A Sunday Sundae Fail

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This past Sunday, I ordered a sundae. Maybe you are like me and limit your sweets for healthy reasons. I made an exception and decided to order a hot fudge sundae for a special occasion. That is one of my favorite desserts!

My expectations were high when it arrived. It’s a basic classic dessert, not tricky to make. The server set it on the table and that is when my troubles began. This did not go well.

First of all, it was set in the center of a large dinner plate. I would have been able to reach it, but getting the spoon of gooey, melty goodness back to my mouth without dripping or spilling would have me challenged. So I picked it up and moved it to a smaller plate, and set it closer to the end destination, my mouth.

Sundae Plate

Now my fingers were sticky. One of the many traits passed down from my father is that we cannot tolerate sticky hands. Simple to solve. I headed to the restroom to wash up, so that, upon my return, I could relax and truly enjoy my moment of indulgence.

I got back to my seat and reached for a spoon. The dessert was presented on that big dinner plate with four spoons, and there were only two of us at the table. And the Mr. had ordered his own slice of carrot cake. Needless to say, he was not interested in my sundae. Nor would it be likely for me to share. OK, I have learned to share, but back to today’s comedy of errors and the four spoons. Each of the spoons was resting in the goop on the plate. I just needed one clean spoon. That’s a simple expectation.

The plate was covered in caramel and chocolate sauce and four small piles of whip cream. Did I mention that whoever garnished the plate with the two sauces must have taken out some aggression or taken a dare to create a plate that looked like an explosion in a sundae factory. And the cherries, which I’d mentioned to the server to not waste on me. There were five cherries wasted on me. I could not use any of the spoons. Still the sundae sat waiting patiently for me to partake.

It was a very crowded day at the restaurant and service was so slow. We liked our server and figured everything was backed up, so we took the opportunity to enjoy a very slow meal together. However, I figured it would be some time before I’d see the server again, so I walked to the hostess stand and asked for an extra place setting. The place settings come wrapped in a napkin. I unfurled the napkin back in our booth and found a lovely fork and steak knife. No spoon. Duh. It’s kind of a burger and steak place. I should have known.

So I gave up and began to eat my sundae with my fork. The server came by and I asked for a spoon. She did return with it. By then my sundae was soupy, but I don’t object to soft ice cream. I then realized there was no caramel in the bowl of ice cream, though it had been promised in the description on the menu. There was no hot fudge near the ice cream, either.

Oddly, the goblet containing the ice cream had been dipped in hot fudge then rolled in nuts, so the chocolate and nuts were on the outside of the glass. So weird. I ended up scraping the sauce and peanuts off the outside and then taking a spoon of soupy ice cream. OK. That worked in an unsatisfactory way.

Sundae Dish

So I gave up and quit my sundae before it was finished. I don’t like wasting calories on something sweet I’m not enjoying. I pressed pause on that disaster, we’d paid the bill, and left. I didn’t even care enough to complain. I learned not to order a hot fudge sundae again there. Although the hot fudge was decent, the ice cream was average even for vanilla, and the whole construction of it was out of a joke book.

It was called a “Messy Sundae” on the menu, but I did not believe them. Now I do.

Stay charming, my friends, and definitely avoid sticky! Have a sweet week!

 

 

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See You Next Week

Image - Tree Reflection in Puddle 2018-1 WACC Patio

Trees Reflected in Puddle

I’m taking a week or two off from the blog. My schedule got away from me, as if it were a pet. I caught a cold, as if that were a sport. There are things to think through, and I just have to admit that takes time. I’ll be back soon. Thank you for your patience. Stay charming, my friends!

Celebrating Easter Then & Now

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I want to acknowledge that not all of my readers celebrate Easter, and I respect that. So, perhaps if that is you, simply reflect back on your childhood traditions and celebrations as you read this post.

By way of background on this post and this past weekend, my husband and I were involved all weekend at our church serving and celebrating Easter. We attend a large church with between 2,700-3,000 attending on a Sunday. This year, the church hosted two Good Friday services and three Easter services in two venues. One Easter service was held on Saturday night and two on Sunday morning. At Easter, we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus from the dead to redeem us to life as we follow his ways in faith.

The main venue was on the large lawn just outside our worship center. The alternative venue was inside the worship center for a quieter viewing experience of the live service via projection on a large screen. I’m guessing at least 6,000 people attended this Easter in total. We worked hard and were tired at the end of the morning.

WACC Easter 2018

I helped with various things that came up, including taking family photos of people and checking the women’s room for paper towels and toilet paper. My husband helped with baptisms, as part of our Easter service traditionally ends with an opportunity for people to be baptized, if they wish.

I got to thinking back to my childhood memories of Easter from the 1960’s. Pause and gather your earliest memories of Easter celebrations, too. Or whatever spring was like for you growing up. The contrast may be interesting, as mine was today. I do remember Easter as a special time, a simpler time. But then I was a child, and the responsibility to make it special would fall mainly on my mom, it may not have felt simple to her.

Easter Eggs

We colored eggs every year. I loved that tradition and still think back on it fondly. I may pick it up again one day as a little happy nod to my childhood.

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From the 1960’s

Easter Baskets

My mom would prepare Easter baskets for my brother and I, filled with candy we enjoyed. That definitely excluded milk chocolate in my case, which I did not like. Still don’t. I liked the colorful baskets with green plastic grass. Although we did not do egg hunts, I have a vague recollection of searching for our Easter baskets.

I remember marshmallow Peeps and jelly beans. I’d give away the black jelly beans. You, too? Or are you a person who enjoyed the black jelly beans? Easter baskets are no longer a part of my Easter tradition, probably because I don’t indulge in candy any longer, and we do not have children of our own. I do enjoy an occasional Reese’s Peanut Butter Egg from time to time at Easter. Jordan almonds are also a favorite. What is your indulgent candy of choice? Do you remember your favorite as a child?

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If milk chocolate is wrapped around sweet peanut butter, I don’t mind it at all.

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Such lovely colors in a sweet coating surrounding crunchy almonds.

Easter Outfit

It was also our tradition growing up to get new clothes for Easter. I remember getting new clothes on only two occasions as a child – for the back-to-school season and at Easter, and that is about it.

Shopping for clothes is so much more common now, and getting an Easter outfit is not as essential as it was when I was a child. During my junior high years, I remember being permitted to wear fishnet stockings, quite in style, for Easter Sunday with my new dress. That was a big deal!

Fishnet stockings in the 1960's, oh yes, we were that cool. by karyn

Many families I saw today were all dressed up for the Easter services. I enjoy seeing them, especially the cute outfits on their children. That is one of my favorite parts of going to church on Easter Sunday.

WACC Easter Kids 2018

Easter Church

Each Sunday, my family went to church as I was growing up, and Easter was no different. I attended a congregational church, a community church, and a Methodist church in my younger years. Easter Sunday would always find us sitting in church to celebrate the risen Lord. That is the same in my adult life, but church was much different. Smaller congregation, very few instruments and no electronics beyond a microphone, hymns to sing, and no problem finding parking.

Woodlawn United Methodist Church

My family attended Woodlawn United Methodist Church from about 1966-1969.

Easter Lunch

My mom often prepared a delicious family meal for Sunday after church. We’d often invite some friends or a few relatives to join us at the table, but I don’t recall a big family get-together. My mother would set the table with beautiful table settings and pretty dishes. Those felt like special times of celebration. I do not recall any special recipes. I miss those dinners together.

For many years after I was married, we’d share Easter lunch after church with my husband’s family at my mother-in-law’s home.  His family has a tradition of purple deviled eggs. I am a fan of deviled eggs and enjoyed the purple ones just as much.

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I’m not sure how my mother-in-law makes these, but the photo above is from A Beautiful Mess blog.

Recently, I work hard all weekend at Easter services at my church. I help clean up after church. By the time we can go to lunch, it is late and I am tired. We don’t eat lunch with family on Easter, though we often get together on Palm Sunday or during the week before Easter. My husband and I go out to eat and relax before heading home for afternoon naps.

So much has changed. We still celebrate Easter, but it looks different, and yet the important things remains the same. We celebrate with loved ones in ways that bring meaning and enjoyment. If we had children, some of the traditions would have carried on in similar ways.

Traditions are often changing, yet always hold a special place in our hearts and memories. We can keep the important values in tact, and open our minds to how they may look different through the years.

If you celebrate Easter, I hope it was filled with celebration, the hope of the season, fun, love, and good food, no matter what it may have looked like this year.

Stay charming, my friends!

A Better World for Children

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This past Saturday started with a protest march and ended with a first birthday party for my great-niece. The day crossed both ends of the spectrum. A sense of death and mourning for lives lost in violent shootings. A breath of life and hope in celebration of the growth of a beloved child. The contrast was fierce.

My friend invited me to go to one of the local March for Our Lives events to protest gun violence in schools. She made signs for us and headed to a Huntington Beach park. From there, hundreds of people, all ages and stages, walked along Main Street to City Hall. At city hall, high school students gave moving speeches. We were part of an international protest on this day.

We should not be in this place. All students are entitled to a free education – free from fear of being shot. We have got to do more to address this issue. I felt vulnerable just being out in the open in a crowd. I don’t have the answer, but I had to do something. So we marched.

2018-3-24 AM March for Our Lives, Huntington Beach 5 - Enid & Cindi Ready to March

2018-3-24 AM March for Our Lives, Huntington Beach 6 - Cindi

2018-3-24 AM March for Our Lives, Huntington Beach 7 - Enid

2018-3-24 AM March for Our Lives, Huntington Beach 8 - Vegas Survivor

She survived the Vegas Shooting.

2018-3-24 AM March for Our Lives, Huntington Beach 11 - Park Start

2018-3-24 AM March for Our Lives, Huntington Beach 12 - Enid Marching

2018-3-24 AM March for Our Lives, Huntington Beach 13 - Cindi on March

2018-3-24 AM March for Our Lives, Huntington Beach 14 - Walking Down Sidewalk

2018-3-24 AM March for Our Lives, Huntington Beach 19 - Civic Center 2

After the march, I attended the fun and lighthearted birthday party of my great-niece. She turned one this past week and we celebrated with family on Saturday afternoon. She’s been with us for twelve months. Twelve precious months. I really enjoyed watching her enjoy her cake. As she sorts out the world and continues to learn and grow, I pray schools are safer by the time she is old enough for school.

2018-3-24 Abby's 1st Birthday Party 18 - Cindi & Abby with Cake

2018-3-24 Abby's 1st Birthday Party 3 - Family Fun 1

2018-3-24 Abby's 1st Birthday Party 14 - Cake Face

My other great-niece was at the party, visiting on her spring break from Northern California. She is fifteen and a sophomore in high school. I desperately want safe schools for her, too. Not only that, I want both these girls to grow up in a world where all men they meet learn to show respect for them, and to honor them in word and deed. I pray for their protection from risky relationships.

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I pray one day the world is a better place for all to live. We can do better. We have to do better. For all the girls. For all the children. We’ve got work to do.

Stay charming, my friends! We can make a difference.

Find Beauty Anyway

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In the midst of uncertain times and difficult events, find beauty. In others. In your surroundings. In moments. In nature.

I spent some time recently with a good friend in Old Town Orange, California. I rode the Metrolink train to Orange and walked a few blocks to the quaint center of town. We started our day with mid-morning muffins at the Blue Frog Bakery.  As we sat, enjoying the treats, coffee, and conversation,…

…an agitated woman with a shaved head came in the bakery, and demanded the money in the cash register. When that didn’t happen fast enough for her, she grabbed all the money in the tip bowl. Thankfully, the situation did not escalate.

Next, the stranger went down the row of tables yelling person to person, “You look homeless. Buy a cup of coffee!” She proceeded to give most customers a one-dollar bill, including my friend and I, and stormed on out the door. Many customers put the dollar bill back in the tip jar, but some people kept the money. They may not have known it came from the tip bowl. The police came quickly, just as the woman headed out the front door of the bakery. They intercepted her there, and talked with her. My friend and I passed by the woman on the street two more times that day.

In times gone by, we’d just take moments like that in stride. But now days, no one is taking any chances in situations where there is odd behavior. We live in a needy world. Aggression and violence, even in extreme weather, are more commonplace and more instantly covered by the media, creating heightened awareness. And anxiety. Find beauty to help stay balanced.

After things settled down at the bakery, my friend and I headed around the corner to Country Roads Antiques and Garden. My friend has an eye for antiques. I have a low to no tolerance for antique shopping, but a high value of our friendship, so I go along for the companionship. We did find beauty and I’ll share the photos below.

My friend and I looked for images of interest and collected ideas. I took photos of all sorts of things, capturing the beauty I noticed. We had a wonderful time talking, wandering, and hunting through the random, everyday things. After exploring to our heart’s content, we headed to lunch at The Filling Station to celebrate her birthday.

The Filling Station - Orange 2018-3-9

We soon learned about another tragic shooting in progress, including hostages, at a veteran’s facility in Yountville, California. Our hearts ached on many levels. For the victims,  their families, the survivors, the responders, the frequency of these incidences, and the frustration of our inability as a society to protect against these senseless crimes. Even on a fun day out with a friend, we encountered two moments of brokenness. We needed the beauty of the garden visit and of friendship to balance out that day, too.

Here are some photos from our outing. May they bring beauty to your day, too. In spite of the heartache in our world, there is beauty in images and friendships to keep us strong and hopeful. Enjoy the photos! I’m amazed at the beauty created by clever gardeners and designers.

Chandelier Corner 1 - Orange 2018-3-9

Orange Flower - Close-up - Orange 2018-3-9.

Lampshades in the Garden - Orange 2018-3-9

Garden Door - Orange 2018-3-9

Gold Orange Flower - Close-up - Orange 2018-3-9

Country Road Antiques Window Boxes - Orange 2018-3-9

Pansies - Orange 2018-3-9

Chandelier Corner 2 - Orange 2018-3-9

Orange Flowers on Bench

Old Sink Planter - Orange 2018-3-9

Lorna Waves Thru Window - Orange 2018-3-9

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Purple Flower Basket & Hazy Window - Orange 2018-3-9

Red with Black Center Poppy Close-up - Orange - 2018-3-9

Shoes on a Bench with Plants - Orange 2018-3-9

Pink Flowers & Log - Orange - 2018-3-9

Purple Pansy - Orange - 2018-3-9

Purple Flowers Against Wood - Orange - 2018-3-9

Window Panels in Garden - Orange 2018-3-9

Weird Plants Sold Here - Orange 2018-3-9

Wreath, Frame, Old Clock - Orange 2018-3-9

White Flower Basket on Fence - Orange 2018-3-9

The Filling Station Blue Umbrella - Orange 2018-3-9

The Filling Station Color Umbrellas - Orange 2018-3-9

Lorna - Framed Friends - Orange 2018-3-9

Friends in a frame

P.S. You may have noticed I did not post last week. Time just got away from me. That happens from time to time, but I did miss meeting you here. Have a good week!

Stay charming, my friends!

 

10 Tips for California Adventure Alone

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I recently spent the day at Disneyland’s Resort California Adventure and Downtown Disney. As mentioned in a previous post on this blog, I grew up in the Midwest and watched Disney’s Sunday night program faithfully, watching Tinkerbell light the fireworks or color splashing over Cinderella’s castle, wondering if I’d ever get to visit Disneyland. It seemed so far away. I never thought I’d end up living about 45-minutes away as an adult. I think about that every time I visit, and it makes me smile.

Here are my ten tips for doing a solo day trip to the Disneyland Resort, specifically for a visit to the California Adventure theme park.

Disney CA Adventure Entrance - 2018-2

Entrance to California Adventure on a February morning.

On this particular visit, I chose to go alone. I got to decide what to do and when. No compromise. Pure entitlement. Feeding my selfish dark side. Yes! This was the day!  The night before, I made my list of what I wanted to do there. Making lists makes me happy. Perhaps you are a list maker, too. I went prepared to check things off that list. As an introvert, doing things alone is often fun for me.

Image - Disney Lamp Post Scene - 2018-2

Alone in the crowd, but not lonely.

If you ever go to such a great place by yourself, these ten tips may be of interest to you.

Tip #1: Take a book or your Kindle and plan to do some reading.

My first attraction for day was Soaring Around the World, one of my most favorite things to do at Disney’s California Adventure, formerly Soaring Over California, also a favorite. I chose the stand-by line with a 45-minute wait. Standing in line can be especially tedious when you are alone with no one to chat with, so I came prepared and brought a book.

I passed the time reading and standing and reading and standing for a while, when the cast member made an announcement. One of the two theaters was having technical difficulties. The guests in that line were moved into the other theater. That would add a five to seven minute delay. OK. Whatever. I was reading.

I love to read. For some of us, extra free time to read is a luxury, so that was my perspective. The long time of reading was great. But the standing time, and standing still, became tiring. Finally, I got seated on the ride, loved it as always, and was relieved to be sitting down for a few minutes.

Tip #2: Choose to do those things you want to do that those who love you and normally go with you might not care about missing.

For me, that included going to see Frozen. The park information states “The dazzling theatrical interpretation of Disney’s global film phenomenon Frozen…at the Hyperion Theater at Disney California Adventure Park!” My husband would not typically agree to do this, unless he could tell I really wanted to go or it was my birthday. I’ve wanted to see this for a while. I was looking forward to the 2:00 performance, according to my carefully crafted plans for my day.

I walked over to the theater at about 1:15, casually early, anticipating a line. I rounded the corner and what did I see? No line. I could only assume something was wrong. In spite of the obvious, I still asked the cast member the same question, “What?” Sadly for me, the 2:00pm performance had been cancelled. I’ll have to wait to another day.

I also went to the the Animation Academy, and learned how to sketch Piglet. (Photo below with ice cream) [Note: Glen actually would do this one.]

Disney Animation Studio 2018-2

Tip #3: Take advantage of the “single rider line” at Radiator Springs Racers, and get on the ride with less waiting time.

“Zoom through the desert landscape of Cars Land, inspired by the Disney•Pixar movie Cars,” the online information proclaimed.  I do like this ride, so I made the hike over to Cars Land to take a ride through the Disney Pixar desert.

Disney Cars Land Scenery - 2018-2

I got to the single riders line and approached with a spring in my step, all smug that I’d avoid a long wait. The cast member greeted me with “It’s a one hour wait.”

“What? Really? For single riders?,” I gasped in disbelief, all pride in my brilliant strategy fleeing.

She nodded yes. I crossed that ride off my list, walked away, and decided that was not going to happen that day either.

Tip #4: Enjoy having the whole side of a ride vehicle to yourself.

Mid-morning, I picked up a “fast pass,” a ticket for a shorter wait in line if you return later in the day, for Toy Story Midway Mania. The park information describes this as, “Ride and take aim at moving objects during this midway-inspired, 4D game starring popular Disney·Pixar Toy Story characters,” and it is another favorite of mine. No skill required.

I went over to the ride at the designated time, about 4:15. I got the whole side of the car to myself, of course. So fun! But that car tosses and spins you around a bit. It is much more fun to sit next to some one you love to bounce off of in the competition. I definitely have room for improvement, and maybe some competition (a.k.a. Glen) would help motivate me.

Tip #5: Choose when and where to stop to eat your favorite foods, because you are in charge. And all alone.

I stopped for coffee and something with cinnamon in the morning. I ate a not-on-any-health-food-list corn dog for lunch and completely enjoyed it. A little birdy sat nearby (see photo) watching for crumbs to drop. I took an afternoon break for ice cream and people watching. It was fun to pace the day my way and choose foods that I don’t usually include in my day-to-day meals.

Disney Corn Dog & Bird 2018-2

From the Corn Dog Castle — bird not included

Disney Animation Art & Ice Cream Break - 2018-2

Mint chip ice cream & my Piglet sketch

Tip #6: If you like to take photos, take all the time you want to stop, observe, find, and photograph anything that catches your interest and your eye.

You will not be slowing anyone down. If you like to take photos, you will know what I mean. It’s bliss. I was fascinated by clouds, pines, and lamps on this day for some reason. No need to explain. No need to apologize to the group for taking yet another photo and dragging out time.

Image - Pines & Lamp - CA Adventure 2018-2

Image - Disney Lamp Post & Clouds 2018-2

I also photographed some of the humor I noticed in Bugs’ Land. Now I know what lightning bugs do for a living and where candy corn grows.

Disney Lightning Bug 2018-2

Disney Candy Corn Patch - 2018-2

Tip #7: Beware of people who do not understand how to properly stand in crowded lines.

I experienced two different groups that missed that day of Disney Park Etiquette orientation. There is really no such thing, but evidently we are not all born with an understanding of cooperating in lines. Both groups violated these unspoken rules of crowd behavior in line:

a. Always stand as close as possible to the person in front of you to prevent people from crowding in and cutting, seeing a gap. And to give a better sense of how long the line truly is.

b. Do not stand single file with your group, one behind the other, making the line extend back another six or seven feet unnecessarily. Come on, people. Clump together. Move as a pod, like an advancing amoeba. We are not waiting in the drinking fountain line in kindergarten.

Example:

c. Don’t all freeze in place in line to watch the baby being cute, bringing forward progression to a halt of the rest of us. Baby stare and maintain a shuffle toward the front. It can be done.

Tip #8: Don’t go in the off-season like February thinking the parks will for sure be low in attendance without checking what conventions and big activities are happening in Anaheim.

Check online to make sure Anaheim is not in the midst of hosting a national high school cheer competition. Or else be prepared to spend the day surrounded by multiple small mobs of enthused teen girls on the move all. Day. Long. The park will be crowded. However, on a positive note, you will leave the park with new fashion and make-up insights. And can possibly photo bomb all sorts of selfies to entertain yourself.

Tip #9: Dress warmly.

A sunny California day is not necessarily always warm. This is a whole different version of California cool!

Anaheim Temp - 2018-2

Tip #10: Need a quiet moment? Stop and rest in the Disney Grand Lobby.

Located next to Downtown Disney and California Adventure is the Disney Grand Hotel. I love drifting through the Disney Grand Hotel – the decor, the ambience, the charm, the fireplace, and the beautiful piano music of Disney classics.

I have a secret place in the small lobby on floor three. I stop at a little desk, open to the lobby. I catch my breath, charge my phone, read, plan, journal, while listening to the wonderful background music wafting up from the main floor. The arts & crafts decor is perfect for the historic time period style of this hotel.

Disney Grand - 3rd Floor Desk 2018-2

Disney Grand Hotel -3rd Floor Desk - 2018-2

Glen met me for dinner at Downtown Disney. We enjoyed dining at La Brea Bakery Cafe restaurant, which got us validated parking and made parking free. We ended the day sharing a bag of beignets from Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen Express. Glen had dropped me off in the morning on the way to work, so I hitched a ride home with him, tired but happy. And I had over 11,000 steps on my pedometer.

Disney Beignet Bag - 2018-2

Beignets come with enough powdered sugar to fairy dust a small forest!

I do enjoy living so close to the Disney Resort. It comes in handy any time I’m feeling like I need to wish upon a star. By myself or with family or friends. Would you ever go alone? What are your best tips for the day?

Stay charming, my friends!

 

 

 

And the Winner Is….

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The Academy Awards, also known as Oscars Night, happens this Sunday, March 4. I’ll be watching. How about you?

The Oscars

Photo Credit: The Indian Express

Since I now live in the Los Angeles area, award season events, especially the Academy Awards, are annual TV events to watch at our house. The entertainment industry is big in our area, and that’s part of why I watch. Plus, I enjoy movies and TV programs. They tell stories, educate, and entertain, taking me out of my own busy life for a time. We also watch to stay culturally relevant.

The hosts, the openings, some of the speeches, and many of the dresses add to the interest of awards events. The red carpet entrances are also part of the fun. I become a critic of it all from my viewing vantage point.

We enjoy voting for the various categories. If you are looking for online forms to print for home use, here is one option: In Style Oscars 2018 Ballot

My friends and I have had parties over the years to watch together, as have many of you. After all, it is more fun to talk and share it all with others. The voting added an enjoyable competitive nature to the gathering. We shared appetizers and desserts.

One year, we dressed up representing our favorite movie of the year. We saw some very clever outfits. My friend and I both came as Shrek, not knowing we’d chosen the same movie.

We oooooohhh and ahhhh at beautiful dresses or raise our eyebrows in criticism over other dresses. Remember this dress (below)? And the “What Was She Thinking” Award goes to…

If I had to pick a dress, I’d prefer a soft pink dress. Modest. Flat shoes. This would be perfect.

Find your Oscar dress style with this fun little quiz: What Is Your Oscars Red Carpet Dress Style? 

The night does get complicated. The hosts, presenters, and winners’ speeches often voice opinions on politicians or express points of view on controversial issues. That has taken the enjoyment out of watching for people. I still find it interesting to hear the different perspectives on current topics, leaders, and passionate causes.

Some celebrities walk right up to the line of decency in their comments. Some march right through that line. Some celebrities give amazing speeches that are touching, sharing about their journey and growth, meaningful work and relationships, and words of appreciation. I have really enjoyed many acceptance speeches over the years.

Some friends work hard to see nominated movies before the Academy Awards. We go see movies that interest us, or watch them at home. We like to see movies nominated for Best Picture, if they sound like we’d like them. I also like to see Best Animated Features, though I do some of that viewing on my computer.

Some nominated movies are just too dark, edgy, and troubling for me, so I skip those. I’m sure I’ve missed some outstanding performances. That is OK with me. Images I put in my mind are tough to get out, so I choose carefully. There is wisdom in wimping out for me, anyway.

Since December, we’ve seen and enjoyed…

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Not many have been nominated for Best Picture, but they are all Best Pictures for us. And that’s what really matters to us anyway.

Whether you go to the theater or not, watch the Oscars or not, I hope you enjoy something that is fun for you this weekend.

And stay charming, my friends!

Best Picture

  • Call Me by Your Name (didn’t see it)
  • Darkest Hour (hope to see it)
  • Dunkirk (didn’t see it)
  • Get Out (didn’t see it – but thinking about seeing it)
  • Lady Bird (saw it)
  • Phantom Thread (didn’t see it)
  • The Post (saw it; I hope it wins, but doubt it will.)
  • The Shape of Water (didn’t see it)
  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (didn’t see it)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Capturing Stories from Life and the Week

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It has been an exceptionally busy work week, so this post shares a few quick thoughts on recent life. I hope something will be of interest  to you or something you can relate to as you read.

School Shooting

I am sickened that yet another tragic shooting has occurred. As a former classroom teacher, I would not agree to carry a weapon.

God help us.

Reflections from a Mother’s Heart

I want to recommend a tool to you, if you still have parents living and relationships you treasure. This past fall, a friend of mine shared that she’d used a book, Reflections from a Mother’s Heart, to capture some of her mom’s stories. I ordered the book from Amazon. I also got the similar book for fathers, A Father’s Legacy (now unavailable, sadly). I took both books home with me for an October 2017 visit with my parents. It prompted great conversation which unfolded stories of their lives, some of which were new to me.

Some parents complete the book on their own, but I used pages that appealed to launch the conversations and jotted down notes as they answered. I’m so grateful I did, for my father passed away a month later. His stories from that October weekend keep him close at heart.

Now, once a week, with my mom on the phone, I talk through some of the prompts in the book. She may not always have an answer, but the prompts always lead somewhere to great memories of her younger days. Those stories keep the young, vibrant woman clearly pictured, though now in her 90’s.

I’d discovered this book makes it easier and fun to continue to get to know my mom, and helps trigger memories from her past which honors her as a person who had a full life. Those are precious times. We live about 2,000 miles apart, but our friendship is strengthened through this book.

The great thing about these books is that they can be used with any older friend or family member that is important to you, whose legacy you want to keep. I do need to mention it has sections that are religious, so if that is not part of the life of your loved one, you can pass by those pages.

Winter Weather

The southern California weather has been typical this year. That means some hot summer days, and then some cool winter days. We’ve not had much rain this winter, which bothers many of us because we need that rain. However, in the areas ravaged by fires, no rain means no mudslides.

This week is particularly chilly. I have to laugh as I write that. I grew up in the Midwest and survived bitter cold. So now when the temperature is down in the 60’s, and I feel like I’m freezing, I know my blood has thinned. I’ve adapted to my California habitat. That temperature would feel like spring when I was living through winters in the Chicago area!

Last night, I checked the weather app on my phone and I could not believe my eyes. My town was the coldest, compared to Chicago and Akron – cities where I’ve lived in the past. Crazy! Hopefully you are not visiting in southern California this week to escape from the cold midwest.

temps 2018-2-20

The Olympics

My husband and I have spent some time recently watching the various events of the Winter Olympics. The sports capture our interest during these weeks. I just love the Olympic theme played so often during the NBC broadcast. Here’s an interesting little article on the theme and a silly video I found on the KUSC website. I wanted to share these if you are teaching a unit on the Olympics. Or maybe you are an Olympic fan, too.

The Olympic Theme Explained

Here is the silly rendition of the theme, described as “Shaun White and Michael Phelps play the Olympic Fanfare on melodicas. Get your melodica here at http://www.melodicamen.com.”

Stay warm and charming, my friends!

Valentine’s Day Your Way

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Happy Valentine's Day card

Happy Valentine’s Day, friend! How do you celebrate? Do you celebrate? This is an interesting holiday. Complicated for some. Ignored by others. Celebrated in various ways by many. I didn’t date much growing up, and didn’t marry until I was thirty-seven. So I spent many years, at least from my perspective, feeling I was on the outside looking in on Valentine’s Day, feeling a bit left out. Lonely for a day. Turns out, my husband and I celebrate Valentine’s Day in a no stress kind of way. I discovered, with no disappointment, that it’s not a big deal in our house. Simple and so our style. What’s your Valentine style?

camilla close-up 2018-2

At Valentine’s Day, for me, it is all about love in our lives, not just one romantic relationship. I celebrate my friendships, family, co-workers past and present, students, and more. In my heart, I feel such gratitude for loving people in my life through the years. That’s what I truly celebrate at Valentine’s Day. Not romantic love, but love shared in knowing one another well and caring for each other.

In 1990, I became a school teacher. That made Valentine’s Day fun. Seeing the decorated bags and boxes. Watching the kids come in with fists full of tiny envelopes, some with names on them, some not, when remembering everyone became daunting. We’d take time to pass out the greetings, eat sweet treats (it was a simpler time – less food allergies and sugar limits), and energetic moms filling the room with memory making decor and party fun for a group of almost ten-year old children.

I would always hold my breath, hoping every child would get cards. Over time, I liked to observe cultural shifts communicated in the card themes. Ninja Turtles, Star Wars, Winnie the Pooh, Smurfs, Garfield, Barbie, and many various super heroes. The homemade valentines were always beautiful. I’d open and read each card with delight and appreciation.

Valentine LCMS 2000

It wouldn’t be Valentine’s day without mentioning the chocolate. As a teacher, I got gifts of chocolate from students. Let me tell you a secret. I did not care for chocolate. I would give it away. I became quite popular in the teacher’s lounge offering my boxes of chocolates to others who appreciated it, wishing I could trade for a donut. [Side note: I did try dark chocolate in 2005, and discovered I do like dark chocolate. Still cannot tolerate milk chocolate to this day, with the exception of peanut M&Ms, which now come in dark chocolate, thankfully.]

In 1992, I finally explored the romantic side of Valentine’s Day. At the time, I was dating the love of my life and now husband. We went out to dinner that first Valentine’s Day, thinking that’s what you do. We learned that restaurants are crowded on Valentine’s Day evening. They often have a special menu, meaning higher priced meals. That was a let down. We do occasionally go to dinner for Valentine’s Day, but we do it on another calendar day.

This year, we ate garlic everything this past Saturday night at The Stinking Rose – A Garlic Restaurant, Beverly Hills. Nothing says I love you like garlic breath. Who’s with me on that? We hadn’t been there for a long time and decided to go this past weekend. And since it was February and a nicer outing than normal, we decided to use Valentine’s Day as our excuse to go, not our reason to indulge.

Bagna Cada

Bagna Calda for spreading on bread. Divine.

So many ways to celebrate! We are not into gift giving to each other. Are you? We prefer sharing an activity together, like a train ride or visit to the beach. We do enjoy exchanging cards, always one sweet and one funny. We also enjoy cooking a great meal together at home, if our schedules permit. Including dessert, which is a rare treat. We don’t do flowers. Too predictable and pricey for our taste at Valentine’s Day. We stay rather practical. I don’t care about jewelry, so those seasonal diamond commercials are wasted on us.

I do enjoy decorating a bit for the holidays throughout the year, and this is no exception. Many of you do, too. It is fun to see your photos on Facebook and Instagram. I like to keep it simple. We have white lights strung on our kitchen window all year round. That provides a type of clothesline for some fun Valentine cards I’ve collected over the years from Paper Source. They have some great ones!

Valentine Windoq

valentine - just my type

you salsa chips me card

death is for quitters card

butter and popcorn

I also use a February mug for my coffee. Here is my Waechtersbach mug, popular in the 1980’s. I get it out each February. I know some of you have Valentine traditions, decorations, and mugs, too. Make sure to share on social media.

heart mug

In recent years, “Galentine’s” parties have become popular. That’s a great idea! This HGTV post explains all about it. Sounds so fun!

How to Throw a Galentine’s Party

This Valentine’s Day, I hope none of you feels left out, alone, or sad. Don’t let this be a grass is greener day for you, looking at what you don’t have instead of what you do. Valentine’s Day isn’t the big deal. Find a loved one – family or friend – and tell them what they mean to you. See the beauty around you, if you live in a climate where flowers are blooming or the beauty of winter.

white flower poof - succulent - front yard 2018-2

Splurge on simple things, like a great cup of hot cocoa, a cookie, a cupcake, and/or good coffee.

hot cocoa close up

Buy yourself flowers. Remember a new widow or widower with heart shaped sugar cookies. Make a quick call to a far-away friend. Be a loving person and enjoy the good people around you. Find the simple joy in life and use Valentine’s Day as your excuse.

I hope everyone can think of at least one person in their life that brings them love, romantic or simply a caring relationship. Celebrate all that the person has added to your life. For all of you that enjoy a romantic Valentine’s Day, that’s awesome, too! Be you! Do what’s meaningful to you and feel wonderful about all the elements. Do Valentine’s Day your way and don’t compare yourself to others. Let me know your Valentine’s traditions or special things in the comments below. Thanks!

Stay charming the Valentine’s Day, my friend!

A Valentine for 2017 from Paper Source

The Noise That Annoys: Smart Phone Stupidity and Social Manners

In our smart phone world, is it just me? Or does it bug you, too, when people seem totally clueless that other people around them do not want to hear whatever is happening on the phone? Recently, I had several experiences with people unaware, and I was ready to scream. Instead, I just shook my head and took notes for a blog post. Each day brought a new annoying phone behavior by someone located near me, mostly noise related, mostly involving a smart phone. So I’ve reviewed some phone etiquette guidelines for the uninformed, though they are not reading this post.

Guideline #1: Use discernment when putting a call on speaker in a public setting.

Or, to put it another way, never put your phone call on speaker in a public setting.

What is it with people? Really? You (not really you, but the general you) take a personal call using your speaker feature in a public setting. Did you miss that day in smart phone etiquette school? Come on, people. We don’t find your phone call in the coffee shop, or anywhere, of value or interest. In fact, it is annoying. One does not need to use a speaker phone in public settings, unless it is a meeting or group call.

Guideline #2: Resist taking a call in the public restroom.

I’m sure the following situation has happened to others. I was in the women’s restroom, in a stall, taking care of business, so to speak. Someone in the next stall took a call (we call that a stall call) using the speaker. Maybe I flushed during the call on purpose. Maybe I didn’t. I don’t recall. Speaker phone features pick up a lot of background sounds, though. Be aware.

Guideline #3: Bring your headphones, and use them.

I was at the doctor’s office, waiting in the waiting room where we have to wait. And wait. Waiting to be called back to see the doctor. Another person in the waiting room decided to watch a video. Of course, the sound was on. There she sat, watching the video, and all of us could hear the dialog and soundtrack. How did she not know how annoying that was? So I went and got popcorn, came back, sat down right next to her, and said, “Hey, friend, what are we watching?” That last part did not happen, but it was tempting. Just then, I got called in to see the doctor. As I passed, I turned to her and said, “You know that character dies in the end, don’t you.” Again, I didn’t, but I felt like spoiling the plot. Silly me. I need to work on an appropriate response for next time that happens. Or maybe I’ll just start watching a video, too, only louder. Passive aggressive much?

Image result for waiting room

Use your headphones when listening to a video on your phone in public. Don’t add to the suffering of others at the doctor’s office.

 

Guideline #4: If you are disrupting others from the main activity, stop it.

Then Sunday came along. I was seated in the worship service. A young man was seated behind me and a few seats toward the outside aisle. He, too, was watching something on his phone during the service. A lecture or a stand-up comedian or something with one male voice. Maybe he was streaming the exact same sermon, but had a time delay. Maybe he was watching another pastor. Who knows? Did that matter? Did the content of his viewing matter? Not really. It was totally disruptive to me. I did not say anything, though. I just focused more intently on the service. After the service, I was going to say something to him, but I changed my mind.

Guideline #5: Remember, when watching a movie in the theater, different behavior is preferred to when watching a movie at home.

This has nothing to do with a smart phone, except for the woman’s last comment to me. But since I’m on a roll, crying out against noisy behavior in public settings in general, and courtesy on the planet overall, let me to add this one.

We walked into the theater and chose our seats, partway up, center. Two seats. Side by side. The theater was practically empty. I set my purse down on the theater chair to my right. Soon, a grandmother and two girls came up the steps. You’ve probably just guessed what happened next. With plenty of empty seats throughout the theater, they decided to sit in our row. Of course, the grandmother asked me if anyone was sitting “here,” in the seat right next to me, my purse’s seat. Naturally, I said no, and moved my purse to my lap, thinking to myself, “What’s wrong with all the other rows around us?”

Eventually, the mother joined them with the popcorn and drinks. And the movie began. They were quite chatty before the movie started. They continued to process every plot twist and share every thought in response all the way through the movie. I was exhausted after blocking it out for two hours. It was the movie Coco, which is loud and fun, so that helped drown out their conversations.

After the movie ended, they were looking around their seats. The grandmother turns to me and says, “She [the mom] thought she lost her cell phone.” I hadn’t asked. I hadn’t even looked their way. But I managed to say, “That’s great she found it.” What can you do? Be grateful it doesn’t happen more often! Maybe you are more patient and understanding than me.

For more on good manners with using the speaker phone feature, here is another article: Speakerphone Etiquette

Stay charming, my friends!