ICYMI: Trading Spaces

If you grew up in the 90s, the following questionable interior design choices were staples in either your house of your friends’ and families’ houses. If only there was a reasonable explanation for all of it.

It’s 1995: Let’s All Decorate With Pastel Southwestern Stuff

Welcome to another edition of Let’s All Decorate!, where we explore the baffling interior design trends of days past! Today we look into a craze that swept the nation in the 1980s and 1990s, when pastels reigned supreme and appropriation was king. Long before we were all wearing “tribal print” shorts and flats, our parents were decorating in “Southwestern” style. Today, my friends, our walk down memory lane is lined with cacti.

It’s 1995. You’re a mom shopping out of the J.C. Penney catalogue, and you’re looking to revamp your home’s current look. All of those geese in bonnets and powder blue gingham are so 1890 1990. It’s 1995, Clinton is in office, TLC is on the radio, and “Navajo” motifs are all over page 178 of the fall Sears catalogue. You are modern, you are edgy, you are worldly, and now you own peach and seafoam lamps based on Native American vases. You are my mother. Hi, mom.

I think there were a few months when ducks in bonnets and “Southwestern” lamps lived in harmony in my childhood home. That’s before the Southwestern lamps killed themselves. One day one of my brothers knocked over one of the lamps. It was made of powdery terra cotta, and it shattered. The lamp was quickly replaced. Months later, we broke another one. My mom declared that the next person to break one of those lamps was going to pay for it themselves. Not a week later, she knocked one over dusting. Elizabeth Bishop had it right: “so many things seem filled with the intent to be lost that their loss is no disaster.” Those lamps were freaking ugly, and eventually, they lost the will to exist.

It wasn’t just my family: plenty of middle-class Americans – some from the Southwest, but just as many from the Northeast like us – wanted to paint our living rooms with all the Colors of the Wind. Possibly in Benjamin Moore’s Blue Corn Moon.

This living room from Ugly House Photos is peak Department Store Southwest. Note the pastel teal, the Native American porcelain doll, and what appears to be a Horn Of Plenty on the side table:

And how about this bedroom? America: where we will take your sacred land and build a strip mall on it, then fill the strip mall with a Pottery Barn that sells knockoffs of your art and furniture. I do really appreciate how they incorporated both a canopy bed and tiny rodent pelts.


If you lived in a house decorated in pastel vomit, it’s probably why you coveted a room like Clarissa’s – it was anything but the Colors of the Wind.

TV Characters’ Bedrooms That I Covet

As a kid, your bedroom is an important place. It’s the only place that’s really YOURS – or maybe shared with one or two other people, but still. It’s a no-grownup zone, and though your parents probably made you clean it and set some parameters, you had a bit of free reign as far as decorating went. I seriously went with it – in fifth grade, when I got a new bedroom, I went antiquing to pick out the right accessories, and pored over catalogs for months until I found the right bedspread.

Even now that I’m older, I love seeing character’s home spaces on tv. Like a child’s room, the way these people decorate their bedrooms – the place in their house that outsiders wouldn’t usually see – tells you a lot about their character. Plus, the set designers just make them look really, really cool. Until I was preparing this post, I didn’t realize that set decorator would probably be my dream job. Here are some of my favorites.

Clarissa Darling
Obviously, right? Clarissa’s bedroom had everything! Her own computer game system. An amphibian named Elvis. Multicolored, hand-painted furniture. Mismatched quilts. A hat collection. Partially painted-over wallpaper. Hubcaps. License plates. SAM.

Carrie Bradshaw

I know Carrie’s apartment is pretty unobtainable, but I love how her bedroom wasn’t TOO perfect. It was cozy, with bookshelves and a big comfy duvet. Even her radiator was cute. I remember reading an interview with the set decorator back when Sex and the City was still on, and she said that Carrie’s apartment was done in the shades of a bruise, since she was a little brokenhearted when she moved in. While that sounds grody, it’s actually a really pretty color scheme – soft gray, light green, and shades of blue and violet.

Jess Day

While the word “adorkable” could go away forever, this bedroom kind of IS adorably dorky. I love the bright teal wall contrasted with the brick, the clustered prints over the bed, and the fun printed bedspread. I could actually see Jess picking out all of these items. While Jess has some ditzy moments, she’s a teacher so we know she isn’t dumb. I’m happy to see some books in here to remind us of that.

Literally All of the Main Teens in Pretty Little Liars

I like how dark Aria’s room is, actually. Plus the gumwood gives it a craftsman vibe, and all I really want right now is to own a pre-1940s bungalow. My dream Arts and Crafts house is on the market now, about 10K too high and 4 months to early for me to buy it, so this is all a little fresh for me. Anyway.  The window seat is to die for.

I’m usually not too into bedroom wallpaper, but this is so soft and pretty with the light furniture and white  french doors. I wish I could find a picture of the whole bedroom, because while the decor is pretty dainty, Spencer has a hardcore desk/bulletin board situation. So Type A!

I know at some point we’ll all be over gray as a neutral (we got there with taupe, after all), but Hanna’s bedroom is just so nice. I’m less jealous of the bedroom and more of the adjoining bathroom with a clawfoot tub.

I’ve always sort of wanted a white iron bed, so of course I love Emily’s bedroom. Plus an alcove AND a window seat!?! Between that and the cheerful, but not to bright, yellow and green color scheme, this is a winner.

Cora, Countess of Grantham

This image is from http://chameleon-interiors.blogspot.com/2012/02/downton-abbey-putting-downton-to-bed.html, which has a great analysis of Downton Abbey bedrooms, if you’re so inclined.

Really, I love all of the bedrooms in Downton, but I especially like how, despite the heavy furniture and being in a stone castle, this feels breezy and airy. I love the fireplace, too – so cozy! I expect that this bedroom comes fully equipped with a lady whose job it is to brush and braid my hair before I go to sleep. It goes without saying that I picked Cora’s bedroom over Mary’s because a Turkish houseguest didn’t pass away in the bed.

Based on the above list, I think I have some criteria for a perfect bedroom. Sloped ceilings or an alcove, mixed prints, giant plush bedding, books, and some kind of windowseat or built-ins. When I was a kid, I loved kids’ rooms with multiple sets of bunkbeds or rows of beds. Like Madeline, except that I don’t want to live with a dozen French orphan children. Basically, if I end up in a tiny house with a ton of kids, I’ll be all set, decorating-wise. Otherwise, I’m screwed.

 

Welcome to the SH, Bitch!

Okay friends – it’s time for another exciting theme week here at Cookies + Sangria, and we’ve been looking forward to this one for a while. All this week, we’ll be dedicating our posts to one of our all time favorite shows – Gilmore Girls! Yes, that’s right, the next seven days will be all about Stars Hollow, dissecting characters to an unhealthy level, questionable 00s fashion choices, and in-depth conversations about which boyfriend was really best for Rory.

Besides the fact that we have a deep passion for the Lorelais (yes, even the first Lorelai), we’re also gearing up for the ATX TV Festival in Austin next weekend, where we’ll be watching history in action (that is if we don’t pass out first) when the Gilmore Girls cast reunite for the first time since 2007. It’s going to be EPIC (in the most dramatic sense of the word), and we’ll be reporting live from the reunion on Twitter and Facebook. You can also join us throughout the weekend, when we attend the other awesome panels and screenings of some of our other favorite shows, using the hashtag: #CandSTakeATX !

But before all that goes down, grab your coffee coffee coffee and get ready for all things Gilmore coming at ya this week! Copperboom!

See Y’all In Austin! C&S Take #ATX

In just days, tv enthusiasts, Texas enthusiasts, and just generally enthusiastic people will be descending on Austin, TX for the ATX Television Festival. And we’ll be there, too!

ATX features screenings and panels – like a film festival, but for television. When we looked at this year’s lineup, with a Gilmore Girls reunion, a discussion with the Dawson’s Creek writers, the creatives behind Empire and Orphan Black, and tons more, attending was a no-brainer. In fact, we’ve already written about a majority of this year’s participating shows on the blog! If you’re as excited about ATX as we are, prep yourself for the festival by reading our posts about the 2015 attendees. You can also track our travels throughout next weekend with the hashtag #CandSTakeATX or by following us on Facebook or Twitter.

If you STILL need more TV talk, we’ll be doing a theme week about one of this year’s ATX shows all throughout the next week! Can you guess which one? Probably!

On to the posts:

Boy Meets World

‘Boy Meets World,’ Meet ‘Girl Meets World’
Whatareyoudoinghere: Unexpected Guest Stars Of Boy Meets World

 

Brooklyn 99

TV Characters I Need Back In My Life
Shows You Should Be Watching If You Aren’t Already: Last-Minute Binge-Watching Edition

 

Empire

Show You Should Be Watching If You Aren’t Already: Empire

 

Gilmore Girls

Whatareyoudoinghere: Unexpected Guest Stars Of Gilmore Girls
You’ve Been Gilmored: Tips For Binge-Watching Gilmore Girls

 

Dawson’s Creek

The Dawson’s Creek Virgin Diaries: Season 1
The Dawson’s Creek Virgin Diaries: Season 2
The Dawson’s Creek Virgin Diaries: Season 3
The Dawson’s Creek Virgin Diaries: Season 4
The Dawson’s Creek Virgin Diaries: Season 5
The Dawson’s Creek Virgin Diaries: Season 6
Doing Lines: Dawson’s Creek

 

Marta Kauffman (Producer, Friends, Grace and Frankie)

Live Blog: The Friends Finale, 10 Years Later

 

Orphan Black

Show You Should Be Watching If You Aren’t Already: Orphan Black
Woman Crush Wednesday: Tatiana Maslany

 

Younger

Show You Should Be Watching If You Aren’t Already: Younger

 

 

Can You Use That In A Sentence? Wacky Words Of The 2015 Scripps Spelling Bee

It’s no secret: I love the Scripps National Spelling Bee. A few years ago I live blogged the event, and last year spellebrity Amber Born even stopped by to tell us what the bee is really like – if you are at all a bee enthusiast, it is a must-read! This year I couldn’t confer superlatives because – gasp! – I missed it. If you read the post a few days ago about cutting cable, that’s no surprise. But as we celebrate dual winners Vanya Shivashankar and Gokul Venkatachalam, we can still look back on the 2015 words that were.

bouillabaisse

Meaning: a traditional Provençal fish stew originating from the port city of Marseille

Can you use it in a sentence? At the 4th of July picnic, Rhonda – and her entire extended family – learned that bouillabaisse is a dish best stored out of the hot sun.

cerastes

Meaning: a North African viper that has a spike over each eye.

Can you use it in a sentence? George’s cerastes costume did not strike fear on Halloween night, because everyone thought he was some sort of weird unicorn.

hacek

Meaning: a diacritic mark (ˇ) placed over a letter to indicate modification of the sound in Slavic and other languages.

Can you use it in a sentence? In a bid to distinguish baby Isabella from the other girls with the same name, her parents placed an unnecessary hacek over the a.

cytopoiesis

Meaning: production of cells

Can you use it in a sentence? Nina’s mother called the teen’s acne “excessive cytopoiesis of oil cells,” because Nina’s mother is the worst.

 crannog

Meaning: an artificial, fortified island

Can you use it in a sentence? I think the island on Lost was a crannog, but I’m not sure because I stopped watching after the third season.

 bacchius

Meaning: a foot of three syllables consisting of one short syllable followed by two long ones, or one unstressed syllable followed by two stressed ones.

Can you use it in a sentence? “Rumor has it that Drake’s next mixtape contains a rap in which every verse begins and ends with a bacchius.” — This is actually Jacques Bailly’s sentence.

cocozelle

Meaning: a dark green variety of zucchini

Can you use it in a sentence? The cocozelle is an especially bland food, considering it sounds like it is named after an especially sassy French lady.

samadhi

Meaning: meditative concentration

Can you use it in a sentence?: In math class, I would frequently feign a state of samadhi so that the teacher would think I was paying attention and wouldn’t call on me.

Albumblatt

meaning: a short composition for the piano

Can you use it in a sentence? Mozart hinted to his followers that a new albumblatt was dropping next summer.

billiken

Meaning: a squat smiling comic figure used as a mascot

Can you use it in a sentence? I avoid standing next to tall friends in photos, lest I look like a billiken.

Hippocrene

Meaning: poetic inspiration

Can you use it in a sentence? The hippocrene – ATTACKED – my braaaaain – and speech …… and now… I saaaay everything like a slam…. poem.[Raise arms above head dramatically]

backfisch

Meaning: immature adolescent girl

Can you use it in a sentence? Move, backfisch, get out the way – your Zayn memorial is blocking the entire hallway.

poikilitic

Meaning: relating to the texture of an igneous rock in which small crystals of one mineral occur within crystals of another.

Can you use it in a sentence? These Billy Crystal Russian nesting dolls are especially poikilitic.

gnathostome

Meaning: jawed vertibrates

Can you use it in a sentence: Marge, who has a very weak jawline, lamented that she “barely even looks like a gnasthostome.”

población

Meaning: the center of a municipality or city in the Philippines

Can you use it in a sentence? When you’re alone and life is making you lonely you can always go to the población.

commissurotomy

Meaning: an open-heart surgery that repairs a mitral valve that is narrowed from mitral valve stenosis.

Can you use it in a sentence: Broken-hearted Phil said that he felt like he had undergone a commissurotomy, but it was just a nasty breakup and he should probably deal with that.

réclame

Meaning: public attention or acclaim not necessarily based on or proportionate to real value or achievement

Can you use it in a sentence: Did you hear that they’re thinking of putting a portrait of the Kardashian family in the dictionary next to the word réclame?

Tartarean

Meaning: the regions below Hades where the Titans were confined; an infernal region; hell.

Can you use it in a sentence? After Whitney proclaimed that middle school was “positively tartarean,” she found that her classmates made it a lot more tartarean.

oflag

Meaning: a German prison camp for officers

Can you use it in a sentence? Fresh out of the oflag, Albert asked Whitney to remind him again what was so tartarean about middle school.

Bayadere

Meaning: a Hindu dancing girl, in particular one at a southern Indian temple.

Can you use it in a sentence: Bridget had dreams of becoming a bayadere, but her parents pushed her into Irish dance instead.

iridocyclitis

Meaning: inflamation of the iris and the ciliary body

Can you use it in a sentence? The pickup line “Do I have iridocyclitis? Because it almost hurts to look at you” was a big hit at the ophthalmologist convention.

Canossa

Meaning:  place or occasion of submission, humiliation or penance

Can you use it in a sentence? Brad told Whitney that public middle school might be tartarean, but Catholic middle school was a virtual canossa.

tortillon

Meaning: cylindrical drawing tool, tapered at the ends and usually made of rolled paper, used by artists to smudge or blend marks made with charcoal, Conté crayon, pencil or other drawing utensils.

Can you use it in a sentence? Angela felt that her kids’ classroom supply lists had grown too demanding when her kindergartner was instructed to bring a box of crayons, colored pencils, and a tortillon.

minhag

Meaning: a Jewish religious custom

Can you use it in a sentence? Rose claimed that her inability to use the stove on the Sabbath was a minhag, but her family suspected that she just hated to cook.

cibarial

Meaning: related to food

Can you use it in a sentence? Like 90% of Wanda’s instagram posts are cibarial and her food always looks gross; should we tell her?

zygoneure

Meaning: a connecting neuron

Can you use it in a sentence? “I’m drawn to you like a zygoneure between neurons” was a less-successful pickup line at the neurologist convention.

acritarch

Meaning: any of a group of fossil one-celled marine planktonic organisms of uncertain and possibly various taxonomic affinities held to represent the earliest known eukaryotes

Can you use it in a sentence? After learning that his friends did not share his enthusiasm for acritarch research, Ross was one sorry polontologist.

bouquetière

Meaning: garnished with vegetables

Can you use it in a sentence? If you eat pizza with bouquetiere presentation it’s totally healthy.

caudillismo

Meaning: the doctrine or practice of a caudillo

Can you use it in a sentence? Under Brittany’s iron fist, the sorority operated under a system of caudillismo and only pre-approved Vera Bradley designs were permitted.

thamakau

Meaning: a Fijian outrigger canoe

Can you use it in a sentence? In the Fijian version of Dawson’s Creek, Dawson drifted to Joey’s house on a thamakau to whine at her like a stupid baby.

scytale

Meaning: a method of cipher writing used especially by the Spartans in which a narrow strip of parchment was wound on a rod and the message written across the adjoining edges

Can you use it in a sentence: Diane spent English class perfecting her scytale and Ella was all  “damn, Diane, can’t you just pass notes like a normal person?”

tantième

Meaning: a percentage or proportional share especially of profits or earnings

Can you use it in a sentence? Fergie argued that she should receive a tantieme of the Scripps Bee profits because she “put spelling on the map” and it is “kind of her thing.”

cypseline

Meaning: of our relating to the swifts

Can you use it in a sentence: Some of the nerdier Taylor Swift fans wanted the group to be called “the cyspeslines” but honestly, that was ridiculous.

urgrund

Meaning: a primal cause or ultimate cosmic principle

Can you use it in a sentence: After much soul-searching, Earl said that he had discovered the controlling urgrund. Maxine replied “Gesundheit.”

filicite

Meaning: a fossil fern

Can you use it in a sentence: After complaining that she hated getting flowers because they always died, Becky received a filicite for her anniversary, but she hated that too because Becky sucks.

myrmotherine

Meaning: feeding on ants

Can you use it in a sentence? After the picnic was invaded by ants, Janet discovered that she had inadvertently become myrmotherine.

sprachgefühl

Meaning: the character of a language

Can you use it in a sentence? The existence of the word “sprachgefuhl” pretty much sums up the German sprachgefuhl.

zimocca

Meaning: a flat sponge from the Mediterranean sea.

Can you use it in a sentence? Norm only shops at Whole Foods now and I have to wash my dishes with this scuzzy zimocca.

nixtamal

Meaning: limed kernels of corn that is ready to be ground into masa.

Can you use it in a sentence: Doug is a few nixtamal short of a tortilla, if you know what I mean.

hippocrepiform

Meaning: shaped like a horseshoe

Can you use it in a sentence? Remember how we all bought hippocrepiform necklaces because Carrie Bradshaw wore them? Most of the spelling bee contestants weren’t even alive for that.

paroemiology

Meaning: the subject of proverbs

Can you use it in a sentence? If Claire reblogs one more hand-lettered inspirational quote I’ll think she’s working on a degree in paroemiology.

scacchite

Meaning: some kind of mineral?

Can you use it in a sentence? No.

pipsissewa

Meaning: a North American plant of the wintergreen family, with whorled evergreen leaves

Can you use it in a sentence? After giving their 11 daughters botanical names from Violet to Daisy to Ivy, the Jones family was thrilled to welcome baby Pipsissewa to the clan.

Bruxellois

Meaning: patois language of Brussels

Can you use it in a sentence? Brenda told her professor that she was speaking Bruxellois, when really, Brenda was just very bad at French.

pyrrhuloxia

Meaning:  songbird of Mexico and the southwestern US.

Can you use it in a sentence? Harper Lee’s editors informed her that her working title, “To Kill A Pyrrhuloxia,” required a little tweaking.

scherenschnitte

Meaning: the art of cutting paper into elaborate designs

Can you use it in a sentence? Do you ever see those DIY websites with all their scherenschnitte and just think “nobody’s got time for that?”

nunatak

Meaning: a hill or mountain surrounded by glacial eyes

Can you use it in a sentence? Climb every nunatak, ford every stream.

 

Why We Need More Sisterhoods of the Traveling Pants

Guys, I’m not ashamed to say it – I loved Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. The first one, the second one, the third one, probably, if they ever make it. I’m always for any movie that features a strong friendship between females, stars great actresses, features hot guys, and passes the Bechdel test.

If you can believe it, the first Sisterhood film was released 10 years ago this coming Monday, and I clearly remember going to the theater with my girlfriends (including Molly) to see it. It was 2005, the summer right after the first year of college. We all came back home after spending our first year as ‘adults’ on our own, making new friends, living new lives. Anyone who’s ever been to college can relate to this, which is why I think Sisterhood resonates with not just tweens, but young adults and even adult adults. As the girls in the Sisterhood spent their summer away from each other, they planned on staying connected by sending each other a magical pair of pants, along with a note updating each other on their lives.

Pants = love. Love your sisters and love yourself.

The idea was so inspiring that we decided to do something similar – obviously a pair of jeans that fit everyone wasn’t an option, so during a trip to Niagara Falls, we bought a yellow, white and orange floral printed scarf, and deemed it the Traveling Scarf. It lived on for a while, being sent from school to school on its Northeast college tour throughout our sophomore year. (If anyone’s wondering, I have it currently in my closet. Sorry.) While the Sisterhood films and magical pants seemed lame at first, it gave me and my friends a creative way to keep in touch when school and our lives as college kids got in the way.

ah, college.

The mere fact that we, as 19 year olds, were left inspired by a film to be closer to one another when we couldn’t be physically and geographically close, is a testament to the movie, books, and franchise as a whole. This is exactly why we need another movie and movies like this need to keep being made. Aside from the whole more films made by and for women debacle (which is obviously important and I hate that it’s even an issue), movies and books and TV shows, etc. about women supporting each other need to be put out for public consumption.

Tween and teen girls need the Sisterhood and the ilk to use as a type of guide them between finding themselves and finding friendships with other girls. Women our age need it because sometimes we need to be reminded of what’s really important. We get wrapped up in worry – worry about our jobs, what we’re going to wear to that event, financial problems – but movies like Sisterhood remind us that we ultimately need to be happy with ourselves and how we are as human beings, and to surround yourself with people that will lift you to be the best you, instead of bringing you down.

So, in saying all this, the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 3 movie needs to be on its way. And while we’re at it, how bout making other movies like this one, Hollywood? There’s a Bechdel Test waiting to be taken, and I can’t wait until there’s a handful of movies for teen girls that pass with flying colors.

Cutting The Cable Cord: What They Don’t Tell You

You learn a lot of things when you buy a house. For instance, I learned that the grouchy, snarly dogs next door are no match for a four-foot fence. Which brings me to my second lesson: keep your overhead costs low so that you can invest in your long-term purchases. I keep my electric, gas, and water bills as low as I can so that I can splurge on purchases like, well, a taller fence. To that end, I decided to go cable-free. This is an increasingly popular option, with trend pieces calling millennials a “generation of cord cutters” when they’re not calling us a “generation of garbage people” or a “generation of stoop-necked phone-gazers.” I’m a month in and it’s going pretty well, although I’ve found out a few things those trend pieces didn’t mention.

Math Helps

Most tv and internet providers offer bundled packages, so before you get rid of cable it helps to calculate whether paying for internet and streaming video services individually is really cheaper. I recommend this calculator from Slate, which takes into account the cost difference of internet-only services versus cable-internet bundles.

What they don’t tell you: If you’re moving into a new place, you’re probably being offered an introductory rate from your cable/internet/satellite provider. After a year or two when your rates go up, you’ll see an even steeper savings by going cable-free. Read the fine print. Some contracts lock you in to two years of service, but the introductory rates end after a year. Calculate it both ways: with the new customer discounts, and with the standard bundle cost. Don’t forget to look at the true cost of cable, including rental of a cable box or satellite equipment.

Select Your Streaming Services

There are plenty of articles and websites to help with this, but if you’re new to streaming services you will probably want to compare who offers what. Are there specific shows you want to see, or do you just want a big catalog of shows and movies? Are you willing to sacrifice variety for cost? Netflix is the most expensive, although still a very reasonable $108 per year; it also offers the best variety of programming. Hulu Plus seemed totally unnecessary to me until I cut cable. That’s when I realized that if I missed network shows, I had to watch them on my tiny tablet screen and wait a week – and that’s if I could get the app to work (more on that later). Now I’m thinking I’ll add Hulu in the fall as a replacement for DVR/ On Demand services. Besides, I’ll want to watch The Mindy Project. Amazon Prime is the cheapest but with the smallest selection of shows and movies. But I bought Prime on a one-day sale for about $75 since I knew I’d be ordering a lot of things for the house, and Prime Instant Video was a nice bonus.

What they don’t tell you: When you do your math, don’t forget to factor out the streaming services you would get anyway. Yes, I use Netflix and Amazon Prime to stream shows, but I would still have those services even if I had cable. Since that cost is a constant, I didn’t add those services to the equation.

Another thing: Except for Amazon Prime, which you buy upfront for a year, you can cancel these services at will. I’m not getting Hulu Plus until the fall TV season, and if I had it already I would probably cancel it for June, July, and August. Cable doesn’t let you do that.

And Your … Streamer?

I read a lot of reviews and ended up with the Roku streaming stick, but you can look up the differences between Roku and Amazon Fire and Apple TV, and a myriad of others, and come to your own conclusions. If you’re getting a new TV you might want to look into a Smart TV, too.

Note: Most of them offer “free channels” and many of those free channels are full of cruddy direct-to-video, Lifetime-quality movies that are 15 years old, or weird sitcoms from 1970s Germany.

What they don’t tell you: You might be tempted to go with bare-bones internet since you’ll be paying for standalone service, but make sure you have enough bandwidth to stream with decent video quality.

Fill The Gap

This is crazy-person territory, but we’re serious about TV here. Make a list of which shows are must-watch for you, then figure out what you’ll need to get them. Which are on Hulu, and which will be on the network’s website that week?  Sling gets great reviews, but I hardly watch anything on the channels it provides so it would be a waste of money. For shows on network tv, do they air at times when you’re likely to be home?

What they don’t tell you: This was my initial problem with cord cutting in general. Everyone talks about how many shows are on Netflix and all of the free channels that Roku has, but that assumes that you want to watch any show. Just … anything at all, on your television. Not a particular show, close to when it airs, because otherwise you’ll be that person who makes your friends stop a conversation because you’re a season behind. So if you have any shows that you watch religiously, this step is a big help.

Another thing: Season passes for individual shows. When I moved most network shows had only a few weeks left, and the only cable shows I was watching were Mad Men and Orphan Black. It made more sense to pay $20 for one season of one show than to lock into months of a cable plan or even streaming service if I didn’t really need it.

Get By With A Little Help From Your Friends (Or: The Time Warner App Should Be Ashamed Of Itself)

#thanksmom

My parents have had HBO since I was wearing footie pajamas and watching Babar. That means they have HBO Go, and it’s a pretty common thing to “borrow” an HBO customer’s login information. My parents weren’t even using it. I also used their Time Warner info. I should probably feel guilty, but I don’t because that app doesn’t even work. Honestly, I could never get an episode to play. However, sometimes a network’s website will ask for your cable service login to watch, and that’s when this really comes in handy – that’s how I ultimately was able to watch Mad Men.

What They Don’t Tell You: This might work in a pinch if you miss an episode, but Time Warner (and I think Comcast?) doesn’t stream to your TV if you aren’t in the account holder’s house, so you have to watch on a computer or tablet screen. You also should share one of your streaming accounts with the person whose cable info you’re using. I offered my parents my Netflix account and my mom completed her first binge-watch with Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.

Don’t Forget The Antenna

You’re going to need one of those. You get great picture quality on HDTVs, and can watch NBC, ABC, FOX, CBS, PBS … and then a bunch of weird channels playing what looks like nothing so much as televised depression. I looked up the best-reviewed indoor antennas, and mine works great.

What They Don’t Tell You: This weird flat paddle makes it look like I’m trying to defibrillate my living room wall:

Yes, I’m blogging from my couch during a Gilmore Girls marathon.

Wait It Out

If you’re at the end of your cable contract or moving to a new place, try a month or so without cable and see how it goes. It took me a bit of time to figure out how to keep up with the shows I wanted to, and I’m glad I didn’t go with cable straight away. Besides, now it’s almost summer, and I really won’t be indoors watching television much until September, anyway. All told, I’m glad that I am saving a bit of money on my cable bills – and every time I step into my backyard without being greeted by two lunging pit bulls, I think that it was worth every penny I saved.

Palme d’Or Fashion at Cannes 2015

The 68th Cannes Film Festival came to a close over the weekend, and while some might be focused on how the new movies fare at one of the most important movie fests in the world, I’m more concerned as to what people wear while walking the red carpet and going up the iconic Cannes staircase. Since Cannes is a coastal French city, there are some great shots of celebs posing near the stunning waters, but again, because of the epicness of the red carpet and staircase, stars tend to up their glam game just for the festival. Here are some of my favorite looks (in reverse chronological order) from this year’s red carpet.

Sienna Miller in Gucci {Macbeth Premiere}

At first glance, this dress may seem odd and perhaps a bit ugly. But the more I look at it, the more I love it, and appreciate it for its intricacies and unique design. Especially love the collar with the red and black accents!

 

Nikki Reed in Azzaro Couture {Youth Premiere}

I’m a sucker for a cape or anything that looks for a cape. Nikki’s flowing navy blue dress is perfect for Cannes. Sleek, sexy and a stand-out from the crowd. So much so that you almost forget to ask what she’s even doing at Cannes.

Marion Cotillard in Dior Couture {Le Petit Prince Premiere}

One of France’s best exports of course had to show up in Dior, and per usual, she looks flawless.

Kendall Jenner in Calvin Klein Collection {amfAR Gala}

There are a lot of models that show up at Cannes, and Kendall was on hand for the annual amfAR Gala, which again, judging by the articles, was predominantly attended by models. anyways, at 19 years old, Kendall is wearing a dress perfect for her age, and something you’d expect her to wear. The gala isn’t AS fancy as the red carpet, so she gets away with showing this much skin. Plus, I bet this color looks even more gorgeous in person.

Emily Blunt in Stella McCartney {Sicario Premiere}

Ugh. Stop being so freaking perfect, Emily Blunt. She’s wearing one of her fave designers, so it’s no surprise she’s rockin this, but it’s so perfectly shaped to her body, and is so hot, without showing that much skin. The emerald earrings and sweeping updo is the perfect match for the sparkling dress.

Cate Blanchett in Armani Prive {Sciario Premiere}

Good ol’ Cate looks classy as ever in this chic black dress, but what makes it for me is the oversized belt that shows that it’s more than just an accessory but akin to real art.

Emily Blunt in Peter Pilotto {Sicario Photocall}

This dress has a lot going on and while I like it on its own, what I love is the overall styling. By pairing it with complimentary shoes, red lips and relaxed hair, she kills this look.

Aishwarya Rai Bacharan in Oscar de la Renta {Jazabaa Photocall}

Aishwarya is like the Angelina Jolie of India. She had a baby five years ago and has been on hiatus ever since. Her new movie at Cannes marked her return to film, and throughout her time at the fest, she’s been proving that she’s back and better than ever. This gown fits her well and I love the random mismatched pleats in the skirt that give it character.

Mindy Kaling in Salvador Perez {Inside Out Premiere}

The Mindy Project costume designer Salvador Perez often makes Mindy dresses outside of the show and he knocks it out of the park with every one (he made this dress for her at the People Magazine awards and I still covet it to this day). This dress is Indian inspired, and like Mindy Lahiri, Mindy Kaling pulls off bright color blocking like a mf’in boss.

Salma Hayek in Gucci {Rocco And His Brothers Premiere}

In addition to calling out Hollywood sexism at Cannes, Salma also showed off her *ahem* assets in this simple and beautiful purple gown.

Marion Cotillard in Balmain {Trophee Chopard}

Marion is reppin yet another French designer with this African-inspired Balmain dress, which – I mean this in the best way possible – reminds me of boondoggle/lanyard that you would make designs out of during arts and crafts at summer camp.

Rooney Mara in Alexander McQueen {Carol Photocall}

Like many of Alexander McQueen’s designs, this dress is weird yet beautiful, edgy yet classic, and Rooney is just the type of celeb who can pull this off.

Diane Kruger in Dolce & Gabbana {Maryland Photocall}

Usually I’m not into these types of dresses, but for some reason I am so into it. It looks so perfectly tailored onto Diane’s body, so maybe that’s why? Or maybe it’s Diane herself that’s hypnotized me into believing this dress is great.

Emma Stone in Dior {Irrational Man Premiere}

This girl. Hollywood glam right here. Up close, you can see the dress is a pale blue color with impressive embroidering on it. What you can’t see is the fantastic open back and her hair is swept up in some kind of french bun. ALSO, she’s wearing a choker, reminiscent of the black tattoo ones from the 90s. Except this one is probs made out of diamonds and wayy classier.

Lupita Nyong’o in Gucci {Le Tete Haute Premiere}

I just want this caption to be 10,000 emojis with heart eyes. Pretend that’s here. This look is inspired by Uganda’s ‘cricket season’, in which the insects come out after it rains in droves and locals capture them and fry them. They’re considered a delicacy, and I’m considering this to be on of Queen Lupita’s best looks.

BONUS LUPITA JUST BEING A QUEEN IN THE WILD

This freaking ethereal goddess.

AND MY TWO FAVES TAKING A CASUAL SELFIE

Poehler & Me with John Lasseter in deep BG #insideout

A post shared by Mindy Kaling (@mindykaling) on

 

It’s 1995: Let’s All Decorate With Pastel Southwestern Stuff

Welcome to another edition of Let’s All Decorate!, where we explore the baffling interior design trends of days past! Today we look into a craze that swept the nation in the 1980s and 1990s, when pastels reigned supreme and appropriation was king. Long before we were all wearing “tribal print” shorts and flats, our parents were decorating in “Southwestern” style. Today, my friends, our walk down memory lane is lined with cacti.

It’s 1995. You’re a mom shopping out of the J.C. Penney catalogue, and you’re looking to revamp your home’s current look. All of those geese in bonnets and powder blue gingham are so 1890 1990. It’s 1995, Clinton is in office, TLC is on the radio, and “Navajo” motifs are all over page 178 of the fall Sears catalogue. You are modern, you are edgy, you are worldly, and now you own peach and seafoam lamps based on Native American vases. You are my mother. Hi, mom.

I think there were a few months when ducks in bonnets and “Southwestern” lamps lived in harmony in my childhood home. That’s before the Southwestern lamps killed themselves. One day one of my brothers knocked over one of the lamps. It was made of powdery terra cotta, and it shattered. The lamp was quickly replaced. Months later, we broke another one. My mom declared that the next person to break one of those lamps was going to pay for it themselves. Not a week later, she knocked one over dusting. Elizabeth Bishop had it right: “so many things seem filled with the intent to be lost that their loss is no disaster.” Those lamps were freaking ugly, and eventually, they lost the will to exist.

It wasn’t just my family: plenty of middle-class Americans – some from the Southwest, but just as many from the Northeast like us – wanted to paint our living rooms with all the Colors of the Wind. Possibly in Benjamin Moore’s Blue Corn Moon.

This living room from Ugly House Photos is peak Department Store Southwest. Note the pastel teal, the Native American porcelain doll, and what appears to be a Horn Of Plenty on the side table:

And how about this bedroom? America: where we will take your sacred land and build a strip mall on it, then fill the strip mall with a Pottery Barn that sells knockoffs of your art and furniture. I do really appreciate how they incorporated both a canopy bed and tiny rodent pelts.

 

Faux painting was a 90s decorating trend I’d rather forget. We all remember sponge painting and marbling, but this home, featuring faux primitive cave etchings, really takes the cake.

Is this a set from the smash tv hit Hey Dude? No, it’s a house with dehydrated cow skulls. If it looks like clip art scenery from Oregon Trail, maybe it doesn’t belong in your house. Or maybe it does.

 

I believe the following look combines the 90s penchant for Southwestern motifs with our brief love affair with Magic Eye paintings:

 

Falling under the category of “well, at least it’s less bad than the trail of tears, but then again so is just about everything:”

 

You don’t see Southwestern interior decorating much anymore, at least not outside of the bona fide Southwest or actual Native American homes. In those cases, it’s great! But I like to think that in white, northeastern homes, all of these teal and peach monstrosities made like my mom’s J.C. Penney lamps and offed themselves while they could.

ICYMI: Mad Men’s Final Blastoff

We said a final goodbye to Mad Men last Sunday, and we had a hard time saying a real farewell. But does it help to know what we think happened to the crew in the decades following the 1970s? Travel back – and forward- in time with us as we imagine a world where these folks are real and have a whole life ahead of them.

They Were Astronauts: Mad Men, Time Travelers

In season 4 of Mad Men, school-marmish secretary Ida Blankenship died in the offices of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. Bert Cooper remarked that Miss Blankenship wasn’t just a fusty old lady:

She was born in 1898 in a barn. She died on the 37th floor of a skyscraper. She was an astronaut.

Ida was not even 70 years old, but her lifetime stretched from an era of horse-drawn transportation to one of live television broadcasts and international flights.

If Mad Men characters were real people, most of them would be much older than Ida Blankenship. Don Draper is now roughly 90 years old – give or take a few, because, you know, Dick Whitman and everything. Joan is 84, and Peggy is about to turn 75. At 61, even little Sally Draper is getting AARP mailers and gearing up for retirement.

That’s right: Sally Draper is only a few years younger than Miss Blankenship.

The Mad Men crew witnessed as much change in the second half of the 20th century as Miss Blankenship did in the first. Contrast the first scene between Peggy and Joan with the last. In 1960 Joan told Peggy that the way to be indispensable at work was knowing what kind of liquor to stock for your boss. Working as collaborators was out of the question. By 1970 (spoiler!), Joan proposes that she and Peggy become partners in a production company. In 1960, Joan told Peggy to “always be a supplicant;” in 1970, they’re both bosses.

During the first seasons, Mad Men’s costuming reflected early ’60s style — which, of course, owed a lot to the straight-laced 1950s. Men wore suits, women wore skirts, and pillbox hats were a hot accessory. By the last season, we saw glimpses of the fashion world we live in now. Characters wore casual clothing – jeans, even! – in settings they wouldn’t have dreamed of in 1960. Early on she dressed like a cat from a Richard Scarry book, but the Sally of 1970 could almost be mistaken for a teenager of today. Some of Mad Men’s 1970 styles look dated to us now – Pete Campbell has the semi-Medieval haircut of every man in my family’s 1970s photo albums – but most wouldn’t look out of place in a hipster neighborhood. By 1970 our modern fashion culture had emerged: much less formal and easier to maintain than the early ’60s looks, owing at least in part to all of the Joans and Peggys who were now working and didn’t have hours each week to press laundry.


Speaking of fashion, Mad Men will go down in history as one of the best costumed shows in television, and while I always enjoy a man in a suit, there’s nothing that compares to women’s fashion in the 1960s.

The Beautiful Girls: Best of Mad Men Fashion

WHO’S EXCITED ABOUT MAD MEN RETURNING THIS SUNDAY?!!?!

Sorry, I’ll stop yelling at you. I’m just really hyped about it. Mad Men is one of my all time favorite shows, and since it’s only 13 episodes long, fans like me spend more time waiting for it to come back than actually watching it. Besides the A+ acting and the unexpected story lines, the style plays an important part of the show. Since it’s set in New York City in the 1960s, it’s important to take the viewers back to that era with visual cues, since the written words can’t always express the time frame. Creator Matt Weiner does an amazing job of making sure every little detail is accurate to that particular time in the 1960s, and costume designer Janie Bryant is just as fastidious. Her style decisions have even inspired a Mad Men fashion line at Banana Republic, so she must be doing something right.

Here are some of my favorite costumes from seasons past. I can’t wait to see what 1968 brings! And spoiler alert: There are no pix of Jon Hamm’s “Don Draper” (ifyanowwhatimean).

{Pix from AMC & Tom + Lorenzo}

Saturday Spotlight: Sterling Gonzo Lannister Pryce

Big week for tv fans – not only are we right in spring finale season, this past Sunday was the series finale of Mad Men. As we said goodbye to the show that led us through the 1960s, we also prepared to say hello to some great fall premieres – and to finally start watching Game of Thrones.

  • We agree that the Mad Men finale did a great job of tying up the loose ends of the main characters’ stories. But what about those secondary characters who dropped off along the way? WHAT HAPPENED TO CHAUNCY?
  • When Miss Blankenship died at the Sterling Cooper offices, she was an “astronaut” who was born on a farm in the late 1800s. Even Sally Draper is almost as old as Miss Blankenship now – so what was the second half of the 20th century like for the Mad Men characters?
  • As soon as tv season ends, another one begins: wedding season. We’re in our late 20s, so we’ve really been around the block as far as dealing with peer weddings – here’s a survival kit based on years of wedding guest wisdom.
  • Speaking of weddings, never go to a wedding on Game Of Thrones. We don’t watch it – yet – but it’s just one of the many things we think we know about the show. We’re also pretty sure the oldest of those sisters is the D.J. and the one with the arrows is the Stephanie ( a Michelle would not survive).
  • The beautiful thing about tv is when one favorite leaves you, a new one is waiting right around the corner. There are a few to look forward to in Fall 2015 already – we’re especially psyched about the Office-inspired return of The Muppets!