Wednesday, October 31, 2007

All Hallow's Eve

I must be getting old. I feel really boring. To celebrate Halloween this year I carved a pumpkin (not the easy task I recalled from childhood). I didn’t even venture to put on a wig. In some blast of nostalgia, I wore an orange sweater to work today. Who knew I had it in me?

But back to those orange gourds we like to carve every year. “We” being Americans, not me. My friend Heidi hosted her annual pumpkin carving party last Friday. In years past, I’ve skipped the actual carving part for socializing and eating. This year, I decided to carve. I started tenderly scrapping the innards of my pumpkin with a spoon. Carefully avoiding getting too mucked-up with pumpkin guts, but after a few futile attempts, I remembered why I always stuck my bare hand into the pumpkin. It is just plain easier, and honestly, more fun.

All the tricks starting coming back to me. The spoon handle kept getting caught on the inside lip of the pumpkin making it difficult to scoop efficiently. This little thing brought me back to the kitchen floor of my childhood. Unfortunately, not enough to recall how to design a good jack-o-lantern face.

I’d forgotten to not only look for the smooth side of the pumpkin, but the side that tilted up. I came up with a lame attempt that sort of resembled an alien face but not really. My only saving grace was the star I dug out last minute at the urging of the only person there who had never carved a pumpkin before, and chose to stay that way.

After everyone is done carving, Heidi judges a contest and gives prizes. They judging is based on her criteria like the obvious best jack-o-lantern, but also the best effort, best recent return to carving effort and so forth. It’s a contest everyone wins.

The winner of it all? My German husbands mini-white gourd that he turned into a gorgeous candle votive. I had no idea he has it in him to create such beauty. Given, it was very symmetrical, but still. I had no idea I married an artist.

(And no pictures to show the results!! I accidently deleted them. Oops.)

Friday, October 26, 2007

Pregnant or Just Fat?

I like to keep my life simple. I like to be semi-organized and schedule all my annual appointments in the fall. No idea how this started, but it seemed to have fallen into place nicely. Just recently, I’ve had my eyes checked and a pap smear. Plus, I interviewed a doctor to possibly be our OB when we are ready to have a baby. So, I’ve been out of work a lot lately for all of those doctor reasons.

At my wedding, my friend Maggie blew out the side zipper of the dress she wore to her rehearsal dinner. She got married a month and a half before we did. She was planning on wearing it to our wedding, but her wedding body had morphed into married body. We laughed our asses off as she was half hanging out of the dress in a panicked attempt to get out of it after the big blow out. The honeymoon happened. Life happened, and well, the gym just wasn’t as important. When you’re not planning on having lots of people looking at you, you don’t care as much about what you look like.

Luckily for me, I was sick in the months leading up to the wedding so I was in the worst shape I’ve been in in years. No definition in my arms. Puffy tummy. I was what I refer to as skinny fat. I still looked good in clothes, but had almost no muscle tone. Because of this, I thought the only thing that would decline after the wedding was my skin, which I spent lots of time working on pre-wedding.

Wrong. A big fat wrong. I put on some capri pants this morning that I like to wear because they are comfortable. They are tight. They are no longer comfortable. I’ve noticed jeans that I used to love to wear are grabbing a little more than they used to. Comfy, but only when my belly hangs over the top. So not attractive. What happens when you get married??? If my rehearsal dinner dress had a zipper, I could probably blow it out right now.

It’s fine. I’ll survive. I have to readjust my eating so instead of a big lunch and big dinner, I have a small lunch and a big dinner. The best part is that the combination of doctor’s appointments and extra pounds have my boss looking at me a little differently. I just know he’s wondering is she pregnant or just fat?

To add to his pondering, I'm purposely wearing loose clothes and complaining about being tired. I figure I’ll milk it until I really am pregnant or he figures out I’m just married.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

A Sweet Breeze

Life is rough in southern California right now. Luckily, I live in a fully concreted-area (I never thought this lucky until recently), so we are only dealing with smoke from the fires. We didn’t have to evacuate or wonder what possessions are worthy of packing with a five minute notice. We are lucky.

Unfortunately, lots of people are not. Every day I watch the news and look at images of walls of flames engulfing trees, houses and hillsides. The skies are overcast because they are filled with smoke. A fine layer of ash coats cars. And this is miles from the fires. It feels like it will never end. And I am one of the lucky ones.

Last night, we went to bed with the window facing the ocean wide open. I thought about closing it because the news says to keep the windows closed right now due to poor air quality, but it was hot so I decided to leave it open. I had crazy dreams of people smoking in our apartment, of the apartment being on fire and my neighbor Bianca running down the hall to tell us to leave. I woke up to our room filled with smoky, humid, ocean air. My lungs felt like hell. I can only imagine what the people closer to the fires feel like.

I got up, closed the windows and said a thank you to Mother Nature for shifting the winds. A cool, off-shore breeze full of humidity and hopefully, a break.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Beauty Update

I'm in love with Eminence products. After just one Stone Crop Masque, my skin looks better. I also got a sample of the Stone Crop moisturizer, and I love that, too. It smells a little funny. Maybe because it isn't drenched in perfumes, but the smell is natural. It's nice. It's just not flowery-sweet. The packaging seems a little cheap compared to the fancy products I've used in the past, but if they are spending the extra money on the product rather than the package, I am okay with that.

I just ordered the Rose Hip Moisturizer that was recommended by my facialist (does her giving me two count?). I can't wait.

Back to the Kitchen

Weight has never been an issue for me. The only time I’ve ever been significantly larger than I am now (and I’ve been this size give or take 10 pounds since high school) was one summer during college that I spent in Nantucket. We didn’t have a car so we biked or walked everywhere, which would lead one to believe I would be the thinnest I ever was. I wasn’t. I was fit and fairly lean, but I packed on the pounds. I ate Ben & Jerry’s every afternoon, and washed it down with beer in the evening. Upon arriving back at the apartment in a drunken haze at night, I would make myself toast from locally made bread slathered with jam and butter. It was fantastic. And by August, I was the largest I’ve ever been. The pictures don’t really show it, but the clothes I wore were all 3 sizes larger than the ones I wore at the beginning of the summer. And still, by American standards, I was average – even trim. For reference, size 12 Gap pants fit. Snugly.

I was, for me, huge and a size 12. The irony is that today, because of all of the additives, high fructose corn syrup and cheap fast food, this is average for America. I’d even venture to say on the small side. Two-thirds of America is over weight. Recently, I saw photos of the rural poor in the United States. The thing that most struck me was the roundness of people’s faces. The soft double-chin that the husband and wife shared. The plumpness of their child. These photos contrasted dramatically in my mind with the ones Dorthea Lange took in the 30s. Her subjects had thin chests. Gaunt faces.

As recently as the 1970s, poverty was marked by thinness. Bones jutting out. Pronounced chins. Belts tightening the waists of too-large pants. Poverty today is plump. It’s fat. It’s filled with corn and corn by-products that people unknowingly eat all day. The meat we eat is fed corn even though cows can’t digest corn unless it is altered for their systems. All of the soft drinks we drink are filled with corn syrup. Ketchup, cereal, crackers. It’s hard to find a pre-made food that doesn’t have a corn derivative in it. Xanthum gum? Made from corn. And all of this corn and food processing are making people fat. It’s cheap now, but at what cost later?

I read books and articles on this plight, and no one has a solution that seems like it will work. The problem is that we are all used to the ease with which we obtain a completed meal. Changing our diets as a country means changing the way we live.

Recently, I decided that I needed to cook dinner every night except Friday and Saturday when we tend to go out. It is hard. I am exhausted from work, and usually just want to watch television with a bowl of cereal. The other night, I arrived home with a menu in mind. I turned on some music and started cooking. Twenty minutes later, when the tacos hit the table, I was relaxed, happy and hungry. My husband and I happily ate the healthy version of Mexican. We talked. We connected. I felt nourished.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Beauty Update

Turning natural is harder than I thought. No sodium laurel sulfate means no sudsy shampoo. And long hair and no suds feels like I’m washing straw. I don’t like it at all. So, I just don’t wash my hair much anymore.

So far, I am on board with Dr. Hauschka. The Burt’s Bees? I’ll keep my chap stick, but the shampoo? I’ll pass. I didn’t even make it to the night cream I was so unhappy with the shampoo. I’m making a return trip to Target. For now, I’m leaning towards the high-end organics and things from my kitchen.

I’m waiting for an Eminence masque to arrive with samples of moisturizers. If they work, I’ll be using Eminence and skipping Target. I don’t know why I thought I could use a $14 natural moisturizer when I haven’t spent less than $35 on chemical-laden one.

The quest continues....