-part imagination of the lives of Wallis, David, and the people around them. Whoever wrote these scripts wasn’t quite as sure about “the 20th century’s greatest love story.”

As this article from The Guardian states,

If you want a less sugar-coated take on it all, try Edward and Mrs Simpson, the classic Thames TV series from 1978. The seven-parter offers a fascinating look at an extraordinary chapter in British history. Even if we do know how it all ended, it still makes for compelling drama. Love? Barely mentioned. Ambition, duty, jealousy, selfishness? Got them in droves.

Once I started watching the hour-long segments, I couldn’t stop, and they increased my understanding of a situation that I knew only as a person fascinated with human behavior and its historical impact.  Armed with my greater knowledge, I fully intend to watch W/E again,  and last night I watched The King’s Speech (also available on Netflix) again.

In The King’s Speech, we see Colin Firth’s take on Bertie and the struggle to become king (while having a speech impediment) in the wake of his brother’s romantic tidal wave. Firth won a Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of George VI.

And then there’s Hyde Park on Hudson, the newest entry into the Bertie-on-film category. This film brings George VI and Queen Elizabeth to Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Hyde Park in New York state, where the two discuss the United States’s possible support of Britain in World War II. (That’s a simplified version of the issue, but you get the point.) The story’s not really about Bertie, but is written cleverly and is reminiscent of Downton Abbey and the social clashes between American and British ways in the early 20th century. Although not well-reviewed, I fully enjoyed it and so did my viewing partners. This photo is the only one I could find that showed the main cast, because the film is a tour-de-force for Bill Murray as Roosevelt, although he was denied an Oscar nomination AGAIN.

If you are intrigued by this story, I encourage you to put these movies in your instant queue and settle down for a historical love fest. And, if you’re desperate for even more, here are IMDb’s lists of portrayals of Edward VIII and George VI in film versions. Ahhhh… Thank goodness I’m retired.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to revel in the charms of Maggie Smith and the rest of the rascals at Downton Abbey. Just in case you were wondering, it wasn’t just in English country homes where dinner jackets were considered to be inappropriate for a formal evening. You’ll find the bit about the wearing of a dinner jacket over tails to be part of the wry humor of Hyde Park on Hudson, too.

P.S. The theme song for Edward and Mrs. Simpson is a popular tune from 1927 and you will not be able to get it out of your head. I’m just warning you.


The Royal Collection: Christmas Tours of Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace

Is my excitement showing?

An after-hours private small-group tour of Windsor Castle decked out in its Christmas finery — what a fun thing to do for Christmas if you’re a royals watcher like me. If you act now, you might still be able to score tickets; December 14, 15, and 21 are sold out, but Saturday, December 22 still has openings.

But wait! It does get better.

You can also tour Buckingham Palace during December and January when the Queen’s not there. There are lots of dates available for these tours, so make your reservations now!

I’m putting the Christmas tours on my Bucket List. And I’ll be pleased to toast the Queen with my free champagne.

Don’t they look like fun people? 🙂


If you love Liz like I love Liz

I’ll bet you thought we were going to talk about the upcoming Lifetime movie starring Lindsay Lohan as Elizabeth Taylor.


While this movie looks intriguing just for its notoriety, it’s the real Elizabeth that I’m talking about today. Elizabeth II, that is.

A family member who knows I love all things British sent me this montage of Queen Elizabeth. It’s well done, but unfortunately sends home the message that even the richest and most well cared for of us eventually age. At least I’m aging in the quietude of my retirement, not on a world stage. Anyway, enjoy!


Chicago Day 5: We Are Activists

I’m linked up today and for the rest of the month in the 31 Days Challenge at The Nester. By clicking the tab at the top of the page, you can easily access all of the 31 Days in Chicago posts. If you’ve got a story to tell about your experiences in Chicago, I welcome guest posts. Join the fun by emailing me, or if you’re not ready to write, go to The Nester’s web site to follow some other stories this month.

Whether or not we always agree with each other, in Chicago we care and we show it by our actions.

Obviously, these photos are just a small representation of the thriving community that is Chicagoland. I love living here.

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Olympics in Transition

Do we want our news real-time or prime-time?

We’ve been a transitional society for a while now, but it seems as though the Olympics coverage is putting our unease with technology out there for all to see. The American I-want-it-now instant gratification-need-to-know and our desire to experience the thrills of the Olympic games “as they happen” are at war with each other.

There seems to be an assumption on the part of NBC that everyone already knows the event results and so it’s okay to intermingle current news with primetime replays of the events. “Everyone” must be getting the results on their computers and smart phones.

The change in the number of smart phones with instant access to Mr. Internet since the last Olympics in 2008 must be astronomical.

Four years ago, I had clumsy access to the internet on my phone and never used it. Music Man didn’t have any internet access. Now we both have smart phones that link us to everything in seconds. I love the instant access and I hope I never have to go back to the old school ways of getting my news.

But our access comes with a dilemma. I ran across this article from the New Yorker and I think it presents the issue well (in a sarcastic way that tickles my fancy, of course).

P.S. Don’t click into this link if you don’t want to know what happened in the Women’s All-Around on Thursday.

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