Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Royal Review: Celebrate by Pippa Middleton

As the sister of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Pippa Middleton is in an unenviable situation. In many ways, she cannot win and it is unfortunate that to some, she will always be known as the only maid of honor to ever wear a flattering dress. Never judged on her own efforts, but on the media and public perception of her. Celebrate: A Year of Festivities for Families and Friends, is her attempt to change that.

Given her low profile prior to the royal wedding, Celebrate could be viewed as a premature effort. However, she's not the first person to jump on the bandwagon of her own notoriety nor will she be the last. To Pippa's credit, she acknowledges this in the introduction to Celebrate. She has the opportunity and she's taking advantage of it. By admitting this she makes it redundant for those who scoff at her efforts. Now who is being unoriginal?

Several reviews for this book have criticized Pippa for stating the obvious: 'ice goes great with drinks', 'a turkey at Christmas time is good for large gatherings'. Yes it's true, but let's be honest, even Martha Stewart falls back on 'Pumpkins add to the festive atmosphere of Halloween', 'Hearts make perfect Valentines' and 'Easter egg hunts are fun'. What Pippa does add to the field is her youth. Like her sister, she makes going the extra mile fashionable. Thus giving twenty-somethings options other than beer, wine, tortilla chips and brie cheese trays for their own parties.

Divided by seasons, Pippa presents crafts, recipes, nostalgic/traditional games and charming tidbits of trivia appropriate to the occasion. She offers small glimpses into how her family marked events like Easter and Mothers Day. While her tips for building bonfires may not apply to most of her readers,  her game instructions are occasionally hard to follow (Conker fights?) and hanging donuts from trees may be an attempt for the brave, her instructions for creating Christmas decorations and place settings using simple items can be for those willing to make the effort. Very reassuring for craft-challenged people like me.

With Celebrate, Pippa Middleton is not reinventing the wheel for entertaining. Instead her book is a fine attempt at reinterpreting it.

© Marilyn Braun 2012

Thank you for enjoying this article. If you use the information for research purposes, a link to credit the work I've put into writing it would be appreciated.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Prince Charles: Putting nails in the coffin for the future of the monarchy, one letter at a time?

Sometimes I wonder about the future of the monarchy.

With the old guard of dedicated, hardworking royals slowly fading away, they are replaced with a newer generation whose work ethic leaves much to be desired. Prince Charles is rumoured to be in favor of a 'slimmed down' monarchy. The rest of the minor royals/royals by proximity, have to find their own way in life. With the exception of William and Harry, the rest of the Queen's grandchildren, including ones with royal titles (Beatrice and Eugenie) can look forward to an existence unbound by the obligations of duty while maintaining the bragging rights.

But while paring down the monarchy makes sense, the attitudes of the remaining royals leaves the future of the monarchy on shaky ground. What with the foibles and celebrification of Prince Harry and Catherine and more worrying, William's reluctance to take on full-time royal duties because of a deluded desire to be 'normal'. These young royals seem to want to have it both ways - royal trappings without working towards earning them. With Catherine's willingness to abet the media in dumbing her down, when she finally rolls up the crisp white sleeves of her shirt (by Ralph Lauren), she has an uphill battle to be taken seriously. That is, if she ever does.

Yes, let's line up the nails for the coffin.  The young royals will supply the hammer.

When compared to the dedication of the Queen, her dignity, her ability to remain impartial, the rest of the royals look diminished in comparison. The Queen will always be a tough act to follow, but not an impossible one. Just look at Queen Victoria and her heir, King Edward VII. Unlike the present Queen, Victoria did not have a reputation for remaining impartial, but her sheer longevity earns her respect. For all of his accomplishments as a 'Peace-maker', King Edward VII's reputation as a bon vivant and arbiter of fashion take precedence. In that respect, Charles shares something in common with his great-great grandfather. Any good deeds he does are overshadowed by his personal life. Unfortunately, the same can be said for the present young royals. The Queen is indeed, the last of her kind.

Prince Charles is in a unique position to help.  And he should be lauded for the work that he has done. He walks his talk. But while he has the freedom to do this while Prince of Wales, it will be different once/if he becomes king. Like his mother, he will be expected to remain impartial and above politics. So far the signs are not good. Prince Charles does not have a reputation for being impartial nor does he cultivate one. Looking at the controversy surrounding letters he has written to politicians and the antics of the younger royals, it raises questions about the future of the monarchy. Questions we won't know the answer to until Charles becomes king. If he becomes king.

Yes, it really does make me wonder. 

© Marilyn Braun 2012

Thank you for enjoying this article. If you use the information for research purposes, a link to credit the work I've put into writing it would be appreciated.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Royal Review: Dress Up Kate

Since Kate's engagement announcement dozens of websites and blogs have have popped up ready to dissect every detail about her fashion choices. Frustratingly, your only option was to pass judgement in the various comments sections. Until now. Finally a sticker book has come along called  Dress Up Kate, allowing you to take matters into your own hands and play stylist to Kate. 

Poker faced minion

From her wedding day, to her honeymoon, royal engagements, Jubilee parties and red-carpet events you can choose from a variety of sedate outfits and accessories to match the occasion or throw caution to the wind. Corgi bedroom slippers to Garden parties? Wedding dress to a Lifeboat launch? Use your imagination!

Is that a telephoto lens
in the distance?
Replete with poker faced minions who appear to view Kate's state of undress as a matter of course, the only thing missing from these stickers are the paparazzi and chastened magazine editors. Although in light of recent news, Catherine may appear *ahem* a tad overdressed for the 'Home Alone' pages, no?

Look but don't play with it. One day
 this will be a collectors item.
Certain to appeal to all age groups, including my eight year old daughter, who would have had far more fun had I let her play with the stickers. With Dress Up Kate, 'Copy-Kate's' no longer have an excuse to continue venting their frustrations about her fashion choices. With 350 stickers, you can indulge your fashion fantasies to your heart's content. Don't like her shoes? Choose new ones! Floral bouquet clashes with the Queen's hat? Change it! The choice is now yours.

© Marilyn Braun 2012

Thank you for enjoying this article. If you use the information for research purposes, a link to credit the work I've put into writing it would be appreciated.