Things I Loved This Week #102

“Barefoot in Paris” Cookbook:

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I have a dark confession, reader. Ina Garten has reached the Martha Stewart level in my mind. This is a shocking and stunning development that I never expected, but the Barefoot Contessa was worked her way into my heart. She’s just flawless in her denim shirts when she’s walking around her enclosed gardens or when she’s grilling bruschetta. Her husband is perfect and adorable and RICH. She’s RICH. She reeks of money and yet somehow lives I lifestyle that I think is attainable. I’m not jetting off to Paris on the weekends like she used to when she was designing her flawless Parisian home, which is unfortunate. I have every intention of owning an apartment in Paris someday, so I’m not awfully jealous. But I do go to Paris basically every year, so we’re similar in that respect, and I do love a well-constructed chambray top. I realized the other week, with great alarm, that I don’t own any of her cookbooks, so I quickly remedied that. A few days later Barefoot in Paris arrived on my doorstep and I read it cover to cover in bed that evening. I am obsessed. I am drooling over everything — that is vegetarian, of course, and she has a good selection of meatless options. I appreciate this tremendously. I made her vinaigrette for a green salad and nearly died. It was fantastic. Honestly, I have never made a better salad at home, and I make a damned good salad. I have taken her advice to serve a big salad with a piece of good bread smothered in warm goat cheese, and reader, it is simply a divine meal. With the addition of a cheese omelette — something I am terribly proud to have mastered — there is nothing finer. I think I would like that as my dying meal. I feel like I’m sitting at the Café de Flore watching the Parisians bustle pass. And I get a little misty eyed as I sip my white wine. Life can be perfect and this is a perfect cookbook. Truly. Buy it.

Bumping Into Prince Charles:

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If my family had been around in Revolutionary-era New England, there is a good chance that we would have been on the next boat back to England. We’ve always been fond of a monarch. A few years ago, I was lucky enough to fly out to London to take part of the festivities and jubilees that surrounded the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton. It was a wonderful trip, one of those short ones that are just right. I am a massive fan of lengthy month-long excursions to someplace nice, but I am also enormously fond of 3-5 day excursions. The Royal Wedding was one of those perfect trip. London had been scrubbed and touched up and the people were beaming. It was quite a thrill to see the Queen and the princes and Philip and Camilla and all the minor members of the aristocracy. I thought that this was the last time I’d see them for a while. I was wrong. You see, I have a great ability to find celebrities. I sniff them out. (Remember Dita von Teese?) I did a terrible job last week in Washington DC. I went to the Lincoln Memorial and found a large crowd of elated people and a congregation of cameras. It turns out that I had just missed Prince Charles and Camilla. Never expected that. I didn’t know they were even in the country. I was kicking myself, so I immediately began doing research about their itinerary in the Capitol. Prince Charles was giving a lecture on recycling later that afternoon, but there was no time given. I called the National Archives to see if the public could attend the talk, but I could not get ahold of a real person. So, whilst I was in the National Portrait Gallery, I heard an odd sound from outside — a motorcade. Putting two and two together, I scurried down to the Archives and joined a small crowd around back. Not fifteen minutes later, Prince Charles came out beaming and looking so kindly. He is a charming man, and he stopped and shook hands. I lectured some peasants on the proper way to greet a member of the royal family, but they were not the least bit concerned. I’m sure Prince Charles appreciated it. I didn’t get a photo with him as my phone was irritatingly at 2% battery life. I chuckled at my bad luck.

[That’s an inside joke.]

It was a great time to see him, and I was so very pleased that I had found him. It was the beginning of a very good day.

Meeting Dame Angela Lansbury:

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All of my life — and I do mean all of my life — I have loved and adored Angela Lansbury. If you read my recent post about seeing her in Washington DC, you know all the reasons, but I’ll give the abridged version here. In my youth, I watched the greatest Disney film ever, Bedknobs & Broomsticks, on repeat for years.

I put it on last week, and I could still remember every line. It was funnier than I’d remembered, too, which put me in a good mood. As I’ve aged I saw Angela in her other roles: in Gaslight, The Picture of Dorian Gray, and of course in Murder, She Wrote. I watch an episode of that wonderful program every day. Well, almost every day. So, when I discovered that she was going on a North American tour for a production of Blithe Spirit, I screamed. Literally. She would be in DC when my work has spring break, so it was fated to be. I put aside my plans of a Mexican getaway and a tequila induced liver transplant and booked a flight to DC instead. A fabulous decision. She was absolutely phenomenal in the role of Madame Arcati, and I had an uproarious good time with that classic by Noël Coward.

I have always been so fond of the theatre. I regret that I never pursued it. I don’t really think I have the acting chops for it, but that world is something I really admire. After the show, a small crowd gathered around the stage door and after a short wait, Angela came out. She beamed and waved to us, absolutely radiating star power. There wasn’t long enough for autographs or personal photographs, but she would stop and say a few words. I was standing beside her car, and I told her how much meeting her meant to me. She was so kind and thanked me with great sincerity before patting my art in a friendly way. As she sat down, she shook my hand and then with a wave, her vehicle whisked her away into the night. I stood there for a moment, stunned, and then I broke down in the most emotional sobs I’ve ever mustered. After getting myself together, I walked back home, contented with how ridiculous and delightful my life can be at times.

“Rebel Heart” Song by Madonna:

People are always hating on Madonna. I think it’s silly. She made some comments the other day about not wanting to go back to her hometown because of the people’s provincial thinking, and the public is outraged. I’m not. I get it. I live in the middle of America, but I’ve been blessed to see many wonderful places in the world. I understand why it’s unpleasant to return to a place that you don’t fit into anymore. She wasn’t trying to be dismissive, she was just expressing who she has become. You don’t travel the world as one of the biggest musical acts and come back to Detroit the same, after all. I have been enjoying her new album, and my favorite song is the titular track, “Rebel Heart.” It’s a song all about trying to figure out who you are and who you were and examining all the things that build you up. “’Oh no, that’s not me, and I don’t think that it’ll ever be.’ Thought I belonged to a different tribe, walking alone never satisfied. Tried to fit in, but it wasn’t me. I said, ‘Oh no, I want more. That’s not what I’m looking for.’” If a musical phrase has ever fit me better, I’d like to hear it. I haven’t had the life of Madonna, but I can fully sympathize where she comes from. It’s a wonderful song. You all need the album. It’s a triumph.

The Fall of the Euro:

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I am well aware that the Euro’s rapid decline is not good for Europe. I fully understand the misery of a depressed economy, having lived in one for quite a while…but isn’t it thrilling? When I lived in Paris, each Euro was worth something like $1.35 making life quite expensive. Now it’s down to $1.08, and the thought of slipping away is becoming increasingly tempting. I read an article the other day that predicted the Euro and the Dollar are expected to reach parity by next summer. Wouldn’t that be something? Going to Italy or Spain will be like bopping off to Florida! The flight will still be expensive, but that’s always going to be the case, I expect. Just think how delicious it’d be to stop by the original Chanel shop on rue Cambon and pick up a bottle of cologne without having to think of currency conversions! I do feel poorly for the Europeans who are perhaps suffering, but if the exchange rates are similar on my next trip, I will be delighted…can’t deny it.

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