Monday, February 27, 2012

Crazy for Mad Men

My most recent TV obsession. 

If you're not familiar with the series, it is described below perfectly at the AMC website, the shows host network.

Set in 1960s New York, the sexy, stylized and provocative AMC drama Mad Men follows the lives of the ruthlessly competitive men and women of Madison Avenue advertising, an ego-driven world where key players make an art of the sell.

The series revolves around the conflicted world of Don Draper (Jon Hamm), the biggest ad man (and ladies man) in the business, and his colleagues at the Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce Advertising Agency. As Don makes the plays in the boardroom and the bedroom, he struggles to stay a step ahead of the rapidly changing times and the young executives nipping at his heels. The series also depicts authentically the roles of men and women in this era while exploring the true human nature beneath the guise of 1960s traditional family values.

I bet I'm close to one of the last people on the planet to watch the show.  I've known about the show for several years, but never caught an episode.  That is, until I spotted the entire series on Netflix about a month and half ago.  

Born in 1964, I can recollect a bit of the period details from my childhood.

I was instantly hooked. 

The 60's fashions.  

The 60's decor.

The beautifully dressed and accessorized men and women. 

Jon Hamm as Don Draper
John Slattery as Roger Sterling
Vincent Kartheiser as Peter Campbell
Elisabeth Moss as Peggy Olson
January Jones as Betty Draper-Francis
Christina Hendricks as Joan Harris
 Some of the show's characters have even been immortalized in a Barbie Collection!

The show is addicting.  
I've completed all four seasons in the last 5 or 6 weeks.  
Now, I'm anxiously awaiting the premiere of Season 5 to begin on March 25.

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Friday, February 24, 2012

A Final Farewell

It's been an emotional time these past ten days.  

Mourning the loss of Donna.  

The tears.

The questions.  

The memories.

Having thoughts of Donna pop up in my head while performing the most mundane tasks of the day and the tears would well.  

Wondering how her pillar of strength husband is going to deal with life with his two teenage daughters without her.  

Thank God for good friends.  

We all leaned on each other the days of her visitation and funeral.  
Crying and reminiscing.  

Those two days showed the love so many had for Donna.  Hundreds . . . literally hundreds . . . came out for her visitation.  Hubby and I waited in an almost two-hour long line just to pay our respects to her family.  

The funeral service was lovely.  The church was packed as if it were Easter Sunday.  Father gave a  wonderful service in her honor, and her Aunt eulogized her beautifully.  I don't know how she kept her composure. 

There were Irish step dancers flanking the procession as it exited the church.  A bagpipe player droned out Amazing Grace at the burial site.  Afterwards, several hundred were invited to a reception hall where we all shared a meal and visited with one other and reminisced some more.

Last night, Donna's sister-in-law, Donna, invited a small group of us girls to her home for dinner where we toasted, talked, laughed and cried a bit more remembering our dear friend.  

It's still a strange thought that I'll never see my friend on this Earth again.  
It's a sadness that's hard to shake.

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse painting by artist/author Roger Bansemer used in the book, Bansemer's book of Carolina & Georgia Lighthouses

In Loving Memory of
Donna B. Jubb
May 5, 1966 – February 14, 2012
If I should ever leave you, whom I love,
to go along the silent way, grieve not,
nor speak of me as if I were beside you
there.  (I’d come, I’d come, could I but
  find a way!  But would not tears and
grief be barriers?) and when you hear
a song or see a bird I loved, please do
not let the thought of me be sad . . .
for I am loving you just as I always
have . . . you were so good to me!
There are so many things I wanted still
to do . . . so many things to say to you . . .
Remember that I did not fear . . . it was
just leaving you that was so hard to face.
We cannot see beyond, but this I know:
I loved you so. ‘Twas Heaven here with you!

I want to thank all the sweet, heartfelt comments I received on my last post.  I appreciate each and everyone of them.  It's comforting to know people I've never even met are sending good wishes and prayers in such a sad time. Thank you all so much.

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Friday, February 17, 2012

Remembering Donna

Three nights ago, Valentine's night, I lost a very dear friend in a tragic car accident.

The news came by way of that dreaded late night phone call.  The shock and disbelief that my dear friend, Donna, was gone left me sleepless and in tears.

Donna was a beautiful person with a huge heart.  
A truly devoted and loving wife and mother to her two teenage girls.  
She loved her family with a deep passion.  

Donna with her sister-in-law Donna.  I don't think two sisters-in-law could be as close as these two. 
When you thought of Donna, you would think of all things Irish.  She honored her Irish heritage.  And she and her husband were huge supporters of their girl's Irish Dance.  

Donna demonstrating some Irish Dance moves down the hallway of a hotel
at one of the many scrapbook retreats we attended.
Donna loved the shore.  She dreamed of someday building a home near the beach on a piece of land she and her husband purchased years ago.  

She was a tiny thing with a big personality, gorgeous smile and an infectious laugh.  Fun-loving she was, never turning down an opportunity have fun with her girlfriends.  Donna was firecracker.  She told it to ya straight, but would be cautious of your feelings.  

The "Girls" at one of our many scrapbook retreat getaways.

Donna and I met almost 13 years ago.  Over the internet of all places.  We would joke about how we were proof that online relationships can work out.  

We met on a scrapbooking e-group based out of Indiana.  Imagine that!  Two girls from the small state of Delaware joined an online scrapbooking group started in Indiana.  

Our first Bunco get together back in 2005.
I contacted her off the board when I saw she was from Delaware.  You see, living in a small state like Delaware is almost like living in a small town.  You can be assured anyone you meet in Delaware knows someone you know, or is related to someone you know.  It's like that whole six degrees of separation theory living in this state.  

We became fast friends online.  Donna told me of some scrapbooking conventions she and her girlfriends had been to.   How much fun they were.   The inspiration found at them, and just the whole girl's getting away having a great time bonding.  

"Tailgating" in the parking lot of a scrapbook convention.
I convinced a few of my girlfriends to attend one in New Jersey in the winter of 2000,  where Donna and I planned to meet in person.  Funny, I remember a few of Donna's girlfriends later saying how they thought she was nuts planning to meet someone she'd only been in contact with online. 

Donna and I dancing the bump at a 70's theme Bunco party.
We all clicked fabulously!  And through Donna, I met a whole group of wonderful, supportive girlfriends that wouldn't be in my life today if she and I had not made those first steps to meet.

Donna and another dear friend Theresa.
I am heartbroken.
Achey at the thought that the next time all us girls get together again, Donna will not be with us.  Oh, I know she'll be there in spirit.  Her energy will surround us.  
But I will always miss her beautiful smile and big personality.

Donna and Mary celebrating at a Christmas Bunco a few years ago.
I last saw Donna at another girlfriend's Christmas party back in December.  We sat and chatted for quite a while.  I'm glad we had that time together, as we would sometimes go months and not talk or see one another because of busy life stuff.

Treasure every second you spend with the people you love.  
I think we sometimes forget how precious those moments are.
I miss her so much already.

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Monday, February 13, 2012

Sweets and a Treat

Yummy cupcake sweets from me to my favorite men . . .

Red velvet and Sprinkle's strawberry cupcakes.

And a pretty little treat from me to me . . . 

A pot of mixed tulips in one of my favorite color combinations . . . 
pink, red and white.

Two new cupcake recipes tested.  Both came out very well with good reviews.

Pretty colored tulips from the grocery store I picked up as a treat for myself. 

Grandmother Paula's Red Velvet Cake
(Food Network - Paula Deen)

2 cups sugar
2 sticks butter (room temp)
2 eggs
2 tbsp cocoa powder
2 ozs red food coloring
2-1/2 cups cake flour (to make your own cake flour, take one cup AP flour minus 2 tbsp and add 2 tbsp corn starch)
1 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp vinegar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  

In mixing bowl, cream sugar and butter, beat until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time and mix well after each addition.  

Mix cocoa and food coloring together and then add to sugar mixture - mix well.
Sift together flour and salt.  

Add flour mixture to the creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk.  Blend in vanilla.  

In small bowl, combine baking soda and vinegar and add to mixture.  

Pour batter into three 8" round greased and floured pans.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.  

**Note**  I halved the recipe to make about 18 cupcakes.  It worked very well.  I used a standard cream cheese frosting tinted with pink gel food coloring.

You can see the real bits of fresh pureed strawberry.

Sprinkles' Strawberry Cupcakes
(featured on The Martha Stewart show February 2008)

2/3 cup whole or frozen strawberries (thaw if using frozen)
1-1/2 cup AP flour, sifted
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp coarse salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup whole milk, room temp
1 stick butter, room temp
1 cup sugar
1 large egg, room temp
2 large egg whites, room temp

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line 12 cupcake liners.

Place strawberries into a small food processor and puree.  You should have about 1/3 cup of puree, add a few more berries if necessary or save any extra puree for the frosting.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.  In a small bowl, mix together milk, vanilla and strawberry puree.  Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter on medium-high speed until light and fluffy.  Gradually add sugar and continue to beat until well combined and fluffy.  Reduce the mixer speed to medium and slowly add egg and egg whites until just blended.  

With the mixer on low slowly add half the flour mixture.  Mix until just blended.  Add the mil mixture.  Mix until just blended.  Slowly add remaining flour mixture scrapping down sides of the bowl with spatula as necessary.

Divide batter evenly into lined muffin tins and bake until tops are just dry to the touch, 22 to 25 minutes.  

Sprinkles' Strawberry frosting recipe can be found here.

**Note** I added some of the strawberry puree to the leftover cream cheese frosting used for the RV cupcakes for the strawberry cupcakes.  

 Are you making some yummy Valentines goodies for your sweeties? 

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