Tag Archives: Downton Abbey

Will Mrs. Patmore Bake My Hamantaschen?

Purim is around the corner — the closest thing we Jews have to our own Halloween. We dress up, give out treats, and wait for treats to be given to us. Of course there’s a whole story behind it: a Persian king got rid of his wife because she wouldn’t dance naked for him and his creepy friends one night. He replaces her with a young hottie who may or may not have been betrothed to her cousin. The cousin convinces her to hide her Jewishness and marry the king and save her people from the plottings of an evil madman. We won. The end.

To celebrate our victory, we eat hamantaschen — these triangular cookies stuffed with fruit, chocolate, and sometimes poppy seeds.  Because I live in a community of cooks and bakers, each year I am inundated with Facebook uploads of trays and trays of perfect hamantaschen. I think I may have tried to make them years ago but it was a complete and utter disaster and I haven’t dared try since. But the kids are off school today and I thought: “How hard can it be? Are my children missing out on the experience of stuffing jam into rolled out dough? Could I be doing more?”

So I spoke to my sister (another accomplished baker), got some advice, and dove in.

I made some fillings:


I got out my tools, made the dough, and dove in.

The result:


Even if you don’t know what hamantaschen look like, you can probably tell that they are not supposed to look like exploding brains. Jews may eat some pretty crazy stuff, but even we are above eating exploding brain cookies.

Luckily, you do not have to bake well to be a Jew. (My Mormon pals tell me I’d be all but excommunicated by now.)

I’m not even sad about it. I used up all my sad last night watching the Downer Abbey season finale. While the show was grim and cruel, my biggest takeaway from the entire episode was watching the downstairs crew prepare the family for the Scottish sojourn, and thinking: “Really? These people don’t even have to pack for themselves?”

Forget baking these bloody hamantaschen. I’d never have to remember to pack pacifiers, bathing suits, and toothbrushes for seven ever again.

Sign. Me. Up.


Filed under children, downton abbey, food, parenting, Uncategorized


I have the flu. I got the flu shot, and I still got the flu.

Luckily, I had the good sense to have the worst of it while M was around. I collapsed into bed and only came up for air to watch episode two of Downton. Poor Edith. Poor, poor Edith. She didn’t have the flu, but she did get jilted at the altar. By a one-armed, old man with watery eyes.

Last week I promised myself I would NOT watch Downton looking like a scullery maid. Lady Mary wore one ridiculously marvelous outfit after the other (there was a fuchsia dress that had me gasping), and there I was in my ratty, mismatched pajamas. (Last year I resolved to get rid of all my awful bed-wear and replace it all with stuff I’d be happy to leave the house wearing. Apparently, I’d be happy leaving the house wearing over-sized striped pants and a bleach-stained tartan top.) Next week, I told myself, there would at least be a good nightie, pearls and some lip gloss.

Alas, the flu struck and I have no idea what I wore because I sweat through six pairs of pajamas last night and awoke wearing M’s clothes.

I have quite a bit on my plate at the moment and this was meant to be the week of remarkable progress. There are lists and charts dedicated to the ridiculous amounts of work I was going to wade through this week. Instead, I am drinking tea and watching even more work pile up.

Perhaps Edith would like to trade places. Even if it’s only for a week.

Bennett and two friends are running through the house bringing things to Tracy. Who is Tracy, you ask? Tracy is our new hamster.

Because I need something else that is awake all night and shits wherever it wants to.

I don’t know why they named her Tracy.


I didn’t have the heart to tell them that if your name is Tracy:

a) you were born in the 1970’s or

b) you are a porn star.

I suppose with a name like Tracy you can also be hamster.

Welcome to the funny farm, Tracy.


Filed under children, parenting, Seattle

Football or… bust.

It was pretty clear, from the moment the boys were born, that I’d never have two sons like Doctors Niles and Frasier Crane, no matter how much I wished for them. There are no matching sweater-vests in my future, and if given the choice between a Maria Callas tribute or gouging their eyes out with a butter knife, I’m pretty sure the boys would bid their eyesight adieu.

But I was not prepared for the enormous role that sport, especially football, would play in their lives, and as a result, in mine.

A few football observations:

1. I am not a stupid person. I may not have been able to hack high school physics, but I ably followed this whole fiscal cliff episode, and I still understand about one fourth of Prufrock. Still, I am not being glib when I say that I cannot for the life of me understand how this game of football is played. I know there are goals at each end of the field, and I know that it’s a big deal when the ball gets into one of them, but everything that happens in between is a complete and utter mystery. What on earth is a “down” and why on earth does the game stop and start so much? This has all been explained to me many, many times, but none of it sticks. I suppose I could make room in my brain for it, but then I’d have to get rid of something else. I got rid of all of French history to make room for Star Wars characters, and what little Shakespeare I grasped had to go to make room for Ninjago.

Do I really have to wipe out something else?

2. Entire nations can crumble in the time it takes for a game to be played. The boys used to fool me and say, “We’ll come up for dinner when the game is done. There are only fourteen minutes left.” Fourteen minutes, I quickly, learned,  is a football eternity. Every time  one of those enormous men drops the ball, the whole thing comes to a screeching halt. The whole thing has as much fluidity as a bumper car. We’re talking hours here.

3. I wonder whether Mary and Matthew really need to move away from Downton to get some space from her family, or if they could just be given their own floor of the Abbey. Oops, wrong show…

4. Those damned cheerleaders. People, there are young boys and girls watching this thing. Put the boobs away. I told M that in my next life I’d come back as a designer of cheerleader costumes. He said he wasn’t sure that people would watch cheerleaders who looked like they walked off the set of “Sense and Sensibility.” I don’t know. In my mind, there’s nothing sexier than an empire waistline, a floor-length, hem, and some little leather booties. Surely, I can’t be alone here.

5. The cheerleaders have nothing on the smutty commercials.

6. If I have to watch (which I do, in order to avoid being peripheral, which I know will happen eventually anyway), then at least give me something to look at. Apparently, even though the majority of the players barely resemble athletes, many of them are quite athletic. Each time I comment on the remarkable girth of a player, one of the men in the house tells me that he can do something extraordinary, like jump onto a table from the floor, or lift a school bus. Still, would it hurt these guys to trim down a bit?

Tom Brady can’t be everywhere at once, and in the meantime, there’s a whole lot of ugly in the NFL.

7. Opera cannot compete with football. There’s a children’s production of Rossini’s Cinderella next Sunday. M told me that if I forced the boys to skip a playoff game to go to the opera, then I’d pretty much guarantee them an opera-free life. I could never life with myself. So, I’m sadly passing on the opera in favor of a game that will surely last for seven hours and require many, many bowls of popcorn, plates of nachos, and will not feature a single tenor.

The opera may feature ladies in low cut dresses, but I’m not sure they can compete with those damn cheerleaders.


Filed under parenting, sports

Downton Hangover.

He may not be (sigh) Matthew Crawley, but M really put on quite the dashing display of Solomonic wisdom this morning.

Efram usually gets out of bed first so he can lay claim to the morning paper. Sometimes, though, Bennett drags his surliness out of bed and gives him a run for his money. It is never pretty.

The boys raced down the stairs, half dressed, and had we not intervened, would have pummeled each other for the paper. When Bennett got to it first, Efram declared that he wasn’t hungry anymore and stormed into the basement.

After all attempts to have them sit side by side and read the sports pages together failed, M grabbed a pair of scissors and… yes, that’s right, sheared the paper in two. What a hero.

Sadly, it was not enough for Efram, who was already in a remarkable funk. I don’t know what his excuse was; he wasn’t up late watching Downton Abbey.  (None of this would happen if our butler woke up, split the paper, ironed it, then brought it to the boys in bed; they’d never know the difference.)

Because all the staff was off, we both had an especially productive Sunday. While M took the two boys skiing, I took the three girls to Costco and cleaned out the fridge. Sometimes I cannot bear the glamor of my life.

In the afternoon, while the boys watched football at various friends’ houses, M built yet more bookshelves in the boys’ room and shelving in the office. I walked into the boys’ room (he was listening to a football game and shvitzing from the lifting of heavy Ikea boxes.)

“I’m here to help.” I say.

“Great. Hand me that box,” and he points to a very long, very heavy looking box of Billy shelving.

“You do know that by ‘help’ I mean ‘offer moral support’, don’t you?”

He knows better. I do not, as a rule, lift heavy things. (I especially do not lift heavy things in and out of cars, and while on vacation.)  I tell him a few jokes, offer some refreshments and leave the room as quickly as I can before I am asked to do any more things that I do not do.

Today, I will be even more useless. How am I supposed to watch close to two hours of programming about a house full of servants and still be expected to cook dinner?



Filed under children, downton abbey, parenting, Seattle, sports