Thursday, February 26, 2009

Lesson Learned: Trust Your Gut

Oh, Carla, my favorite Top Chef contestant, ever!

You, who showed throughout the competition that being true to yourself, to the flavors that you'd wrought, to all the things that made you you, in the end, was enough to get you to the top 3...

You let whatever tiny shred of insecurity you'd held at bay for months of competition creep up and allow a better trained chef, at least on paper -- but still one who in this very same competition also got into the weeds, if I recall, and didn't stay true to herself -- dictate your final meal? Sous vide? A cheese souffle? Really?

Oh honey, I've been there.

I know you've beaten yourself up over letting that run away from you. But don't worry. The more these things happen, the more you learn to trust yourself.

Hopefully, that's the last time you let someone else tell you how or what to cook.

Because I am convinced we'll see great things from you. Anyone who thinks to approach a competition with love, rather than negative energy and bad vibes, is OK in my book.

Having fallen down on the job by not trusting my own gut, I can totally relate. Those times that something just doesn't feel right, when there's something I can't put my finger on but know I should be doing something else, that's when things come back to bite me.

It's happening less and less frequently, now, that whole thing with ignoring my gut. And the more I see the results serve me well, it's constant reinforcement that my gut is the one thing that won't fail me.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Friends of Friends

For the most part, I've been lucky whenever a friend has said, "Oh, you've got to meet [so-and-so], you'll love them!" Because I've got such lovely friends, that usually works out in the end.

Such was the case last night, when I erased the memory of a decidedly anxiety-filled afternoon of workstress with dinner with some girlfriends.

The friend who had organized the evening had said that she wanted to introduce us to her best friend, who, along with her husband, was visiting from way out of town (London, to be exact!). We talked up a storm, ate mounds of delicious food, sampled lovely wines they brough to the tiny vegetarian BYOB we visited and generally laughed so hard my face still hurts.

In between, there were little side conversations with friends in attendance to catch up on old news, reminisce about cakes we have known (a certain victorian sponge with fresh cream stirred up great food memories!), rehash the state of the economy both here and in the UK, and realize that things truly are tough all over, thanks to the global economy, such as it is. Conversations hovered between serious and light, but friendly all the while.

It was immediately clear why my friend has stayed close with her bud all these years; they're two peas in a pod, those two. Finishing each others' sentences, shopping with the same aesthetic inspiring their selections, laughing at the old days and poking fun at embarrassing schoolgirl popstar obsessions (Paul Young!?). Aside from the surface bits, you can tell the love of family runs deep with these two, who are clearly sisters by choice if not by birth. Cheers to you both!

It's amazing how restorative a night with friends - both old and new - can be when you're at wits' end at work. Gives everything a bit more perspective.

And it made it easier to face the end of the week with determination, what with a nicely busy social calendar for the weekend looming ahead, with a 90th birthday lunch on Saturday and a lovely dinner on tap for Sunday.

Now, where's the wine?

Grace in Small Things: Issue 29

  1. Velvety roasted red pepper hummus
  2. Fragrant rosemary sprigs decorating every other plate
  3. Warm and spicy black bean and mango quesadillas
  4. Vanilla-to-the-10th-power gelato
  5. A sweet glass of Riesling enjoyed with new friends

Monday, February 16, 2009

Grace: Issue 28

  1. Deep violet amethyst
  2. Shimmery freshwater coin pearls
  3. Shiny-shiny borosilicate glass
  4. Detailed Bali silver
  5. Vein-streaked turquoise

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

Because there was major cleaning to be done today, I had to put away the beads that for weeks had been sitting on my workstation-slash-desk-slash-catchall area.

And as soon as they're away, I almost literally forget what I have. Any inspiration for a pattern or a combination or a piece de resistance flies right out the window.

If you've had any dealings with beads, you know they can be a god-awful mess if you don't have them organized. And the fact that I have to live with the combos a little while to see how things truly play out means I have a lot of stuff lying about at any given moment.

Sometimes working in matching palettes is the order of the day. But for more sophisticated color schemes, and projects of varying bead-size combinations, it just takes a lot of playing around. At least for me.

So although my desk is now clear, I can't envision what I want to create next?!

Grace: Issue 27

  1. Meeting my cousin's bride-to-be.
  2. Purple and green on the same floral fabric.
  3. Gaining insight from another writer.
  4. Having a holiday off.
  5. Taking stock.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Grace: Issue 26

  1. Fridays
  2. Three-day weekends
  3. Lucky number 3
  4. Inching closer to spring
  5. Resolution

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Eat Your Peas: Or, Yay, Quirky Girl!

Throughout Top Chef this season, Carla did not disappoint with her goofball commentary and wild-eyed expressions. But if last night's Top Chef is to be believed, she dazzled Jacques Pepin with her classical French training and made peas so sublime that it nearly brought the judges to tears.

How about that?

To have made it to the final four based on a very slow-and-steady-wins-the-race pace, building up steam, keeping her cool, showing some humor. Kudos to Carla!

In the end, unfortunately, I think Stefan will win if only because he seems tightly wound yet in control.

If you're watching Top Chef, who do you think will win?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Grace: Issue 25

  1. Understanding I will feel better soon, just maybe not on my terms or timetable.
  2. Realizing the benefit of slowing down.
  3. Knowing I can thrive wherever I'm planted.
  4. Making positive changes.
  5. Seeing that what you put out there returns to you, manyfold.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Grace in Small Things: Issue 24

  1. Sunlight bursting into my office
  2. Beads-beads-beads
  3. Interesting New Yorker article on Florida's real estate bust
  4. Chicken Paprikash for dinner
  5. Flight of the Conchords, j'adore.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Grace: Issue 23 (Ode to Eric Ripert)

  1. The way his French accent twists the word "however" into a sexy little pretzel.
  2. The intensity with which he explains what he does - any teacher lacking passion for their profession could learn a thing or two from him.
  3. Those bracelets, which make you notice his talented hands (talented at food preparation!).
  4. The man is drop-dead gorgeous and doesn't act it. (That hair? Those eyes! That look of being completely in control yet somehow humble at the same time?)
  5. That meltingly sly way he has of looking up, or askance, or over his fork and bursting into that perfect smile.
Obviously, I've been watching too much Top Chef. So pardon me while I think about dinner at Le Bernardin... wow, that would be the ultimate for a woman with a silly crush and a penchant for delicious seafood. Ah, one can dream!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Grace in Small Things: Issue 22

[Staying-Home Sick Edition]
  1. Flannel, for the ultimate in cozy
  2. A husband who shovels all the snow when I'm literally under the weather
  3. Fleece blanket to stave off the shills
  4. Hot soup that warms one up from the inside, in spite of the MSG
  5. Trashy TV to keep attention diverted.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Grace in Small Things: Issue 21

  1. The first walk around the neighborhood in weeks (months?)
  2. Acknowledging Spring's imminence with a heretofore unknown neighbor
  3. Learning the name of a fellow walker I'd waved to for years
  4. Also, learning the name of her tiny dog: Phoebe
  5. The bliss of watching the sun set and realizing the days really are getting longer

Rest for the Weary

After last weekend, which aside from the fun with glass, involved four hours of turnpike driving and two 8-hour days of intense creative work, this weekend has been blissfully commitment-free.

Because the Eagles missed the Super Bowl, we're not really even tuning into that.

Plus, I've seemed to have come down with something, and it's sapping my strength and making it hard to get a good night's sleep.

So today is All About Ease (although Mr. Spandrel would argue that every day is all about ease, for me!). Despite this, I am determined to get a few things done. A bit of housecleaning. Some groceries. Think through a few designs for the beads I made last weekend. And just hang with Mr. Spandrel, taking it easy.

But if you're a Pittsburgh or Arizona fan, may the best team win!