Friday, March 27, 2015

Baking Is My Way of Saying I LOVE YOU but it can be VERY frustrating!



I love to cook! It is my favorite form of creative expression. I’ll spend hours pouring over recipes and assembling menus the same way most girls obsess over fashion magazines. Cookie molds and piping bags, bundt pans and silicon spatulas; these are a few of my favorite things. The feeling I get from feeding the people I love is the same as the one I get when I eat chocolate – warm, happy and kind of mushy inside. So when I get the chance to cater for someone I care about I go a little (okay a lot) insane. Hours and hours and hours are spent assembling food options with pictures courtesy of Pinterest. There are multiple appetizer choices, salad choices, main course choices and of course many, many dessert ideas. So when my boss/friend asked me cater a party for her last weekend I was over the moon. OH THE FUN! THE RAPTURE! Feed people I love and show off my greatest talent. CAN’T. WAIT.


Now admittedly, I bit off ALMOST more than I could handle. The menu I put together included not one, but two desserts I have never attempted before as well as items that had to be made day of and assembled on site. Even worse, a couple of the desserts were precision items – TARTLETS and CANNOLI BITES. Tarts/tartlets are HARD. Cannoli bites are even harder. They both require the exactly measured ingredients, mixed in a precise way and then patiently fostered into the correct shapes. Any deviation will result in catastrophe. A change in humidity can be the difference between sublime and shit. There is no winging it when baking either of these mouthfuls. 


This is a problem for me. I am a bit more creative/fluid with measuring and mixing and tend to stick to desserts and foods that allow for this. So why I thought these tartlets were a good idea is a bit baffling. Maybe it’s because the pictures were so darn cute. Or because on the surface they didn’t look all that hard.  MAN was I WRONG. The tarts almost broke me. There was a moment in my kitchen where I was on the verge of tears talking to my dough, begging it to behave. “Please don’t crack. Please, please, please stick together.”


You know it’s bad when your dog is giving you looks of compassion mixed with concern. I swear to God if Snoopy knew how to dial a phone he would have called in reinforcements. Instead he just sat right at the edge of the kitchen silently lending moral support... and waiting for me to drop more butter on the floor.  Thankfully, everything ended up turning out wonderfully but honestly it was touch and go there a few times.  


Here are some pictures to make you hungry and the menu with links to the recipes. Happy Friday my friends!








Menu and links

Caprese skewers


Mojito fruit salad in waffle cones


Tea Sandwiches








PS. Some of my favorite food blogs which are in the recipe links above are sallysbakingaddiction.com,bakingamoment.com, cookingclassy.com, iowagirleats.com and foodnetwork.com

Friday, March 13, 2015

Females Are Strong As Hell!



I binged watched the new Netflix comedy Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt this past weekend and the theme song is stuck in my head…. “Unbreakable, they’re alive dammit. Females are Strong as Hell!” Best TV Show theme song EVER. Leave it to Tina Fey to finally put in words what we all know. Females are STRONG AS HELL! Weaker sex, my ass. It takes an unlimited amount of strength to do the things women do.  I’m not even talking about giving birth cause we win hands down with that one. I’m talking about the core of steel that enables a woman to be a woman. There are a million things we do on any given day that should earn us more than one day of recognition. I mean just being able to wear a pair of six inch heels for more than 5 minutes is a test of endurance and courage.  

By the way, don’t ever try to run in six inch heels. I did it once, yep, just once cause I fell out of one shoe and almost broke my ankle in the other shoe. My boss who witnessed this stupidity shook his head and said, “You know you take your life into your hands every time you put those shoes on.”

Back to my point, Woman are strong as hell.  On any given day we are called upon to accomplish tasks that require the strength of ten men… not physical strength but a bone deep emotional strength.  



Here are a few instances that come to mind:

1.       Being supportive instead of trying to fix it.
You know what I’m talking about. You are sitting with a friend who is pouring their heart out to you. Their boyfriend is being a jerk, doesn’t value them, isn’t paying enough attention to them. As a woman you know your job in that moment is not to fix even though you know EXACTLY what they should do. Your job is to be supportive and attentive and comforting. It takes an enormous amount of strength to NOT give advice. Giving advice is easy. We all have opinions and most of us like sharing them. I know I do. But to keep your opinion to yourself in that moment and instead be the person your friend needs you to, that takes strength. 

2.       Being there even when you would rather be… anywhere else.
Your son is singing in the school choir. They are AWFUL but he is so very proud to be standing on that stage belting out ROAR by Katy Perry with 20 other tone deaf 8 year olds. Do you run from the auditorium? No! You clap and cheer and are genuinely excited to be able to experience this assault on your hearing because you love him. And we all know that the strength of a Mother’s love is the single strongest force on earth. 

3.       Being kind and patient when you just want to scream.  
Have you ever tried to dress a 2 year old? It’s torture, like Guatanamo Bay level torture. They should employ this tactic to elicit confessions from criminals. Give them a couple toddlers and tell them to get them dressed, pants, shirt, sweater, socks, shoes, jacket. I guarantee that within 5 minutes they will be crying and begging to confess.  The toddler will only be mildly distressed.  It requires a Herculean amount of strength to maintain a calm and patient fa├žade when what you really want to do is scream and run from the room. Why do you think we see so many pictures of kids in nothing but diapers captioned, “Daddy was in charge today.”  Because men will give up, throw in the towel and let them run around sans clothes. 


4.       Being loving and gentle when you feel anything but.
This to me is the truest expression of strength. When you are so angry you can see red, when your heart is torn to shreds by the person you love the most in the world and you still manage to take a deep breath and respond with love and compassion. And not that fake, put upon “understanding” but genuine love. The kind that says, I don’t understand where you are coming from or even why you are behaving in this way but I love you and in this moment choose to act from that place. This is nearly impossible on the best of days but I have seen women do it over and over again, with their children, their mates, their friends. It is something purely female, the ability to empathize and act in love even when we are bleeding internally.

You see strength isn’t power, might, or exerting of pressure. Strength is most often the absence of those things, the ability to step outside of ourselves and our circumstances and choose to be kind, patient, loving, gentle and compassionate.

Yep, WOMEN ARE STRONG AS HELL!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Our Lives Can Change With Every Breath We Take

I first posted this back in August when I started blogging. It has been a whirlwind month or so and I felt the need to revisit it as it is an essential tenet of my life. 

OUR LIVES CAN CHANGE WITH EVERY BREATH WE TAKE
This has been my motto, creedo, favorite movie quote since the first time I saw “Where The Heart Is”. I have held it high as a banner when it has proved to be true and clutched it like a lifeline when I needed it to be true.  And over time, I have learned to embrace the changes that have come. 
 
My journey to this point has been varied and full of unique adventures. Many times I have started down a path sure it was the route I would be taking for the rest of my life only to have it detour into another path or end entirely. About 5 years ago my dream job, the pinnacle of my career as the uber assistant, crashed into a wall. My boss was taking a new career path that would directly impact my job. Major Life Change!

I decided to see it as an opportunity and started my own business. It was a lovely concierge assistant service that catered to the busy working mom, the young executive who worked too many hours and the generally overwhelmed. In a time when the economy had people cutting back on non-essentials I was able to build a strong clientele of people who were willing to try out a “pay as needed” assistant service. For 3 years I bopped along happily, juggling a multitude of tasks but as the economy rebounded, my little business began to lag. Time for another Major Life Change! 

It was back to the 9 to 5 (or in my case 7:30 to 7:30) grind of an office job. I loved being back in the steady pace and surrounded by people I liked. There was the daily challenge of working for a busy and fastidious executive. After a month or two I was convinced that this was the right path. HA! I should really stop saying that cause 6 months into the job, BAM. Boss is leaving. Bring on a Major Life Change!
Don’t worry. I landed on my feet with another great job and a fabulous boss. But it reminded me of my motto and truth behind that simple statement. Our lives truly are constantly growing, shifting and changing. Anyone who thinks differently is either fooling themselves or just not paying attention. All you have to do is look out the window and you will see proof of this. Summer is winding down. The days are getting shorter again. The leaves will start turning soon. The temp is changing. The air is changing. 

Life is constantly changing. Some of these are good changes. Some, not so good and some just downright scary. We can choose to embrace it, be ready for it, expect it. Or we can be drug kicking and screaming thru it. I for one have learned to embrace it and see where it takes me. When these changes are scary or hard I just keep repeating, “Our Lives Can Change With Every Breath We Take.” Breathe….