Thursday, October 31, 2013

Beauty and the Pedestal

My mom likes to tell this story about me as a tyke, before fashion and weight and acne were even a whisper of a thought.

I am three-years-old,  fresh out of my parents' shower, and my mom finds me striking poses in front of her full length mirror.
In my birthday suit.
Proud as can be.
I had never seen fashion models, but, at that moment, you'd think I was rehearsing for my Vogue debut.
"Sarah, what are you doing?"
"Looking." I strike another pose, pause, and say, "Am I the prettiest?"
My mom's a very literal person.  So she thinks about it a moment and says, "Well, Sarah . . . You're the prettiest little girl to me. Every mommy thinks her little girl is prettiest."
I look at her--deadpan, irritated, incredulous. "So everyone doesn't think I'm the prettiest?"
Just like that, people.
Just like that.

I have no idea if I'm two or three here (probably closer to two . . . ),

Also, that Mickey went everywhere with me for a looooong time.
Every kid needs a good Mickey, right?

I don't remember where I learned what pretty was. I don't know when or how I had decided that beauty was the ultimate goal, but, at least by three-years-old, it's what I wanted. You know how little boys turn everything into a weapon? Even if he's never seen a single action movie, a little boy picks up a stick, and it is suddenly a mighty sword.  I think little girls are the same way; you put a little girl in a store, and she will automatically pick the shiniest, fluffiest, prettiest little dress and twirl.
We are born with our hearts longing for beauty.

I don't think society has to teach us that. It's the song of our little feminine souls.

Of course, society comes in, peer pressure, and the beast of comparison.
Comparison is like a drug for me: I hate it but I don't know how to function without it. I should, but it is a struggle not to focus on the pros, cons, similarities, and differences. It began as simple observation--looking and taking mental notes to learn how to look, speak, dress. To assimilate. And then it grew.

Once I was in high school, my already teetering ego took a dive because I was ignored by the opposite sex.
Tell me, why is it that the female self-esteem is so desperately linked to how attractive males find her? If you're religious, you'll say it's that whole "your longing shall be for your husband" curse, and if you're scientific it's all of that primal need to reproduce. Whatever it is, it's annoying.  To find your worth in a group of adolescents who laugh until they cry over fart jokes? Who smell like dirty shoes no matter how much they wash? And, for some bizarre reason, their attention can make or break your self-esteem.
It's the bane of pubescent females.

Females of all ages, really.

Eventually, I came to the popular conclusion that my body was all wrong. There must simply be too much of me to be attractive. Especially rump. I have always had a surplus of honkytonkbadonkadonk, if you know what I mean.
For years, I tried to vanquish it with diet and exercise (but not TOO much, because, let's be honest, I loved food and hated the outdoors . . . running in the outdoors especially, and, at the time, I was told that was the only way to exercise). Alas, everything would tone or shrink but that.
And yet, all I could think was, "If I can lose my butt, I will be thin, and they will love me."

Fifteen-years-old at one of my  piano recitals
P.S. Still have that cardigan. It's stretched with me.

After getting married, I put on roughly thirty pounds on top of my college years' Freshman Twenty. After three years of struggle and denial about my weight, we moved, I started working hard on my exercise, cutting portions, all that jazz, and I've lost almost all of the post-wedding weight. Freshman Twenty? I don't know. That might be here to stay. 
With all that, the thought still nagging my brain is "If I lose ten more pounds, THEN I will be happy with me."
Sometimes, though, I wonder if ten pounds is really an option.
You see, what the media never tells you--what society never explains--is that puberty isn't the end of physical changes. You go from a girl to a woman--a real woman--and then you create life (a wonderful gift), and it is possible that you will never look like your teenage self again.
More importantly, if you did, would you really be healthy and happy?
Or would it still be "Five pounds more, and I'll be happy"  while you wither away?

Part of my own issues, I know, stem in fear and jealousy. 
I know my gene pool.
We're curvy women.
We're women who bear children and wear the marks, blessed as they may be.
We're women whose bodies take time.
Me? I'm a woman who puts on weight just by looking at a cheeseburger for too long. 
I'm not saying that my weight issues aren't due to my own lack of discipline, but, golly, I was not handed the skinny DNA, all right?
So I look forward, hoping to one day have a successful pregnancy, and my mind always darts back to my pants size. "If I work out before and during, I won't gain as much, and I'll bounce back, right???"
My mind is constantly rolling in that direction.
Because I know I am not one of those women who just miraculously bounce back from things like that.
I can't eat whatever I want, whenever I want, and not exercise without wearing it. It's who I am. I am still learning to accept that. To understand that, one day, my body might not just bounce back. That I will probably never achieve my ideal self image. That, somewhere, left all on my own, I will always look in the mirror and think, "Five more pounds, ten more pounds, any more pounds. I'm not okay, yet."
And I know it's wrong.

It's funny--I can look at other women and praise their beauty, regardless of size, and mean every single word with all of my heart.  I don't think a heavier frame equals unattractive at all. These are GORGEOUS women. Women I praise and cheer on, even envy for their style and confidence. They wear they curves with Marilyn VAVOOM.
It's just that I'm not okay with me.

We are always our harshest critics, aren't we? Why?

With some friends for the Doctor Who season premiere when I was at my heaviest.

 How are we women so obsessed with weight? There are skinny causes, women-sized causes, somewhere in-between causes, big boobs, little boobs, butt, pancake, thigh gaps, super strength, super slender, before baby, after baby, new body, old body, the works.
We fixate on it in all facets.
If we're not bashing weight, we're praising it.  If we're not attacking it, we're defending it.
It's always there, this hovering minion that nibbles at our self-esteem or is thrown up like a shield.
I'm too skinny.
I'm too fat.
I love my body no matter what anyone says! That's the newest battle cry.
I'm perfect just how I am, and I love it.
How many of us believe it?  How many of us sincerely look in the mirror, smile, and proclaim, "PERFECT!!!" Not picking at every tiny flaw, every wrinkle, every scar, every hint of a muffin top, every too-slender thigh. Just looking, seeing, and loving. No hesitations. No improvements.

How do you get there? I want to be there.
I am so tired of this cycle. This round and round and round the bathroom scale. 
It shouldn't be about the numbers.
It should be about my body's abilities. Can I walk farther, climb higher on my hikes than I could before?  Is my heart healthy? Does it really matter if my thighs aren't rock hard or if my arms don't look "great" in a tank top? No, not even remotely.
I'm alive. That's what matters.

I never post mirror selfies, but, three weeks ago, I thought, why not?
So this is me, married weight shed, still wondering if it was enough.

Some people say the key to all this is to negate the concept of beauty. Praise a little girl for her brains and not her twirly skirt.  Read her books about strong women, and banish the idea of a pretty princess.  I don't think any of those things are bad on their own (I applaud tales of strong, life-changing females and brilliant minds), but, just like boys and the stick-swords, every little girl will find something sparkly and make it a gown.  I don't think banishing beauty is the key at all.
I think it's the balance.
Something, somewhere, has grown so totally skewed we can't see straight.  It's about the numbers or the straightness of a nose or the perfect color combination. Beauty has been put on a pedestal it can't possibly sustain. We claim it the key to happiness, and it's a weight it cannot possibly bear. It's tried, and the struggle has left it a twisted beast we'd never recognize. It was never meant to be THIS, this ultimate goal. 
It was meant to be a joy-bringer, an extra ray of sunshine, not the whole blasted sun. It's not fair to us or beauty.

It's about the existence of you--that you are not an accident. 
It's about knowing that you are a work of art.  You are not a mistake. Nothing about you comes even close to a mistake. You are phenomenal and you are lovely. Yes, even with all the imperfections that taunt you in every mirror and every photograph. Even if the girl in first period gets all the attention and your sister is effortlessly your ideal pants size. You are so lovely.
You are here for a reason, for some wonderful, brilliant, unique reason that only YOU can fulfill.
Yes, you want to be pretty. That's not a bad thing, on its own.  But is it the most important thing? To you? Who defines pretty? The airbrushed movie stars? The boys in science class who think picking your nose is a grand adventure? A machine without a soul that counts poundage? Really? Them? Oh boy, if that's the case we are in some serious trouble. Kiss society goodbye, peeps, it's not worth it anymore.

I don't have it all figured out in my heart.
In my head, it all makes sense, but believing it?  To look in the mirror every day and say, "You are not a mistake"?  That's a war that's raging.  Somewhere, I let my ideal image take the wheel, and it has crippled me.

Beauty was never meant to cripple. It was meant to enable.
To empower.
To make your heart sing.

When you look in the mirror, is your heart singing? It wants to. 
Step back, look past the flaws, and witness the incredible miracle that you are--of all the possibilities, the millions people and the millions of cells, these came together and made YOU, just as you are. It could have been anyone, but it was you. Perfectly and wonderfully you. You are not flaws, your weight, or your clothes.
You're a miracle.

And you are so beautiful. 

Friday, October 25, 2013


Hello all my lovelies!

Today, I'm SO EXCITED to inform you that Cara from The Marvelous Flight of Cara (she's fabulous and a doll! If you aren't reading her blog, you need to! Like right now!), some lovely ladies of blogsphere, and I--YES ME!!! er I?--are hosting a beauty giveaway! We've banned together and are sending one lucky winner all of our favorite beauty products! Check it out!

Violet from Blythe Ponytail Parades | Elise from Sunday Charm



Colleen from Paisley Blvd. | Dani from Love Me, Dani Marie

Karissa from Karissa & Company | Joyce from Joyful Outfits

Heather from Glitter & Gloss | Amy from Sweet Home Santa Barbara

Tori from Eye Candy | Karly from Good Enough to Read

Maria from Agape Love Designs | Allison from Modern Memo

Doesn't it just look fab? Seriously, you know it does.
 You'll just love it! So excited for you guys!

Open to US only. Sorry!

Catch-up and Mustard . . . or something . . .

Life has been weird. Good stuff, bad stuff, stuff I've tried writing about and then wondering if it should be just mine or for all of you, too. I can't decide. Maybe now it's just for me, but I'm sure you'll hear something of it one day.  Let's just say that life is not easy. For the first time in my life, I have little control of my own fate and it is unnerving.
But that doesn't mean that life is all bad or that we don't find love and joys in it. When things get hard, no matter how much you want to pull away, you have to hold even tighter. It's rough and humbling and sometimes the opposite of what you want to do, but you need to it. To hold on to each other and to the truths you hold dear.
Because life goes on and the story isn't over, yet.Thank goodness.

The visual summation of our relationship . . .
Okay, so this past weekend, we volunteered at a community outreach event. My job? Help set up a Photobooth tent and play photographer for any visitors and volunteers. So much fun!

I have all these post ideas running through my brain, some about life, some random thoughts, some getting back to my English major roots (are you ready for some character analysis??? Really?! Me too!! HUZZAH!!!). It's just all over the place.

I write them in my head, you see, while I'm doing the dishes and jamming to Florence and the Machine, and, I tell you what, they sound great. Then I sit down at my computer, and, golly, what was I going to say again? Has anyone invented like a thought-capture app? Maybe I should just narrate into a tape recorder or something and then transcribe it . . . or hire one of those court-room typists like that movie "Alex and Emma" (P.S. If you haven't seen this movie, go out and rent it now--SO CUTE).

I suppose, to some degree, I've been more absent, because, gosh and golly folks, I kinda have a life now. ISN'T THAT BIZARRE?!

I mean, really, I still can't fathom it.

 After eight months where walking the dog was the major highlight of my day, I almost have a life. I'm still not working (I've decided to try to job-hunt, for the time being, as soon as we get this surgery thing sorted and accomplished . . . I have never been so eager to have someone cut me up and dice me open, but, hey, let's just get this crap over with, right?), but we have made friends. No, really, we have.
Friends who like us . . . who like call me up out of the blue and are like, "Hey, let's do something in an hour!" So I rush to put on a real bra and out the door I go. It keeps me on my toes . . . and motivates me to clean the house more often.  Nothing maintains a tidy kitchen like the fear of filthy exposure . . . or something. It's so foreign to me.  Back in Florida, I had coworkers who were pals, but we were both pretty busy and lived across town from each other, so get-togethers outside of work were rare.  Other than that, we had family.  Family can definitely contain friends, but it's different. I can't explain it, but it is.  But now there are these people--people my own age, a few of them nerds, even--who want to see us. Like outside our mid-week church group and Sunday services. 

Last weekend, we had two couples over, and do you know what we did? Drank wine and ate fancy cheese on fruit like real, flippin, classy grown-ups.  I mean, really when did this happen? 
This weekend, I'm hosting a girls night with wine, dessert, and gourmet pizza with fruit and other oddities on it (why is it that fancy, grown-up foods must always combine fruits and cheese? Probably because it's awesome and it just took me until 26 to realize it). While we're being the grown-up kind of girly, the guys are heading out to go blow things up and cook red meat at a friend's place. 

When did this happen? How?

Because it's kind of awesome.
To have friends.
We had both forgotten how awesome companionship feels.  It's such a blessing, especially with all the stress and the mess that's been going on in our lives--the move, work, the miscarriage, just all of it. Chris told me that these new relationships are one of the main things really keeping him from trying to move back east. 
Because we had forgotten.
And now we remember what it feels like--to be wanted, accepted, to have someone smile and shout your name from across a room, to sit down at a dinner table with more than just us, to talk to other minds and hear other voices besides our own. To have that human contact--that connection--that all humans were made for.
We had forgotten.
Now we remember.
And it brings us smiles even when it's hard. 

Now, I need to go to bed so I can wake up super early and finish the laundry before anyone drops by . . .

More blog posts to come, I promise!
You few that stick with me, thank you SO much! Love you and can't wait to read more of your blogs, as well!

Have an awesome weekend, lovelies!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


Peeps, since our last little chat, I finally got my surgery scheduled.
Isn't that a nasty word? "Surgery." It sounds like something slicing away. We always associate it with some sharp, some dire situation.
I have to stress the word MINOR when I have to explain why I'll be missing from group activities and Bible study on Wednesday. Otherwise, people look at me like I'm preparing to light my own funeral pyre. Not that I don't understand--if someone said, to me, that she were going into surgery, I might look at her the same way--surprised, concerned, care, all of those things decent humans feel for the other facing pain, but it's a bit embarrassing to be on the receiving end.  They tell me that I will WALK out of the hospital the same day I'm admitted, that I won't even need stitches. No, they're going to glue me back together like bits of paper. Tiny incisions, I won't even have battle scars, really, though they warned me there may be nasty bruising some time later.

I'll go under, the scope will go in, they make a small incision in my side, and cut out my little dermoid, then I'm glued back together, wake up, and I leave. It's as simple as that, they tell me.

Well, and, you know, the "bowel prep" the day before--today. Doesn't that just sound awful? Basically, I can have nothing--absolutely NOTHING--but fluids until midnight tonight, after which I may consume nothing at all. it makes sense--it really does. But golly . . . I really really REALLY want the homemade soup I have in the fridge. Or the leftover pizza. Or just . . . . you know, food.
Food IS good people. Don't let anyone convince you otherwise because, if ANYONE says food is bad, they're mentally unstable. I mean, really, mad to the maddest degree.

Food is awesome.

I miss food. It's been nineteen hours since I saw you last. Mmmmm food. We need to get back together sometime. Hopefully soon. REALLY soon.

In other news, Downton Abbey is kind of perfect for days like this. Mostly because you know they're preparing and eating food, but you can't really see it. Every time I watch something like Supernatural, I want a cheeseburger. Darn it, Dean! YOU AND YOUR DELICIOUS CHEESEBURGERS!!!! -_-

If for some bizarre reason I don't come out of this alive, I want this to be the image people remember.
Or, you know, maybe not but . . . yeah, maybe this one.
And I request a Viking-style funeral.
Unless, you know, I come out of this alive and unscathed, which they tell me is very, VERY likely.
So much for an adventurous surgery, right? 


I just got off the phone with my doctor and, apparently, there was an issue with a blood test result. Again, NOTHING MAJOR, they say, but they don't want to operate and want to send me to a specialist.  Basically this means that, again, my life has been put on hold.
As it has been since the miscarriage in June.
This was our last step, our final step, to being fully physically recovered, the last phase before the greenlight.
And now we're waiting again.
I know there's a purpose and a reason in all of this, but I would be lying to you if I said I weren't crying or filled with disappointment. I suppose it's better than a mess on an operating table, but part of me wants to call the doctor back and scream, "I"m willing to risk it! Just, please, finish this so I can move on with my life!"
But I can't because they won't.

She tried to perk me up by saying, "Well, you can eat now."
I don't have the appetite.
Not only am I filled with laxatives, but now I just feel sick in spirit. And no pints of my favorite ice cream can fix that. Not right now. Maybe tomorrow.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Part III: Eighteen Over Par (or something)

Part One and Part Two brings us here, Part three, in which we make speeches, struggle through mini golf, and discuss the deeper meanings of life. Or something.

Anyways . . .

It's my high school graduation, thank the good Lord, hallelujah, thank you Jesus, huzzah, woot woot, heck yeah, pwned, and all those other exclamations of sheer glee.
Because we had made it. Finally.  It's a joyous occasion, people. JOYOUS.

And there's a part of me that wonders how I tell this bit.  How do you make a story out of a high school graduation, even one like mine where they did EVERYTHING they could to make it interesting. I mean, really--we had slideshows, speeches, prayers, musical performances, and handing out each diploma took about ten minutes because it featured a message from each parent to the student and a "right back attcha" message from the gleeful graduate. It's the kind of thing where parents cry and the freshly-freed teens roll their eyes. We had bright blue robes, yellow tassels, and all antsy to get off that stage and out of those shoes. Heels. God, why? WHHHYYYY HIGH HEELS?!

Oh, and I got to talk. I did. I was aiming for Valedictorian (in a class of fifteen--no that's not a typo, FIFTEEN--people, three of which were named "Sarah," it shouldn't be too hard, right?), I missed out by one thousandth (as in 0.001) of a point.  So, here I am, second place, trying to give a first place style speech.

I don't remember the speech exactly. I remember my opening though . . . or part of it . . . I stood up there, sweating under my robe, hating that hat because it wanted to slide off my head, hating my heels because my toes hurt, but THIS was my moment. I made gazed out into the audience, smiled through my terror and glee, and said, "There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, 'Thy will be done,' and those to whom God says, in the end, 'Thy will be done.' C.S. Lewis. [slight dramatic pause for emphasis and GO] When we were kids, all of us knew what we wanted to be when we grew up. Some of us wanted to be firemen, mommies, astronauts. Me? I wanted to be a mermaid, but that hasn't worked out yet."
Cue audience laughter (good, I was hoping for that).
From there, it's all a blur.
I remember one of my notecards got mixed up, but I didn't stumbled. I had practiced in the mirror too much. Anticipating this moment, this hope that I could be my best just this last time.

My friends Tarisha, Allie, and Julie, Chris's sister.
My mom still hasn't forgiven me for ripping that robe off before she could get a picture.
 I break a public speaking rule: I make eye contact, a human connection, with the audience that should terrify me. I need to see their faces, that focused glint in their eyes that tells me they're listening. The confirmation that I am interesting. In the third row, I found the person I had been looking for, sitting next to his grandmother, clutching a tissue and trying to keep back proud tears.  There he was, bright-eyed, staring back, his lips faintly curled.

Chris had spent the last year in Idaho, following his best friend on scholastic adventures in the great Northwest. This was the first time I had seen him since he left.
He had a girl beside him, a pretty little thing in a blonde ponytail. So it had happened. He had found himself a sweetheart at university. Well, let's show him what he's missing, right? Maybe? Was I worth missing? But I stealed myself and I spoke. Then I sang, because I had one of those special music slots.
Don't laugh. I didn't realize how geeky it was then.

Chris has no memory whatsoever of the blonde girl. He doesn't remember what I said in my speech, but he says he liked it better than the valedictorian's . . She did a lovely job, but the mic went out, which would throw ANYONE off . . . and she loved the high school so it was one of those "I love you guys" kind of things popular kids do . . . He thought my voice was wasted on a cheesy song, that it had potential, but the whole thing was . . . cheesy. Chris abhors cheesy.
"But you did a good job," he told me, later. "Were you looking at me? I thought you were looking at me."
"Oh, my gosh! I totally was! I didn't think you cared!"
"Sure, I cared. I really liked you."

Chris with his sisters, Julie and Mel, that night.
The ceremony ends, we throw our hats, we shake hands gives hugs.
At some point, Julie catches up with me, "You're coming, right? Putt-putting?"
"Yeah, yeah, let me change . . .again . . . "
"Chris is driving us."
"Will your parents care? That Chris is taking us?"
"They'd better not."
And they didn't. Well, Dad did because all boys within spitting distance of his daughter were pure evil. Mom was far more lenient. So off I went, out of my pretty graduation outfit and into shorts for mini golf in the hot, humid, smothering Florida night. There were seven of us: the three graduates, three younger friends, and Chris, trapped in a astro van filled with over-hyper teenage girls. We fought over the front seat. For one round, I won.
And I spoke to him. And he talked back. We talked Star Wars. We were trying to find a midnight showing of Episode II, before we knew what a gosh-awful trainwreck of a movie it was ("Hold me like you did by the lake on Naboo" and several nerds vomit simultaneously). Luckily, there weren't any showings we could make, so we stuck to putt-putt and Steak 'n' Shake.

Me, Mel, Kelli, and Lydia, trying on sexy faces . . . we all needed lots of practice  . . .
And then we never stopped talking, me hanging slightly back to talk to this dark, handsome fellow who, shockingly, wasn't telling me to shut up.
"So . . . how's Idaho?"
"Really good."
"Yeah . . . um . . . You know . . . I um . . . I took a C.S. Lewis class while I was there."
"REALLY?!?! Oh my gosh, I would love to take a class like that!"

Chris had struck gold, bringing up the man he KNEW was my hero. Years later, he'd tell me that's what he liked about me: I loved Lewis and Tolkien like he did, like his friends did. He hadn't met a girl who loved those things like I did--obsessively, passionately.  And so we talked Lewis.
For the rest of the night.
Until, sitting in Steak 'n' Shake, while we were engrossed in philosophical discussion, everyone else finished eating, and, suddenly, I heard Julie burst out, 'Well we would leave if CHRIS AND SARAH WOULD STOP TALKING!! GOSH!!!" And they were waiting by the door, staring at us. 
I think they might have been suspicious, maybe, but the next day, Kelli imitated Chris saving her golf ball from the asparagus-colored water and proclaimed her love, so I stayed quiet.
For another year. I said nothing to ANYONE about how my heart pounded when Chris came into the room.

Teenage Kelli and Mel are judging me
At Julie's house, while the other girls got ready for bed, Chris and I kept talking.  He wanted us to watch a movie with him (Fifth Element--aaaawwweeesooooome), but, before that, his paternal grandmother had gifts for him and Julie. For Julie, it was a tiny clock shaped like a painted Russian egg.  For Chris, a tiny clock set into a silver set of die. On the inside, there was a tiny picture of his grandmother and grandfather as a young couple. "Oh, wow, Grandma, thank you so much," he said, turning it over in his hand while I watched, standing beside him. "Wow! That's you and Grandpa, huh?"
"Yes, and maybe one day, you can put a picture of you and a young lady there instead," and she smiled, and, I swear, she looked at me.
I remember blushing then disappearing because I felt like I had intruded on something very special.
Maybe she knew. Maybe I imagined it. I don't know.  Within ten minutes, I had pushed it out of my mind, focused on the movie.

"Do you remember that I sat on the floor while you and Julie sat on the bed?"
"Yeah, I do. I thought that was so weird."
"I had always been told that boys and beds were a bad mix. Never ever get anywhere near a boy on a bed."
"Good grief, Sarah."

But we kept talking.

Two days later, I begged my mom to go shopping with Julie, her mom, and her grandmother took her shopping for her graduation and her birthday. Oh, and Chris was going, for some reason. When I found out it was his birthday, I dug through my stationary set, found a birthday card featuring a black and white photo of an orangutang, scribbled a note, and gave it to him with my stomach in knots. I felt like such an idiot, but Chris smiled like I had really done something wonderful. I had also brought a book to lend him, and he gave me one of his--Lewis's The Discarded Image--to read. It seemed like a small action, but, as book people, this was HUGE.
That afternoon, while Julie tried on dress after dress in Anthropology, unsatisfied, Chris and I were making fun of displays, giggling, before we disappeared into a book shop.  That was the first time I discovered that Chris hated any kind of movie spoilers.  I found a newly updated Star Wars encyclopedia, and Chris refused to look at it.
Maybe if he had, he would have avoided viewing the insult that is Lucas's Episode II.
"I don't like sand. It's coarse and rough and irritating and it gets everywhere. Not like here. Here everything is soft and smooth."
And hundreds of nerds withered away and died in howling agony.

When they dropped me off, I said my goodbyes. I forced myself to say Chris's name, and, to my shock, he looked me in the eyes, and said goodbye right back, smiled even. He had only done that once before, when he was home for Christmas and had tagged along when his mom dropped Julie and I off at a movie. Looked right at me, smiled--really smiled.  Little did I know that Lisa had teasingly asked him if he were interested. He objected with the fierceness only the justly accused possessed, but Lisa let it go.

All these little details, they don't matter to most people. But my brain remembers details. It remembers these tiny things that made my heart skip and my palms sweat and my mind go into a fumbling blank.  I remember, because, back then, they were shreds of hope.
Hope that he saw me like I saw him.
Hope that, one day, just maybe . . .

But I was young and naive and little bit stupid. I knew I was goofy, with limbs too long, no sense of style, and a social awkwardness no one could make out and I couldn't destroy, no matter how hard I tried.

But Chris thought I was sweet.
He thought I was different, interesting, with long red hair that, when wet, made me look like a mermaid. He didn't think about dating me, really--that was preposterous, but he said I didn't leave him alone. He'd see a pretty girl, and, suddenly, my face was there.

I'd see a handsome young man, and I'd think of Chris. How did he compare to my dark-haired musician, my king of the nerds who loved his mother and sisters? Who let me borrow his sunglasses and lent me a book by our favorite author. Why was he still there, in my mind, when I knew this could never happen? Why?

So he flew back to Idaho and, after two months and a ten-day trip to Tokyo with a home-stay recruitment program, I drove off to Mississippi.
That's where it should have ended.

But it didn't.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Recipe: Coconut Curry

Peeps, I believe it has been weeks, months--NAY!! YEARS!!! Since my last recipe post.
It's not that I don't cook . . . or that I don't cook new things.
I just . . . Well . . . My kitchen is messy, my food often isn't pretty, and, peeps, by the time I've actually finished cooking, I am HANGRY. No, that's not a typo. I'm full on bear-mode, GIVE-ME-FOOD-OR-DIE. Or I'm really tired and I just don't care. Would that be slungry? tirungry? Why do none of these words sound right?


Today, I'm sharing with you guys one of our old-new favorites. It's old because I actually discovered this recipe during year one of my marital status, back when I made mostly casseroles because I was afraid to make things not originating in boxes. Back then, this recipe was intimidating because, um, there's no box people. A couple weeks ago, I started going through my old cookbooks, hoping to rediscover some old gems, and stumbled upon this one. Now, I share it with you.

People, allow me to introduce:


Savory, thick, and you can throw whatever veggies you want or don't want in there. The hubs is a curry fiend, to he loves it. And, really, it's super easy. Prep meat, sit meat in spice, cook meat, prep sauce, DEVOUR.

So peeps, start your engines, and start whipping up your curry!

 For Meat Prep:
  •  Roughly 1 pound of chicken breasts, cubed
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 cup sliced red onion
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
For Sauce
  • 2 - 13.5 oz can of UNSWEETENED coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil (if you're using fresh herbs, I think that's roughly 4 tablespoons fresh basil)
  • 2 teaspoons dried ginger (again, if you're using fresh ginger, it's roughly 2 tablespoons)
  •  3 teaspoons curry powder
  •  1 teaspoon chili powder
  •  4 cups COOKED white rice (I think that's 2 cups uncooked)
    Chris and I love cooking sticky jasmine rice in our rice cooker for our curry recipes.
Optional Ingredients
  • Veggies of your choice! 
  • I used:
    • 1 carrot
    • 1 zucchini
    • 1 squash
    • 1 1/2 cup chopped frozen broccoli
    • I cut my veggies Julienne style (is that how you say it?) because I thought it looked pretty but it took lots more time. You could cut it in small quarters--it would be faster and still taste just as good

If you can't find UNSWEETENED on the label, just check the ingredients. 
If it just says, "INGREDIENTS: COCONUT MILK" you're in the clear.
Because, um, technically, coconut milk IS unsweetened by nature.
I wish I had known this four years ago when I was in a panic in the grocery store because I couldn't find a can with the "unsweetened" label.


1.  First, prep the chicken by dicing that sucker up into nice little cube.
2.  Once that's done, banish your meat into a ziplock bag and add curry and chili powders, pepper, and salt. Shake it   
     up until the meat is coated.
3.  Let the chicken absorb those glorious spicy flavors in the fridge for 1-2 hours.
4. While the chicken is chilling, prep your onion and your veggies. 

6.  Once your chicken has finished chilling, heat oil in large wok or skillet. Toss in the onions and garlic and
     cook until translucent.
7. Add chicken until cooked through. If you have a veggie that takes longer to cook (like my carrots) add it
    now as well. 
    This is also a great time to throw your rice in your rice cooker . . . or on the stove . . . I hate it when you
    make a big, awesome meal, and then you have to wait because you forgot to prep the rice, so . . . now
    would be a a good time :]
8. If you have softer veggies (like my zucchini and squash) add them once the chicken is almost cooked.

9. Remove these lovelies and set them aside.
10. Add the coconut milk, cornstarch, and remaining salt to your wok or skillet. Stir until smooth.
11.  Heat through until the sauce is slightly thickened and bubbling, then return heat to low.
12. Add the remaining spices to the sauce. 
       I have a confession: I am TERRIBLE at measuring spices. I start small, taste, add more, taste again. So,
       if you want to start with less spices than the recipe calls for then build up, that's awesome.
13. Once you are THRILLED with your sauce, mix the meat and veggies back into the sauce.

14. Serve warm over rice.


This recipe makes roughly 8 servings.
It also works really well halved.