Friday, April 29, 2011

If you're afraid of butter, use cream

What is it in a book, a manuscript or paragraph in the morning tribune that has something that made you put everything down, stop, and wonder.

Reading through the words causes a frisson of emotions, all fueling the same statements you undoubtedly already knew.

Could it be this easy, has it been here this whole time?

Can I possibly piece this together?

Do I really know this person?

Its really a wonder (and maybe a sign) that I had been reading a single book that gets read so many times per year and ended up writing about change, meeting people who change your life and how you pull yourself together from the millions of pieces and make YOU happen.

Selfish as this is, until I am part of a unit, a family, an attachment, it remains heavily on ones shoulders in this sense where it is about you.

My Life In France is just that book, like An Eat Pray Love or a Susan Elizabeth Phillips read. Its one that gets picked up and brings something to the table even if its a quirky recipe or a reminder to meditate...or remember that absolute blinding love does exist and friendships and relationships form out of nothing and can become everything.

I finished it the other night and thought about people that are closest to my heart, friendships that spread across countrysides and vast oceans. Through email, random postcards and skype we've managed to keep something in tact.

There's a beauty in formed relationships that goes beyond words and in the book two women who didn't meet for years while they had been corresponding through regular posts managed such a strong bond.

I love this. This connectivity that goes above and beyond and everything that is ahead of us.

I may not be living an over the top lifestyle filled with empty relationships or rushing in and out with certain people like toilet paper. With each passing day one more interaction is thrown into the mix of others building. Maybe its a feeling of being humbled with the people around, or better yet its not just people around but people that have been connected through some other force and its just the right time to have paths crossed.

There's not a day that goes by am I not thankful for the people I have met in unusual circumstances that eventually became lifelong friends and family, or beginning friendships that seem unexpected and exciting as they grow. I am grateful for this and cannot think of a better way to say thanks than closing the eyes, taking a deep breath and turning a face to the skies above.

Times have changed, and people change right with it but have we really? I'd like to put myself in Julia Child's shoes while she was living in France. How she must have felt to have met someone who shared her passions and could share coversations apart from her husband who was the luckiest man alive being a taste tester for that damn cookbook that mastered the art of french cooking but was a revolution in the culinary world. Despite everything, planes, trains and automobiles there was communication and a bond.

This is what I aspire for, with meeting people of all walks. Not in a sense that this is all for one reason alone but something that feeds the soul, the voice and warms your heart. And in Julias case its one pound of butter at a time.

And whoever said a little butter never hurt.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Do brunettes have more fun?

This is way overdue but the last two weeks have been insanely crazed which in itself is great but I'm feeling a tad hungover on life this morning...but in a really good way.

Let there be no bias statements here.

Almost two weeks has passed and in that time I've been able to sit back, evaluate and see a different side of things that had been blocked mentally and possibly purposefully.

At the thanks to a friend who hosted a successful fashion supporting for the Northern Illlinois Food Bank last week am I able to don a new do. For this particular event, donations were raised to feed the hungry and three women were chosen to feed their sense of style.

Well two women, as I was a shoe in as a personal gift from a friend.

As mentioned before I was highly critical of taking part but eventually understood the two roots for this little makeover. My friend needed help, and I fell into the age demographic that she needed to fill. A transformation has been evolving both inside and out, physically and emotionally and has been witnessed unbeknownst to myself but very much through the eyes of many around.

Its interesting that while we are going through hard times and dark hours, feeling like a debbie downer or just wanting to say the hell with it all, that is when we let go.

Of our rigid habits and daily routines

Passion and excitement lights are extinguished

We fall and are afraid to get back up in a quiet fashion

I had given up on so much at the helm of my own constant rattling of confused and cluttered thoughts. Preconceived notions that made me feel far less inclined to function on a rational scale but rather lay in a bath trying to cleanse the dirty thoughts down the drain. Positive banter became my enemy and lethargy a scornful force, the glint of laughter diminished from my eyes and just as that driving force hit almost rock bottom something happened. A flipping of a switch or slap of a snare drum?

This did not happen, pulling the pieces back together quietly. The urge to get back up and not reclaim but engage and open oneself to something anew exploded like a god damn atom bomb.

Its amazing, exciting, terrifying and all happening at the speed of light.

A job came through in the most unexpected of ways ceasing all worries making it very clear that the time spent prior to working was necessary to the development of this day. Through chance encounters formed and keep forming lifelong bonds that have lifted spirits by leaps and bounds and provided a support like never before...and a whole new look that isn't new it is just right, defining the good things that keep finding their way on this journey to whatever this day is to bring or be open to.

In no way is this a statement for taking a moment for self pity. Shit happens and are far worse for others, this particular stretch was purely a learning curve and a period of time to define strength, will and perseverance for a greater good and whatever that may bring. For change and awareness. For acceptance of the help of others and the never exiting round of gratitude that is part of my DNA,

A huge part of me feels extremely selfish for all that is taking place and taking a few short breaths to believe and have faith in a greater me whether it be reflected out from an inner sense of being, but at the same time I want to be as receptive as possible because if anyone else were near and in the same place of needing support or a lending hand for anything to help reignite that missing glint I would be the first to step up and pay it forward.

Because it is ultimately the right thing to do, and is the only thing to do.

So the real question remains, do blondes have more fun than brunettes? Who cares, everybody is equal to the amount of fun and opportunity so long as you want it. So long as you accept it and add to it in your own individual way.

With that, I leave for work this morning [the glint sparkling brilliantly] with a photo of this transformation that began two years ago with a rash decision to move to San Francisco (platinum blonde hair in tow)which eventually led to Chicago, a place that has not only fed and continues to nourish my soul but has fed my fashion.

Not a big picture taker so this is all there is for this morning!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Getting in the mood

After sitting with a friend getting a facial peel I found myself stuck in a snazzy backup of traffic that was at the helm of a crazy rain storm.

Before this goes further let's take another moment to thank the likes of dermaplane, peels and aestheticians. Because like Urologists, if you've got to look at something wrinkly, dry or gnarly all day they deserve the credit.

In no way is this a common theme in my life because give a girl a supply of proactiv and a gallon of water and were square, however as part of the show taking place tonight (pics tomorrow) from hair dye to facial scraping this was the king kong of weeks for certain transformations, and things U would opt out of withou having a winning lottery ticket behind me.

Transformation or improvement, this is still up for debate.

On the way out and waiting for a break to clear in the road a particular song came through that immediately turned me into an American Idol, the next X-Factor.

Music feeds the soul and god only knows where I would be had there not been a Britney song to shake my ass to while getting ready some days, a National song to slink into a chair lost in thoughts or a Joni Mitchell melody to nurse through a breakup or other unnatural catastrophe.

A good song is like a friendly companion. I've known this companionship browsing through record stores, attending endless concerts and hearing the melodic tunes for two plus minutes on the radio.

What is it about the lyrics that reaches us, that finds that place deep within and breaks us loose?

This song can go on repeat one thousand times over and will never get old. It will never leave an ipod playlist for my love burns strong for heartfelt words of what could be and what is left bereft.

And stardust but that's a whole other obsessive crush for another day.

So as I work the few hours this morning and head in to get made over for the finished product, a fashion show fueled by clothes, cars and good friends I'm left with the desire to listen to songs that get me in the mood.

The list is a mile long but will always start with a man of glitter and end with a golden voice and crystalline eyes.

We're all okay until the day we're not
The surface shines, while the inside rots
We raced the sunset and we almost won
We slammed the brakes, but the wheels went on.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Does this dress make my ass look big?

A weekend that was shorter than a yellow bus and a single machiatto but filled with outings that were longer than the nile river.

I noticed while running in stilettos to catch a train the other night that preparing for a night out these days are far different than yesterday.

When spending two hours taming a mane seemed all the normal, tossing on a beanie while rushing to make a reservation replaced style and seemed all the more sensible.

Riding the train felt like sitting amidst the confines of an old friend. The city.

My first love away from the love.

A love that runs true and deep and never fades.

A place that welcomes any visitor and extends solace around every city block, across each bridge, within each establishment.

Meeting a new group of people for a night out can make you hold reservations, what do you wear? How do you fix your hair and makeup? Leggings or dresses?

Sitting on the train, passing through each stop I didn't even reapply any makeup nor change from the dress worn for work. When getting ready for a night out used to take hours this night, this weekend of nights got overlooked and I went back to the basics.

Natural beauty bred through an innate sense of confidence. Through the knowledge that you are who you are, beauty products can add to the vibrancy but its the radiant glow of a winning personality and the 'all that you are is all that's necessary' that is all the makeup you need.

Common sense in blatant form, Maybe it was the group I was meeting with or this fire blazing within. Either way the hours before stepping out to pump up the volume were left in the dust. Is this new hair creating a new take on things?

Is the dark hue my very own 'sasha fierce?'


Getting ready was just something to do and I'm not a person who does things to prove myself but there's no denying that these changes fluttering about are shifting outlooks and re adjusting into new processes.

I love the now phone calls to friends for advice on outfits before dates, singing alongside Adele as I'm applying eye shadow and lathering lotion to ensure the ease of the silver bangles on each wrist because I like putting it all together. But also toning it down because deep down its all about the words that fall from our lips that is what's important.

Saturday night gave me a few hours for primping and I took advantage of it. The minute I started walking to the restaurant the wind hit and all that prep time drifted out along the lake right alongside the lake effect. My hair lost its curl.

While crossing my legs my heel stabbed the tights puncturing a whole the size of Texas and the group was all in jeans and t-shirts.

Was it a sign to go out normally and have things be what they are?

While the short dress may have made my ass worthy of a million dollar insurance policy, I'd take walking along the streets in those incredibly uncomfortable shoes smiling with the wind and the random passersby (s) feeling good in whatever regardless of spending 5 hours primping to 5 seconds smearing on some lipstick lopsided as the train stopped anyday.

Because it doesn't matter. So what if your ass looks fat or your breasts aren't pushed up far enough with that new bra.

All that matters is what you're feeling in that moment. Sweatpants or Prada pick your poison.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The blonde bids farewell

Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore.

This blondie has turned to the dark side and it has been a long time coming. What started with a botched bleach out that turned into a comfortable lowlight to get back to the root of all evils, a natural color that had been hidden since my sixteenth birthday is having a tornado shift things up.

Last night, I said goodbye to the blonde coloring that has been, well blonde, for quite some time, and have since been warming to the welcoming of a darker hue.

Please pass the valium and sweet tea vodka (doing damage like nobody’s business).

*Note that this is a warming welcome.

My poor hair has gone through so many transitions, you’d think that whenever storm clouds (boyfriends) sweep through I would change it up just as often. Which actually sounds about right. From short to long, blonde to black, this head of hair has been around the block.

With things starting to look up for a change for the better, it was noted around me to take part of something that will make me look up for a change.

I’m stepping in for a makeover. Full on make-OH SHIT-ver.

This is so exciting, how in the world are these things happening to me, and how in the hell did I manage to snag such luck with this group that has created this idea. I am fiercely independent and cannot stand asking for help, even if it has to do with the simplest things such as figuring a good color for lowlights. Not gonna happen.

I don’t even know where to express this huge surge of gratitude to these women who have opened up to doing this makeover on me. At first I was beyond skeptical of it, how does this make me come across?

As a needy person who is in desperate need to get rid of the washed out jeans and NO FEAR t-shirts?(totally not the case but the bone was tossed and I’m rolling with it)

Is this how they view me? A straggler who mooches?

With the way I’m built, I will not ever allow myself to be someone’s charity case and I brought this up to a friend when she mentioned the start of this idea. She noticed things were shifting around me and beginning to pull together and wanted to do something. All of them did. And because I fit a demographic for a show she was putting on that I will be part of. Another post for another day.

This is the hardest part of me to accept, and it’s even harder for me to write about. I have not ever had friends that have been this considerate. Not like this. Sure we all have people in our lives that are there for us, will do anything for us. Yes I have a few close friends that are like that but not to this scale. I feel like I’ve stepped into a bubble of something that is exactly what I have been giving out for my entire life and for once it’s being given back to me. Karma, and it’s about damn time.

That came out wrong, not about time that I’m being a brat and saying Give it to me dammit! It’s just perfectly placed in time.

So this morning it’s out with the old and in with the new. The blonde has been well loved but this is a new time. A new place, geographically, mentally and age-ally….a complete morganism of a new word.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The sweet warmth and the delicious scents that are spring

Where did this heat come from? Its like a light switch got flipped and we're all getting hit with a little sunshine and that itch to reach for the baby oil.

This weekend a couple of things became very clear.

Hibernation mode. Aka SAD aka a length of time I'd never thought would affect me, which really didn't, is officially passing.

Thank Jesus, because god only knows that I would have said more than a few words with the sky had the weather not have shifted when it did. Bring on some spring!

There is something about the spring and summer months that makes me want to cook, bake for others and start throwing dinner parties.

The sun rises earlier and sets late giving you a few extra minutes to sit and gab on the porch, curl up on the banquette and read one extra chapter as the sun sets or simply sit with those you love and take the culmination of the day, week or hour in comfortable silence.

Ever since living in this new flat, I've stored my cookbooks in a back room. They're hidden from my daily views. Missed. While the heat struck I spent a morning cleaning every crook and corner. Wiped down the kitchen and dusted off the cookbooks.

Though I love all of the months of the year, its really the spring and summer I look forward to most.

Flowers are in full bloom, trees filling with leaves and you can hear the full branches rustle the leaves as a brush of wind slips by. Its bright and colorful, the sounds of laughter fills the yards and only adds warmth to the day.

I pulled out the cookbooks, opened up the front door and took in the humid morning sipping a fresh cup of coffee (damn that doctor coffee is my drug of choice) and mapped out a few light and fun meals to cook.

The kitchen, my haven has been neglected terribly and with the kickstart of rereading my notes on recipes or in the column of books, something has been recharged, rejuvinated, to get back into that place that is every part of me as a smile is to a face.

Tonight is a wine night and for it I baked my utmost favorite spring/summer dish. A lemon yogurt cake that melts in your mouth, not in your hands! Its easy as pie and so light there's no guilt in nibbling on a few thick slices that are moist with a lemony glaze. I'm excited to be able to bring this cake for others to enjoy, mostly, and more selfishly it was the excitement of taking the time to do something for them that got me to remember that there is some passion behind what goes on in that kitchen, what goes into making that one dish.

I was excited to stand in the kitchen and just take a few breaths. Savoring the time spent re-arranging a spot for certain cookbooks to sit for the next several months on the counter. Checking the fresh starts of herbs in the window sill to see how the growth is coming along. Standing inside the one place other than a closet where I am home within my home.

The sun shines through the scattered clouds and the walls are filled with the sweet scent of a bright fruit. Hello spring were so glad that you're here!


From my kitchen to yours, here is the recipe for a gorgeous cake that will leave your tastebuds begging for more.

Lemon Yogurt Cake


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
1 1/3 cups sugar, divided
3 extra-large eggs
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

For the glaze:

1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8 1/2 by 4 1/4 by 2 1/2-inch loaf pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease and flour the pan.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into 1 bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, the eggs, lemon zest, and vanilla. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. With a rubber spatula, fold the vegetable oil into the batter, making sure it's all incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 minutes, or until a cake tester placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Meanwhile, cook the 1/3 cup lemon juice and remaining 1/3 cup sugar in a small pan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. Set aside.

When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Carefully place on a baking rack over a sheet pan. While the cake is still warm, pour the lemon-sugar mixture over the cake and allow it to soak in. Cool.

For the glaze, combine the confectioners' sugar and lemon juice and pour over the cake.

Finger lickin' good! Happy Tuesday

Sunday, April 10, 2011

A little Coffee withdrawl and sleep deprivation never hurt

Before this mini tyrant goes any further I must first give many thanks to the busy working blood cells that pass so tenaciously throughout my veins and have stayed healthy for so long

When the shit hits the fan, it splatters. I'm a true aries as in its go big or go home, meaning the good, the bad and the ugly. Its safe to say that despite common colds good health has been on my side. I am healthy and treat my body with as much respect as handles aka lady jigs need respect and attention too so that oatmeal cookie that was tossed into the mix rather than a fried egg for breakfast the other day-Aretha Franklin concurs.

Unfortunately, I've taken the good fortune of a clean bill of health for granted as medical insurance has not been in my name since I moved from a land far far away. Until now, but wouldn't you just bet the luck.

Attitude is not a familiar trait, I'm amiable, friendly unflappable.

The bitch talons came out at the drop of a receipt the other day, and with that so did the knowledge of knowing something was wrong. Through the course of an evening, there was little sleep, intense side pains and mostly the constant static of my own breathing, which is annoying in the early hours of the morning.

A doctor appointment later we had touchdown. Thankfully an ER free diagnosis and a couple of prescriptions, or was it one?

Antibiotics, blessed pain reducing medications. Sorry big Three Oh well have to toast you after this round of bacteria ass kickers

A post it note. To serve as a prescription for no coffee.

If I had not been in pain and a member of the walking dead the note would have been comical. Instead I looked at the doctor and just told her my kidneys thank her. Secretly I put a hex on her in my mind.

When I think of walkin clinics I get anxious. The same feeling when walking into Goodwill or thrice hand shops, itchy neck, chills up the legs. I'm not familiar with the hospital system in the midwest let alone my area. What services do they bring to the table? Are there legal disputes against any of the hospitals? Are they legally up to code? Am I going to come back for a follow up appointment to find a boarded up space that was where they dipped my pee?

After working in healthcare and dealing with all of the things you don't want to know about, like how a facility can vaccinate 5000 people with a dead vaccine and fail to notify properly...scary stories you never wanted to know...need not ask!

...its understandable to get nervous. Which makes going to a clinic a challenge. But I'm never one to run and thankfully found a reputable one and am beginning to get back to a healthy non zombie like state. We're on the mend and so help me god I'm having champagne, strawberries and a hot bubbling bath tonight ringing in properly!

My hot date on a Sunday night.

Prosecco and suds. Glorious and a perfect rendition of the 'day of luxury.'

Lesson learned, first week in a new place know your 'emergency' routes. Blonde moment-no way! This happens to us all.

And so that is that, listen to your body if something seems off kilter. With food still not a fan favorite yet, its nice to be part of the living again and have to admit that being free from anything apart from the antibiotics and the bath was refreshing.

Friday, April 1, 2011

When a conversation changes everything

There are few times when you can walk away from a chance meeting with someone and feel that while words were spoken and thoughts verbalized a door had been opened and you were exposed to everything that had eluded you for so long.

Walking along the streets last night with a group of people, this group that feel universal from this lifetime and the previous, I wound up staggering behind for a few minutes.

Taking in the antibiotics…and feeling the lethargy and that terrible swelling (that could have been from the stilettos!)

The true beauty of stone architecture that crafted several buildings along Michigan Avenue

The chilly night winds blanketed with a hint of the first warmth of spring

..and of course the conversation that changed everything.

While crossing multiple city blocks in search of a restaurant I fell into step with a designer’s husband and am without words this morning to the amount of gratitude this man has bestowed upon. Our conversation began as simple banter about nationalities and ancestral history and wound up to astrological history fueled by hearty laughter and an invitation for wanting more conversations.

As one restaurant to the next had waiting lists longer than the Superbowl ticket hubs I found myself captivated by this man and his story of creating something out of nothing but passion and living a life he once thought was the life to live. Only to have it all change in a single second. The chill of the night didn’t even pass through my sweater as he was telling me about how he and his wife met and the fact that their love is so apparent it could never be questioned. Compassion radiated from his eyes, vibrated from his voice and brought tears to my eyes.

Ambition filled his days and kept his purse padded, he swore against certain parts of life that others embarked on and he struggled or thought was needed. Ultimately he was living a life that was great but like using half of our brain, it was only half. It wasn’t until a chance encounter happened with him did his door open and a lifetime of chances and opportunities he never expected nor dreamed could happen, has happened and continues to happen on a general basis.

Always there for other people regardless of circumstances, I am the last person to ask for help, and will fight until the bitter end to make something work. For months I have secretly been asking for help, for guidance, for something to help ease this engrained fear that is inappropriately out of place. Yesterday and especially last night was everything anyone could ever ask for in terms of a personal present.

Having the opportunity on that stretch of pavement makes everything worth seem worth it. The moves, the juggles, the battles and the struggles. Knowing the group, and now this amazing couple, there is a tranquil pull deep inside that I am beginning to understand that they possess. Something that I posses as well and what has drawn me to them and them to me.

Accomplishments conquer the obstacles because had they not, this would not be a clear day. Last night would not have meant the same thing and everything would still be wrapped tightly in a grey cloud. Today there is new meaning, and that has been said before but it was said under a blind eye. Last night, just taking in everything from a phone call driving into the city, walking with the designer’s husband to dinner with friends had a purpose. There is peace with where today is and that is pretty wonderful.