March 2010

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Another, equally satisfying title to this post could be Yum, or Perfection.  Indeedy.  Chocolate and Cherries are hard to beat.  Something else that is hard to beat is sensibility.  If you’ve been reading for a while, you know how I wrestle with sugar, or, at least, how I have wrestled with it.  I am bad, weak, unhealthy, (insert other appropriate adjective), for eating the stuff.  I spent a lot of time on it, A LOT.  Many hours that, no doubt, added up to days of my life fretting about my consumption of sugar and how I really needed to let it go and be a better, stronger person.  Heavens to mergatroid was it ever taxing, and to what end?  Did I ever actually stop eating sugar?  Not for any extended period of time.  Did I ever feel better about myself for being my own persona non grata every time I consumed it?  Certainly not.  It was just ugly self-flagellation.

So now, in hopes of being kinder and gentler to my whole self, not just the parts that I’ve idealized, I’m going to eat it and do my darndest not to criticize or second guess myself for it.  If I so desire, I’m going to bake a cake, have a slice, and REALLY enjoy it (well, if it tastes good – I do have standards).  I don’t want to halfway enjoy it while simultaneously beating myself up for not being strong enough to say no or whatever.  I am laughing at myself as I type this!  How silly and schizophrenic I have been.  Life is meant to be enjoyed.

So, to the cake.  I call it zippy because it comes together very quickly and the sauce cooks while the cake bakes, so you can eat it warm from the oven.  I love that – impatience and deliciousness in one go.  I can’t remember where I first saw a recipe like this, maybe the Moosewood Cookbook?  It is vegan, moist, and delicious.  And, since this is the kind of gal I have become, I used whole wheat flour in place of some of the all purpose.  If I can make it a little healthier while still being utterly yummy, I’m going for it.

Zippy Chocolate Cake

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup all purpose flour

1/3 cup cocoa powder

1/2 cup sugar (So sorry!  I left this out the first time.)

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 cup cold water or coffee

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

Preheat oven to 375.  Grease an 8″ square pan.  Sift dry ingredients together in a large bowl.  Combine wet ingredients.  Mix wet and dry together quickly until smooth.  Pour into prepared pan.  Bake 25 – 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  If you use the whole wheat flour, this may take longer.  It’s okay.

Serve plain or with fruit sauce (raspberry, peach, blueberry, strawberry, or plum would be good, too!).  I used my recipe included with pancakes, here.  It is also good frosted or sprinkled with powdered sugar, and eaten out of hand.

Enjoy!

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Howdy Neighbors.

It was kind of a low energy week around here (but we’re working on the B-12 intake), so much of our time was spent in front of the boob tube.  We watched LOST (my favorite episode thus far), Flight of the Conchords Season Two, Disc One, Syriana, and far too much Entertainment Tonight.  I am slightly embarrassed to say how much I keep thinking of Sandra Bullock, the man who shall not be named, and the tattooed ladies.  She seems like such a nice person, so giving and thoughtful of others.  To be treated that way is pretty low-down.

So, we needed something funny in our lives with all these clouds and sleepiness and whatnot, and were definitely not disappointed by Flight of the Conchords.  For those of you who haven’t seen the show (Mom – you probably want to skip it), it follows the exploits of Jemaine and Bret (sounds like Brit), an adorable folk-comedy duo from New Zealand as  they scrape by in New York city.  They get robbed, form a gang, and consider prostitution as a means to get by, because the singing just isn’t paying the bills.   Their “manager,” Murray, really a consulate worker, is more of a hindrance than a help, but they can’t seem to get by without him, either.  The highlight of the show is their wacky way of inserting their music into the story.  The hubster and I nearly cry from laughing so hard at songs like “Too Many Dicks on the Dance Floor,” and “All the Ladies Love My Sugar Lumps.”  Good fun.  I’m kind of sad that this is the last season.  That being said, good for Bret and Jemaine for deciding when to say when.

For our more serious side (much more), we watched Syriana.  It is a great thriller that examines, through four parallel stories, the often times corrupt relationships between the United States and the Middle East, the desire for power and money, as well as the allure of radical Islam -  all through the lens of the oil industry, of course.  It has a great cast (George Clooney won an Oscar for his role) and a stomach churning story line that will break your heart and stoke your fury.  For those (like me) who don’t tolerate physical violence, you’ll want to watch it with someone who can tell you when you can uncover your eyes, unplug your ears, and stop chanting la, la, la to yourself when someone gets tortured.  It’s a pretty fascinating look at how we all think we are doing what is right.

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The Question

Therefore, my dear friend, I know of no other advice than this: Go within and scale the depths of your being from which your very life springs forth.  At its source you will find the answer to the question, whether you must write.  Accept it, however it sounds, without analyzing.  Then accept that fate; bear its burden, and its grandeur, without asking for the reward, which might possibly come from without.

Rilke

Letters to A Young Poet

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Hi everyone -

Thanks so much for your kind words over the past few days.  I am feeling better.  Sometimes meltdowns are necessary, yes, totally.

Now, as the Monty Python boys would say, “For something completely different,” or, maybe “No one expects the Spanish Inquisition!”

I was visiting the Angry Chicken blog the other day and she mentioned Land’s End and how, now that she’s old enough not to care, she can say how much she likes their Canvas line.  It’s funny, because I had been contemplating a post about my love for all things Land’s End for quite some time, but didn’t have the balls to put it out in public like that.  With all the positive words I read in her comments, I decided to declare myself.  Here’s why: I am a classic preppy girl at heart, and they really deliver in this department, and at  fantastic prices.  Sign up for their deals online and you get free shipping (not all the time, but I haven’t had to pay for it in quite a while) and some pretty sweet discounts (25% off sometimes – hard to beat).  Men’s TALL sizes – the hubster need not expose his belly to the world!  I also love that you can buy through the catalog and return items through your local Sears – no return shipping!  Their customer service is awesome, via phone or chat online.  They also truly believe in their products, don’t have those awful final sales, and will take items back any time, like forever. I’m sold.  Here’s a few photos to show you.

As well, any time you decide to watch America’s Next Top Model and want to laugh at some of the awful looks the ladies give, know that this standing in front of the camera business is hard.  Oh goodness, did I ever take a lot of pictures and resorted to goofy faces out of a singular desire to get it done before the sun went down.  Sheesh.

I’m wearing the Canvas line Cotton Lawn Shirt.  I love it so much that I have it in Navy, too.  The pants are Women’s Heritage Chinos in Navy.  The button detail is fantastic.  I also adore the fact that they will hem the pants to the length you want at no extra charge.  I love short pants, and I cannot lie!  I opted for a 26″ inseam.

The cute anchor necklace.  I am also a rather big fan of nautical themes.

I’m wearing my worst inquisitive look, but whatever, the shirt is Canvas Gingham Poplin in Navy.  Navy cardigan from J. Crew last year.  Bag is the Garment Washed Ragtop Tote.  Shoes Cole Haan.

I’m screaming in horror at what I’m doing!  Short Sleeve Aqua-Terra Rash Guard Shirt.

All the skin is so bright!  Beach Living Mini Dots Bikini.  It makes me feel like a 50′s bombshell…

Sleeveless Jersey Cover-Up in Navy.  It has pockets!  The sandals are from last year.

Enough already!  Shirred Front Dress.  More pockets!

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When I was a teacher and a student approached me, bemoaning the fact they didn’t know how to start a particular essay, I would say, “Just begin.  Write a sentence, a paragraph, the same silly word over and over again, see what happens.”  I find that I am having to take my own advice today.  I don’t know quite what to say.  Lost..Lost. Lost..Lost.  Sad. Sad. Sad..Sad.  Disappointed.  Disappointed.  Disappointed.

And now I begin.  I feel lost.  I don’t know what to do about my life, and, in particular, my writing.  The other day, I was in the car with the hubster; I do not even recall what the conversation was about, and he said, rather matter of factly, “You’re not writing a second book.”  My stomach lurched.  “I’m not?”  Am I?  I don’t know.  I haven’t touched it in a year.  I think about it every day.  The characters do new and surprising things,  they change their minds, increase in boldness, but I don’t write a single word of it down.  Sometimes I would like to blame it on this space here and my desire to keep it going, but I really don’t know that it is true.  If I really wanted to write, I’d do it.  I’d stay up late (at least for this granny), like I did with my first book, bleary eyed and enthusiastic and feel the words flow from my fingertips.  Then, just when I couldn’t do any more, I’d watch Craig Ferguson before retreating downstairs and cuddling with the hubster.

I feel sad that I want so much more than I have, especially when I have so very much.  I want my body to look like the idealized version of it that is in my head.  I want to be a famous and financially independent novelist (Reading is Sexy!) who turns her awesome book into an Oscar winning screenplay.  When I win, I want to stand on stage, in the aforementioned perfect body of my imagination, wearing a stunning dress that Tom Ford designed just for me, tell the hubster he is BETTER than sliced bread and George Clooney and sing the praises of believing in your dreams.

I am disappointed that I have sent out over thirty letters to agents and publishers and only had one even remotely interested in representing me.  I am disappointed that I haven’t had the heart to send out a letter since December.  I am disappointed that it always seems I can see my dreams, smell them even, they are so close, yet impossibly out of reach.  I am disappointed for sharing this with you.  I always meant for this to be a positive and uplifting place, full of possibility and hope, but the truth is, I truly feel lost, sad, and disappointed.

Maybe there is, as appears in the photo, a silver lining.  Maybe, I just  need to make a clearing (I’ve heard this a lot lately) for whatever it is that I am supposed to say, be, do, or feel.  Maybe, I need to be okay with not having answers, being sad, and just wondering.  Maybe, just maybe…

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