Sunday, January 25, 2015

Whole Lotta Stalkin' Goin' On

      Thomas comes back from wherever he was (we know he wasn't with his sick dad, because Thomas lies more easily than he tells the truth) looking like death warmed over.  What are those hideous circles under his eyes? No self-respecting gay guy I know would be seen in public looking like that!  Later, when he takes a spoon and we see a hypodermic, I'm thinking it's as we've suspected for awhile--he's a chemistry teacher who has been diagnosed with cancer and he's having to cook and sell meth in order to pay for his treatments.  Oh, wait. We're in England where all your medical concerns are taken care of for free.  That's what the whole weird dancing doctors and nurses thing was at the opening ceremony for the London Olympics.  I still have nightmares about that giant baby.

Time for dinner!  There's Mary, cutting her dad off when he asks about Shrimpie. Dowager, verbally bitc#slapping Lady Edith when they talk about Prince Thingamajig. Eating with these people always turns into some kind of ordeal.  I guess we don't get to see the boring dinners--like the our ones we have at Brandywine.  We don't talk about Russians.  We mostly talk about whose turn it is to feed the cats and take out the recyclables and why the guy hasn't come back to FINISH THE BATHROOM.  Cora asks Edith why she's so glum, and Edith responds, "I'm not glum, am I ?" and I want to scream at the television "O! MY! LAWD! YOU WERE BORN GLUM, YOU NINNY!  AND THEN YOU LOST THE COUSIN YOU LOVED TO YOUR SISTER AND THEN HE DIED AND THEN YOU WERE LEFT AT THE ALTAR BY THE OLD DUDE WITH THE BUM ARM AND THEN YOU GOT PREGNANT BY SOME MARRIED GUY WHO IS IN GERMANY MESSING WITH NAZIS AND THEN YOU GAVE YOUR BABY AWAY AND NOW THEY WON'T LET YOU SEE HER AND YOU'RE STILL NOT AS PRETTY AS YOUR SISTERS!!! HOW'S THAT FOR GLUM, YOU MORON?" But then I remember that we all should feel sorry for her and be nice like I wrote about, and I hold my tongue. And whenever the subject of inviting Miss Bunting to dinner comes up?  The guys swig their drinks.  FOR HEAVEN'S SAKE, DO NOT INVITE HER ANY MORE!  It'll only develop into yet another political shouting match, fercryin' outloud. And then, to top it all off, Lord Grantham puts poor Daisy-of-the-ears and Mrs. Patmore on the spot and you know things have gone to heck in a handbasket when the servants are summoned to the dinner table.

As for Prince Kuragin...I have always found it hard to trust a man who wears a pinkie ring.  That is all.

Best line of the night: when Isobel tells Violet, "You only say that to sound clever," the Dowager responds "I know. You should try it."  You can imagine, Dear Reader, that I feel the same way ALL. THE. TIME.

Seventy-four kinds of cute: Lord Merton proposing to Isobel. She's going to think about it, even though she enjoys being a widder lady. Widder ladies have all the fun.

Lady Mary really wants to just text Lord Gillingham to say something like, "i no its not right, but im breaking up w/u becuz ur  just not that good."  Instead, Anna says she must meet with him, face-to-face. But before she can meet him, she runs into that dishy Blake.  You know, the one she got "down and dirty" with last season, before she decided to 'ho around again.

So Blake introduces her to Miss Mabel Lane Fox (Lord Gillingham's ex), who is not what Mary anticipated.  (I have no idea what this means, but I know it is snarky on Mary's part.) Meanwhile, Anna is being followed by a tall skinny guy and glum/crazy Edith is stalking the pigman's wife.

Mrs. Patmore and Lord Grantham both agree on a clinical analysis of shell shock/PTSD, which is a relief for everyone concerned.

Lord Grantham is pi$$y about the art dude coming back, and he is saying dumb stuff.  That may very well come back to bite him in the hindquarters, like when Mr. Bricker hits on his wife.  It's a good think she's known as "Saint Cora, "or we might have another Lady Mary incident on our hands.

At first, I was like "who cares?  They both have curly brown hair.  I don't see any difference, and neither one is Matthew, fercryin' outloud.  But then I found this picture, and I looked really carefully and I decided that I would choose Blake.  The reason is that he has "fun" eyes.  They are crinkly and sparkly.  Gillingham eyes are those of a crazy man, once removed. Plus, tweed over tux, any day!

Speaking of Lady Mary, Lord Gillingham won't let her break up with him. Like the famous (and fraudulent) psychic Miss Cleo, I am seeing something funky in the future.  A guy who won't "let" you break up with him is exactly the kind you need to run from just as fast as your legs can carry you before you turn into a Lifetime movie.

So that's my synopsis for this week--Blake or Gillingham: whom would you choose?

Thursday, January 22, 2015


Traditional Bathroom by Portland Architects & Building Designers Korbich Architects LLC

We've got lots going on here at Brandywine, with the mess created by DL in his enthusiasm (while I was not here to keep an eye on him).  It meant that I have had to run all over heck and gone, choosing stuff for the reno. 

Luckily, I had an idea of what I wanted.  I felt as though it was important to keep in mind the style and era of the house.

Contemporary Bathroom by Toronto Interior Designers & Decorators Toronto Interior Design Group | Yanic Simard

These photos from Houzz provided me with some inspiration.

...They also look a lot prettier than these.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

You Gotta Have Heart(s)

Well, after a loooong time, I decided to post another craft.

(I do craft, I just don't post about it.  It's one of my blogging resolutions -- to post more about stuff I make. Part of my plan to take over the world.)

 When Elizabeth's quit renting booths, I was disappointed because I no longer got to play with the space.  To me, the most fun thing about having a booth is 'fluffing' it.

So when Denise at Shoppes on Patterson in Greensboro called and asked if I wanted to rent a space, I said "Of course!"  But what sells at Shoppes is completely different than what sells at Elizabeth's.  I haven't yet found the key to success at Shoppes, though I like being there. (Both places are managed by awesome people, which I love!)

I have been perusing the booth pics on Pinterest, and have decided to experiment this year.  One thing I've decided is to stock a few more crafty items to go along with the vintage goodies.  For February, I decided to make a half-dozen little stuffed hearts for $4 each. The one I'm showing today is made from an old red wool sweater I got from the Goodwill.

First, I machine washed and dried it.  DO NOT DO THIS TO YOUR WEARING SWEATERS!! IT WILL KILL THEM, AND IT IS NOT EASTER AND YOU WILL NEVER RESURRECT THEM!!  This is a technique that you can use for sweaters that you are crafting with.  It's called felting.  This is not to be confused with the felt you buy at the craft store--completely different.  Trust me.  I'm licensed to teach Home Ec.

 Then I cut off a sleeve at the bottom. 

I pinned a loop of ribbon at the top where I wanted the center of my heart to be.

Then I used the machine to stitch around the heart, leaving just two inches at the side open.  (This heart is supposed to be asymmetrical...that's my story and I'm sticking to it.)

Then I trimmed around the stitching without getting too close and then stuffed the heart with some pillow innards.  (When you get to the top where the ribbon is, you need to do each layer separately so that you don't cut the ribbon.)

I used Hemp Cord to stitch over the machine stitching.  Usually I use Perle cotton, but didn't have black.

This is a funky little woolen heart.  I added a button from my stash of approximately 104,822 buttons (DPS).

If you look up at the top pic, you can see that I made all sorts of hearts from all sorts of fabrics.  We'll see what the folks at Shoppes go for!

Partyin' at Savvy!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Downton Abbey, plus my imagination

I've been tarnished once... I won't be tarnished again.

Nice save by the Dowager--Sprat got served a steaming hot mug of Shut the Heck up, while Mary go some 'splainin' to do.  (In my imagination, the Dowager says, "Of course you slept with him!  Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?")

Meanwhile, Rose has been spending all day with the Russians:

I don't know about you, but I would totally live in a place called "Pips Corner."   (In my imagination, I actually BUY one of these, and I move to England and fix it up and Isobel comes for tea and we smack talk about everyone except Cora.  I retain Thomas as my man-about-the-house, and he helps me decorate and gather information I can use against people.)

This is what I found when I googled "House 1927"  It is tres cute, is it not?

A great flurry of activity downstairs, not the least of which is Daisy needing to carry the Spotted Dick. (I'm leaving my imagination out of this one.)
In a related note, how much do I want this cabinet?

This is where Daisy-of-the-ears is determined to learn algebra.  Better her than me is what I always say.

The plot thickens 'round Bates with regard to the death of Green, and that--coupled with the fact that Lady Mary wants her to keep the contraceptive device in the cottage--is all too much for Anna.  I am almost 100% sure that one or the other of these things will become very problematic. (I imagine Bates finds the contraceptive device, and blames Anna for not wanting children and rather than give Lady Mary's confidences away, she leaves Bates and goes to work in a dance hall in London, where she becomes quite famous and she buys a huge townhouse and marries someone posh and eventually Lord Grantham comes to her, begging for a loan.  Meanwhile, Bates keeps himself to himself and dies a sullen, lonely man.)

Braxton's Peter Coyle.  A bad penny? Will he turn up? (I can only imagine.) At least Lady Cora lets Braxton keep her job.

Here is my favorite part of this episode: Saint Cora. (I call her that because she is not going to act a fool with Bob Cratchit  the art guy. She knows which side her bread is buttered on.)
What must it have been like to be a middle-aged woman in 1924? (You know she's middle-aged because she was in Ordinary People  which was made approximately 162 years ago, in movie years.)
What were your options?  Cora wants someone to recognize that she still has something to offer--not youth, perhaps, but other things.  It's like Juror #9's speech in Twelve Angry Men. (Which is 219 movie years old.) She just wants someone to listen to what she has to say.  And then Lord G shows up to "surprise" her, and he's surprised.  Serves you right, for calling her a dog last week.

Shall we give a Hallelujah for the Pigman's shelves?  I *heart* them so much.

The pigman's evil plan to gaslight his wife: bring home a cute little baby girl (when all she has are rowdy boys) and give it to his wife (A free baby!  For free!  You didn't have to get pregnant and fat and cranky and sweaty or go through childbirth where you might die!).  THEN, have the kook from the Abbey (you know, the middle child who has been left at the altar by the old dude and had her new MARRIED boyfriend move to Germany and maybe even be Hitler-ized) come to your house and say she wants to help with the baby girl and then she pretty much STEALS the toddler while you have taken your boys to the dentist...well, I say something funky is not far behind.  (In my imagination, Edith finally goes off the deep end and threatens to kill everyone at the Abbey if she can't take Marigold and run away to America, where she will undoubtedly tell everyone she is a widow.  She'll get a job as a secretary and then work her way up to magazine contributor and editor and she will eventually become Diana Vreeland, and everyone will "oooh" and "aaah" over her fabulous sense of style.  And THAT, my friends, is a little something I like to call 'payback.')

Okay, this isn't exactly Edith and Marigold, but it will have to do.

Lady Mary and Tom (formerly known as the chauffer) come to an agreement that they will support one another, after Tom figures out what Mary's been up to.  He says, "If you love me, you'll support me," after she says "I'm not very keen on Miss Bunting and I can't bear the thought of your leaving."  While I am not necessarily a proponent of a Tom/Mary romance, is that the direction this is taking?
(In my imagination, Mary finds another swarthy guy who sweeps her off her feet in a whirlwind romance, and she makes the abbey into a five-star resort. She is so successful that after WWII, she is the UK's first director of tourism.  Her swarthy guy stays home and takes care of the kids while she helps run the country.)
WTH is this exchange between Gillingham (and Mary looks none-to-thrilled to see him, if you ask me) and Isobel?  He thanks her for always being kind to him.  (In my imagination, you KNOW where this is going, and that would be AMAZEBALLS!  I can see it now: Isobel strutting around with BoyToy on her arm, parading him in front of both the doctor and the Lord Whatshisname...)

Best line of the night once again goes to the Dowager: "In my day a lady was incapable of feeling physical attraction until she had been instructed to do so by her mama." Except, perhaps, where Russians were involved?

Until next time...

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Book Club...and I'm late with this book. Is there a fine?

Mr. Owita's Guide to Gardening is not a book I would have ever chosen for myself. 

But my eighty year-old mom?  She chose it for me.

I think this may have been one of her old-lady book club selections, but I'm not sure.  What I AM sure of is that she has written inside the flyleaf ,"Beth, Spring 2014. A lovely book."  And I felt a little sad because her once-beautiful script is shaky, which happens I guess.

As I get older, I have less patience with books that don't hold my attention.  I will say (to the cats), "this is crap!" and maybe even throw the book a little, in a dramatic way.  Or lay it down, whichever.  And I really wanted to do that with this book.  But I kept remembering the shaky handwriting in the front "A lovely book."

Not like this.  This is not dramatic enough.  But this is all I could find.

This book is slow-going at the beginning.  Carol wants to get rid of her overgrown azaleas, while her gardener, Mr. Owita, wants to save them.  And being a gardener (sort of), I understood them both.  I have saved azaleas at one house and yanked them out at another.  I have had to tear up seventy year-old boxwoods, not because I didn't like them, but because they had been neglected too long. 

I understand the use of metaphor, too.

Because it all boils down to this: some things are just not worth saving.  But most things are.

In the end, I too found this "A lovely book."

Join my co-readers to find out what they think:
Cassie,  Katie, Carmel, and Brenda.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Lady Mary shacks up!

*Spoiler Alert: this is for episode two of Downton, which aired on 1/11.If you haven't seen it yet, don't read this unless you want to know what happened!*

So who cleans up after Lady Edith sets her room on fire?  Anna and Mrs. Hughes, who find a photograph of little Marigold under Edith's pillow.  Does she really believe people won't figure this out? (Hello? You spend a year in Switzerland and then the minute you get back, the Pig Man adopts a baby?  File this under "I Believe Everyone in My Family is an Idiot."  Mary reassures her that SHE is the idiot. Not to mention the fact that the Pig Man's wife is not too crazy about the whole arrangement, as evidenced by the fact that she keeps giving Edith the side-eye.)

Jimmy, who was caught in flagrante with a visiting cougar, has been dismissed.  He uses this as a reason to let Thomas know that he never thought he could be friends with...well, you know...but he is glad that they were friends and that he hopes Thomas can find some happiness.  And now that it's 2015, he can!  Even in NC! Yay!  (I have purchased a fabulous dress in anticipation of these fabulous weddings.  A pre-emptive strike, so to speak.)

We have LOTS of interesting things going on with Russians, radios, and artwork.  Lady Violet is happy that Mrs. Crawley is once again discussing medicine with the Doc and Lady Mary is discussing family planning (or rather, planning NOT to have a family) with Anna.  Lady Mary has done her research and read Marie Stopes' book.  (Dr. Stopes actually wrote several books on feminism and reproductive medicine.) When Anna goes to purchase whatever this mystery product is, the shop clerk gives her some lip.  Instead of b*tch-$lapping her, though, Anna is her sweet self. On further inspection, she does get ticked off, and says she's going back to get 13 more.  I'm guessing this is an inserted device, based on the conversation. Ladies, we should never take our reproductive choices for granted.

Molesley gets real pitiful when he talks to Miss Baxter about her thieving past.  I almost feel sorry for him. I also believe there is more to this, but I'm not sure what. I'm hoping that it's something really cool, like she was a spy for the Allied forces or a hitman for the mob. She be all gangsta and whatnot.

The Dowager and Isobel take a girl's trip to see Lord Merton.  He is proud to say his maman redid all the rooms in the 80's, but I see no evidence of mauve or wedgewood blue. 

(photo courtesy of House Beautiful. Believe it or not, this was the dream living room of every 23 year-old girl who bought a house in 1984.)

Charles Blake shows up at Downton with a guy who wants to see a painting.  Blake is a little pi$$y with Lady Mary, telling her she should have let him know she wasn't interested.  She doesn't tell him she'll be "traveling through the countryside with a friend," which is a euphemism for "sleeping with the guy who isn't you."

Rose feels compelled to once again invite Miss Bunting to dinner, seeing as she's right there handy, tutoring Daisy. She declines, having heard that some Luxemberg woman was both shot AND thrown in the canal, and Bunting is not in the mood for a swim.

The guy that Blake brought to look at the painting is tan, and they keep pointing it out, just as they kept pointing out Molesley's hair. I am not sure this is very polite, but I guess if you have money, you can comment on folks' appearance.  I'm glad I'm not at Downton with my big ol' self, or they'd probably ask me how I got so fat.  (And I'd answer, "The Christmas Diet, where the four basic food groups are carbs, sugar, turkey and wine. See how well it worked!")  He is also the guy who was Bob Cratchit in the Sir Patrick Stewart version of A Christmas Carol, which throws me for a loop. Except as Cratchit, they made his teeth gross.  I always wonder how they do that and if it freaks the actor out when he looks in the mirror and his teeth aren't pretty. But I digress.  On a related note, Lord G gets a little uppity, noting to Saint Cora that the Cratchit guy needs to "stop flirting with his dog."  As a metaphor, this is not the way to woo your wife, sir.

Lord Grantham acquiesces to having the wireless at Downton for the purpose of listening to the King talk.  (No, not Elvis, the other one.) To Mrs. Patmore's dismay, she cannot talk back. It's a fad. It won't last.

Mary misses all the radio excitement, as she is shacking up at the Motel 6.  Lord Gillingham gets connecting rooms, and his plan is to make love all night.  Apparently he has borrowed Viagra from that old dude with the wonky arm who left Lady Fugly  Edith at the altar.

Meanwhile, there is a lot of stress regarding the WWI Memorial.  Lest you've forgotten, there was some controversy when Carson was put in charge of the committee.  Lord Grantham doesn't want to give up his cricket pitch, but sometimes you have to do what you have to do.  It has even created a problem between Carson and Mrs. Hughes, which makes Carson feel bad.  Again, you two: get a room. But the matter is settled by a widow in the village, and Mrs. Hughes and Carson are in love agreement again. Just as they are about to get it on, the cops show up to ask a few questions about Mr. Green.  Hide your kids, but especially hide your wife, right Mr. Bates?

Stay tuned for our next episode/recap!!

Friday, January 9, 2015


The other day, my friend Shannon wrote a post about never going to the library again.  As someone who spent her formative years in the Wolcott Civic Free Library three times a week, it broke my heart.

Often, someone will contact me when they've had a problem with a teacher.  They want to get my opinion regarding curriculum or grading or another concern and I am happy to  offer whatever insight I may have.  Occasionally, I will tell them that I think the teacher is wrong and they have a legitimate complaint, but encourage them to approach the teacher with the concern first.  Most often it is simply miscommunication.

But sometimes, teachers and other folks who work with the public can be butts.  Shannon ran into one of those at her beloved public library, and now she's never going back.

There is a trick that I try to remember when I'm dealing with a parent or a student and I'm afraid the situation could escalate--I try to remember to THINK before I speak.  (I got this from a poster, but they wouldn't have posted it if they didn't want me to use it to help others!)

(PS--I know what y'all are thinking: that I'm some kind of loose cannon who goes all ape$hit and has no filter.  That's just in my personal life, not my professional one. And DL can't send me back, so it's okay.)

So, here's what you want to THINK about before you say something that might cause hard feelings:


*Is it True?

*Is it Helpful?

*Is it Inspirational?

*Is it Necessary?

*Is it Kind?

As bloggers, these are good words to keep in mind when we comment, as well.  I know folks who have received some very nasty comments on a project or d├ęcor choices, and frequently they will laugh it off as if it's a sort of badge of honor, but let's be honest--it's not nice.  I once had someone call me stupid on one of my posts, which hurt my feelings (even though I know that of all the things I am? Stupid is not one of them).  Even when I disagree with someone, or know they have their facts wrong, or they have something on their blog that's blatantly misspelled, I'm not going to say anything if I don't THINK first.

I wish Shannon's librarian had thought about these questions before she'd had the exchange with Shannon.  I wish others would THINK before making an already tense situation even worse.  I find that keeping these questions in mind keeps things from getting out of control.  And makes for much nicer commenting.