Wannabe Martha

Still trying to figure out which Martha

We’re All Doomed

Heh – got you with that title, didn’t I?

It’s true, though, we’re all doomed to hitting that unwelcomed state of Menopause.  It will come quicker for some than others, and none of us will experience it exactly the same way, but in the end, that’s where we’re headed.

I’m sort of mid-menopausal (I think).  It’s actually really hard for me to pin point when I started experiencing the symptoms because I was in absolute denial that it was happening.  For unexplained reasons, I thought it would kick in around age 70 (yep – I know it’s ludicrous, but there you are).  This denial led to a whole lot completely unnecessary discomfort on my part and I’m rather feeling it’s my duty to talk about it.

Part of the problem with menopause is that nobody really wants to talk about it because we all see it as the Threshold to THE END.  The end of youth, fertility, femininity, attractiveness, self-as-we-know-her.  It’s this element of fear which keeps us from actively thinking about it as another stage of life to be managed.

I’m going to start a series of posts about menopause to discuss the things I’ve encountered, some solutions which have worked well for me, the things I handled poorly, and overall experiences.  I invite my readers to join in at whatever level with which you’re comfortable, and don’t let your age stop you from asking questions or posting observations.

Some of the topics I plan to discuss are weight issues, hot flashes/night sweats, vaginal dryness, changes in skin/hair/hails, treatment options, clothing/fashion, product recommendations, diet, lifestyle.  Lest anyone worry, I’m not turning Wannabe Martha into Menopause-Central, but this is where I am, so it’s going to get some blog-time.

A bientot.

 

 

9 Comments »

To Thine Own Self Be True – Particularly When it Comes to your Wardrobe

This was a typical experience:  I’m in the dressing room trying on a new outfit.  Size is correct; it’s all in colors/patterns I like; it’s fashionably up-to-date.  And yet.  It’s not right – I don’t look “right” and I can’t put my finger on the problem.

One of two things then happens:  I leave with  no purchase, frustrated because I can’t find anything which looks good on me.  Or (more the case), I buy the outfit, take it home, and then never wear it because it doesn’t look right on me and I don’t feel good wearing it.

Is this a familiar situation with anyone else?

Then last year, my dear friend, Hearthrose, performed a miracle – well, actually it was a fashion analysis, but it might as well been a miracle.  You see, I knew that certain colors looked obviously horrendous on me (yellow/orange), but what I didn’t realize were the colors I SHOULD be wearing – the dominant colors which should make up the bulk of my wardrobe.  I also learned WHY some colors didn’t work for me.  I learned about fit; fabric; pattern; proportion, and how to properly dress MY body.

This is the heart of Hearthrose Image Consulting – helping you bring out your beautiful.  I’m not sure how it happens that many of us lose our sense of what we look like, how we want to look, what actually is becoming to us.  I suspect it’s often to do with having children – we start to dress for the job of running after tiny mess-makers and pretty soon, that’s all we are.  Then when the mess-makers evolve a bit and become actual people, we’re still in “that” mode and it’s hard to shift.  The other thing that happens (and trust me, it will happen to every single woman), is we hit the BIG M – and our bodies take on minds of their own such that even if we had actually cultivated an excellent style and were perfectly comfortable in our own skin, that just gets flushed down the toilet and we’re left staring at a body we don’t recognize and which rejects all our clothes.

I have literally turned over my entire closet and my makeup (I’m going to share about that later).  Le Mari, tired of seeing me in my hideous ill-fitting, unflattering “uniforms”, shipped me out to go shopping, and, armed with Hearthie’s treasure trove of information, I reworked my entire wardrobe for fall – pants, skirts, sweaters, tunics, tops, shoes, handbags (yes, I rid myself of over 60 pairs of shoes and about 40 handbags).  There is absolutely NOTHING in my closet that I’m not overjoyed to wear.

I’m going to add a couple of qualifiers here – for one thing, I’m dealing with randomly sporadic episodes of extreme pain – and this meant that I had to change out handbags which aggravates it (seriously, some of my bags weighed over 5lb EMPTY).  My weight can fluctuate depending on the medication I’m taking – so I need a range of sizes so that I can be comfortable.  Some days I’m extremely sick to my stomach, so I need some outfits which are somewhat loose or which have elastic waist bands so that there’s no pressure on my abdomen.  BTW – this led me to discovering some great joggers which I wear all the time – they fit well (not baggy) and I often wear them out with the cuffs rolled up and a cute T-shirt/tunic, and some flats – I look good and, more importantly, I function.

For anyone interested, these are the joggers (ToBeInStyle French Terry Joggers) (they’re not leggings, in case anyone has a particular aversion – I don’t but hey, that’s just me).  The price is insane and I have 4 pair in black and blue.  I also bought these (LA Gear Cotton Joggers), and they’ve been excellent on days when I just can’t get comfortable.

I’m going to close with this – we all need help at various times in our lives – and our image is definitely worth investing a little time and money.  We should take care of ourselves, feel good about our appearance, embrace our beautiful, and shed those things which detract.  Check out my girlfriend at Hearthrose Image Consulting and get started on refining or redefining your image of you.

A Bientot!

 

 

13 Comments »

Not Dead…Not Quite Out of Bed

It’s been a rough couple months here Chez Maeve – largely it’s been me, but there have been other issues with the people I live with.

Sometimes you have to pull back in extreme ways just to keep yourself whole – that’s how it’s felt.  This blog, such as it is, has often felt like a fissure – albeit one I created myself.  Thing is, I’m not naturally comfortable with exposures of inner self – and when that inner self has disintegrated into a plethora of ball bearings spewing all over, well, it was time to close up the fissures for a while.

I  haven’t been completely dead to the world – I play on FB a little; I hang out on Pinterest; and I discovered some interesting new blogs – Fashion for Ladies of/and/or Approaching A Certain Age, LOL.  I’ve cooked a bit – and that’s really an indicator of how things have been – I just haven’t been able to cook much.  Really, though, the worst has been that I can’t read.  My TBR pile (electronic, that it is), is enormous.  I just can’t seem to indulge myself.

It wasn’t actually my intent to engage in a PLSUM mini-rant – somehow ended up that way and that’s the problem – EVERYTHING seems to come out that way.

However.  I’ve always been a “take the bull by the horns” kind of girl, and the pity party has degenerated into an out and out orgy of “Woe is Moi”.  I can’t stand it anymore.  So, am going to try and post some tales of my travails and (digital) travels and see if I can’t turn this space into something a little more meaningful.

Hey – I just thought of something kind of cool – Le Mari and Moi are going to a morning meditation thingie tomorrow at the local yoga place (OK – nobody get antsy – I’m not going all new-agey-wavey and all that.  It’s just that I need to find mental quiet and this seems  like a good start – I shall report back).  Also, it might actually help me go back to church.

I hope all you dear friends have had a lovely summer and that your fall is cool and invigorating.  Mostly, I hope someone is baking something!

A bientot!

 

15 Comments »

Random Thoughts for a Wednesday

This happens all too often…

That something has occurred is not, in and of itself, indicative of a normative situation, so it’s rather foolish to discuss it that way (as though it’s typical).

Conversely, the fact that an occurrence is not normative doesn’t warrant exclusion with the dismissive, “that almost never happens…”.

Also, not everything’s a red herring.

(You could say I have a bee in my bonnet today, an all too normative experience for me.)

 

 

5 Comments »

Guess What Just Landed on my Kindle?

Mary Tudor:  Princess, Bastard, Queen by Anna Whitlock

The Lake House:  A Novel by Kate Morton

Lady MacBeth:  A Novel by Susan Fraser King

The Beekeeper’s Apprentice:  or, On the Segregation of the Queen by Laurie R. King

Sunshine?  Check
Comfy Deck Chair?  Check
Fabulous Cocktail(s)?  Check

I can’t wait to get started!

Happy Weekend to you all🙂

 

 

6 Comments »

I’m Just In That Kind of Mood Today

I read something earlier today on Le Interwebz that made me howl with laughter and reminded me of this scene, from THE BEST ROMANCE EVER WRITTEN IN THE HISTORY OF EVER AND YES I WANT TO BE BURIED WITH A COPY….

Le Background – Nora Beckett, lady in waiting to Queen Mary I (yes, that one), is rather despondent at the news her (asshat) father plans to marry her off to one Percivale Flegge (I’d be despondent, too if the rumors turned out to be true) and also that she is far too plain for any man to want to marry her and she can’t even drum up any enthusiasm for attending the de Rivers’ banquet.

Here is Her Majesty’s take on cheering her up!

“The Queen made a grumbling noise. “Look you, Nora. It’s true that women are inherently the Devil’s instrument and not God’s, but as long as a girl is chaste, obedient, and intelligent, there’s no reason she can’t also be pretty. God delights in beauty devoted to His works.”

“Think you so, Your Grace?”

“My father used to say so all the time.  And he was, after all, the great King Harry.

Nora contemplated this new idea. If England’s powerful and fearsome Henry VIII approved, it wasn’t for her to question.”

 

Lady Gallant, Suzanne Robinson (yes it has “those scenes” – none particularly gratuitous IMHO but then I’m flat out of delicate sensibilities, soooooo…..skip “those” pages if you must, but by all means, read it).

 

21 Comments »

Easy, My Ass…

“…books about cooking largely admitted what every homemaker knew to be true:  that feeding people was backbreaking work, and then you died.” (The “Myth” of Easy Cooking by Elizabeth Dunn – linked in earlier post referenced and linked below)

Thanks to Els’ encouragement to expand on my earlier post (which was really just a link), and because my blog pal’s latest post has sparked some excellent commentary, here is my little screed on the matter of “Easy” cooking.

Every single thing in that article resonated with me.  I have DOZENS  of cookbooks (even post-cull) and any number of them promise “easy”.  Easy.  Sure.  Maybe in an alternate universe.

Let’e talk turkey, shall we?

30 Minute Meals.  I owned 4 of these cookbooks.  You can’t actually prepare any of this, from lights-on to table in 30 minutes.  Really, you can’t.  Not unless all your prep is done ahead of time.  And then – let’s talk about the sheer ridiculous number of post and pans and utensils required to produce the meal – basically an hour of clean up.  And you know what else?  In my house, the produce is not all washed and dried and prepped and ready for me to slice/dice/chop.

How about ingredients?  Spurred on by this article, I pulled out a couple of my “easy weeknight meals” cookbooks.  Kohlrabi.  Celeriac.  Butternut Squash (you know it takes an hour alone to simply carve that thing into something you can actually at some point cook and eat, right?).  Le Sigh. (Disclosure – I can actually get kohlrabi and celeriac at my local grocery store, but I’m lucky that way and anyway, it’s only fairly recently that securing some of this stuff didn’t require a pilgrimage to Whole Paycheck).

Mostly where Dunn gets it right is in WHO is exactly creating these recipes.  Not “home cooks who learned at their mothers’ elbows in family kitchen”.  Culinary School grads.  Nothing against them, but what the ^%$#(*&^do they know about screaming into a driveway at 6:30 (sure, you left the office at 5, but then you had the commute and you had to pick up the kids from daycare and then you still had to stop by the grocery store before heading home) with tired, hungry, cranky kids?  Answer?  Big Fat Hairy Zilch, that’s what.

I firmly believe that there are nights you pick up a grocery store rotisserie chickn, maybe a frozen mac & cheese and bag-o-salad.  That’s what you do unless you have a martyr complex the size of Mt. Rushmore.

You also need to get over youself and allow that shortcuts by way of semi-prepared and/or prepackaged food items are not only permissible, they’re essential.  Look, most women, whether they work outside the home or not, ain’t sitting back on the chaise longue, sippin’ on mint juleps and noshing on bonbons all day.  They’re really working.  All day.  And some of them are herding small children.  All. Day. Long.  They’re tired.  Kids are tired.  Hubs comes home – he’s tired.  Everybody’s hungry.  Shortcuts are your salvation, and if you can swing some prep work on the weekends, or even do some make-ahead meals, that’s great.  Otherwise, let’s all chill out and stop worshiping at the altar of “Everything-From-Scratch”.  And have a glass of wine, while you’re at it.

15 Comments »

Reality Based Menu – Vacation Edition – Week 3

Yes, I know it’s Thursday, but I’ve been super-busy and then tired at night, so no posting until now.

Le Menu

  • Monday – Roasted Chicken Thighs, Green Beans, Rice (for those who eat it), baked potato (me)
  • Tuesday – Pork Tenderloin, Avocado & Grapefruit Salad (I don’t particularly like avocado’s texture, but this was a delicious salad; I had it for lunch the next day with extra grapefruit and some shaved almonds and baby spinach – total yumfest)
  • Wednesday – Steak Bites, Crash Potatoes, Spinach Salad, Crash Potatoes
  • Thursday – Leftovers…..many many leftovers
  • Friday – Beefy Loaded Baked Potatoes, maybe spaghetti squash, probably some kind of salad.
  • Weekend – Not sure and no sense planning for it.

It’s going to be a ridiculously busy weekend and frankly, I’m not looking all that forward to it.  One of my goals is to have an actual day off – you know, not work (no housework, no work-work), just a day to do things I love to do – mess around in my garden, go to the beach, read.  No laundry.  No grocery shopping.  I’m aiming for Sundays, because I rather need that bit of downtime to get myself mentally prepared for Monday – Friday.  Saturday is just another extension of M-F, only that’s house/family related.  So Sunday has to be Downtimeday.  Except it won’t be this weekend.  Le Sigh.

I know you just dying to know how my dietary vacation is progressing.  It’s fabulous, dontcha know!  I wake up starving (!!!!!!!) and eat breakfast now.  Then I’m hungry again midmorning so I eat then too.  Then lunch.  And snack.  And dinner.  And snack again.  I feel good and I’m not exhausted all the time and I’m very seriously thinking about extending this little vacay for a couple more weeks.  Doing a little more research into the science behind the plan and it’s extremely interesting.  Mostly, though, I just like that I feel good and can eat a lot.

I will say this – my cooking has undergone some interesting developments, as well.  Made my own hot Italian sausage the other day and it was so good, I can’t imagine buying it again (there wasn’t any commercially prepared sausage which didn’t have sugar of some form in it); I make clarified butter and my own mayonnaise and I’m making ranch dressing this weekend (I think).  One thing has also become clear – I need to bite the bullet and buy a new food processor.  Was kind of hoping I could just get away with my immersion blender, handheld mixer, and knives, but that’s not happening; so this weekend, need to research a new machine.

So that’s what’s happening with me.  What’s cooking at your place?

Leave a comment »

Reality-Based Menu – Vacation Edition – Week 2

Still on time off, diet-wise- and loving every moment of it.

I know that last week I planned out through the weekend, but things were crazypants here, so that was more of a pipedream.  We ate well, of course, but had to take a more flexible approach.  I’m totally good with that.

  • Monday – Burgers, Rutabaga Fries, and Salad
  • Tuesday – Chicken-Zucchini Tots, Roasted Cauliflower
  • Wednesday – Portuguese Fish Stew & Salad
  • Thursday – Roast Chicken (or 40-garlic clove, if I can get Hearth to share her recipe, LOL), Green Beans Amandine, Baby Greens with Green Apple Dressing
  • Friday – Beefy-loaded Baked Potatoes; Steamed Broccoli

I also made Ina Garten’s Roasted Tomato Soup and a huge container of tuna salad, so I’ll be lunching on that most of the week.  The fruit platter is piled high with bananas, Honeycrisp apples, oranges, and pears.  There are lots of crudités in the fridge and I’m making my first-ever attempt at mayonnaise.

I thought I’d take a minute just to muse over some of the things I’ve noticed since taking this approach.  First and foremost, the terrible late afternoon fatigue is nearly gone.  This had me nearly in tears of despair – 1600 and I was nearly comatose; more often than not, a headache accompanied it.  I’ve had much fewer headaches – maybe 1 fairly minor in the last 10 days rather than an every day thing – and this means I’m eating a lot less ibuprophen.  Heartburn is pretty nonexistent, too – and I was waking up several days a week with that terrible burning in my esophagus.

Frankly, I’m delighted.  Have I missed anything?  Sure – I particularly miss milk in my coffee, but that’s just led to a reduction in the amount of coffee I drink.  Occasionally I hear toast with butter and cherry preserves calling me; and Saturday night all I wanted was a big bowl of Pasta Carbonara.  I remind myself I’m on vacation and the cravings go limping back into their hidey-holes.

Oh – and Hearth – bought beets; roasted them (well, attempted to any way) and throwing them in the aforementioned salad with green apple dressing.  Will report on the outcome  :-)   >

So, what’s cooking with every one else?

11 Comments »

Broccoli-Cauliflower-Watercress Soup

Adapted from Watercress-Cauliflower SoupMartha Stewart Dinner at Home

Dinner at Home by Martha Stewart has become my favorite cookbook.  It’s arranged seasonally and meal-based – that is, there are starters, the main dish, sides/salads and dessert.  In fact, I love this book so much that I’m truly considering ordering copies for my girls to have themselves (maybe someday they’ll actually have their own household).

This soup is delightful. You can make it with all non-frozen items, and good homemade stock (just like the recipe calls for); or you can do what I usually do – use frozen veggies and good canned low-sodium stock.  If you are fortunate to live near a Publix Supermarket, then you can buy whole bags of watercress, rather than just bunches, making it even easier.  However you make it, it’s bright and tangy, light and satisfying.  The original recipe calls for just cauliflower and I’ve made it that way, but I’ve come to like it even more when I substituted broccoli for half the cauliflower.  I haven’t tried it using just broccoli, but suspect that would be great, too.  If you’re looking for a total vegetarian meal, you could use vegetable stock in lieu of chicken.

The soup is great as a starter course, a light lunch on its own, or even a great accompaniment to a Ham-and-Dijon-on-French-bread (OK fine – you can pick your own sandwich). Whatever or whenever you serve it, it’s sure to please.

Not just for soup – throw this in salad for extra tasty goodness

2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 12oz package frozen chopped onion
1 12oz bags frozen cauliflower
1 12oz bag frozen broccoli
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth/stock
2 cups water
2 ½ tsp. kosher salt
Cracked black pepper
1 4oz bag of water cress (or 2 large bunches, thick stems trimmed a bit)

Heat the oil in a medium sauce pan over medium heat.

Add the onion and sauté until translucent (about 5-7 minutes or so, need to allow some of the water to cook off the frozen onion). Add the broccoli and cauliflower, broth/stock, water, salt and some cracked pepper; bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the vegetables are very tender (about 15 minutes).  Remove the pot from the heat; add the watercress and stir to wilt a bit.

I left mine with some texture and a few chunks, but you can puree this completely smooth if that’s your preference.

You can puree the soup in batches using a conventional blender, or use an immersions blender and do the work right there in the soup pot (which is what I do because I don’t have a blender any more).

That’s it. You’re done.  Soup’s On!

 

10 Comments »