Friday, March 29, 2013

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Blend for Particular Skin Tones

It has become apparent to me that I must cease this quixotic pursuit of foundation perfection in one product. Until the makeup manufacturers are kind enough to take note of my light, not very light, but pretty light skin, touched with the barest hint of yellow, I am going to do that which I have postponed for so long: Purchase two shades and mix them together. 

How tedious. 

"Golden Fair" of bareMinerals Matte Foundation was too yellow, but thankfully not remotely orange. "Fair," the lightest shade, is geared more for pink undertones. I bought both, then, armed with a shaker tin snatched up during a Sephora clearance, I combined the two, a little more heavy-handed on the yellow shade to counterbalance the pink of the other

The results were quite admirable.

With this success, I am beginning to think of all the foundations that could be open to me if I would simply blend two shades together. 

Perhaps I shall brave the Clarins counter again . . .    

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Pardon Me, But Your Pants Appear to be on Fire

I thought the Cradle Robber would recede away quietly, but he surfaced again. 

After I told the shadchan my token "thanks, but no thanks," she called me again, wheedling. I did not want to be the one to say that this fellow lied about more than his age, or that I find blatant self-compliments on information a turn-off, so I did what I usually do in moments like this: I brought my Tatty into it.

"Thank you anyway, but he's not for me." 

"What do you mean? He's good-looking, he's something, he's good-looking!" (He's not even that.)

"My father agrees." 

"Have a nice day then!" 

No one likes messing with menfolk.
Lady shadchanim tend to back respectfully away once someone's father is referenced. In case of emergency . . .  

I find it so disturbing that someone could manufacture blatant falsehoods in order to finagle a date. If he could lie so casually now, is that a habit that will magically evaporate once he gets engaged? I doubt it.

What does he think he has to gain? His soulmate, or a dupe?  

Friday, March 22, 2013

Chip Free Manicure

I usually do my nails on Thursday night for Shabbos; this time, I had tried a different topcoat, and even though I let my nails dry for more than an hour before going to sleep, my bed sheets left their marks all over. I quickly painted a second layer of topcoat to smooth out the dents before I ran out the door. 

My nail polish did not budge until I took 'em off on Tuesday (I usually give my nails breathing time without any varnish; in my case, they then crack less)

To double-check my epiphany, I tried it again the following week. Despite the fact I spent all of Sunday sorting through the garage and dealing with dirty, heavy, metal junk, my nails were un-chipped.

Whenever I tried applying the topcoats back-to-back my nails just stayed soggy and never dried. If eight hours are between, however, that seems to work.

My current favorite topcoat is Barielle Ultra Speed Dry Manicure Extender

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Battle of the Bulge Meets Skincare

What does your diet have to do with your skin? A LOT. 
Whenever I emerge from a stomach-bug (I have a high susceptibility rate), I am always stunned by my skin. It's clear, pristine, and even, dare I say it, glows. What in the world is in the food I eat? I wonder. 

As I cut back on portions and keep my diet out of the boxed and bottled, I have noticed that glowiness is around all the time. Neat

Glamour magazine had an article on this (I finally found an online link) by Melinda Wenner Moyer—if you have skin issues, it is a must read. 

With Pesach coming up, keep in mind that yes, while a lot of food is off the table, plenty is available. Stuff yourself with every variety of vegetable and fruit you can get your hands on. You will be full, you won't gain the standard Pesach Five, and your skin will look aaaaawesome.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

I Can Do Anything Better Than You

At a Shabbos afternoon shiur, I was ready to strangle the speaker.

"It's so pathetic," she sneered. "Hashem does all those nissim, and they are serving avoda zara. C'mon!" 

Oh, I get it. If you were there, you would have done better. 

The rebuttal was done already.
Rav Ashi reached the [story of the] three [wicked] kings [Yerovam, Achav and Menashe, of whom the mishna says they have no place in the World to Come]. He said, tomorrow we will begin with our colleagues. Menashe came and appeared to him in a dream. He said, you [dare to] call us your and your father's colleagues? Say where you need to begin [eating from] ha-motzi! He replied, I don't know. He [Menashe] said, you haven't even learned where to take the motzi from, and you call us your colleagues? He replied, teach me, and I will repeat it in your name in the yeshiva. He said, from the place where the cooking creates a crust. He said, since you were so wise, why did you worship avoda zara? He said, if you had been there you would have lifted up your hem and run after me.(Sanhedrin 102b)
This educated woman, giving a shiur, never heard this one? Or she just considers our dinky generation to be superior than Rav Ashi, never mind Menashe HaMelech?

One of the downsides of poring over our texts in minute detail is that we assume that the characters of each tale were privy to the same hindsight that we have, a concept I heard from Rabbi David Fohrman. He exhorts his audience to visualize being in middle of the story, not knowing the ending. Aaaaaah, now it all makes sense. 

So many ask

"How could he have—?" 

"How could she have—?" 

"Obviously, if I had been there, I would have—" 

Please stop. 

We can barely comprehend animal sacrifice in our own religion, never mind idolatry. The world used to be programmed much differently. Use your imagination.

There was once a time when the obvious display of faith was to present to Hashem (or to one's deity of choice) the most select of the livestock available. That was how one showed their devotion. Prayer? What does prayer give to the Almighty? Slaughtering my prettiest goat, the pearl of my herd, now that makes sense!  
One thing is for sure: Being snugly comfortable in the supermarket age sucks the discipline right out of a person. To insist that one would have been superior to the temptations of a distant era when we can't go ten minutes without air conditioning is kinda lame. What happened during Sandy? Never mind the weeks without power; our will broke after a day! (At least, mine did. But I tried to stay strong on the outside.)

Learning from history means that we are all too capable of making the same mistakes, not that we are inviolate. It repeats itself too often that it is obvious we have still not learned the messages well enough. 

Monday, March 18, 2013

I ♥ I

During leining I like to look at the mifarshim of the Artscroll "The Chumash," which thankfully has English translations. In the week of Kedoshim (this was a while back), regarding "Love thy neighbor like yourself," the Alter of Slobadka comments that how we love ourselves without reason, so to we should love others without reason.
But today—do we really love ourselves?

I would say not. Insecurity is rampant; egos are non-existent; pretty much every obnoxious behavior is a response to the lack of self-love. Every time I come across bravado and snobbery, I conclude such acting out is an inadequate mask for the self-hate inside.
How can we love others unconditionally if we don't love ourselves unconditionally? The Alter of Slobadka spoke of it as a given; today, we actually have to work to reach the level of liking ourselves.

There is a narrow road between disliking oneself and narcissism, and one has to tread it carefully.
There is a way to do it, to love oneself and others: Being kind. 

I don't mean one has to do chessed constantly without respite. I mean small things; smiling at everyone, from pedestrians to cashiers; holding the door for someone else; refraining from honking until absolutely necessary.

"Whatever you do, you do for yourself," means chessed as well. It is said that the only true chessed is chessed shel mes, caring for the dead. 

Luke had a client, a little old woman who had money but no children, no nearby family; her one nephew was in Israel. When she passed away, Luke spent hours "guarding" her body in the chilly morgue; his overexcited imagination wreaked havoc with zombie fantasies. Yet it is the memory of that shmirah that constantly inspires him. 

I will end up repeating this idea more than once, but ever since I heard it from Reb Tzvi Hersch Weinreb I cannot forget it. 

I sought my God and my God I could not find. 
I sought my soul but my soul eluded me. 
I sought my brother to help him in his need, and I found all three—
My God, my soul, and thee. 

The author is unknown. But his words are truer than ever before.  

Friday, March 15, 2013

Sounds Familiar

Has any other gals noticed that when a guy is suggested, he sounds exactly like "Normal American Boy" from Bye Bye Birdie

"He's a fine, upstanding, patriotic, healthy, normal, American Boy!"$(KGrHqJHJE4E88eURK8EBPW+nvfdPg~~60_35.JPG
And he's good-looking too!

Riiiiiiiight . . . .
If only I had a PR team like Albert and Rosie. 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Cleaning Workout

Like any other human being, I am not crazy about housework. How can one zealously vacuum with the knowledge that one will have to do it again? 

But I am not so quick to hire outside help. In the end, only I will be gentle with my bone china, tenderly polishing the silver, caressingly ironing the linen. I have heard one too many horror stories of cleaning women murdering beloved possessions

It is also a bonus in that doing housework increases longevity (think of the many years of Pesach cleaning ahead!). British domestic servants have, it seems, more zest and verve in their later years. Penelope Green used this premise by pairing a fitness instructor with a butler to get the best workout possible while dusting and wiping.
The article gets quite fun as both cleaning and exercise tips are shared. For instance, the butler in question avoids bleach (he says it destroys clothes) and ammonia. He says leave cobwebs by the main entranceway to nab mosquitoes. He says cleaning is mostly about touch, not chemical power. 

Although the fitness instructor said something about lunges which I am choosing to ignore.   

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

When You Know, You Know, You Know?

Go On, "The World Ain't Over Till It's Over"
The premise of the show is that Ryan, a widower, joins a grief support group. The counselor, Lauren, is terrified because she knows her boyfriend is going to propose, and Ryan insists that he "knew" with his deceased wife, Janie. He keeps on saying "When you know, you know, you know?," until another member of the group says about her own loving relationship, "Early on I had my doubts."

Ryan: Well, I didn't. 

Annie (sarcastically): Really? 

Flashback to eight years previously. Ryan and Janie are sitting at the table in his home, eating dinner. 

Janie: Let me ask you this, Ryan: What do you think about us getting married? 

Ryan: Here's my take on marriage. I think what we're doing now is better, is more romantic. We wake up every single morning and decide to be together. I mean, that is beautiful.

Janie smiles, picks up her soda, and casually drains it in one gulp. She puts it down, smiles again. 

Janie: Here's what's gonna happen. We're gonna be married a year from now. You are going to get me a ring. It's gonna be one of these three (she lays out photos). Not the cheapest. You are going to plan a fantastic weekend where you propose to me at one of these three resorts (lays out photos again). Again, not the cheapest. I will move in here. Moving out will be life-sized Wayne Gretzky (motioning to the cardboard cutout behind Ryan), his friend the pinball machine (which is blinking away), and (she stands up, yanking off the cardboard top to reveal a pool table beneath) this pool table. Or I will move on, and you'll regret it for the rest of your life

She concludes her ultimatum with a charming grin

Ryan: Okay. Yes. I will definitely do all of those things, but I need to put my foot down about one thing. 

Janie: Hmmm? 

Ryan: I always thought it would be fun to get married and to walk down the aisle wearing my Yankees cap. 

Janie: That's not gonna happen.    

Ryan: No problem. 

Flashback ends. 

Ryan: Perhaps I wasn't totally and completely sure.

Decisions, decisions. Sometimes we can throw ourselves whole-heartedly in, only to have it blow up in our faces. Sometimes we tentatively, worriedly, choose another way, and it works out fabulously. There is choice even in bashert; we are a people of bechira, and that free will can also be divinely inspired.          

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Eat Well, Not Expensively

Whole Foods CEO John Mackey was interviewed on CBS This Morning

We, as Jews, feel as though we pay more than anyone else when it comes to food, obviously because of the need to observe kashrus. But keep in mind, in the New York area we certainly pay less than anywhere else in the world. I have been to the kosher groceries in England; you would not believe how much a tub of kosher ice cream costs. No, not that much, more. 

In the end, as Mackey says, the prices are higher for processed and prepared foods. If you know how to cook, and shop primarily in the produce section, food is not expensive, and it is better for you. I sometimes walk out of the fruit store in a daze, unbelieving that for $10 I am crippled beneath the weight of my bags.

Meat and dairy products shouldn't be the main focus of your diet, anyway. I am amazed how many people I see on line at the deli counter, number in hand, as they purchase the pricey cold cuts and shnitzel. Cold cuts have carcinogens! I don't even want to know what's in the shnitzel. 

Let's say there is no time to cook. Then stick to simple, easy recipes that don't need much time. Throw the chicken into a marinade overnight, then quickly cook on a grill pan. (I happen to know of a great marinade recipe that the chicken tastes great even cold on Shabbos day. Where did I put it . . . )

What Mackey says is true: We are spending less than ever before on food. Ever read or watched North & South? Ma in the old country never saw a banana or orange except when her uncle in Israel would mail fruits to her family for Tu B'Shvat. Except the bananas were black and the orange rotten by the time they arrived. Our fruits and vegetables are grown all over the world, and the prices for transportation are apparently cheap enough that we pay ridiculously reasonable prices for exotic fare in the dead of winter. "Unheard of! Absurd!" to quote Tevye.

One of the eating mantras nowadays is "Don't eat anything your grandmother wouldn't recognize." 

Right, like Bàbi Hindy (my great-grandmother) ever saw a kiwi in her life. Perhaps we should just stick with "Eat it only if it grew from the ground."  

Our time is the first in history when we can eat very well, all year round, but we head to the "dead foods" aisle of the boxed and bottled. 

Learn how to cook. It's not that hard, really. Heck, I learned. It doesn't have to be fancy or shmancy to make it delicious.  

Monday, March 11, 2013

Cauliflower Pizza Crust

The first time I heard of cauliflower pizza crust I could not believe it. Too divine to be true! For me, pizza is all about the cheese; the dough is merely commentary. Therefore, to be able to consume my dairy goodness without the hundreds of calories from a superfluous crust? Redemption!

Problem: The majority of the recipes provided by Google called for a cup of cheese. Um, I'm trying to make my pizza less sinful. How is a cup of cheese in the crust, plus whatever goes on top, helping matters? 

With a little more scouring I was able to dig up a few that were cheese-free.

To the kitchen! 

First, to grate the cauliflower, or (which makes a lot more sense) pulse in a food processor until it takes on a grain-like consistency (not mush). Next, to suck the water out of it. Some say to wrap it up in a dish towel and squeeze, but that seems rather messy to me. Alternately, steam. Can do. 

Now, to make the "dough." The recipe I was relying called for one egg, and some seasonings. Oven at 350. I hummingly popped it in. 

Flop. The crust fell apart beneath the slightest pressure, merely a glorified kugel. My nieces, who had been looking quite expectant, flashed me rather dirty looks.

For a week I obsessed over where I went wrong. Every recipe makes it sound effortless! My dreams were haunted by cauliflower florets, cackling. I could barely contain myself for the next attempt.

Beneath a cauliflower crust recipe on a blog, a commenter left her method, which is to put the cauliflower "rice" into a dehydrator for a few hours. To dehydrate anything, the oven on the lowest setting is a viable alternative. The lowest my oven can go is 170 degrees. 

What I realized is that the cauliflower needs the water sucked out, rendering it dry instead of cooked. In order to have a compact pizza slice that can stand on its own two feet—as Jon Stewart insists, pizza MUST be eaten with hands, rather than a knife and fork—all dampness should be eradicated.

I got the original recipe idea from a few online recipes, but this one was very helpful. 

Cauliflower Crust Pizza  

1/2 cauliflower head
1 egg
Seasonings (pepper, salt, garlic power, etc, etc, even sauteed minced garlic)

1) Roughly chop of cauliflower and put it in the food processor, pulsing until like fine grains, but not mush (one can also hand-grate it).

2) Set oven on lowest possible setting (mine is 170 degrees, but 200 should be fine). 

3) Evenly spread the "riced" cauliflower on a pan (I put mine on parchment paper atop a baking sheet) and place in the oven. 

4) Open the oven from time to time to release steam, and stir the "rice" once or twice so it will be evenly dehydrated.

5) After an hour or so, the "rice" should be dry-ish. Remove from oven and place in a bowl. 

6) Raise oven to 400. 

7) Add the egg and spices to "rice" and stir. (I use my hands) 

8) Grease a pan (good ol' Pam) or parchment paper (atop a baking sheet). Now, one can choose to make a large pizza or keep them personal-sized. Shape the mixture hands into circle, square, rectangle, breadsticks, what have you. Flatten to desired thickness, but not too thin. 

9) Pop in the oven for 15-30 minutes. About 15 minutes through, it will probably be cooked thoroughly enough that can be flipped over and remain one piece, but that shouldn't be necessary.       

Now, a crust to love whatever way you will! 

In the below photo, I had finely chopped mushrooms, sauteed them with alfalfa sprouts, topped with cheese, and broiled it in the oven for a minute. Bee-you-tee-full.   
AND, the crust was firm enough to hold in the hand, meeting Jon Stewart Criteria

A few other recipes I had found called for Greek yogurt as well to be in the crust mixture; if one feels so inclined, lob some in there.

Another perk? It's Pesach-dik!