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The Family Stone


Image credit: The Family Stone, 2005

It happened again this year-  I found myself getting sucked down the Hallmark Christmas movie wormhole. I tell myself I’ll just watch this one about a single mom who has sworn off men but then meets the love of her life working at a soup kitchen (it’s always a soup kitchen), until 6 hours later I’m wrapped up in a blanket cocoon, cookie crumbs everywhere, weeping as fake snow falls around yet another happy couple in chunky sweaters (it’s always a chunky sweater). Clearly, I’m in need of something to wean me off of this TV movie crack. To that end, I’ll be watching The Family Stone (DVD/Download). It’s got the lighthearted romance I crave, mixed with the gravitas of a cancer-subplot that tugs at the heartstrings. But also, it includes some intelligent conversations about world cultures and gay rights. I like to think of this one as Hallmark for the liberal elite.

The Family Stone stars Sarah Jessica Parker as an uptight career gal who is brought home to meet her boyfriend’s family at Christmas.  From the NPR-tote bag-carrying little sister played by Rachel McAdams, to the funky jewelry/Coldwater Creek-wearing mom played by Diane Keaton, The Family Stone is full of lofty ideals and snarky judgement. To be fair, Parker’s character says some pretty abominable things when she gets nervous and backed into a corner, but still- tough crowd. Luckily Luke Wilson is around to lighten up the mood, as well as Craig T. Nelson in his typical gentle giant patriarch role. There are some fun moments where SJP finally lets her “freak flag fly”, but then- cancer (it’s always cancer).

The house in this film is meant to evoke all the warm fuzzies.  It’s messy, full of love, and big enough for a crowd.   And what is the perfect thing to drink at a New England holiday gathering?  Pumpkin Spice Lattes of course! I’m making mine a little boozy because family get-togethers can be rough. While watching The Family Stone, I recommend drinking a Spiked Pumpkin Spice Latte.

Spiked Pumpkin Spice Latte

5 cups strong brewed coffee

3 cups milk

½ cup heavy whipping cream

½ cup Bourbon

½ cup Bailey’s Irish Cream

¼ cup canned pure pumpkin

1/3 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Whipped cream topping

In a slow cooker, mix all ingredients except the whipped cream topping. Stir with a whisk until well combined. Cover and cook on High setting 2 hours, stirring once after an hour. Serve in mugs, and top with whipped cream and additional pumpkin pie spice.


This would be a great drink to serve on Christmas morning when you’re opening gifts and settling in for a lazy day with food and family.  Or, you could be like me and make a whole pot for yourself, not realizing until you’re 3 Hallmark movies in that you’ve consumed a week’s worth of heavy cream and alcohol.  Whatever works for you and yours.  Cheers!

Baby Boom

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I stumbled onto a copy of one of my favorite 80’s movies the other night. No, not Jaws, not Star Wars, and definitely not Indiana Jones. I’m talking about the Diane Keaton classic Baby Boom. Set in the bustling dot-matrix world of New York finance, this movie features plenty of shoulder pads, Le Corbusier furniture, and that great mystery of male sexiness Sam Shepard. For those who haven’t seen it, Diane Keaton’s character J.C. Wiatt is a high-powered businesswoman in New York City who inherits a baby through some pretty outlandish circumstances. She tries her best to raise the baby and keep the career, but in the end a smarmy 80’s-era James Spader undermines her and she’s forced to leave the rat race behind. She moves to Vermont, where she meets a handsome veterinarian and starts a baby applesauce company. J.C. Wiatt is my personal hero in this movie. She takes a horrible situation (cue the shrieking baby at a business meeting) and turns it into something amazing. If that’s not inspirational, I don’t know what is.

For my cocktail pairing, I’m making a Vermont Appletini. Now, you’re welcome to make a standard Appletini with the neon green mix if that’s your thing, but personally I prefer something a little more refined in flavor. Like a lot of the cocktails I’ll be featuring, this one contains real fruit slices. Because fruit is very healthy for you, even if it’s soaked in alcohol. Right?


Vermont Appletini

1 part Orange-flavored Vodka

½ part Diced Apple

½ part Simple Syrup

½ part Lemon Juice

½ part Butterscotch Schnapps*

Pinch of Cinnamon

Fresh apple slices for garnish

In a cocktail shaker, muddle the apple and simple syrup. Add ice and the rest of the ingredients. Shake until cold, and strain into a chilled martini glass. Top with a thin slice of apple and pinch of cinnamon.

This drink is a great accompaniment to the film because it combines the sophistication of the New York cocktail scene with the flavors of a fall night in Vermont. Sip slowly as you marvel at Diane Keaton’s impeccable comedic timing, James Spader’s female golfer haircut, and Sam Shepard’s crooked smile and backwoods accent that shouldn’t be attractive yet somehow are, in a geeky sort of way. In many ways, I think this movie has greatly inspired me in life.  J.C. Wiatt longs for life where she can raise her baby outside of the rat race, while still maintaining a fabulous career. In the end, she makes it happen. Whereas I long to sit around mixing cocktails and watching movies all day, while still doing something that can be called a career. And look at me now, doing just that. Here’s to making applesauce with your life. Cheers!

*Note- you may be asking yourself, why should I buy an entire bottle of Butterscotch Schnapps for this one drink? I promise, you’ll use it again in again. It makes a great mixer during the fall, particularly in apple cider or rum cocktails.