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This post is a really great reminder to me of things I have forgotten. I realized that as I’ve gotten older, I’ve become more judgmental, more critical and less generous of spirit. This essay reminds me to step back and remember what I value.  May I always remember to see everyone eye to eye.

Eye to Eye.

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It’s About a Boy – Episode 2

It’s About a Boy.

via It's About a Boy.

Almost exactly one year later. And the innocent girlish infatuation is stepped up a notch. He is as sweet and adorable a boy as ever. I now realize he also is very much a charming and knowing man. What is a girl to do? This time, we pull each other in, even as I’m also trying to pull myself away. Even though I had practiced in my head how I would tell him all the reasons why we shouldn’t let ourselves get so caught up in our emotions. I should have known that, in the heat of the moment, all those resolutions would go flying out of my head. Apparently, all I want to do is have fun these days. Is there anything so wrong with that?

Happy Halloween!

Don't I just make your sweet tooth hurt with how cute I am??

Image courtesy of hellogiggles: Item of the Day.

Can someone who knows how to knit or something make this costume for a baby we know? It would make me soooo happy!

“The opposite of a ‘nice girl’, I learned is a ‘good woman.’ Being a good woman means trading the safe, passive, people-pleasing behavior of niceness for the dynamic power of true goodness. It means moving from the weakness and immaturity of girlhood toward the strength and maturity of womanhood…A good woman knows she cannot be all things to all people, and she may, in fact, displease those who think she should just be nice. She is not strident or petty or demanding, but she does live according to conviction.”

“I was thirty-nine years old when I walked into my counselor’s office and said, ‘I’ve been working so hard to keep everybody else happy, but I’m so miserable I want to die.’ I spent the decade of my forties digging out of that hole. Now, nearly midway through my fifties, I’ve discovered that growing up is an ongoing process – I have not yet arrived. Still, I have learned some things on the journey to becoming a good woman.” – from ‘nice girls don’t change the world’ by Lynne Hybels

Sunny morning brunch - and the first day of the rest of Grace and Jim's life together...congrats!

I was in Atlanta, Georgia this weekend for a very good friend’s wedding and had the opportunity to spend some quality time with college girlfriends whom I never quite realize how much I miss until I see them again. From them I get the comfort of family, but also the encouragement and wisdom of a sisterhood that I easily forget I need as I go about the busy-ness of my daily life. Similar to the Spice-sisterhood, but of an older vintage, which also means I’ve drifted from them a bit further in time and distance. But not in spirit and love. It was such a lovely time. And an amazing wedding. I cherish weddings in general, but most especially those of people I have seen grow through the awkwardness of all the relationships that came before “the one”.

I stayed an extra day for time to myself and this morning, I wandered into the bookstore of one of those mega-churches – I was a few minutes too late to attend service, but looked around at the books and tapes to see if anything caught my eye. I’ve lately been thinking a bit about what I’d like to do about the spiritual and religious aspect of my life, so it was rather timely and appropriate. I ended up picking up a book by Tim Keller, whose sermons I remember fondly from when I attended his Manhattan church in the mid-90s. I was surprised to read the bio on the backflap to find that he had started Redeemer in 1989, just a few years before I attended my first service there in 1994. And now, they have thousands of congregants, five services weekly, and several spin-off churches! I look forward to reading his thoughts as I always enjoyed his direct, logical, and meaningful messages.

The other book I picked up was from the “women’s section”. A short and sweet book by Lynne Hybels, the wife of another mega-church pastor. I read it all within 20 minutes during my flight back to Chicago. The first quote above sums up the basic idea. About growing from people-pleasing to being true to yourself. In Lynne’s case, being true to herself is all about following God’s will. Maybe it is for me, too, in a way – or maybe it’s something slightly different. Either way, it’s a hard thing to remember and understand for many women – that being good doesn’t always mean being nice. From that I extrapolate a little and would also say, sometimes being a good woman might make you a bit of a b*tch in some people’s eyes. So, if I’m committed to being good and true to myself, I can’t keep stressing about being that other thing that offends some in society.

The second paragraph I included, too, because it reminds me that as much as I sometimes regret the youthful years that are so far behind me, there still really is so much ahead. And Lynne’s journey that came at a stage in her life further along than I have even yet reached, reminds me that – the best is yet to come. We learn more, grow wiser, and our lives become better, richer and more rewarding. I will try to remember to look forward to that! Even as I know I’ll still occasionally look back to the lighter years of youth. I realize now that the reason I can now look back and value the simplicity with which my younger self viewed life and, yes, regress a little and try to recapture it’s essence through pop music and young adult blogs, is that I am looking at that era through my older eyes. Older eyes that only now recognize how truly lovely girlhood and it’s promise of the unknown future really is. But it doesn’t mean I want to go back, if going back means losing all that I have experienced and learned since.

Thoughts for now

I have all this stuff I’ve thought about blogging, but nothing seems to stick. I had to delete my new boots post the other day for multiple reasons – the photo was awful, and I couldn’t figure out the link function. I don’t know if it’s that the wordpress app has changed since I last used it, but I’ve been having a much harder time figuring it out. Then I was going to post about my TV epiphanies last night as I was going through all the season premieres on hulu.com. But after I wrote it, it just sounded dumb. The thing is, though, I can’t join in on any other Spice activities, like your BBQs and Halloween parties, so this is really the only forum I have to share random thoughts with you. And here’s one that has been bugging me. I think I’m regressing. Or going through some sort of early mid-life crisis. Here’s the evidence:

1) I like reading the HelloGiggles blog instead of xoJane. xoJane has contributors who are my age. HelloGiggles has girls blogging about how they can’t believe they are getting so old because they are turning 26 and no longer in their early 20s.

2) My current endless repeat favorite song is Britney’s “How I Roll”. Really? Britney singing about her “posse”?

3) I crush on 25 year old boys (but they are so cute!) and am finding men over the age of 35 kind of creepy.

Am I wrong? Do I need to grow up? Am I just trying to avoid the inevitable passage of time? Trying to ignore the growing number of white hairs on my head?

The Epitome of Customer Service

Last year, a friend went to a michelin starred restaurant called The Ledbury, and couldn’t stop raving about it. Everything he had was delicious and he highly recommended it. My husband and I have been meaning to try it for a long time, but the restaurant is always fully booked on the weekends. So, we finally decided to go for lunch on a weekday. The restaurant is nicely laid out and decorated, not over the top like some other michelin star restaurants. The staff was friendly, which was expected. We were a bit early for lunch time, so the restaurant was rather empty. Hhhhmmm, I thought, maybe it’s because it’s Tuesday and the restaurant is not anywhere near the financial center. But within 20 minutes, it was packed.

My husband and I each ordered a starter and a main. These, along with amuse bouche, was enough for me. And everything was absolutely delicious. The service was very good; attentive but again, not over the top. When it came to dessert, my husband narrowed his selection down to 2 and couldn’t decide which one to order. When the waiter came, my husband chatted with him a bit and told him he couldn’t decide. He made a last minute decision and ordered one. Of course the waiter suggested that I can order the other, but I told him I was too full. A few minutes later, the restaurant manager, who has been going from table to table chatting with customers (we realized that there are quite a few regulars), brought our dessert cutlery. He smiled and said ‘an extra set just in case you wanted to share.’

When the desserts came (yes, desserts with an ‘s’) we were confused and told the waiter that we didn’t order one of the desserts. The waiter smiled and said ‘it’s on the house.’ Wow, we thought, what a pleasant surprise! And yup, both desserts were fantastic. What wonderful customer service! And we told them so. We would definitely go back to The Ledbury. The food, the service, everything was just amazing.

I thought there couldn’t possibly be anything that can top our experience, until I read an article on the Evening Standard about the Ledbury staff. Recently, there have been a number of riots happending across London and the wider UK. I was flabbergasted to read that rioters targeted the Ledbury and the staff fought off rioters trying to rob guests. They defended the restaurant, protected their guests and accompanied them to the Tube. To top it off, the restaurant did not charge the customers for their dinners and called their guests the following day to ensure they got home safely.

I was absolutely blown away by what the Ledbury staff did. They went far beyond the call of duty; it’s more than just customer service. The Ledbury values their customers because they know that without customers, they’ve have no business. Bravo to them for their bravery and their understanding of true customer service. Now, more than ever, I’d not hesitate to go back to the Ledbury and would recommend it to everyone. It’s well worth the price!

I am totally having a fashion flashback! I’ve been seeing these colored jeans everywhere. Is this a trend anyone wants to pick up on and follow? I kept thinking – no way! I’ve been into adding color into my wardrobe, but more in the way of tops, dresses, maybe skirts. But on the bottom? In DENIM? No way…

But I just suddenly remembered – I HAD PURPLE JEANS IN HIGH SCHOOL. From The Limited. That I hand-hemmed to perfection. I LOVED those jeans. How could I have forgotten?

I guess this is another sign of age – that you are around long enough for the trend to come back a second time. And I think it’s probably a pretty good rule that if you were old enough to actually partake of the trend the first time around — you are too old to try it again the second time!

Fashion Friday--by Christina: Colored Jeans During brunch on Sunday with a group of friends, a discussion was started about the trend of colored jeans.  While colored jeans were around all summer and seem to be staying for the fall, we are still all pondering if this is a trend worth investing in. I am personally a fan of this trend and remember wearing my colored Girbaud jeans back in 1990.  However, I do have a concern. Designer Michael Kors has said that if you were around the first tim … Read More

via barrebeefit

What’s For Dinner?

A lovely blend of frozen cherries, baby spinach, a scoop of Move, which is a fiber-based shake powder, and Vanilla Nourish, another shake powder which I guess is filled with nourishing nutrients. A sprinkle of cinnamon and a bit more of nutmeg. Blend with 8 oz. unsweetened chocolate almond milk and water to thin. And…an odd sickly purply shake.

Which was surprisingly tasty! I also downed four various “cleanse” detox tablets. Yes, I am now on Day 6 of “The Clean Program” detox cleanse. Remember, that one I implusively ordered through Gilt. Well, I’ve finally started it, realizing I was never going to find the perfect uninterrupted 21 days. The big hurdle this time is the last 6 days or so, I’m going to be at my parents’ house, and I’m going to have to explain to my mother why I can’t eat all the yummy food she has prepared for me. Oh, well.

So, how’s it going? Well, I am surprisingly not hungry. Although, I have to admit that I cheated the first five days of the program, by snacking from the office candy jar in the afternoons. But not to extreme. And I didn’t eat any full meals that were un-Clean. I guess I’ve been working my way into full compliance slowly. I hear it undermines the efficacy of the detox, but, so it is. There have been some weird detox symptoms – Day 1, I felt feverish and flu-y; you have to take the detox pills three times a day, at every meal, and sometimes they make me feel woozy. Like now. Yesterday, I got a horrid headache midmorning that got progressively worse, driving me to go home by 2 PM. After which, I slept until 6:30 PM. It felt like a migraine because I had extreme light sensitivity. And I just couldn’t think straight.

But, I’ve been able to continue my BBF workouts (except for Day 1, when I had to leave after 30 minutes, that was when I started feeling flu-y). I am probably eating more calories than most folks on the program who are really focused on the weightloss part and who maybe are just that masochistic. Me, I’m not into suffering. I also don’t think it’s that healthy to starve yourself. I mean, look at Gweneth Paltrow – she can wear amazing couture clothing, but does anyone really think she looks healthy? Maybe she’ll live longer, I don’t know. There has been research done on rats that show that those who are slightly undernourished have longer lives. Fine, ok, that’s just not my goal. So, they allow chicken, fish, and, I think duck, and lamb on this plan. I have at least a serving of chicken or of fish at lunch, sometimes both. Maybe over the 21 days, I’ll downshift that a bit and not get quite so much protein in there.  (The way the plan works, you get to eat solid foods for your lunch meal, shakes are just for breakfast and dinner.)

Benefits thus far: improved digestive functioning (ahem, you know…I had become very…irregular, and now, suddenly, back on the daily track!), lost 3 lbs, and no junk food cravings! The basis of the cleanse is to get harmful toxins out of your digestive tract. Maybe I believe that, maybe I don’t. My main goal is to jump start me back into healthy eating, then great! I had gotten to the point where, after a hard workout, I’d go eat something like a giant red velvet cupcake, or a chicken sandwich and fries from the drive-thru. Today…my cherry and spinach shake!

Oh, and another thing. People on The Cleanse are a bit fanatical. They have a whole web community where you can journal and blog and people actually comment and help you out with suggestions! It’s kind of cool. But, yes, I’ve been cheating on you Spices. I’ve been blog-journaling my Clean experience elsewhere. But, really, do you want to hear what gruesome shakes I’ve been having for breakfast and dinner?

So many different things can inspire the perfect moment. I sometimes latch onto a scene in a movie or a phrase in a song that just resonates into this romantic idea or concept that I keep coming back to. You know that perfect phrase in the song that says so much more than just the words themselves mean? Right now, I’m listening to the Grey’s Anatomy soundtrack from Season Three, which includes that amazing season finale song, “Keep Breathing”…so many moments I could pull from that whole soundtrack to talk about.

The moment that has inspired this post is a scene from the movie “Because I Said So”. You may have missed this movie from a few years ago – Mandy Moore as a young single professional chef, Diane Keaton her meddlesome mother, and some guy who plays her adorable hipster boyfriend? I’ve watched this one a few times. A lot of themes that resonate with me in different ways, but the particular scene I’m trying to get to comes when the two relationships she’s been juggling both go awry – she dumps the one she realizes isn’t for her, loses the other because he finds out she’s been dating someone else. At the same time, she stops speaking to her mother because she finds out her mother has been meddling in the background the whole time. At this point, she’s mostly alone, having turned away from her primary support system after losing both of her charming boys. Then – a scene with her sitting down for dinner at her kitchen counter – she lays out the plate, pours a glass of wine, puts her napkin in her lap, tops her salad with freshly ground pepper and then digs in alone. There is something so lovely and poignant in that scene. To me, it is the loneliness, partially self-imposed, balanced with the bittersweetness of a determined independence in which she still recognizes her own worth by taking care of herself with a carefully prepared meal. As opposed to the more common image of the sad lonely person camped out on the living room sofa in sweats, eating meals out of bags and boxes.

But what does any of this have to do with my looking for the perfect salad dressing? Well, that image occasionally inspires me to assemble such a meal for myself. Tonight, I prepared a pan-fried trout, a salad, and poured myself a glass of prosecco. For the salad, I scrounged my fridge for interesting ingredients and I found a nice simple combo of romaine, grilled peaches, and pecans. But then, I had to dress it. All I could think of was to toss in a bit of rice vinegar and sprinkle some salt. It wasn’t half bad, but I realized – I do not have an instinctive sense of how to dress a salad. Does anyone have some basic go-to dressings they use when preparing a simple salad at home that they could recommend for me? What are the basic building blocks on which I can then layer my own flavor ideas? A good salad can be such an amazing meal. I love the part of trying to dream up what different types of produce, cheeses or nuts to combine into an exciting new flavor combo. That part I can get. But the dressing part has me a bit at a loss…

What I love the most about the idea of taking the time to create a full meal for myself and sitting down to focus on enjoying just the meal is what that image says to me about taking the time for yourself. To treat yourself as well as you’d treat an honored guest. I think it’s important for us all to think about – whether you tend to spend most of your time working for an employer, taking care of children, or providing for a spouse or significant other. We take all this care to do our best for other people and things in our lives. I think it’s just as important to put 100% into our efforts to take care of ourselves, too. It’s different from treating yourself to a spa day or new purchase. Because it’s not just spending money on yourself, or paying someone else to pamper you – it’s putting real time and effort into giving yourself a lovely treat. A treat that would be even lovelier for me if I could just learn to make the perfect vinaigrette.

Girl Power Inspiration of the Day

Never grow a wishbone, daughter, where your backbone ought to be.”–Clementine Paddleford