Friday, December 13, 2013

How American Airlines Ruined My Vacation


Dear American Airlines,

Let me tell you about the awesome vacation my husband and I had planned.  It was to start with a noon flight to Miami, arriving late evening but still early enough to grab some dinner, get a good night’s sleep in our nice hotel, and spend the next day exploring Miami.  Between 2-3 pm we would take a leisurely taxi over to the Port of Miami to catch a 4 night, 5 day cruise around the Bahamas.  We purposely left this extra day so that we’d be sure to catch our ship.  Coming from SLC to Miami in one day is pretty hard, so the extra day’s cushion would remove any stress of not making our cruise. 

This whole trip was a reward for months of hard work on a big project.  We were so excited.  We bribed, begged, and cajoled relatives to watch our 3 young kids.  Because my husband’s client was paying for the cruise, we decided to splurge and get a penthouse suite.  It comes with a BUTLER!  And it’s something we’d probably never be able to afford otherwise.  This was going to be the best vacation ever! 

And then American Airlines entered the picture.  At 4am Sunday morning (Dec 9), we got a recorded call from AA saying that our flight was cancelled due to weather conditions in our connecting airport, DFW.  The recording said we were rescheduled to arrive TUESDAY (a day after our cruise was to set sail).  It said if we needed to change this, to call the number.  So we called the number and were put on a call-back list.  About 6 HOURS LATER (during which we laid awake, stressing), AA finally returned the call.  They managed to book us on a red-eye flight through LAX, departing 7:30pm and arriving 6am.   While a red eye is not ideal, and would replace our fun night in a Miami hotel with a horrible night trying to sleep on a plane, it was still plenty of time to get to our boat.  So we booked a second (cheaper) hotel where we could sleep for a few hours after arriving in Miami, and then we waited to leave for the airport.

We got to the SLC airport about 6pm (through low temps and snow), checked in, and went to our gate.  There our AA flight was delayed an hour due to mechanical problems.  Then it changed to two hours.  We were now going to miss our connection in LA.  I went back down to the ticket desk to see what could be done.  And very little could be done.  All flights through LAX were taken, and all flights out of LAX first thing in the morning were full.  Finally the agent was persuaded to put us on a flight at 11:47 to JFK where we would switch to a flight to Miami, arriving at 10:30am.  Now we had to cancel our second hotel—we would no longer have time to catch up on our missed sleep.  But we would still have plenty of time to get to the boat.   So we waited 5 hours in that cold airport entry with our now unchecked bags.  Then after boarding we sat on the plane for 1 ½ hours while the airport slowly used 1 truck to de-ice the plane.  It caused such a delay that we missed our connection in JFK.    

Not to worry, we were scheduled for our third attempt to get to Miami: on the next flight out of JFK, an AA flight arriving in Miami at 12:30, still in time to get to our ship if everything went smoothly.  But it did not.  That AA flight had mechanical issues as well.  We sat fully boarded on the plane for 2 hours while they kept saying “15 more minutes,” “15 more minutes.”  Finally at noon they got us off that plane to switch to another plane.  I asked the pilot, who was standing at the gate desk, if there were any other flights to Miami.  He said yes, there was one at 12:30 right across from our gate, but ours would be way faster.   As soon as the plane arrived from the hanger, he said, we’d be on our way, well before the other flight.  However, an hour later the replacement plane hadn’t even shown up.  The other flight to Miami across the way was now gone.  And we were still waiting to board.  Finally (1:30 now) the replacement plane arrived and we began boarding that second plane.  It took off on time and arrived in Miami at 4:45pm.  Our cruise port was still 45 minutes away and we didn’t even have our bags.  So, needless to say we missed our ship.  We planned a flight that departed 29 hours before our ship’s departure, just to be safe, and still we missed that boat.   And that is entirely due to American Airlines and their fleet of broken airplanes. 

To make matters worse, the flight we were put on to get to Nassau, where we would wait 2 days in a pitiful hotel until our boat arrived, was….you guessed it!  DELAYED.   Again, due to a broken airplane. 

When we (and the other 10 passengers from AA who missed the boat with us) finally arrived in the Bahamas after midnight, the AA representative who met us was surly and wouldn’t even speak to us for ½ hour.  Eventually she gave us vouchers which she said were for 2 night’s hotel, but the next day at the hotel they informed us that the vouchers were only good for one day.  The food vouchers we were given wouldn’t even cover the cost of coffee for breakfast at the hotel or a sandwich for lunch.  Our rooms were dark, damp basement rooms.  The beds were rock hard.  And did they come with a huge aft balcony or a butler?  Or all-inclusive food?  NO.  Our once-in-a-lifetime vacation aboard a penthouse suite was cut down to 1 ½ days in airports, 1 ½ days in a sub-par hotel, and only 1 ½ days of 5 on our would-be amazing cruise.

I realize that there is nothing can be done about bad weather.  And it is unfortunate that our first leg was cancelled due to ice at DFW.  But every other attempt (four in total!) to get to Miami was delayed due to incompetence and mechanical issues on the part of American Airlines.  How can you justify this?  And more importantly, how can you compensate us for more than ½ of the best vacation of our life that we missed?  How can you compensate us for the time we spent sitting in airports, missing sleep, and sleeping on hotel beds so hard my side was bruised the next day?  How can you compensate us for the time our relatives sacrificed so that we could take this trip?    You can’t.  Plain and simple, you can never replace what you took from us.   But you should be honorable and do your best to compensate us for the monetary and physical portions of this trip that you were responsible for ruining. 

 I can be reached at home at 801-xxx-xxxx.   We hope to hear from you soon and know that someone at American Airlines has a heart, a conscience, and the authority to do something about this unbelievable debacle.
 

Sincerely,

 Arianne

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Tore Up From the Floor Up!

I stopped by the house last Tuesday (the day after receiving the keys, FINALLY) to see if the demo crew had begun demolition yet.  You can imagine after all the delays (6 weeks worth just to close) that I didn't have high expectations for any part of this process happening on time.  But to my delight, as I pulled up to the house, I noticed the huge front picture window was gone!  (It's getting moved elsewhere.)

Inside, I was surprised to see even more carnage:  The carpets were all gone on the main level and basement, the Falcon Crest stairway banister was gone and some of the drywall had been smashed in with a sledge hammer (Big Daddy will be so happy!), and the kitchen island had been taken apart.   Never was anyone so thrilled to see their house in a state of complete disarray!

Since that time, I've stopped by the house twice more and now there is nothing left inside but the lonely fridge and pulled out double ovens standing in the middle of the kitchen space.  The entire system of cabinets and counters is gone (I sold them on KSL and the guy came and took the entire kitchen down himself), the broken kitchen appliances are gone, the bathroom vanities from the main floor are gone (same guy bought those), the hideous vanity from our master closet is gone (yahoo!), the upper and lower stairs are entirely gone and there is only a gaping hole in the floor where they used to be, the light fixtures are all gone, toilets, tubs and doors are gone.  There's a hole in the kitchen wall where the built-in hutch used to be.  Pretty much every single thing is gone but the fireplaces (whose tile will soon be smashed out), spiral staircase (whose days are numbered), and the remaining kitchen appliances that still work (sort of). 

I've got to give props to Axel and his team of demolition studs.  These guys would give Mad Max a run for his money!  And to Sean Foote of Foote Construction, our GC, who is rocking it so far getting everything busted up.  

It's surprising to say, but I like the house so much better now that it is a total wreck.  The grime is so much less visible, haha!

Here are pics of some of the demolition.  Don't worry if you can't tell what you're looking at.  As the rebuild begins, I'll go room-by-room with before and afters.
 












We have one more wall to smash down today--the one between the future dining room and future family room.  And then they're going to start framing up the new stuff TOMORROW! I would have been skeptical that it would actually happen tomorrow if it weren't for the fact that these guys ROCK. So...join me tomorrow or whenever I get to it for a breakdown of what's going up!  (Is that called a break up?)

Friday, November 22, 2013

Getting To Know You, Part 3 - The Kitchen

They say the kitchen is the heart of the home.  In our case, the kitchen is more like the shins of our home.  Not quite at one end of the house, but close. 

When we explored this house for the first time, I knew that one thing that would have to change was the kitchen.  Built in 1996 in what was probably then a very chic, fancy style (cherry wood with lots of ornate trim), it was clearly good quality.  But SO not my style.  And the layout--all shoved into one corner with a strange angular "s" shaped island--it didn't do the baroque cabinetry any favors. 




The kitchen also had an attached breakfast nook area with a built in hutch.  Across from that room was a room that the previous owners had used as a family room but which immediately jumped out to me as a better dining room. And if we moved the dining area there, I could use all that breakfast nook space to expand the kitchen! 



So, here is what we have now, and what I hope it will be...


That's the new lay-out.   It includes a big fat island that seats 5, a double window seat by the windows, a desk and double ovens (on that top wall), and a new window in the bottom corner next to the stove.  (I made these layouts myself with a cool app called Home Design DIY).

Here's the style we're going for...


We've met with a couple of kitchen designers.  We're still waiting for bids to see how much this will break the bank.  (I don't want to know!)  But I guess you've got to spend what you've got to spend so that the shins of your home are just right.
 

 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The House Drama That Ends With Good News

I have to take a break from the house renovation and tour for a minute to tell you that demolition is supposed to start tomorrow. And that is good!  Because we closed on the house SIX WEEKS AGO.  That is to say that we closed.  The bank who owned the house, however, toyed with us for another month and a half before they closed.  First it was about who was going to pay for the repairs our lender required to be done.  (They didn't want to, of course.  We couldn't w/o it being our house.  In the end, the repairs "magically" got done.  We won't say how.  But lets just say the bank didn't do it. )

So you'd think we could close after that 3 week delay, right?  No.  There was the resending of multiple addenda and extensions, and the resigning in ink of said addenda and extensions because e-signing wasn't good enough.  Then our loan lock expired.  We invoked our free one week extension with the assurance of the seller bank that they'd be ready with the paperwork by then.  But they weren't.  Turns out they forgot to order the title.  So our lock expired again.  And this time we had to buy the lock back, to the tune of a grand.  Thank you, Bank of America.  I. hate. you. 

Because of the re-lock fee, it changed our closing papers and we had to resign.  And then we had to wait.....wait.....wait....and hope that the seller/bank actually signed.  And finally, Monday, November 18th 6 weeks after our closing date of October 3rd, we got keys!  Hallelujah!  And it's a good thing too because I had already sold the stained glass lights on ebay a week before.  Whoops! 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Getting To Know You, Part 2 -- Main Floor Living & Dining

Of course, the funnest part of a home renovation is the before and after.  So I want to do the "before" justice.  I've taken quite a few pictures of the house--the good, the bad, and the VERY ugly.  And I want you to see it all so that you can really appreciate how great it is when it's done.  I'm going to try to get the video camera working so I can do a video home tour too, but let's start with a few still shots of the interior for now...

The entry.  No, let's back up.  The porch.   No wait, I have to back up one more step.  Me.  So, I love quirky. Our first Little Pink House was so charmingly quirky.  We loved it. So one of the things that drew us to this house was the fact that it also had a lot of quirky elements.  Most of them are good, but one that makes no sense at all is the front porch. 

We suspect that whoever built this house was their own architect.  Because who installs this huge picture window on the front porch with a view of....the stair treads?  Bizarre. It's almost like the staircase was an afterthought!


And in that corner behind the staircase's curve?  An isolated, unreachable area.  A triangle of hardwood floor that you can't reach or get to.  You can guess how clean that is!


Just inside (after you trip on the bottom step) you notice the giant, sweeping, curved staircase and massive brass chandelier. 






Big Daddy HATES the staircase.  Like, HATES it.  I'm not really sure why.  He keeps referencing Falcon Crest with a snear.  I don't care for the country-style spindles either, but other than that, I'm OK with it.  But this will be one of the first things to go.  It will be converted to a switchback style with a window at the landing.  Honestly, it's not a priority for me, but it's a big deal to him.  Compromise, people.  That's we rock at this marriage thing!   Here is what we're picturing for the new staircase...



The next thing you notice inside the front door, after you trip on the bottom step, is the amazing living room.   (This is the view from the living room toward the front door.)


(This is the view from the front door into the living room.)


 

One of the real jewels of the house is this 2-story tall room with the 2-story tall windows.  (Which you currently can't see out of because the bushes are so overgrown. But in theory they give a nice view of the backyard waterfall and pond. ) And there's a fireplace which is now surrounded by pale pink faux marble tile, but which will someday be a gorgeous centerpiece.



We plan on using this room as a library/music room.  I will need some SERIOUS inspiration to make it work, but we don't want it to be a formal living room with couches.  For one, it's right next to our master bedroom and we don't want it to become a hub for the children and their noises/messes.  And 2), the family room is right next to it.  Why have two living rooms back to back?  It makes no sense.
 

This is where the living room bleeds into the current formal dining room, soon to be our family room.  






 

 



It has these gorgeous coffered ceilings.  It also has a hideous brass chandelier.  (Ebay anyone?)  This room will become our family room. We will wall in the back area to separate it from the living room/music room.  We will remove the doors to the back yard and put in a big window.  Then we will move the dining room to the next room down, the one right off the kitchen, and punch out the wall between the two rooms to create a more open dining/family room.

This is the future dining room (currently used as a family room).



You can see how it is right off the kitchen, so it really makes more sense to have that be the dining room rather than the room next to it down the hall.  Of course we'll rip the carpeting out.  But I love the idea of a hearth in my kitchen/dining room, so we'll leave the fireplace and just update that hideous pink granite tile surround. 


These doors will stay and will eventually lead out to a nice covered patio.  The wall to the right will get knocked out to join the dining room up with the future family room on the other side of it.
 


The future dining room has this random spiral staircase in it.  Big Daddy is NOT a fan.  But mostly he's not a fan of the staircase itself--seeing as how it is ugly, dirty, missing spindles, and is very old fashioned.  He wanted to get rid of it altogether, but I luh-luh-love the quirkiness of having a spiral back stairway there, so I promised to have it updated if he would let me keep it.  So he gets his new front stairway and I get to keep my back stairway.

Ok, I think that's enough for today.  Tomorrow...the kitchen!
  

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Why We Love Will Someday Love Little Pink House III

I know you're expecting to see pictures of the inside of Little Pink House III today.  But I didn't have time to upload all the pictures.  So instead I'll tell you about why we chose to buy this house.  First let me describe to you what I first thought when I went inside Little Pink House III...

"WHAT A DUMP!  It's exactly what we were looking for!"

Because we have non-standard taste for Utah, we knew it would be next to impossible to find a pre-built house to suit our taste.  And sure enough, both style-wise and layout-wise, we couldn't find anything we liked.  So the option to find a fixer-upper became more and more attractive the longer we looked.  I had no idea how much of a fixer upper our future house would be!

When I tell that you this house is filthy, I can't stress it enough.  It's like 12 grubby toddlers and 20 puppies and 2 college fraternities who all have pet pigs have lived in it for 10 years and no one ever cleaned up ANYTHING.  Every carpet looks like someone was murdered on it.  Every light switch, door handle, and wall is covered with ketchup smears, finger prints, grease, grime and other things I don't want to know about.  There are holes in walls and doors, stickers and writing on most surfaces in the bedrooms.  The kitchen is all banged up, greasy, stinky and icky.   Toilet seats are broken.  Tubs are stained.  The dishwasher looks like fires were set inside it.  NO LIE.  The yard is so overgrown that hardly a window is visible and the grass is all completely dead.  The algae on the pond out back is so thick my daughter thought it was grass and tried to walk across it! 

Why on earth would we want this house, you ask?  BONES.  It has excellent bones!  Great spaces, a few amazing features like the coffered ceiling and the spiral staircase and the huge 2 story tall windows.  Excellent light.  Wonderful potential.  AND it has a big 1/2 acre, west facing lot, on a quiet street WITH a few established trees!  It's in my kids' current school district.  And although we don't know the neighbors yet, about 1/2 the neighborhood was built in the last 5 years, so that bodes well for there being young kids around.  And the price is right.  It's a foreclosure, and with the condition it's in, we are getting it at a price low enough to allow for pretty beefy renovations.

That is all relative, of course, once you start adding up the items that need to be ripped out and replaced:
1 Kitchen
5 bathrooms
1 master closet
2 staircases
20 doors
miles of crown molding
hundreds of yards of carpeting
dozens of awful light fixtures
8 panels of mirrored sliding closet doors
3 garage doors
3 windows
a few horrible pine trees
loads of overgrown weeds and shrubs
2 furnaces, 2 water heaters, 2 air conditioners
a dishwasher, a stove, possibly a fridge and 2 ovens

There's the waterfall/pond to be mucked out, the driveway and back patio to be resurfaced, the sod to be replaced (and undoubtedly a sprinkler system in need of repairs), honestly the list goes on and on and on!  But remember the bones.  The fantastic bones!  And the great spaces.  And the lot.  The lot is key.  So keep the faith.  It's all going to turn out great!  (Right???)

Friday, November 15, 2013

Getting To Know You

I'm sure you're all sick of the blah-blah-blah posts and want more of the PICTURES ALREADY posts.  So without further ado, let me give you the grand tour of Little Pink House III (starting with the exterior today) ...

This is the front:



You can't see much of it.  Whoever owned it before this just let it grow wild.  Trees, shrubs, self-seeding junk trees/bushes, and weeds were all left to run amok.  (Is that really how you spell that??)  The grass was left to die completely.  The pond in the water feature out back is so covered with algae that Daphne thought it was grass and tried to walk across it!  She fell in up to her knees in swamp water. Nary a basement window can be seen through the jungle of bushes.  The house has huge 2-story picture windows in the living room that "look out" onto the back yard, but really just look out onto bushes.  So here is a picture we found on the county website of the house when it was first built...


This house is VERY 1990's.   It's peach colored stucco with some brick, it has those arched windows that were completely the rage in the late 80's to late 90's.  The shape is very what I call "90's behemoth" like a bear hunching over with its face low to the ground and it's giant back all that's visible.  You can't really tell in these pictures because they're all taken from street level looking uphill.  But this digital picture will show you what I mean...
The backyard has serious potential.  It is not huge, but it is good-sized.  It has some trees on it--a few fruit trees and some other unidentified small trees. It has a flat wide area just behind the house with a patio made of two un-matching materials, and a rock waterfall that feeds into a swamp that will one day be a lovely koi pond.  And then it slopes up about 8-9 feet with a small plateau at the top, enough for a few more trees.  And there's a gate that leads directly out onto a running trail!  Behind that, just woods.  And two or three house lengths down, a park.  So no backyard neighbors, woot! 


 
 
(Rock waterfall and pond area)
 
 
One final exterior feature that should be mentioned is the Land of Desolation out behind the master bedroom. It currently looks like this...
 
 
We suspect there use to be a patio here.  The 2 steps leading down to this area are sunken and cracked, so probably whatever was here was sunken and cracked too and got ripped out.  Someday we hope to make it a nice deck with a hot tub built in.  Right off the master bedroom?  Hell to the yes!  But probably not for a loooong time.
 
So that's the exterior.  We hate the general look of the house, but we have great plans to change it entirely.  Those are coming up in a couple of days.  What we do love is the location of the house--the neighborhood, distance to the freeway, proximity to stores/gym/school--and the fact that it's in a good neighborhood on a quiet street.  We love that it has some trees.  The yard is old enough to have a little character.  We love that it has the running trail behind and no backyard neighbors.  We love the size and space of the house.  We love that there is so much potential.  So it'll take a lot of work to whip this jungle of a yard into shape, and to reinvent the look of this house (think Craftsman meets Coastal Contemporary).  But in the end, I think we're going to love it!
 
Join me tomorrow for Part 2 of Getting To Know You: "Getting To Know All About You" (The Interior). 
 
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How We Found Little Pink House III

So here's a little history on our new house, Little Pink House III....

Like I said yesterday, we moved to our rental (Little Green House) knowing it was temporary.  We wanted to find a place to settle that was between Big Daddy's work and his clients (spread across the Salt Lake Valley and Utah County to the south) but we didn't know where that place was.  We wanted a nice neighborhood, somewhere we could raise our kids.  Somewhere we could put down roots and make friends.  Somewhere with big trees hopefully (which are hard to find in Utah).  Somewhere that our neighbors weren't selling meth out front (i.e. Little Pink House I).   We weren't sure what city that was, let alone what neighborhood, but as soon as we drove down the street to check out Little Green House, we knew we were getting close.  Huge Chinese Elms hung over the streets.  The town had an old feel to it, some history.  The houses weren't all cookie-cutter brown stucco and stone.  It was smack dab between Big Daddy's work and his clients.  It just felt...right.

So we moved in and set into motion Phase 1 of our house hunt:  looking for a house very nearby for us to buy. We're picky.  Actually, that's not true.  We just don't have the taste that 95% of other people in Utah have, which makes us seem picky when it comes to house hunting.   Big Daddy and I like modern.  And we like Craftsman, which was the original version of modern.  Craftsman is just starting to appear here a little bit.  Modern?  Forget it.  It might as well be the bubonic plague to Utahans.  So trying to find a bit of chrome amongst all the wrought iron, some red amongst the beige, some concrete amongst the slate, some white amongst the knotty alder....well, you might as well have been asking for the moon.   After looking at dozens of boring beige stucco and stone, Old World European/rustic cookie cutter spec homes, we decided to move to phase 2 of our house hunt:  finding a lot to build our dream house.

Commence 9 months of fruitlessly searching for a lot that was A) west facing.  If you don't know, west facing lots are THE BOMB DIGGITY.  The front faces into the sun in the afternoon and evening, leaving the Eastern back yard all shady.  Utah summer sun is HOT, and having a BBQ at an East facing house (with a west facing back yard) is like cooking burgers on the surface of the sun.  Plus with a west-facing house, in the winter your front walk and driveway snow get melted off by the sun! It's perfect.  B) In a nice neighborhood (i.e. median age between 30-40, lots of kids, preferably no drug dealers next door.  C) on a quiet street.  Somehow all of our houses have been on fairly busy streets.  We wanted a street without major through traffic.  D) preferably having established trees.  I'm from Michigan, people!  I need me some GREENERY!    E) Oh, and the lot should be decent sized, say 1/3 to 1/2 acre.   E) And it should be in our budget.   That little thing.  But that's not much to ask, right?    Well APPARENTLY it is.  We found two lots that came close to being what we wanted, but one was too expensive.  The other had neighbors who may or may not have turned out to have been heroin dealers.  One neighbor was surely the long lost second Sanford Son. 

So we began Phase 3 of our house hunt: Widening the search to include already-built houses way under market value but needing a lot of TLC so as to be ready for us to put our own touch on them.  Ha! That had about an icicle's chance in hell, right?  Well, as it turns out that was a lot easier than buying a turn key house we liked or finding a lot that suited our needs.  Within about a month of opening up our search to include renovation houses, we found Little Pink House III.    I'm not sure what made us want to see it. The pictures online showed the worst parts and neglected the few truly amazing elements.  The outside was hideous.  But for some reason I was drawn to go see it. And once Big Daddy and I walked through, despite how scary the house was in so many ways, we looked at each other and said, "I think this is it." 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Little Pink House III- A history of Little Pink Houses

This was our first house, a little pink house.  Salmon, really.  But close enough.  (And if you love John Mellencamp the way my husband does, you'll appreciate the reference though the color might not be quite accurate).



We bought our first Little Pink House when we first got married.  It was built in 1895 and it was very very neglected.  What you see in this picture is after years of lovingly restoring it.  It was so charming.  So full of character.  And SOOO lacking in any kind of modern conveniences.  Like closets.  Or garages.  Or heating!  So after 8 years, and 2 kids, we moved.  We moved to Little Pink House II.  


It was technically not pink either.  Kind of a pinkish-red brick, maybe.  But we brought our third child home to it, so it counts. It also brought us forward an entire century!  A/C, check!  Central heat, check!  3 car garage, check!  Decent neighborhood, check!  Charm....um, no.  Style....uh, not so much.  It wasn't our forever house.   So last year we moved here...




This is not a Little Pink House either.  It's green, for one thing.  And it's a rental.  It's soooo cute!  It brought us forward into yet another century, the 21st!  But, we knew when we moved here that this was not our forever house either.   Love the white kitchen, huge hidden pantry and modern styling though I might, this was a stopping over point to finding our final resting spot.  (Boy, that sounds morbid!  But you'll understand when you see Little Pink House III).  

This is Little Pink House III.



I know what you're thinking. "It's not pink."  Or maybe you're thinking, "I can't see it!"  Ya.  That's one of it's many problems.    It's covered over by years of weeds and bushes and lack of love.  The inside is worse.  But we're going to love it back to life.  (If we ever close on it.)  Tune in tomorrow for the next installment of Little Pink Houses III!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Something's Gotta Give

Wow.  Seriously, wow.  4 months.  It's been 4 whole months since I blogged.

I think I have started the last 10 posts with some exclamation similar to this, substitute the length of time since my last post (gradually getting longer).  I should probably stop being so surprised that I haven't blogged much.

I blame Facebook.  BACK IN THE DAY (Ye Auld Year of 2010), when all of us young moms were childless/with child/with non-mobile babies/with barely-mobile toddlers (or at least that's how it seemed) we had LOADS of time to blog.  And we were stuck at home with said bellies/babies/toddlers and no connection to the outside world.  It was like a worldwide epidemic of Castaway!  Blogging was our lifeblood.  (Am I speaking for anyone else here, or was it just me?)

And then came Facebook, or "Mini-Blogging" as I like to call it.  I remember the first buzz of Facebook.  By then I had a couple of non-mobile and mobile babies.  But still somehow had a bit of time on my hands to blog.  But I did not have time on my hands to blog AND update the minutia of my life constantly, not to mention read about the far more meaningless minutia of friends constantly on this new-fangled thing called Facebook.  I was doing just fine with my blog, thankyouverymuch, and didn't need another time-suck.  (Just so you know, Friends.  I LOVE your minutia now! Don't get your feelings all hurt.  That was then.) 

FLASH FORWARD 3 YEARS...

My blog is dead, I spend LOADS of time on that time-suck Facebook, plus Words With Friends, Instagram, the occasional odd email (and Twitter?  Oh please don't bring up Twitter.  I. Just. Can't. Go. There.), and now 3 HIGHLY MOBILE children with ridiculous things like hobbies, and homework, and friends.  Pshht!  Forget blogging!  Who has time to blog?!? 

Well, I do.  No I don't.  But I finally have a purpose to my blog and AM going to reinvent myself, ditch emailing, ditch Facebook, ditch friends, family, eating, breathing, sleeping (no, not sleeping)....I am going to blog about my new house renovation!!!

Who's excited?!?  (I see you all with your hands raised.)

Ok, tune in tomorrow for the first installment of Little Pink Houses the Third!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Parade of Lost Dreams (and Icky Taffy)

We went to the parade today.  I can't exactly call myself a parade expert.  The last time I went to a parade was the Days of '47 Parade when I was like, 9.  (For you out-of-towners, it's a parade in Salt Lake City commemorating the arrival of the pioneers into Utah.  I think.  I'm an out-of-towner myself, and I was, like, 9 when I saw it on a vacation to Utah, so I'm not really sure if what I told you is completely bogus or not).  Anyway, it would be accurate to say I really have no clue what parades are all about.  Other than the ones where they fly a giant Snoopy in between skyscrapers or dye the river green.  But the local ones, like our city parade today, was....how shall I say...BOLOGNA?

It wasn't all a bust.   The coolest thing about the parade was the cops.  Motorcycle cops doing really intricate maneuvers literally inches away from small children sitting on blankets and almost colliding with each other at certain parts of the show.  THAT was cool. 

My second favorite part was the pooper scoopers.  My kids' favorite too.  Nothing is so fascinating as seeing how fast a couple of 11 year old boys can hop out of a golf cart and shovel steaming horse plop in 101 degree heat without being run over by clowns on 3-wheeled bicycles.

The Chick-Fil-A cow in a convertible got a big reaction from the little ones.  I can't blame them.  I got excited too until I realized they were launching stuffed cows into the crowd out of that t-shirt cannon and not chicken strips.

There were also 4 awesome floats, borrowed from other nearby towns that actually took the time to make cool floats.  Sparkly, glittery, moving parts, mildly-attractive local beauty queens waving from the tops.  Did our town have one?  NO.  Not even for our own parade.  (FAIL.)

The part of the parade I did not like was the other 95% of it, which was people in A) old cars B) giant red-neck trucks  C) red-neck camaros with an advertisement for some local store on it and 15 people throwing salt-water taffy at you while 15 more people ran around and handed you fliers for their store.   Winners such as "Amy's Tae Kwan Do," (nothing says Asian martial arts like "Amy's"),  "Skinner horse training (Really? We're not THAT far from the city!)," and "CANTASTIC trash bin cleaners."  (Ok, I have to admit, I'm a little intrigued by this last one.  Have you seen the inside of trash bins?  I'm not a germ-a-phobe by a any means, but the on thing that gives me the strong desire to wear rubber gloves, a coverall, and a gas mask is going anywhere near the inside of my trash bins!)  But anyway, yes, 95% of our parade was local stores, services, and fund raisers passing out endless amounts of fliers which were sucked up 30 minutes later by the local street sweeper truck.

And what's with the salt water taffy??  Does anyone even like that stuff?  It's the Wal-Mart of candy.   At the beginning of the parade, we would jump out of our seats and scream to the extended family of the various local stores to throw candy to us.  Our kids would dive for it, like a piñata of solid gold nuggets had just exploded.  But after the 300th advertising truck had passed by, we started wrinkling up our noses at them and waving our hands in the universal sign for "No thanks, that stuff is disgusting, I wouldn't take it from you if you paid me."  I feel bad for those advertisers at the end of the parade.  They probably went home with 500 pounds of the stuff they will have to donate to the local homeless shelter, who will hand it out to the desperate, who will take it and throw it in the nearest trash where it will melt into sticky goo.  And it will all have to get cleaned out by Cantastic Trash Bin Cleaners.  Oh the irony.

I could do a whole segment on the fashion faux pas at the parade.  The $2 a pair silky elastic waist black basketball shorts worn by the Tooele High marching band, for one.  Even the hottest person in that band looked like a reject from special ed (not that the Tooele Marching Band is a group of lookers.)  And did you know high-waisted, pleated jean shorts are back?  At least that's what I gather from watching the Bluffdale dance squad sashay past.

So, ya.  I'm so glad I woke up at 7:15 on a Saturday, rushed my kids through half dry bowls of cereal, and carted 6 lawn chairs, 2 blankets, 3 beach umbrellas and 14 bottles of water 1/2 a mile down the street to stake out a good spot to get pelted with mailers and gross candy.   If only the motorcycle cops had run over a spectator.   Now THAT would made for a good parade.

Where the blog did Gooogle Reader go?!?

Did you know I used to blog?  Like BLOG.  A lot.  Like 2-3 times a day even!  (I know, I know, what did I possibly have to say back then when I can't come up with 2 posts a month now??).  And then I fell off the wagon, and then I promised I was getting back on the wagon several times, only to freefall off the wagon 2 days later.  But anyway, back to my point (I'm getting to an actual question here...wait for it), if anyone else used to blog, you'll know there was a wonderful thing called Google Reader back then to keep track of your fellow bloggers' blogs.  It's gone now.  (I know, it's been gone for a while, but like I said, I fell off the wagon and right into a black hole, so I'm just now crawling out to realize that I need it. ).  So anyway, (here it is, the question!), does anyone have an alternative "web-based aggregator?"  i.e. a blog feeder that they love???  'Cause, you know, I SWEAR I'm getting back on the wagon.  Again.  For realz.  No, seriously. 

Help a sister out!


(Also, who has a blog they want me to read?  Or one they love that they can recommend?  Maybe if I get addicted to other peoples' blogs again I'll actually stay on my blogging wagon until, like August!)

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Not Much Ado About This Movie



So, Big Daddy and I went to the artsy-fartsy movie theater downtown last night to see the latest interpretation of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing.  This one was directed by Joss Whedon (who also directed 2012's Avengers, which I loved, and wrote for several hit TV shows like The Office and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, as well as writing Toy Story.)  He's got a pretty impressive résumé.  But I have to say, he made some strange choices for this production and most of them were misses for me.

Let's start with the story.  This is one of the thumbs up.  Whedon wrote the adaptation for this film and I think he did a good job of using the parts of the play that were most important and which kept the plot moving.  Everything was pretty clear (which is not always a given in a Shakespeare production) and there were no huge holes in the plot....other than why the Prince and his brother Don John were at odds and why Don John was under house arrest, but it's not terribly crucial to the story line, so I'll forgive it). 

Now the cast.  Well, if you've seen the 1993 Kenneth Branagh version, you'll know there were some pretty amazing performances that would be hard to compete with.  I think it would be very difficult, though possible with the right cast, to give that version a run for its money.  But this version's cast fell way WAY short.   There were two, maybe three, stand-out performances and the rest ranged somewhere between unimpressive and atrocious. 

Hero--ATROCIOUS.  Almost every line she gave was a throw-away...mumbled, spoken with zero enthusiasm, or utterly unintelligible (as in during her wedding rampage, which was more like a loud speed mumble.)  She should play a sweet, pure, utterly endearing love interest for Claudio.  But both her looks and her acting left me thinking, "WHY?"

Margaret--Milquetoast.  There's hardly anything to be said about her.  Her role is small but could be key to the plot if played well.  This was not played well and therefore seemed dispensable.

The Prince--meh. Not awful, but nothing stellar.

Leonato -- another so-so performance.  It didn't detract, but it certainly didn't add anything special to this production.

Conrade-- What the heck???  Whoever chose her should be fired.  Punched and then fired.

The saddest disappointment of all was definitely Benedick.  It was just so lackluster.  His looks were bland, his acting was bland. Not bad, just bland.  I know, I know, it's hard to fill Kenneth Branagh's shoes.  But he didn't even come close.   He was just dull.  No spark, no fire, no wit.   The lack of chemistry between him and Beatrice (see below) could have been salvaged if he had been twice the actor, but she just couldn't carry him alone.

Now to the good (ish) ones:

Claudio.  I think he was the only one in the entire production who played his part WELL.  He had fire, he had vim, he had passion.  It took a few scenes to come out, but once it did...well done!

Beatrice.  She was attractive, likable, intelligent, and played her role quite a bit differently than Emma Thompson did.  I was intrigued and excited to see how she would interpret this star character.  And she did alright.  She is a good actress.  But she didn't have the sharpness of wit and tongue like Emma did to make that incredible spark between herself and Benedick so captivating.  And her slapstick clumsiness felt forced.  In the end, I was left wanting more from her.

Don John.  Don John wins a place on the good list really by virtue of comparison only.  Since anything beats the Don John played by Ted, as in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, as in Keanu Reaves (who plays ALL rolls as Ted), I can't complain too much.  He seemed villainous and dark enough.

Friar Francis.  Perfect.  Classic.  A real acting job (the kind where you don't actually notice that the person is trying to act!  Hint hint, almost every one else in the cast.)

Borachio.  I liked him!  Aside from the fact that I spent the first 10 minutes after his entrance trying to remember where the heck I knew him from (he was the son in Unbreakable) , I really enjoyed his role.  He did a very good, believable job.  One of the best in the cast, in fact.

The comic duo of Dogberry and Verges.   Big Daddy and I laughed.  We laughed a lot at these two.  I'm not really sure if it was them we were laughing at or the memory of the incomparable Michael Keaton playing this role.  But there was some actual comedy here not detracted from by their acting in any way.


So on to my other comments:

1) THE BLACK AND WHITE!!!  :(  :(  :(      Why, oh, why did Whedon choose black and white?  I know there are certain genres of movies where black and white ups the artsy factor quite a bit, but this one was not a good fit. There were some would-be beautiful scenes of colorful wedding flowers, jeweled masquerade masks, amber and ruby liquids (from the almost non-stop drinking the characters do) with the sunlight streaming in through the windows.  ALL lost in the flatness of black and white.  Where usually artistic choices such as this quickly become familiar after a few minutes, I found myself wishing away the black and white through the WHOLE movie. 

2) Modern Day.  I did appreciate the more modern-day setting of this movie.  But most of its nuances were lost in the black and white, sad to say.

3) What was with all the booze?  Morning, literally, noon and night.  This movie must have been sponsored by Smirnoff and Southern Comfort. 

4) Beatrice and Benedick.  This is by far one of my favorite Shakespearean relationships.  You can really see the talent of the bard as these two dual with their wits and tongues.  The chemistry and sexual tension was nearly tangible in the 1993 version.  You couldn't wait for Beatrice and Benedick to finally realize that they loved each other.  But here the relationship was watery, the culmination of their pursuit of each other anti-climactic. 

So, in the end, it just was no comparison to the 1993 Kenneth Branagh version.  I wanted to like it.  I looked forward to a fresh, updated interpretation of it.  But this movie goes to show that sometimes being different just to be different does not pay off.

Friday, June 21, 2013

World War Z



Have you seen World War Z, the new zombie movie starring Brad Pitt?  I have.  If you haven't, rest assured that God loves you more than me.  But since I have, here's my review of it.:

1) I had to get a drink and go to the bathroom 3 times during the first 1/3 of the movie.  I didn't have to go to the bathroom that bad.  I mostly went to the bathroom to give my heart a chance to correct the arrhythmia caused by the movie.  The drink was for real, though.  I was completely parched from hyperventilating for 40 straight minutes.

2) Zombies aren't real.  Probably.  And until now, most of the movie premises of zombies existing have been a stretch. But in World War Z, the reason for zombies--a crazy fast strain of rabies--just put zombies into the "very likely to happen" category for me.  So despite a 2 hour long constant stream of adrenaline into my bloodstream, which caused me to collapse 10 minutes after getting home and not be able to move for 2 hours, I am glad I saw this highly relevant film.

3) In case it's not clear, I have a love/hate relationship with zombie movies.  They scare the bejeebies out of me.  Every time. I almost didn't recover from I Am Legend.  But I can't not see them.  Because, of all the scary movie premises out there--snakes, sharks, giant spiders, serial killers, aliens, dinosaurs, and ghosts--zombies are the most likely to happen, right?  So I feel like it's my duty as a human to prepare myself mentally for the time that all my neighbors contract a disease that makes them crave human flesh so I can adequately defend myself and/or run like hell and hope to get picked up by the military and put on a safe ship in the middle of the ocean.  I'm just trying to plan ahead.

So there you have it:  Brad Pitt, massive amounts of zombies, me nearly peeing my pants (oh and spilling water on the guy sitting in front of me.  Sorry about that, handsome guy on a date.  I may have jumped a little bit at that one part.), and 2 hours of fear-induced coma afterward.  In short, go see it!  Your life will no doubt depend on it in the near future.

Friday, May 17, 2013

The Fashion Musings Of A Gen-X Mom

A couple of months ago I lost a few pounds.  My jeans were getting loose and I was thinking of breaking down and heading to the mall for replacements (a painful task, as every woman, of every size, knows).  I decided to go to my closet first to take stock.  Among a few others were my four favorites:

  • 1 pair of flare jeans.  These have been my absolute favorite jeans for about 5 years.  Comfy, flattering to my butt, the perfect shade of indigo, and the right shape to make my whole figure look its best.  (The irony of that being that in the 80's I swore to my mother on everything holy I could think of that I would NEVER wear the hideous "bell bottoms" of her generation.  Not if my life depended on it. Granted the newer version, flares, were a lot more flattering, with pockets placed to better accentuate one's derriere.  And generally NOT made of plaid. But still, there might have been an "I told you so" or two after this jean purchase.)
  • A pair of boot-cut jeans.  With a worn look and a sort of boyfriend fit, these were my favorite relaxing jeans.  No pinching, no squeezing, just a little bit of style with a generous helping of comfort.  They were only 2 years old and I hated to let them go.
  • A pair of straight-leg jeans.  Bought 3 years before, these were a "wishful thinking" purchase.  They cost more money than I should have spent and were very stylish--though the smallness of the leg hole made me a bit uncomfortable at the time--but bought a size too small to motivate me to lose weight.  Now even these were a bit loose.  And that leg hole was now somewhere in no-man's land between the last decade's flares and the new generation's skinny jeans.
  • And yes, 1 pair of skinny jeans.  When I had bought these, about a year ago, I had laughed so hard at this impostor version of myself that I actually took pictures and posted them on Facebook with the same attitude I would have had if I were sporting those big black glasses with the fake mustache attached.  "Haha, look at me!  I'm so ridiculous!"  (The irony of THAT being that after I had outgrown my hatred of bell bottoms and embraced flares, I looked back on the 80's version of skinny jeans, "pegged pants," and laughed at how I could ever have thought those hideous things were flattering.  Waistline up to your boobs, pockets placed high to elongate your heinie, and leg holes that were never skinny enough so they had to be pinned or folded over and rolled (i.e. "pegged").  UGH.  I was so glad to have seen the light and put those pegged days behind me that I made another promise to the gods that I would never wear those monstrosities again.  I threw in a little bit of pinky blood for good measure.)
So, what to do?  I had every style of jeans from the last 3 decades (though all bought in the last 5 years) in my closet, and they were all my favorites.  I could feel a crisis coming on...so off to the mall I went.  (There is no better place to have a clothing crisis than the mall.  Those guys who invented the food court sure knew what they were doing!)

I stopped at what I thought was a mostly teeny-bopper store first.  I figured that teenagers are probably the only ones who really knew what kind of jeans are hip.  And besides, despite being a mother of three in my VERY late 30's, I prefer to dress younger than my age rather than older.  The days of wanting to grow up and wear Mother's pearls are gone!  I headed for the jeans wall and perused my options.  Disappointingly, the labels on each shelf resembled the jeans in my closet: Flares, Boot-Cuts, Skinny jeans.  Each in a variety of body shapes and colors.  I zeroed in on the curvy shelf, grabbed one of each style, and made my way to the dressing room. 

I started with the flares, my most familiar look.  Bad. Bad. Very bad.  I hated every single one!  I moved on to the boot cuts--closer to the fashion of the day, but not so very extreme.  Dowdy, unflattering, bad.  Ok, that left only one choice.  On went the skinny jeans and.....I swear angels began to sing and stars began to twinkle in my periphery.  I loved them!  I looked thin, young, hip, and because these had some stretch, they fit like a second skin.  I couldn't believe it but in that moment I had made the switch;  I was no longer a flare jeans girl.  I was a skinny jeans girl.  I bought those jeans and left more elated than I had been after jeans shopping since I found a pair of Palmettos on sale for $12 at TJ MAXX circa 1986. 

Since that day I have bought several pairs of skinny jeans.  There is a little skill involved in skinny jeans shopping, I've discovered.  For one thing, the crime of this generation's jeans is the low waist. I don't care whether you're 5 or 55; if you have the slightest bit of fat around your tummy, hips, or back, it's going to jump out and sing you a ditty when you wear low-waisted jeans.  So you HAVE to find some that are mid-rise at the very least.  Secondly, skinny jeans HAVE to have some stretch to them. If you wear them like the kids, they look poured on.  If you wear them like me, they're very fitted, but not quite so tight as sausages.  But either way, you're not getting them past your thighs (forget sitting down!)  if your jeans don't have a bit of stretch.  I bought some without stretch last fall when all the bright-colored jeans first hit the stores.  I was sucked in by a pair of sky blue skinny jeans only to discover that walking around in them was like wearing a wet suit made of titanium.  So just know, if you're going skinny, make sure the label says "cotton/lycra."

So here I am, wearing my gorgeous, dark blue, contrast-stitched skinny jeans, flopped on my bed with my laptop on my thighs, comfy as if I were wearing pajamas and feeling more like 19 than 39.  And I'm not alone.  As I look around at the woman of my generation, more and more they're wearing skinny jeans, embracing neon, and pulling ballet flats out of boxes in their closets 25 years old.  When did we switch from wanting to wear our mothers' pearls to wanting to wear our daughters' jeans?  I don't know, but looking back at what our mothers wore when I first became aware of fashion, I'd say this is a step in the right direction, blood oaths be damned.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

A Few of My Favorite Things

I used to do a Favorite Things post pretty regularly, back in the day when I actually blogged regularly.  But I have slacked off.  So now I've got a couple of things I've been holding on to for months now; it's high time I gave them their due:


1) "Inspire For Women" Yurbuds, earbuds.  I don't know about you, but i have a hard time keeping earbuds in my ears when I exercise.  Are my ear holes abnormally small?  I have no idea.  But most earbuds fall out all the time.  Or my ears ache wearing them because they're wedged in there so hard.  And working out with big giant DJ style earphones? Not an option for me.  So when my husband bought some Yurbuds and showed me that they're guaranteed not to fall out AND that they make them in women's sizes, I had to try.  And they are brilliant!  I can run on the treadmill, sprint up and down stairs, lift weights, whatever and they don't fall out.  They're comfy, too.  And since the soft rubber piece goes over the entire earbud speaker, it funnels all the sound right into your ear.  GREAT sound, and a lot of the peripheral sound is drowned out.  And of course, they come in 5-6 great colors.  I chose the aqua (the ones I have have an aqua cord too, not just the bud piece).  HIGHLY recommended.  I found them at Target for $29.99. 




2) The Do Dots chore system.  I picked this baby up at a Christmas boutique fair in November.  I had been looking for some way of organizing family night (a weekly event Mormons do where the whole family gets together for singing, games, a short lesson or spiritual thought, and a treat, and each person gets to rotate being in charge of each element weekly).  I saw a lady selling a complete chore/behavior/family night chart and I had to stop and check it out.  I had previously bought several chore chart things online--stars, magnets, white boards, etc--to try to make my kids get more chores done, do homework, and highlight positive behaviors, but none of them seemed to work well.  Until I tried this.  It is a wonderful system for up to 6 kids (or adults) to have a daily way to see what their chores are, their homework, their practice time, etc.  It also has a weekly goal and progress area, in case there's something more long term they need to be working on.  It has a service area, so kids can take note of kind things they did during the day, and it has a family night area with assigned parts that can be rotated.  The whole thing is based, first, on completing daily level 1 requirements in order to earn privileges (friends, screens, phone, etc.)  The second part is a rewards system using tickets.  The tickets get cashed in weekly at the family store (ours is called T Mart).  I go to the dollar store or Target's dollar bins every so often and stock up on small toys, candy, and other things my kids like, as well as making reward coupons for a date night, a trip to the toy store, an extra story at bedtime, etc.  My kids LOVE earning tickets and getting to shop with them.  And I love the simplicity of having the whole system already designed, with all kinds of support built in for the various resistance you might get.  It took my kids a few weeks to get in the hang of it, but now they regularly "get to level 2" which is where they put their face magnet once they've completed all their daily chores etc. The whole system was $69, and worth every penny.  If you're looking for a way to motivate your kids, teach them to be in charge of their own life, and make it all easier on you...this is the system for you!  Once you purchase it, you can watch all the training videos on their website to show you exactly how to implement the system.  I can't recommend it highly enough.




3) I have a sweet tooth, in case you don't know.  And although this is only a local favorite thing, I have just discovered Cake Bites from The Sweet Tooth Fairy bakery.  They are TO DIE FOR.  Denser and moister than regular cake or cupcakes, and half a dozen lets you try a bunch of different flavors w/o having to eat 6 whole cupcakes! If you live in Utah, please do yourself the favor of finding the nearest Sweet Tooth Fairy and indulging in a few cake bites.  My favorites?  The Red Velvet and the Salted Caramel.  YUM!


Well, that is all I can think of right now.   Maybe in another 6 months I'll come up with a few more favorite things to share.  I'm not Oprah, jeez!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Oscar Wrap Up 2013

This is an indulgence.  Pure, unadulterated pleasure.  There is no purpose to this post other than to think about and talk about something I really love: gowns.  Oh ya, there are the awards, the host, the speeches and all that.  But the real reason I watch the Oscars is for the amazing dresses.

Unfortunately, I forgot to tape the pre-show this year, so when I watched the Oscars I could only see the dresses of the ladies who either presented or won awards.  But I did my homework the next day and watched Fashion Police, several belated red-carpet shows, and also checked the internet for a more comprehensive list of dresses.  And here are my comments:

1)  Lady In Red:  Red was in.  Red is such a lovely color on most complexions, from pale to golden to brown.  But you have to be very careful about clashing with the red carpet.  This year's biggest success in red goes to:  Sally Field, one of my Best Dressed nominees. That dress was exquisite!  It was a fun nod to the era of her movie, Lincoln,and you hardly ever see a mature actress wear something so fun!  I loooooved it! 







2) Beyond the Pale:  There are some women who look lovely and ethereal in pale. But most look just washed out.  Why women insist on wearing blush/champagne/nude almost every year is beyond me.  Jessica Chastain got so much press for her dress this year, but it just didn't do it for me.  It probably was an amazing dress with that intricate beading, but who knows?  It just didn't show up. 



My only favorite pale dress of the bunch was one of the least favorite of almost everyone else:  Anne Hathaway's pale pink satin.   I loved the color, I loved the neckline.  I thought it was such a different look than we ever see!  Ok, the nipple darts were extreme.  And the necklace didn't suit the high square neckline.  But the dress itself, I thought, was chic and fresh.



3) Metal-head.  Did you notice all the metallic-looking dresses this year?  I felt like there must have been a sale on chain mail somewhere!  Some were good (Halle Berry and Norah Jones) some were bad (that strange concoction of Naomi Watts's).  But this was definitely the hot trend of 2013!




4) Women Of Color:  I always like it when stars are willing to wear a bright, unique color.   Last year there was lots of emerald green.  This year, it was deep blues.  Like Jennifer Hudson's deep blue lace.  YUM!   I loved that Jennifer Garner wore a frothy purple color.  But there was too much froth on the back of that dress!  Kerry Washington wore that coral dress with the beading on the top.  I am not a huge fan of coral, but it was a bold move and the beading was divine!





5) Skin!  I completely reject the idea that a woman of a certain size has to come dressed like a nun.  When a curvy woman is willing to bear a little leg or, gasp, have her elbows show, I applaud it!  Why shouldn't she look sexy too?  So I had to give a thumbs down to Adele and Melissa McCarthy's dresses for being so boring and prudish.  Even though I wasn't crazy about Octavia Spencer's dress color, or the material, or, well, really anything, I loved that she had the confidence to wear an off-the-shoulder dress with her arms showing.  And Queen Latifah wore that flowy, showy white gown like a true queen.  You go, Girl!! 






5)  80's Rewind.  I don't know if it's because I was there for this decade of dresses the first time, or if it's just because I hate shoulder pads so badly, but the last 2-3 years when these super-80's dresses have shown up, I have just wanted to gag.  No more so than with Jane Fonda's yellow dress this year.  Because she might have actually pulled it out of her closet from 40 years ago!  And again, the same stigma that applies to curvy ladies seems to apply to the older crowd too. "If you've hit 45, you must be disgusting and we must cover you up."  BAH!  Helen Miren dresses with class but also skin every year and she looks amazing. 




6) Baby Bumps:  Usually the pregnant ladies go for a long, flowy chiffon thing with tons of cleavage.  I know, it's hard to dress a giant belly and you think your boobs will distract!  But that look gets old.  This year I saw two of the most original and attractive looks on pregnant women I've ever seen.  Yay!!!



Additional Thoughts:

7) I've never seen Helena Bonham Carter look so good.  Ever.  I mean, the girl likes to wear hideous dresses for some reason.  It's almost like she is constantly channeling Bellatrix Lestrange!  But this dress, although I could still find complaints about it, was the most normal, attractive dress I've seen her in since she did A Room With A View.  I'm surprised she didn't make it onto Fashion Police.  Those girls rag on poor Helena every time.  I think they might have had some positive things to say this year!  (Until her hair, at least.)



 
 
8) Most original dress goes to this lady.  No idea who she is (Sunrise Coigney?)  But her dress is very very unique.  I don't care for the leather top, but I LOVE the skirt.  And I think she made the boldest fashion statement on the carpet, so I had to include her. 



9)) I'm not a big fan of Renee Zelweger.  Not even close.  And what was up with her not being able to read the award cards?  TWICE?   But I have to admit, she looked amazing in her gold dress.  Like she was poured into it.  The woman does have a good body.





10)  I can't tell you how sick of Kelly Osborne's lavender hair I am.  I'm all for funky colors.  But the lavender looks like old lady hair!  It just doesn't suit her. But the dress she wore...now that suited her!  I loved it.  The architectural lines around her shoulders and neck were so beautiful.  And she is a woman with a few curves, so even better.  Well done, Kelly!



 
 
11) My favorite movie of the year, perhaps the decade, was Silver Linings Playbook.  I didn't know how I'd like Jennifer Lawrence as someone other than Katniss, but she pulled it off.  WELL!  And so I became a reluctant fan.  I can't say I was such a huge fan of her stiff bell-like dress.  But when she fell on the stairs when accepting her award, and picked herself up laughing and just went on with it, I became a huge fan. There is nothing I admire more than grace under pressure...or total, worldwide humiliation!




12) EW!  Usually there are 3 or 4 dresses I don't care for and 1 or 2 that jump out as horrific.  This year there was only one for me.  One horrific dress, paired with one horrific hair-do, atop one horrific actress.  The trifecta.  And the award for Worst Dressed (+ Worst Hair + Worst Actor) goes to Kristen Stewart!   Hint: Before you wear a bustier top, get something to boost! 



Though this gunny sack look on Helen Hunt did run a close second.  UGG. 



 

 

13) And The Winner Is: Two more of my best dressed nominees (along with Sally Field) are Alecia Vikander and Zoe Saldana.  Zoe Saldana's gown, which got no press coverage at all, was breathtaking! The subtle grey layers at the bottom and the flowers at the top? Amazing.  I have no idea who Alecia Vikander is, but her pale blue lace dress with the 3/4 sleeves was so beautiful.


But ultimately, the prize goes to Zoe Saldana.  I just adored this dress!





So enough of the dresses. (Can there ever be enough of the dresses??) My only other thoughts on the Oscars are that Seth McFarlane was hilarious.  He got mixed reviews, but I loved him. 

And, ARGO?  REALLY??? ARGO?!?  You don't know what a huge Clooney fan I am--it's borderline obsession.  As in, almost all my "celebrities-I-bump-into-who-end-up-falling-in-love-with-me fantasies" are of Clooney.  And I have a decent sized crush on Ben Aflack.  And I liked the movie.  So I really say this reluctantly, but, ARGO???  It was good.  But not Best Picture good.  I would have voted Silver Linings Playbook.  And I would have totally understood if Django won.  But Argo was just a movie to me.  In 5 years, I won't even remember it. 

So there.  That's my 2013 Oscar recap.  Bring on the Emmys!!!


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