Thursday, May 26, 2011

Facebook Group

Are you on Facebook?

Looking for another place to share your food blog? 

Enjoy taking pictures of food and sharing them with others?

Dying to tell someone about the amazing meal you had last night?

Then find the Facebook Group "Leave me alone, I'm eating! :)"
(Yes, the smiley face is included)

Bikini Bashing

Okay. I'm not here to bash bikinis. I have nothing against bikinis or the women who wear them. What I do have issues with is exactly what this article addresses. Magazines, commercials, gossip news, etc making women never feel they're good enough to wear bikinis.

Too much stomach.
Too much thigh.
Too little boob.

Who cares!?

If you like it.
If you feel good in it.
...and everyone else can screw off!

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‘Bikini-Ready’? Who’s Judging?

EVERY spring, as sure as cherry blossoms bloom, so does the notion that women should diet, exercise and even liposuction their way to bikini-ready bodies. Magazines like Shape and Self reinforce the idea that preparation is essential, with months-long bikini body countdowns (100-calorie snack tips included) and workout DVDs like “Bikini Ready Fast!” as if the beach reveal were a test on par with the MCAT and only a slacker would settle for a one-piece.

“It really sends the message that you’re not worthy right now to put on a suit,” said Malia Mills, a swimsuit designer whose brand’s motto is “Love Thy Differences.” Ms. Mills, 44, said shoppers often declare in one of her 10 stores: “I just wanted to see what you had. I’m coming back when I lose five pounds.”

As our culture increasingly enshrines physical perfection, the bikini has come to inspire dread and awe. It wasn’t always so. In the 1960s, when bellybutton-baring suits first became popular in America, “it was a youthful phenomenon definitely,” said Sarah Kennedy, the author of “The Swimsuit: A History of Twentieth-Century Fashions.” Then the high-fashion set and movie stars began to put on bikinis, and by the ’70s, she said, the bikini was “worn by all ages.”

And a few extra pounds didn’t disqualify anyone, considering the fitness revolution was still roughly a decade away. (In the book there’s a 1940s photograph of a fresh-faced still-brunet Marilyn Monroe looking smashing in a blue-and-white striped two-piece, a roll of pale flesh at her midsection.)

Back then, bikini preparation was starkly laissez-faire by today’s grooming standards. In her recently published literary memoir, “Art and Madness,” Anne Roiphe wrote that in 1965, she suspected that a suitor was into her because of, not in spite of, the “tufts of dark hair that stuck out of the top of my bikini.”

But today it’s assumed that only the lean, muscular, hairless and ab-defined will feel comfortable in a bikini. “It’s become difficult to feel natural with a normal body,” Ms. Kennedy said. “Fatism has taken over. It’s O.K. to be mean to lumpy, lardy people. It’s a sort of subtle intolerance towards people that’s very bad.”

Thanks to the ubiquity of cameras, wearing a bikini is now scary even for gorgeous celebrities. Remember how Jennifer Love Hewitt was pilloried in 2007 for the crime of wearing a bandeau without being a size 0? Helen Mirren was accused of having had surgery when she dared to flaunt her (taut, toned) 62-year-old stomach in a tomato-red bikini a year later.

“It’s about everyone everywhere having a comment, and they are anonymous,” said Gabrielle Reece, the former volleyball star and now a fitness guru, who has also been captured bare-stomached by the paparazzi. “The bathing suit is really a metaphor for all the ways we can approach a lot of things,” she said. “Why would we punish ourselves when we don’t have to? Why dread that?”

But the bikini has become the star of several fear-inspiring marketing campaigns. A recent advertisement for Yoplait Light features an itsy-bitsy yellow-and-red polka dotted bikini hanging on a wall as a future award for the diligent yogurt eater.

Nivea has a Goodbye Cellulite, Hello Bikini! Challenge, which prods women to slim down and buy its products. Nivea also sponsors the Cosmopolitan Magazine Bikini Bash, which last year involved 100 lithe dancers in blue-and-white ruffled bikinis tossing their hair violently to the Midi Mafia’s song “Two-Piece” in front of 1,000 attendees at the Planet Hollywood resort in Las Vegas. The two male singers of “Two-Piece,” fully clothed, belted, “You all look like models off the cover of Cosmo.”

Amansala, a “bikini boot camp,” in Ibiza, Spain, and Tulum, Mexico, sells six-night stays starting at $1,875. “Our society definitely has a stigma of bikini readiness — my business thrives on that,” said Melissa Perlman, an owner of the resort, which she said mostly attracts women in their 30s and 40s. “But at the same time, we send a different message that you don’t have to be perfect. Feel good, take care of yourself, and looking good in a bikini will follow.”

Would-be attendees often call ahead asking, “Do all the women look like those on your Web site?” (That is, easy on the eyes and the jiggle.) Ms. Perlman said she was considering starting “a program for larger women who don’t want to be around women who look hot in their bikinis, but say, ‘I want to do this.’ ”

On April 12, Dr. Elie Levine, a plastic surgeon, and his wife, Dr. Jody Levine, a dermatologist, hosted a bikini season prep event at their Manhattan practice to cater to the worried (19 women and one man showed up). The doctors’ press release warned, “Summer is about revealing yourself and can be dreaded if your body is not ready,” then went on to list tips such as “zap away embarrassing veins” or “boost bikini confidence with lipo for stubborn areas.”

This month, when I visited the doctors, at the end of the interview, I hoisted my shirt, pointed to the crepey skin under my bellybutton, and grabbed a pinch of fat that wasn’t there before childbirth, back in my triathlete days. The Levines’ prescription: liposuction, a skin-tightening procedure, or a tummy tuck, which costs $10,000, with a painful recovery.

It might just be cheaper to gain a fresh perspective. “If you feel your body is strong, and you’re in good shape, you’re halfway there,” said Norma Kamali, 65, the designer of (among other things) modestly retro bathing suits, who now also has a wellness cafe in Manhattan. “You’re not going to go out looking for surgery to fill up your breasts, you’ll be satisfied and comfortable.”

Not all women let the camera-phone-wielding bikini police (or their own self-criticism) stop them from enjoying a two-piece. Ms. Mills calls this type a “good-attitude girl.”

“She is a phenomenon and totally inspiring,” she said. “She is of any age, any body, she has a totally great attitude, because she has had a come-to-Jesus moment with her body.”

Portland: Childless by Choice

(Article was the headline news of the Oregonian today).

Fewer Oregon homes include children, new census data show
By Nikole Hannah-Jones, The Oregonian

Susana Holloway is a college-educated foodie who owns a business, shares a cute red bungalow in Northeast Portland with her husband, and loves children.

She just doesn't want any.

In Portland, the 37-year-old can feel at home. The city known for its young creatives should perhaps be known for its young and childless.

Just 30 percent of households in Oregon have children, the lowest rate among all but seven states, according to U.S. Census data released today. The picture is even starker in Portland, where only one in four homes includes a child 17 or younger.

But while an aging population helps explain the dearth of households with children statewide, Portland is bulging with residents of prime child-rearing age. Fully 36 percent of Portlanders are ages 25 to 44, the highest share among Oregon communities of at least 10,000 residents.

Yet the city's population of school-age children shrank over the decade even as the city grew. According to the 2010 Census, Portland is home to about 76,300 children ages 5 to 17, down by more than 2,800 from 2000.

"Young people come here not to raise families but because the urban core is a place with close proximity to jobs, nightlife, good restaurants and having fun," said Charles Rynerson, a demographer at the Portland State University Population Research Center. "Many people who come here either haven't started a family here yet or they will somewhere else."

The past decade, as many baby boomers aged from parents with children at home to empty-nesters, showed a sharp decline in the share of households with children -- nationally, in Oregon and in Portland. Oregon's rate of households with children dropped from 33 percent to 30 percent, paralleling a 3 percentage point drop nationwide to 33 percent.

Clackamas County showed an even steeper decline, from 37 percent in 2000 to 33 percent in 2010. Clark County was part of the trend, too, with a drop from 40 percent to 36 percent.

Americans gave birth to fewer babies in 2010 than in 1990, according to preliminary census tallies, despite tens of millions of immigrants entering the country. Twenty-three states saw a net loss in children since 2000. Oregon's under-17 population inched up during the decade, but the adult population grew much faster.

Rynerson said a few factors link Oregon with the other states -- Maine, North Dakota, Montana, West Virginia, Florida, Pennsylvania and Vermont -- with the lowest rate of households with children. They all have a larger than average population of baby boomers. And except for Florida, they are very white states. White women have the lowest fertility rates.

Yet according to the most recent national census study of women who reached their early 40s without having children, education is a greater influence than race or ethnicity on whether a woman becomes a mother. While Portland's population is young, it maintains a thriving creative class that is highly educated and tends to put off or eschew child-rearing.

"This is a city of young foodies, designers and artists, and they don't have the energy or the time to want to start a family," said Holloway, who decided not to have children because of overpopulation and who runs a cooking school called Portland's Culinary Workshop. "It's such a creative city that people feel like they can make a go of it, and that's what they focus on. I joke that my business is my baby."

Portland's Karen Foster published her book "No Way Baby!: Exploring, Understanding, and Defending the Decision NOT to Have Children" this year and said the census reflects a trend toward waiting for or forgoing children.

"Many of these people simply haven't had children yet," said Foster, 43 and childless by choice. "People live here because they want to as opposed to going somewhere because of a job, so the city attracts people who are taking advantage of the lifestyle and may put off child-rearing."

Progressive cities such as Portland apply less pressure to have children, particularly at a young age, she said. But she bristles at the "Portlandia" notion that the city is full of adults who refuse to grow up.

"People accidentally get pregnant, but they don't accidentally not have children. That takes planning," she said. "Sometimes it's a very grown-up decision."

PSU's Rynerson said having fewer households with children carries positive and negative effects. Fewer children relative to adults means fewer tax dollars spent on children's services. But it also means fewer people to pay into Social Security to care for an aging nation and to take jobs to fuel the economy as earlier generations retire. Locally, a dwindling youth population leads to school closures and other upheaval.

But if Portland is unusual in its childlessness, one need look only a few miles away to find very different landscapes. More than 50 percent of households have children in Bethany, Cornelius and Sherwood. In Happy Valley, it's 49 percent.

Jason Gardner, a 35-year-old real estate agent and father of three, moved to Sherwood 11 years ago and has watched it flourish as families planted roots. While Portland is heavy on rental housing -- 46 percent rent -- Sherwood draws families, and 75 percent of residents own their homes.

"People typically don't move here to have babies, but I see people more times than not coming here to purchase when they already have young children," he said. "The biggest reason people move here is because it seems to attract people who want an environment where they can raise their kids peacefully and safely, and send them to good schools. Sherwood is a haven for those types of families."

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Farmers Markets

I just love this time of year...even if it is still grey and drizzling's the time when the Farmer's Markets start sprouting (pun intended) up everywhere!

I love just wandering around and seeing the beautiful colors of fresh fruits and vegetables.I could wander and take pictures, smell the delicious fragrances and people watch all day.

I miss living in downtown Oakland and having an amazing market only a few blocks away. Now, in Portland, I have half a dozen ones only a few (driving) minutes away. Either place. I don't care. I just love Farmer's Markets. I try to go every weekend (if I can).

Earlier this month Serious Eats website posted an article about 7 Tips for Making the Most of the Farmer's Markets. I agree with every single tip and try to remember them every time I go shopping. So I wanted to share them here.

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7 Tips for Making the Most of the Farmer's Markets

Tip #1 - Shop Around: As tempting as those heirloom tomatoes or that huge stalk of brussels sprouts looks on the first table, even at a farmers' market, location is everything. At larger markets, you can expect the stalls nearest the entrance and exits or the ones closest to public transportation to sport heftier prices than the stalls further in from the periphery. I always try and take a quick walk all the way up and down the market taking note of who has what and what they're charging before jumping into any purchase. (It's so true! I've found the exact same produce, typically the same quality, for way cheaper in the further back stalls. Not to mention often these ones will be less picked over because they're further off the beaten path).

Tip #2 - Visit Early for Selection, Late for Price: Absolutely have to get your hands on some ramps or morels? You probably want to get to the market early to pick up the rarities before they go. On the other hand, late shopping has its benefits too. As the market day approaches its finish, many farmer's with extra produce will pass off the goods at bargain-basement prices. Just last week I picked up a dozen laid-that-morning eggs from Ronnybrook for 50¢ less than what I pay for organic eggs in the supermarket. Last year I snagged a few flats of overripe heirloom tomato seconds for $1 a pound—perfect for filling my winter pantry with jars of sauce. (I prefer going early because you don't have the same amount of crowds as mid-day and the vegetables look better; haven't started to wilt with the heat)

Tip #3 - Bring Your Own Bag: Bringing a sturdy, reusable shopping bag to the farmer's market not only makes sense for the environment, it's also nicer to the farmers and easier on your hands (our sturdy handles are way more comfortable than cheap plastic loops). (How could you think this is a bad idea? Who cares if everything is just getting piled on top of one another? The only trick is don't put a heavy bag of potatoes on top of those ripe peaches you just bought....squish)

Tip #4 - Communicate: Nobody knows their product better than the farmer's that produce them, and farmers' markets give you the opportunity to hear what's what straight from the horse's mouth. Make regular visits, and you may even find yourself getting better bargains or being offered special products for your loyalty. (When I was living in Oakland, I had one vendor that always had the best citrus. I'd take the offered samples, buy a variety here and there and after a while became a "regular". So often they'd weigh my bags and then toss in a handful of extra goodies here and there. Communication helps)

Tip #5 - Leave Your Shopping List Open: In fact, unless you really have to, don't go with a shopping list at all—go with a budget instead. Farmers' markets by their very nature are dynamic things that change from week to week both in terms of availability and quality. Be open to shopping around for the best ingredients whether they were part of your original plan or not, and you'll end up with a much better bounty. (Who goes to a Farmer's Market and only buys what's on their list?! I go with a few things I want to see if I can find sure...but then 2/3 of what I come home with wasn't even on my mind before I found them. Tamales, blueberry bread, many amazing things. Keep an open mind people!)

Tip #6 - Do Your Research: Only a thorough on-site evaluation will tell you what's best on any particular day, but it pays to know in advance what to expect. Are we at the height of asparagus season, or is it more likely the farmer's are pushing stalks that are past their prime? Should you be focusing on the sprouts or the squash? You wouldn't want to miss out on the short Greengage season because you're busy filling your bag up with the apples that'll still be around for weeks to come, right? (Right...sure...uhhuh...whatever. I mean I do pay attention to what is in season and when...on some level. Mostly because now that I'm in Portland I can't get certain things all year long like I could in California. Asparagus, artichokes, peaches, GOOD citrus...these are things I have in my head so I know when to start scouring the country side for them.)

Tip #7 - Spread the Love: A lot of farmers' markets these days feature one or two really large farms that seem to sell a virtual supermarket's worth of produce, and often they sell really great stuff, but chances are they don't have the very best of everything. It pays to spend time visiting multiple stalls to pick and choose the best from each one. The farmers won't get offended. I promise. (I absolutely agree. Don't feel obligated to buy everything from one stall and don't worry if you are just going one stall over. This isn't a popularity contest. Everyone knows you just want the best product. Besides better to help everyone out a little than only one person out a lot. Right?)

*       *       *
I also found a pretty cool interactive map (for those of you in Portland) of the Farmer's Markets on Oregonlive. 

The link also has information about the (Portland-proper) market's such as times, dates and websites. Pretty cool. :)

I can't wait for this weekend - 3 days off and come rain or shine I'm going to a Farmer's Market!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Ban on Shark Fin

Read this article in the Asian Reporter this afternoon.
What are your thoughts? Discrimination or preservation?

*      *     *

Proposed shark fin ban makes waves in San Francisco
From The Asian Reporter, V21, #10 (May 16, 2011), page 8.

By Robin Hindery

SAN FRANCISCO — A California proposal to outlaw the title ingredient in shark fin soup, a traditional Chinese delicacy, has turned into a recipe for controversy in San Francisco, a city that is nearly one-third Asian and home to the nation’s oldest Chinatown.

A bill moving through the state legislature would ban the sale, distribution, and possession of shark fins. State and federal laws prohibit shark finning in U.S. waters, but do not address the importation of fins from other countries.

Supporters say shark finning is inhumane and a threat to the ocean ecosystem. They say an estimated 73 million sharks are slaughtered each year, mainly for shark fin soup, which can sell for more than $80 a bowl and is often served at weddings and banquets.

"The collapse of shark populations because of overfishing is a conservation issue of global concern, and the demand for fins drives overfishing of sharks," said Mike Sutton, director of the Center for the Future of the Oceans at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, located about 115 miles south of San Francisco.

Alex Ong, chef at the Pan-Asian restaurant Betelnut in San Francisco’s Marina district, said the broth in shark fin soup is what provides most of the flavor, and the fins themselves can be easily substituted by other seafood or even creatively disguised starch.

Ong said when he saw video footage of fisherman slicing off sharks’ fins and tossing the animals back into the ocean to die, the images hit him "right in the gut" and he vowed to work to stop the practice.

But critics of the proposed ban say the consumption of shark fins is a cherished cultural tradition.

"This is traditional for us. When you say no to shark fin, that’s profiling," said Henry Cheung, president of Charlie Seafood Inc., a San Francisco-based wholesaler and importer. "The law doesn’t ban shark meat or a handbag made with shark skin — just fins. I myself believe it’s unfair."

Cheung also questioned the need for a ban on a product he says is already losing popularity, particularly among young people. He said his business stopped importing shark fins years ago due to declining demand.

In a statement issued February 14, the day the legislation was introduced, state senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco), called the measure "an unfair attack on Asian culture and cuisine."

Yee, who officially kicked off his campaign for mayor of San Francisco this month, said efforts should be focused on strengthening conservation efforts and increasing penalties for illegally killing sharks.

In addition to local chefs and politicians, a few celebrities have jumped into the debate.

Chinese basketball star Yao Ming is loaning his celebrity to the anti-finning movement, appearing on city busses and billboards urging residents in Chinese and English to "Join me, say no to shark fin soup." The Houston Rockets center came to town to film a public service announcement for the international conservation group WildAid.

Shark fins also may prove an unexpected ingredient in this year’s mayoral race, which includes three prominent Asian-American candidates: Yee, board of supervisors president David Chiu, and assessor-recorder Phil Ting.

San Francisco is home to the largest percentage of Asian Americans of any county in the continental U.S. Political observers expect voter turnout from that community to be high in November, following the momentum generated earlier this year by the appointment of Edwin Lee as interim mayor — the city’s first Asian-American leader.

Chiu and Ting appeared at a news conference organized by WildAid and expressed their support for a shark fin ban.

Afterward, Ting said the legislation presented an "important opportunity to talk about the importance of sustainability," but that he didn’t think it was among Asian-American voters’ top concerns.

"The economy, jobs, the city budget — Chinese-American voters are focused on those issues," he said.

A poll released May 6 by the Monterey Bay Aquarium indicated strong support of a fin ban among Californians. More than three-quarters of the 600 registered voters surveyed said they support the bill. Of the 218 respondents who were Chinese American, 70 percent said they support it.

"There’s an attempt to portray this debate as an east-versus-west cultural thing," said Peter Knights, executive director of WildAid. "The reality is this is east and west versus a small minority of people."

The measure is awaiting a hearing by the state assembly. Hawaii has already adopted a ban, and similar legislation is advancing in Oregon and Washington state.

CONTROVERSIAL CUISINE. National Basketball Association player Yao Ming (left) sits near an inflatable shark during a break from filming a public service announcement about banning shark fin soup in Chinatown in San Francisco. A California proposal to outlaw the title ingredient in shark fin soup, a traditional Chinese delicacy, has turned into a recipe for controversy in the city, home to the nation’s oldest Chinatown. A bill moving through the state legislature would ban the sale, distribution, and possession of shark fins. Supporters say shark finning is inhumane and a threat to the ocean ecosystem, but critics say the consumption of shark fins is a cherished part of Chinese culture. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)


You give me that look that's like laughing
with liquid in your mouth
like you're choosing between choking
and spitting it all out
like you're trying to fight gravity
on a planet that insists
that love is like falling
and falling is like this

 Feels like reckless driving when we're talking
It's fun while it lasts, and it's faster than walking
But no one's going to sympathize when we crash
They'll say "you hit what you head for, you get what you ask"
and we'll say we didn't know, we didn't even try
one minute there was road beneath us, the next just sky

I'm sorry I can't help you, I cannot keep you safe
I'm sorry I can't help myself, so don't look at me that way
we can't fight gravity on a planet that insists
that love is like falling
and falling is like this.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Just a little Nip and Tuck.

I admit.
I'm a photoshopper. 

Goodbye sags under my eyes. 
Goodbye giant blemish on my chin.

Are there parts of my body I'd like to lift, tuck and suck? Sure. Doesn't mean I'm going to (no offense to anyone but I still don't trust the medical techniques out there). 

I think there is a time and a place for these alterations: i.e., getting rid of that giant red pimple on my nose before sending out the family Christmas cards.

There are some physical body-modifications I have a harder time with. I'm all for freedom of self and you can do to yourself what you want...I just start worrying when parent's are making these choices for their children and when modifications turn to addiction. But then I also know I'm not in any place to make the call for others.

Beauty changes with time and everyone's view of what "beauty" is, is different.

*     *     *

Capturing Beauty, With All Its Flaws
By Simone S. Oliver
May 17, 2011

IN 2010 there were more than 12 million cosmetic procedures — from breast implants to Botox injections — performed in the United States, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Meanwhile, there is at least one mother who has injected Botox into her child, a beauty pageant contestant (as seen on “Good Morning America” last week); a steady stream of models in uneasy relationships with their body weight, and magazine layouts in which skin color and body shapes have been digitally modified.

All of these subjects are examined in “Beauty Culture,” the first fashion- and beauty-themed exhibition to be held at the Annenberg Space for Photography in Los Angeles, the heartland of Hollywood goddesses and plastic surgery. A celebrity-filled gala will be held tonight for the show, which opens on May 21 and runs through Nov. 27.

As visitors walk along the winding halls of the exhibition space, they will find 175 images by more than 100 photographers, from straight-up glamour portraits to more-unsettling images, such as a needle entering a lip.

“We wanted to talk about the ugly side of the beauty industry alongside the beauty,” said Kohle Yohannan, its curator. But, he said, “I didn’t want it to just be a finger wag. This is the beginning of a dialogue. it’s not a statement.”

Patricia Lanza, Annenberg’s director of talent and content, asked Mr. Yohannan to be involved in “Beauty Culture” after she visited “Model as Muse,” a 2009 exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art that Mr. Yohannan curated with Harold Koda.

Mr. Yohannan said it was important to him to present the pictures in “chapters,” such as “The Marilyn Syndrome,” “Beauty Inc.: The $300 Billion Cosmetics Industry” and “What Color Is Beauty?”

“The story of beauty is complicated,” he said. “Trying to generalize it is lazy.”

Many of the photographs were shot by heavyweights in the fashion industry such as Steven Meisel, and some are by lesser-known artists, including Nino Muñoz, who has worked extensively with the model Gisele Bundchen.

One of the show’s highlights is a 30-minute documentary that will play every hour. It was directed by the photographer Lauren Greenfield, whose prints are also featured.

Ms. Greenfield has covered beauty-related subjects like aging throughout her career, mostly from a cultural perspective. During her research for the film, she said she learned to look at the subject from a biological standpoint with the help of Nancy Etcoff, an assistant clinical professor at Harvard Medical School, who is interviewed in the film. Dr. Etcoff wrote the book “Survival of the Prettiest,” an exploration of the biological relationship people have with beauty.

Ms. Greenfield said her dialogue with Dr. Etcoff “gave me perspective when shooting things like eating disorders, plastic surgery, fashion.”

For her part, Dr. Etcoff said she thought the exhibition could make people “think again about many issues: about what they consider beautiful and why, why it is part of human nature and what role certain images and photographers and media play in our ideas about the boundaries of beauty.”

Digital photography has made it easy to manipulate how people appear, resulting in unrealistic examples of beauty that may skew some people’s expectations of themselves and others. The exhibition examines this with the Beauty Culture Digital Salon, where guests can alter a photo of themselves and choose a “before” or “after” picture.

It is tempting to think that the digital revolution introduced new levels of fakery, said Zed Nelson, a photographer featured in “Beauty Culture” who has spent part of his career considering the effects of the globalization of Western beauty ideals. But retouching and clever lighting are as old as portraiture itself, he pointed out.

Such manipulation, he said, is “kind of like the apple in the Garden of Eden: it’s so readily available that people use it without thinking. And I think that’s had an effect. Some images in magazines, they’re almost becoming illustrations instead of photographs.”

There has been some backlash against such images. For example, the May 2010 issue of Marie Claire had Jessica Simpson, without makeup, on the cover. In this month’s issue of Harper’s Bazaar, Diane Von Furstenberg, photographed bare-faced by Chuck Close, says she believes that imperfections and wrinkles give a person character.

But such experiments are rare.

“We have a Venus for every era,” Mr. Yohannan said. “And the war that pop culture wages on the female body should be looked at closely. These models are not the norm.”

One current pop goddess, Lady Gaga (on the cover of May’s Harper’s Bazaar), is challenging beauty norms. There are no photos of her in “Beauty Culture,” but she may share some of its goals.

“When everybody around you has had their breasts enlarged, their teeth whitened and their skin peeled, then you become the odd one out, you become the freak,” said Mr. Nelson, the photographer. “That’s the scary thing. And so anything that draws attention to that is a good thing.”

Monday, May 16, 2011

Cinnamon Pumpkin Empanada

I found this recipe on a blog called Sook's Kitchen and boy does it look yummy. I'm a big fan of pumpkin (real pumpkin not just "pumpkin flavored") but it's so hard to find canned pumpkin all year round. So this past Thanksgiving (the MOMENT I saw pumpkin on the shelves) I stocked up on a number of cans.

This past weekend I made a Sweet Brie Ring (also found on Sook's Kitchen) for my sister's birthday breakfast. I think this weekend (or perhaps for dessert one evening) I'll be making these Cinnamon Pumpkin Empanadas.

This recipe sure does make me wish it was Autumn (although I'm also still waiting for Spring and Summer to show up).


Pumpkin filling-
1 (15 oz) can pumpkin
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger (optional)

Empanada Dough- (I have to be honest...I'm most likely going to use a premade dough)
1 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 (1/2 oz) packages dry yeast (4 1/2 teaspoons)
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3 cups flour, divided in half
3/4 cup vegetable shortening


For the filling: Mix ingredients together and set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine water, sugar, salt, yeast, baking powder, and cinnamon. Using an electric mixer, gradually blend in half of the flour. Add shortening and thoroughly mix, then gradually blend in remaining flour.

Divide dough into 4 equal parts, then shape each of those parts into 4 dough balls. Slap the dough balls between the palms of your well-floured hands until somewhat flattened, then roll out on a floured surface into circles approximately 4 inches in diameter and 1/8-inch thick. Put about 1 1/2 tablespoons of pumpkin filling in the center of each circle, fold over, and seal edges by moistening slightly and pressing lightly with a fork on both sides.

Bake on a greased cookie sheet until golden brown, 18 to 20 minutes (watch carefully as they can burn quickly).

28 Day Challenge - Check In

So I decided instead of posting a blog every day and boring the crap out of you all with "I walked around the building."...."I ran stairs"....blah blah blah. I'd do more of a weekly check in. 

Today is Day 16 of 28.

I've entered into my Outlook calendar 3 times to get up from my desk and go take a walk around the building (not including the walking I do on my lunch break). So far it's working great. It not only gives my eyes a break from the computer screen but it gets me up and moving and keeping warm (my office building has no real heat and I've been chilly lately). 

It's nice to have a "fall-back exercise" as it were. My goal for this 28-day challenge was to develop a new healthy habit. Adding in three walks to my schedule (including a pop-up window telling me to get out and go) every work-day helps me accomplish that. Doesn't mean though I'm not trying to do other activities outside of these walks. 

Thursday we went to the pool and swam for a while.
Saturday we went to Multnomah Falls and hiked (I didn't make it to the top but mostly because I didn't want to make the family wait below for me for too long).

It's interesting some of the things I'm observing/noticing over the past few weeks (most of which I'm sure is in my head). 

First I feel more emotional than I normally am. I know that exercising is supposed to release endorphins and therefore put you in a better mood...but that's not really what I've been experiencing. I've been out on a walk and had a burst of anger come from deep in my core. This weekend I had to go home and lay in bed to cry after a ridiculous comment from my brow-wax lady. No euphoria. No smile across my face. Just anger and tears. (WTF?)

The other thing I feel is that I've not been losing weight but gaining it. Now I know this is only Day 16 and I can't expect a miracle. I'd expect more to see no change...not an increase. Like I said this could just be in my head. But pants that don't fit, shirts that feel tighter than before, looking at pictures taken of me and seeing a larger and larger double chin. 

It's frustrating. 
I'm sticking to it though.

Sweet Brie Ring

We made this on Sunday morning for my sister's birthday. It was way rich but way yummy. Here are a few pictures I took while prepping the Brie Ring (super fast to make btw) - the ingredient list and directions are at the bottom.

This is enough for 2 rings. But we found 1 was more than enough.

Preheat to 400*

Remove Brie from paper wrapper and place in middle

Arrange crescents around the brie

Sprinkle brown sugar on the top

Now it's ready to bake!

In the oven for 20 minutes

And it's ready to devour!

2 Pillsbury crescent roll tubes (the large ones work best)
1 round baby brie
2 tablespoons butter, melted
Brown sugar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Grease a baking sheet with sides on it with a Pam or oil.
Place 1 round baby brie in the center of the baking sheet and put the crescent dough around the brie. 

Spread the butter over the top of the bread evenly. 
Sprinkle approximately 1/8-inch brown sugar on top of the dough and a little less on the brie. 

Bake for 20 minutes or until the bread is golden brown. 
Cool at least for 10 minutes so you don't burn yourself on the sugar. 
Pull apart the individual crescents and spread cheese on the bread.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Coming Out Fat.

A friend recently posted a link to this article called "Guys Who Like Fat Chicks" (from the Village Voice) on her facebook page. I was a little hesitant about reading it but I trust her judgement and most times agree or like the other articles she posts. 

Okay. So I'm not sure why articles always feel like they have to parallel their cause with coming out as gay....but this article doesn't linger on it for long. It is nice to see an article that addresses the "FA" and not just BBW's with pride. A little on the long side (and pretty heavy on a single interviewee) but a good read nonetheless. 

I'm always excited/interested to read articles addressing the topic of plus size (the term I prefer to identify with) people (not just women) having normal relationships. That we (and the people who find us attractive) are not freaks of nature, we're not abnormal or something to be hidden and only talked about behind closed doors.  

*     *      *

I come from a family of curvy women - not all of them are plus size, but there are few without hips, butts, breasts and other curves. 

I was destined to be a curvy lady. 

At my smallest (obviously post-puberty) I was a 14 and at my largest (a few years ago) was a size 28 (at around 280lbs). Today I'm around 260 and a size 26. 

I'm not ashamed. I'm not trying to hide my body behind muumuus and oversized sweats. 

It's true I say I "carry my weight well" because I think I do. I dress stylish and appropriate and have had people assume my weight/size was smaller than what it was in actuality. 

It's also true that I'm currently in the middle of a "28 Day Challenge" in which I'm trying to have more exercise in my daily life. I'm not doing that because I'm ashamed of how I look. I'm doing it so I can feel healthier, so I can battle the Seasonal Depression that knocks you over when living in such a grey part of the country.

*     *     *

I've had boyfriends, when I was, from one extreme of weight to another. None (that I know) of them came out as "Fat Admirers" but obviously they liked a little extra something since they were dating me. Most of them were "breast-men" and as you can see I've got them covered there. 

Even with a fair number of beaus growing up (five in the first year and a half of HS before dating my "high school sweetheart" the remaining two years) I did struggle with self esteem issues around my weight. After my HS sweetheart and I broke up I went through a depression that really took it (the wanting to date) out of me. I just didn't feel attractive or desirable. He didn't tell me I was fat, or give me an ultimatum to lose weight. We just broke up (like you do when you're in high school).

For the most part (after highschool) I just wasn't interested in dating. I did toy around with internet dating here and there. I remember one date I went on. He took me to see the (newer) Planet of the Apes. (Yippee?) I didn't even bother asking him up afterwards. I said "Thanks, have a good night" and closed the car door.

Then there was the guy in college. The rebel who drank vodka out of a 7-up bottle during our English Freshman seminar. The smooth talker who, when I was upset with him, would spout lines from cheesy romance movies (I'm talking "You complete me" level). The one who as soon as I slept with him wouldn't give me the time of day....yeah not a highlight in the Men-In-My-Life.

Then somewhere a few years ago things changed - I opened up to the idea of dating again and as a result met my sweetie. (See our love story here). 

*     *     *

I think it's wonderful that more and more people are "coming out" as appreciators and admirers of curvy/plump/heavy/plus-size women and men...let's not forget those of us who appreciate a stockier built man. 

I'm a plus size woman. I like men with meat on their bones. I like someone who enjoys going out and trying new food and doesn't expect me to eat a garden salad when there's pasta on the menu (I mean really now I'm 1/2 Italian!)

It bothers me sometimes when I see/hear friends express feelings about being unattractive. Everyone is desirable to someone. I truly believe that you just need to embrace yourself and see yourself as deserving and desirable before you can expect others too (or at least before you can expect to start noticing that others do already)

To close I just have this to say. 

If you don't understand how or why someone is attracted to me.... Just don't worry about it, no one's making you take me out in the first place.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

You Won't Let Me Go

"I want you, I need you
I'm all packed up to go
But darlin', if you love me
You won't let me go

If a love's a true love
It never runs smooth you know
So if your love is a true love
You won't let me go

If you don't say you love me
I'm gonna walk right
Out the door
And I'll hope that you'll stop me
So I can hear you
Call me darlin' once more

I tell you I love you, yes I love you
With all my heart and soul
So darlin' if you love me
You won't let me go

Hey, I love you know, I say, I love you
Oh, with all my heart and soul
So darlin' well if you love me
I know you won't let me go
Girl, I know you won't let me go

Oh yes"

("You Won't Let Me Go", Ray Charles, Pure Genius)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

28 Day Challenge - Day 10 Check In

Yesterday I had a successful day. I had a Net balance of 222 calories (meaning I ate 1091 but burned off 869). Rode the stationary bicycle at the gym for 20 minutes. Lifted weights for ten. Ate a salad for dinner. 

But mood-wise it was a bummer day. Everyone talks about how getting out and exercising will produce endorphins that help boost your mood. Well my endorphins must be busted because while exercising the only emotion I've felt to my core was anger...and afterwards was still being bummed out. 

Luckily I have amazing friends. I posted on facebook yesterday, "it's hard to build up motivation for the gym when you're in a bummer mood...meh. Alright. Where are my cheerleaders at?" I was overwhelmed by the response. People encouraging me. Reminding me how good I've done so far. Or just telling me to get off my behind and go do it. *lol*

Either way I went. Didn't feel much "happier" afterwards but I do feel like day 10 of 28 was a success.

Monday, May 9, 2011

28 Day Challenge - Day 9 Check In

"Today, I will try to feed myself when I am hungry.
Today, I will try to be attentive to how foods taste and make me feel.
Today, I will try to choose foods that I like and that make me feel good.
Today, I will try to honor my body's signals of fullness.
Today, I will try to find an enjoyable way to move my body.
Today, i will try to look kindly at my body and to treat it with love and respect"
-Live Well Pledge

Today we took my coworker out to lunch for his birthday (that was this past week). He just started a 28 day (different challenge) cleanse - eating (in phases) only raw food at the moment. So we went to a Vegan restaurant in town called Blossoming Lotus.

Even though I'm far from vegan (there's just no way I could abandon cheese) and I just can't wrap my head around the idea of "nut-cheese". I still had a yummy lunch; the Southwest Bowl - brown rice, spicy butternut & black bean chili, steamed greens topped with avocado ranch, roasted pepper sour cream, scallions and cilantro.

While I felt (very) out of place and the lunch was good, a friend put it best when she said "a plate of fried chicken and mashed potatoes covered in country gravy wouldn't be sitting as well right about now".

I came back to work and have done one quick lap of stairs (a figure eight basically) - down one, up another two (don't ask how that works). 

I plan on another few of those laps as the afternoon goes. (But I'm trying to be productive at work at the same time). :)