Monday, May 26, 2014

Marilyn - The Premiere Collection

Good Evening Kittens!

Marilyn May is underway with the help of a very savvy purchase that I made during the holidays.

Once I spied this fantastic collection of seventeen of Marilyn Monroe's films, I knew I had to have it!  If you feel the same way, I just found the collection online.  Give it a Google!

This collection is made up of seventeen individual discs (one per film) which are organized into three mini books.  As if what was inside wasn't enough, the packaging itself is a little treat!

Each mini-book folds open to reveal a classic photo of the lady of the hour.


I've got a whole lot of watching to do, Kittens.  So, I'll visit with you a bit later.


Sunday, May 25, 2014

Mad Men Cocktail Hour - The Daiquiri

¡Hola My Lovelies!

Last week, I sent Bridget an email that listed a few cocktail choices for us to enjoy while watching the second to the last episode before the mid-season finale of Mad Men.  That list included everything from simple to elaborate, from Betty-caliber to what we've coined Draper-caliber cocktails.  But for all the choices, there was something appealing about a simple Daiquiri.  I, myself,  had never had a regular Daiquiri, only those of the frozen fruit variety, and while I find Strawberry Daiquiris quite tasty, I thought that it was high time I tried one of the original variety.

Part of the Mad Men Cocktail Guide, this recipe is super simple - light rum, lime juice, and simple syrup.  It's origins are equally simple.  Named for a beach near Santiago, Cuba, the story goes that an American miner in a nearby iron mine, named Jennings Cox (great name, by the way) crafted this now classic cocktail.  A United States Congressman, William A. Chandler, purchased the mine in 1902 and brought the cocktail to New York.  A Navy medical doctor tried the drink, introduced it to the Army and Navy Club in Washington D.C. a few years later and it quickly gained popularity.  Funnily enough, the political climate of the time is responsible for this drink becoming so well-known.  Roosevelt's Good Neighbor Policy of 1933 opened trade routes and travel relations with Latin America, Cuba, and the Caribbean and while war-time rationing of liquor made most hard alcohol hard to come by, Rum was easily obtainable and far more affordable.  We have this political deal, as well as tasty rum-based cocktails, to thank for making Latin America seem fashionable to previously sheltered Americans.

So, let's sit back with Buena Vista Social Club, raise our Daiquiris, and talk about the best Mad Men episode we've had this season!

Okay, so A LOT happened in this episode!  And while I can't save you from not having watched it, I can most definitely catch you up on the major things that happened.

I can't talk about this episode without mentioning Bob Benson.  This whole season, he's been MIA.  After he outed Pete for not being able to drive in front of the GM execs, he took over the account and was based out of Detroit.  This sixth episode he reappeared, spent some time with Joan and proposed.  As you do, after being gone for a few months.  I was SO proud of Joan for telling Bob that it wasn't women that he should be kissing and sent him on his way.  His parting words were super fucking harsh!  Implying that, at her age, the part of a Beard is the best she'll ever get.  This is why I LOVE Joan.  She values herself enough to send Bob packing!

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From the opposite coast, Pete and his Realtor girlfriend and Megan come to New York at the beginning of the episode.  Fast forward to the end of the episode and both the Realtor and Megan are on a flight home without their men.  I see this as the end or the beginning of the end for both relationships.

Continuing the story arc of the episodes before, Peggy is still heading the team for the burger account and is technically Don's boss, but is having an incredibly difficult time with it.  She's allowing Don to get into her head and is smack-dab in the middle of a professional crisis.  The burger account is forcing her to confront her feelings of inadequacy with not being a wife and mother.  Don suggesting that there may be another strategy for the pitch is somehow making Peggy second guess everything.  Working late at the office, Peggy and Don finally rekindle the relationship that we've seen throughout the entire series and it warmed my heart.
Peggy asked Don to tell her how to think about the campaign.  And in the most brilliant and most heart-wrenching scene we've had this season, Don breaks down his creative process and Peggy reveals to Don how insecure she is about the fact that she hasn't established a family of her own.  In the early seasons, we've seen Don mold Peggy into the professional woman that she's become and we've also seen him comfort her when she's needed it.  When she tells Don that she's not sure she can give too much prospective to the family-oriented campaign since she doesn't have one, we see Don step into the role of friend and confidant.  Sinatra's "I Did It My Way" starts playing on the radio and Don extends his hand to Peggy.  She accepts it and they start to dance.

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The best line of the episode is Don's.  "I worry about a lot of things, but I don't worry about you."  I LOVE this relationship and this scene nearly brought me to tears!

This episode focused on the family, but not necessarily the nuclear family.  I especially loved the scene where Peggy, Don, and Pete are are Burger Chef together.  Despite their ups and downs, these three have become a family of sorts over the years which is what made this scene so perfect!  The new account pitch about families sharing a meal that shows the three of them at a table together brought me back to the dynamic that has kept me addicted to this show for so long.

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SOOO excited for the mid-season finale tonight, I have the feeling they'll continue on the course of sentimentality and make their audience VERY happy!!


Saturday, May 24, 2014

Happy Marilyn May!

Hello there Kittens!

When I came up with the concept of Audrey April last month, I had intended it to be part of a set.  I thought that Audrey April would precede Marilyn May quite nicely.  I started Audrey April late, so of course, Marilyn May is getting off to a rather late start as well.  C'est la vie!  I really enjoyed Audrey April (the third film post is still forthcoming) as it gave me an excuse to watch films that I had always meant to see, but simply never got around to.  I am hoping that Marilyn May to be very much the same in that respect!

If you didn't see the Audrey April post, you may not be familiar with the theory that inspired this concept - that brunettes are drawn to Audrey Hepburn while blondes are drawn to Marilyn Monroe.  It's a theory that my friend Bridget haphazardly mentioned in conversation once and it prompted me to think about these two very iconic ladies.  I realized that I really wasn't nearly as familiar with their films as I thought I should be, so the concept of Audrey April and Marilyn May were born.  Since we have two months starting with the letter A and two months starting with the letter M, perhaps we'll be spending even more time with these ladies than I'd originally intended.  I'm just going to see how things go, but, personally, I'd be more than fine with it.

So, Marilyn...Oh Marilyn.  I've always been drawn to her.  Beyond the fact that she's the most iconic blonde in history (which admittedly makes me a bit biased), there's the fact that she has been the feminine ideal for more than a few generations.  Sex symbol, sure, but what people remember her for is not the fact that she was in the very first issue of Playboy, but the fact that she entranced the world.  She was known for her perfect coiffe and her knockout figure and the breathy way she would speak.  This is the image that most people probably have of Marilyn.

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Personally, I cannot think of Marilyn and not think of the vulnerability and sadness that lay just beneath the surface.  She had a hard life, was a tragic figure, but still had an innocence about her.  The whole world worshipped her, but all she wanted was to be loved.  At any cost.  And that was ultimately her downfall.

Sadly, Marilyn Monroe was, and remains, largely pigeon-holed as a dumb blonde sex symbol.  While she undeniably had a great deal of sexual magnetism, she was so much more.  Her strength, ambition, and talent have been overshadowed by the image of her in a wiggle dress.  So, I'd like for you to come along with me in discovering her films.  The American Film Institute gave her the sixth spot on the ladies' side of the Top 50 Greatest Film Legends List and we're going to let her films tell us why!

Over this long weekend, why not spend some time with Marilyn?  I've scheduled a bit of Marilyn downtime for myself and I'm very much looking forward to it!


Thursday, May 22, 2014

A Room With A View - Book Club Meeting and Movie Day

A Room With A View

E.M. Forster, 1908

Hello there Lovelies!

This post has been a long time in the making, but honestly, I just couldn't get excited about it.  Overall, Bridget and I have been very lucky in The Vintage Project Book Club picks.  The only exceptions have been The Alchemist and now A Room with a View...

I'm really not sure why A Room with a View is considered a classic because I liked the idea of this novel far more than I liked the novel itself.  Perhaps the novel gained some notoriety for the fact that the main character bucks the societal conventions of repressed Edwardian society.  Kind of.  While Lucy holds some pretty radical ideas for her time, she doesn't really stray from the expectations that people have of her and, personally, I didn't like her.  Or any of the other characters (aside from the unconventional Mr. Emerson).  I'm not sure if I can completely blame the elitist, self-righteousness that seemed to permeate the fabric of the upper class or if these characters are ALL terrible people.  That's truly a difficult decision.

I won't really get into the novel too much, and if you enjoy characters that say things like, "Stop a minute, let those two people go on or I shall have to speak to them.  I do detest conventional intercourse," then maybe this IS the book for you.  To back me up even further, Bridget couldn't even finish it, and this was HER selection!  I'll admit that the last quarter of the story was somewhat engaging, but it took too long to get there and it couldn't make up for everything that came before it.

Seeing as how I'm not selling the novel....because I'm not going to advocate you subjecting yourself to it, if you must know the story, perhaps you'll watch the film like we did.

watch the trailer
In 1985, Merchant Ivory Productions (which evidently means a lot to Anglophiles) released the film adaptation of the novel.  The film has an extraordinary cast, including a VERY young Helena Bonham Carter in her breakout role.  While the film tells a much better story than the actual story itself, I feel the need to warn you that it is a bit slow and surprisingly long.  Oh, and there's A LOT of penis in it.  Frankly I was surprised by that aspect, but it managed to make an Edwardian story that was incredibly difficult to finish much more interesting!

I mentioned the cast - Helena Bonham Carter as Lucy, Maggie Smith as Charlotte, and Judi Dench as Miss Lavish were amazing.  I may not have liked their characters, but they brought so much to the flat, irritating characters that were found on the page.  But far and away, my favorite portrayal in the film was Cecil, played by a COMPLETELY unrecognizable Daniel Day-Lewis!  Now, I know that his 'thing' is to immerse himself in a character and alter his appearance, but this was spectacular!  So spectacular, in fact, that while I knew it was him, I kept looking at him and still wasn't able to see Daniel Day-Lewis.  Can you tell that it's him?  You can?  Liar.

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My two cents?  Watch the movie.  Skip the novel.  There are so many other great reads out there, no need to waste your time with this one.  Hey, our selections can't all be winners....  So, we'll just call this a Book Club Fail and move on - here's hoping that we all enjoy the next one!

Have you been following along at home?  If so, I do apologize for this one and I hope it doesn't scare you off.  Perhaps if a few more of you join in on the fun and let me know, we will have more motivation to actually stick to our Book Club schedule.  We're using May to play a little catch up, but new selections are just around the corner!

Happy Reading!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Mad Men Cocktail Hour - The Grasshopper

Good Evening, Lovelies!

Last week, I found myself without any form of cocktail tie-in.  Since the Kentucky Derby was the week before, choosing the Mint Julep was a no-brainer, but this week I simply went to the AMC website, closed my eyes, and pointed.  So, the Grasshopper, it was!

In all the times that I've browsed the cocktails on this list, I've always thought the Grasshopper looked very retro and very interesting and when I told Bridget, my Mad Men Partner In Crime, of my selection, she told me that it was her mother's cocktail of choice when she was a single girl out on the town.  PERFECT!

This is definitely NOT a Draper cocktail as Bridget and I have come to call many of the classic cocktails we've tried.  No, this is most definitely more of a Betty cocktail.  Even Peggy wouldn't drink a cocktail this girly, but you know, sometimes you just want something yummy and pretty.  While I am not a fan of the super sweet drinks, the fact that the Grasshopper tastes like a Girl Scout Thin Mint in a glass, makes it really fun!  Made of equal parts green Crème de Menthe and white Crème de Cacao and light cream, it's a super simple cocktail.  Since I had half and half on hand, I used that and the result was delicious!

Unlike most other cocktails, the history of the Grasshopper is very cut and dry.  Philibert Guichet, Jr., the owner of New Orleans' Tujaque's Bar and Restaurant entered the Grasshopper into a cocktail contest and won second place in New York City in 1928.  Yes, 1928 - before the repeal of Prohibition in 1933 - I'm pretty sure you had to 'know a guy' in order to get into this contest.  Over the years, different variations have been created and when Bridget told me that it was simply too sweet for her, I made a batch of Flying Grasshoppers which substitutes vodka for the cream.  This variation is far more potent, but I preferred the creaminess of the original.  Try them both and decide for yourself.  I promise you it will be a fun evening!

With our cocktails in hand, we settled in to watch the fifth episode of this short season and all I have to say is WOW!  There was sex and violence and computers trying to make people gay (at least according to Ginsberg).

SO much happened, but let's stick to the highlights.  Stephanie, the REAL Don Draper's niece calls Don from L.A. and tells him that she is pregnant and needs some money.  He tells her that he will be out the next day and sends her to Megan's to get a shower and something to eat.  He genuinely seems excited to hear from her.  Mainly I think because she is the only remaining link to his past.  When she gets to Megan's, there is an awkward sexual air between the two of them.  After Stephanie has a shower and begins talking to Megan, she feels threatened that this girl might know Don better than she does, she freaks out, writes her a check for $1000 and sends her packing.  Megan is ALL over the place this episode!  And this character that I've never particularly liked is now just someone I'd like to see gone.  But not before one should go before Lou does!

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Don is delayed at the office by Asshole Lou and is not able to get to L.A. until the next morning.  While it made Don and everyone else incredibly irritated, I'd say hearing this exchange made it worth it for most people.
Lou:  "You know who had a ridiculous dream and people laughed at him?"
Stan:  "You?"
I laughed out loud and Bridget spilled her Grasshopper on my couch.

So, Don makes it to L.A. only to find Stephanie gone and Megan getting ready for a party that night.  It was just uncomfortable to watch.  Don's on edge and Megan seems too stupid or too dense to realize that what she's doing is pushing Don closer and closer to completely losing his shit.  After she pushes pretty much every one of his buttons, she decides the best way to fix their problems is a three-way.  Um, no.  But Don being Don and having all working parts, goes along with it, but leaves for New York the next morning.

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Back in New York, Betty is still terrible, but we're seeing that Henry is as well.  It's actually pretty sad, I liked Henry for a long time, but when Henry tells her to effectively keep her mouth shut and leave the thinking to him, I about lost it.  "Keep your conversation to how much you hate getting toast crumbs in the butter."  Really, Henry?  You may not be as crazy as Betty, but maybe you deserve her immature, self-righteous butt!  While it's really irritating at the time, it's pretty funny to look back at her behavior, like when she tells Henry that maybe she WILL run for public office, because, you know, she's smart - she knows Italian!!

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We know for certain that Betty is delusional, but I never quite realized how mentally unstable Ginsberg was.  You would think that the most talked about scene of this episode would be the threesome, but it came in a distant second to the last scene between Peggy and Ginsberg.  The last two episodes Ginsberg has been freaking out over the new computer, screaming that it is trying to erase them ("but can't erase this couch!"), but it is not until working on a Saturday alone in the office that he cracks.  He tries to stuff his ears full of tissue to drown out the computer's humming (which no one else seems to hear) and sees Cutler and Lou standing very close together in the computer room.  This has him convinced that the machine is making people gay, so he goes to Peggy's to work and then tries to have sex with her to prove that he's not gay.  Perfectly logical.  At the office on Monday, Ginsberg goes into Peggy's office, confesses that he loves her and that his behavior on Saturday was just a build up of pressure.  He tells her that she shouldn't worry, because he's found a way to relieve the pressure and hands her a small box.  But there is no ring in the box.  No, it's his nipple that he's sliced off.

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Poor, poor Ginsberg.  Driven insane.  I'm sad to see him go down this path and sad to see him go, but things are changing and fast.  Don was given information about the agency going after a new cigarette company and that, after his Big Tobacco manifesto a few seasons back, Cutler and Lou were going to use it to force Don out.  Don shows up at the meeting and proves to the potential clients that he's indispensable.  Don's back.  And I'm excited!

We're only a few minutes from the next episode.  Whether you're watching in real time or On Demand-ing it, like we do, I wish you happy viewing!

Brunch 05.03.2014 - A Mug-Themed Birthday Celebration

La Creperie, Long Beach

Good Sunday Morning To You Kittens!

Two weeks ago, I had the privilege of meeting up with some of my fabulous ladies for Brunch to celebrate the birthday of one of the most amazing people I know, Stephanie.  I was so excited since we don't all get together very regularly and I was also very excited for the venue.  Stephanie chose La Creperie in Long Beach and while I've been there a few times (even to celebrate my own birthday), it's been a few years.  Like many of you, I'm sure, I very much enjoy a good crêpe and sample them whenever the opportunity presents itself.  Admittedly, those opportunities are rather rare, but I can tell you with certainty that if you are in the mood for a good crêpe (and then some), this is definitely a place to keep in mind!

Located on 2nd Street in Long Beach, this little gem is located in the Belmont Shore neighborhood.  While this area is filled with tons of cute shops and eateries, La Creperie is definitely a standout!  The atmosphere is very Parisian Bohemian with murals painted on the walls, large chandeliers, plenty of mirrors, and a piano.  Another cool aspect is the window where you can watch the crêpes being made!

The large window to the left of the bar is the crêpe viewing window.  So much fun to watch as you pass by! 

Stephanie and Alicia and a lovely chandelier.

The second chandelier was above our heads.

I've always loved the mirrors and the conversation area created by the couches behind Lisa.  Seriously, how fabulous is this place?  Oh, but gets better!

After we all settled in, we ordered Mimosas, Bellinis, and Bubbly with pomegranate juice.  And toasted the birthday girl.  Cheers!  Santé!!

We caught up and laughed and enjoyed each other's company and before long, our food arrived.  I don't think I've ever been here and had someone unhappy with their order.  Pretty good endorsement if you ask me.  Check out their menus here and prepare to get hungry!

Here is my Al Mare Crêpe.  For some reason it's not listed as part of their online menu, but it is filled with mushrooms, fresh tomatoes, sundried tomatoes, cheese, and shrimp in a lobster sauce.  A-Mazing!!  My favorite thing on their menu!
Lisa ordered the mussels which come with their fabulous garlic fries.  Holy Moly!  So much garlicy goodness happening here!

Britni got the Crepe Carbonara which has chicken breast, smoked bacon, and mozzarella in a creamy garlic and Parmesan sauce with pesto.  From what I understand, it was delicious!

 Alicia ordered the Belmont Eggwhite Omlete.  Spinach, mushroom, tomato, feta, and ricotta.  Looked and smelled fantastic!

And then the Birthday Girl's mystery crêpe.  I have NO idea what she ordered.  But if I remember correctly, her plate was licked clean just like the rest of ours, so while I don't know exactly what it was, I have it on good authority that it was delectable.

After we'd finished, we were all in varying stages of food coma, so we took a breather for presents.  This was by far the most interesting present opening that I'd ever seen.  

Let me preface by saying that Stephanie has something of a mug fetish.  She likes coffee mugs and tea cups.  Like she loves them.  A lot.  To be fair, she has a thing for stemware in general, but cups hold a special place in her heart.

So, when I came across these super fun, vintage inspired coffee mugs, I knew I had to get them for her!

 I also found these awesome cocktail napkins!

 I added a bottle of bubbly and thought it was a fun little package!

Evidently, I wasn't the only one who thought of mugs when they thought of Stephanie.  She received a set of these beauties from Anthropologie.

And this beautiful package contained even more mug-y fun!

 Seeing as how Stephanie runs the Darling Loves Dapper Etsy shop, this was beyond perfect!

So every gift that she opened contained a mug!  Seriously, what are the chances??  

Then it was time for dessert.  Stephanie selected the Martinique crêpe which was filled with bananas flambéed in dark rum with brown sugar and butter.  (It was DELICIOUS!!)  I also let our server know that it was Stephanie's birthday, and that we needed two candles.  Britni's birthday is just a few days before Stephanie's and we'd already celebrated, but there were no candles involved, so I thought this was a good time to rectify that little faux pas.  The staff here is absolutely amazing and this was brought to the table.

When in Paris (or a Parisian restaurant)...

J'aime these ladies so much!

 For a multitude of reasons.

Was this a fabulous way to spend a Saturday morning?  

I think so.  And I believe Stephanie would agree.

The moral of this story is to pop into La Creperie Cafe at your next opportunity (but make sure you type the actual 2nd Street address into your navigation since this restaurant was formerly located elsewhere in Long Beach and Google maps directed two of us to the previous location when we simply typed in the name).  Oh, and also mugs are a great gift.  So, I suppose this story actually has two morals.

Happy Brunching, Kittens!  I hope you consider this place the next time you find yourself stumped for a location!

Monday, May 12, 2014

In Celebration of Mom

Hello there Kittens!

As I'm sure you're all aware, Mother's Day was yesterday.  To celebrate, I spent a fabulous day with my mother, grandmother, and sister.  My sister and I made Brunch and we spent a quiet day in with fantastic food, fantastic company, and a few bottles of bubbly!

Not that I ever really forget, but it again reminded me just how lucky I am to have these ladies in my life (parkas and all).  Mother's Day is a day to bring things back into focus.  In the relationship between a mother and her daughter there will be many fights and tests of will and even periods of time when the two of you are not on speaking terms.  These are rites of passage and are inevitable.  Also in the relationship between all mothers and daughters is the love that can erase all that ugliness.

For the moment, I am simply a daughter.  I can only imagine what it is like to be both mother and daughter and what it is to realize that all the special things that were done for you, you have also done for someone else.  Aside from the whole giving birth thing, these very special ladies read to us.

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They made sure we ate our vegetables, whether we were happy about that or not.

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They made us feel like we could do anything - even if it that only meant figuring out how to get something to work...

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Or how to NOT burn the cookies.

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They taught us that sometimes a good hairdo can take quite a bit of work.

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They made us believe that a kiss could make everything better (which I still believe is the case most of the time).

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And that there is nothing better than a little silliness now and again.

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Here's to all the Mamas that made us feel loved and safe and even coordinated outfits with us from time to time.  At the end of the day, our mothers are human, but for most of us, they were our first heroes, which made them larger than life.  They were smart and beautiful and could do absolutely anything - and they were our first glimpse into what it meant to be a Lady.  I remember watching my mother in fascination as she put on her makeup, wishing one day to be able to do the same, to be able to wear heels like she did, and be able to smell as pretty, because, to me, she smelled better than anyone else in the whole world!  No one's childhood is perfect, but for a little while, most of us thought that ours was.  If you had a mom like mine, you thought that nothing bad could ever happen, she wouldn't let it.

'Thank You!' to all the Ladies who gave little girls hope that, they too, may one day be as fabulous as their Mommies.