Month: September 2010

My HGTV/Food Network Obsession

So I have a confession I love HGTV/Food Network. While I watch too much television in general, there is a mysterious aspect of home/food shows that I enjoy- something voyeuristic in watching others eat food I wish I was eating or purchasing homes I imagine purchasing.  The more of a fantasy, the better!   Some particular favorites are:


Property Virgins

House Hunters

House Hunters International

Income Property

For Rent

Holmes on Homes

Selling New York

Bang for your Buck

(I don’t really like the pure design shows.  I prefer the ones that involve the purchase of a home because I’m scared to death of buying).

Food Network

Ace of Cakes

Aarti Party (so cute!)

Best Thing I Ever Ate (this is particularly fantastical for me since I’ve been eating healthy and can’t eat most of the items shown)

Diners Drive in and Dives (I think Guy is ridiculous (Can the 90s get their hair and sayings back?) but I think its fun to see the places.  Utah has been featured like 7 times on this show!)

Next Food Network Star

Food Network Challenge (I like the cake ones)


Throwdown (Its hilarious how Bobby Flay loses like 2/3rds of these throwdowns.  You’ve got to give the man credit.  He obviously doesn’t have too much of an ego!

Iron Chef  (I wish I could be a judge on this show although it does seem like they are getting desperate for alter ideas).

Not on Food Network but I also like Top Chef

I can’t have a post on cooking shows without reiterating my obsession with Julia Child and her amazing show The French Chef.  She is my hero (Get ready- I’m going to be her for Halloween).

I am a sucker for reality tv and I guess these types of shows are portraying a certain type of enviable lifestyle- or even just a different lifestyle.  Someday I would like a small portion of the life shown on TV.  For instance, I would like one time in my life to go to a restaurant with reservations- the kind that costs over $50 a plate and has fancy ingredients like truffles and foi grois.  Have any of ever eaten at this type of place?  One of the top places on my list would be Babbo- Mario Batalli’s restaurant in NYC.  One of these days…(Maybe I should make that a reward for losing the 100 lbs. ) Its been 4 years since my last trip to New York and I’m dying to go back! Anyone want to go- I have a free ticket!

On the home side I love to fantasize about the way I’d design my perfect kitchen or bathroom.  I have binders full of articles and design ideas ready for me to use.   Some of my favorite design elements are open cabinets, bookcases galore, stunning steam showers and kitchens full of french cookware (the current desire of my heart is a dutch oven that I can use to make delicious dishes such as beef bourguignon)

The dream of my kitchen...

I’d also love a large kitchen island, copper pots, a real silver tea set and a table with fresh flowers. I’m not one for gardens, but I’d  like to have a fresh herb garden… I also have 3 binders full of recipes, tablescapes and menus I hope to try.  Some people might think this is silly but I figure what’s life without any scheming or dreaming?  Its like thinking about Hawaii- I’m not there but thinking about it makes me genuinely happy! Come on over to my place for dinner and I may just make you one of my binder recipes!

Of course, I realize these shows are edited and scripted to please suckers like me but somehow I don’t care.  Do any of you like these shows?


The Most Romantic Thing…

So today I stumbled across a poem that is the without a doubt the most romantic thing I’ve ever read…Lately I’ve been listening to music and floating away with fantasy.  I’ve been working so hard and I feel just  maybe I’m ready for something new.  I have no idea what will happen but it is nice to know I’m in a good place.  I feel beautiful, confident and am in the beginning stages of getting a balanced life (not there yet!).  Anyway, isn’t this the best poem?

i carry your heart with me by E. E. Cummings
i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

Ah….Ok.  Wake up Rachel and get back to regular life! I can’t resist ending  this very sappy entry with what’s for my money the most romantic song ever…Ah again!

Blessings, Blessings and Blessings

So, this week started out pretty bad.  To begin with there was a change in my work that on first glance felt like a failure in my leadership abilities.  I can’t get into it much but suffice it to say several years of stress culminated into a not unexpected but bittersweet moment.  The older I get the more I realize I just am not built to get along with everyone.  I like to think of myself as someone who is a good leader but every once in a while I meet a human being that I just can’t figure out (there are 4 in my life to be more precise).   For instance, my old mission companion who treated me like garbage for nearly 2 months.  I tried everything to make her happy and nothing worked.  Was I perfect?- of course not, but no change in strategy seemed to help either.

Internet community out there- have you ever felt this way? Did you ever find someone that you just couldn’t get along with? What did you do about it?  Is there something I’m missing? Perhaps I should just give up sooner, but I always hope the next attempt will be the magic solution.  With certain people that will not happen and while this knocks down my Pollyanna complex, it is a reality.  I suppose nobody but Jesus Christ could love all, even his enemies, equally.  How did he do that? I have a long way to go on that front.

Anyway, the week started out pretty sucky but it got worse.  In addition to the change at work there was a physical scare.  While doing my new routine Saturday I pulled a muscle in my back.   It didn’t hurt bad at first but by Monday I was in a lot of pain (the same day all the work mess hit the fan! Isn’t that the way it always happens?).  Needless to say my apartment smells like bengay and my ice packs have been in constant rotation.  My greatest fear (and initial discouragement) was that an injury would throw me off track in my fitness quest.  I’ve never been as consistent or determined to get in shape- never.  Ever since March I have rarely missed more than a day or two of exercise and for the last month or so have been doing 4-5 days a week of both cardio and weight training. I have been praying constantly that nothing would stop me or lessen my enthusiasm.   With the pain at its peak I called my trainer Michelle (who is awesome- see photo below) and she gave me some interesting advice.

My awesome trainer Michelle. I think I'm starting to look skinny in this photo. Thoughts?

She said, “Most people think that you want to remain sedentary with a muscle ache.  The truth is that lying flat will cause the muscle to freeze up, leading to more pain.  The best thing you can do is keep moving.”  Isn’t that interesting?  I have been thinking about it all week.  Maybe with physical and relationship struggles (maybe with all struggles) the greatest healing comes from continuing to move and grow? That’s one of maybe a hundred ‘moments of clarity’ I’ve had this week (I love those!).

With a bit of trepidation and my trainers words echoing in my mind I went to the gym on Tuesday for a swim.  Fortunately my swim coach Dave was there and he was awesome- so encouraging.  With his support I got through a normal work out and afterwords felt great.   It was such a relief to get through the first work out.  It’s hard to explain how it felt but basically it was a big exclamation of  “Yes!” .  (On Wednesday I got a deep body massage which was GREAT!!)

After swimming on Tuesday I went to my best friend Emily’s house and she made a delicious salad lunch for me and we chatted.  She always has the best perspective on life and it was the perfect person to help me weed through my problems.   After our visit I had the thought- maybe I needed these experiences to humble me and remind a very prideful Rachel that my accomplishments both in work and training are not my own but Heavenly Fathers?….Hmmm.  With this thought I went to my master class and sang my best solo ever! (Maybe Heavenly Father knew I needed a boost of pride to end the day! A girl can only take so much.).

Without boring you with a travelogue of the rest of the week let me just say that each day has been just like Tuesday- full of challenges but even more full of blessings.  Everywhere I look friends and family are supporting me, expressing love for me and helping me work out my problems.  Without their amazing perspectives I would be one big moping mess (or more of a moping mess).  In addition, I have been particularly sensitive to little blessings like a good laugh over my favorite shows coming back (Big Bang Theory and How I Met Your Mother are  so great!), or making apple butter for the first time (delicious- got lots if anyone wants some), or finding a new song to obsess over (see below- Sara Bareilles is amazing.  I love this song!).  Even today I was planning on working the whole day but ended up meeting my great friend Stefanie to exercise, then we went to look for an apartment for her (she’ s moving so close- another blessing!), and then went to a delicious lunch (2 sandwiches split- BLT and Turkey with cranberry jalapeno jelly- yum! Is there anything better than a good deli sandwich?).  Then tonight I have chatted with my sister and had my own mini dance party listening to my favorite song.  It’s turned into a great day!By the way- don’t worry, I did get some work done!

Its funny because when I look at this week I see the challenges but they pale in comparison to the blessings.  I am so fortunate. Can you believe that after Monday I spent time with friends every single day? Normally I am lucky to get a visit or 2 a week! Heavenly Father knew I needed to feel loved this week.  Isn’t that an amazing thing to think about?  The Lord of the whole earth, the God of everything, knows me and knew I needed to be loved. Wow!

I don’t think I thank my Heavenly Father enough for all the blessings He gives me.   The list goes on and on but mostly I am grateful for His hand in my life.  I’m thankful that He loves me and wants me to smile- even if it means inspiring a friend to call me or helping me get the care I need for my back.  I know that I am watched over by Heavenly Father and that Jesus died for me.  I know that Their tender mercies shine in my life every day.  I just have to be humble enough to recognize them, which is why I face obstacles and disappointments (and disappointing people.). Today I feel full of BLESSINGS!

Also thank you to all those friends who responded to the spirit and came to my rescue.  I know it meant putting up with a lot of whining from me but I appreciate it.  I promise to be there for your whining moments!

If this video doesn’t make you smile you have problems. I LOVE IT!!!!!


On the softer side- another song I love is by the Zac Brown Band. I think they could be the new Crosby Steels and Nash. Enjoy!

Cheaper by the Dozen

Ever since I was about 12 years old one of my favorite books has been Cheaper by the Dozen by Frank Gilbreth and Ernestine Carey.  It is a memoir that tells the story of the Gilbreth family in Montclair, New Jersey during the 1920’s.  Frank and Lilian Gilbreth were pioneers in the field of motion study.  As part of their profession they would enter factories and study the movements of workers to figure out how items could be made more quickly.  This started when as a young man Frank studied the motions of brick layers and discovered a way to reduce the amount of steps it took to lay a brick wall.  He then wrote a paper, which led to further papers and finally a career in the field.   An interesting fact is that Frank never went to college despite being a frequent lecturer.  His wife, Lilian, was a well educated woman who received a BA and MA from UC Berkley and a PHD from Brown University.  I don’t want to give too much away but Lilian was a remarkable leader and mother- one of my heroes.

After they married Frank and Lilian decided to put their motion study expertise to the ultimate test- by raising a family of 12 children.  They even decided that 6 boys and 6 girls would be the perfect dozen and that’s just what they had. As you can imagine operating a two income family while raising 12 children is no easy task and Cheaper by the Dozen tells the story of how the Gilbreth’s did it.  The funniest parts of the book involve Frank Gilbreth’s attempts to bring his motion study career into the running of his family- even to the extent of filming the kids tonsillectomies to see how the surgeon can improve efficiency (that story has such a funny ending).   I love how the kids have to listen to language records while they get ready in the morning and study morse code in the summer by solving clues written on the wall by their Dad.   There are also great scenes of both Gilbreth parents trying to deal with their children growing up in the roaring 20’s.  Frank puts up quite the fight against his daughters dating, wearing flapper fashions and cutting their hair into short bobs.

I am sure the real life Gilbreth family was not as perfect and whimsical as portrayed in the book but I like to think they were close.  Regardless, Cheaper by the Dozen is a funny, charming book about a family that lived with flair!  By the way, don’t pay  any attention to the Steve Martin movies made under the title Cheaper By the Dozen.  They have no similarity to the book except for the 12 children.  I don’t know why they didn’t just adapt the book.  Its so great! There is an old version with Clifton Webb that is more accurate.

If you are looking for a funny, light, entertaining book READ IT!   I know you will love it!

Too Fat For List

I don't know if I will ever get quite this high but who knows!

As I mentioned in my  previous post  I took my friend Aimee to my gym and gave her the grand tour.  As I showed her the basketball court and nearby rock climbing wall she asked me if I’d ever climbed.  I laughed and without thinking said “I’m too fat for that”.   It may or may not be true, but I’m still scared that the rock climbing harness can’t carry someone of my weight.  As soon as the words went out of my mouth I thought of the other things I feel “I’m too fat for…”.

Now as all the readers of this blog know I have a very good self esteem especially for a big girl.  That said- there are still certain things that I don’t feel I can do or wouldn’t have any fun doing because of my weight.   The more I thought about it, the longer the list grew until it became the Official I’m Too Fat For List.   Just as some people a have bucket list of the things they want to do before they die, I will have my list of all the things I want to do when I am skinny (or as I become skinnier/healthier).  As I continue on my quest I will check items off this list one-by-one until I have done every last one of them- or at least made an attempt.  Naturally I will post every achievement prominently on this blog, so start keeping track!  I encourage all of you to make your own list whether it is “I’m too shy for”, “I’m too stupid for”, “I’m not pretty enough for” or whatever your doubts are.  Make the list and stop limiting yourself.  It is my greatest desire to lead a full life.  In fact, the entire reason why I am motivated to get in shape is to LIVE BETTER! This is only going to happen if I stop telling myself that I can’t do things. The bad parts of the old me have to be chipped away until a new even more awesome person emerges!

I’m Too Fat For List:

1. Rock climbing

2.  Scuba Diving

3. Surfing

4. Group/Team Sports (aside from swimming of course).  Just once I’d like to be in good enough shape that when people gather for a football game before Thanksgiving or they announce a softball team in church I can do it. (My hand eye coordination may not ever improve but at least I can give that excuse instead of being too fat!).

5. Running a Mile or More

6. Hiking (particularly Mt.  Timp)- I’ve obviously hiked before, I just don’t enjoy it.

7.  Spelunking- I’ve always been scared I’d get stuck in the cave like Pooh Bear in Rabbit’s door!

8. Waterskiing/Wakeboarding

9. Kayaking or Canoeing, any boating activity that requires balance.  I’d particularly like to go back to Cabo and get on a boat that last time I had to be hoisted onto by like 3 people.  It was so embarrassing.

10. Biking- mountain and street

11. Motorcycling- I’m scared its going to get unbalanced because of my weight- stupid, I know. Same with ATVs.

12. Skiing/Snowboarding- pretty much all winter sports

13. Shopping in trendy stores- this might seem like an odd one but I haven’t ever been thin enough to do this- even when I was young.

14. Audition for a lead in a play. I always felt I could only get the ‘fat girl’ parts.

15.  Fly on an airplane without using a belt extender (I actually bought my own I was so sick of asking for one.  How embarrassing is that to admit.  Oh well.  Everyone starts somewhere.)

16. Have short hair- I have always felt short hair would make me look heavier.  If I ever do this one I will donate my hair to Locks of Love.  Its certainly long enough now.

17.  Ask the cutest guy I know out with confidence. (Don’t know how open I will be able to be about that one on the blog!)

18. Wear horizontal stripes.

I’m sure there are other items but I will add those as I go.  If any of you create a list I’d love to read it.  I’m so grateful to have the amazing, overwhelming support of my friends and family.  Thank you so much!

Swimming is Fun!

Today I had a great experience.  My friend Aimee Talley and I worked at the houses weeding for a few hours.   I HATE weeding but today doing it with a friend it wasn’t so bad.  We had a good time talking about a variety of issues and just getting in some girl talk.  After the weeding we went to my gym and I gave Aimee a tour!  It was a lot of fun to show someone my stomping grounds and have company for my work out.  By the way- if anyone wants to come with me to the gym I would love it, so far Aimee is the first one to take me up on the offer!

With a friend there I had someone who could take some photos of me at the pool.  I have been meaning to take some for the blog but was embarrassed to ask a stranger.  (I wanted to prove to everyone that I was really was working out- 5 times this week!).  For the past 16 days I’ve spent time nearly every day doing a weight routine my trainer gave me using free weights.  After that I do a different type of cardio- my favorite being swimming. Ever since I was a child I have loved swimming. I love the coolness and fresh feel of the water and the freedom I feel gliding with each stroke .  It has always been the only athletic activity I enjoy.  In fact, everything else is a chore.  I honestly hate all other kinds of exercise.  In high school I joined the swim team  where I wasn’t a star but was competitive- especially in the butterfly!  I was one of the only girls that had the upper body strength to the do the butterfly well.  What’s funny is that for 3 years I competed on the Middletown High School swim team and had a great experience, but I never won a single race, or even came close.  I am a naturally competitive, prideful person, so it is funny that this didn’t bother me.  I guess I just loved swimming too much to notice!  My last year in Maryland I even completed my lifeguard certification, which was quite an achievement given my weight at the time.  I vividly remember taking the test (you had to tread in water with a 10 pound brick for 10 minutes!) and then standing by the side of the pool exhausted waiting for Coach Cowperthwaite (her real name) to see if I’d passed.  Eventually she nodded and said “you did it!”.  “Really?”  “Holy Cow!”  I replied in disbelief.  Looking back it is still an amazing accomplishment.  I don’t see how I did it when at the time I weighed at least 220 lbs.  I think I simply loved to swim that much! Amazing!

One of the great things (basically the best thing!) about my new gym is the lap pool.  The water is the perfect temperature and it feels so good to do lap after lap.  I would honestly swim every day but my trainer recommends I alternate different cardios to work out various muscles.  Sometimes I will reward myself after a treadmill or bike work out (I particularly hate the treadmill) with a lap swim- not a bad reward!  Anyway, here are some photos of me at the gym.  I think you can see how happy I am especially in the water.

Here I go on swimming laps! I usually do 20 laps in about 30 minutes. Not bad!
Isn't that a happy face! I love this photo.

these are the great robes they have at the gym!

By the way, anyone thinking of entering my healthy recipe contest please get me your entries by this Friday September 17th.  Remember it can be any type of recipe as long as it is healthy and delicious.  I really will give a prize and post the winning entry on this blog.  Please send away!  (Thanks to those who have already submitted!).

My Ode to Cheese

Oh glorious cheese, how do I miss you?  Can I count the ways? Cheddar, Havarti, Goat, Feta, Monterrey Jack, Blue, Mozzarella, Gouda, Fontina, Parmesan, Brie and the list goes on.

Ever since my diet I have given myself a strict no cheese eating limitation.  I realized that almost every fattening thing I like has cheese on it.  By opting out of this one ingredient my entire lifestyle has become significantly healthier.   That said I miss my cheese!

Now I’m not talking about some lame processed Velveeta crap cheese.  No sir, the cheese I crave is the quality aged cheeses pounced full of taste.  I do not accept any of these mild or medium level lame cheeses.  I’m talking STRONG cheese that practically assault you with its flavor.  This is part of the reason why most fast food cheese does not tempt me.  It is not at the level of cheese flavor I constantly seek for.

Long ago are the days when my fridge blessed me with blocks of Irish Havarti, Shaved Parm and Tillamook Aged Reserve Cheddar.  In a blink of an eye I could whip up a quesadilla with nothing but sharp cheddar and Tabasco and it would be a masterpiece. Ah yum!  Then I could make a grilled cheese with lots of mustard, panini style, with my Lean Mean Grill.  Now my LMG never gets used because there is no cheese!

Moving on, I long for the days of  home made macaroni and cheese (or the doctored up boxed stuff which now I eat plain.  Gross!) fettuccine alfredo, cheese burgers, cheesy tacos, salads, burritos etc. Most importantly cheese on pizza.  I have fallen off the bandwagon twice for pizza.  I LOVE the stuff. Why does it have to be so darn good and why does the cheese on it have to be so yummy!  Why?  Why?

Someday dear cheese perhaps we can be friends again but for now I am simply left with the memory of better times.  Times when the  oohy, goey goodness of cheese could be welcomed with open arms.  Perhaps the 180 lb version of Rachel will be ready to embrace cheese once more but until then we must part ways and live together only in memory….

Oh how I miss cheese!  A similar entry will be done in a few weeks on chocolate, butter, pie crust, thai food, snacking, etc.  Even though I’m not really dieting- Dieting sucks! My uncle Tom once told me that if you get to a certain level of fitness you can eat whatever you want and still be skinny.  There’s the dream! Someday if I work hard enough I can eat cheese and not feel bad about it!  On that note I’m off to have a glorious cheesy dream!


I had an interesting moment of clarity today.  With long-term tenants in most of the houses I am not getting the kind of work-related emails I used to get.  September is also traditionally a slow month for the rental business; however,  I don’t want you to think I haven’t been busy because nothing could be further from the truth.  I’m afraid as soon as one business slows down another picks up!  In fact, on  Thursday I was up till 2 am doing taxes for Grabber. Despite this work, lately I haven’t been getting very many emails both personally and professionally. I also haven’t gotten many comments on facebook or my blog.  I’ve gotten some just not as many as at other times.

Today I was bemoaning this lack of internet correspondence when I realized something funny.  Since last Wednesday I’ve had a plethora (yes plethora) of company including a well attended book club and visits from two of my sisters- Megan and Anna.  During their visit my guest room and new sofa bed were both used (the sofa bed for the first time) to which they gave rave reviews so friends come and visit!  In addition, we also spent a lovely evening with our long-time friend Emily Alvillar Whitman (former roommate and best friend I’ve mentioned many times on this blog).   On Sunday I also had the pleasure of seeing my nieces and Megan’s extended family at Luisa Gough’s house.  To add even more blessings, today I had lunch with my Grandma Wagner and Aunt Jodie.  After that Anna came with her roommate Becca for a movie night.  I could keep going about my plans for the rest of the week but I won’t bore you except to say that I have some plans.

As I was cleaning up from Anna and Becca’s visit the irony of this weekend struck me- I was missing my electronic conversation when the entire time I was surrounded by REAL PEOPLE!  How greedy can I get?  I thought it such a funny realization I had to share it immediately with my electronic friends!  Thank you to everyone for the visits and friendship- both through the internet and actual human contact but especially the latter.  I am so blessed to have such wonderful people in my life.

On my mission occasionally we would come across people who were truly lonely- men and women who had nobody to lean on when times got hard.  One woman in particular that stands out in my mind. She was in Bloomington, IN and her family had disowned her for joining the church.  In addition, her only son had taken his own life years before.  Naturally she had the church to lean on, but she was a terrible pack-rat and a bit of an odd ball.   It was interesting because she lived in a big sprawling house  from the 20’s or 30’s (it even had a dumb-waiter) which she  completely filled with stuff.  There were entire rooms that could not be entered they were so full of stuff (junk really).

To be honest I can’t even remember this woman’s name but she has always struck me as an example of a lonely soul surrounded by meaningless objects.  Whenever my possessions start to feel too sentimental I think of her as the ultimate extreme and it gives me pause.  I am so blessed to have an abundance of love in my life.  I have an amazing family that supports me, friends that reach out and new acquaintances that enrich my life.  How much more blessed am I that I frequently get to see these people live in person!  No more complaining about email for me! I am one lucky girl!

Inspirational Quotes Quiz

Tomorrow I am teaching a Sunday School lesson on Proverbs and Ecclesiastes.  It is a challenging lesson because both books are collections of inspirational quotes that jump from one topic to another.  Reportedly written by Solomon the “words of wisdom” cover everything from marriage to overcoming grief.  While reading I couldn’t help but think of my own love for poetry and inspirational quotes.  I’m often quoting poetry on this blog, and  I have 2 inspiration boards full of motivational quotes/images in my office.  I’ve taken a few attempts at writing my own poerty but failed miserably- I just enjoy reading it! I love the power of words and the way a verse can capture my emotions and life experiences perfectly. Poetry and inspirational quotes also help me to keep an eternal perspective and remember my many blessings.  Life is often hard and when I face challenges it is nice to hear encouraging words.  As the name suggests I find motivational quotes motivating!

To prepare for my lesson, I gathered a number of my favorite quotes and created a little quiz.  I’m not sure if I will have time to use it, but I figured I’d post it on the blog to see if anyone out there in cyberworld could guess who said what!  I will post the answers in a comment tomorrow (I don’t want to give the answer away for my students!).  Enjoy these modern-day Proverbs!

Guess the Quote

Thomas Edison            Walt Disney             Eleanor Roosevelt

Ralph Waldo Emerson       Michelangelo         Dr. Seuss

Mother Theresa          Winston Churchill    Albert Einstein

Gordon B. Hinckley       Mahatma Gandhi    CS Lewis

1. Life is to be enjoyed, not endured

2.  Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.

3. The ancestor of every action is a thought

4. If you knew how much work went into it, you wouldn’t call it genius

5. I know God will not give me anything I can’t handle.  I just wish that He didn’t trust me so much

6. All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.

7. You’re off to great places.  Today is your day!  Your mountain is waiting, so get on your way!

8. Success is never final.  Failure is never fatal.  It is courage that counts

9. The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams

10. Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe

11. Be the change that you wish to see in the world.

12. Friendship is born at the moment when one person says to another:  What! You too?  I thought I was the only one!

I particularly like this last one about friendship!

A Celebration of Julia Child

Tonight was such a fun night.  It was book club night and we read My Life in France by Julia Child.  I had read this book once before and I LOVE IT! Rereading it was a joy in every regard.  Naturally I had heard of Julia Child before this book but I had no idea how remarkable she really was.

At the ripe old age of 34 she married her husband Paul who was an artist and foreign diplomat.  Paul had spent years abroad before their marriage and already had a love for different cultures and food.  As luck would have it their first assignment was the embassy in Paris, France.  Growing up in Pasadena, CA Julia had never experienced anything beyond the bland food of the 1950’s-mostly prepared quickly by hired cooks.  However, everything changed on her first day in France when Paul took Julia to a restaurant in Rouen where she ate an unforgettable meal of oysters, sole meuniere, coffee and wine.  She had never tasted such rich and complex flavors and immediately fell in love with french food.  Bucking the trend of other women (even the french women) that surrounded her, she dived into the markets and recipes of France.

Eventually with the encouragement of her husband Julia enrolled and graduated at the famous cooking school, Le Cordon Bleu.   While gaining her culinary education she also met life-long friends and collaborators Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck with whom she started a cooking school called Ecole Des Trois Gourmandes.  Realizing her knack for teaching and explaining french recipes to American housewives Julia and her friends spent nearly a decade writing her masterpiece aptly titled Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  This is a book that inspired scores of women to embrace cooking and plan bold, exotic meals.  After  the books publication Julia started one of the first televised cooking shows called The French Chef, which became an immediate hit and ran for over 10 years.  Now Julia’s entire Cambridge, Mass kitchen can be seen at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.  Her books are still best sellers and My Life in France was adapted in the movie Julie and Julia (the Julia part is so much better than the Julie.  Meryl Streep totally gets Julia! Btw- I hate the book Julie and Julia).

While I appreciate Julia’s contribution to cooking, I am more impressed with her indomitable will.  I am awed that in her late 30’s she dared to start a whole new life.  She found her passion and had the courage to embrace it.  I relate because I have also had a moment where I needed to change my life and like her the change was hard but so worth it!  Now I am undergoing another change with my fitness challenge.  It’s nice to know I can look to Julia for inspiration!

My Life in France is also a beautiful depiction of a marriage between Julia and Paul.  They are an amazing couple-passionate, adventurous,  and unfailingly devoted to one another.  Julia was not only introduced to french cooking (and taught to enjoy food) by Paul but encouraged in every other aspect of her new career.  As a talented artist and photographer Paul sacrificed much to allow Julia to pursue her dream.  As Emily mentioned in book club Julia’s dream became Paul’s dream.  I may not know much about marriage but isn’t that the idea?

It is a great book!  Read it!

On a related note we had a great book club today.  I love entertaining and making things look beautiful for my friends. I love planning menus, arranging table settings and gathering interesting people.  To me a perfect evening is 5-6 friends, a good meal and a leisurely conversation.  People always thank me for all the hard work but it truly is a joy.  I just love it.  For tonight I did a little French spread in honor of Julia.  It was a simple but delicious with 2 kinds of pate (my first time with pate- yummy!), goat cheese, brie, various crackers, strawberries and french cookies.  Then several people brought “food memory” desserts including a delicious arroz con leche and tiramisu (thanks girls).  It was a wonderful night of sharing, chatting and delicious food.  Perfect.

I also made pins with the badge Julia’s cooking school.  This was a badge she wore throughout her cooking show and other public appearances.  I told the girls wearing this pin would “bring out your inner-Julia in the kitchen!”  They were very easy to make so if any of you want one let me know!  Thanks to everyone who came and made it a great night!