oscar sunday

February 25, 2012 § Leave a comment

Tomorrow night is the Academy Awards, and I can’t wait. Every year my family knows they will be taking a back seat as I pop the popcorn and pour the champagne, letting them fend for themselves while I sit glued to the TV.

In some way or another, the movies have always had a special place in my life. Years can be marked by the movie I was in love with: the Star Wars and Indiana Jones films, “Back to the Future” and “The Goonies.” I can remember the vacation out West with my dad when my brother and I chose practically every hotel based on their cable package and the viewing schedule for “Willow,” our movie obsession that year. That was also the trip I forced my dad and bro to stand outside Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood for hours waiting for a glimpse of the stars at the “Ghostbusters II” world premiere. We even made People magazine (OK – very tiny in the background and across the street in a picture that was actually of Kevin Bacon).

In college I worked at a movie theater, and in my twenties I was a publicist in the entertainment industry and worked for an agency representing several movie studios’ regional marketing. It was the perfect job for me, and I still feel like pinching myself when I remember working at the premiere of “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil,” or waiting on the airport tarmac for Kate Hudson and company to get off their private plane during a publicity tour for “Almost Famous.” And I can still hear the squeals from the time Tom Cruise called my co-worker Carolyn’s phone – OMG!

I come by it naturally; my mom – and her mom – both loved the movies. I remember watching all the old Fred Astaire-type singing and dancing films with my Memo, and my mom and I have always loved going to movies together. Our best mother/daughter trip was the one when we went to Hollywood and spent a lovely few days touring all the hip and happening spots – seeing and being seen. It was awesome! (Of course I shouldn’t mention our near-stalking of Billy Joel – my mom’s favorite – when he and his then-wife showed up at The Ivy right after we finished our lunch.)

Every year for the Oscars, my mom and I fill out our ballots and do a little wagering; something gold is always the prize on the line. I don’t like to brag, but I usually win. I think it’s because I don’t vote for what I want to win like my sweet Mama – I vote for what WILL win. I put on my Hollywood-player hat and try to think like the Academy voters, who are sentimental, reward previously denied favorites and like to spread the wealth. I’ve been cramming in my last-minute movie watching and trying to see as many as possible, and I’m ready to vote. Here are my picks. Keep your fingers crossed for me – I’ve got a cute little necklace from JCrew in mind!

My 2012 Oscar Picks

Best Picture: “The Artist”

Best Actor: George Clooney

Best Actress: Viola Davis

Best Supporting Actor: Christopher Plummer

Best Supporting Actress: Octavia Spencer

Directing: “The Artist”

Adapted Screenplay: “The Descendants”

Original Screenplay: “Midnight in Paris”

a bit of sun

February 21, 2012 § 2 Comments

The longer we live in Seattle, the more we feel we’re becoming true Seattleites. But by far the hardest thing to get used to has been the weather. Having both spent most of our lives in Florida, Drew and I at first found the lack of sunshine a novelty, but the feeling soon wore off. We don’t miss the constant sun (and heat and sunscreen), but the gray skies do bring some wintertime blues. Wondering how people seem to thrive here – in this albeit absolutely gorgeous but sunless area – we began to listen to and watch our friends and saw that to truly appreciate Seattle, you have to leave it every once in awhile.

We’ve taken up skiing in the winter. It’s amazing that in about an hour you can be on snow-covered mountains enjoying the sun while getting fresh air and exercise. Last summer we went to Hawaii – a place us Floridians never considered going to before. But after a relatively short direct flight, we found ourselves in paradise: the beautiful and relaxing island of Kauai, with plenty of sunshine to enjoy.

This past week was our Mid-Winter Break, and with a few days off school our family was again looking for a quick bit of sun. We headed to Palm Springs, another place that so many of our Seattle friends escape to. Just the idea of packing swimsuits and shorts in the middle of the Northwest winter – with Sophie excitedly discovering that her favorite Saltwater Sandals from last summer still fit – made me happy. Palm Springs was an interesting place to visit and pretty much what we expected. It had such an old Hollywood vibe – I kept expecting to see the Rat Pack strolling by. We spent most of time sitting by the pool and soaking up the sun. We also loved The Living Desert, Palm Springs’ local zoo and botanical park, and had our first In-N-Out burgers. I’ve never seen terrain like that before – the strange and beautiful combination of palm trees and cacti and the sandy mountains.

Our getaway was relaxing and recharging – short and sweet – and coming home to Seattle after a little sun felt good. There’s something nice about how much more you appreciate things when they’re a little harder to come by. A sunny day in Seattle when it finally comes is the most beautiful thing you can imagine. So for now, yes, it’s back to the gray skies but also back to the lush green trees, the unbelievable mountains and water, the interesting people and work, and the city that we love so much. The sun will eventually come, and now I think we can make it to summer … well at least to Spring Break.

valentine bookmarks

February 12, 2012 § 3 Comments

For the last three years, I’ve made Valentine’s Day bookmarks to give to my girls along with a great book.  Bookmarks are so fun and easy to make – I love them!  I get mine from one of my favorite basic supply companies, Paper Accents.  The girls know they’re coming and have already asked me about theirs for this year, but for now they are safely tucked away with cool old copies of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Nurse Matilda (the basis for the “Nanny McPhee” movies) that I bought at a local used bookstore.  I leave the flowers and chocolate to Daddy – the bookmarks are something that the girls and I share.  It’s never too late to start a new tradition, and having these little things to look forward to makes our life even sweeter.

banana bread

February 5, 2012 § 3 Comments

Another winter weekend is upon us and for my family that means another road trip to Stevens Pass for skiing.  Every Sunday in January and February we head up in the car for what really feels to us like a mini vacation.  Since finding our ski legs, we’ve discovered a great way to cure the winter blues; escaping the gray Seattle weather for clear skies and beautiful slopes makes us so happy.  Right along with fun car music, books on CDs and travel games, banana bread has become part of the ritual.  During the week I actually think about making sure I’m going to have the perfect ripe bananas on hand for my Saturday baking.  I will say that – in a pinch – the pumpkin bread mix from Trader Joes has been a nice substitute, but my family still goes crazy for the original.  There’s nothing like delicious banana bread on the way up so early in the morning and again on the way home, tired and starving after all the hard work.

This is a great banana bread recipe.  It’s simple to make and impossible to mess up.  Like most of my favorite go-to baking recipes, this one comes from my friend Stephanie.  She got it while visiting her newly married college friend Renee in California.  Stephanie said, “She was making that stuff for her hubby EVERY morning!!”  Seriously, it’s that good.  Make it as soon as possible – you can thank me later!

Banana Bread

4 ripe bananas
1 cup sugar

1 1/2 cups flour
Sprinkle of cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda

1 egg
1/3 cup olive oil

Mix together and pour in a non-greased bread pan.
Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes, then 300 degrees for 45 minutes or longer until done.

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