Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Stages of Bridal Thanksgiving Grief

This is comin' atcha a little later. Sorrs.

Twas the night before Thanksgiving, and all through the house, everyone was drooling over tomorrow's turkey and gravy and post-meal stretch pants (or no pants?)

Everyone except for me.

Why, you ask? Because in 6 months I'll be photographed approximately 3,000 times. Fellow brides, back me up here. It's the only day of my entire life when I'll see more flashing lights than every Kardashian combined, and I'm expected to frame these pictures and oogle over them for the rest of my existence.

Plus I may or may not have fibbed about my measurements while ordering my dress. Turns out 2 inches is kind of a big deal (who knew?)

But don't worry about my waistline. I have a strategy, people. Have you ever heard of the stages of grief? This situation is no different. I intend to mourn just the way any grieving person would properly go about these things, so in the words of a true fat kid masquerading as a thin bride, here we go.

Stage 1: Complaint Assault aka "Why Me?"

But I LOVE stuffing! But I LOVE sweet potato casserole! It's only socially acceptable to eat pumpkin pie during a very narrow window of time each year and I have a long, deep-seeded passion with this autumnal calorie bomb. Plus what if I never get to taste its nutmeggy magic ever again? Why is life so hard?

Stage 2: Positive [Skeptical] Self-Talk 

I can do this, I can do this! I can do this? I can do this.

Step 3: Masochistic Imaginary Torture

If I can't eat stuffing, I'll pretend to eat stuffing. It's delicious. BUTTER

Step 4: Pretend Everything Tastes Really, Really Bad

Step 5: Forfeiture/Acceptance of Food Coma

Aka .... I'll just go to the gym tomorrow.

You win some, you lose some. Eat up, friends.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Alter Ego

Want to hear a fun fact about me that might both surprise and puzzle you?

I have a long, passionate slightly awkward history with dance. And no, that picture is not of me. 

I am aware that this fact is true of most chicks. Many of us took the obligatory ballet classes, donned the fabulous gold shimmery leotards, and hopped around on a stage at the infamous recital, which only a parent could sit through and enjoy. 

The part that you might describe as "surprising" is that my childhood flirtation with dance mutated into a funky hip hop obsession in my adult life. On second thought, if you know me maybe this is not all that surprising. I've certainly been known to overtake a dance floor and whip my hair back n forth on more than one occasion. 

The dance fever bug happens to be contagious. 

"Steph Dance"

Even my fiance can't escape the infamous, you guessed it, Steph Dance. 

You get the picture. When I die, at least people can say I was influential in that I inspired people to impersonate my wild and scary dance moves. 

I digress. Promise this is going somewhere. Back to hip hop. 

I decided to take my affair with recreational dance parties to the next level when I started taking hip hop classes 2 days a week during college. 

I did the moon walk. I could bust out an entire number choreographed to Ke$ha's "Tik Tok." I learned the steps to "Single Ladies" and shook my booty like a regular Beyonce. I was a natural. 

Plus, my class happened to fall on a Thursday, the storied evening each week when fellow diligent Notre Dame students would hit the classiest club in town. After spending an hour pretending I was the star of a music video, I was all warmed up and ready to take on the dance cage each week.

Fast forward to graduation, a time to become an adult, a real person. No more funny business, just real business. So I dropped the shenanigans and business lady I became - which also meant my alter ego disappeared. 

UNTIL. Until last Wednesday. My booty shaking, sassy-faced alter ego reappeared with a vengeance! I have a soon expiring Groupon to a dance studio blocks from house, so the excuses had to come to an end. I slapped on my leggings and my converse. I was ready for action. 

Then I stepped in the studio and remembered that this was downtown Chicago, home of real hip hop dancers with baggy cargos and red mohawks. 

I don't think we're in South Bend, Indiana anymore.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Friendship, we gots it.

If you're anything like us, you might describe friendship as David Bowie.

Or obsessively following our favorite football team to our nation's capitol (note: not the same as "capital" - whodda thunk?) for an absolutely unimportant game

Or taking a swig of cider every time R. Kelly swears or pulls out, points or shoots a gun in his acclaimed Hip Hopera, Trapped in the Closet on a perfectly normal Saturday afternoon in Alexandria, VA

Or risking wind burn while bundled at a chilly fall football game, spicing up hot chocolate with smuggled whipped cream vodka. What else are emptied out B12 vitamin bottles good for anyways? I happen to believe in recycling.

Or, if you lean a little more towards, let's say.. normal humans, you might describe friendship as a few souls separated after years at each other's sides during some pretty influential and fuzzy years, sprinkled over the continental U.S.

It's those souls never forgetting how they are bound, coming together 

despite the miles, despite coming from school and service programs and the ever moving business world

It's making time, and it's belly laughs, it's simply getting each other without having to try

It is effortless.

And I couldn't be more grateful that these people exist, even though corn fields and deserts separate me from one, while the state of Ohio separates me from the other (I know - obstacles.)

SEK <3

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Bakers vs. Cooks

Is it just me, or is there a sort of unspoken tension between those who consider themselves "cooks", and those who consider themselves "bakers"?

The Cook. So pretentious. So over zealous and arrogant. Proclaiming baking as a "limiting" trade due to its precise measurements and recipes, the cook has given up on the oven after one too many bubbling messes oozing out of the loaf pan like lava where a toasty cranberry walnut loaf should have been. With a need to improvise and take mistakes back, cooks are simultaneously creative and clumsy.

The Baker. We all know this person. That one chick in the office or at the tailgate who prides herself on being "the one" people turn to for cookies, cupcakes and other bread-like products. Mysteriously, she is always a rail. Someone explain that to me. Needless to say, everyone likes this person, which makes her skinniness that much more obnoxious. Also, it's not uncommon for the baker to despise any type of cooking that does not involve eggs, an oven and complicated icing techniques.

You might be asking yourself, "Where do I fit in?" Chances are you know exactly which personality fits you. And if you're not sure, you either A. Kind of suck at both of these things or B. Might be a little bit like me.

You see, I grew up in a house ruled by The Cook's iron, chicken-wielding fist. The woman can COOK. But, do I have memories of fragrant pies sitting out on the window sill to cool, or fresh oatmeal raisin cookies waiting for me to devour at the end of a particularly math-filled school day? Negative. In fact, my memories of her homemade sweets are limited to the holidays - I'm talking pumpkin pie, apple pie. That might be the extent of it.

Two reasons for this, I hypothesize. 1: My mother is 5'4 and <110 pounds. Yet, a girl after my own heart, she was famed for hiding in the pantry as a child eating cherry pie filling out the can. Do you think a person with that sort of dedication to sweets can keep fresh baked goods around? That's a physical impossibility. Reason #2: My mother has a complete aversion to mess. We are talking vacuum once a day, sparkling counter tops type aversion here. She always argued, Baking is so messy. Flour, flour everywhere. She, of course, had a point - which has a lot to do with being a mom, I think.

So where do I fit in?

Not surprisingly, and much to my fortune, I take after Mom - and a natural cook I became. Truly, I hadn't given baking a chance. Until I remembered: the mess. The dreaded, baking mess. A mess which for me, the clumsy cook, leaving a path of soiled dishes and numerous spills behind me, tends to be immeasurably larger than other bakers'. But I'm kind of a hot mess myself, so is it strange to assume that baking and I go together better than I once assumed?

One thing I've learned about baking: it does not afford the baker the luxury to "screw up" the way that cooking does, which is very frustrating to the baker and disappointing to the bake-ee. There are no mistakes in baking. There are lots of mistakes -- and solutions -- in cooking. That works out pretty well for someone like me, who tends to zone out while sauteing and starts thinking about that scene from Star Wars where Luke Skywalker climbs into that weird horse looking creature's body for warmth in the middle of the tundra. Pull a move like that during baking? There is no going back.

To the point. Today I made these. 

Pumpkin Brownie Swirl Bread/Mini Muffin/Too Sweet & Great To Be Called "Bread" Things.

Combination of Trader Joe's Genius & Lawfully Wedded Wife's Brainchild. Make them. No seriously.

Oh, and about the "having too many fresh baked goods" around issue. Turns out that, when you work in an office, sweet treats aren't nearly as tough to get rid of as Mom thought. So that's how those baker girls do it!