Hot Reads

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I love Pinterest. I think there are a lot of people out there who think Pinterest is for housewives to post recipes and baby stuff but it’s so much more! The idea of a virtual bulletin board is so much fun and that’s what Pinterest is. There’s so much I run across on the internet that I want to keep. In the past I’ve used Delicious and Instapaper which are good sites in their own way but I rarely went back to look for anything I kept there. I don’t use them anymore because I’ve started using Pocket where I’ve been very diligent about proper and useful tagging so I can find something when I want it. So far, so good. But the thing I love about Pinterest is the dominant visual aspect of it which makes it so easy to find stuff. I’m a very visual person and Pinterest is perfect for cataloging the gorgeous photography and art that I love, for giving me the push to try that new recipe (yes!) that I saved that looks so damn good. (See previous post!) It’s great for so many things and now I’ve started a new board which is what this post is about.

On my personal Pinterest account I’ve started a “Hot Reads From NOLAFemmes.com” board. I’ve been keeping articles from the internet that grab me on Pocket since I opened the account but I really like, again, the visual aspect of Pinterest that helps to pique your attention. These are pieces I want to share with our readers so I hope you’ll follow and enjoy the board. I also plan to try to post my Hot Reads here every week (or so) with a link to the board.

So what were my Hot Reads last week? I thought you’d never ask!

hotreads11. From Mother Jones, “Lidia Yuknavitch Flicks Off Frued.
Tagline: An irreverent remake of a renowned case, the new novel “Dora: a Headcase” delivers a gritty take on girlhood.
My favorite quote: “I want to create new girl myths,” she says of Dora. “Instead of always talking about how women struggle in the face of certain models, what if we spent more energy highlighting all these great other possible girl-paths, and turned away from the dominant culture?”

2. The Wall Street Journal: “Maggie Gyllenhaal on The Honorable Woman.”hotreads2
Tagline: Just as war in Israel and Gaza fills the news, a drama on SundanceTV explores the region’s turmoil.
My favorite quote: “Behind my intention in making this is compassion and, maybe it’s naive, a belief in the possibility of reconciliation, which our show never takes off the table.”
Note: I watched the premiere of this series and it’s looking really promising.

3. From The New York Times, “Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminism.”
Tagline: The author speaks with Jessica Gross about her favorite definition of feminism, ‘‘Sweet Valley High’’ and the fetishization of bad writing.hotreads3
My favorite quote: “I think that narrative is a fetish among faculty, not a reality. They fetishize the idea of bad writing, and they are more interested in the lore of bitching about students’ writing than they are in actually evaluating students’ writing as it is.”
Note: Gay’s Bad Feminist comes out this week and I can’t wait to get my pre-ordered copy!

4. From HuffPo, 8 Great New Books By Women You Should Definitely Readhotreads4
Every Hot Reads list has to have a book list and this is the one that intrigues me the most.
Maddie Crum begins by saying, “2014 has been deemed the Year of Reading Women. I wholeheartedly support this movement; after all, only diminutive steps have been made towards gender parity in the literary world since the institution of VIDA’s annual book review count (with the notable exception of the New York Times book review, which bounded towards equal coverage in just one year).”
I say, Yep! Read women! And follow the Twitter feed.

hotreads55. From Brain Pickings, Vacation Sex: A Poem by Dorianne Laux
Every Hot Reads list MUST include a great poem and this is a great poem and a great way to end the list. The piece includes text and video and, damn, who doesn’t want to read about vacation sex?

“It’s boring to play the girl role.”

This is a good video of Olivia Wilde speaking and participating in a panel on “The State of Female Justice 2014: What Makes You Rise?” “The State of Female Justice” panels bring women from diverse movements together for a shared public conversation about justice and equity. In this short video (4 minutes, 2 seconds), Olivia talks about why women aren’t being empowered by the media and shares a story about an acting exercise she participated in that’s very interesting. Enjoy.

More about “The State of a Female Justice” here.

Charlotte’s Top Five + 3 For Lagniappe: Oscar Fashion

Last night was the Oscars and, as usual, I was tantalized by all the glitz and glitter. However, I skipped my ritual of watching E! for the pre-show red carpet arrivals in favor of a restorative nap while nursing an earache. I woke up feeling a bit better and settled in for what we know is always a looooong (and often boring) viewing of the Oscar show. I was glad to see Ellen hosting this year again. She is the only host that can make jokes that are actually funny instead of cringe-inducing. I love Ellen.

One non-fashion Oscar thought: I was happy to see 12 Years a Slave win Best Picture. It’s the first time a film shot predominately in New Orleans has won the Best Picture catagory.

Now on to my fashion  picks from The Academy Awards 2013.

cateblanchettCate Blanchette is my Number 1 pick for Best Dress. This gorgeous, spangly nude and white Armani fit her like a glove. Her earrings, hair and makeup complimented this dazzling look perfectly. Cate never disappoints and is one of my personal style icons.

Naomi-Watts-Oscars-2014#2 is Naomi Watts. This is another beautiful white dress, by Calvin Klein this time, that was tailored to Naomi’s body perfectly. White dresses can often come off as too bridal but both of these dresses avoided that cliche and just made these women look stunning. And I couldn’t take my eyes off her stunning diamond necklace.

Lupita.Prada

Lupita Nyong’o also made my best of the Golden Globes and her Oscar look didn’t disappoint. This flowing blue Prada is my third best pick. It was like a breath of fresh air and I’m sure headbands will be the next “new” thing for hair adornment.

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Sandra Bullock looked very goddess-like in this #4 pick navy draped  number by Alexander McQueen. Doesn’t she have the most gorgeous hair and eyes ever?

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What can you say about Meryl? Always classy, always impeccably dressed on the red carpet. This black and white Lanvin is pure, understated elegance. It may be my #5 pick but Meryl will always be my #1 favorite actress.

I think the fashion in general was really great at the Oscars this year and I didn’t see too much I didn’t like so I’ve only picked one look that didn’t make the grade, IMO.

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Sadly, Glenn Close is my pick for worst dressed. She wore a black Zac Posen dress which reminded me of an 1800’s widow,  all buttoned up from neck to toe on her way to the funeral- one long column of depressing black. There was nothing of the sophisticated black dress in this one for me.

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John Ridley (screenwriter of 12 Years a Slave) and wife Gayle get my nod for best dressed couple. I love his grey on black combo, very sleek, and her purple dress is beautiful on her. They compliment each other so nicely.

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Finally, for best dressed man I pick Jared Leto in this slightly unconventional look. The slim black pants are perfectly tailored, the white jacket is very Rat Pack and I love the pop of red bow tie. All together he looks hot, hot, hot in Saint Laurent.

Who were your  favorite picks?

Downton Abbey season 4, episode 3

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*SPOILER ALERT*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

 

If I can sum up this episode in one word its PUSHY! Lord Gillingham was pushing Mary to marry him (my if this only happened in real life maybe more people would couple off and marry!), lady’s maid Edna got Branson drunk and pushed herself on him in his bed, then Mrs. Hughes pushed her right out of a job, my my (to quote Mrs. Hughes) what tangled webs they weave. And what’s to happen with Lady Edith? She has fallen from grace and now we are left to wonder if she has left herself flapping in the wind with Mr. Griegson leaving for Germany?

The relationship drama downstairs is starting to devolve into a circle of repetition: while cute, we want them to make up their minds! Yet we have the Bates and Anna saga, with poor Anna now scared of her shadow and rejecting Mr. Bates affections. For once, Lord Grantham has words of wisdom for the aching Mr. Bates, comforting him and reassuring him that yes its a relationship with ups and down and that this too shall pass. I certainly hope so I hate seeing Bates emasculated like this. And I miss the bubbly Anna.

For one, I’d like to see a story line develop for Lady Rose, and watch a suitable mate hunt her down. The bandleader Jack Ross saved her virtue after her partner wobbled off in a drunken stupor, and he was quite chivalrous towards her despite the fact that he couldn’t sing a lick!

The Countess dowager is reemerging and she is ever at the ready with a sharp quip. Check out this website for some cool quotes to remind you of her wit.

In all the chaos, the one person that holds it all together is the beloved Mrs. Hughes. She is such a rock for that estate, everyone including Mr. Carson that I shudder to think what would happen if she was not such a bedrock of stability. She is an honorable woman, but I would like to see her obtain a level of personal gratification, instead of giving of herself to everyone else. Maybe that is her satisfaction, being the stable force that everything else swirls around. I hope she gets her due, in a good way.

Can’t wait for next week! If you want to refresh this past episode, you can watch it here

Charlotte’s Top & Bottom Fives: Golden Globes Fashion

I love awards shows. There, I said it. I love them primarily for the fashion and I always watch E! for the pre-show red carpet. This year I thought much of the fashion was underwhelming but there are always a few stars that stand out from the rest. Here are my top five picks for the best fashion, listed from #5 to #1.

julliannaJulianna Margulies in Andrew Gn – Classic perfection.

 elisabethElisabeth Moss in J.Mendel – love this art deco-inspired dress. (But I would have picked another shoe.)

lupitaLupita Nyong’o in Ralph Lauren – just stunning. The color is beautiful against her skin and I love the caped look.

zooeyZoey Deschanel in Oscar de la Renta – Beautiful from head to toe, a total knock-out look. The beaded crop top made this look so fresh.

michelleMichelle Dockery in Oscar de la Renta

Michelle is my #1 pick because she looks so flawlessly effortless in this beautiful taupe dress with gold embellishment. This could have been just another strapless dress that we see over and over again at awards shows but the high/low hem, the gold embellishment and the perfect fit elevated it to a superior level. Her shoes and jewelry are perfectly understated highlighting  her peaches and cream complexion. I love this classy look.

And then there were the not-so-good looks. Again, from #5 to #1, here are my picks for the bottom five fashionistas.

juliaJulia Roberts in Dolce and Gabbana looks like she’s wearing her husband’s shirt under a strapless gown. Messy.

annaAnna Gunn in a Donna Karan dress that’s the same color as her skin. She’s beige from head to toe.

ediefalcoEdie Falco in a big orange bow…..I mean, Lanvin. I’m sorry to say this but the fabric looks like cheap, shiny poly.

jenniferJennifer Lawrence in a bound toilet paper roll…..I mean, Dior. I’m so disappointed in this dress.

zoeZoe Saldana in a friend’s design.

I have to give Zoe props for being sweet and wearing her friend’s design but, my goodness, what a mess of a dress. It looks like repurposed stripper lingerie bits and pieces. I saw her interviewed on the red carpet on E! where she over-explained why she was wearing it at all. Poor thing.

And, for a little lagniappe:

kerry Kerry Washington in Balenciaga, most beautiful pregnant woman.

 

naomiandliev Naomi Watts (wearing another dress I loved by Tom Ford) and Liev Schreiber, most beautiful couple.

 

usherUsher in Calvin Klein, best dressed beautiful man. (But, of course, I’m prejudiced because I like him so much.)

So,who were your picks?

Books, TV, Movies: Charlotte’s Lists of Top Fives For 2013

Everybody’s doing the obligatory year-end lists so I thought I’d jump on the band wagon with my top five faves for movies, TV and books. I decided to limit myself to five so I wouldn’t spend too much time on the laptop. lol. Everything is listed from 5 to 1, 1 being the favorite.

First of all: movies. I love Independent film and I rarely run out to see a movie when it first comes out in theatres. In fact, I prefer watching on TV in the comfort of my home.  Just released blockbusters? Forget it. The movies I’ve selected are ones I watched this year but none of them were released this year. All of them I discovered on my own through chance and thoroughly enjoyed. Predictably, all but one are dramas as that’s my preferred genre.

TV: Three of my five favorite shows were on Sundance Channel with two being Sundance Original Series. I love Sundance. It was a little hard narrowing my favorite TV down to five since I am a true child of the TV generation. As with movies, I prefer the quirky, original and creative in my TV viewing. See what you think.

Books: I don’t rush out and read the just-released bestsellers, as a rule. However, four of my five were released this year and I’m pretty sure a couple of them are on the Bestsellers list. (Not sure as I don’t consult any of them.) After reading this article and this article, I’ve decided 2014 will be a year of reading only women writers. It’s long overdue and I urge you all to do the same in support of women’s writing.

Movies

Bonus Pic: ( because I realized after publishing that I have 6 movies listed)
You Can Count on Me – Starring Laura Linney, Mark Ruffalo, Matthew Broderick, Directed by Kenneth Lonergan, 2000
A young mother’s drifter brother shows up back in their hometown after years away and out of touch. The dynamics between the siblings (Linney and Ruffalo), who are complete opposites, makes for a very interesting movie. Not a lot of action here, but a thoughtful unfolding of how differences in perception can create misunderstanding and resentment in relationships. Laura Linney is a nuanced actor and one of my favorites – I’ll watch anything she’s in. Ruffalo plays his well-honed bad beautiful boy that you want to kiss and slap at the same time. Watch this movie if you don’t require car chases and exploding things.

5. The Savages – Starring Laura Linney and Philip Seymour Hoffman, Directed by Tamara Jenkins, 2007
Linney and Hoffman portray two siblings who are juggling caring for their sick father with their own busy lives. Their emotional journey as they watch the deterioration of their father and the subsequent decisions they must make for his care is one many of us in our 40’s and 50’s are familiar with. This movie really touched me in a big way as I’ve recently dealt with this issue myself. Sometimes it’s helpful to see your own struggles played out on screen so you realize it happens to other people too. Linney and Hoffman give skillful, poignant performances and I wouldn’t expect anything less from them.

4. The Darjeeling Limited – Starring Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody and Jason Schwartzman, Directed by Wes Anderson, 2007
Hilarious. These are three brothers who travel to India to find themselves and bond after their father’s death. The predicaments they get into will make you giggle, or at least smile. I thoroughly enjoyed this offbeat comedy that also has a few tender moments.

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3. The Deep End – Starring Tilda Swinton and Goran Visnjic, Directed by Scott McGehee and David Siegel, 2001
A mother struggles to keep her son from being implicated in a murder. Both Tilda Swinton and Goran Visnjic are great in this movie, their casting was perfect. Tilda gives a convincing, heart-wrenching performance of a mother stoically trying to keep her shit together while slowly unraveling as she tries to keep life normal while dealing with blackmailers (Visnjic) threatening to expose her son as a murderer. This movie held my attention from start to finish with a strong story and compelling acting. Highly recommend.

2. Brothers – Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Natalie Portman and Toby McGuire, Directed by Jim Sheridan, 2009
Just before a young Marine (McGuire) is deployed (again) to Afghanistan, his younger black sheep brother (Gyllenhaal) is released from prison. The story revolves around what happens in Afghanistan and what happens back home. I have to say I was impressed most by McGuire’s performance as he was not an actor I cared much for until this movie. His acting here was pretty incredible in my eyes. Gyllenhaal and Portman (as McGuire’s wife) give solid performances too but McGuire is clearly the star here. This is a tense yet, in some ways, tender movie. Some of it is hard to watch but definitely worth the effort. Highly recommend.

1. Snow Cake – Starring Sigourney Weaver, Alan Rickman and Carrie-Ann Moss, Directed by Marc Evans, 2006
OK, movies like this are why I love Independent Film. This is a wacky, crazy, insightful, sweet movie that I will definitely watch again. (I don’t often do that.) Rickman and Moss meet up serendipitously on the road, both returning to their homes after prolonged stints away. Weaver plays Moss’s mother who is a highly functional autistic, Rickman ends up staying with her and the story unfolds and keeps you watching and guessing how it will ever end. If you don’t like this movie then I can’t imagine why not. Weaver and Rickman are great and play two of the most memorable characters you’ll ever meet. Highly recommend.

The movie that most disappointed me: Silver Linings Playbook Maybe it was the mood I was in at the time but Jennifer Lawrence’s character kind of drove me crazy and I wanted to smack Bradley Cooper. I kept looking at the clock during the entire movie.

TV

5. Downton Abbey – PBS – What’s better to take you away from reality than a historical family dynasty story set in another country? The acting is fantastic, the sets opulent, the cinematography bucolic, the fashion glittering and, oh yeah, those dreamy English accents. What’s not to like? It’s worth it just to watch magic unfold from Maggie Smith’s Dowager Countess Violet. Eight more days to season 4 – I can’t wait! Squee! maggie

4. Rectify – Sundance Channel –  A young man is released from prison after nineteen years on Death Row after DNA evidence exonerates him. This series follows Daniel as he tries to assimilate back into his old life where he encounters prejudice and resistance as well as support and love. This is a well-written series that makes you think about how opinions that seem so solid can be so wrong.

3. The Returned – Sundance Channel – A French (subtitled) zombie series that isn’t your same old hum-drum, flesh dropping zombie series. I am wild for this series. Basically, it takes place in a small, isolated community in France where deceased loved ones, looking as they did at death,  begin appearing, unaware that they’ve been dead. You can not take your eyes off this show and I can’t wait for Season 2. (Here’s a good synopsis on Flavorwire.)

2. Breaking Bad – AMC – If you don’t know about this series then you’ve been living under a rock. I watched the first four seasons on DVD this year, one after the other, then watched season 5 live. I was shocked by how this show pulled me in with season one. Really, I didn’t think I’d like it, thinking it was all about drugs and addicts and all the shit that goes along with that scenario. In reality, it’s one of the most well-written, well-acted and emotionally compelling shows I’ve ever seen. Now I’m watching re-runs on Sundance.

1. Top of the Lake - Sundance Channel – A  detective returns to her hometown to investigate the disappearance and suspected abuse of a pregnant teenager. The detective (Elizabeth Moss) unearths long-held town secrets and faces demons from her past in this dark, suspenseful series. As with Breaking Bad, this is a well-written and acted show that pulls you in and won’t let go. Elizabeth Moss is riveting in this, playing a much more tortured, compelling character than her gullible Peggy on Mad Men. She was nominated for a Golden Globe and  an Emmy for Best Actress in a Mini-series or Movie and should have won. Filmed in New Zealand, the cinematography is uh.may.zing, winning Adam Arkapaw the Emmy for Outstanding Cinematography for a Miniseries or Movie.

The program that most disappointed me: American Horror Story: The Coven. This show is just too corny. I wanted to like it simply because it’s filmed here and set here and stars Jessica Lange and Angela Bassett but those  facts aren’t enough to make me sit through it one more time.

Books

5. The Paris Wife by Paula McLain – The story of the relationship between Ernest Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley Richardson. It was fun reading about Paris in the Jazz Age and the antics of the “Lost Generation”. I have to say, though, that if this is really the way Hemingway treated his women then he’s lost some of my respect. One can be a lauded writer but if you treat people like crap it diminishes the work, for me.

4. The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri – Set in India and America, this is the story of two brothers, their family and a country torn apart by revolution. It’s a page-turner, for sure.

3. Tenth of December by George Saunders – A collection of short stories every one of which is a gem. I swept through this book in no time and plan to read it again. Highly recommend. the-year-of-magical-thinking

2. The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion – If you’ve lost someone close to you, this is the book to read – grab it now! It gave me some solace in the year after my mother’s death by identifying and explaining patterns, behaviors and thinking that seemed wacked out but, in truth, is part of the grieving process. Skillfully and lovingly written, Didion walks us through the long protracted illness of her daughter, the sudden death of her husband and her life in the year afterward. You will see yourself in her story. Highly recommend.

1. And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini – The best book I read this year, hands down. Set in Afghanistan, this is the story of a poor family, their struggle to survive and the ensuing life of a son and daughter. This is a richly detailed and engrossing story, a book I couldn’t put down. Until this, Hosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns had been my favorite book. Highly, highly recommend.

The book that most disappointed me: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. After a promising start this book quickly became Bor.Ing. That is all.

I hope you enjoyed my list of Top Fives and maybe feel inspired to read or watch some of these recommendations. Do you have any favorite movies, TV shows or books you’d like to share?

A Zombie of a Different Color

The zombie craze has hit a feverish, putrid, brain-eating pitch and doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon. The first zombie movie I remember seeing was Night of the Living Dead, as a teen. After the initial fascination with the physical attributes  (or lack thereof) of the zombies I quickly lost interest because the movie was too slow and the lurching, snarling and flesh dropping was more funny than scary. I wanted to be frightened and this just didn’t do it.

Flash forward to 2010 and the premiere of The Walking Dead on AMC. I tried to watch it, I really did. I watched the first 3 or 4 episodes but, again, the lurching and snarling and flesh dropping got old after the initial fascination with costuming and make-up. And, I mean, how long can a series hold your attention when the premise is just running from the zombies? I even tried watching a few more episodes earlier this year. The two warring camps of humans trying to exist in a world of zombies didn’t excite my imagination. In fact, it reminded me of certain current events. Ugh. I know a lot of people like this series but it’s just not for me. Maybe I just don’t find zombies, in general, very interesting although I do find the idea of people coming back from the dead interesting. And that brings me to a new series on Sundance Channel called The Returned.

The undead on The Returned don’t lurch. They don’t snarl. Flesh doesn’t drop from their bodies. The undead in this series come back looking like themselves when they died. This show isn’t an in-your-face while I eat it spectacle but a nuanced, character driven supernatural what-if formulated by a deft hand. The Returned return to their homes in the French Alps (gorgeous scenery!) not knowing they’ve ever left and their families reactions, and theirs, are varied, tension filled and fascinating. How many of us have wished to see our deceased loved ones just one more time? And, if it were possible, what would be the implications?

The Returned is subtitled, the series comes to America from France, but that, to me, adds an air of mystery and makes one pay closer attention. Two episodes have aired and we are getting to know the main characters:

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Camille, who has been dead for four years, and her family, mother, dad and  twin sister Lena.

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Simon, who has been dead ten years, and his one-time fiancee Adele and her  real-time fiancee Thomas.

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Victor the little boy who we know nothing about except that he’s latched onto Julie and refuses to speak. And he’s very, very creepy.
There are other characters, of course, but these are the main ones we’re introduced to in the first two episodes.

The Returned airs on Thursday nights at 8 central time. I can’t wait for the next episode. Not since Top of the Lake (another quality Sundance production and I can’t wait for season 2) have I been so captivated with a TV show. And unlike most “zombie” shows, I can’t predict the outcome.

Nostalgic New Orleans

This morning I finally finished reading “WTC building, Algiers ferry, live oaks among city’s most endangered historic features, preservation group says”  in Friday’s paper – yes, I’m two days behind so I guess that puts me right in there with the 3 day a week published someTimes-Picayune. (As a subscriber, I don’t consider the new TP Street part of the paper since it’s not delivered to my door.) See? Even a paper that prints old news has a place in someone’s world. Anyway, I’ve been somewhat following the WTC building conundrum which brings back the memory of my first trip to New Orleans as a teen-ager in 1974. My then boyfriend (now husband), another couple and I all ended up in the Top of the Mart revolving bar at the top of the WTC where I enjoyed my very first cocktail. I don’t remember what it was but I do remember chilling out in the revolving bar with it’s spectacular views and feeling very grown up. It’s all such a fun memory that I dug into my closet of all things old and found the swizzle stick, spoon and doubloon from the bar and scanned them Here they are:

I hope city officials will decided to preserve the building and put it to good use. To me, it’s an iconic part of the New Orleans skyline and a great example of mid-century modern architecture. Isn’t preserving the past a big part of what we’re all about in this city?

So, later in the morning, I followed a link from a FaceBook buddy which led me to other links and I found the following fantastic video of an iconic New Orleans commercial with a bit of history added, narrated by Ronnie Virgets. Do you remember the Seafood City commercials? I watched this and it took me right back to 1978, to our Parc Fontaine apartment, sitting by the pool in the summer listening to WRNO, watching Garland and Angela on the news and so many “firsts” in my life. I just loved this commercial!

{sigh} Yeah, I guess I’m officially at the age for the “remember whens”.

Top Chef is coming!

Finally!!! After 11 seasons, Top Chef is coming to New Orleans!!!

I for one, can’t wait to see where they film and the challenges they devise to run the chefs through the gauntlet. It promises to be a good season. I hope they plan accordingly and avoid the summer heat and the August-September hurricane watch.