Archive for the ‘Entertaining’ Category

Happy Belated…and 7+minutes of Greatness

September 24th, 2010 by Jane

I missed the Boss’ birthday yesterday. So, a quick shout out to Bruce Springsteen for still rockin’ it at 61.

Here ya go-you’re day is about to get waaaaayyyyyy better after you watch these:

Part One

Part Deuce

And if you think that Springsteen’s music isn’t for you, watch and listen to this. In my humble opinion, this is his most romantic song to date. What do you think?

7 Deal-Breaker Movies…

July 23rd, 2010 by Jane

Over wine some weeks ago, several girlfriends and I were catching up. A few of my friends have children that are older than mine and I pay special attention to their successes and stumbles with their children. I’m taking notes on how to deal with the next stage before my kids get there. I’ll keep you posted on how that works out.

One friend with a teen-aged daughter was talking about watching a family-favorite movie and how relieved they all were when the daughter’s new boyfriend “got” the movie. They use this as a screening tool for who will make the cut or not. Some have failed in recent years.

This inspired a long conversation about movies that we loved and why. It seems everyone has a movie, or five, that are more like family anthems and are a litmus test for how you will relate to others. Kind of like dog people who can’t be married to non-dog lovers. Here are some movies on our collective list. What are some of yours?

1) Monty Python
This one has eliminated several unworthy boys for my friend’s daughter.
Update: my friend said for this test, they use Life of Brian and The Holy Grail. Lately, they have been watching Spinal Tap as a “no fail predictor of longevity.” She would like all of you to take responsibility for choosing your own family movies, as she would not be held liable for any unfortunate pairings. She’s a smart cookie that way.

2) Fargo
My husband and I used to know a poet who took all of her dates to see this movie. If they didn’t like it or didn’t laugh at the appropriate times, she wouldn’t go out with them again. She had seen it seven times at the theater and thought is was the funniest thing she had ever watched. I think only two of five guys made the cut. We lost track of her, so we don’t really know how that worked out. We call this the Fargo Test.

3) St. Ralph
Another friend cited this movie as one that is beloved by her whole family. I haven’t seen it yet. I hope I like it, so I can stay on the roster!

4) Strictly Ballroom
This would be one on our list. My husband and I love this early Baz Luhrman movie. It is funny, sweet and campy with lots of spray tan and glitter. Who doesn’t love that?

5) The Princess Bride
This would make the list, as well. A fairy tale for grown-ups and kids alike.

6) Home for the Holidays
We watch this every November to prepare ourselves for the crazy train that pulls into Dysfunction Junction for the holiday season. Holly Hunter and Robert Downey, Jr. before he turned his life around: hilarious.

7) Love Actually
I have told you before about my love for this movie. I recently found out that a friend of mine doesn’t like it at all and I can barely look at him anymore. I’m working through it as best I can.

7 Paragraphs on Worthiness

March 8th, 2010 by Jane

Remember Wayne and Garth, from Wayne’s World on Saturday Night Live? When the lovable rock hards, played by Mike Meyers and Dana Carvey,  would meet their rock heroes they would bow down and wail “We’re not worthy! We’re not worthy!” This was their way of paying homage to people like Alice Cooper and Bruce Springsteen or whomever the musical guests were on SNL. Silly and fun, they still make me laugh.

Worthiness is the topic this week on the blog Ordinary Courage, by the brilliant Brenè Brown. I have mentioned here before, that Brenè is a researcher at the University of Houston who studies shame and authenticity. She has a new DVD of a lecture she gave on the subject of worthiness and as a way to celebrate the release of it, she is hosting a Week of Worthiness. She has asked bloggers to write about worthiness and post to her blog so that readers can join the conversation. She is also giving away several of the DVDs to a few readers, so drop by her site and sign up!

But, back to Wayne and Garth. What makes their unworthiness so humorous is that they say aloud what we are afraid to admit. I’ve yet to meet a person who has never felt “less than” at some point in his or her life. Sometimes, we allow others to make us feel this way and sometimes we don’t need the help, we can make ourselves feel unworthy all by ourselves, thank you very much.

I know several women whose primary job it is to care for small children. As most of us know, this is an all-consuming but virtually invisible job. As long as you keep the children alive and fairly well cared for, no one notices what you have done. Many will see what you haven’t done, like the laundry or cooking, but the thousand little things that make up a day of caretaking go largely unnoticed. These women are relieved when their husbands are traveling because they do not feel they have to justify their existence. Now, not one of these people is married to a Ward Cleaver type, so this may be entirely self-imposed. But there it is, nonetheless.

Last night, America’s Sweetheart, Sandra Bullock won an Oscar for her portrayal of a real-life mother in the movie, The Blind Side. In her acceptance speech she said, with head bowed, “Did I really earn this, or did I just wear y’all down?” It seems even beautiful, rich, funny women don’t feel worthy all the time either. Interesting.

As some of you know, I am a yoga teacher, which is not to say it is my day job, but more accurately, it is the way I try to live my life. On the yoga mat and off of it. This is not easy, but it is more authentic to me than any other way I have tried to live. Yoga is not a religion, but you can use it as a spiritual path, if you choose and I do. One of the main tenets of yoga is to peel away the layers of the ego until you reach your essence, the Self. Easy, huh? Some days, yes. On others, I think to myself, “That’s it, today is the day I will be found out for the fraud that I am!” Luckily, yoga teaches patience and I just try to keep my mouth shut until this feeling goes away. On good days, I realize that feelings of unworthiness are part of the ego I am trying to molt from my Higher Self. Breathing great, deep yoga breaths helps.

Considering the state of the world right now, some people are finding it difficult to feel worthy. When you have a safe, warm home, your health and some means, do you have a right to worthiness when there is suffering on a global scale? I do not have the answers, but I do know that making oneself feel less than does not help anyone: not yourself, not your family, not the people in Haiti, Chile or Turkey. Fully realized, healthy, worthy, whole-hearted people can change the world. One breath at a time.

7 Things on My Mind

December 29th, 2009 by Jane

I’ve got a lot on my mind lately and not enough cubbies in my brain to organize all of the flying thoughts. One reason Amy and I started this blog was to give ourselves a place to dump our brain lint. Sometimes I find shiny bits that are keepers, but for the most part it is just so my cerebral cortex will not catch fire.  Take a look…

1. The Boss Gets His Props
Tonight on CBS, Bruce Springsteen, my personal poet, will be honored by the Kennedy Center. You know where I will be.  With popcorn.

2. My Sister’s Birthday
My baby sister is beginning her last year of her thirties today, so I am thinking about her and what a great sister she is to me.

3. The Middle
If I live until the age of ninety, then I officially just became middle-aged. Naming and claiming this gives me pause. I’m going to choose well for my crisis. My husband got an old Porsche he had been wanting, but I don’t think it will be that simple for me.

4. Feng Shui
At this time last year, I spent a few days cleaning out my closets, corners and cupboards. According to the practice of Feng Shui, we should all clean out areas of our homes that have dirt or clutter build-up because they cause stagnation. If you want to have a good year, with lots of positive energy, then get to sweeping and throwing out! Check out this site for more tips.

5. Movies
I could spend an entire day at the movie theater just going from one to another. Robert Downey, Jr. is calling my name, I am certain.

6. CDs
Should I go ahead and import all of my music to iTunes and sell the discs? Anyone got an opinion on this?

7. What Next?
I am still mulling over what to fold into my life next. I feel the need to do something more, but am not sure how to fit it all in. I am working on a few projects and I hope I can focus enough for them to come to fruition. I’ll keep you posted.

7 Thoughts on the Twilight Phenomenon

December 11th, 2009 by Jane

In my defense, I did not want to go see it. I have been fickle with vampires.  After a preoccupation with Dark Shadows reruns during elementary school, I left them behind. I never bought into Interview with the Vampire book series or the movie that starred Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt.

When my sisters and I went to my aunt’s house after school on the random day when my mother had an appointment, we would hibernate in the den and watch illicit television shows. This was before cable so by illicit, I mean soap operas. Heady stuff to a third grader. If we were lucky, we would get there in time to watch the vampire soap Dark Shadows. My menopausal aunt kept her house cold enough to store a side of beef so we would cuddle together under her crocheted quilts and proceed to get the bejesus scared out of us by Barnabas Collins. The excitement and a supply of contraband junk food made it the most decadent of afternoons.

I had forgotten about those times until today after I saw The Twilight Saga: New Moon with a friend. I watched Twilight over the Thanksgiving holiday because I promised my 10 year old daughter that I would view it and give her an estimate of how old she would need to be before I would let her watch it. I agreed with some trepidation, but was prepared to waste 2 hours for my daughter. My husband and I work pretty hard to make sure that she does not grow up too fast and tween movies are an issue that we police pretty vigilantly.

I thought I would hate it. I didn’t. In fact, I liked it a lot. I’m not letting my daughter watch it until she is at least fourteen, but I really enjoyed the movie and the storyline. And, while I did not think the second was a good as the first movie, I guess I still have a little vampire crush. I’ll just have to keep watching the movies to see how it all turns out!  Here are some thoughts in case you are considering watching the movies.

And, it seems that Tim Burton is filming a Dark Shadows movie next fall starring Johnny Depp (ahhh, a sexy vampire who is my age!)  I’m all in.  Just sayin’.

1. Robert Pattinson
He will make you want to be 20 years old again, if just for a few hours. What can I say? Skinny and pasty work for me. If only he spoke in his natural British accent in this movie.

2. Taylor Lautner
This sixteen year old put on thirty pounds of muscle for the new movie and it might make you wish you were underage again. That doesn’t appeal to me, but it might to you.

3. Kristin Stewart
As Bella Swan, she seems perfectly normal and average, which is the point, I think. She could be any young girl and that appeals to the masses of tweens/teens flocking to her movie.

4. A Light Kit?
Except for the thirst for blood, the vampires could be mistaken for victims of Seasonal Affective Disorder.

5. Feminist Sensibilities
Bella Swan wants to give up her very soul for love. At forty-something, I can see this for what it is: naiveté, hormones, loneliness, fantasy, romance and mostly, fiction. At fourteen, I could not tell the difference. Spoiler alert: New Moon ends with Edward asking Bella to marry him. You hear her quick intake of breath and the screen goes black. I need to call Gloria Steinem and repent.

6. Vampires Are Pretty
In the sunlight, the Twilight vampires look as if they are made of diamond dust. These movies are like Harlequin Romance novels only with blood and more sexual tension.

7. I Dreamed A Dream
Stephanie Meyer has said that she dreamed this story that has resulted in millions of girls talking about BOOKS. Wow. I know I will paying much more attention to my dreams from here on out. I’ll keep you posted as to how that turns out for me!

7 Fall Flavors

November 5th, 2009 by Jane

There is finally a little crisp in the air here in Central Texas and I am excited to start doing some cooking. I survive the heat of the summer by only using our microwave, the gas grill or the toaster oven. Surprisingly, you can feed a family of five very well with just these appliances!

The relief from the heat inspires me to experiment in the kitchen.  Lately, I have been in full frugalista mode by trying to lower our food waste. I have made improvements, but there is still a ways to go.

Peruse some of my creations and ideas for future meals!

1. Tortilla Casserole
I used some leftover seasoned chicken from tacos, layered it in between corn tortillas with cheese and black beans. I mixed up a sauce with plain yogurt and salsa verde and added that to the layers. Baked it in the oven for 30 minutes or so and YUM-MY!

2. Chowder
I make the best corn chowder you have ever tasted and it is the only recipe that I do not share because I make it for our annual New Year’s Day Soup Party. I cannot fine one that is close to refer to you. Here is what my recipe does not have in it: flour, bacon or other vegetables besides corn and potatoes. I garnish it with cheese and roasted poblano peppers, then serve with cornbread and a salad.

3. Speaking of Salad
I could live on soup and salad for the rest of my life. My favorite combination for fall is pears and arugula. What are your favorite salad ingredients?

4. Eggplant Parmesan
I do not believe that eggplant is a fall vegetable, but I cannot bear to turn on the oven when it is in season. So, I save this dish for fall. I was going to make this version the other day, but my eggplant froze in the refrigerator. I made the sauce and put it over chicken roll-ups instead. The sauce caramelized in the oven and I was scraping the yummy bits off of the pan.

5. Candied Nuts
My new frugalista self has stopped buying candied nuts at the grocery store and I am making them at home. I like the nuts on the aforementioned pear and arugula salad, and they are surprisingly easy to make. We use Texas pecans because we are lucky enough to have pecan trees. Try this version.

6. Pumpkin
I like pumpkin as a savory ingredient, so I make pumpkin soup or a great pumpkin sauté with black beans. I am going to make this pumpkin and black bean tostada from the chefs at Dean & DeLuca.

7. Cranberries
The Cranberry Tart with the Nut Crust from Martha Stewart’s Entertaining book is out of this world. No, really. People who do not enjoy the cranberry like this tart. Pile on the whipped cream and it will disappear. I am thinking of adding a layer of chocolate to it this year. Too much? Nah!

7 Scraps Of Praise For Messiness

October 8th, 2009 by Amy

Ever notice the fact that Jane and I have over a hundred entries in “Appreciating” and barely a dozen in “Organizing?”


That’s just the kind of gals we are.


Today I came across the book A Perfect Mess online and while I haven’t read it yet, I’m already in love.


Mostly because it seems like it will be validating.


Suddenly all this messiness on my desk and in my home has the potential to be recast as functional.




Here’s an unorganized collection of seven catchwords and sentences I found insanely uplifting from A Perfect Mess: The Hidden Benefits of Disorder – How Crammed Closets, Cluttered Offices, and on-the-Fly Planning Make the World a Better Place:



1.  “Chemist Stephen Berry, a recipient of a MacArthur “genius” grant award, works among a landscape of 18-inch-high piles which have harbored individual documents for as long as two decades.”


2.  “beneficial mess”


3.  “In general, a messy desk tends to end up so that the more important, more urgent work stays close by and near the top of the clutter, while the safely ignorable stuff tends to get buried near the back–which makes perfect sense.”


4.  “A messy desk can be a highly effective prioritizing and accessing system.”


5.  “Actually, messy homes can provide a far more inviting and nurturing environment than highly ordered ones.”


6.  “pointless home neatening”


7.  “A Perfect Mess shatters the myths and misunderstandings about messiness and disorder that have led to an often pointless, counterproductive and demoralizing bias toward neatness and organization in our society.”

7 Features Of Friendship

October 1st, 2009 by Amy

Yesterday I spent a couple of hours sitting around with some gal pals laughing and trying to keep from peeing my pants.


To the untrained eye it didn’t look like much – a little gaggle of 40-something moms lettin’ it all hang out – but if you looked closely, it was the of picture of friendship.


Seven Features of Friendship:


1.  Understanding

Appreciating complementary skill sets, realizing you have much to learn from one another, and brainstorming together are all hallmarks of a flourishing friendship.


2.  Self-disclosure

Give some, get some. Not necessarily secrets, but hopes, dreams, and opinions. Even if they differ, you’ve traded something important.


3.  Reciprocity

This give and take allows both friends to wear all the hats in the friendship. Sometimes you get to be the one scraping a friend off the ceiling and sometimes you are stuck there yourself. A good friend makes sure the mess-to-cleanup ratio doesn’t get skewed.


4.  Trust

The exchange of sympathy and empathy create trust … as does honesty.


5.  Social Identity Support

Sounds heady, but basically the best of friends are those who understand and support each other not just as individuals, but also understand and support each other’s role in society. Otherwise known as being a mom … to another mom.


6.  Interaction

Good friends write, call, email. No matter physical proximity, good friends take the time to catch up. Turns out that the content’s not important, it’s the act of communicating itself that creates the closeness.


7.  Pleasure

Sharing the ups and downs of life is what friends are for and In my book, keepin’ it real isn’t necessarily being negative. That said, the net gain from a relationship needs to be pleasure. While there may be little storms along the way, good friends ride it out together, trusting the clouds to clear and the sun to come out again.

7 Moments with Bruce Springsteen

September 22nd, 2009 by Jane

Today is the 60th birthday of my personal poet, Bruce Springsteen. Yes, he is 60-damn-years-old and he looks better than ever, in my opinion. But more important, he sounds great and his songwriting is as fresh, vibrant and relevant as it was over 35 years ago when he first came on the rock & roll scene. I have my high school boyfriend to thank for introducing me to his music way back in the ’80’s. Luckily I married someone who is as big a fan of the Boss as I am, because that would have been a deal breaker.

Bruce Springsteen is a musician who has grown. I wish for everyone to have a songwriter to follow all of your life. Especially one who will mature with you. It is a true gift and delight in my life for which I am very grateful.

I have been to not nearly enough of his concerts, but I remember each one vividly. I sat on the second row of his Tracks tour when my first daughter was four months old. I was breastfeeding her and I had never been away from her. I was recovering from food poisoning and had to put a Ziplock bag in my purse in case I threw up. I was that determined to go and it was completely worth it. His intensity and energy cauterized any germs that were left in my body and I was healed!

He doesn’t tell all the stories that he used to in his concerts. The Born in the U.S.A. concert was over 4 hours. His shows have the same atmosphere and side effects as a Southern tent revival. The music builds until you are in a crazed state, you find yourself standing up for 3 and half hours straight, eyes focused on the man in the center, you feel fevered. You start to feel like you want a shot of liquor or a deep kiss. And the Boss pushes you and all of the audience members until you are hoping he will just stop so you can rest your 40-year-old feet. He finally leaves the stage and you are spent: a wringing-wet-rag-of-a-person, still wanting more.

Don’t believe me? Spend some time with him. Thank you, Bruce Springsteen for giving me food for thought, a personal soundtrack and some fine memories for more than 25 years of my life. Happy Birthday, man! I have included some of his lesser known songs that are my favorites along with some interviews that you all will enjoy.

1. Proof of the Poetic
Listen, really listen to these words and tell me that is not poetry. I dare you.

2. Valentine’s Day
This one is for my friend Bob and his new little daughter, Norah.

3. When I’ve Lost Faith in the World…
I play this song over and over.  On a bad day, I feel restored, or at least that I can face the world a little bit. Of course, it helps if your name is Jane. The audio version is better than the video.

4. Let Your Light Shine
Watch and listen to Springsteen and the Sessions band remake the Sunday School classic, This Little Light of Mine. You will be uplifted!

5. Fresh Air
Terry Gross has a dream job and this interview with Springsteen proves why.

6. Nick Hornby Interviews Springsteen
Writer Nick Hornby finds out what is on Bruce’s playlist and a few more things.

7. Got 52 Minutes?
Watch the Boss open up to Charlie Rose. This interview was done in 1998, before 9-11, before the E Street Band got back together, before George W. Bush was president.

Need more? Try Rosalita, Because the Night (with Michael Stipe, love it!)  Blinded by the Light, Cadillac Ranch, For You, Growin’ Up, Hungry Heart, Better Days or Jungleland.

Want your heart broken? Listen to The Wrestler. I have to stop now, or I will be at this all day! For more song and concert information, visit

(If the above photo is yours, I will happily credit you! Just let me know who you are!)

7 Appropriate Tween Movies

September 21st, 2009 by Jane

Are you having trouble finding appropriate shows for your tween girls? Trying to find movies to watch that send a message of independence, intelligence and compassion for my girls is extremely challenging. I have slowly removed almost all of the Disney Channel series from their watchable list due to any of the following reasons:

a) girls in inappropriate attire

b) boys talking about girls in a derogatory or sexual way

c) characters being mean to each other without learning a lesson of compassion

I am not a prude and I think that we do not give children enough credit for being able to figure out how the world works. I am just trying to keep their childhoods progressing at a moderate pace. I recently told a friend in the film industry that if he wanted to rake in the dough, develop a show for tween girls that is shiny, fun, and smart that parents will like. He said that was a huge project and why didn’t I do it. Well, I might. Call me if you are interested.

In the meantime, check out these alternatives that we have been watching together as a family. I guarantee you everyone will be happy! All are available from Netflix-my favorite movie rental company.

1. Anne of Green Gables
I do not know how I missed these books as a child, but I regret it. This movie series is wonderful. Every movie in the trilogy is wonderful and my girls loved it.

2. A Little Princess
This 1995 version of the children’s classic is colorful and exciting. I read this book as a child and loved it, but this movie version goes further than my 9 year old imagination.

3. The Secret Garden
The 1993 version is my favorite. It might even inspire you to create a garden with your children.

4. Little Women
Susan Sarandon as Marmie-wonderful.

5. The Princess Bride
This is one of my top 10 favorite movies of all time. You haven’t seen this one? That’s inconceivable!

6. Ella Enchanted
This movie is proof that Hollywood film studios have made at least one movie in the last five  years that is smart, girl-as-her-own-hero, funny and entertaining. But I don’t know of any others, do you?

7. My Neighbor Totoro
This Japanese anime’ movie was a big hit at our neighborhood al fresco viewing last spring. Our neighbors hang a sail in the trees and project a movie onto it. We all bring popcorn, candy and blankets. I highly recommend this as a party idea. Even the boys liked it. In the fall, you could have hot cider, popcorn balls and s’mores. Invite me over!

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