Sunday, December 21, 2014

It's not always about me: A therapy session

I take it very personally when someone I love is in a bad mood.  I feel responsible.  Not for putting them there, but for bringing them out of it.

OK... to be honest, I do sometimes feel responsible for putting them there... My first instinctual, internal question is always,

'Oh no, what did I say this time?'

That, my friends, comes from a childhood career of always being wrong.

I sort of look at that bad mood as my job, my project...a challenge maybe?  Because I have this Superman complex which makes me believe I'm capable of fixing or saving anything.  I don't like seeing people suffer in any way, it makes me sick.  And when I'm out with someone who doesn't appear to be having a good time, I can't focus on having fun myself until I can bring them back.  It becomes a task I simply must complete.

And every bad mood is different, every person is different.   Some people like to be sweet-talked out of a mood, some people like to be pulled out by their boot straps with tough love, some prefer distraction... and then there are those who just plain want me to go away.  That's the one I'm learning more about.  That's the one foreign to me.  Because when I'm in a bad mood, stressed out, or sad, I want someone to come down in my sad hole with me for a bit.  Look at things through my eyes, understand the reasoning behind my emotions, and then I'll pull my own self out of the hole.  But it's only after I get that understanding attention.  But the people who just plain wanna be left alone- those are the tough ones for me.  How does someone like me, a perpetual mood healer deal with such a thing?

Honestly?  Persistence.  And that ain't always smart.  For them or for me.  (You can add stubborn to the Superman complex.)  I'll be working hard on trying to pull someone out of a bad or stressful mood, trying all sorts of different tactics- surprise treats, thoughtful notes, humor... and when all of that doesn't work, and they're still sitting in their hole, I tend to feel bad about myself.  Isn't that ridiculous?  I know it is, I'm typing it right now and realize how crazy I sound.  But that's the truth.  And I'm working on it.  This year, these past several months to be specific, I've been working incredibly hard on understanding this one simple thing...

 It's not always about me.

That one thought solves a lot of my emotional issues.  That one sentence can cure a lot of my problems.  Because, you know what?  Thinking that it's always something I did or I said is, in fact, a very selfish way to think.  And I loathe selfish.  It's one of my least favorite qualities in a person.  The sheer fact that I worked so hard trying to fix the other person is a a selfLESS act, so why would it make sense for me to then become selfish in thinking it's all about something I did?  Silly, very, very silly.  And yet...

Let's say I send someone a text or email and don't ever hear back?  My first instinct is to think, 'Oh no, they hated it.  I bothered them.  They hate me now.  I take back everything I said!!!'  Someone's in a bad mood and I can't fix it?- 'Oh no, they hate me.  I was annoying and I made it worse.  It's over between us.'  I give someone a gift and don't hear anything back?- 'Oh no, they hated it.  I killed them.  It was poison and I killed them.'  Totally rational thoughts, right?  But now when those thoughts come in my head, I say to myself, 'It's not always about you, Abbey.'  And I move on.    

Here's the thing- I'm a giver.  I'm a helper.  I'm very, very generous.  And I'm not saying that to brag, I'm saying that to prove a point.  I over-give, I over-help, I'm over-generous.  (I would make a killer elf.)  I get that.  I know that about myself.  And to some people, that's great.  To some people, they see those things as thoughtful gestures and it makes them feel special, and loved...which is totally my point.  To those people, that's what they love most about me.  But some people don't like attention.  Some people are suspicious about it, and it makes them uncomfortable.  That's tough for me, but I need to realize that and dial back the Abbey a bit on those folks.  It makes me incredibly happy and satisfied and fulfilled to please the people I love.  And I don't do it for the reaction or the thank you.  I truly and honestly don't.  Don't get me wrong- thank-you's are always awesome.  But I genuinely love the way it makes me feel to get excited about surprising somebody with something I know they will love.  Yet somehow, if I don't get a good reaction, or any reaction whatsoever, I regret my actions.  

Always.  

I'm a very spontaneous and instinct-driven individual.  I do my best work when I'm not thinking too much about it, when I react authentically and quickly based on my gut.  This is why, if you know me well, you will receive many a random text about many a random thing.  I think things, and I react.  BUT, when I have the time to think about the quick decision I just made, when there's too much silence on the other end, I am a professional second-guesser and apologizer.  It's a nasty habit I have.  And, like I said- I'm working on it.  Maybe a good practice for me would be to sit on a thought or an idea before reacting?  Maybe.  I don't know though...then a lot of my best ideas would never have come to be...like having babies or pimento cheese scones or cutting bangs.  

But something I do try to practice now is this- I try to imagine the other person, receiving my surprise gift, or my random text or email, and they're in the middle of a thousand other things, they're dealing with so many other important issues that responding to my gesture was just not high on their to-do list.  It doesn't mean they didn't like it or appreciate it, it doesn't mean that I caused a negative reaction, it simply means that they're just too busy.  And that makes me feel better.  I try to imagine that when they received it, they did get a little bit of joy, and their heart got all warm and fuzzy, even if they didn't tell me about it.  And that makes me feel better.  Because that right there is the only reason why I did it- to make them feel good, whether they told me or not.

So, even though I don't believe in New Years Resolutions, even though I think we should all be setting goals for ourselves year round and not just at the end of every year, I think that for this upcoming year I will continue to work on this.  I will repeat my mantra over and over until it becomes as instinctual as the gesture itself... it's not always about me, it's not always about me, it's not always about me...  I will click my damn heels if I need to.  But I will never, ever, stop being me.  And ME is a giver.  An over-generous, over-helping, one elf of an over-giver.  It's just who I am.  Like it, don't like it, take it, leave it, that's ME.

(You're welcome.)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Since we're on the subject of generosity and giving and sharing, I'm gonna share my recipe for Cream Cheese Semifreddo that I plan on serving for Christmas Eve dessert this year.  The last time I made it, I served it with my Carrot SpoonCake (that y'all have GOT to check out because it is INCREDIBLE) but this time I'll be serving it with a Panettone Bread Pudding.  It will come at the end of my Christmas Eve dinner that will go as such:

*Orange-Glazed Cornish Game Hens with Chipotle-Cheddar Sweet Potato Gratin and Roasted Broccolini with Pomegranate Arils and Toasted Pine Nuts

Panettone is an eggy Italian sweet bread studded with dried fruit and candied orange, so it will be awesome after this meal.  I'll cube up the bread, place in a pretty baking dish, and pour over a custard flavored with a bit of brown sugar and nutmeg, allow it to sit overnight in the fridge and 'marinate', then I'll bake it til golden brown and crispy on top, but still creamy in the center.

This Cream Cheese Semifreddo will simply melt on our warmed tongues before it gently slides down our throats.  It will be heavenly.  It will be sinfully delicious and simply wonderful.  And it makes me incredibly happy that I get to share it with you now.  (Whether you thank me for it or not.)

*Cream Cheese Semifreddo

(Semifreddo, in Italian, means half cold.  It is literally a semi-frozen dessert.  It's pretty much just a frozen mousse, not as firm as ice cream, not as soft as a mousse or pudding...somewhere in between.)

Before you begin, place a medium, glass mixing bowl and your metal beaters in the freezer for about 10 minutes.

Using an electric, handheld mixer with those cold beaters, combine the following in your cold bowl:

-1 (8 ounce) brick neufchatel cream cheese, softened (I prefer the tangy flavor of reduced fat)
-1 cup heavy cream, very cold
-1/2 cup powdered sugar
-good splash vanilla extract
-smaller splash almond extract (optional, but will go nicely with the Panettone)
-a couple pinches kosher salt

Beat/whisk until soft peaks form.

Place in a small container with a lid and freeze for 2 hours for the perfect consistency.

If you needed to make this ahead of time, then take it out of the freezer and allow it to soften a bit before serving.  You want the texture to be a bit firmer than soft-serve ice cream when you serve.

Spoon or scoop out onto your plates and enjoy!

(You can also place this in a loaf pan lined with plastic wrap in the freezer and when you're ready to serve, simply invert it onto a plate, remove plastic wrap and slice instead of scoop for a unique presentation.)



Friday, December 19, 2014

The Green Tea Scone

(Emailers: Click HERE to read this post on the site!)

(I know, I know, I just posted a scone recipe last month (The Pimento Cheese Scone).  And I was gonna even it all out with a savory recipe this week but then I realized this one was too good not to share before Christmas...they're so festive looking!!)

I developed a Green Tea Scone recipe last year for a tea-lovin' friend...


But then I lost it.  Lost the recipe.  Just big fat lost it.  I had it in my head, mostly... (I can make scones in my sleep)...but I just couldn't remember the amount of green tea leaves I used so I didn't wanna risk posting it if it wasn't exact.  They were a big hit.  My friend loved them, I loved them, my husband loved them, lots of love... So I knew I wanted to recreate them.  But...then I got an idea to use matcha instead of leaves.  Matcha is a green tea powder, which you're actually ingesting when you drink it instead of just drinking the infused water from the leaves.  This makes it higher in antioxidants and all the other good stuff we know about green tea.  It's pretty powerful stuff, matcha.  High-octane green tea.  It's no joke.  In fact, one cup of prepared matcha offers up 10 times more antioxidants than a cup of brewed green tea made from the leaves.  That's insane!!  And the bonus is that it's a beautiful bright green color, perfect for 'dying' baked goods.  So...my thought process was that if I used that in my dough, then my scones would not only have a delightful green tea flavor, (and also healthier) but they would come out all pretty and green and stuff too.

And I was right!  They're so pretty!  I giggled when the dough was finished because it made me so happy!  Like edible, grown-up play-doh.  They're kind of this sage-green color, very earthy and lovely.  And the green tea flavor is much stronger this time.  It's kind of like eating green tea ice cream...but chewing it instead...?  (Yeah, wrap your brain around that.) What's also really cool about these scones is that because there's so much matcha in the dough, they're an antioxidant powerhouse!  So, whether you're eating these with your tea or without, consider yourself served.

I'm just gonna go ahead and say that eating these scones will ward off a cold this season.  And all the holiday stress.  I'm gonna say they're magic scones.  I'm gonna start prescribing them instead of offering them.  I just gave myself a doctorate.  (Isn't the internet amazing!)

So, here's what I want you to do, love.  Eat one scone and call me in the morning.



In the bowl of your food processor, pulse to combine the following dry ingredients...
-3 cups AP flour (I always prefer unbleached when I'm using white flour.  And you know I usually prefer whole wheat pastry flour for health reasons, but you really need the white in these so the green from the matcha stands out.)
-1 cup white sugar
-1 TB baking powder
-1/2 tsp kosher salt
-1/4 cup matcha powder

Add in...
-1 (8 ounce) very cold brick neufchatel cream cheese, diced

Pulse to break down the cream cheese into the dry and then add in...
-1 1/2 sticks very cold butter, diced

Process until the butter has broken down.

With the mixer on, through the spout, add in...
-good splash vanilla extract
-roughly 1/3 cup cold half&half

Drizzle the half&half slowly, and stop once the mixture has been fully moistened and becomes a dough.  (You may not need this much half&half!) Don't take it so far that it becomes a sticky ball- go slowly and add a little bit at a time.

Turn the dough out onto your counter, it will be a very moist dough but should not be sticky.  Shape the dough into a flat disk about 2-3 inches tall.


Slice the disk into 8 triangles, like you're slicing a pie.  Place each triangle on an UN-greased cookie sheet, spaced a few inches apart.



(Sprinkle the tops with some sugar if desired)  Bake on the top rack of a preheated 375 oven for 20 minutes.  Remove and allow the scones to rest on the cookie sheets until firm, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.



Serve room temperature and store in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 days or tightly wrapped in plastic AND foil/zip bag in the freezer for up to 3 months.

And enjoy!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

For links to all my other scone recipes, visit my Pumpkin Brown Sugar Scone post.

Flashback Friday- Here's what I was talking about back in hot July- climbing abandoned building rooftops with old friends

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Lou Criscuolo, resting.

My first agent passed away this week.  Lou Criscuolo was his name.  He was 80.  Even now when I say his name I can't help but say it in his voice, his unmistakably Lou Crisuolo voice.  Everyone who knew him and is reading this right now is saying his name in the Lou voice.

Lou Criscuolo.

He represented me when I was still a baby in college, in Wilmington, NC, so young and so green.  But he was most known for founding and running The Opera House Theatre Company, which he did for 30 years after moving from New York in 1983 to be in the Thalian Hall production of 'Remembered Nights'.  He was a salty old man, his voice thick with the most incredible New York accent I've ever heard, and it sounded like he swallowed a handful of pop-rocks when he spoke.  Everyone in town knew Lou.  He was a theatre legend, and such a great character.  He liked me.  He was very sweet to me.  And he was the type of man who didn't throw around 'sweet' very easily.  He was the type of man who gave it to you straight, and harsh.  He was equally intimidating as he was warm and huggable.  Or at least to me he was.  I bet if you were to ask other people how they would describe Lou, none of them would use the word, sweet in the sentence.  But I had a soft spot for Lou, he was always warm to me...in that charming, grumpy old man kinda way that I simply adored.  He actually reminded me of my late Great Aunt, Carrie Maie.  (My daughter's middle name comes from her.)  Carrie Maie was the Southern and female version of Lou Crisuolo- told you like it was, didn't hold back, cussed like a sailer, could always laugh at themselves (and you), and generous as hell.  So maybe that's why I liked him...I felt like I understood him, and he me.

I will never forget my first meeting with Lou.  I had sent my headshot and resume out to several agents and heard back from Lou first.  He called me on my house phone and we spoke for a couple minutes, then made an appointment for the next day.  I remember thinking how easy and fast that was.  I drove across town the next day to the Opera House Theatre, I was extremely nervous, anxious and excited.  I walked in to his office and he had me sit down on the couch and we just...talked.  He asked me what I had done before, and I answered with the naive enthusiasm of a recent high school theatre star.  It was a very short and casual conversation.  And he took a long pause, looked over my thin resume and horrible headshot, sighed and said,

'Well.  You any good, kid?'

I was so young, so nervous, so lacking in any official confidence whatsoever but, without a beat or breath, stared him in the eyes, through those thick, black glasses of his and said,

'Yes sir, I am.  I'm really good.'

And he stood up, shook my hand and that was that.  No reading, no audition, just based on a short conversation and simple Q&A, he saw what he needed to see.  Over the next couple of years he sent me out on TV and film auditions, where I learned the hard way how NOT to audition.  I learned how to work this business simply based on Lou's blind faith in me.  He booked me for a commercial I didn't audition for early in my senior year and told me all I had to do was show up in normal, presentable clothes and be prepared to 'be a customer in a burger restaurant'.  So, I put on my most presentable and normal burger-eating clothes and showed up to set the next day.  I walked up to introduce myself to the directors and producers and the director pulled me aside and said,

'So, your agent told you what the commercial was about, right?' 

'Well, yeah...he told me I was eating burgers.'

'Oh.  OK.  Well..that's true but... 

And here's when the man took off his baseball cap and scratched his head, seemed pretty uncomfortable with what he was about to say to me...

Have you ever seen 'When Harry Met Sally'?'

'Yeah...'

'And you know that scene with Meg Ryan in the diner?'

'Yeah...'

'OK.  Well, that's what we're doing here.'

And then for hours upon hours after that, in front of a room full of old men, women (and children) I faked many-an-orgasm whilst eating a giant hamburger until the sun went down and we lost the light.  They 'liked my look' so they kept me afterwards for print shots and then later that night I drove home lightheaded and full as hell.

I never found out if Lou knew what the premise of the commercial was or if he just wanted to test me.   I'd like to think he wanted to test me.  Seems like a Lou thing to do.  And I would like to think I passed.  Whenever I would go to his office to pick up or drop off a check, Lou and I would talk on his old couch in his old office and he would tell me all the upcoming projects he had coming up that I would be perfect in... He was just a wonderfully, uniquely sweet old man who was very, very good to me.

After I graduated and wanted to spread my wings a bit, I had to call and end my relationship with Lou.  I was signing with another agent who worked outside of Wilmington who could offer me more auditions.  It was one of the hardest conversations I'd ever had to have.  I didn't want to leave Lou, he was so good to me.  But I knew it was the wisest choice.  I remember sitting on the front porch swing at my Wrightsville Beach house, dialing his number on my house phone, hearing his gravely voice say hello, then hearing it smile when he found out who was on the other line.  And then I started to cry as I stumbled on my words, I was so scared I was going to disappoint him.  And when I was done, he said to me,

'You're making the right move.  You've outgrown me, kid'

I thanked him for everything, and that was that.  I felt him hug me through the phone and that was the last time I ever spoke to Lou.  

So many years and agents and projects have passed me by since Lou gave me my first chance.  I was 18 when I first met him.  I'm 33 now- a mom, a true grown-up, no longer pounding the pavement, no longer seeking the approval of agents and casting directors and producers... But I will never, ever forget that man.  Because, without even knowing it, he taught me that if I could get the approval from a man like Lou Criscuolo, I was prepared for just about anything.


Thank you, Lou.  Thanks for believing in me, kid.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This 'interview' video right here (link below), shot for the Wilmington Theatre Awards a couple years ago, gives you a pretty good idea of who Lou was.  Popped collar, big black glasses, cigarette always close by, sitting comfy on his couch, always up for a performance... It made me smile pretty hard when I watched it.


And here's another, showing a very young and handsome Lou, acting in the 1963 television show, 'Naked City'. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

MVP's- Most Valuable Posts

Yeah...it's 4 o'clock in the a.m. and I'm up.  Best part?  Been up since 3.  (winning)  You know me, I go through these phases where sleep just isn't a priority and thinking takes the lead.  And since I'm all in my head over here, I thought I would put that energy to good use and compile a blog post of all my most popular posts.  I've had several people bring that up to me lately actually.  People asking me what my favorite recipes/stories are, making requests for 'that thing you made with that stuff four years ago', etc.  I know I'm a lot to handle, I know I put out a lot of content, and I'm sure that's hard to follow sometimes so I'm doing you a favor on this cold and dark morning and making it a little bit easier to find some of those 'favorites'.  These posts were picked based on you and what you liked.  They're based on views, so all of these here are posts that you guys liked, and shared, and looked at over and over again.  AND THEY'RE ALL ABOUT FOOD!!!!!  Another day I'll put up the most popular non-food posts, but today we talk food.  Because that's where it all began...



One of my oldest recipes, this one right here is a big hit around October-November with all you lovely people.  I use a gingersnap cookie as the crust (just the cookie, no crumbs and butter- so easy!!) in the bottom of muffin tins before a creamy pumpkin cheesecake mixture gets baked on top.  They're bite sized treats that are perfect for holiday parties!  It's been one of my most popular recipes for over 5 years!!


Nope, I'm not gluten free.  BUT, this banana bread right here is AMAH-ZING.  It's the most moist, most rich, most satisfying banana bread I have ever tasted and it's so healthy I can't even take it.  Everyone who tries it- adults, children - love it and are super surprised to hear how good for them it is.   It uses coconut sugar, coconut and oat flour, coconut oil... nothing refined, nothing processed, just pure, delicious goodness.


And I aint even vegan, y'all.  But let me tell you, this chocolate pudding pie made from pureed dates and cocoa powder and cashew butter and coconut 'cream' is killer.  My husband requests it for Valentine's Day every year.  And he ain't even vegan either, y'all.


Surprisingly, out of dozens of variations, this scone recipe has been your favorite for years.  And it's a good one, for sure.  I make them every Easter for my family.  My scones are, hands down, the best.  (And I ain't even cocky, y'all.)  But these particular ones right here are really moist thanks to the carrots and they really do taste like a breakfast pastry version of carrot cake...SO GOOD!!


This recipe is one of my family's favorites and I have to say, it's phenomenal.  I make my own Garam Masala spice blend (although store-bought it totally fine!!) and season tender chunks of lean beef with it before stewing with vegetables and a spiced tomato sauce.  It's intensely flavorful, hearty and absolutely perfect for these cold winter months.  And the coconut barley underneath?  Damn.  Just damn.


So...this is kinda incredible.  It's part cheesecake, part banana pudding, with a seductive layer of homemade dulce de leche making things all hot and steamy, set upon a salty and sweet vanilla wafer cookie crust.  Day-um.


I mean... This right here is the best, most incredible, most amazing, most mostest French Onion soup I have ever had.  I make it with brown butter, brandy (sometimes sherry), nutmeg, allspice, sage...and the toasts are made out of what I happen to think is a pretty cool idea.  You ready? I use those onion rolls you find in the bread section of your grocery store.  The ones you sometimes use for hamburgers? Yep.  Those.  They have a great flavor, they fit perfectly over most crocks and I always happen to have an open pack in my fridge or freezer leftover from cookouts.


Ya'll love this one! It's an old recipe, if you couldn't tell from the quality (or lack thereof) of the picture.  It's a healthier and much more flavorful version of the traditional eggplant parm.  It uses roasted eggplant, that's slathered with a roasted garlic-balsamic spread and layered with tomato sauce and different kinds of cheeses.  It's so good to your tongue, I swear you won't even miss the fried stuff.



These gnocchi are made with sweet potatoes, whole wheat flour and asiago cheese and they are like sweet pillows of God-ness tossed with spicy Italian sausage flavored with sage and fennel and maple syrup.  And because I love a little pop of green on a dish, a handful of peas from your freezer round out this dish and make it a perfectly balanced and irresistible dinner favorite this time of year.


This recipe idea came from Marcella Hazan's Milk Braised Pork Loin.  I use the shoulder because I think it's a much more flavorful cut of meat.  I rub the meat all over with sage and fennel, black pepper and kosher salt and sear it in a cast iron pan before braising it with vegetables and garlic, rosemary, bay and nutmeg and the secret to making this dish incredible- milk.  Just plain milk.  No stock, no wine, MILK.  And what the milk does to the meat, y'all, is TO DIE FOR.  It comes out so tender, so flavorful, so rich... I really can't say enough about it so you're just gonna have to go make it yourself and we'll come up with better descriptors.


I have probably made hundreds of batches of these guys right here.  For awhile there I was in talks to market them and I was a marshmallow machine.  They're made with agave nectar instead of corn syrup, which is not only a little healthier but also so much easier- No candy thermometer needed!  Just bloom some gelatin, whip with the agave, some vanilla and salt and within minutes you have this fluffy mixture that after cooling on a cookie sheet, becomes sliced into marshmallows!!  My kids love to help with them-they love watching the liquid turn into a 'cloud'!!  And they're so perfect for this time of year too...I've given them as gifts before, wrapped in pretty cellophane with homemade hot cocoa mix.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

So that's it!  Those, among hundreds of recipes, are YOUR favorites! Thanks for all your support over the years, guys.  It really warms my heart to know that you and your families have been eating and enjoying my food.  I make everything with love and it means the world to know that you're sharing my love with yours.

And if I missed your own personal favorite, maybe one that was lost in the shuffle, please let me know and I'll add it!!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Bodies are Beautiful: A Video

I used to be ashamed of my Body.  I used to hide all of it that I could.  I didn't appreciate it for what it was, what it could do and has done for me, and instead looked at it under a microscope and saw all that it wasn't.

It wasn't long.  It wasn't lean.  It wasn't tall.  It wasn't feminine.

We live in a world of body shaming, of judgment, of comparison.  I've done it, you've done it, we've all been guilty of shaming, judging and comparing our bodies to others'.  I've changed a lot over the past couple of years.  Once I settled into my 30's I started to treat my Body like it was all that I had instead of wishing I could change it.  And once I put it together that I cannot change everything, but that I could change some things, and then accept the things that I could not change, I began to love it more.  I began to appreciate it more.  I began to respect it more.

This Body gave birth to two children.  This Body has run thousands of miles and lifted thousands of pounds in its thirty three years on this earth, it has twisted and flipped, it has carried loved ones through pain and sadness.  This body has morphed from round and lumpy to fit and strong.  And when I think about it in those ways, I can think of it as a mighty powerful thing.  Sometimes we need to take a step back and look at our bodies in different lights, different views, from different angles in order to see everything that it is.  Sometimes we need to test its limits in order to know how amazing it can be.

I've been feeling a little less-than lately.  Maybe it's the grey weather, maybe it's the holiday blues, maybe it's just that we all go through periods where we feel down and I was due for mine.  I had been wallowing in it, and knew it was time to climb out of it.  So Saturday morning I went for an 8 mile run.  It was cold, it was rainy, I still had a sinus infection, and all signs pointed to staying home by the fire.  But instead I flipped it upside down and fought through.  After I came home my Body ached.  I had pushed it far, pushed it when it didn't want to be pushed, and it was tired.  My back was stiff, my knees sore.  And instead of stopping, instead of laying down, I decided to balance out that ache, that soreness and stiffness.  I decided to turn myself upside down and push it in another direction.  I decided my Body needed some balance.

It's easy to become ashamed of looking at ourselves.  We think it's vain, conceited, or too self indulgent to step back and look at our body, to study it.  It's easier to ignore it, make jokes about it, put it down.  I have issues still with calling myself or my Body Beautiful.  But I say if you're feeling a little less-than, and in need of a boost, turn your body into art, take a step back and marvel at the beauty and all that it is instead of all that it isn't.

It isn't perfect.  It isn't flawless.  But those are now OK with me.  Its imperfections and flaws are what makes my Body mine and no one else's.

It is strong.  It is capable.  It is fit.  It is Beautiful.


http://youtu.be/w1L7dEpbvSs

I challenge you all to do something creative with your bodies.  Push it, test it, do something that will allow you to step back and say, 'Wow.  That's Beautiful.'  I didn't know what I was going to do once I got upside down, I just began to play and do whatever felt natural, and keep doing it for as long as my tired arms could hold me there.  

So.

What will you do today to remind yourself that you are Beautiful?  Because you are, you know.  

You're Beautiful.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


*

Follow me on Instagram at @everydaychampagne and on Twitter at @EvryDayChampgne and like Everyday Champagne on Facebook for more fun!

And here's what I was doing 2 years ago, with the recipe for my Pineapple Carrot Cake that I make my son every year on his birthday.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

After All These Years

I've been married for 10 years.  For people my age that's a long time.  10 years is a milestone.  That's a decade.  That's 10 continual years of being legally, emotionally and mentally committed to the same person.  Has it been hard?

Nope.

You were expecting me to say 'Yes', weren't you?

But honestly, it hasn't.  Moving.  Across country.  Twice. Was hard.  Being broke was hard.  Having babies was hard.  Raising those babies was hard.  Still is.  But the marriage?  Not one bit.  The state of our marriage has never been compromised through everything hard we've been through all these years.  The marriage itself is what kept us sane through all of that hardship.  If it wasn't, then those hard things would have broken us and then the marriage would have been considered hard.  

Why?  Why hasn't it been hard?

Because I knew him inside and out, through and through before we got married.  So he never surprised me with some new, dumb thing about himself.  I already knew all his dumb things.  And we took our time.  We didn't rush into anything.  Why rush?  Why speed up the 'growing old together'?  You have the rest of your life to be together...that's literally why you're getting married.  So why rush into the 'getting married'?  That has never made sense to me.  Neither has the 'not living together first' part.  Now, I know I will get a lot of negative feedback for this, and this is merely my (strong) opinion, but if you are vowing to spend your entire life with someone and commit to living with them for the rest of your life, then why ON EARTH would you not test that out first?!?!  We test-drive a car before we buy it.  We try on clothes before we buy and wear them out.  There are make-up counters dedicated to the testing out of perfumes and lipsticks before we commit to the purchase.  We taste our food before we serve it...

And that's just what we drive, wear, and eat.

...

My husband and I were practically married before we officially were.  We lived together, I saw him and he saw me first thing every morning, middle of the night, falling asleep, no make-up (that's just me there), angry, happy, sad, sick, all of it.  We literally saw each other through sickness and health before it was something we had to say. We got a kitten, a puppy, plants, apartments, we made large life decisions together, as a team, before we got married.  We knew every - thing about each other before we were married.

If you don't, then you shouldn't get married.  You should wait.  If you don't, then it's more about the fun of the wedding and the excitement of meeting someone new and the dream of it all, the fairytale you have in your head than it is about each other.  (Or the excitement to finally be able to live together...?) But marriage is real.  Marriage is serious.  Marriage is forever.

It's meant to be forever.  

My parents just celebrated their 35 year wedding anniversary.  They're incredible, those two.  Why are they still together?  It's my (strong) opinion that they're still together for the same reasons why my husband and I are still together.

1)  Trust.

2)  Acceptance.

3)  Friendship.

4)  Time apart.

You have to TRUST your spouse.  Unconditionally trust them.  This is your life partner.  This is your teammate for the rest of your life.  You should be able to trust them with everything that is yours

...and everything that is not.

You have to ACCEPT them for who they are.  And who they are NOT.  We cannot change someone fundamentally.  We cannot fix everything.  If you can't live with something about the other person, if it's such a deal-breaker that they do/don't do or say/don't say or feel/don't feel a certain way about something, then DO NOT MAKE THAT DEAL.  Accept them for who they are.  And who they are NOT.

You have to be friends with your spouse.  At the root of every successful relationship lies friendship.  You have to generally enjoy the other's company, in all scenarios and scenes.  You have to have things in common.  Which leads me to the fourth item...

YOU DO NOT HAVE TO HAVE EVERYTHING IN COMMON.  Spend some time apart!!  You should have different interests that you can safely enjoy with other friends who share that common interest, and then come home to the person who you share EVERYTHING ELSE with.  And TRUST them all the while.  You also need to have other friends outside of the marriage.  This is so very important.  You cannot rely on your spouse to provide you with every source of happiness at every hour of the day.  You cannot rely on them to fill your every need and enjoy your every joy.  You cannot simply wait for them to come home from work everyday in order to make your day complete.  This, my friends, will drive you AND YOUR SPOUSE insane.  And not in the good way.  Find your own happiness in friends that make you feel good about yourself and then you will appreciate what you have with your spouse so much more.  

And another extremely important part of a successful marriage is being able to call the other out on their bullsh*t.  If your spouse is doing or saying something you know isn't right, you need to have the freedom to tell them they are wrong.  I know whenever I've had my dark moments of acting a certain way that wasn't true to my real self, my husband has SHUT IT DOWN.  He's snapped it right out of me.  It hurts sometimes to hear it.

The truth can hurt, but the more it hurts, the more you know how off track you are.

And in the end, he's always right.  I TRUST him enough to know that he knows me the best and I TRUST the fact that he is a wonderful soul and would never steer me wrong.

My parents have shown me the greatest example of a successful marriage - my whole life I watched how you're supposed to be married.  I've had many years of learning from them.  They giggle, they joke, they poke, they fight, they take care of each other.  Do they like everything about one another?

No.  That would be preposterous.

Your spouse should NEVER be set upon a pedestal.

But they ACCEPT everything about one another, they love each other in spite of the things they don't like, because there are so many wonderful things they DO like that they fell in love with so many years ago.  They know who they are and who they are married to and they are COMFORTABLE.  And happy.  And they still have fun after all these years.  They still laugh after 35 years.  They still cuddle after 35 years.

They are still friends after 35 years.

I know now, on this day, settled into my 10th year of marriage, that my husband and I will continue down this same path that leads us to 35, 45, 55, 65 years of marriage.  And I know that until then I will be able to sit back and marvel at the couple that helped me understand what a marriage is supposed to be like.  My marriage yodas.

These two lovebirds right here deserve a round of applause.  Because they're winning in the game of marriage.


My parents, ladies and gentlemen.

Here's to 35 years, you two!  Cheers to that.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~