Posts Tagged ‘baking’

Almost Over

August 3, 2018

The jet lag.

I forget that it takes a bit longer for me to adjust on the way back.

I was sitting at the park watching one of my charges swing and suddenly I got whacked with the tired’s.

I looked at my phone and realized it was 1 a.m. Paris time.

Of course.

I am still surprised that my body doesn’t adjust as fast as I think it will.

But I only had to take a look at the baby this morning as he fell asleep with his head down on the table, to see how powerful it is when we mess with our time clocks.

He was so sweet and out hard.

He didn’t wake up, although he fussed a little, when I removed him from the high chair and got him snuggled down for his nap.

I had a moment of wishing to just hold him and let him sleep against me, but the other two monkeys are with me full-time this week, school’s not yet back in for them, and it would have been too much to juggle a sleeping baby on me and two high energy kids on top of it.

As the case was, the little lady decided to help mom with chores and the eldest and I played Monopoly.

He’s really quite good for an 8-year-old, but he had a hard time with losing.

I didn’t rig it, I won, yes, I am that person, I am the person that will beat a kid at a game.

And not because I’m an asshole.

My mom was an asshole to me the first time I learned how to play Monopoly and was extremely competitive, she and her friends would have Monopoly parties that went on for hours and hours and days at a time.

They would leave the board set up in the kitchen and keep playing until there was a winner.

I was quite fascinated by it and at some point I learned how to play.

I learned how to be cut throat.

It wasn’t much fun.

Although the competitiveness of it was a kind of excitement that I had not experienced before that ramped me way up.

No.

I wasn’t trying to be an asshole, but I was trying to show him what it felt like to lose.

He’d rather win.

What kid wouldn’t?

But he’s also smart enough to know if I was throwing a game.

I have been tempted to before, he likes a couple of card games and he’ll get super upset if I win, but he also notices if I’m not playing with my all, so I just stay honest and play like I mean it.

Which is how I played the Monopoly today.

And he was good, not great, but good, and I could see that he was super into getting the money and collecting the properties and building the little houses and hotels up.

He was also expecting to win and a bit flabbergasted when he didn’t.

I told him how proud I was of him for figuring out big words, and for doing math problems and for playing as long as he did.

I also gently pointed out that there were things that he did super well, that he had ideas about how to make investments on his properties and figured out that he should put more houses on the properties that were landed on most often.

He was picking up strategy.

He didn’t much want to hear it, but I told him anyway, and when he realized that the person with all the money was the winner he went quite socialist on me and it was so sweet.

He decided to make up his own game where all the hotels became public housing and there were gardens and places people could go and get soup and be fed and it was so endearing to watch him draw it out on pieces of paper and talk about how having all the money wasn’t the most important thing.

I don’t know that he’s going to remember our game of Monopoly down the line, but it felt like a little victory, a win even though he’d lost, that he figured out that money wasn’t the most important thing.

It was probably pancakes.

He adores pancakes and I obliged this morning and made him breakfast (and lunch and dinner).

It was a lot of cooking today, but I don’t mind, I do like cooking for them and often I will make things I don’t myself eat, which is fine, I’m not tempted, it’s actually rather nice.

I used to love to bake before I got abstinent from sugar and flour, so it’s rather soothing and fun for me to cook for the family, I get the joy of making things that others enjoy and pancakes were definitely on that list.

So too, apple pie.

Which I will be making two of tomorrow.

I wasn’t expecting that, but dad’s got company coming over and a big request was made for my apple pie.

I don’t mind really, it’s nice, like I said to bake, and truth be told it does make my day go faster.

It will definitely eat up some time.

Which I’m all about on Fridays.

So despite the bit of jet lag, I am making it through.

One more day of work and then a very busy weekend.

I have an early interview on Saturday for a private practice internship, then a dentist appointment, then group supervision, a nail salon date for myself, a get together to do the deal, and then a late dinner with my person.

And Sunday will be full too.

But I’m not there yet.

One more day to go.

Thank God it’s almost Friday.

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Hot Bowl of Soup

November 8, 2017

Cookies baking in the oven.

I needed some comfort time when I got home.

Cookies are not for me to eat, but I had some left over dough from making cookies last week and I figured I might know a person who would like them.

I think I just wanted my oven on.

It’s cold outside kids.

I was going to call this blog, Baby, It’s Cold Outside, but I think I already have a blog, maybe even two with that exact title.

So, Hot Bowl of Soup it is.

Self-care.

I needed some.

I just got exhausted today.

I don’t know why exactly, I felt pretty damn good most of the day.

I did a lot of work in therapy, so there’s that, sometimes the sessions can be big or cover big stuff and I will have well, not exactly an emotional hang over, but a touch of tenderness about me the rest of the day.

I also, I swear it’s true, think that my boss was exhausted and it sort of rubbed off on me at the end of the day.

Plus the kids had really big energy and it felt like it took a lot for me to be present and accountable.

I made a nice dinner for the family, spaghetti carbonara, roasted chicken legs, spinach salad with roasted pears, bacon, Toma cheese, roasted almonds, and roasted garlic sweet potato coins.

The cooking helps me to connect with my charges and also, puts a sort of ending on the day before I head off to see my clients at my internship.

I suspect that the barrage of client e-mails at the end of my day did not help either.

I got a lot of incoming e-mails right at the end of the day and juggling making dinner, wrangling the baby and coordinating with the mom for a big play date tomorrow and an early start to my day on Thursday and I just got smacked with overwhelm.

I had a hard time shaking it off.

But I managed to scrape myself up and get to my internship and I felt much better after my first session.

Which was a phone session.

My first one.

Not my first choice, but rather that than nothing and I can count a phone session towards my hours, although only to a certain degree, it’s called Telemedicine and you can only accrue about 375 hours of it.

I don’t dislike it.

But I don’t like it as much as face to face therapy.

So much is missed over the phone, I can’t see my clients expression or body language, a lot gets lost.

Then again, I think that the phone allowed my client to open up about a few things that it might have taken a few more face to face sessions to get to.

Never the less.

I felt better after getting off the phone session.

I feel better after doing therapy sessions, I can tell I have been of service and spending an hour focused on someone other than myself is really helpful.

Then I got the sweetest damn message in a text and my whole night got turned around.

It’s pretty amazing and it was unexpected and I felt light and buoyant and loved and I knew I would make it through my last session and get home and have a hot meal and I would be ok.

And voila!

I am.

I even rallied some energy up to do a load of laundry and suss out a few more things for school.

Because.

Oh yeah.

I have school this weekend.

So there’s that too.

Trying to get all my reading done before classes.

I did manage to finish my Jungian Dream Work reading assignment, and I turned in the paper on Sunday, plus I got into my Transpersonal reading and I finished my Drug and Alcohol reading.  I’m a bit behind on my Psychopharmacology and Human Sexuality reading, but have at least dipped into so that I’m not completely at a loss when class rolls around on Friday.

I also had a client cancel on Friday so I can take that time and do a little bit of catch up there.

I will have the next couple of days and get done what I get done and not fret too hard about what I can’t finish.

I typically do manage to get it in or damn close to it.

I have been a lot less on my phone during the day, taking Facebook off it was one of the best decisions ever, and I’ve been assiduously reading when ever I can.

I got nearly an hour in at work today.

A half hour at lunch then another stretch on the train and in the school yard waiting for my charges to finish up with school.

If I keep that up I’ll be sitting pretty damn good come Friday.

And tomorrow will not be as draining, I’ll get some sleep, I’ll have a good day at work, the play date I’m managing happens to be with one of my previous charges and I just adore him to bits, it will be special to have some time with him.

And I’ll get out a little early to hit up group supervision and then go to the deal with my people.

See and be seen by those I need and love.

Grateful to have hot food in my tummy, warm bunny slippers on my feet, and the cookies, although not for me, smell delicious and it’s nice to be cozy in my home.

I am really grateful for what I have.

My life is good.

I love.

And.

I am loved.

What Are You Doing

November 5, 2017

For self-care?

My group supervisor asked me after I checked in around a client that I have to do a lot of outside resourcing for.

I blurted out, “baking!”

And it’s true.

Last night I made cookies for a dearest ones anniversary.

It was the first time that I have made cookies in my little home here by the sea.

You could say this person is extraordinarily important to me.

So.

Important.

And I knew that I wanted to make cookies for them.

Peanut butter chocolate chip.

Oversized.

Soft and warm.

Full of love.

I was fluffing the butter and creaming the sugar and adding all the super extraordinary rich smelling ingredients together in the bowl and reflecting upon how much I love this person.

I was thinking of Isabella Allende’s book “Like Water For Chocolate,” and how the main character cooks her emotions into her meals.

How the other characters in the book respond to the emotions in the book, bursting into flames with love and passion and feeling.

Cooking and baking for me are a kind of meditation and they are soothing and full of self-care.

Granted.

I didn’t eat any of the cookies.

I didn’t taste them.

I don’t eat sugar or flour so to make them was sort of a big deal.

It was the first time I had sugar in my pantry in four years.

I found it was fine.

I wasn’t tempted, I wasn’t at all.

Not even to lick my fingers.

And I sense that was the lynch pin for me, that I didn’t have a motive for the cookies except to show this person how much I love them.

Not.

Ooh.

“I’m being secret and baking cookies in my house and all the goodies are going to get eaten.”

There was purpose there and in the purpose, such pleasure.

In fact.

I forgot how much I enjoy baking.

I have been baking a lot at work too, a pear tart, an apple tart, banana bread, plus I make a ton of food, pastas mainly, for the family that I would never touch.

“You’re the best cooker ever!” And, “these are better than granny’s,” are compliments I have gotten from my charges.

I have to take their word for it.

I almost never taste the food I make for them.

But.

I can smell it and sense what works with what and I think about the woman who owns and runs Tartine Manufacturing and how she is known to make the most extraordinary bread.

And.

Oh, the Universe is sly and funny.

She doesn’t ever eat any of it.

She’s gluten intolerant.

But like, me, I presume, there is a great satisfaction in the baking.

I know I felt super happy baking my cookies last night.

Really good and sweet and loving and I planned it so the cookies would be warm when I handed them over.

I love little details like that.

I like giving.

I am remembering when I used to make sugar cookies at Christmas time and bring them into work.

Or candy.

I made a lot of Christmas candy, back in Wisconsin mainly, after I moved to San Francisco I still did a bit of baking but not the candy making and after a few years, 2009, I stopped baking, when I began to get abstinent around my food.

I occasionally made something for someone.

A pie here or there.

But it’s really been years since I have had all the ingredients in my home to bake.

Heck.

I had to buy a cookie sheet last week.

I didn’t mind though.

I had such a good time doing the baking.

And.

I also did a lot of cooking over the last two days.

I roasted a chicken too, yesterday.

I figured I would be using the oven and if I could get some food prep out-of-the-way it would be super helpful as next weekend I’m in classes and I like to have my meals made up before the weekend of class.

I just grab something out of the freeze and a piece of fruit and I’m set.

And today.

Well.

I was up late last night and decided I was going to let myself just sleep today.

Skip yoga, coddle myself, be sweet to myself and just sleep.

Of course.

I forgot I had set an alarm to go off so that I could go to yoga.

Haha.

Can’t sleep in even if I wanted to.

And it was good, I needed to connect with the outside world right away.

Although, I didn’t get out of bed to do so, just lay in bed talking on the phone for an hour.

Slight aside.

Talking on the phone is magic.

I am happy that I have people in my life that still like to talk.

There was luxuriating in the being in bed and not making myself go to yoga, don’t worry, I’ll be going tomorrow, there’s only so much “laziness” I can condone in myself, and being gentle and soft and slow and letting the morning have its way with me.

And it was extraordinary, I didn’t feel rushed and yet I did get all sorts of things done.

I wrote a lot this morning, always helps.

I got a hold of the dealership where I am interested in getting a car from and started some preliminary work, submitted an application and talked to the manager of the sales department and got some good insight.

I wrote my mom’s birthday card and got that in the post.

And.

I made chicken soup with spicy Andouille sausage.

Yup.

All before I left for my internship.

So when my group supervisor asked what I was doing for self-care, baking popped right out of my mouth and was followed up by, “making soup.”

Comfort.

And.

Love.

The best kind of self-care.

Showing up for myself.

And showing others how much they mean to me.

So much gratitude for my life.

So much love.

So, so, so much.

Luckiest girl in the world.

Seriously.

You Are A Magician!

October 10, 2017

I got the sweetest text tonight as I was wrapping up at my internship.

My boss had sent me a message extolling my baking prowess.

I made the family an apple tart tonight.

It was going to be a pie, but they only had tart baking dishes so I changed up what I was doing and made a butter pastry, yes, by hand, it’s not that hard, and did my version of apple pie filling.

The nice thing about it too.

All the apples came from their tree in the front of their house.

It reminded me of when I learned how to make apple pies.

I was twelve, we had just moved from Madison, Wisconsin, to Windsor, Wisconsin.

I went from being in an urban multi-cultural neighborhood and school to rural white country in a blink of an eye.

I didn’t think much of it at the time, the racial stuff, the class system and structure, I got lumped into the “farm kids” group even though we didn’t live on a farm.

And yes, I have drank milk straight from the pail underneath a cow’s udder, I remember very distinctly that it was warm, but I was no farm girl.

I can pass for one though.

I currently pass for very urban, the tattoos do that and my funky style of dressing, which has been evolving for years, but it is still quite urban.

However.

I can pass for a country girl too, not so much a farm girl, but I know a lot about living in the country and the seasons, canning and jarring, making preserves, putting up food for the winter.

We had a pantry in the cellar.

And it was a cellar.

Oh, sure, we had a basement, but we also had a cellar too, an unfinished one with a dirt floor, which was spooky as fuck and after one winter of storing stuff there I declined to ever go near it again.

Some places are just too goddamn creepy and I had a penchant for reading Stephen King in highschool, which did nothing to help matters.

Anyway.

This country girl can also jam and she can bake.

My mom taught me.

We had an apple orchard on the property–4 Red Delicious Trees, 1 Golden Delicious, and 7 Cortland trees.

I don’t know that there are any Cortland apples in California, there might be, but I don’t recall seeing them in the stores.

I have dreamed once or twice about having my own apple orchard.

A modest one.

Maybe a hobby one.

I would be a famous writer.

Or better.

A writer who just made money writing.

I would have a big house and a small barn.

I would put up apples and preserves and make apple jelly and apple pies, apple sauce, and oh!

Apple butter.

So freaking good.

And of course.

Lots of apple cider.

I would write in my office in the barn and have a braided rug and a rocking chair, a big desk and a fireplace.

I would drink hot tea while the snow fell and be super content listening to the hush and crackle of snow falling.

I would fall asleep under large comforters.

I would have my bunny slippers of course.

It’s a sweet fantasy.

One I could imagine having here, partially, but it would be outside of the city, obviously.

Or.

Maybe I could just have my own house and I would have the trees that I like, a couple of apple trees, the Envy varietal or Pink Lady, I also really like the Mutsu apples.  And a persimmon tree.

Fuck I love persimmons.

And it’s persimmon season.

When I get done with my blog I will be having both and apple and a persimmon as my evening snack, I shall cut them up, sprinkle them with cinnamon, nutmeg, sea salt and pumpkin pie spice.

The best.

I might have a pear tree too.

And definitely a fig tree.

Then a little kitchen garden–tomatoes, lettuces, onions, herbs–rosemary, basil, oregano, thyme, carrots, cucumbers, broccoli, heck, maybe even some sweet corn.

But really I want tomatoes, like the ones my grandfather grew in his garden in Lodi.

My grandfather helped my mom quite a bit with the planning of our garden in Windsor, we had an acre of land and the back of it was a big sprawling yard, halved by a grape arbor and then the back was the orchard and the garden.

The garden wasn’t as big as my grandfathers and I remember my stepfather (step asshole, step asshat, step misogynist, oops, sorry, digression) got some weird ideas about what to grow.

One year it was a god awful amount of cabbage and he decided we were going to make sauerkraut.

We made so much sauerkraut that four years later I could still find it in the pantry in the basement, not the cellar mind you, but the basement.

Another year it was potatoes and broccoli.

There was also a small strawberry patch, some raspberries, and red currants as well as rhubarb.

One of my mom’s masterpieces was her strawberry rhubarb egg custard tart.

God damn it was a miracle.

And my mom taught me her pie crust recipe.

Which, to this day, I can see on its index card in her small recipe box, the way she wrote her letters and the fanciful swoops and curves of her lines and the flourishes.

When I think of my mom sometimes I think that her creative soul can be found in her cursive handwriting.

I didn’t even need to look at the recipe card after a few years, I had made so many pies that it was unnecessary.

I made apple pies, of course, until the cows came home.

This is a saying, not literal, although there was a farm just down the road that the dog liked to go occasion once in a while to piss off my mother by rolling in the cow manure.

There is nothing fouler to smell than a dirty dog in cow shit.

Anyway.

My mom taught me well and it was nice to dip back into those memories, to feel the seasons change, to think about fall abundance and harvest.

I miss baking sometimes and I’m a good baker, so it was super sweet and a bit special to make the tart for the family I work for.

I cooked a lot today for the family as it was a stay at home day for the kids, Columbus Day school observance, but the pie made me the happiest to make.

I didn’t need to taste it, I don’t eat sugar or flour, so that was out of the question.

But oh.

I smelled it.

And it was so good.

It reminded me of home, the days crisp and cool and the leaves turning and the grass still green but cold now on my feet when I was out picking through the windfall apples in the tall orchard grass.

I am so glad and grateful that I get to live in San Francisco.

But once in a while.

Yes.

I do get a touch nostalgic for the Midwest.

And baking today felt good.

Sweet.

Homey.

Cozy.

It stirred me and I was grateful for it.

And touched too, that the mom would send me such an effusive message.

I am glad they liked the pie.

I probably liked baking it more than they enjoyed eating it.

That might not seem possible.

But.

Well.

I think it is.

Chili In A Pot

November 26, 2016

Naps on the bed.

You read that right.

This lady took a nap today.

Once a year sort of thing.

I cuddled under my grandmother’s afghan and said, screw reading any more for school, I need to rest my eyes.

It was divine.

Delicious.

Sublime.

I had chili simmering on the stove.

I really like cooking and it’s nice to have a little something simmering all day long and tis the season for the comforting smells and snuggling in blankets.

Oh.

And in case you’re wondering.

The day AFTER Thanksgiving is the best time in the entire year to go shopping at SafeWay.

My God.

It was a ghost town.

I wasn’t planning on doing any shopping today except for groceries and it was a very pleasant surprise to have nary a soul in the store with me, to get in line, to not wait, to get out the door fast and efficient.

Lovely.

I also went to yoga today and that class was small too.

It kicked my ass though, which I think may have accounted for the needing to rest and have a nap this afternoon.

Aside from that I didn’t do a whole lot.

I made some phone calls.

I did my morning writing.

The aforementioned yoga.

Groceries.

Cooking.

And.

Yes.

Lots of reading for school.

I started in on my Psychopathology class and that might have been what put me to sleep.

Heh.

It’s dense material.

Really dense.

And I’m pretty damn grateful that I have had so much time to do the reading, it will facilitate me being ready to write my final papers and concentrate on my last projects for school semester.

It has been a gift.

That and to continue to address the laundry that I need to stay on top of.

I have my second treatment at Hair Fairies tomorrow at 9:30 a.m.

I’m ready for this.

I want to take care of it and move the fuck on.

It’s supposed to rain, which precludes me taking my scooter, but I’ll hop in a car and get over there first thing in the morning and get it dealt with and out of the way.

I may do a little wander around the Fillmore area and window shop, it’s a fun neighborhood to do that.

I’ll bring my umbrella and go for a nice long saunter in the rain.

Maybe buy some Christmas lights and a tree ornament or two.

I actually got one tonight when I went up to the Inner Sunset to do the deal this evening.

Wishbone was still open and also pretty desolate.

You got to love San Francisco during the holidays, the city just empties out.

I got the cutest little glass fox in frosted blue with glitter and a little furry tail

Adorable.

I’m thinking about getting my tree on Sunday.

Which may be the earliest I have ever gotten a tree.

I may hold off until next weekend, when it’s officially December, but the temptation is strong.

There is a tree lot two blocks away!

They were unfurling the trees today.

I was happy to see a number of them that will fit well into my little studio.

I will be continuing my Elvis themed “Blue Christmas” with my blue lights for the tree.

In fact.

I am going to re-invest in the large blue ceramic glass bulbs that I had two Christmas’s ago.

They broke when I was monkeying around trying to add some mood lighting to my house after Christmas had passed.

I want to get them again.

I really like the old fashioned bulb shape.

They make me happy.

Christmas is a happy time for me.

Busy as fuck.

Yes.

But happy as well.

Joyful.

I love sending out Christmas cards.

I have my boxed sets, one from my co-op, one from Rainbow Co-op, the collection I got from the Tuileries last Christmas; I have my holiday stamps.

I send out at least 15 cards every year, usually more, last year I think I sent out 20 or 25.

Lost count.

I usually do.

There is just something special about taking the time to sit down and address them and think about the person I am writing to and let them know that they are in my heart, it’s a wonderful feeling.

Plus.

I love getting cards in the mail.

I can’t expect to get any if I don’t send any out.

It’s the one tradition, and the tree, that I keep up with since I don’t bake Christmas cookies anymore or make Christmas candy.

I flirt with the idea every season, but I really don’t want to have it in my house.

The best scenario would be to make everything at someone else’s house.

I don’t foresee that happening.

However, I do generally get a least one afternoon of cookie baking with the family I work for.

I am pretty sure the mom will want me to help with the Christmas cookies again this year.

Today is the official beginning of the count down.

Four weeks from today will be my last day with the family.

I’ll catch a red eye that night to Wisconsin, spend a few days in the snow at Christmas and be with my best friend in Wisconsin and her family, so happy I get to have their company.

Four weeks and I’m done.

It’s been a trip.

I’m ready for a new adventure.

There will be lots of them soon.

I still need to get my practicum stuff prepared and write a resume and put together letters of reference and apply to the 6-8 sites the school recommends.

There are more than 6-8 sites, that’s just the number they recommend one apply to, cover all the bases.  I hear it’s pretty typical to not get into your first pick.

I’m ok with the work, I know it has to be done and despite the napping today, I did do a lot of work that is going to facilitate me moving forward and having my assignments done before I got to Wisconsin.

In fact.

I’ll be done by the weekend of my birthday.

That’s the plan anyway.

If not sooner.

Sooner I’m actually hoping.

But I get a head of myself.

The next thing is to deal with my head.

Literally.

So excuse me, I have another load of laundry to wash and some chili to put up for the week.

Fingers crossed tomorrow I’ll be cleared.

Super ready for that.

Seriously.

Deleting Photographs

November 3, 2016

Listening to jazz.

Specifically Art Tatum.

The scratchy sound of the needle dragging though the vinyl is succulent and the glow in my cozy, sweet home is warm and inviting.

I’m deleting photographs in waves.

I had over 10,700 on my hard drive.

They have all been safely moved to my external drive and I’m now in the process of deleting them off my laptop.

I have to say it’s challenging.

There’s a tiny part of me that wants to not delete them, what if they didn’t transfer?

But they did.

And the photos are taking up way too much space on my laptop.

It’s been running slow, telling me constantly to delete files, disk is full.

Yeah.

Yeah.

I hear you, I’m working on it computer.

Thanks to my special help, it takes a village, it does, I was able to secure my pix and now, ha!  Now I can take more.

Well.

Not yet.

But soon.

I’m figuring January.

I’ll be flush enough to get a new camera.

I’m not sitting horribly at the moment, but I did buy a ticket to Wisconsin and a ticket to Paris this past month, just paid rent, just wrote the check from my health insurance and bought my mom her birthday present.

I’ll be sending that off tomorrow.

I love sending presents.

I love the idea of seeing someone’s face when they get something I have gotten for them.

I like to give.

I’m a giver.

Shocking.

I know.

When I have been in financial straits I tend to make things, and truth be told, I’m thinking about doing that this year.

I’m not really in straits, I’m just not as flush as I would like.

I’m doing ok and I’m not going to stress, but I was also thinking that I love cooking and it might be nice to make chicken soup for friends at school.

Last year around this time I went over to a friend’s house and cooked food for him for what probably lasted him weeks if not a month while he was going through a challenging time.

Cream of broccoli soup with cheddar cheese and bacon.

And.

Chili with sirloin and three kinds of beans.

Plus a huge pan of cornbread.

It was right around this time, I do remember, it might have actually have been Halloween, I remember there were trick or treaters going around and I used candied corn and bacon, because I roll like that, in the pan of cornbread I made.

I miss baking.

I don’t miss eating it, though I can get nostalgic for it.

But I do miss baking.

Sometimes I wish I could just get all the stuff and bake up a storm like I used to when I lived in Wisconsin.

Sugar cookies with frosting.

Brazil nut toffee.

Popcorn balls.

Fudge.

With and without nuts, but frankly, it’s so much better with nuts.

I miss making cheesecakes and pies, pumpkin pies and apple pies especially at this time of year.

I miss that feeling that, warm, soft glowing feeling that I got as I puttered around my kitchen, mixing and measuring, baking, and kneading, frosting sugar cookies.

I do.

I always get a bit nostalgic for it when I’m heading into the holidays.

The photographs I have been deleting also reminded me of that.

I’m currently in the middle of the 1,000s of photos I took when I lived in Paris.

And I have to say.

Fuck.

I’m a pretty damn good amateur photographer.

There were some really good shots.

And I loved seeing the Paris around Christmas time photographs.

The lights were so gorgeous.

Definitely different from what you see in the states, but they had an allure.

I was also so broke when I lived there, taking pictures was all I could afford to do.

Although I did splurge during the holidays.

Mostly on postage.

I sent my family and friends postcards and Christmas cards from Paris.

I found a photograph of my table, one of my favorite perches at the neighborhood cafe at that was on the same corner where I lived, Rue de Bellefond, in the 9th, Odette and Aime.

I had a glass of water.

A cafe allonge, which is basically an Americano, or a black coffee–I was already skimping on the milk, the cafe cremes were just too pricey.

My notebook.

My bag of pens.

And tons of cards and postcards and stickers from the librairie that was by Square D’Anvers that I made myself a nuisance at.

I couldn’t really afford the pens and paper there, but I would treat myself once in a while, I would buy a card or if I was feeling extravagant, a Claire Fontaine notebook, I would wander the aisles and look at everything.

I was very polite to the owners and once that got used to me and the fact that I always bought something, even if it was tiny, went along way.

Bonjour Madame.

Bonjour.

And I would wile away the time in the aisles longingly caressing the notebooks and smelling the good paper smell.

I love paper.

I love books.

I love, love, love the way they feel and look and well, Paris was a hard place for that luxury when I was living there.

When I went back last Christmas I gave myself carte blanche to buy whatever I wanted to paper wise.

I actually had a challenging time with it for a little while.

Grow up poor and in scarcity, even when there is none, even when I had fat Euro, for me, in my pocket, Euro that was not needing to go to rent or groceries, or god forbid a cafe creme, I had a hard time spending it.

For a few days I was acting as though I couldn’t part with them.

I actually forced myself the first time to buy a notebook at a papeterie my first day there.

Yes, there are paper stores there.

Exclusively paper and pens and auto collants.

STICKERS.

God I love me some stickers.

Shut up.

I did get past it and I did allow a few splurges.

But truth be told.

I could have let myself have more.

That’s a thing.

Letting myself have more.

Nice coffee.

Nice candles.

Nice hair products.

It’s ok to take care of myself.

I still want to give, I do love gifting, there is just something about it, but I also want to let myself have things.

Whether it is an experience, which is usually where I spend my money–traveling.

Or.

A nice pair of pants.

I deserve to have nice things.

I am lovable and worthy of love.

Lest I forget.

And the best thing about the photographs?

They remind me, gently of how far I have come.

When I moved back from Paris three years ago I was broke.

I mean.

I had ten dollars in my wallet.

I have come a long fucking way.

Let me tell you.

And I’m so grateful for the perspective.

And that I documented my experience.

The photographs have been a joy to relive.

Looking forward to making more.

Having more.

Allowing more into my life.

Happy.

Joyous.

And.

Free.

Yes.

Yes, please.

Yes, always.

In My Zone

February 27, 2016

On my bike.

Whipping along 46th avenue.

In my body.

Fog cool on my face.

Getting the ya yas the fuck out of my head.

I came home a little crazy.

A good girlfriend, thank you God for girl friends, talked me down off the ledge.

“Go eat some dinner, watch a movie, chill out, enjoy your Friday.”

I had gotten out of work early and the weather turned a bit toward the intense, heavy fog, so heavy it’s basically rain, and the visibility was decreasing rapidly.

I made the executive decision to scooter home instead of hitting the Church and Market scene to do grocery shopping, the nails, or the Our Lady of SafeWay crowd.

I was headed that way all day in my mind.

Some times the things I have in my head are completely fantasy.

When reality snuck up on me it was after a long day of cake making and crazy birthday party preparations.

One of my charges turns six tomorrow.

We made a birthday cake together.

Watching him and his younger brother lick icing off a spoon and run their fingers along the edge of the batter in the bowl, so sweet.

I also didn’t mind that they were having some sugar, I wasn’t going to have to put them to bed and I wasn’t responsible for dinner, and well, it’s a birthday and hey, you got to bend the rules some times.

I made a two layer banana vanilla spice cake with banana custard filling in between the layers, frosted with homemade buttercream icing and topped with a heavy hand of sprinkles, courtesy of the liberal shakes from the birthday boy.

I was very surprised that the mom wanted me to make a cake.

Last year they got a big chocolate six layer cake from Tartine.

It was a fun project to do and though it’s been a while since I have made a cake from scratch it was just like riding a bike.

It was a blast teaching the six year old how to separate egg whites from yolks, squeeze lemon juice, cream butter and sugar, and whip egg whites into peaks.

“Carmen, can you mix it for awhile, I’m tired,” he said leaning his sweet head against my hip.

“Of course,” I took the whisk and whipped the egg whites into peaks.

“Oof, this is hard,” I said, as my shoulder began to chatter with me, “I am going to need some love to keep going.”

He hugged my arm.

He hugged me a lot today.

He’s been such a sweet snuggle bunny with me.

Oh.

God.

Speaking of snuggle bunnies.

Fucking Rainbow and the barrel of overflowing Jelly Cat bunny rabbits.

(HA!  I just re-read that sentence above as I was editing and I thought, only someone who live in San Francisco knows that Rainbow is a high end hippie grocery store and Jelly Cat is a brand of stuffed animals that they sell in the kids aisle, but it makes a great visual if you don’t know the context!)

I almost threw myself in the vat of them while I was busy spending my paycheck on toiletries.

There was one mint one, like dinner mint green, those soft pastel melting mints that you get at the steak house after a big filet and sizzling plate of hash browns, the ones in a glass carafe at the hostess desk, yeah like that.

That bunny there, mint green with the softest little pink nose.

Dude.

I don’t know how the hell I restrained myself.

Give me all the bunnies.

I stood in the aisle for a good minute or so thinking about it, stroking the candy colored rabbit’s ears and then, with a last squeeze, I walked over to the produce area and got the apples I had come for.

Yeah.

So I got some good love on today with the boys.

“Carmen, I’m putting all my love in your heart,” the three year old told me as the mom was passing by, and then threw himself into my arms.

I just about burst into tears.

Yeah.

Still got the sads.

Slightly tempered by the pissed offs.

Why do I do the things that I do to myself?

Haven’t you learned yet?

Fuck.

I was beating myself up pretty bad.

Then the family left for a dinner at Rintaro as I finished up the laundry and tidied up the house for the weekend, birthday celebration.

I left my boy a small stack of presents and a hand made card on the kitchen counter and put his paper birthday crown from school on top of the domed cake in the kitchen.

I got him a bunch of model planes to fold out of paper and cardboard as well as a self-propelled rocket launcher that works on green energy.

It’ll shoot the rocket up to thirty feet.

Dude.

He’s going to be over the moon.

“Carmen, I used up all my love, I gave it all to you,” he said after licking the whisk reverently with half lidded eyes–banana custard, I mean really, I don’t eat sugar, but this was intoxicating to make and the smell, oh my, heaven.

“You know, I accept all your love, I always will, I love you heaps and bunches and to the moon and back infinity times infinity,” I said and stroked his soft face.

“That’s a lot!”

“Yes, it is, but you know the amazing thing about love?” I asked him.

“What’s that?”

“It’s an infinite resource, there is always more love to give, you can’t run out of it, whenever you breathe in the air, you breathe out love, it’s just natural, it’s just always there, I promise, you’ll never run out.”

“That’s a good thing,” he said and continued dreamily licking off the spoon.

“I agree.”

And I remind myself of the same thing.

Love.

Infinite love.

I have it always, deep down inside me where that small quiet voice presides.

So.

I locked down the scooter, ordered some take out from Thai Cottage, I ate an awesome pumpkin curry and then pumped up my bike tires and got my bicycle ready for a sprint over to Vicente and 41st, hang with the hoodlums in the Outer Sunset.

It was the best thing to do.

I heard everything I needed.

And I got my God on good.

Then.

The ride back, the soft fog still thick and wet, I was pretty soaked by the time I wheeled my whip into the garage, the air on my face, the smell of the sea, the crash of the waves on the beach, soul sluiced with sweetness.

Sometimes when you’re dreaming I see a light.

I walked into my safe, warm, glow globe room and said, “thank you,” and “hello house,” and “I love you.”

Because.

That’s how I roll.

Infinite love.

All the way deep down in my starlight soul.

All the way to the heavens and back.

A thousand times.

Giving myself the allowance.

The band width to be human.

With just a tiny bit.

Of.

(Infinite)

REVERENCE.

And.

God in the mix.

Not a bad way to start the weekend.

Hello you.

Let’s be friends.

 

 

Soft Surrender

December 16, 2015

A bending.

An acquiescence.

Leaning slow and strong into the reality of my day.

Being flexible.

Stopping.

Pausing.

Soft and gentle and letting go.

“I don’t know, resigned is not the right word,” I told him tonight as he sat in the leather arm chair in the cafe window.

“You’ve surrendered,” he said.

“Yes.”

I have.

I have surrendered and it is a constant source of amazement when I do what happens.

This softening and letting go, the lack of control no longer a threat, but a welcome respite where I lean into the God that holds me and I know I am held and loved, gentle and benign.

Full and held.

It’s a nice feeling.

When I stop struggling and let the reality of my life be exactly how it is.

Where there is nothing wrong and I am absolutely perfect.

Imperfectly perfect.

Because then I can take care of the things that need to be taken care of.

Like cookies.

OH my God.

The cookies.

I baked a lot of cookies today.

There are 60 residences that the family will be delivering cookies to in the neighborhood tomorrow.

Everybody goes, mom, dad, the boys, the dog, and they hand out a little bag of homemade cookies that are made from scratch–the recipe from the mom’s great grandmother, sprinkled with confectioners sugar and non-pareils, hearts and stars and love, lots of little boy love.

“I want all the cookies for dinner,” the three year old pleaded with me.

I mean.

Pleaded.

“Bug, you have to have some of your regular dinner before we can have more cookies,” both the boys had already had some, but I understand how terrifically hard it is to be three and five and not have instant access to the mounds of cookie goodness on the counters.

The house smelled like heaven all day long.

Butter and brown sugar.

The house also smelled of homemade beef stew.

I was a cooking machine today.

In fact, I never went outside the house once I entered.

Which is pretty unusual for my day, but that’s the way it was and I was ok with it.

I got down and dirty in the kitchen.

Rolled up my sleeves and jumped in.

I love baking.

I used to bake a lot more.

Pies and cookies and candy at Christmas.

When I think about all the cheesecakes I used to make–blueberry being the simplest, to the most complex one, I think I ever made, being a pumpkin cheese cake with crushed hazelnuts and graham cracker crust and maple glazing; either that or the chocolate espresso cheesecake on chocolate graham cracker crust with crushed black walnuts decorated with coffee whipped cream and chocolate covered espresso beans.

At Christmas time I loved to bake homemade sugar cookies.

Butter, flour, pinch of salt, baking soda, sugar.

Mix, chill, roll out.

I would roll out the cookies extra thick so that they were soft when they came out of the oven, almost a cake kind of cookie.

Then I would ice them with frosting I’d made from powdered sugar, cream, and melted butter.

I would mix bowls of frosting with various kinds of food coloring and paint the cookies.

I had cookie cutters of all kinds–penguins, candy canes, snowmen, Christmas trees, stars, gingerbread men, I would also use a wide mouth glass and make Christmas tree bulbs.

Then, of course, there were many kinds of sprinkles, every conceivable color, red hots, non-pareils in silver and gold, rainbow sprinkles, colored sugars–red, green, gold, blue, and white granulated sugar.

The sugar cookies were the big deal.

But I also would make fudge, plain and walnut.

And.

Homemade Brazil nut toffee with milk chocolate.

I think I once made peanut brittle too.

But the toffee was always such a stellar stand out I tended to go with that.

Who doesn’t want homemade toffee drenched in milk chocolate and then dredged through crushed Brazil nuts?

Hello, please.

A couple of times I made popcorn balls, but man, they were so messy to make, I didn’t do it but once, maybe twice.

Oh.

Holiday baking.

I do miss doing you.

So it was a sweet delight to bake cookies all afternoon and on into the early evening, listening to Christmas carols and singing with the boys.

It was a labor of love.

It really was.

Many things are, I find.

This life I live.

Definitely a labor of love.

I was writing about that this morning and all the things I am grateful for.

“I was grateful,” I said, to my person in the cafe.

“I really was, I wrote about it all this morning and I am just so grateful to be taking care of myself right now and letting things be and go and yes, surrender, it’s so much nicer than trying to control anything.”

It really is.

And I do have so much to be grateful for.

Even when things are a challenge.

Even when things are not a challenge.

The great thing about being at this place in my life is to see how much work has gone into this serene place in time for me.

I am not upset about a thing.

I have feelings.

I let myself have them.

They come.

They go.

I move on.

Always this movement.

“Girl, you have grown, really, this past year, witnessing your growth has been amazing” he said as I relayed running into my ex-boyfriend last night and having a kind, thoughtful, considerate conversation with him on the side walk outside the place where I go to do the deal on Monday nights.

It was still a little stilted, our interaction, but not horrible, and the discomfort will pass the more I see him out and about or around.

Funny, I was thinking just where I was this time last year and how it was all such heartbreak.

Not the relationship yet, that was looming, that ending, but my father, the trip to and from Anchorage, my birthday.

I remember working my birthday and feeling so remiss about my father and not caring, not caring at all that it was my birthday.

Then.

I got the phone call from the hospital that my dad was out of the coma and asking to talk with me.

The conversation was awkward and painful and he said some things I won’t repeat here, he was sick, he is sick, and despite that, I was able to tell him I loved him.

I haven’t talked to him since that time.

I surrendered him as well.

So many surrenders this year.

So many things that I let go of.

And as I turn over these ideas about who I am or where I am going and where I am going to land, I know that I don’t have to struggle, I don’t have to be beaten into submission.

I can just set them gently down and walk forward.

A beautiful.

Free.

Loved.

Graced.

Woman.

Supple.

Strong.

And.

Serene in my.

Constant.

Surrender.

 

Back To The Grind

October 27, 2015

It wasn’t too bad a grind.

I like my job.

I like the family I work for.

I like that I get to cook for them.

Cooking is a joyful experience for me.

There is something extraordinarily satisfying about making food for people you care about.

Love is the best seasoning.

Or.

Salt.

Or probably.

Hunger.

Yes.

Hunger is definitely the best seasoning.

But spice is a big part of what makes me a happy cook, a good cook, and a sense of what the family needs and wants and the balance of cooking the way I want is fun to navigate.

“Broccoli soup!” The oldest boy danced up and down and hugged me, “you made broccoli soup!?”

Yup.

His mom likes it as much, no, more than the five-year old.

But, really when I can get a kid to eat something green, it is a lovely thing.

I learned to cook pretty early in life.

I’m not exactly sure when, but I do remember looking at recipes in cook books when I was five or six.

I could read, but I didn’t understand abbreviations and I knew, I just knew, that once I figured out what the fuck a tsp was I would be on my way to magnificence.

The first thing I remember really making, not just monkeying around, but really making, was for my mom’s birthday.

I do not know who let me do this.

I do not know where the parents were.

My mom and sister and myself were living with my aunt and her first daughter in a duplex on the far North East side of Madison.

Who the hell let the six-year-old bake in the kitchen without supervision?

Someone did.

And someone must have given me permission or bought the ingredients?

Those memories are a little fuzzy.

Suffice to say, I baked that day for the first time.

And if we were living in the duplex I wasn’t more than in 1st or second grade.

I suspect I might have been at the beginning of second grade, my mom’s birthday is in November, and I was making her a birthday cake.

I really think my aunt must have been around somewhere, but I can’t recall there being an adult.

I have a familiar feeling of being sly, but for a “good reason,” that I was sneaking around the kitchen, I recall wanting to surprise my mom.

I knew that I probably shouldn’t be making it by myself, but I was going to do it and do it I did.

But really?

I made baked Alaska?

It’s like ice cream pie/cake with meringue that is whipped and what?

I recall making the cake batter and I recall, lowering the electric egg beaters into the egg and cake and milk and oil, I think I must have just been using a box cake mix that said “baked Alaska” on it, there is no way I could have been making real baked Alaska, no way.

Any how.

I lowered the egg beaters in already on and whirring at high speed, which means I splattered chocolate cake batter everywhere.

I mean.

EVERYWHERE.

Like the ceiling.

Oops.

What do you get when you let a six-year-old cook?

A mess.

I don’t remember taking the cake out of the oven, but I must have baked it, as I remember frosting it too hot and the icing melting off the sides.

Ok.

That means it can’t be baked Alaska that I made, it’s done with meringue, all these years I have been telling myself I made my mom baked Alaska for her birthday and I didn’t, no way, I made her some sad ass chocolate cake out of a box with canned white icing.

I remember the way the icing tasted.

So sweet my teeth ached from it.

I think my mom actually did eat the cake.

I can remember it on a plate, slightly lopsided and doused in white frosting.

I was very proud of myself.

And.

I didn’t get in trouble.

Not, anyways, until a few days later when the cake batter on the ceiling was discovered.

Double oops.

My next foray into cooking was for Mothers Day that following spring.

My poor mom.

I made her an omelet with delicious chopped celery and carrots.

Blech.

And tepid instant coffee.

I am not certain what my logic was, or if i had any, but I somehow had no problems with beating the eggs and chopping the carrots and celery (I’m pretty sure I didn’t peel the carrots either, mmmm, earthy) and cooking the eggs in a sauce pan on the stove. But I was afraid to boil water for the coffee, so my mom got some lukewarm water from the tap and an undercooked omelet, really a scramble, let’s be real, that was not an omelet, with cold chopped carrots and celery.

Mmmm mmmm good.

Oh.

Yeah.

And burnt toast.

Hahahahaha.

I got better at cooking.

I picked it up along the way.

Ramen noodles first.

I was great at boiling water, let me tell ya.

Then more complicated things.

Hot dogs.

And then one day, when my mom had remarried and we had moved from Madison to live in the house in Windsor, I learned how to make a pie crust and peel and season apples for apple pie.

To this day I can see my mom’s handwriting on a pink recipe card.

I could replicate it now without thinking.

I learned how to peel an entire apple without breaking a peel and I was very proud of myself when I accomplished said task.

For whatever reason I never used a timer, I learned to tell when something was done by how it smelled.

I still do it that way, although I do follow recipes a lot closer than I used to.

I always find myself modifying the recipe I am cooking and so much of what I make now is not found in a recipe book or online, it just comes to my head and I make it.

I borrow from what the family likes me to cook and I make it my own.

Sometimes I bring in my own food that may have been inspired by one of the recipes the mom hands to me from her little sheaf of pages and the boys will want what i have in my bowl rather than what I have made for them.

“This is delicious!” The dad exclaimed.

Thanks, man.

I appreciate the appreciation.

I am glad I get to do this as a part of my job.

To be paid to do something that makes me happy to do is pretty awesome.

Maybe I’ll be the therapist that treats my clients with homemade chicken soup and dumplings.

Maybe I’ll invite you into my office and feed you a piece of warm apple pie with vanilla custard and let you drop all your woes.

Doubtful.

But it’s fun to imagine.

And with that.

It’s time for me to go.

I need to take a little me time and unwind before I hit the hay and get up and do it all over again.

Sleep tight.

Don’t let the bed bugs bite!


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