Friday Frivolity - What to do until the next season of Downton

While the modern mother will always have Seasons 1 & 2 to re-watch and re-re-re-watch, she and her delightful offspring can find hours of fun playing with Vulture's Downton Abby Paper Dolls.  Poor Mr. Pamuk. 

picture from

The paper dolls come from Vulture and their episode recaps are also most informative.  The modern mother may enjoy seeing who's who in real life.    For a Season 3 preview here are some gratuitous shots of Downton in the  Roaring Twenties.  Don't miss the video at the end of the article.

oh happy days!

If that isn't enough and the mannerly mother finds herself craving Masterpiece drama of a similar ilk, no BBC video library should be without the following:

Brideshead Revisited 30th Anniversary Edition (my that does date one, now doesn't it) and do read the book and everything else by Evelyn Waugh

picture from mail online

The House of Eliott - the story of two English sisters who set up a couture house in London following WW1 to rival Chanel across the channel.  A personal favorite.

 picture google images

Pride & Prejudice - Colin Firth version, of course.  You might try that book as well.  The author, Miss Austin, is well thought of by many readers.

 picture from E!

 If you need a little suspense and murder to go with your English drama, you can't do better than Sherlock.  The second season begins May 6 on Masterpiece.  We adore this modern adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's classics.  Could it be because of one Benedict Cumberbatch?

 picture from BBCTV

 Lest we forget the modern mother may be able to fill her Downtonless time with Mad Men Season 5  starting (at last!) this Sunday.

Happy Weekend.


A Wake up to Make up

To the modern mother accustomed to greeting the world bare-faced, the following tidbit of information could be life altering: women who wear make up are considered more competent by others. Yep, you heard that right: more make up, more competent. Not prettier, sexier, or more alluring, but competent. You can read the whole story here, or here, or watch it here. And we can move on to consider what this means for the modern mother.

Suddenly, the modern mother’s world is upended. Parent teacher conference? Better brush on a little mascara. Private school interview? Break out the blush. Stopping by your husband’s office? Does that call for lipstick or not? Pulling herself together suddenly means more than taking a shower and brushing the lint off her clothes. Make up might not be something only applied hastliy and clumsily before weddings and parties, anymore. 

The problem for this modern mother is that she spent so much of her adolescence wearing tie-dyes and Birkenstocks that she missed much of the experimenting-with-make-up stage, and ended up as an unknowing participant in "make up free Mondays"not to mention Tuesdays, Wednesdays, etc.

It’s probably safe to say that clownish, inexpertly applied make up will not increase the appearance of competence. Thankfully, there are experts out there, like our fellow blogger Larissa at Sparkle, Inc. or Emily McHugh at Daily Outfit. Doubtless there are many others too, but no time to seek them out, time to go hit Sephora! 

*image from

Spring in her Closet

 The modern mother may, on occasion, wander into her closet - look around in frustration and wander back out again.  The explanation is simple of course, the poor thing has NOTHING to wear.  But wait, you might say, what are all those items hanging from racks and sitting in drawers?  Aren't those clothes?  Yes, they are clothes.  But they are not the right clothes for today.  Or any other day between now and the start of summer.  They are warm wooly clothes and cozy corduroy clothes.  They are boots and silk blouses.  They are winter clothes.  And the modern mother is sick of them all. 

At this point the modern mother may start to look for some "spring clothes" only to discover - she does not seem to have any and possibly never did.  Except for a few things that look like something a Somali Pirate might wear in a pinch.   Did we mention that the modern mother does not love to shop?  She like clothes and she likes to look nice but hours spent wandering around stores and trying things on is just not her idea of fun.

If only there was someone who could help.

 Then she remembers.  What about the lovely ladies over at W2WW?  They seem to know a lot about clothes.  So she picks up the phone and asks if they do any sort of "emergency closet intervention."   Luckily, for the modern mother, they agree to help.  She is given an appointment and expected to prepare by doing the following:

Step 1.  Closet Sweep - go through all your clothes and decide whether to a) keep, b) store or c) give away.  If it is not flattering or you never wear it - it goes away.  She learned a lot about this process in this book.

Step 2.  Once she has decided what to keep, organize her clothes by season, item and color.  If she is lucky she may be able to store out of season items in another area.

Step 3.  Have the clothes she wishes to focus on ready for the appointment.  In this case the modern mother was looking for help with everyday spring ensembles.  Some a bit dressy but in general something she could wear around town, to work in her home office and to collect the enfants terrible at school. 

Then the fun began.  The lovely Jennifer and Lisa of W2WW arrived and the intervention occurred.  The modern mother has laid out her meager spring wardrobe on her bed and hung a collection of "what do I do with this?" pieces on a garment rack she had recently picked up. 

The ladies were fabulous.  Jennifer was typing away on her laptop while she and Lisa shouted out suggested combinations and ensembles the modern mother would never have known existed.  They might look at a pair of trousers and say something like "Try those with the navy sweater, do you have a striped t-shirt? OK, add it to her list.  What about ballet flats?  You need a more neutral color. " And so on.  Or they might look at a skirt and say "That is doing nothing for you."  Which in the end may be the best help of all.

After the lovely ladies left, promising to email her some thoughts, the modern mother felt like she was getting somewhere.  Not only did she have more to wear than she thought; she had also gleaned a good sense of what strategic pieces she might need.  For this dear reader, she has learned, is her biggest problem.  The modern mother lacked a coherent strategy when shopping.  She would go to the store with some  half-baked notion that she needed some spring clothes. No list, no colors in mind, just the vague sense that she needs something to wear.  She would then gravitate to items she liked with little regard for how they would work with the rest of her wardrobe.  This friends, is how she has ended up with seven charcoal ribbed zip cardigans and thirteen kaftans in assorted colors  (apparently these are called clones in the closet re-org business).

 Before she could even start to make her list, the best thing of all happened.  An email arrived.  The most helpful fashion email ever.  It was an excel spreadsheet listing the spring items in her wardrobe in the left column followed by what items they could be worn with on the right.  It was brilliant! Stupendous! Then it got better.  Below her own clothing was a list of suggested items to "fill in" her wardrobe, what they would work with and links (dear reader, can you stand it!) to those recommended items.   Wonderful suggestions in a variety of price points such as the j.crew toothpick jeans, sperry flats, tanks from old navy, and a lovely Theory top from Sacks. 

All in all the modern mother can't thank the W2WW ladies enough for saving her from herself and her closet. 

Friday Frivolity

From the ridiculous to the sublime it was quite a week for the modern mannerly mothers. 

While we can't all be in London riding double-decker buses and trying to catch a glimpse of Prince Harry, those of us back at home managed to muddle along.

 Google images

Speaking of muddling, your humble blogger received some much needed spring closet therapy from the lovely ladies at W2WW that you will hear about next week.  The peace is wonderful! 

Sadly it looks nothing like this divine closet from our beloved Lonny Blog.

We and our 9 year-old loved this piece we heard on Radio Boston about the benefits of taking a Gap Year.  She hopes to take hers between third and fourth and all subsequent grades. 

We had a bit of a chuckle as gp got a bit soppy on goop this week.   All perfectly true, we're sure.  Some modern mothers just aren't that introspective, we suppose, and the fault is ours.  However, we have already shared this blog's views on taking parenting advice from celebrities.  If you try this celebrity relationship advice, please let us know how it goes. 

Finally, before spring takes hold for good, might we recommend this glorious looking fried egg sandwich with bacon and blue cheese from smitten kitchen for your lazy Sunday morning breakfast.

This tantalizing picture is from Smitten Kitchen.

Happy weekend. 

The Whac-A-Mole School of Parenting - Or Oh No! We have been worrying about the wrong child.

As the well mannered mother knows parenting is not a science.  In fact it is a most imprecise art form; an art form very much like the carnival and boardwalk game call Whac-a-Mole.  If you have not played this game - you should.  Indeed we wonder why more parenting books do not contain the Allegory of the Whac-A-Mole. 

Once the game starts furry mole-like objects begin popping randomly out of the holes.  The players job is to whack them back into said holes with a large mallet.  As the clock ticks down the moles get more frequent and frenzied.  Naturally the player who whacks the most moles wins a junky stuffed prize.

While we certainly do not espouse whacking actual children with mallet on this blog, doesn't it always seem that just when the modern mother has one aspect of her life or family under control something else pops up?  For instance, the child you thought wasn't 'coming down with something' is the one who throws up at dinner.   The child you had been getting extra math help isn't actually the one who needs it.  You thought the plumber was only stopping in to fix the drippy shower not remove half a wall and come back for the next two weeks.  The volunteer event you thought was completely under control goes sideways at the last minute and you are left with nothing but tonic and lemons.

However, the modern mother may discover that Whac-A-Mole is one of her favorite boardwalk games for just this reason.  It is a test of her endurance, reflexes and sense of humor; much like the day to day requirements of actual parenting.

Photo from Google Images

Friday Frivolity - Yoga and the Modern Mother

The tendency of suburban mothers to partake regularly in yoga classes has been noted by marketers, scoffed at by some, defended by others, and by most accounts become a fixture of the suburban motherhood experience, much like taking up tennis, taking on home renovations, or subjecting oneself to hours at a hockey rink/indoor pool/soccer field for the sake of youth sports. So, when the New York Times published an article describing the tantric sex cult origins of yoga, and claiming that unknowing practitioners might become victims of "libidinal surprise," those of us who haven’t done a downward-facing dog in years had to wonder, Wow, maybe all those other mothers trotting about in yoga pants are on to something. Then again, maybe they’re not. Maybe they’re just too tired or too late to put on some actual pants. After all, no one has documented what percentage of people wearing yoga pants actually participate in yoga.

*image from someecards

School Pick Up or Sartrian Cocktail Party

The well mannered mother may vaguely remember earnest, angst ridden young men in cafes drinking espresso, smoking Gauloise and discussing Sartre.  The details are unimportant.   She might even remember reading Sartre's existentialist play No Exit.  And she just might, years later, find her mind flitting back to that play one clear cold afternoon as she stands waiting for her children to emerge from school.

For her children's school has what some laughingly call: cocktail party pick up.  Which is to say, there is no car line, or bus.  The parents (mostly mothers) either walk or drive and park to collect their offspring.  Of course in any clear thinking decade prior to our own the children would have been released and transported themselves home.  But that is another topic for another day.  {In the meantime visit Free Range Kids for a bit of parenting perspective.}  

Back to the modern mother at her cocktail party pick up.  It's delightful, friendly faces everywhere, people mingling and chatting about the upcoming symposium on hand holding.  Some cheery souls flitting from group to group - what a wonderful sense of community.  Or is it?  On occasion, of course.  Mostly she finds it very nice to see friends, neighbors. 

But she might have a day when she does not want to talk to anyone.  So she stands a little farther away and watches.  She might notice the other people standing back; is it a choice or do they not yet have a strong social network?  She might watch the body language of others as they move through the crowd smiling, waving, ignoring.  She might find it interesting how a group reacts when a newcomer arrives. 

The modern mother might wonder for a moment, how far she herself has come from her own school days.  Has she really studied, worked, traveled and endured raising small children to end up back in a school yard watching an awkward social structure at work? 

Of course not.  The modern mother has many more important things to think about.  Such as when is the next real cocktail party and how lucky she is to have not ended up with some Gauloise smoking, pseudo-intellectual. 

And hooray.  Her potentially mannerly children have arrived and they are off on the next adventure. 

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