Thursday, December 29, 2011

Brunch in A2

As my stomach rumbles before my lunch break, I often find myself daydreaming about favorite foods and restaurants.  In the middle of last week, I suddenly began to picture thick slices of toast, delicious fried eggs, and piles of pancakes that no matter how hungry I was I could never finish.  Man, I thought, Angelo's would be great right now.  Oh, brunch in Ann Arbor, how I miss you!  Brunch was one of those meals I only went out to when (a) my parents were in town (b) it was a special occasion or (c) I could convince my friends or boyfriend to get up early enough to beat the rush at my favorite brunch spots. (I am now realizing that (b) and (c) are redundant.)  I'm sure there are tons of great breakfast places in Ann Arbor that I never got to try, but here are the three I always dream about:

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Surprises

Before I arrived back in Lexington on Wednesday night, my mom told me that she really hadn't had time to do too much decorating.  She'd been busy working, choosing amazing Christmas gifts for everyone, and baking the best cookies of ever. (Not just the cinnamon cookies with the chocolate kisses, but the Italian flag cookies and Linzer tarts!)  Oh, and also she did all of this:

My mom makes this cranberry wreath and it always looks nice against our white front door.
I think she even made the bow!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas Shopping in Ann Arbor

Around this time of year in Ann Arbor, I used Christmas shopping to procrastinate studying for finals.  I would bundle up in my big puffy coat and trudge down to Main Street, where the trees were always lit up and the stores were decorated for the season.  It got me into the spirit of the season more than sitting on the couch writing papers did, though the lights up around our living room on Hamilton Place were always bright and helpful.

I'd walk in the front door and have this waiting for me. 
My roommates were (and still are) the best.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Polenta Story

Christmas Eve is one of the few traditional celebrations in my family.  All of my siblings come over and my dad makes polenta for dinner.  Polenta is a dish made from corn meal, water, cheese and butter.  It takes some time, since you need to heat and stir the ingredients until the mixture becomes mostly solid.  When my dad was growing up, his grandmother would make polenta in a huge copper pot whenever he and his parents came over for dinner.  To serve it, she would flip the pot upside down on a towel in the middle of the dining table.  Everyone would cut a piece from there.  In order to celebrate our French heritage – my grandparents emigrated from Europe in the early part of the twentieth century – my dad makes polenta on the holiday we always spend together.  It’s the one part of my French heritage that has survived through the years.  Unlike my grandmother, though, my dad serves the polenta on a plate.

Vive la France!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Women on TV Part V: The Women of Mad Men

Part of the reason I enjoy the series Mad Men is the show’s commitment to creating an accurate picture of the 1960s.  The writers tie historical events into the show’s plot well, and as the series has continued from 1960 through 1964, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Kennedy assassination, the Civil Rights Movement and even Marilyn Monroe’s death have been in the background (and sometimes forefront) of episodes.  One of the best parts of this is that it gives the viewer an opportunity to see how people in that time reacted to the major changes happening across the country.  In particular, women slowly gained access to new opportunities.  The show explores these through the women of Mad Men, particularly Joan Holloway, Peggy Olson and Betty Draper, demonstrate the different ways women reacted to these changes.

The writers have done a good job of exploring the changing role of women in the 1960s.  Though many of the secretaries seem to exist only so that Don Draper can sleep with them, the three main female characters are more representative of the complex choices women had at the time.  While the women’s movement had started to garner national attention after WWII, especially after the publication of The Feminine Mystique by Betty Freidan in 1963, the 1960s were a transition between an era when women were expected to get married and start a family by age twenty-two and an era where women had a greater range of choices.  Betty, Joan, and Peggy embody those choices and the challenges that came with them.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Sunday Morning

On Sunday mornings when I was little, my dad always read the comics pages to me. We'd laugh at Garfield, wonder what would happen next with Spiderman and puzzle over Zippy (I still don't understand Zippy). I would always pour myself a bowl of Berry Berry Kix for breakfast, then I would sit and listen to my dad read the bubbles over the character's heads. By the time I turned back to my cereal, it was a big pink and purple mush that I wouldn't want to eat. After a while, my mom started refusing to buy Berry Berry Kix.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Women on TV Part IV: Detective Kate Beckett

Kate Beckett has been near the top of my list of strong female characters on TV since I started watching Castle.  She's a lead homicide detective for the NYPD.  She is well known in the force for her talent and well known in general as the muse for Richard Castle, the bestselling mystery writer who bases his character Nikki Heat on her.  She is intelligent, she can throw around suspects twice her size, she can banter with a womanizing bestselling author, and she looks amazing all the time.  On top of that, she's a fully developed character.  Yet I've been struggling to write this post, and I've finally realized why.  It's not because I have any problems with Beckett, it's that I think it's almost too obvious why she's an incredibly strong woman.  What I could I really say that wasn't just plot summary?