Sunday, February 22, 2015

Oscar 2015

Happy Oscar Sunday!

It has now been 18 years since I started my love affair with the golden statue. I love his movies and I love his fashion and I love his night!

I managed to squeeze in all eight Best Picture nominations  by midnight last night. I am not a movie critic so I know nothing other than what I respond to. So, here are my reactions to the movies:

The Grand Budapest Hotel: quirky and fun. I wish I would have re-watched it again since I watched it so long ago.

Boyhood: Impressive that everyone dedicated so many years to making this movie. Beyond that, I did identify with Patricia Arquette's role  as she watches her son grow up and moves on. This is the chapter I am in with my own life. Other than that, do I dare say, I just thought it was okay.

American Sniper:  I love Clint Eastwood. I love Bradly Cooper. It was a good movie and I enjoyed it.

Selma: I loved this movie. I did not really think about the controversy of nomination snubs until I watched this movie.

The Imitation Game: Going into this one I had no idea what it was about. I will tell you that I was blown away. I loved the science. I loved the history lesson, and I was angered by the social injustice gay men had to undergo.

Birdman: Okay, I am going to be honest. This movie was just plan odd to me.  I hear all of the Oscar buzz and I think to myself, yep, this is why I am not a critic.

Whiplash: As a social worker, I know abuse is abuse and that it is not okay. But I still found myself inappropriately chuckling during this movie. Painful to watch. When does drive and ambition cross a line? I am not sure but this movie takes us there.

The Theory of Everything: I was up till midnight watching this one last night. I love this movie too! I found myself cheering and crying and totally wrapped up in this story.

Who am I rooting for: Imitation Game or Theory of Everything.  However, if I listen to the predictions I think these two have lost their steam to win.

Each year we base a whole menu from the movies. This year is no exception.

We spent the day watching past winners on Starz and having appetizers. I made Jalapeno Popper Dip for American Sniper. Bradley Coopers character says, "I'm not a redneck, I'm Texas". What says Texas better than tex-mex.  We also had Queso for the movie Boyhood. "More, Queso, yes more queso."

For dinner we had Roasted Cornish Hens for Birdman, Roasted Smashed Potatoes for The Theory of Everything (maybe if every scientist explained theories in relation to potatoes and peas I might understand!), and Collard Greens for Selma. Momma, I actually cooked Collard Greens and they were amazing.

For dessert: we had cream puffs for the Grand Budapest Hotel. Apple Nachos from The Imitation Game. Remember when Alan Tuning finally attempted to make friends with apples. Finally, Drumstick ice cream cones for Whiplash.

Our meal is over. The cocktails are poured. We sit and watch The Red Carpet. Anyone else noticing the white trend?   The show is about to start! See you all tomorrow so we can talk about the winners?

Who are you rooting for?

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Valentines Day Ramblings

Why is it that adding chocolate to strawberries can alter a persons life?

The Boy and his girlfriend hand dipped Strawberries this weekend. They made the entire house happy!

I made The Short Chic a new necklace. As I mentioned before in this post, The Short Chic is in love with Paris.  So, I tried my hand at making some jewelry. 

This is an 18 inch chain that I added a bottle to. Inside the bottle is a message and some red crystals. The message reads, "May all of your dreams come true". I added a few charms: a lock and a key, an Eiffel Tower, and an Arc de Triomphe. I debated about leaving the key off as it would be more representative of the locks on the Pont des Arts but then The Husband piped up that France officials are stopping the practice of love locks. So I added the key. 

The Boy's girlfriend also got a message in a bottle. Her message was a little sweeter but that is not my story to tell. She elected to make hers a key chain. Both turned out very swell indeed.

Carrying forth the French theme in our house; I made Croque Madam sandwiches with sauteed kale for dinner. I might have gotten the bread a bit too thick but otherwise, it was amazing! Both of my picky eaters (picky for different reasons) loved it! Sour dough bread, ham, cheesy bechamel sauce and a fried egg on top. I might fall in love with Paris too!

She is now begging for more French food. Julia Childs I am not but  I am going to find a way to exploit this for as long as I can!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Eiffel Tower Party Invitation and Thank You

I am so excited to finally be able to show you a small project I have been working on. My daughter, The Short Chic, is about to have her next birthday and her invitations are ready to be shared.

In the "olden" days I came up with the theme for her parties but those tides have turned. I am not sure how she comes up with her ideas. Sometimes they reflect her current passion and other times it appears as if she just grabbed a random thought. That is what she did this year; grab a random thought.

 They say an invitation sets the stage for the party. I truly hope that is the case. The Short Chic is madly in love with the Eiffel Tower and wants an entire party focused on it. Finding the right invitation was difficult. I personally did not want the words "Ooh la la" anywhere on the invitations so that eliminated most of the printables and store purchased invitations.  I made the decision to make my own.

To create the invitation I used pink  5x7 cards, black cardstock, white cardstock, and pink cardstock. I also used black/white stripped ribbon, an Eiffel Tower stamp, black embossing powder, black ink, and pearl embellishments. I also used my Sizzix Texture Boutique and a polka dot embossing sheet.

Many of the supplies I used I actually had on hand. I can't even begin to recall when or where I purchased the pearl embellishments but I am happy that I have finally found a home for them. I love the overall look. I think it sets the exact stage I would hope to set for her birthday party. It is all about the Eiffel Tower.

I used a party invitation stamp on the inside and then hand wrote the details of the party.

As I was creating the invitation, I had two different ideas that I just could not pull into one card. Then I realized I did not have to combine all of my ideas. I could make a separate coordinating thank you card.

The thank you card had much the same supplies as the invitation. I think the only additions were the  patterned damask paper, the black brads, and the white scalloped edge note. Even after the party, the guest will get a final reminder of the fun they had at the party.

The party is still a few weeks away. I am looking forward to bringing you more details. Now that the invitations are completed, we can move on to other details!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

A Parallel Process: Marriage Equality and Civil Rights

As I consumed the news this morning, I found myself muttering aloud. The kind of muttering you do when you just can't fathom that what you are hearing is true. The kind of muttering you do when something so logical to you seems so foreign to others. Surely, I am not alone and you all do this at times.

The state of Alabama dominated the news this morning.  The Supreme Court denied Alabama's request to deny marriage licenses for same sex couples making Alabama the 37th state to recognize marriage equality.  Atlas it was not to be so easy.  Alabama's Chief Justice, who apparently does not believe in marriage equality, ordered the state's lower Probate Courts to not issue the licenses.  Couples seeking licenses were met with two different responses. Some lower courts ignored Alabama's Chief Justices' order and granted same sex marriage licenses while others continued to deny the request for marriage.

As I listened this news, I have to ask the most obvious question. Haven't we done this before? Hasn't Alabama done this before?

How can the parallel process between the Civil Rights Movement and the Marriage Equality Movement not be seen? Despite President Johnson passing the Civil Rights Act, which outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin we know that Alabama (and other southern states) continued to administer literacy test to prevent Black Americans from becoming registered voters.  Despite the Supreme Court denying the request to prevent same sex marriage licenses, Alabama continues to deny same sex marriage licenses.

In my mind, I keep returning to the Declaration of Independence; "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." Whether it is voting, employment, education, or marriage, all men were created equal.  Isn't that a founding value of this country. Why does that seem so logical to me? And how are others missing it?

 I absolutely know that the number one argument against Marriage Equality is Religion.  The Bible calls it a sin. God condemns it. The conservative core vehemently are fighting the Marriage Equality Movement to protect the marriage that God sanctioned. Am I close?  I wonder: do you think that religion was used to discriminate against Black American's during the Civil Rights Movement?  Do you think our ancestors used the Bible as justification for separatism? Do you think that every religion has the same interpretation of the Bible?

How can we not see the parallel process?  The Civil Rights Movement is some 50 years behind us.
Have we not learned anything in the last fifty years?

Saturday, February 7, 2015

College Bound

I have said this before, but I am once again reminded of how quickly the sand leaves the hour glass.

The Boy only has just under 14 weeks till his high school graduation. That is less than 100 days.

High School life has been a challenge for us. Although The Boy has been encouraged to attend college his whole life, he never felt a connection to become something. He contemplated the military, factory work, and at best a community college.

The one thing he did promise me was that he would obtain his A+ diploma. For those of you who do not know, an A+ diploma is awarded if a high school student maintains a minimum GPA, has a minimum attendance, scored proficient on some exams, and completed 50 hours of tutoring hours.

Last summer, The Boy volunteered at his old elementary school to get his A+ hours. Almost immediately, he began coming home with stories of children and learning. Every day he talked about it a little longer. Finally, I asked him if teaching was something he would be interested in doing as a career. He responded very confidently, "yeah, I really think so!"

So, we began our exploration of education programs in our area. We started making college visits in November visiting three universities. I referred to them by their school colors: Team Green, Team Red, and Team Purple. Each had their pros and con's.

Team Green has a strong education program and they even have an elementary school on campus. Students at Team Green start seeing the inside of a classroom immediately. They also have a strong athletic department and watching sports is a huge part of The Boy. We  took a Team Green Alum with us when we went to visit. When we left there that cold cold day I really expected Team Green was The Boy's future home.

Team Red is my alma mater. They also have a strong education program. The Boy loved their campus life., he even told me he was visualizing all his "stuff" in the dorm room they showed us. Unfortunately, we left not knowing anything about their education department as they did not have anyone who could meet with us that day.

Team Purple is out of state and I honestly was not going to pay out of state tuition. Team Purple is a Division 1 school and has been my sons love for many many years. His step mom went to school at Team Purple and she introduced him to the school and sports program when he was five. As soon as we learned that due to The Boy's separate household status (one parent lives in one state and the other in another state) he was eligible for in-state tuition. Finding out that Team Purple's tuition was comparable to both Team Green and Team Red, I knew my son had found his new home.

Team Green responded first. Followed by Team Red. They both accepted him. It took Team Purple the longest but we heard from them late last week. Team Purple accepted The Boy.

I am so proud to say that my son got into his dream college and will become a Wildcat this coming fall to pursue a new dream of becoming an educator. My heart is so full of pride that he is motivated and has worked unbelievably hard over the past year. His determination is only starting to pay off.

It is a very bittersweet time around this household. On one hand, excitement exudes around here. A future goal. A dream college. Division 1 football games and basketball games. How could we not be excited?    But that is mixed with the fact that in a few short months he will be moving away and living on his own.  It is so hard to imagine not seeing his face every day. Or knowing he won't be waking me up every morning when he turns his bathroom light on. Or that I won't be tripping over his big shoes that he leaves laying all over my house.

I am trying to embrace my last moments. They will be gone before I am ready. But I am also excited to create new moments.  Bittersweet.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

The 100th Day of School Project

The holiday hustle and bustle is over. You think your life is going to slow down and you can finally settle in for a long winter rest until you open your child's backpack and find a note from their teacher. 

The note explains that the 100th Day of School is approaching and would you please work with your young person to create a project with 100 items for them to bring to school to celebrate the occasion.

If you are the overly-organized,creative, well put-together Mommy you take this all in stride. I admire those Mommy's! I strive to be like those Mommy's. But if you are like me, I try and actually ignore the note for a few days until the realization that I have wasted several days hits and now I am have that much less time to pull something out of thin air.

Maybe if you are lucky you will have the type of child that The Boy was when he was small. He had no interest in making a project. He wanted something to do with cars and that was the amount of input he was willing to give. If this is the case, you are free to throw something together at the last second. 100 felt shapes sewn on a t-shirt. Done.

However, if you have the type of child The Short Chic is, you are in a serious amount of trouble. Each day you spend procrastinating on the project is valuable time lost. The Short Chic is the type of child who demands input in the creative process. She also, at a very young age, exercises her veto right (like she is the President or something).  There is no "let Mommy help you." No way. The Short Chic is a do'er. 

The project, as dictated by The Short Chic: A giant letter "O" with one hundred jewels.

I purchased a decent sized letter but The Short Chic decided it was too small. So we went for the giant sized one. I had her count out 100 jewels. If I am not mistaken, this is the whole point of the project: having your small ones learn to count to 100!. 

Next, she glued the jewels to the letter. Luckily for me we had a week to complete the project so we did not have to stop there. Next, we mixed up some colored grout that we found at our local craft store (thank goodness for 40% off coupons). 

The Short Chic smeared the whole project with yellow grout and then we took wet rags and wiped it clean. The end result: one giant initial covered with one hundred jewels. Just what her heart wanted all along. 

So, now the 100th Day of School has passed can I get that winter rest? Maybe but only for a moment...Valentine's Day is just around the corner!