10 Things To Stop Doing With Your Hair By Age 30

It seems like just yesterday we presented our response to those “30 Things You Need To Stop Wearing By Age 30” articles (our take: it’s time to stop wearing 1/2 of an old locket you were given at birth before being sent to an orphanage). Just when I thought the whole issue was settled, I came across this article helping all us old gals figure out what we have to stop doing with our hair. Ladies, it’s serious. We can’t have braids anymore. Worse yet, I wore one just this week —  looking like a 29-year-old floozy instead of the sedate 31-year-old that I am — because nobody even told me that we can’t have braids anymore. I’d never leave my faithful internet friends in that position, so here it is: 10 things to stop doing with your hair if you’re three decades old.

Hair That You Style Yourself

Are you old enough to remember watching Full House in prime time? That’s totally fine, but you’re going to have to get a puffy roller set once a week that you get re-done every Friday afternoon with all the other Ethels.

An Elaborate Powdered Wig

Good God almighty, Megan, someone’s going to think it’s actually white.

Your Natural Hair Color

When you hit a certain age – and make no mistake, that age is 29 years 364 days – you should probably start dying your hair.

But Also, Unnatural Hair Colors

Okay, you should probably start dying your hair but also you are too old to pull off anything that strays more than one swatch from your natural shade on that hair board your hairdresser has. You might ask why you should bother dying your hair if you’re still using your natural color, but how about you don’t.

Your Own Mom’s Hair Cut, Whatever That Is

Now that you’re old, nobody will be able to tell you apart.

Short Hair

Short hair is for old ladies, so if you have it then everybody will forget to look at your face and assume that you’re old.

But Also, Long Hair

You’re a big woman now, Amy.

Long hair is for young ladies, so if you have it everybody will think you’re trying to look young. The looking young part is great but the trying part is ew. Now that you’re 30 you may have a blunt-cut bob or a blunt-cut lob.

A Tight Bun

We know you have wrinkles, Carly. A tight bun is just going to make you look like that grandma from the Tweety cartoons. Remember Tweety? Of course you do, ya geezer. You watched him at the picture-show after the newsreels.

Any Of Tonya’s Hairstyles In I, Tonya

Even T.Hard has changed her bangs by now.

A Big Bow Like An Edwardian Girl

“Jo Jo Bows” – big floppy bows last seen in photo-essays of mill girls in 1904, then inexplicably popularized by Dance Moms kid Jojo Siwa – are huge with the younger set, AKA actual children. But if you’re an over-30 trying to evoke an Edwardian throwback thing for whatever reason, think more Ruth Dewitt Bukater and less Little Cora. And yes, we threw that reference in for you ol’ sea hags who can remember Titanic’s theatrical release.

 

 

 

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Everything I Remember Buying At Claire’s, 1994 – 1999

Claire’s has filed for bankruptcy, and my 90s self would be shocked.  Claire’s was a boutique in the loosest sense of the word – it was more like a Toys R Us of tween accessories, and if my niece’s recent purchases of JoJo Siwa bows and unicorn hair extensions are any indication, it still is. Claire’s may be the latest victim of private-equity fund stewardship, but I think they may emerge victorious — after all, no store is better at giving tween girls exactly what it’s told them they want. I was never one of those kids with an allowance or parent-funded spending sprees, so each of my Claire’s purchase was long-coveted. That’s why, in 2018, I can still remember everything I bought at Claire’s during my childhood:

A Heart-Shaped Locket With Nothing In It

The nostalgia machine remembers the 90s in a few ways: bright and neon in the post-80s years, earth-toned and grungy in the middle, and pop-y and futuristic at the end. However, there was also a weird kind of neo-Victorian thing happening if you looked hard enough (see: country geese , Little Women, Titanic mania). Case in point: lockets, which always seemed kind of important and mysterious even if you had nothing to put in them. We can thank Annie and the American Girls Collection for this.

Mood Ring

You always blushed a bit if it landed on In Love. As a cold person with a low heart rate (actually… what do mood rings even measure?), I think the technical term for my mood ring results was Clinical Death.

Sunflower Hat

The sunflower hat was THE must-have accessory when I was in second grade, c. 1994. Different versions were out there but the staple was a denim bucket hat with a yellow sunflower on it. A little bit Michelle Tanner and a little bit Blossom, you could be any middle-class girl from a family sitcom you wanted in this number. The decision to wear it straight versus tilted was hotly debated … in the before-school lineup at Sacred Heart Cathedral School, anyway.

Confession: I scoped out sunflower hats at Claire’s but mine was actually from Bloomingdale’s. It was Quality Millinery, thank you very much.

Scrunchies

They were gentle on your hair and you could buy one in any finish or pattern you wanted. Bring back the scrunchie.

Velvet or Lace Choker (Cameo Optional)

This was the more early-90s choker. Like the locket, it was part of the Interview With A Vampire aesthetic that was totally appropriate and not at all creepy for tiny children to be into.

Fake Tattoo Choker

This was more late 90s, and I only wore it once because I thought it looked cheap.

Which it did.

You could get them from gumball machines.

Fimo Necklaces

Popular in the 1996-1999 range, these necklaces had a nylon cord or stringed beads and a clay ‘hippie’-esque pendant.

In my personal suburban mall, there was a kiosk that sold these and also wizard candles. For the uninitiated, yes, I actually do mean candles that were shaped like an elderly wizard.

A Piercing

Thing 90s Kids Will Remember: getting your ears pierced by a teenager with a piercing gun and trying not to cry because strangers were eating Auntie Anne’s pretzels on a bench 5 feet away. My ear piercing was a First Communion present and it closed up within a few years, so I am in fact the proud owner of TWO Claire’s piercings. You had to search the earring racks specifically for the ones labelled stainless steel or else your ears would start burning. We had fun.

Headbands Headbands Headbands

Soft headbands, hard headbands that would dig into your temples, plush puffy headbands – if there was one constant in my life from 1995 to 1999, it was that my bangs were in a weird place and I needed hair accessories to deal with them. The worst ever, for my particular frizzy hair and iffy hairline, was the stretchy headband with teeth. They never looked good on me but I bought like 5 of them anyway.

I preferred a classic Alice band because I was a goody-goody, obvs.

Embellished Snap Clips

Remember those flat clips that all the gymnasts wore in the 1996 Olympics? Then, remember the teeny tiny version with daisies and stuff on them? You’d wear them right next to your part.

The real theme here is that as a people, we were dealing with a collective weird bangs situation for the better part of the decade.

Butterfly Clips

The last member of the wonky bangs starter pack, the butterfly clip spanned the difference between headbands and hair clips so you didn’t have to choose. I was pretty sure they looked rocking in my hair and in hindsight, I was entirely correct.

Butterfly Everything

Butterflies were so cool in the late 90s, and I’m so grateful that I was only in Junior High or else I definitely would have left the decade with a butterfly tattoo.*

*  I remember my junior high friends and I declaring that we’d totally get butterfly tattoos and belly button piercings when we were old enough. Now I can have as many butterfly tattoos and belly button piercings as I want, and it turns out I want zero.

Pen with marabou poof

You felt like Cher Horowitz until the ink ran out in a week and you were back to your Bics.

See also: gel pens, despised by every teacher I ever had. Now that my eyeballs are three decades old I Get It.

“Retro” “70s” Stuff

Especially during the 1996-1997 school year, 60s and 70s-inspired accessories were all the rage. We’re talking psychedelic colors, daisies, smiley faces, peace signs. The yin yang was pretty big starting in the earlier 90s but I seem to remember it fading out sooner.

I also remember combing my grandparents’ house for 60s-70s stuff during this time, only to find that most bona fide retro accessories were in the pukey oranges, avocados and browns of old appliances. Claire’s all the way.

Puka Shell Nonsense.

As of high school I had been to like 2 beaches and they were in New England, but still.


My Claire’s years mostly ended around 2000, when I started high school. Yesterday, today, and forever, Claire’s was a store that sold the idea of being a cool teenager to 7-13 year olds — not so much a store for real teenagers. Their financial situation may be bleak, but as long as 10-year-olds long to look 17, I think Claire’s will have a place in children’s fashion mistakes for years to come.

2018 Winter Olympics Drinking/ Exercise Game

There’s nothing like the Winter Olympics to remind you that you are not, in fact, an elite athlete. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun… or work on your fitness. If you’re having a raucous Olympics party, A) invite us and B) feel free to play the drinking game version (responsibly, and without driving, and you can use water). If you’re feeling a little less-than fit watching all of these grade A humans, dip into our exercise game instead!

One Sip OR One Set of Mountain Climbers (* A set is what you say is a set!)

You wouldn’t know what the event was called if they didn’t tell you, but it could be described as going down a mountain.

You wouldn’t know what the event was called if they didn’t tell you, but it could be described as doing tricks on snow.

You wouldn’t know what the event was called if they didn’t tell you, but it could be described as doing tricks on ice.

NBC kindly lets us know about The Grinch, a movie coming out in a year, or Mamma Mia, a movie coming out in some months.

You find yourself trying to do what the athlete just did in your living room (turns out I can only land a single lutz in my socks)

You spy an athlete’s parent or significant other.

You cry.

 

One Huge Gulp OR One Set Of Bicep Curls

An Olympian is tenuously connected to your hometown (e.g., grandparents live there, went to college for a few semesters, etc).

Rachel Platten and/or Fight Song.

Image result for rachel platten olympics

You see the Korean Handmaid Cheerleaders.

Image result for korean cheerleaders

An Olympian has a personal mascot (e.g., Hanyu with Pooh),

Image result for hanyu olympics pooh

An athlete collapses to the earth after finishing.

Johnny Weir’s outfit is extra even for him.

You see the Olympic mascotImage result for pyeongchang mascot

You ship it.

Image result for virtue moir olympics 2018

Take a Shot OR One Set Of Bicycle Crunches

An Olympian is from your hometown, for real.

A Russian is of such a higher caliber than the other athletes that it feels like they’re doing a different sport.

Image result for medvedeva

A competitor has what you, personally, consider a baby name. So all those toddlers named Mikaela grew up over the past twenty years?

Image result for mikaela shiffrin

Yep. Definitely a grownup.

The announcer is so fired up that they’re shouting like their house just exploded.

There’s innuendo about the Olympic Village.

You see the Korean Handmaid Cheerleaders’ minder.

You’re watching at a time that you consider totally bonkers.

 

Pour A Little Out For Your Favorite Team/Athlete Who Was Robbed OR Sun Salute

An Olympian is over age 30.

An Olympian who’s roughly your peer is now the commentator.

Image result for tara lipinski johnny weir olympics

Leslie Jones sighting

A commentator says the exact opposite of whatever you just said about the event.

The human interest footage includes clips of the athlete doing their sport as an adorable little tot.

Image result for adam rippon childhood

A competitor has a sibling who is also competing in the games.

Image result for shibutani olympics 2018

The human interest footage tries to make the athlete seem like just a normal person (like an average teen, family man, grad student, etc).

An Olympian is not actually from the country they represent.

Scandinavian Olympians and coaches are knitting.

Chug OR Two Sets Of Burpees

An Olympian is over age 40

The commentators repeat whatever you just said

An Olympian has a sibling who is also competing in the games… for a different country.

Image result for sisters hockey olympics

An Olympian is not actually from the country they represent AND their connection to the country is something you, personally, consider pretty weak (e.g, it’s where their husband is from).

There’s a team from a counter-intuitive country (e.g., Jamaican bobsled)

There’s a competitor who clearly isn’t qualified to be there (this “Hungarian” “skiier”)

 

Adam Rippon, America’s Valentine

Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone, but most especially to America’s newest sweetheart, Adam Rippon!

If you have been following the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, you will already be familiar with Adam as the fiercest figure skater and ready-for-the-runway glamazon bitch, always ready with great eyebrows and a witty quip for Andrea and all of us.

If you haven’t, perhaps a little explanation is necessary.

Adam Rippon has been on the figure skating scene for a long while, but at 28 these are his first Olympics. Bummed we didn’t get to watch him in 2014? Don’t be. It’s the DGAF-ness that comes in your late 20s that makes Adam so endearing. You want examples? We’ve got examples, Valentines.

Let’s start with skating. If you missed this performance in the team event, get ready to have your heart ripped out of your chest and triple-axele double-toe double-looped across the ice. YouTube is I guess being very strict about Olympic vids but just go to NBC.

Also the scoring was a little garbage (in the words of Johnny Weir, first place skater Kolyada was “oatmeal”)  but we all know that figure skating’s scoring system needs work.

Adam’s not concerned, though. He came to play. And he’s going to celebrate later by going to Target, which is pretty darn relatable:

Adam has supporters all across the globe, but a few famous ones include Elmo:

And let’s not forget Reese Witherspoon, because all Adam wants to do is maker her proud. Olympic figure skaters, they’re just like us!

Reese was very proud indeed, and Adam dedicated the medal to his mom, “but more to [Reese] in a way, because she has more followers on Instagram”:

He calculates that Reese has probably spent, like, three minutes of her life composing tweets to him, which is a pretty big deal when you think of how busy she is with the next season of Big Little Lies and the spring Draper James collection, among other things.

Adam is Olympic roomies with Mirai Nagasu and their friendship is everything. They’ve been friends for a decade and during the 2014 Olympics they were eating hamburgers on a rooftop waiting for their time to shine.

I have seen brides and grooms watch their spouses walk down the aisle with less love and pride than Adam watches Mirai skate with.

Although every Olympian needs supporters, you know who the real motivators are: haters.

 

A few haters have reached out to Adam over Twitter, and our precious glamazon bitch ready for the runway has a few words for them:

My favorite thing about Adam, other than his sense of humor and general cheekbone situation, is his confidence. He encourages everyone to be who they are:

I mean. This is a man who skated after singing Rhianna’s Diamonds in an exhibition, and it was GOOD. He explained that he is always changing it up, “always trying to keep these bitches on their toes.”

Believe it or not, Adam is the FIRST openly gay athlete to qualify for the Winter Olympics. There have been other athletes who weren’t out at the time they competed, and this year’s Olympics also feature out skier Gus Kenworthy. They’re certified cuties:

In case you’re wondering if that tweet was directed at … anyone … in particular… the answer is of course, yes.

Mike Pence is in Pyeongchang ‘supporting’ the U.S. athletes, and also believes that you should shock gay kids into becoming straight sad gay kids. Does Adam have anything to say to Pence? Not particularly, no.

 

Basically, Adam is using his platform to raise the voice of others who are affected by Pence’s views – saying “right now I have a voice and I think it’s really important for me to use it” – but these Olympics aren’t about Pence. They’re about athletic, hard-working attractive people who are much funnier on social media … and being America’s sweetheart:

Adam has also used his platform to highlight the body image issues and disordered eating common among male athletes in the figure skating world.

Anyway, vice presidents aside, at the end of the day a gay athlete is just like a straight athlete with better eyebrows:

 

So, should YOU go to the Olympics? Adam highly recommends it if you ever have the option.

As for Valentines, I’m afraid Adam already has the best one in all of South Korea, saying “nobody loves me as much as I love me; so I guess I’ll just be my own Valentine tomorrow.”

On this February 14th, let’s remember the truly important thing:

Happiest of Valentine’s Days to our beloved runway-ready Glamazon Bitch.

Baby Boom Is Our Aesthetic

If Baby Boom (1987) isn’t on your pre-Valentine’s Day rom-com lineup, it should be. It is the romantic comedy for cozy, wintery-but-not-Christmas vibes. First of all, it’s a Nancy Meyers flick so you know the kitchen’s gonna be on point. Second, it’s from 1987 and lovingly skewers the aspirational yuppies of the era – including a wholesome, organic baby food business that would STILL draw the devotion of upper-class yummy mummies today. Third, it has all of the romcom features you’ve come to know and love: a career woman who doesn’t have time for love! Unexpectedly becoming the custodian of a baby! A handsome man with a romcom job! A charming old farmhouse with problems! I am the same age as Baby Elizabeth, so the sweet pastel baby clothes are like looking into an old family album. For some reason Baby Boom seldom comes up in conversation about ’80s romcoms, but give it a watch or rewatch … it just might be your February romcom aesthetic, too.

The opening new segment

Women have jobs! They’re doctors AND lawyers! Ladies having it all! It’s SO ’80s. The higher the shoulder pads, the more cushion busting through the glass ceiling?

J.C. Wiatt (Diane Keaton) works 70-80 hours a week. I’d rather be middle-class.

J.C.’s menswear-y satin robe and tortoiseshell glasses

It’s like she might get called to a board meeting pajama party and she dressed for it just in case.

Spoiler: her robe gets more cozy when she inherits a baby and moves to New England

Elizabeth’s  and J.C.’s “Inheriting A Baby Outfits”

J.C. inherits a baby, which is truly my dream scenario – not having to be pregnant, go through all the steps of fostering or adoption, or make an affirmative decision about whether or not I want a baby. Elizabeth (Kristina and Michelle Kennedy) wears a classic baby coat and hat and J.C. wears my favorite of her businesswear outfits, with a floppy bow, Peter Pan collar and oversized belted jacket that has almost Edwardian vibes. The shoulderpad/belt combo makes her waist look tiny, so that’s why people used to do that. She changes back into it at the end to turn down the offer to buy her baby food company, because it’s her main outfit to do important things in.

Another great one. When did we stop wearing brooches?

P.S., I get that J.C. has never held a baby before, but she has presumably held an object before and this isn’t how you do that, either.

By the way, J.C. name-drops two local-for-me companies, reminding me of how awesome my city was doing in the ’80s, comparatively.

Elizabeth …. MUDGE?!

Elizabeth almost gets adopted by two dustbowl people who come straight out of the Fake Annie’s Parents lineup in the Warbucks mansion. J.C. can’t do it. Guess she has time for love after all.

These Spiky Moms

These moms are all live-action versions of Angelica’s mom from Rugrats. They go on at length about all of the activities their toddlers are enrolled in and the extensive intellectual standards their 3-year-olds have met. Hey baby boomers, if you don’t like millennials just remember that you made us this way.

Hadleyville, In General

J.C. and Elizabeth arrive in town during the fall because Nancy Meyers knows what’s up. There’s a general store and a church, and it looks like a living history museum.

I love that J.C.’s plan for what they’ll do in New England is “get into quilts,” which should be timeless but feels very 80s Businesswoman Who Has Had It.

J.C.’s Yellow Farmhouse, Exterior

J.C. buys a dollhouse-looking yellow clapboard farmhouse. I want it. It’s cheerful and sweet with tasteful landscaping. There are window boxes and real shutters! However, the plumbing is shot and will cost $7,000-8,000 which feels steep for 30 years ago? For reference I recently repiped only my basement (copper, because go big or go home) and it was maybe like $1,500. Oh, and she also needs a new roof and well. But it looks so nicely-maintained?

It’s even cuter in spring because this house was made to have tulips and rabbits around.

As usual, our __ Is Our Aesthetic posts feature movies with absolutely delightful houses. That’s why images of the Baby Boom house will take you to the Hooked On Houses post for this film. It’s one of my favorite blogs and they do a great job highlighting some of the most charming homes in TV and film.

J.C.’s House During The Snowstorm

Living in a snowy city, sometimes it takes seeing it onscreen to remember how pretty it is.

The Richies From NY

Some rich people go to the local general store and can’t get enough of the authentic boots, plaid shirts, and baby food that J.C. made. They’re exactly like the 2018 version of yuppies, honestly.

The whole movie feels really modern because the home business is so familiar today — but in a time before Pinterest/Etsy moms and Whole Foods in every city, J.C. was seriously cutting edge. When I was watching I was reminded of a later Nancy Meyers film, The Intern, and apparently that was no mistake. The kitchen from The Intern even echoes the muted blue cabinets from Baby Boom!

The Hadleyville maple festival

This small-town maple festival is exactly how I want my parties. All the ladies wear big Sloane Ranger dresses, there are twinkling lights, and everyone just kind of talks and has snacks. There’s a mural with a barn and some geese on it. Nobody’s suit fits right. Get into it.

J.C.’s Nancy Meyers Kitchen

Nancy was still new to the charming romcom kitchen game in 1987, but all her talent was there from the start. Vintage-style fridge, exposed ceiling beams, baskets, fireplace and clapboard. The cabinets are painted the exact powdery blue I keep seeing in chalk paint now. Windows everywhere. There’s enough space for a work table, an eating table, a couch, hutch and a rocking chair, plus space to tap dance around all of them if you’re so inclined.  The cabinet fronts are fitted with gingham. J.C. and the handsome vet have their first kiss in the kitchen because all any woman wants is to have a first kiss in a Nancy Meyers kitchen.

The Yellow Farmhouse, Interior

First of all, I love how the woodwork isn’t perfectly freshly painted, so it looks like someone actually has lived there a long time. Second, check out these wood floors, comfy Laura Ashley-looking furniture, natural light, and worn-in looking antiques.

 

 

Dawson’s Creek Is So Old That…

How old is Dawson’s Creek?
At 20 years old this month, Dawson’s Creek is so old that (in my subjective memory)…

I started watching Dawson’s Creek on Episode 4 … so I had to wait until summer reruns to see episodes 1, 2 and 3. No DVR, On Demand or Hulu!

But not to worry, because people online actually transcribed the episodes and posted them on angelfire/ geocities. (So Many Old Sites still exist! It’s like time travel.)

… And I got in trouble for tying up the phone line reading those websites.

If I missed an episode, I would read the recap on Dawson’s Wrap, the pre-pre-precursor to the long defunct Television Without Pity.

TV soundtracks were a big thing, and the WB would announce the songs featured in the episode, along with the albums they appeared on, at the end of the episode.

Speaking of which, the Dawson’s Creek Soundtrack was THE must-own album in 7th grade and I bought it at a mall in an actual CD STORE. And I didn’t know each jewel case had a different picture inside, so I was bummed to get the Joey one instead of the Pacey one.

Today, an actress the same age as youngest main cast member Michelle Williams would have been born in the year 2000.

Oldest main cast member James Van Der Beek is now 40 years old. If you’re keeping track, that’s only about two years younger than John Wesley Shipp was when he played James’s Dad.

(It’s also only about 18 years younger than Grams, but to be fair Mary Beth Peil was not really old in 1998, they just wrote her like she was 90.)

Dawson’s Creek was the anchor of the teen block on the WB, which hasn’t even existed for the past 12 years … aka, since today’s teens were babies.

There was a guide to the Dawson’s Creek stars – with full color pages! – in the paper Scholastic book order.

Two of the main characters – Dawson and Pacey, but you already knew – worked in a video store, which truly seemed like a cool job to have.

Dawson didn’t shoot on film because he was a hipster. He shot on film because it was the only way.

Also, the kids didn’t dress ‘normcore’ because they were hipsters. They dressed normcore because the show was literally sponsored by J. Crew at that point. Remember when Gap’s big campaign convinced middle school and high schoolers that frumpy khakis were cool? It was right around then.

Do yourself a favor and click on this to go to Buzzfeed’s post about the D.C. J. Crew catalog

Katie Holmes was so young then that she delayed her audition because she was in her high school play in Ohio.

It had only been two years since Joshua Jackson appeared in D3: The Mighty Ducks, and only 6 years since he was a tiny scamp in the original The Mighty Ducks.

The hot new musical of the year was …. Ragtime.

Teletubbies, a children’s show from a very long time ago, wouldn’t even premiere for another few months.

The furby hadn’t been introduced yet, but Beanie Babies were still a hot item.

 

Fake Hygge Things That Sound Plausible

If you read design blogs – and as a young single homeowner, I can assure you I do – you must have heard of hygge. Hygge is the Danish concept of – to quote The New Yorker –  a “quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being.”

Over the past few years, hundreds of books, articles and blog pieces have suggested ways to introduce some hygge into your life. Especially in the winter, there are suggestions for cheerful game nights, mulled cider in front of the fire, soft cashmere throws and the glow of candlelight.

There are also some very specific and strange suggestions, like the all-day Star Wars marathon at home with 5 kids that one blogger suggested.

The following are some totally made-up hygge things that I would somehow not be surprised to find during my design blog reading:

Go to YouTube and search for songs from your favorite musicals + “figure skating.” Make a playlist. Watch them all.

The other day I thought “you know, I bet you could search YouTube for ANY song from a musical plus the term “figure skating” and get a result.” THEN I thought “that legitimately sounds like something a blog would suggest as a hygge activity.” Then this whole thing happened.

As a treat, put on an extra pair of socks

Solve a decades-old murder using information readily available on Google

Nothings cozier than sitting in your favorite chair and finally getting down to business on what happened to JonBenet … only to see that three hours passed in an instant and you still DON’T KNOW.

Watch a birdfeeder from a window while you wear a big sweater

Have your boss over for a Dutch Blitz party. Serve those windmill cookies. You know the ones.

Since I wrote this draft, Dutch Blitz has shown up in my Amazon suggestions. I guess Amazon’s hygge activity this winter is tracking my every step on the internet. Hey guys! Loved Mrs. Maisel.

Play Hot Potato with an actual hot potato

Replace the harsh overhead lighting in your office with a bunch of candelabras

Skip the nightly news and have each member of your family read articles from the day’s newspaper out loud

It’s just how people had their existential crises in the 1800s!

Invite all of the stray cats from the neighborhood in and invite your pet-lover friends over for Hygge Cat Night

Go caroling, except with non-Christmas wintery songs

Your neighbors will feel very hygge when you sing them It’s A Marshmallow World In The Winter on a Tuesday in February, and you know what? So will you.

Sit around the fire and everybody has to say what they would name a baby right now.

Go to a small hunting cabin and have a soup contest.

This isn’t so much a fake hygge thing, as much as a real upstate NY thing my parents do with their friends.

Have a Friends marathon, but with reading the scripts out loud instead of watching the show.

And THIS isn’t so much a fake hygge thing, as much as a real thing we did on our school trip to Spain in high school.

Spin a globe and wherever your finger stops, you have to pretend you’re in that place for the night.

Put all of your blankets on the floor, one on top of the other. Now all your blankets are wearing blankets.

It’s hygge but for blankets.

Speaking of blankets: blanket fort.

Questions, Comments, Concerns: A Christmas Prince

Today’s Questions, Comments, Concerns features A Christmas Prince, a Netflix Original Movie that’s really a Hallmark movie for cord-cutters. Mindless, low-quality holiday entertainment isn’t just for people with a cable package! It’s 2017!

Comment: You can tell they’ve got that Netflix budget because of all the establishing shots of New York City.

to be fair they saved some $$ by using the clipart that came preloaded on their PC

On Hallmark, everything takes place in a picturesque small town that’s obsessed with Christmas because that’s the cheaper thing to do.

Comment: “Amber! We’re junior editors! Not writers!”

Dialogue like this is why people think that editor means human spellcheck.

Question: Wait, how can I become a Junior Editor?

Forget that my real rank is above “junior editor.” Amber gets sent abroad to cover a European prince. Nice work if you can get it.

Concern: Netflix spent its whole NYC budget on those establishing shots.

or actually, this is new york’s FINEST diner.

Amber goes into a tiny, empty diner that definitely seems like it’s somewhere in Hallmarkville. It’s her dad’s. He’s a Real New York Character, AKA he has an accent.

Comment: Netflix also spent some Establishing Shot Money on European mountains. Alps?
Concern: By the time they show the lush, snow-covered Swiss? Bavarian? castle, I’m already sold.

I don’t need this to be a GOOD movie, I just need to have a good time watching it.

Comment: Maybe Lead Girl would be a senior editor if she hadn’t showed up to a royal press conference in jeans and sneakers.

non-spoiler: rom-com lady is clumsy. also i have a follow-up question about the white plastic light switch. surely the castle electrician could upgrade that.

Now would be an appropriate time for me to use the terms “slacks” and “pumps.” Yech.

Concerns: Many

Amber gets mistaken for Princess Emily’s new tutor, Martha.

Question: Can we cut to the part where Emily is vibrant and lovable?

On one hand, A+ for having a child with disabilities as a primary character! On the other, they make her petulant and peevish like that hidden boy in Secret Garden. Collin, was it?

Comment: You know Rose McIver (Lead Girl) from other stuff.

I IMDB’d her because her face was so familiar, and not just because she looks like she’d play Keri Russell’s sister. She’s been in a LOT but I remember her best as the sister in The Lovely Bones.

Comment: We didn’t have to wait long for Emily to get vibrant and lovable.

She’s a cutie.

Concern: My ability to suspend disbelief.

For a split second I start questioning how Amber is pulling this off, whether there are visa implications, the scads of journalistic ethics violations… and then I relax into the soft fluff of A Christmas Prince like a child making a snow angel.

Comment: Cousin Simon’s no Prince Richard, but could still get it.

Richard though.

Concern: Male primogeniture, boo.

Princess Emily isn’t in line for the throne and I’m having S1 Downton Abbey flashbacks.

Comment: The cell phone sticking up out of Amber’s back pocket is honestly some of the most realistic costuming I’ve seen.
Concern: We have competition.

Meet Lady Sophia, a hussy in a red dress. You can tell she’s a hussy by the red dress. I don’t make the rules.

Question: Do we know for absolutely sure that Princess Emily’s not a Little Girl Ghost (TM Joey Tribbiani)?

Emily discovers Amber’s true identity and barters to keep Amber’s secret as long as she writes the truth about Richard. Emily says knows because she sneaked into Amber’s unsecured computer, but she seems awfully British and all-knowing …  like a Little Girl Ghost.

Comment: I want Emily the Little Girl Ghost to get a friend who is a child.
Concern: Amber takes Emily sledding

I definitely think that children with disabilities should be encouraged to do anything other kids do (with necessary modifications and safety supports) but I just feel like Amber should’ve at least Googled if it was fine.

[It was fine, by the way.]

Comment: Horse stuff.

There was an equistrian sequence, but we all already knew that going into this. Richard chases off wolves in a page straight out of the Beauty and the Beast storyboards, then they retreat to Gaston’s lounge.

Concern: Prince Rick looks good in a turtleneck.

I don’t hate turtlenecks but it’s such a specific man who can pull it off, right? I know Amber agrees because they almost kiss in a beautiful barn. I could pay off my student loans selling reclaimed wood from this barn. And those are law school loans, ok.

Question: Do they put Christmas lights on actual castles?

Genuine question. I love them but bet royals think they’re naff.

Comment: Prince Richard is a fake!! Prince Richard is a fake!!

Well not FAKE, but he was adopted into the royal family in 1990. I assume there’s a rule about that in most royal families? Also with the giant age gap between Richard and Emily, I like to think this is one of those fake adoptions, like when old-Hollywood actresses would get pregnant, disappear for a year, then “adopt” a baby.

Concern: I was surprised by a plot twist in A Christmas Prince.

I never get surprised in Hallmark movies. Advantage: Netflix.

Amber’s so shocked that she uses the words “gosh” and “freaking.”

Comment: I love Amber’s bedroom with the Christmas tree.

When I was a kid, sometimes I used to pretend I was princess Anastasia and had a room like that. Yes, I know it’s actually Grand Duchess. Yes, I willfully ignored the unpleasant imprisonment and execution angles.

Comment: Richard’s so British (or whatever… Genovian?) he pronounces Sophia “Sophier.”
Comment: Amber wears her converse with her formal outfit…

Just like every group of groomsmen in wedding photos, c. 2010.

Question: Do princes really have a wedding ceremony to their country?

That’s more or less what Richard has. Objections and everything. Reminds me of when Dennis Rodman married himself (I’m old).

Comment: Mean Sophier’s objection was the adoption thing, clearly.
Comment: Richard’s late father hid the truth in an acorn ornament because nobody can be normal in these movies.

My favorite part is how Richard’s dad knew this would all come to a head at Christmas, and that somebody would decipher the secret clue about acorns, and how nobody would crack open or throw away the ornament before this point.

I also don’t see how a note in an ornament is legally binding. He should’ve just changed the code while he was alive. Easy-peasy.

Comment: Aldovia. The country was “Aldovia.”
Comment: The judge or whatever says “Merry Christmas to all,” which is the most Christmas we’ve had in a while.
Question: Why won’t Amber’s editors encourage her to run a piece on this?

They call it a “puff piece” but it looks like an exclusive, walks like an exclusive, sounds like an exclusive, it’s a duck.

Comment: It’s not a romcom unless someone makes a grand gesture at the end.

Richard comes to NY and proposes to Emily. I’m still floored that she works for a publication that thinks this ISN’T a story. He has neither a security detail nor a press following. She accepts.

Comment: A Christmas Prince has one thing in common with Hallmark movies

…. and that’s a couple meeting, falling in love, AND getting engaged all between the start and end of the Christmas season.

Pop Culture Blind Spot: Christmas In Connecticut

Merry December! This month’s pop culture blind spot challenge: finding classic or otherwise beloved holiday films that we haven’t seen. It’s a tough one for me – I was raised on oldies like White Christmas, It’s A Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street, and kept up with the major developments of the ’80s, ’90s and 2000s like the other Miracle on 34th Street,  Christmas Vacation and Elf. That’s why my blind spot pick today hearkens all the way back to 1945: Christmas in Connecticut.

Short Description:  A food writer who has lied about being the perfect housewife must try to cover her deception when her boss and a returning war hero invite themselves to her home for a traditional family Christmas.
Not only does this sound like a really fun premise, it reads 100% like a rom-com they’d still make today. The difference is that in 1945 talkies weren’t even 20 years old. It would be a rom-com cliche today, but in the ’40s it was a rom-com groundbreaker.
We open on a submarine shooting torpedoing a ship. So this is like, definitely a World War II movie.

Image links to post from the blonde at the film. i didn’t let myself read it before writing, but it’s a lot of fun with some great background on old Hollywood!

Two sailors from the ship have been adrift in a lifeboat for 15 days. One – Jefferson Jones, played by Dennis Morgan, who had an extensive career playing a lot of military guys – imagines himself in a light blazer dining at a bistro table and he looks like a handsome hipster of today. After getting rescued he convalesces in a military hospital and becomes obsessed with magazine food columns. See also, the Minnesota Starvation Experiment.
 
Alexander Yardley is a human Bustopher Jones, and he’s Elizabeth Lane (Barbara Stanwyck)’s publisher. She’s a food writer but PSYCH she does not know how to cook. This is such a good rom-com job! So good, in fact, that I start googling which other rom-com involves an advice columnist who’s winging it. I swear I’ve seen this somewhere else?

It wouldn’t be one of our Pop Culture Blind Spot posts without linking to an article about the house in the movie. Click on over to Lisa’s Home Bijou!

Anyway, Yardley wants Elizabeth to host Jefferson Jones for dinner because he’s a war hero and her number one fan. You will recall that Elizabeth knows jack about cooking. I can’t wait for the wacky misunderstandings! Also in the course of writing about cooking wouldn’t you learn how to cook? Wouldn’t it be easier, writing-wise, to just learn how to cook? Or are all of her recipes made-up craziness that magically turns out OK?
Elizabeth also has a pretend husband and child! This is a blast! And her drapey blouse and high-waisted Katharine Hepburn pants outfit is completely on point.

LOOKS FOR DAYS.

If they remade this in 2017 you know they’d make Elizabeth a food blogger and it would not be as good. Maybe a HGTV-style personality.
Elizabeth’s first excuse to get out of falling in love with Jeff being a hostess is that her fake baby has whooping cough. #VaccinateYourKids
So Elizabeth has this friend John who always proposes to her. Like, it’s a habit. And they’re not even dating or anything, he just proposes marriage regularly and Elizabeth expresses zero interest in him.  Here’s how this convo plays out:
His point: You need someone to look after you. [Note: it’s 1945 -M]
Her counterpoint: I don’t love you.
Elizabeth demurs that it “gets harder and harder to find an excuse to say no.” John counters “well you can’t blame it on your career this time because you haven’t got one.”
1. SICK BURN, JOHN.
2. This is why nobody accepts your proposals, John.
Elizabeth accepts the proposal, but only because she needs a husband and a farm in Connecticut, like, yesterday. Elizabeth’s editor Dudley also needs Elizabeth to procure a fake baby (a real baby that’s not hers, technically), because they’ve already bought his kids’ Christmas presents so he needs this to go off well. If you’re keeping track, so far Elizabeth is a liar who’s otherwise okay, and Dudley and John are The Pits.
Elizabeth brings her chef friend, Felix, along to cook. That’s where she’s been getting her recipes, by the way. He’s German. I ship him and John’s Irish maid Nora. German and Irish? That was an OK marriage in the ’40s, right? I lose track of who used to be weird about each other.
 
Barbara Stanwyck’s waist is tiiiny. Or is it the shoulder pads?

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but bring back shoulder pads 2K18?

Elizabeth coos “oh, John! Where did you get it?” about a neighbor baby he borrowed them, as though it’s a nice table runner or a new coffee table.
Felix puts paprika into Irish stew, which turns it into goulash. B- ethnic humor.
Know what you never see anymore? Tinsel.
Jeff brings Elizabeth a rocking chair because she wrote in her column that she could never find a good one.
HA! Elizabeth tries to answer Jeff’s questions about the baby and she is clearly a stranger both to him and to all babies. Fortunately Jeff is a good uncle and has met babies before. He gives “Robert” a bath and JUST KIDDING, turns out the baby is now Roberta.
[I will say that I have a lot of nieces and nephews and I’m always surprised when adults who can’t deal when they have to feed, change, bathe and generally deal with babies. They’re just little humans who need their necks supported, is all.]
Elizabeth and Jeff have an old-fashioned piano party while she trims the tree. He plays the piano and sings. Girl. Marry him.

John pervs about where he and Elizabeth are going to sleep tonight because it’s supposed to be his wedding night. Except they didn’t get married, so Elizabeth will stay in the guest room, thanks. He pouts and stomps off saying that he won’t sleep a wink. Wow, rom-coms in the ’40s really ramp up the bad qualities in the guy who’s purpose is to get dumped, don’t they? In the 2010s he’d just be too into his work or fantasy football.
A different neighbor drops off a different baby than yesterday, because they assume the new lady in the big house just takes other people’s kids for the day

Elizabeth cooks.

Elizabeth and All Her Guys* go to a barn dance. But in a dance hall. So just a dance I guess.
*All Her Guys = Yardley, John, Editor – was it Dudley?, Jeff and probably Felix.
Elizabeth and Jeff joyride in a sleigh, and I’m sorry but you only do that with somebody that you mean to fall in love with.
I was really hoping they’d bust out the Comedy Rule of Threes with people dropping off random babies at the house, but no such luck.
Elizabeth and Jeff got arrested – just a misunderstanding! – and the borrowed baby got reported as kidnapped after its mom collected it – also just a misunderstanding! We have angled the Tangled Web stage of the rom-com.
Elizabeth spills the beans about her… all of it. Everyone’s furious except for Jeff, a good person. In this pre-internet age, as long as none of these people say anything about Elizabeth’s true identity, nobody would find out, right? Felix pulls a fast one and tells Elizabeth’s publisher that she has another offer, and suddenly they want to keep her after all.
By the way, Jeff had been engaged to his nurse. Fortunately she married his shipmate so he’s all set to mack it with Lizzie. People really were willy-nilly about their engagements in the post-war era, huh?
“What a Christmas!”, Felix giggles.
What a Christmas, everyone.

Little Women (1994) Is Our Aesthetic

It’s December, and our choice aesthetic is the 1994 adaptation of Little Women: earth tones, plaid dresses, candlelight, roaring fires, Winona Ryder’s bob, Meg upstaging Queen B Sallie Moffat in the blue afternoon dress, surprise pianos and a lot of quilts. The production design of Gillian Armstrong’s 90s masterpiece was cozy, lived-in and totally real: you could actually see the March family staging plays in that attic, gathering around that rustic table, or having a singalong at Beth’s piano. There’s also a lot of winter – hence our December pick – and it’s depicted so beautifully that it will make you appreciate the season.

This post is also known by its alternate title, I Have A Real Christmas Tree And An Old House And Now I Think I’m A March Sister.

Orchard House’s Foyer

The moment the sisters call out “Marmee’s home!” and you see the muted stenciled floors, sidelights and printed wallpaper, you feel like you’re home, too.

Full disclosure: my parents live in an 1830s farmhouse that’s almost identical to Orchard House, so maybe that’s because it literally looks like my home.

As per usual, we’re going to point you over to Hooked On Houses – if Little Women is your aesthetic, you need to check out their Orchard House post.

The March Living Room

These shades of olive green! The built-in bookshelves! The brick fireplace! It’s so beautiful. It’s also a great reminder that, while the current iteration of “farmhouse” style is all whites and grays and spartan decor, there’s another path to the same cozy feeling.

Everyone’s Hair

Real-life adult womens’ hair in the 1860s didn’t really mesh with our current trends. Think center partings, snoods and clumps of sausage curls at the sides. Fortunately for us, the March girls are in their teens so their hair is long and loose – it was even kind of a ‘thing’ in the book that Jo didn’t want to start wearing her hair up like a, um, big woman.

Jo even looked sassy in her cropped ‘do, and calling Winona Ryder’s hair her “one beauty” is an evergreen laugh line (I’m sure if she time traveled to the 1860s, they’d have gotten a kick out of it then, too).

Everyone’s Winter Clothes

It can be hard to look cute and feel comfy in dresses during those cold winter months, but it’s not as though girls in the 19th century had another option. The Marches cope with the cold in lots of layers and tons of warm earthy tones — it was 1994, after all.

Some favorites are Jo’s  red ball gown (plus the choker on the black satin cord!)

Meg’s hunter green coat with the big buttons (and Jo’s no slouch in the outerwear department – I think garnet’s her signature color)

Amy’s plaid dress

I always especially loved Amy’s old-fashioned knitted ear warmer and vest (Meg had a matching one – sweet touch!).

Oh! And Jo’s fitted gray dress!

The sleeves and waistband!

If you find historical costumes interesting too, I suggest the Frock Flicks podcast episode on Little Women.

The Dining Room

Bonus: image links to hilarious post from Homeless Monsters about visiting Orchard House

The dining room is a little less cluttered than the rest of the house, but the simple table and chairs and calming colors would easily fit in a Magnolia spread.

The Garrett

The Marches cosplay as the Pickwick Society in their sweet attic hideaway, and as always, something about setting up a space in an attic is so much more comfy, mysterious and cool than the same exact setup in a regular room of the house. It’s all in the eaves and sloped ceilings. You can just see how the girls have adapted and added to this space over the years.

Bedroom Fireplaces When Manuscripts Aren’t Burning In Them

That was not okay, Amy.

[I wrote this piece about Amy March being a total B, and it was 80% in jest, but I haven’t forgotten about the manuscript.]

The Girls’ Bedroom

Pardon the scarlet fever happening in the foreground

I love the red ticked curtains, wallpaper and green wainscoting. I always wish I could get a closer look at that wall-o’-trim. I have so many questions.

Snow On Snow On Snow

In real life, snow is an inconvenience that turns your commute into a risky obstacle course, but on screen – when I don’t have to shovel it – snow is serene and beautiful. The first 40 minutes or so of the movie are snow-covered and it totally works to get you into a winter mode, especially if you want to watch something that isn’t entirely focused on Christmas.

Meg’s Afternoon Dress

Sallie Moffat can go fly a kite. Meg’s chill, forget-me-not blue gown looks way prettier than child labor silk and we all know it.

 

The Opera Sets

Weird or not weird: I wouldn’t mind if my house looked like this opera set.

The Boarding House

Jo March was the original free-spirited girl who starts over in New York City after a major heartbreak in order to “find herself.”

If you weren’t super-poor in the 1870s, this was probably the second-most Bohemian place you could live.

Europe

… Europe being the first. While I feel awful for Jo when Amy gets her Eurotrip with Aunt March, at least Amy makes the very most of her adventure. It’s like the 1800s version of when you went on your study abroad semester and came back a different person (in your own head, anyway). It’s so fun seeing Amy level up in her clothing, like that kicky straw boater hat, boho linen smock, and high-1870s-style fitted jacket.

The trunk of memories

When Jo opens that trunk of memories that spurns her to write Little Women, I always regret my Konmari-Lite tendancies and wish I had kept tangible objects from my teen years.

That Soundtrack

The soundtrack is poignant, spirited and heartbreaking right when it needs to be. I hear like 2 measures and I’m sad about Beth all over again.