Thursday, May 30, 2013

Mad Men Cocktail Hour - The Highball

Good Evening Lovelies!

The Highball...oh, the Highball.  How I LOVE the Highball!  I do believe anyone who does not love the Highball has never had a Highball.  Even Port is a fan!

The Highball is simply spectacular - it was invented in the late 1800's and according to the 1949 Handbook for Hosts, is the "high priest of tall drinks"!  Now, the Highball should not be confused with highballs, meaning Highballs are highballs, but not all highballs are Highballs...(I'm pretty sure this post has already broken any record that previously existed for the most mentions of highballs in any post ever!)  What I am trying to say is that for this week's Mad Men Cocktail Hour, Bridget and I had a mixed drink called the Highball which consists of whiskey and ginger ale over ice.  It's incredibly simple (which is good because neither one of us had the energy on Monday night after the long weekend to do any cocktail research and though I'm working on it, my liquor cabinet is still somewhat pathetic) and INCREDIBLY tasty!  This is probably the first mixed drink I was ever introduced to since it is a staple for Oma and The Ladies.

If I have never mentioned The Ladies before, they consist of Oma and two of her friends.  These three women all immigrated to this country from Eastern Europe in the late '50's and have been incredibly good friends for close to 60 years!  They are hilarious and their interactions are incredible to watch.  While the other two Ladies, Reska and Vera, are sisters-in-law (something I somehow did not know until just a few years ago), all three of them have become family.  It can be said of not just The Ladies, but the families, that rooms filled with any combination of us are always full of life, laughter, schnapps, and more often that not some Highballs!

So back to our refreshment of the week!  The Highball is something specific, while highballs (not capitalized) are a class of drinks which consist of a spirit and a mixer.  Simple - no fuss, no muss!  And that's why my beloved Highball is so fantastic - I always have these two ingredients at home.  Ginger Ale is the only soda that I always have on hand...since I never drink soda, this is in the fridge in case of an upset tummy, or a cocktail emergency!  While the Highball is my highball of choice, most drinks that people refer to as mixed drinks or even cocktails are really highballs - Gin and Tonics, Vodka Sodas, Cape Codders, Screwdrivers, Greyhounds, 7 and 7's, etc. all belong to this classification of drinks.  And while this particular drink is not part of the Mad Men Cocktail Guide that the others have been selected from, it is definitely classic in its own right!

And now onto the Mad Men portion of the evening...

This week's episode was fantastic!  Unfortunately, just when things start getting really good, I realize that there are only a few more episodes left in the season...this literally happens EVERY season.  And this one is especially difficult as it also reminds me that we only have one more season after Mad Men after this.  I am overwhelmed with sadness.  Seriously.

This episode was all about the endings and beginnings of relationships.  While I really want Stan and Peggy to get together (I think they would be awesome because he could really be the one to bring a little more fun into Peggy's life), I know that most people want to see her with Ted.  And a few episodes ago, it looked like we were going to get just that.

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While we haven't seen any other personal contact between the two since, we found out this week that just because Ted has not been overt in any way that does not mean that he wasn't affected by what happened when he loses it with Peggy after a meeting.
"You touched my hand...and then you smiled.  You can't smile at me like that!  I never should have kissed you..."
"I assumed we were forgetting about that."
"Well I haven't...what an old tune - the boss in love with his protege.  Is this all me?  Because that'll help.'
"I think about it..."
"Well, we can't.  I have someone.  You have someone.  And believe me, I've considered it a lot further than that."
"I didn't know you felt this way."
"I don't want to.  That's the point."

While Peggy does not instigate the breakup, she is not sad to see Abe go after he dumps her in the ambulance on the way to the hospital after she stabs him with a makeshift harpoon (I was kind of excited about the cocktail tie-in).  I never liked Abe...I thought he was pretentious and, much like Ted, far too serious for Peggy and she does that just fine on her own.  Having an issue with and wanting to end racial profiling by police is important, but not giving any type of description to the police after you have been stabbed, which puts other people at risk is incredibly irresponsible.  Although it IS quite fitting since I don't think we've ever seen Abe get off of his soap box in the entire time we've known him.  Plus - his remarks to Peggy are super douchey.  "You're a scared person who hides behind complacency...Your activities are offensive to my every waking moment."  Well Abe, YOU'RE offensive to my every waking moment!  After that relationship is over, Peggy goes to Ted's office and tells him what happened, hoping that perhaps it would open the door for something to happen, but Ted acts as if he never told her that he was in love with her.  Then he tells her that she will find someone else and mimicks a coach trying to pump his team up before a game: "You ready to get to work?  It's Monday morning Peggy - brand new week!!!"  While he was a total ass, this is not the and for the two of them.  I'd put money on that.

As if Peggy stabbing Abe was not traumatic enough, the most talked about scene of the episode was probably Don and Betty sleeping together.  Betty's body is back, and with it, Don's interest.  After they have sex, they actually share a very poignant moment.  I feel like Don has missed the comfortable interaction of a relationship where two people know each other so well, and in that moment, his guard is down and we learn a lot about how he views sex.  He asks Betty, "What are you thinking about?  Right now."
"I'm thinking about how different you are - before and after.  I love the way you look at me when you're like this.  But then I watch it decay.  I can only hold your attention so long."
"Why is sex a definition of being close to someone?"
"I don't know, but it is for me.  It is for most people."
"It doesn't mean that much to me..."

Then Betty asks if Megan knows that about him.  When Don asks why she's bringing this up, Betty utters the most insightful words that have probably ever come out of her mouth.  "That poor girl - she doesn't know that loving you is the worst way to get to you."  The next morning, Don sees Betty at breakfast with Henry and realizes that she is, in fact, happy with her life without him and it is this that pushes him to go back to Megan and attempt to save his crumbling marriage.

The last, and perhaps most heartbreaking failed relationship is that of Roger and Joan.  When a day spent with his grandson is a colossal failure it makes Roger want to establish a relationship with Kevin (his son with Joan).  Unfortunately, Joan wants nothing to do with that, telling Roger that she can't count on him - though I disagree with that statement.  He shows up unannounced at Joan's apartment with a present for Kevin, only to find Joan getting ready to go to the beach with Bob Benson from the office.  This is one of the rare times that we see Joan in a more casual ensemble (I especially love her hair loose with a headscarf) and I think we all commented on Bob's white short shorts!

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While I LOVED Joan and Roger together, I do want to see her happy, even if that's with someone else.  I'm just not sure that Bob is worthy of our Joan.  Yes, he's been around for most of the season, but what do we really know about him?  Cute?  Yes.  Not afraid to rock the short shorts with a watch?  Yes.  Sleazy opportunist?  Most definitely.

What did you think of this episode?  While I am fascinated with the inner workings of the agency, I've become so invested in these characters and love nothing more than seeing them outside of the office environment.  Cheers Lovelies!


Monday, May 27, 2013

Oma's 86th Birthday Soirée Planning - T Minus Five Days

Good Morning Kittens!

Happy Three Day Weekend to you!  While most people are taking the extended weekend to relax by a pool and barbecue, the past two days for me have been very busy...and I've got more things on my plate for today that I would like.  Maybe one day soon I'll be able to relax and decompress, but that won't be happening for a while.  Don't get me wrong, it's not that I'm not enjoying all most of the things that are on my plate, because most of the things that are keeping me busy are social obligations and those are lovely to fill your calendar with!

Saturday I went to a beautiful wedding - more details on that in a later post - and yesterday I spent the day with my family putting the finishing touches on the party we are throwing for Oma's 86th birthday next Saturday.  This day just seemed to sneak up on us, when we started planning we had months!  Now we've got 5 days...I'm truly confused as to where all that time went.  Though month after month of a full calendar is certainly didn't help matters.

Since the party will be mainly taking place in the backyard, I decided that a lighting concept needed to be designed.  I have always loved the look of classic white bulbs - there is something so clean and crisp about them.  Going this route has many advantages - you have a good amount of options and these types of string lights are easy to find.  Really, the most difficult part of the whole process is deciding exactly where to hang them and where to plug them in.  Bonus - it's a fabulous accessory!

I purchased enough lights to line the entire patio (which is very long) as well as the tent which has already been set up and a railing.  Between lights, last minute food details, syncing up schedules (ours and the various people coming in from out of town), and other miscellaneous fun, I spent the entire day at Oma's.  I was debating sticking around for another hour so that I could see our handy work once the sun went down, but I really needed to head home.  I was only home for about a half hour before I received a phone call from Oma and I could hear the excitement in her voice.  She turned the lights on and was so happy with how it looked!  SUCCESS!!  She's decided to keep the lights in her patio up even after the party is over and being able to do that for the sweetest lady I have ever known makes me very happy!  Getting a phone call and being told "Yow, it's soo nice!" just put me on Cloud 9!

Though you can't really get a good idea of how things look from daytime photos, here's a little sneak peak.

I can't wait to see them all lit up!  That will happen soon enough since I'm sure these next few days will just fly by!

Enjoy the rest of your day, Kittens!  I've got to run - much to do!!


Mad Men Cocktail Hour - The Sidecar

Hello there Kittens!

Last week Bridget and I decided to have a little Mad Men Cocktail Pajama Party (which I really should have captured a photo of - and I could kick myself for not having evidence of her fantastic 'I HEART NY' ensemble!).  It was just one of those lazy Sundays for the both of us where you don't leave the house and after you take a shower, the most appealing thing to do is to put on a fresh pair of we made pajamas the theme of our weekly viewing party.

photo courtesy of Bridget
We've been sticking with cocktails off the Mad Men Cocktail Guide as it really does make things easier for those of us who are cocktail novices.  Much like the Manhattan, the origin of this cocktail is hazy at best.  What is agreed upon is that it was created after WWI and is considered by some to be the best cocktail to come out of the jazz age...and I do have to say, it's incredibly tasty!  While we've got the time period, the place of creation has been debated for about a century - some say it was at the Buck's Club in London and some say Harry's New York Bar in Paris, and others claim it was at the Hôtel Ritz in Paris (for those of you who love little tidbits of trivia - The Ritz Bar in the Hôtel Ritz may have been the world's first hotel bar).  For all the inconsistencies concerning the location, the basic story remains consistent.  This drink was invented for an American Army captain and named for a motorcycle sidecar in which he was chauffeur-driven to and from the bar.

Also elusive are the exact measurements and, to an extent, the ingredients, as some recipes call specifically for cognac, while others simply call for brandy.  (I have to admit that I was unaware that cognac was a type of brandy, so these Mad Men Cocktail Hours are not just tasty, but quite educational as well!)  The two most accepted versions are a French Sidecar (which calls for cognac since it is French brandy) which is equal parts cognac, Cointreau, and fresh lemon juice; and an English Sidecar which is two parts brandy to one part Cointreau and one part fresh lemon juice.  There are MANY different measurements that people will use, so this is a cocktail that can be tailored to your personal preferences as to whether you want a sweeter, sourer, or stronger cocktail.  Either way, after this Mad Men Cocktail hour, I think I'm definitely going to file this away as a drink option for the next happy hour!  Perhaps when I'm feeling like I could be coming down with something since it was reminiscent of how I like my tea - black with some brandy and lemon.  If you're a fan of the Sidecar and want to try something a little different, here are 5 different ways to enjoy this cocktail, though I think I will stick to the original.

'This is a drink whose suavité is beyond question -- it's the Warren Beatty of modern mixology. It's so easy, in fact, to be seduced by this clever old roué that a word of caution would not be out of place here. These gents have a way of stealing up on you and -- bimmo! Next thing you know it's 8:43 on Monday morning and you're sitting in the backseat of a taxi idling in front of  your place of employ. In your skivvies.'  There really are some fantastic descriptions of cocktails out there and I'm not going to attempt to take credit for the passage above.  That came from the drinks section of the Esquire site.

While this drink is classic, I found that the citrus gave it a very fun aspect - which complimented last week's Mad Men episode very well.  After episode 7 - 'Man with a Plan', we needed something lighter and that's just what we got.  While the episode was not without its darker aspects - we realize that Don's obsession with Sylvia stems from a connection he draws between her and one of the women at the brothel where he grew up.  Don was only about 13 or 14 perhaps and she significantly older and vastly more experienced than he.  She cared for him when he was sick and then subsequently took his virginity.  There don't seem to be any physical similarities between the two women, but I think with Sylvia being older, there is simply something familiar there for Don to draw upon.  Also one of the stand out scenes of the episode was when a woman comes into Don's apartment in the middle of the night while Sally is left alone with her brothers to rob the apartment.  This woman, 'Grandma Ida', is incredibly brazen (to the point that I was actually shocked with how she interacted with Sally, even making her eggs to prove that everything is on the up and up) and, it seemed to Sally as if this stranger knew more about Don than she does.  At the end of the episode, Sally tells Don, "I asked her everything I know. She had an answer for everything and I realized I don't know anything about you."  As much psychoanalysis as we've all done, I sometimes get the feeling that we don't either.

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With traumatic flashbacks and traumatic interactions with strangers in the middle of the night in addition to Frank Gleason's passing, this had the makings of another very downtrodden episode.  Thankfully, we had a fantastic 'energy serum' to thank for lifting this episode up and allowing us to experience the brilliance of the writers.  They are able to deal with so many emotionally draining things, but intersperse them with scenes that lift you up and allow you to laugh when a few moments beforehand you didn't think that was possible.

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Jim Cutler brings in a 'doctor' in the wake of Gleason's death since morale is low and there is so much work to be done for Chevy.  This 'doctor' brings with him an 'energy serum' which he injects most of the office with.  While he claims that this is a complex vitamin superdose, what he's really holding is a syringe full of amphetamine and everyone spends the whole weekend in the office, and while no productive work was done (as Ted says, "Half of this work is gibberish.  Chevy is spelled wrong!!"), most of them had a fantastic time...

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Episode 8, 'The Crash' is most powerful when everyone is coming down from the 'vitamins' that were injected into their backsides.  This is where you see that everyone is really mourning something and trying desperately to find some way to escape their problems for however long they can.  Mainly those outlets are sex and drugs.  While this escapism is a very real, very serious issue with the characters of this show, it led us to one of the most entertaining, fantastic episodes of the entire show!

What did you think Kittens?  Did you LOVE this episode as much as I did?  Were you cheering at the fact that we finally saw our first kiss between Peggy and Stan?  Do you think Ken should tap dance at some point in every episode?  Many people online said it was the most confusing Mad Men episode you agree?

Friday, May 24, 2013

Bates Motel Season One Finale - Foreshadowing of the Norman/Norma Transformation

Gooood Evening.  (Did you read that in Alfred Hitchcock's voice?  Good!)

And Welcome.

The Bates Motel season finale aired on Monday and I must say, I have very much enjoyed this series!  I was very sad that we are already done with this season.  I do not watch much television, so the shows that I do watch I tend to LOVE and Bates Motel was no exception.  I wanted to love this and I definitely did!

If you haven't been watching, you have been missing out and need to pick the season up immediately when it is released on DVD or when it becomes available on NetFlix.  For any fans of Hitchcock's masterpiece Psycho, Bates Motel is a real treat!  I was hoping that this prequel to the movie would give us a better understanding of Norman and his relationship with his mother, and I was not disappointed.  It has been building and building and the season finale gave us the best glimpses yet of the beginnings of the Norman/Norma transformation that is at the crux of the Psycho story.

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After learning that Norman blacked out and killed his father, we are seeing the frequency of these blackout episodes increase.  First with his father, then with Dylan, Officer Shelby, and in last week's season finale, his teacher, Miss Watson.  And we've learned that they are triggered by his overprotective nature where it concerns his mother.  On the flip side of the coin, Norma is incredibly protective of Norman.  This is partly due to the fact that they have a close relationship (she tells him that she is closer to him than anyone else in the world) and partly because she is aware of his blackouts and violent nature and is simply trying to protect her child...though she has no concern about what her child might do to other people, cause that's irrelevant, right?  Due to the film, I think it's safe to say that we all came into this series with preconceived ideas about Norma.  It's not until the big reveal in episode 6, that the inclination to think that Norma is the crazy one and that Norman needs to be pitied is challenged.  Slowly, those ideas start shifting as his mental illness and violent nature begin to emerge and we realize that we cannot simply blame Norma for everything - though she is most definitely to blame for not getting Norman the psychiatric help that he needs.

And in episode 7 we really see a shift in Norman.  After he goes to Bradley's house and she tells him that she does not have the same feelings for him that he does for her and that sleeping with him was a mistake (for the record, in a surprisingly nice way), Norman storms off.  This is the first time we see him channeling Norma - his eyes darken and he starts muttering to himself, repeating exactly what Norma said to him about Bradley not being a nice girl.  While he has not completely lost it, this particular night is terrible timing for him to see his dog get run over.  He scoops the dead dog up off the road and tells his mother "I'm taking her to Emma's dad.  He can fix dead things!".  When Norma says taking the dog to a taxidermist is a crazy idea, Norman starts yelling "He's not crazy!"  Norma runs to get the car and it is clear that she is legitimately scared of him and what he is capable of in a heightened emotional state.  I almost got the feeling that Norman had slipped into his Norma persona for a second, and that the 'He's not crazy' was Norma trying to deny the fact that her son is mentally ill.

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In the next episode, episode 8, Emma's father, the taxidermist, teaches Norman the art of taxidermy and asks why he wants to stuff this dog.  Norman replies with a very chilling line - the greatest foreshadowing up until that point:  "It seems sad to let her go - dishonorable to just put her in the ground."  Hmmmm....I wonder who else he won't want to put in the ground?

Throughout the season, the sexual tension between Norman and his teacher, Miss Watson has grown and in the season finale, he overhears her on the phone having a fight with what sounds like either an ex-husband or ex-boyfriend.  Norman is awkward and Miss Watson is awkward and they seem to be looking for something in each other, so she takes this opportunity to forge some type of connection.  She begs him not to say anything about what he heard and says "I guess we have a secret now."  The hug that followed made it very clear that their relationship had just progressed past that of teacher and student.

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Over the course of the last episodes of the season, Norman has becoming more and more unhinged and it is fascinating to see this transformation.  He is simply unable to manage his emotions.  He has snapped at Norma and called her crazy, has dreamt about drowning Bradley, and the final straw is the night of the Winter Formal dance at school.  Norman asks Emma to the dance and as Norma waits with her son for Emma to arrive, she tells him of the astounding dysfunction that she grew up with and how her brother repeatedly raped her as a child.  Norman is understandably worked up over this news and then goes to the dance where he stares at Bradley all night and then gets punched in the face by Bradley's boyfriend after Emma gets upset and leaves him at the dance.  As Norman is walking home in the rain, Miss Watson offers to take him to her house to clean up his face before she drives him home.  He goes back to her house, the air is rife with sexual tension, and after she is done cleaning up his face she excuses herself so that she an change before taking him home.  While Norman is alone in her living room (with a spectacular view of her changing in her bedroom) Norma appears to him and tells him how the inappropriate the whole situation is and how Miss Watson is trying to seduce him.  She tells Norman, "You know what you need to do."  Not only is the dialogue and Norman's interaction with the hallucinated Norma creepy, he begins shaking and appears to be losing control of himself.  Oh, did I mention that her hair and clothing resemble the corpse of Mother and also how Norman looks when he kills Marion Crane in the movie?

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BRAVO A&E!  That was a fabulous touch!

Norman is visibly agitated and the next thing we see is him running home, arriving there just as Norma is coming home from the resolution of her own shady dealings.  Norma is happy and relieved that everything and everyone is alright and says to Norman, "Everything is good Norman, everything is good.  Finally."  And with the instrumentation from the beginning of Psycho, we truly believe that with Norma's problems being resolved, with her relationship with Dylan being on the mend, and seeing Norman running home instead of something far more sinister, that things might just be alright - at least for a little while.  And it is.  For about 18 seconds.  The last shot of the episode is of Miss Watson in her a pool of blood.  With her throat slashed.

This does not look good for Norman, but it looks fantastic for our second season!

I'm on the fence about the teacher...they could be trying to makes us think it was Norman when the person from the phone call could be at fault - I'm torn on that.  Lastly, did you notice Miss Watkins' necklace?  The monogrammed B?  If this were Days of Our Lives, I'd say that the person on the phone was Bradley's dad who wasn't really dead.  While that most likely isn't the case, the fact that she had written those letters does hold some significance - and we will have to wait until next season to figure out what that is.  I'm delighted that the show was picked up for a second season right after season one started airing, so we know that, while we have to wait, that we will get answers!

Have you been watching Lovelies?  What have you thought about the treatment of such iconic characters and such an iconic story?  


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

This Charming Dame Lesson 5 - Wear an Apron

Kitchen aprons.  Very June Cleaver, I know.

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For the past few decades kitchen aprons have been symbolic of old fashioned patriarchal values and feminists have railed against these ideological symbols of women being confined to the kitchen.  The idea that a woman is only capable of contributing within the home is something that feminists started fighting against in the 1970's, and not surprisingly the kitchen apron fell out of vogue.  It was vilified.  It was the perfect symbol for the role that many men were trying to keep women in.  And the ideal that so many women were fighting against.

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So, what originated as a functional article of clothing turned into a feminist symbol of oppression, of making a woman's role (and subsequent contribution) very clearly defined.  Up until I did some research for this post, I had always referred to myself as a 'soft core feminist', but I hereby reclassify myself.  I realize that what I truly am is a Third-wave feminist.  I do not feel the need to burn my bra since I have a penchant for feminine undergarments.  I do not feel the need to buck old societal conventions of the woman's main contribution being that of a homemaker by not setting foot inside the kitchen since I enjoy cooking and entertaining.  In my mind, reveling in my femininity does not strip away my ability to be a strong, independent woman.  And it does not change my expectation that a woman's body be her own business and that she should be treated (and compensated) as a man would be in the workplace.

Third-wave feminists 'embrace contradictions and conflict, and accommodate diversity and change.'  To me, this means we've finally found a way to have our cake and eat it too.  As women, we have the option to do things that fall within traditional gender roles because they are our choice - not because they are being forced upon us.  So, I chose to wear a fucking apron.  Because A - I feel like it.  And B - it will keep my clothes clean.  Really, what's the dilemma?

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I found a fantastic Huffington Post article that encapsulates the apron issue perfectly - I suggest you take a gander.

So, without the pressure of an apron representing anything sinister, we can now embrace them as a chic, retro way to glam up our time in the kitchen and we can allow ourselves to have fun with them.  And there is definitely no shortage of sites to procure incredibly fashionable, cute, and even sexy kitchen aprons.

Stephanie and I prepping for her 30th Birthday.  How fab are we in our aprons?
The word 'apron' comes from the old French word 'naperon' which meant 'little tablecloth'.  The existence of the kitchen apron can be credited to the fact that women typically did not own many pieces of clothing and laundering these items was incredibly time consuming.  Rather than soil the few articles that you had while cooking or cleaning, it made much more sense to cover them with a large piece of fabric that was cheap, easy to construct, and easier to clean.  Because I am not typically wearing fancy ensembles to make dinner, I tend to forget that I have a few aprons hanging in my hall closet, though I will be making it a point to start  pulling them out on a regular basis.  In case you were curious, these are a few of the aprons I have been neglecting. 

I believe this was the first apron I received as an adult.  This fantastic wine apron was a gift from my mother and I think it's fabulous!
This is the first apron I purchased for myself - Cost Plus World Market always has some fabulous aprons.   They even have matching towels and potholders!

Last, but certainly not least, is this super fancy apron that I received from Stephanie for Christmas two years ago.  Most fabulous apron I've ever seen...have you ever spied one with a broach?  Didn't think so.

The resurgence of the apron in the last few years focuses more on the apron as a fashion statement rather than focusing solely on its functionality.  There is just something special about wearing an apron - you feel more pulled together and like a more legitimate cook (or at least I do).  Because I've found some adorable aprons online, I think I might be ordering a few more - you know, in case I ever have 14 people cooking in my kitchen at the same time.  It could happen!

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Aside from big retailers like Anthropologie, Cost Plus World Market, and Pier 1 Imports, there are many apron retailers that you can find online.  The two aprons below are from Rain Collection and Flirty Aprons respectively.  Click on the photo captions to visit these sites.

buy it here
buy it here
If you want to go a little more retro and purchase hand made aprons, Etsy is overflowing with some amazing aprons right now.  Below are some fabulous ones that I found during a quick peruse.  Click on the photo captions to visit the Etsy shops.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          
buy it here
buy it here

buy it here

What do you think Ladies?  Have you jumped onto the Apron Bandwagon?  Do you find that they class up your cooking a bit or are you of the opinion that they emphasize negative gender roles?

Have a lovely evening, I have a pie in the oven that requires my attention!  
(Alright, there's no pie.  But there IS a bottle of wine that isn't going to open itself!)

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Mother's Day Brunch

Hello Kittens!

Hopefully everyone had a fabulous Brunch-filled Sunday!  Unfortunately, I was Brunchless...I'm really in a slump!  I say that and now I'm going to follow with a brief recap of the Mother's Day Brunch that my sister and I prepared.  That seems contradictory, though, in my defense, making Brunch can be stressful and that is something that Brunch should definitely not be.

I would say that the whole of last weekend was stressful, but that's not entirely accurate - more accurately, coordinating last weekend was somewhat stressful.  Since I took Stephanie out for her birthday on Saturday in Irvine, and I was already pretty far south, I opted to spend the night at my mom's house instead of driving 50 miles north, just to go 40 miles back east in the morning.  It was the obvious choice.  This way, I did not have to sit in traffic with all those other people who wanted to be good children and do something for their mothers.  I had a fabulous evening with my mom (despite the oppressive heat) once I got to her house and I then got up on Sunday morning to start on Brunch!  Per usual, I was not prepared the way I should have been.  When I got to my mom's on Saturday evening, it was later than I had planned on, so I did not make a trip to the grocery store and thought I would be up early enough to make that trip in the morning.  Who thinks things actually worked out that way?  Show of hands.  No one?  Y'all are smart little cookies!

I received the Bubby's Brunch Cookbook the week prior, which was perfect because I was able to use that as a reference in planning our menu!  After I returned from the grocery store, we had some bubbly and my sister and I got to the cooking.  We were at it for a while, but it cannot be said that we did not have a good time - really, with Oma's fun aprons, it was impossible not to!

Sylvi and I (and Oma's kitchen) have come a long way!

The process of preparing Brunch is always more complicated and time-consuming than you originally anticipate...always.  When will I learn?  Perhaps the first lesson is to not make too many things?  No - variety in your Brunch menu is absolutely necessary.  Our menu was as follows:

-Mimosas or Hibiscuses** or a mixture of both (a personal favorite of mine)
-Mixed fruit - oranges, nectarines, red pears, strawberries, and bananas
-Tomato, Basil, and Mozzarella Scramble
-Breakfast Potatoes
-Turkey Bacon
-Blueberry Johnnycakes
-Chocolate Croissants

While I somehow have no photos of our finished product, I'm doing my best to give you the highlights from the vastness of the internet.  The scramble (modified with Eggbeaters for my sister) and the johnnycakes came from the Bubby's Cookbook, so while everything tasted fantastic, this is what these items were supposed to look like.

This may look familiar since it is the cover shot of the cookbook.  These are A-Mazing!  If you've never had Johnnycakes before, they are the precursor to the pancake...a cross between pancakes and cornbread.  SO good!  If you do not have the Bubby's Brunch Cookbook, I recommend you remedy that immediately.  You can purchase one from Amazon.  I found the photo above along with the recipe here.  You are welcome.

While this is not the actual Bubby's recipe or photo, the closest that I could find comes from Just a Pinch recipes.

We had a DELICIOUS Brunch and a wonderful day.  It was truly a great way to spend the day with the ladies in my family who are all beautiful and very special to me!

**I have always known Bubbly and Cranberry Juice to be called a Hibiscus, but when I look that up, I am inundated with cocktail recipes involving actual hibiscus flowers.  From my research, I'm gathering that while 'Mimosa' is a universally accepted, 'Hibiscus' is not.  This combination is called different things in different regions from 'Buck Fizz' to 'Pink Magnolia' to 'Hydrangia' to 'Poinsettia', though some of these cocktails incorporate other spirits or liquers.  I'm just going to keep calling it a Hibiscus.

I hope everyone had a fantastic Mother's Day and celebrated these wonderful women!

Join me in raising a glass to the fabulous mothers and grandmothers that helped make us who we are, pretty fabulous people in our own right!


The Great Gatsby Soundtrack

Hiya Dolls!!

I know I am not the only one who was looking forward to Bazz Luhrmann's retelling of The Great Gatsby, so I'm wondering how many of you also went to see it on its opening weekend.  Stephanie and I had been looking forward to this for months and since we were not able to celebrate her birthday last month, I decided that we were going to have date night - dinner and a movie.  And that movie was going to be The Great Gatsby - really, what could have been better on a hot day for a very fabulous, very pregnant lady than an air conditioned theatre?

I thought the movie was BRILLIANT and Stephanie thought it was Luhrmann's best film yet.  There was so much happening in this film that I will definitely be seeing it again so that I can better speak to the film as a whole.  Seriously, the entire thing was fabulous!!  I was so overwhelmed with how visually stunning the film was (par for the course with Luhrmann, which made him the perfect choice to direct a film set in the opulent 1920's), that I probably missed quite a lot.  There's a LOT of glitz and glamour and parties and costumes and stunning sets get the idea.  And that's just the visual aspect of the film...

Seamlessly woven into the fabric of this film was the music.  While I was initially skeptical of a contemporary soundtrack, I have to say, I do not remember one track that did not seem to belong exactly where it was placed!  And the fact that there is so much variety in genres captures everything that you need - there are some hauntingly beautiful tracks that are slow and melancholy, overflowing with emotion, like Lana Del Rey's Young and Beautiful, Gotye's Hearts a Mess, and Florence + The Machine's Over the Love that just do something to you.  Songs written for films are typically sub par, but the Florence + The Machine track is brilliant.  'Cause you're a hard soul to save with an ocean in the way, but I'll get around it.  Now there's green light in my eyes and my lover on my mind and I sing from the piano, tear my yellow dress and cry cry cry...'  It is written from the perspective of the woman in the novel that has had too much to drink and is crying and singing at the first party of Gatsby's that Nick attends.  'One of the girls in yellow was playing the piano...She had drunk a quantity of champagne and during the course of her song she had decided ineptly that everything was very very sad - she was not only singing, she was weeping too. Whenever there was a pause in the song she filled it with gasping broken sobs and took up the lyric again in a quavering soprano. The tears coursed down her cheeks - not freely, however, for when they came into contact with her heavily beaded eyelashes they assumed an inky color, and pursued the rest of their way in slow black rivulets. A humorous suggestion was made that she sing the notes on her face...'  On the other end of the spectrum from these poignant tracks are the faster, louder tracks that convey the energy and feeling of freedom in this film.  Jay Z's tracks are on this end of the spectrum and are front and center in the trailers, but I think Fergie's A Little Party Never Killed Nobody steals the show.  It is PERFECT for the big party scene!!  It manages to incorporate a jazzy feel and hearing Fergie say 'Believe me, I'm the bee's knees!'?  Fabulous!  If you're looking for some jazz, there is only one track that could really be considered a era-appropriate, but there are little jazz riffs and bits scattered throughout the various tracks and it's really quite fun!

Like I said, this is INCREDIBLY eclectic and as soon as I got home from date night with Stephanie, I downloaded the soundtrack and I love it!  The music is great and because it is such a big part of the film, it gives me a bit of the feeling I had when I watched it.  Many people were probably completely put off by the fact that this was not a 1920's album.  And to those people I say, have you ever seen a Bazz Luhrmann film?  That was never going to happen, and it didn't take anything away from the film.  Instead, it added a lot to the entire experience - and that is what this film is, an experience!

Bazz Luhrmann and Carey Mulligann talk about the varied, contemporary soundtrack here:

If you want to know what all the fuss is about, here it is - the full soundtrack!

I'm somewhat obsessed with this film and until it is released for purchase, I will be reliving it with the soundtrack.  Maybe this won't be as impactful if you haven't seen the film, but it's really doing it for me at the moment.

Happy Listening Dolls!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Jasmine! Jasmine! Jasmine!

Good Morning Lovelies!!!

It's going to be a fantastic day!  I'm starting it with a fabulous cup of coffee on my balcony while enjoying my jasmine.


It's a tie between jasmine and gardenias for my favorite floral scent, but gardenias aren't nearly as awesome as jasmine, and are significantly more work.  My mother gifted me a small jasmine plant soon after I moved into this apartment and I was very excited!  Previously I had lived in an older house where I had the opportunity to do quite a lot in the yard.  Although I was only there for a year and a half, I was able to plant a lot of jasmine around the patio and was able to climb it up and weave it through the patio supports.  I wish I had photos - it was quite impressive!  I believe it grew as well as it did because of the temperate weather since we lived about 10 miles from the water and the fact that I was able to plant it directly into the ground instead of a pot which always produces better plants.  One of the fabulous things about jasmine is that it blooms in the early summer and the blooms last for a month or two - and in that time, you experience the most intoxicating fragrance.  To me, the scent of jasmine is tied into the experience of warm summer evenings as the blooms are most fragrant at night and right after watering.

I planted this guy last year in May, this was my mother's Mother's Day present to me for being a good kitty mom to Port (as an aside, when I let him on the balcony, he loves nothing more than sniffing the blooms), so unfortunately, the plant was still small and did not produce many blooms last year, but this year, I have been able to get the vines to climb and the amount of blooms is making me VERY happy!  Unfortunately these photos don't convey how lush this plant really is.

Jasmine supposedly attracts love and money into the I'm looking to purchase a few more plants to help me out in those departments!!

Alright Lovelies, I'm off for a fantastic wine pick up day in Temecula!  Since I'm doing the driving, I have to be extra good, so I'm quite excited to come home this evening with my spoils and enjoy a few glasses of wine on the balcony with my jasmine.

Wishing everyone a fabulous, fragrant day!!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Mad Men Cocktail Hour - The Manhattan

Good Evening Kittens!

Sunday came and went and my new Mad Men partner in crime, Bridget, and I had to postpone our Mad Men Cocktail Hour due to Mother's Day festivities.  We issued a rain check for Tuesday.  So, Tuesday night at 9:00, just 20 minutes after I got a second degree burn (don't ask - I'm brilliant), there was a knock on my door.  I greeted Bridget with a 'Welcome to the Burn Unit' complete with a bag of frozen peas wrapped around my hand, but I wasted no time in making our featured cocktail of the week - the classic Manhattan.  A girl's gotta have priorities!

photo courtesy of Bridget

Like the Harpoon, this iconic cocktail was also included in the Mad Men Cocktail Guide.  This guide is just another reason why I love AMC - they help you out when you're watching Mad Men and suddenly find yourself thirsty.  It happens quite often!

While very popular in the 1960's, this cocktail has led a long and charmed life.  It was created in the latter half of the 1800's.  While there is debate as to the exact origin of the Manhattan, it is named for New York's Manhattan Club.  There is a FANTASTIC article about the Manhattan that sheds a little light on this mystery.  'The most common story of the origin of the Manhattan goes like this: In 1874, the Manhattan Club held a banquet for newly elected New York Governor Samuel Tildon, hosted by one Jennie Jerome, who is best known birth to Winston Churchill. At this banquet, a Club bartender came up with the Manhattan...The Manhattan Club stubbornly persisted in perpetuating this story for many years, but it has a major, major hole in it. The banquet took place at the same time that young Winston was making his entrance into the world, and Ms. Jerome was not in New York, but rather in Oxfordshire...(Tildon, a noted reformer, did go on to become the Al Gore of his day; he was the first presidential candidate to win the popular vote, but lose the Electoral College.)'  There's a little trivia for you!

'If the Martini is the glamorous, slightly dangerous doyenne of the cocktail kingdom, the Manhattan is its suave companion, the older man with impeccable taste, offering its arm and giving entry into the upper echelons and secret backrooms...One hundred and fifty or so years later, the Manhattan has held on to its looks, kept its sex appeal. It still has more game than cocktails half its age.'  Now if that's not an endorsement, I don't know what is.  You REALLY should check out this post about this debonair cocktail!  Bridget hit the nail on the head when she took one sip and said, "Yup!  This is a man's cocktail!"  While very smooth and not offensively strong, it definitely has a kick!  I only made one shaker of this cocktail; in many respects, this is far safer than those cocktails that sneakily lead you to believe they do not contain much alcohol - it is very easy to have a few of those before you realize their strength.  The Manhattan is a very honest drink in that way.  I actually found that I enjoyed this cocktail more when I topped off my glass with the remnants of the shaker after the ice had started melting.  A friend of mine took a Sommelier certification class that also covered spirits and the correct way to taste a spirit is by adding water.  This opens up the flavor profile and dilutes the alcohol (obviously) which can impact your taste buds.  I definitely noticed the smoothness and the sweetness of the bourbon more with it being slightly diluted. Curious as to what this is all about?  I found a very interesting New York Times article on the subject.

photo credit

Now that I've imparted some cocktail knowledge to you, let's get to this week's Mad Men episode - Episode 7 - 'Man with a Plan'.  The more I think about the Manhattan, the more I think that it would be more appropriate as Don Draper's signature drink than his beloved Old Fashioned.  Yes, the Old Fashioned is an obvious choice for a man who has not changed with the times over the course of the last six seasons, but the 'cool without trying too hard' quality of the Manhattan also lends itself to being Don Draper in a glass.  No matter Don's actions, there is a reason viewers can't seem to turn away.  Yes, he's a narcissistic, egotistical asshole at times, but he's also damaged, permanently wounded, and looking for the validation he never received as a child.  In many ways, he's a man child, though not in the sense that we think of them today.  Today we think of an unemployed man, coddled by his mother and living in her basement playing video games.  The problem is, Don has been able to get away with acting out against his past because, as CGC's Frank Gleason tells Ted, "He's very successful, you didn't think he was charmless, did you?"

This week's episode had Don lashing out against his lack of control with this new merger of SCPD and CGC.  The normally cool and collected King of his Domain was visibly rattled by now having the talents of his protege Peggy and Ted, the man who was previously his main competition, in the same office.  While his hands are tied at work and the only control he can exert there is to get Ted drunk (since no one has the tolerance that Don does), he can completely act out his frustrations only with his current mistress, Sylvia.  Since he feels like he has no control at work, he overcompensates for that in the bedroom.  They check into a hotel for what she assumes is a nooner and she finds herself held there by Don for two days.  While he does not physically hurt or dominate her, he commands her not to leave, and while every dominant needs a submissive, she stays.  Whether she stays and obeys his commands because she finds it exciting, or she's looking to give up control and escape her crumbling marriage, it doesn't really matter and Don certainly doesn't care because it allows him to have complete control over at least one aspect of his life.  "Why would you think you're going anywhere? You are for me. You exist in this room for my pleasure."  This is standard in BDSM relationships or interactions, though this is more of a D/s or Dominance and Submission situation and I automatically thought of the movie Secretary.  If you have not seen it, it's definitely worth a viewing - while the trailer makes it seem much more lighthearted than it truly is, it's dark, awkward, and absolutely fascinating.

Both Episode 7 and Secretary probably made most people uncomfortable, they give people a glimpse into a world that is usually hidden away, one where people can give and take control in an attempt to feel complete, if only for a little while.  So, the Manhattan was probably the perfect choice for this week's Mad Men episode since the focus was on Don and how angry and lost he is when he cannot control everything, while outwardly, he is a suave, successful man who can wear the shit out of a suit!

What did you think Kittens?  Were you fascinated by this week's episode, or did it make you want to have another Manhattan?

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Great Gatsby - Book Club Meeting

The Great Gatsby

F. Scott Fitzgerald, 1925

Hiya Dolls!  Welcome to the April Meeting of The Vintage Project Book Club!

It seems like I just hosted a book club meeting - and that's probably because I just did.  The March meeting was incredibly late, but I'm happy that the April meeting is a smidgen more timely.  Yes, April was not nearly as hectic, but also, I picked up The Great Gatsby and couldn't put it down.  This novel was a quick read, partially because it is significantly shorter than Oil!, but also because it is so brilliantly written.  It is captivating and engrossing and transports you to a different time and place.  

And that place is Long Island and that time is The Roaring Twenties - three months during the summer of 1922, to be precise.  Our narrator, Nick Carraway functions as less of a character in this novel and more of a voyeur to the characters and events of this story making the reader feel like they are right there in the middle of the fabulous parties and opulent settings.  "When I came back from the East last autumn I felt that I wanted the world to be uniform and at a sort of moral attention forever; I wanted no more riotous excursions with privileged glimpses into the human heart. Only Gatsby, the man who gives his name to this book, was exempt from my reaction - Gatsby who represented everything for which I have an unaffected scorn. If personality is an unbroken series of successful gestures, then there was something gorgeous about him, some heightened sensitivity to the promises of life, as if he were related to one of those intricate machines that register earthquakes ten thousand miles away. This responsiveness...was an extraordinary gift for hope, a romantic readiness such as I have never found in any other person and which it is not likely I shall ever find again. No - Gatsby turned out all right in the end; it is what preyed on Gatsby, what foul dust floated in the wake of his dreams that temporarily closed out my interest in the abortive sorrows and short-winded elations of men.'

Nick Carraway moves to a house in West Egg Village for which he pays $80 a month and estimates that the extravagant house next door, which we later find out belongs to the infamous Mr. Gatsby, costs anywhere from $12,000 to $15,000 a month...can you imagine?  In the 1920's...what would that be now???  No matter how much money there is on West Egg it is all New Money and looked down upon from across the bay by the Old Money of East Egg.  It is in East Egg Village, in the significantly larger mansions, where Tom and Daisy Buchanan live.  Daisy is Nick's cousin and she is described in such a way that you are immediately drawn to her.  'I've heard it said that Daisy's murmur was only to make people lean towards her, an irrelevant criticism that made it no less charming...It was the kind of voice that the ear follows up and down as if each speech is an arrangement of notes that will never be played again. Her face was sad and lovely with bright things in it, bright eyes and a bright passionate mouth - but there was an excitement in her voice that men who had cared for her found difficult to forget; a singing compulsion, a whispered "Listen," a promise that she had done gay, exciting things just a while since and that there were gay, exciting things hovering in the next hour.'  We quickly learn that the marriage of Tom and Daisy is strained and that they do not live the enviable life that is conveyed to the outside world.  This theme of illusion is common throughout the novel - nothing is quite as it seems.  Tom is carrying on an affair which Daisy (and it seems everyone in New York) is aware of, Daisy is not happy, and Gatsby...well Gatsby is a fascinating enigma.  One that is largely responsible for this novel being considered by many to be The Great American Novel.

It is after our first encounter with the Buchanans that we get our initial glimpse of Nick's neighbor, Jay Gatsby.  'Something in his leisurely movements and the secure position of his feet upon the lawn suggested that it was Mr. Gatsby himself, come out to determine what share was his of our local heavens.'  Gatsby remains a mystery through much of the story.  No one really knows who he is, but everyone has heard some story or piece of gossip and are all willing to share them.  His extreme wealth adds even more fuel to the fire.  '"They say he's a nephew or cousin of Kaiser Wilhelm's. That's where all his money comes from."  "He doesn't want any trouble with anybody...somebody told me they thought he killed a man once." "I don't think it's so much's more that he was a German spy during the war."'  And then there are some people who heard all the stories and started putting them together.  '"He's a bootlegger...One time he killed a man who had found out that he was nephew to Von Hindenberg and second cousin to the devil."'  From the beginning of the story, Gatsby is shrouded in mystery - no one knows anything about him for certain, only that he throws lavish, opulent parties.  'There was music from my neighbor's house through the summer nights. In his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars...I believe that on the first night I went to Gatsby's house I was one of the few guests who had actually been invited. People were not invited - they went there.'  Gatsby's parties are not events so much as destinations, many people flocking or simply finding themselves there as this was a place where no one had received the message that the Eighteenth Amendment had prohibited alcohol in the United States.  As in many well-to-do places within the country, Prohibition had given rise to bootleggers, organized crime, and the idea that wealth could buy complete exemption from this restriction.  At Gatsby's the cocktails and champagne flowed freely and yet, people went to his parties not for the booze, but more so the ability to set their eyes on the infamous Gatsby, and perhaps walk away with a piece of his wealth for themselves - 'They were, at least, agonizingly aware of the easy money in the vicinity and convinced that it was theirs for a few words in the right key.'

photo credit

Nick Carraway is different.  He is not looking to gain anything from a relationship with Gatsby and Gatsby seems to sense this; they quickly develop a legitimate friendship despite the fact that Gatsby is looking to rekindle his relationship with Daisy.  He has been in love with her for 5 years and after he went off to war and she married Tom, he still has hope that they can be together again.  'I think he half expected her to wander into one of his parties, some night...but she never did...'  After years of throwing his parties in hopes that Daisy would attend one, he finally finds someone who knows her.  He gets Jordan, Daisy and Nick's friend, to ask Nick to invite Daisy for tea.  The first meeting for them is incredibly awkward, but after a short time, they rekindle their romance.  Gatsby invites Nick and Daisy over to his house so that he can show Daisy how well he's done for himself.  'He hadn't once ceased looking at Daisy and I think he revalued everything in his house according to the measure of response that it drew from her well-loved eyes. Sometimes, too, he stared around at his possessions in a dazed way as though in her actual astounding presence none of it was any longer real..."If it wasn't for the mist we could see your home across the bay," said Gatsby. "You always have a green light at the end of your dock." Possibly it had occurred to him that the colossal significance of that light had now vanished forever. Compared to the great distance that had separated him from Daisy it had seemed very near to her, almost touching her. It had seemed as close as a star to the moon.'

A few days before Nick invited Daisy to tea, Tom had taken Nick into the city, to the flat that Tom kept for his mistress Myrtle.  There, Myrtle's sister Catherine told Nick '"Neither one of them can stand the person they're married to."' as if that was all reason that was needed for this to be perfectly acceptable.  The party went all day and well into the night and as Nick took everything in, he felt an odd detachment from the whole scene.  'I was within and without simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life.'  At the end of the night Tom lost his temper and broke Myrtle's nose - and I believe that seeing that is what made Nick agree to bring Gatsby and Daisy together.  The fact that they had been in love since before the war and that Gatsby made something of himself so that they could be together again makes this affair acceptable - even preferable to Nick.

For a short period of time, everything was fabulous.  Nick was seeing Jordan.  Tom was seeing Myrtle without her husband being the wiser.  Daisy and Gatsby were happy and in love and she was ready to end things with Tom.  It was exactly what Gatsby had waited five years for.  'He wanted nothing less of Daisy than that she should go to Tom and say: "I never loved you." After she had obliterated three years with that sentence they could decide upon more practical measures to be taken..."I wouldn't ask too much of her," I ventured. "You can't repeat the past."  "Can't repeat the past?" he cried incredulously. "Why of course you can!...I'm going to fix everything just the way it was before...She'll see."'  And one afternoon, Daisy and Gatsby ask Nick and Jordan to come to the Buchanan house as a kind of insurance policy - Daisy was finally ready to leave Tom.  As would be expected, she becomes very nervous and decides that they were all going into the city; in all the activity, Daisy lets her guard down and Tom finally understands what has been going on under his nose the whole time.  The group takes two cars - Tom drives Nick and Jordan in Gatsby's custom yellow Rolls Royce while Gatsby takes Daisy in Tom's blue coupé - and they head in the stifling summer heat to New York City.  Once there, they rent a room at the Waldorf and it is there that everything comes to a head.  '"What kind of a row are you trying to cause in my house anyhow?" They were out in the open at last and Gatsby was content. "He isn't causing a row." Daisy looked desperately from one to the other. "You're causing a row. Please have a little self control." "Self control!" repeated Tom incredulously, "I suppose the latest thing is to sit back and let Mr. Nobody from Nowhere make love to your wife. Well, if that's the case you can count me out...."'  Tom's anger makes Daisy even more adamant in her choice and when she insists that she does not love Tom, he protests, insisting that she does, in fact, love him.  '"And what's more, I love Daisy too. Once in a while I go off on a spree and make a fool of myself, but I always come back, and in my heart I love her all the time."'  It is not until Tom pushes Gatsby too far with his comments that no matter how much money Gatsby has, he will never be as good as everyone else, that Gatsby loses his trademark calm demeanor and attacks Tom that Daisy becomes so upset that she starts questioning her decision to leave Tom.  So in an extremely agitated state, Daisy and Gatsby leave in Gatsby's flashy yellow car and the rest leave in Tom's coupé a few minutes later.  The drive back to Long Island is the point of no return for Gatsby.  What started out as such a promising day, ends in tragedy and seals the fate of our characters.

Now, usually I do not give the end of the novels away, but in this case, I'm making an exception since the last pages of this novel make the story beautifully tragic.  Nick, Jordan, and Tom come across police activity in the road halfway home - there has been an accident.  Myrtle has been struck and killed by a car.  A yellow car.  A yellow car that did not stop.  Myrtle's husband is devastated and swears revenge on the person who took his wife's life - something which Tom is glad to hear.  When the three of them arrive back at the Buchanan house, Nick finds Gatsby hiding in the bushes, watching the house.  Daisy is already inside and he wants to make sure that, in his rage, Tom does not harm her.  Despite the events of the day, Gatsby still believes that things will work out for the two of them...he is as in love with her as ever and will do whatever he can to protect her.  In speaking with him, something dawns on Nick, '"Was Daisy driving?" "Yes," he said after a moment, "but of course I'll say I was. You see, when we left New York she was very nervous and she thought it would steady her to drive - and this woman rushed out at seemed to me that she wanted to speak to us, thought we were somebody she knew."'  And he was right.  Myrtle had been married to the man who owns the garage that Tom stopped at on the way into the city earlier that the time, he'd been driving Gatsby's yellow car.  Gatsby never learned of this small detail, never knew that her husband had sworn himself to revenge in his desperation.  The consequences of that night's actions were the furthest thing from his mind - what consumed it was the hope that Daisy was going to call the next day and that they were still going to be together.  'No telephone message arrived...I have an idea that Gatsby himself didn't believe it would come and perhaps he no longer cared. If that was true he must have felt that he had lost the old warm world, paid a high price for living too long with a single dream.'  It is a hauntingly poetic thought that, internally, Gatsby had given up and already started to mourn the life he had so long dreamt of with Daisy, when Myrtle's husband fatally shot him later that morning and then turned the gun on himself.

Since reading this novel for the Book Club, I've opened it up to the end a few times - deep down hoping that the ending would change, but so far it has not.  It's just too sad - and perhaps this ending is what prevented me from actually putting this post together sooner as I had finished the novel on time.  Everything that Gatsby did was to make a life with Daisy - and he paid the ultimate price for that.  After his death, everyone turned on him - not that any of his party-goers were really his friend to begin with, but the newspapers reported that everything was his fault, which guaranteed that everyone stayed away.  The only loyalty was Nick's.  'I found myself on Gatsby's side, and alone. From the moment I telephoned news of the catastrophe to West Egg Village, every surmise about him and every practical question, was referred to me. At first I was surprised and confused; then as he lay in his house and didn't move or breathe or speak hour upon hour it grew upon me that I was responsible because no one else was interested - interested, I mean, with that intense personal interest to which everyone has some vague right in the end.'  And in the end, the only ones who attended his funeral were Nick, Gatsby's father, and a handful of servants.  The party was over.  The lights had been turned out, and no one was ever coming back.

Fatal flaws not withstanding, Jay Gatsby was a good man.  Perhaps his biggest flaw was that he had too much hope.  Throughout the course of the novel, we learn that he was born dirt poor and decided to leave in order to make something of himself - to reinvent himself.  He embodied the American Dream in that he made himself who he wanted to be - he was driven and enterprising and determined.  He owned a beautiful house and beautiful cars and beautiful clothes.  He was successful by most people's standards, but he remained poor.  What he wanted most in this world was to love and be loved by Daisy in return...what he never realized was that he was too good for Daisy.  The day he died, she did not call and she did not attend his funeral...instead she and Tom left town.  'They were careless people, Tom and Daisy - they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money on their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made...'

In the end, everything was different and everyone was gone.  The night before Nick left West Egg, he spent a long while on Gatsby's dock, reflecting on Gatsby - and himself.  '...I thought of Gatsby's wonder when he first picked out the green light at the end of Daisy's dock. He had come a long way to this blue lawn and his dreams must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. He did not know that it was already behind him...Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that's no matter - tomorrow we will run faster, stretch our arms father...And one fine morning--- So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.'

And so Dolls, I raise my champagne coupe to Gatsby, The GREAT Gatsby!  Will you do the same?