Friday, April 9, 2010

Confessions of a Pretty Girl, Part II

Do you ever look back over your lief and notice things? I do. I tend to be rather introspective and for some reason I feel the need to share with all of you.

I always joke that I had real rough few years, when it comes to my looks, and I'm just now coming out of them. In a way it's kinda true. Not that my face has changed at all or anything, mostly how I view myself.

I never felt pretty growing up, I never was the pretty girl. I never learned about hair or makeup. in high school, I may have had a cover girl compact or two, but that was about it. My hair was my natural color, long and I never used conditioner. I just never knew how to do that stuff. I always looked at girls who could and envied them. Then I went off to college and and started cutting and coloring my hair and doing all sorts of crazy things too it. My lifelong love of body modification started. But I still didn't know what I was doing.

Five years ago I went through a divorce and started cosmetology school. I had to start dating again, and I got to spend all day long playing with hair and makeup. All those cool things that other girls knew how to do, I got to learn how to do to. It was so much fun. So my hair got bigger and bigger and my makeup got heavier and brighter. Pretty soon I was the only one in the grocery store with a five inch high pompadour and teal eyeshadow up to my eyebrows. But I loved it. Then I started working at Marios and discovered the beauty of custom blended mineral makeup. Perfectly blended to my skin tone. And I started getting real facials and using professional skin care. So everyday I wear full makeup. It makes my skin look flawless and I love it. For the first time in my life, I feel pretty. People tell me I'm pretty. My mom tells me I'm pretty. My husband tells me that I look great first thing in the morning with last nights makeup smeared across my face, but I'm pretty sure he's just saying that. I've grown my hair out and I love to curl it and it makes me feel pretty too.

So I start to feel l only look good with full hair and makeup. I mean, with my job, I have to wear makeup, it's not an option to throw my hair back in a ponytail and just go. Then I go on maternity leave. I tell myself that I'm still going to do my hair and makeup while on leave. I'm not going to just 'let myself go'. Ha! Who was I kidding. First off, I was so pale that first week after the blood loss, that my makeup wouldn't have matched even if I had wanted to put it on. Then I never really felt like putting it on. So the last six weeks I have worn makeup maybe 7 or 8 days. My hair has been in a ponytail 9 days out of 10. I have gone to meetings, dinner, lunch, coffee, church, everywhere with no makeup and a ponytail. Know what? I got pretty used to seeing myself fresh faced and clean. It's not bad. in fact, it's pretty good. I kinda like myself like this. It sure makes putting on makeup fun. It feels like a mask almost.

So I've spent the last six weeks being just a mom. Tomorrow I go back to work, now I'm a mom and a working woman again. The makeup and curling iron will come back out. But you know what? Now I'm just as comfortable without makeup as I am with it. I love all my faces. (And I love my dear friend Laura for all the facials.)

The beauty industry is so interesting to work in. The things we do to our bodies to enhance ourselves intrigues me. I hate that as women, we don't feel content being just natural, but I love the way we can make women feel amazing just by altering their hair color or adding some makeup. And in the end, I just love making women feel good about themselves.

I'm gonna see if I can find the original 'Confessions of a pretty girl' I wrote it a couple of years ago. I think it's about being a mother, the most beautiful thing I can imagine.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Let's be friends!

I have a lot of friends. A lot of different kinds of friends. People sometimes remark that they wouldn't think I would be friends with this person or that person. "Well, they're not really your type" they say. Which I kinda get. By 'my type' they mean, just like me. But honestly, how boring would it be if all my friends where just like me?

There is this super trendy salon here in Westport called Lady Luck. There's a couple of them, Lady Luck, Choptops, Salon Medusa, that are full of the tattooed alternative types. People tell me they expect me to be working at a place like that, not a high end salon in the classy conservative side of town. Well, a couple of things about that. A - most of the people that go to those types of salons can't afford me, or to maintain their look. They often get a one time funky color then never touch it up. B - I'd be working with and on people just like me. How boring.

I am a people person, that's part of why I do so well at what I do. And people intrigue me. Why they are the way they are, their life experiences, why they do what they do. I'm interested in the schoolteacher, the pharmaceutical rep, the software engineer, the 70-year-old grandma, the midlife gay man, the 16-year-old kid, the never-married-never-want-t
o-be, with kids, no-kids,the liberal, the conservative, the blond bombshell, the Wiccan, the down-home-country-girl, the jock, the biochemist, the b-52 pilot,the stay-at-home-mom, the career woman, and the cheerleader. I am friends with people twice my age and people half my age. I am friends with my parents. All of these people, I enjoy their company. I want to go out to lunch, I want to hear about their lives and hear their insights.

So many people have so much to offer to the world, but get so stuck in their own little cliches and circles that they don't even know how to relate to other people. Let me tell you, 99% of the time, you do have something in common with every person you meet. You just have to find out what it is. You never know who's going to really get you, or touch in some way that you never thought possible, or bring some insight to your life that you may have completely missed before.

Variety, truly is, the spice of life!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

My much-requested sugar cookie recipe

This is my much requested recipe for Bradshaw Cookies, so named because the recipe came from Mrs. Bradshaw years ago. They are quite possible the best sugar cookies in the world. the recipe is unique in that it uses sour cream to keep the cookies moist after baking. It's also best to have a stand-up mixer for these because I have burnt out the motor on several hand mixers making these over the years, but it can be done. I use all raw sugar and organic wheat flour when I make them, it give them a heartier flavor that I love, but bleached flour and refined sugar will give you a really light fluffy cookie too. It's up to you! Enjoy!

2 cup sugar 1 tsp baking soda
1 cup butter 6 cup flour
2 eggs 1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla 3 tsp baking powder
12 oz sour cream

Using a mixer cream butter & sugar, eggs and vanilla. In a separate bowl add soda to sour cream. In another bowl combine flour, salt, and baking powder. Alternately add soda-sour cream mixture and flour mixture. Roll out on floured board to 1/3 - 1/2 inch thickness and cut into shapes. Handle dough lightly. Place cookies on ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 400 degrease 6 to 7 min. This recipe makes about 5 dozen cookies.

Cream Cheese Frosting

1 8oz pkg cream cheese, softened
1 box powder sugar (1lb)
1/4 cup butter
1/4 tsp vanilla
little milk

Mix together and add food coloring

For our dear friends Steve and Christine Hayes. Betcha can't eat just one!

Homemade Marshmallows

3 packages unflavored gelatin
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
powdered sugar for dusting

You must have a stand-up mixer with a whisk attachment and a candy thermometer for this recipe

Combine the gelatin and 1/2 cup cold water in the bowl of the mixer and allow to sit while you make the syrup

Combine the sugar, corn syrup, salt and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Raise the heat to high and cook until the syrup reaches 240 degrees. Remove from heat. With the mixer on low, slowly pour the sugar syrup into the dissolved gelatin. Put the mixer on high speed and whip until the mixture is very thick, about 15 minutes. Add the vanilla and mix thoroughly. Generously dust a 8x12 glass baking dish with powdered sugar. Pour the marshmallow mixture in the the pan, smooth the top and dust with more sugar. Allow to stand uncovered overnight until it dries out. Turn the marshmallow out on a board dusted with powdered sugar and cut them into squares. Dust your hands with sugar and the knife to prevent sticking.

Makes 20-40 marshmallows depending on the size you cut.

These are kinda a sticky mess, but so, so good, they are totally worth it. I usually only make them once a year. You can really experiment with theses, too. add food coloring, or different flavors, roll them in crushed peppermint, or dip them in melted chocolate. OR dip them in melted chocolate THEN roll them in crushed peppermints :)

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Spinach-Bacon Quiche

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 cups milk
2 1/2 cups cottage cheese
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
9 eggs
1 1/2 packages cream cheese, softened
3 cups (12 oz) Swiss cheese
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
1 pound bacon, cooked and crumbled
3/4 package frozen spinach, thawed
1/2 onion, finely diced

Melt butter in saucepan. Stir in flour, cook and stir until bubbly. Gradually add milk, cook over medium heat until sauce thickens. Remove from heat and let cool. Combine cottage cheese, baking powder, salt and mustard, set aside. In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs. Slowly add cream cheese, cottage cheese, and sauce mixture. Fold in Parm, Swiss, bacon, spinach and onion. Poor into two greased 10 inch pie plates. Bake at 350 for 40 minutes or until knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Top with fresh slices of tomato. Serve immediately with mimosas and coffee to your nearest and dearest friends.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Pasta Bolganese

I don't know how authentic this was but it was incredible. So, my version of Pasta Bolagese

1 lb ground turkey (or beef)
2 cloves garlic (or a spoonful of the pre-chopped kind)
3 carrots
1 stalk of celery
1/2 and onion
1/4 of a red pepper
1 cup dry white wine (or sake)
1 small can tomato paste
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup cream or milk
fresh basil
fresh Parmesan
1 bag of pasta

Brown turkey in skillet. Chop all vegtables and place in another large skillet with olive oil and saute over medium heat for 7-8 minutes, till just soft. Add wine and reduce down for 4-5 minutes. Add tomato paste as stir till combined. Add meat and chicken broth. Simmer over medium heat until reduced and thickened, about ten minutes. Add milk or cream and cook for a minute longer, just to heat up the milk. server over pasta Top with freshly cut basil and shredded Parm. Enjoy your super tasty dinner and rocking culinary skills.

FYI - we love fresh Parmesan cheese but don't have a grater, we like the big slices, so we buy whole chunks of parm cheese and use our potato peeler to slice paper-thin slices off the block. The flavor difference between that and the pre-shredded stuff is phenomenal. It only takes another minute or so and it is so worth it.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Something to Live For

I know us punk rock types aren't supposed to really want family and kids. I mean, sometimes it happens that we get surprised with a pregnancy and then we raise our kids with mokawks and skull and crossbone onesies while rocking them to the Ramones and the Descendants. But truly, this is what we were designed to do. Have kids. I mean, it's the biological purpose of sex. To procreate. And maybe having kids isn't right for you, but for me, it's something to live for. It's not always fun, it's almost never glamorous or cool, it's dirty, tiring and frustrating. But I look at my little one asleep in my arms and I love her so much it makes me want to cry. I look at the things we sacrifice in our budget to provide for our kids and I know that it's all worth it. And if I have to spend a Saturday at Chuck E Cheeses or read one more book before bedtime or have a dirty house cause there's no time to clean, it's okay. Because I am doing my best to make sure this kids grow up happy and healthy and can do anything that they want too.

Roxi was four weeks old yesterday. We dedicated her to God in front of our family and friends yesterday. I got to thinking about her birth. I was looking at my 'wall of fame', a collection of random pictures from the last 15 years in odd, mismatched frames. Close to 20 different photos, mostly of me and my friends and family. I was thinking that I almost died 4 weeks ago. I wasn't really ready to admit it when it first happened, but looking back, I know that it really did happen. So I was looking at these photos and thinking about dying and thinking about what it would have been like to have all those photos come to an end. Does that make sense? I record my life through a camera lens. I think we all know I take way too many pictures. I have too many family photos on the walls at home. But I love them. How weird would it be for them to just stop.

My mom was going to get a foster baby that had been shaken and beaten pretty badly, might not make it. 2 months old. And I looked at Roxi and thought "what if someone snuffed your life out?" All those moments I've shared with Ashley that I would never get to see with Roxi. And what about Ash? What if she died at age 5 and I never got to see her go to high school or get married or have her own kids and career and life?

Life really is such a magical, amazing gift. We go through each day not really realizing how lucky we are to be here, and how many people are watching us, are being blessed by us, that we are still here. You might not think your life is much, but to someone else, your life is everything. To your mom, dad, best friends, who knows who else, watching you be alive is phenomenal.

Don't really know where I'm going here, just ranting really.

On a side note, talking to a friend the other day about my delivery. I told her I would definitely do something like a birthing center next time and she just laughed and told me no way a birthing center would take me. "Why?" I asked. "Honey, she said, you are a high-risk pregnancy. You have to be in a hospital from now on." I denied being high risk for a while, but she convinced me. It kinda floored me. I never thought of myself as high risk, even after what happened. I guess I still kinda think I'm invincible, that the rules probably don't apply to me, if I just set my mind to it, I'll be fine. I am a very stubborn person, you know. So anyway. I'll admit it. I am high risk. But don't try to talk me into an epidural. That is just going too far :)