Reading & Writing

It’s Been a Melancholy Week.

Six-year-old Carrie Fisher watches her mother, Debbie Reynolds, onstage at the Riviera Hotel in Las Vegas, 1963

2016 has been a year of celebrity deaths. I’ve gotten misty over them several times, but I think I’ve only really cried over three of them: first for Alan Rickman, then for Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds.

Well, I’ve cried several times over Carrie Fisher. Not only was she too young (she was only two weeks older than my mother), but she was a different kind of celebrity–she made her life available to us through her memoirs and even her novels. She was so smart and had a fantastic sense of humor. I loved watching her onscreen but I loved reading her work more. I’d spent countless hours curled up on the couch with her. I knew her better than I know most of my relatives.

And then her poor, devastated mother. I can only assume she died of heartbreak.

A lot of other things have happened this week, both good and bad–it started with Christmas! The kids and I had a fantastic trip to the zoo, with light crowds and very little whining from anyone. I started running again, then I got a knock-out stomach flu and my husband had to stay home to take care of the kids. The girl cut two molars and was super clingy. The boy made progress with his speech and I discovered some good exercises for both his gross and fine motor skills. Like any week, a mixed bag. But I just want to take a moment to remember Carrie, and to ponder the fact that, as a public figure, she impacted me so much. What power there was in her words and performances, in her openness, that she registered in my heart not as a celebrity as much as a friend.

Art & Pop Culture

Five Must-Watch Titles for New Year’s Eve (Unless You’re Actually Out Doing Something–Doing Something is Better)


Rudolph’s Shiny New Year

Nobody I talk to ever knows about this one, though I’d say it’s arguably one of the best Rankin & Bass movies. Way better than the first Rudolph. It’s got that fantastic old-school stop-motion thing going on, and Red Skelton plays Father Time, and there’s a big vulture named Eon the Terrible and a cave man and a knight and a dude with a clock for a chest and all sorts of good stuff. Continue reading “Five Must-Watch Titles for New Year’s Eve (Unless You’re Actually Out Doing Something–Doing Something is Better)”

Cooking & Eating · Friends & Family

White Chocolate Cutout Cookies

Decorations by the Boy (with Some Help from Mommy)

Every year, I bemoan the fact that I don’t like any of my sugar cookie cutout recipes. I have one drop sugar cookie I like, but as I get older it seems too sweet for me, and I’m really looking for something I can shape. Baking and decorating cookies can kill a good hour (or more) and in a house with wee ones, we’re always looking for ways to kill time. I mean–we’re always looking for educational activities. Yes–and baking cookies teaches counting, turn-taking, patience, and fine motor skills (scooping and leveling flour, pressing cookie cutters, pinching just the right amount of sprinkles). Plus the outcome is lovely. If you have a good cookie recipe.

I didn’t have one. So I decided to make one up. And after tinkering with over the last two years, I’m ready to share it with you. It stamps perfectly, holds its shape, doesn’t puff at all, and has a lovely texture and taste. I credit the white chocolate in the dough; maybe, scientifically, that’s wrong. Maybe it wouldn’t taste or bake any differently if I subbed the white chocolate/coconut oil mixture with another three tablespoons of butter and two of sugar. But I doubt it.

Either way, here’s the recipe. I know the cookie season has basically come to a close and the New Year’s diets begin soon, but keep this one in your pocket in case you need a really nice shaped cookie. Continue reading “White Chocolate Cutout Cookies”

Art & Pop Culture

Keep Moving Forward


New Year’s is one of my favorite holidays. It not only speaks to my inner overachiever, but it plays into my sense of self-loathing! Seriously, though, I make resolutions for myself throughout the year–there’s always something that can and ought to be improved upon, some new skill I’d like to acquire, or some magical change I’d like to make–but on New Year’s, it’s culturally sanctioned. When the calendar changes, we change. That’s the idea, anyway.

Now, you might be thinking that no one really follows through with resolutions past, say, February, but I do. One year I resolved to eat (on average) seven servings of fruit and vegetables per day. That one lasted through the summer. One year I resolved to try as many new foods as possible and to revisit foods I thought I didn’t like. I blogged about that one, to try to keep myself honest. That lasted a solid ten months (the holidays, which for me begin on my October birthday, always trip me up). One year I resolved to get involved in the theater and spent the next five years constantly in or working on the crew of a play.

Every year, I come up with literally hundreds of things I’d like to change, but I’ve found that the only way I can follow through and feel successful is to focus on one item, and it can’t be anything I have to do every day because if I miss one, I feel like I failed and am apt to give up entirely. (Note how my fruit and veg resolution included the phrase on average–there’s built-in amnesty and a chance to play catch-up). It also shouldn’t be too specific. If I say I’ll lose 15 pounds and I only lose 12, I feel like a failure. If I say I’ll run three times a week and I get a long-running cold: failure. Continue reading “Keep Moving Forward”

Art & Pop Culture

Bored to Death


There is a chunk of time every day, between the girl’s bedtime and the boy’s, when I am essentially alone in my house. My husband is upstairs, reading stories to the boy and getting him situated. I have between fifteen and thirty minutes to myself.

A lot of people would use this time productively. Me, I sit downstairs in my easy chair, usually with the dog on my lap, and I watch TV.

Mostly I watch things my husband wouldn’t like. Orange is the New Black. The Gilmore Girls revival. Independent films, broken into awkward chunks. Sometimes I slide into ruts and put Bob’s Burgers on repeat or run through old seasons of Face Off. Sometimes I watch the same few episodes of Futurama more times than flatters me to admit, but I feel like I have to because maybe you’ve been here, too: that place where you’re beyond bored but for whatever reason (exhaustion, depression, Mommy brain, all of the above) you can’t or don’t even want to knock yourself out of it–you’re essentially bored to death. Continue reading “Bored to Death”