So Jeff and I are big fans of the Food Network on TV. And we watch Chopped all the time. Probably even more than we realize. This occurred to me as we noticed that Ashtyn has started playing 'chef' all the time and calls out "Five minutes left!" She also pretends to open her basket of ingredients (very important on the show) and insists on having someone play with her to "be the person who talks." In other words, she wants a judge to inspect her creations. The whole thing is so funny! It's not like she sits down and watches Chopped with us, but it's amazing how much she's absorbed. So this morning she called me into her room to "be the person who talks" again. I recruited Polar Bear to be that person (albeit he's a little on the quiet side). You can see above that Ashtyn has her own absolutely adorable apron (thanks to Aunt Stacey!). She is so creative when cooking and makes up names for every one of her dishes. I keep hoping she decides to go to culinary school one day and open a restaurant. :)
OK, moving on to all that British goodness that is Downton Abbey! There may be spoilers below so don't continue unless you've seen the episode!
So what did we all think about last night's season premiere? First of all, I was just thrilled to be back in that world again and I absolutely loved every minute of it. But let's get to specifics. Mary looked gorgeous on her wedding day, but I do wish we'd at least been able to view the radiant couple saying their vows. I was emotional when Lord Grantham and Carson saw her coming down in her wedding gown. So sweet. Loved it.
The drama before the wedding was interesting. I'm not sure how I feel about the whole "taking Levinia's father's money" issue. It seems like Matthew is taking the high road and that's a good thing. How could he live with himself if he's living off money only promised to him because of Levinia? But losing Downton is not a small concern and it's also understandable that Mary sees the money as a way to save the estate. In some ways, Mary is all about holding to tradition. But not in other ways--like how open she is to Branson as part of the family. I suppose that's mainly for Sybill's sake, but still. Let me just say up front that I do not really like Branson. I felt like the "love story" between him and Sybill was not even a love story! Her response to his proposal was "I'm ready to travel. And you're my ticket out of here." That's not romance to me. And I never liked him in the other episodes because he was such a hot head. Remember when he tried to pour the pot of mud or whatever on that general? Really? He's a grown man! Anyway, it sort of seemed to me that Lady Sybill was desperate to escape her mundane life and he was her way out. Not exactly heart-stopping romance. Now Matthew and Mary, their love story is wonderful.
I'm hoping Branson goes back to Ireland. I do realize that's probably wishful thinking. but he's just not my favorite. I loved Cora's mother and Lady Violet's sparring. Lady Violet is just so hilarious! I loved this quote by her: "No guest should be admitted without the date of the departure settled." Obviously, Cora's mother is not her favorite person.
I did think there was some added intrigue when it comes to Bates's case. Did he murder his wife? Time will tell. I'm also glad to see Edith getting somewhere finally. Yes, her love interest seems older than her father, but still. We'll see where it goes. Jeff doesn't think Edith's guy will live through the season. I hope he's wrong. The big question is how will the Grantham's save Downton? And is Sir Richard gone for good? I rather thought he'd be back this season to cause more trouble. (And I tend to think he's involved in Vera's death.) And poor Mrs. Hughes! I hope it's not too serious. She's a good character.
Overall opinion, I thought episode one was fantastic. Lots of humor and drama. I'm counting down till next week! What did you think?