Wednesday, June 23, 2010

I am a Fat Ballerina

I was wedding shoe hunting today and walked into a dance store - you know, the type of store where tutus and leg warmers are sold.  I walked in and I was looking at the cute leotards, adult sized one.  

This skinny chic walks up to me and says, "Can I help you with something?"  
I said, "Yeah, I'm looking for dancing shoes."  
She responded with, "Yeah, you don't look like a ballerina."  
To which I responded, "Actually I'm a fat ballerina... now that I've disclosed that I'm fat, can you please show me your shoes?" She looked embarrassed.  

She shows me the shoes and I ask for a particular style and my size.  Her boss follows her to the back.  She comes out without a box of shoes and her boss announces they don't have that shoe in my size.  

"Have you thought about this shoe instead?"  the boss asked.  
"Yes, briefly, before I asked for the other shoe," I said.  
"Well you can't wear that shoe outside even if we had it in your size."

So at this point I got mad... "You know, if I bought that shoe I'm pretty sure I could wear it outside, because it would be
my shoe..."

"I'm sorry..." she said.

"I'm fat." I said.

I left. I found my lovely shoes at Macys.

I'm still fat.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

April 2010 Daring Baker's Challenge - The secret I was all too glad to keep

The April 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Esther of The Lilac Kitchen. She challenged everyone to make a traditional British pudding using, if possible, a very traditional British ingredient: suet.

I can handle it, no sweat, nothing to fear, got it in the bag, strut my metaphorical stuff through the self rising flour, the sweet delish sugar to the brandy drowned raisins, bring on the...


Suet?  Suet sounds like something that might keep my shoes from stinkin', my hair from frizzin', or maybe I'd sprinkle it in the garden to kill those pesky snails Jack is always joking I should fry up.  

I found the Daring Kitchen and want desperately to call myself a Daring Baker.  I loved the idea of being challenged, stretched, inspired!  Ok, really, I liked the idea of showing off.  I mean c'mon I've got some mad, crazy baking skills that make people swoon and tell me how I should have my own restaurant, bakery, coffee shop, or bed and breakfast thingy.  

I was so excited to get the challenge.  I had waited a whole month to find out what it was going to be.  Last month had been french macaroons and oh, how I wish I had been early enough to have that project.  

So what do I get... Suet.  Actually, it was pudding.  British Pudding to be exact and the challenge was to work with suet.  This was not a glamorous challenge.  In fact, I felt quite cheated out of a very good big secret.  I did not want to run out into the world and tell them I couldn't tell them I had to make a pudding with SUET.  In fact, I WANTED to keep this secret.  How much fun is that?!  I never knew I was a secret snob.

I went to the special grocery store (insert the word "expensive" for the word "special") and thank the goddess, Sandra had let me know you could ask the butcher for suet.  You, in fact, must, ask.  There is no sign that says, "We got us some SUET." Not one suet sign.  No one wants the stuff.  It's a secret even to the guys that work there.  Yep, I asked, "excuse me but do you have suet?"  Three guys look at the oldest guy hacking away at some huge piece of meat, "Sooout?" they asked him.  "Yeah, the packages are in the freezer.  How much did you want?" How much is 120 "g"s.  At which point I whip out the iPhone and ask for a translation.  "I should be fine with a pound, thank you."  

I arrived at the register and the woman says, "Is this going to do it?" as she swipes the butcher paper wrapped package over the magic scanner.  "That'll do it," I reply.  "That's gonna be..." long pause.  She takes the package and looks it over.  Then she looks me over.  "86 cents?  Is that right?" she asks me.  "I guess so," I respond.  "Did they mark it right?" she asks.  I looked at the package... "yep... suet..." I said.  They practically pay you to remove it from the store... this should be interesting.  

I had picked out a recipe... spotted dick.  If I wasn't going to have the thrill of keeping a secret, I at least deserved to have the opportunity to giggle about it every time I went to say what I was up to, researching, or buying ingredients for.  

Let me just say, for the record, I was so brave with this challenge.  The recipe was vague, at best.  Yes, I was given precise measurements for the six ingredients, but what order I put them all together was entirely up to me.  I was then to put it all in something that could sit in water and steam... but no one said if I was to grease or not grease that particular something.  Do I cover or not cover it?! Do I cover or not cover the pot I'm steaming it in???  And then there was the mention of a pudding cloth.  What is a pudding cloth?  Do I have one?  

I'm winging it at this point.

Sometime during the steaming I remembered there was a string involved so I put a piece of foil over it and tied it up... kinda... It didn't look like Sandra's.  And it wasn't in a cylindrical shape.  My spotted dick turned into a... well, a spotted boob more like.  It looks cool.  I was pleasantly surprised.

It turned out rather lovely, suet and all.  I felt like I did when I was making tamales this last Thanksgiving for the first time... there was no real recipe or instructions for doing that either.  The web was not helpful.  I was more confused the more I researched.  I had to call out my inner Mexican and feel the masa.  In this case, I had to dive into my inner Brit.  I am very pleased with the result.  I think Sandra would be proud.


Wednesday, April 21, 2010


They say every girl grows up dreaming of their wedding day.  I can't say I did.  

Life kinda happened to me at a very young age.  My teen years, I was trying to live through a cancer diagnosis.  College years, I was trying to get my head around the fact I wasn't gonna die.  I was never a gushy dater... that I remember.  I remember being overly sensitive about my weight.  I remember dating people because they were fine for the moment but knowing this wasn't a forever thing.  By all accounts I was committed... sometimes for a long time... but I can't honestly say I was INVESTED.  

And then I met Jack.  Oh my goodness, to say I'm in love just doesn't cut it.  

I think that's what kept me focused for my one and only attempt at wedding dress shopping.  The first dress, I got stuck in.  It went on just fine, but it didn't want to come off.  In fact, I asked for help.  I swallowed any ounce of pride I may have had going in and offered to even get on the floor on my knees so the kid who was helping me could get some leverage to get the thing off of me.  She was a KID - maybe 17 or 18-ish, having only worked there 5 months and knowing nothing about body type, or how to listen, and had no skills on how to discern that this was a potential tear dropping moment.  She pushed at my fat as if stuffing a pillow into a stubborn pillowcase.  She told me I should work on not sweating as this was making the dress stick to me more.  And then the dress ripped.  RIPPED.  

I have no idea what other women feel like as they plan their wedding.  I can tell you there's only most important detail... that Jack is there.  Absolutely everything else is icing.  I'm so excited for the wedding and I'm even more excited about being his wife.  

No matter how much fat had to be unstuffed from that dress, regardless of how MORTIFIED I was in the moment, Jack loves me.  

This is the stuff Shakespeare wrote about.   

Oh, and I'm having my dress made by a lovely seamstress - Vogue Vintage here I come!

Monday, March 1, 2010


I am responsible for being happy.  The man has been reminding me of this.  He is remarkably supportive... supportive of me, of my family, of my sanity, my worth, my growth.  I am going through a period of evaluating the things that I'm doing and asking myself what I would like to continue.  What's working?  What's not?  What's fun?  What's hurting my soul?  There are things I do that now don't bring me as much joy as they used to.  

And so this weekend he said to me, "Work on being happy.  That's your only responsibility."

Happiness is not overrated.  Contentment is a blessing.  I know this because the relationship I have with the man is the example of how I'd like everything else in my life to be.  I can say I am happy, content.  Thankfully, he knows this about this area of my life.  I still do the dishes, the laundry, the grocery shopping, the organizing, and tidying up.  I still make lunches and morning breakfasts, still fill the cars with gas and still forget to wash the car.  There is a lot of simple, normal stuff that goes on.  It's not "easy" but it's not "hard" either.  There's a flow and it feels like a joyful prayer of thanks.

I think a lot of people wish for that flow.  I think many of us feel like we're swimming in mud sometimes in different parts of our lives.  We do things that do not bring us joy because we feel we have no choice, or have a feeling of obligation, or because doing something different is scary.  It is scary.  We do have obligations.  We also have choice.  

So this week, I'm choosing... I'm choosing to actively do things that make me happy.  I'm actually very excited.  This should be quite interesting.   

Thursday, February 4, 2010

A Story for Me

The Farmer's Daughter

Once there was a farmer with a beautiful daughter. Men came from miles around to ask her father for her hand in marriage, but he was the old-fashioned type, and wanted to make sure his daughter would have a husband who provided for her – strong, sensible and industrious.

So finally he settled on three likely young men, and told them he would ask them a question to decide which one could woo his daughter. 
The three young men nervously waited while he prepared his pipe. Finally, he asked all three of them a single question: “If you are working in the fields and find there’s a stone in your shoe, how long can you work?”
The first young man sprung to his feet. “I can work all day long! I can ignore the stone in my shoe until the sun sets! I am tough and I will endure the pain.”
The farmer nodded and turned to the second young man. “I can do the same, but I’ll even whistle to show I’m not bothered one bit by the stone! I can completely ignore the pain.”
The farmer settled his corn cob pipe and turned to the third young man, who declared, “I can’t work one minute with a stone in my shoe.” The other two young men laughed and congratulated themselves, declaring loudly that one of them would surely be chosen. The third man finished as they laughed, saying “I’ll stop and take the stone out of my shoe and keep on working like I always would. And at the end of the day, my wife won’t have to wash a bloody sock.”
The third young man and the farmer’s daughter were married the next spring.
The moral of the story is that it’s not always about being the toughest or the most driven – sometimes it’s about being smart. This applies almost every day in your work life and in your personal life. Don’t just keep hammering away at a problem to prove you can stick to a task. Know when to quit, reevaluate and begin fresh. And if you don’t know, stop, take a break and start again. The answer will come to you.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Overachiever Syndrome - A Self Diagnosis

I get overwhelmed.  

See, in a perfect world I'd be making six comfortable figures (that first figure a 2 or 3) while working Monday through Friday 10:30am to 2pm.  The house would be organized before I left in the morning and we'd be on a schedule so there was never more than one load of laundry that needed to be done.  Everything would be folded, put away, ironed or sent off to the dry cleaners.  I'd have our meals planned out weekly so I could take advantage of sales and the collection of recipe boxes and cookbooks that grace our front room.  I'd have a wardrobe filled with the essentials Tim Gunn says I should have, and my hair would be fabulous - daily and ALL DAY LONG - regardless of weather.  I'd be home in time to workout, refresh the makeup, work on the three course meal and take my mom to her doctor's appointments.  There would be enough time to plan vacations and friendly get-togethers.  There would be enough money to send out wedding invitations and I'd be wondering if a pale rose or champagne color would be best for the dress.  

Considering I've got a lot on my plate and even more than this in my head, one could argue it's no wonder I'm overwhelmed.  What I am noticing is that overwhelm seems to happen not because I have too much to contend with, but because I'm just not at all very good at honoring all that does get done.  

So today I put a stack of post-it notes in my purse.  I am writing down the good that happens.  An easy drive in the rain...  the bridge toll tickets that were forgiven because a call was made...  the meeting with the client that went well...  the $353 phone bill that was paid by someone other than myself... the donation to Wardrobe for Opportunity...  figuring out that my food drive was successful with 1,323 meals donated... all just today. 

I do a lot.  Way more than I ever consider.  And I need to consider all that I do do... because it will prevent me from hyperventilating because I have a crazy idea that I'm not doing much.  Overachiever Syndrome.


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Say What You Need To Say

I'm learning sign language.  I have said when I have a baby I want to teach it to sign.  Babies can sign before they can talk, you know.  We don't have a little one yet but we are definitely nesting.  We casually go to the furniture stores for fun and look at cribs and rocking chairs.  We walk through the baby aisle now instead of around them.  A little piece of me and a little piece of him all in one adorable bundle... what could be more lovely?  Did I mention we have 2 copies of the girlfriend's guide to pregnancy?  One of my fabulous girlfriend's gave hers to me and one of the guys at work gave him one.

Today I was out with a new friend and she shared an OttLite. (An OttLite is high definition lighting indoors... with OttLite lighting all of a sudden you think, "Ahhhh! I can see!!!!") Her OttLite - learning sign language.  And since this little one, that isn't even a twinkle in her daddy's eye yet, is going to learn Spanish as well as English, I figured we could toss in signing.  Just think, when she's a teenager, I can tell her NO or "don't even think about it!"or "Ummm you forgot the other half of your outfit," without saying a word.  I LOVE that!

Signing is a beautiful thing.  And learning to say I love you in another language... that's just grand.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

A Very French Sunday

It was French for lunch. He and I went to the thrift stores yesterday. I have been on the lookout for a few things for the house. I found these lovely oval individual serving dishes for $2 a piece. They are oven and microwave safe. I love white dishes. They show off the food quite nicely. I try and do a bit of presentation with each dish I cook. I find it doesn't take anymore time than slopping a serving haphazardly onto the dish. The food looks so much prettier and as I'm proud of what I cook, I figure it should look as good as it will taste.

For Christmas my future mother-in-law had given me the Barefoot in Paris cookbook by Ina Garten. I love Ina’s books. Page 64 has the Herbed-Baked Eggs recipe. This specific recipe inspired the search for the individual dishes. It is a very simple and very French recipe. One feels especially French when eating the eggs with brioche toast.

If you have any questions about this recipe or about cooking in general, let me know as I'd be delighted to share. I think it's time for a cup of french press coffee and perhaps a crumpet. Yum... I love Sunday afternoons.

½ teaspoon minced fresh garlic (I use a mini grater to make this easy)

½ teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves

½ teaspoon minced fresh rosemary leaves

2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

3 eggs per person

1 tablespoon of heavy cream per individual plate

½ tablespoon of butter per individual plate

Kosher salt

Freshly ground pepper

Toasted brioche

Preheat the broiler for 5 minutes and place the top wrack six inches below the heat.

Combine the garlic, thyme, rosemary, parsley, and Parmesan and set aside.

Carefully crack 3 eggs into each of 2 small bowls or teacups (you won't be baking them in these) without breaking the yolks. (It's very important to have all the eggs ready to go before you start cooking.)

Place 2 individual gratin dishes on a baking sheet. Place 1 tablespoon of cream and 1/2 tablespoon of butter in each dish and place under the broiler for about 3 minutes, until hot and bubbly. Quickly, but carefully, pour 3 eggs into each gratin dish and sprinkle evenly with the herb mixture, then sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Place back under the broiler for 5 to 6 minutes, until the whites of the eggs are almost cooked. (Rotate the baking sheet once if they aren't cooking evenly.) The eggs will continue to cook after you take them out of the oven. Allow to set for 60 seconds and serve hot with toasted bread.

For the brioche toast, Trader Joe’s sells brioche buns. I took a brioche bun and sliced it, put it on a baking sheet, and spread the slices with a little butter. I toasted the slices in the oven with the oven set at 450 degrees until they were golden brown – about three minutes.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Epiphany Happens

I linger. It’s Epiphany, January 6th, and in the corner of the cottage is the Christmas tree. I’m ignoring the brown needles clearly visible in the center of the tree. They’re really just the bright clear strung lights reflecting off the needles. The branches are not drooping… too much. The angel is only a little lopsided and I’m sure that was due to an earthquake. We do, after all, live in California. I’m seeing Valentine’s decorations and I’m still determined to say, “Happy New Year.”

It’s a really good life, this cottage living. For now it’s just the two of us, two frogs that have never told me their names, Fern and Lily - the fish, and two apple snails that are a bit shy to introduce themselves. A lot happens here - celebrations, decorations, crafts, tons of cooking and I even sometimes get a bug in me to garden. We do a lot of fun stuff – yard sales, trips to bookstores, long drives for fresh baked bread… this blog allows me to linger with all the good and loveliness that this cottage living inspires.