McLove at First Site

(*I am going to try something "new" today; complete sentences and proper capitalization. We'll see. Let me know what you think.)

"Save me the Crispies!", I would yell, if my five-year-old obligations ever kept me from the kitchen as mom fried up the legs & thighs - skin on, of course. As soon as I was finished with my dance routine to the Greece Soundtrack or tucking Lilly Rose (my favorite doll with a mysterious man's signature scrawled on her behind) into her bed, I would race into the kitchen to inhale the little nuggets of flour that had been sizzled (in two inches of vegetable oil) to a golden perfection in my mom's blue and white electric skillet.

A few years later I recall news of the newest addition to the Golden Arches family opening up right on the main road by our neighborhood. I collected all of my change in a thin yellow knit sock to show my mother how committed I was to getting the whole family there for the opening night. Not only would my entire third grade class be there, but so would a clown and a magician. Soon after the opening, I remember sitting in the front seat of our beige station wagon, rehearsing my Happy Meal order in my head. As we rounded the corner, I would see something that would change my life - forever.

Just ahead stood an adolescent worker of this fine establishment, so grown up in their brown polo shirt and mesh hat. Holding in her hand was a sample tray full of a new product - the Chicken McNugget - each piece of chicken mechanically pressed into imperfect shapes that gave off only the vague impression of naturally cut meat. That much was clear to me, even at age 9 or 10. But what was more clear is that it would be many years before I ever ordered another hamburger. I was in love.

I think I may have told this story about this time two years ago, but it plays such an important role in my relationship with food that I tell it (again?) this morning. The golden nugget is a perfect metaphor for my ideal food. It if was batter dipped and deep fried, it was as gold to me. This left out, as you can imagine, some food groups such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. And at the age of 25, I began to pay the cost. At the age of 30, I continue.

Last week, along with my detox diet I had my blood drawn. In a few more days I will receive a report indicating which foods my body appears to be sensitive to. I have no doubt that over the years my diet heavy laden with fats, sugar, and refined flour has left my body stripped of many of the nutrients it has needed. And I will continue to share my journey of trying to repay it. So far the price has been uncomfortable, as I am embarking upon day number three of flu-like symptoms, as I am flushed of toxins and left feeling not unlike a meth addict in rehab.


Dear Rice Milk, I NEVER loved you

it all began when i met herb.
up to that point, breakfast consisted of little more
than a bagel smothered in butter.
and i am not talking about the oversized new york style bagel,
boiled to chewy perfection
and then slathered with words that are
as equally timeless as they are disturbing.
like lox.

i grew up in missouri.
in the 80's.
nothing trendy.
nothing particularly glamorous.
my existence as a foodie,
even at the young ages of 11 and 12,
was reflected in my breakfast biscuit choice
only in so far that i always sacrificed
my otherwise pubescent brand of self-consciousness
for the pleasant burning sensation
of the onion variety of Lender's Bagles.

as i grew older, i added the occasional smoothie
to my breakfast repertoire.
low-fat, artificially sweetened yogurt -
artificially vanilla flavored, of course -
orange juice,
and a banana.
maybe some strawberries.

my morning food consumption was not a reflection
of my overall relationship with food.
it was not what one might expect from
a girl who so committed to her food,
so aware of its healing powers,
that while her peers eased the malcontent
of post-adolescent angst by
using their book money to buy the perfect fake idea
and thereby, the perfect six pack of coors light,
she perfected the art of boiling gourmet ravioli
in the lounge of Dobson Hall;
using little more than an electric tea pot
and served in a plastic bowl.

you must understand that growing up,
while my dad and i bonded over pine nuts toasted to perfection
and the golden hue of a roux,
breakfast at my house was rushed at best.
it was difficult to really indulge in my food when,
as the oldest child,
i assumed the self-appointed role of
guardian over the Log Cabin.
because i knew, even at the age of 11,
that it was my sisterly duty to ensure
that the little brother,
already inflicted with ADD, poor impulse control,
and a propensity for "flooding" his plate of waffles
with imitation syrup
should not be sent out the door hyped up on sugar.

between that and the infamous "boy haircut" of 1982
(my mother's way of communicating
"when i say if you get syrup in your hair one more time
that i will have it cut off . . .
i mean it"),
i had completely lost interest in all customary breakfast foods.

but when i met herb, i was reintroduced to breakfast.
and not the low-fat attempt at breakfast
that i adopted in my early 20's.
omelets, full-fat bacon, Belgian waffles.
and all of this at home, all week long.
as a very committed atkin's dieter,
this was the daily grid for herb.

(minus the waffles, of course.
that was just what you made to impress the girl
when she came over on saturday mornings.)

for the next two years i made nice with breakfast.
my favorite creation was blueberry cottage cheese pancakes.
with only a few tablespoons of flour, herb and i could share
an otherwise off-limits treat for an anti-carbite like himself.

about two years ago, i was diagnosed
with fibromyalgia & chronic fatigue.
my weeks quickly became filled with
blood tests, IVs, and filling pill boxes.
i became willing to try anything to regain
my sense of restedness, clear thinking, and pain-free living.
the root of sleepless nights were difficult to diagnose
because on top of a relentless and difficult-to-treat illness,
herb and i were horrified by the discovery that after saying "I do",
we were in for countless months of marital turbulence.

perhaps far more difficult than my committment to
nightly muscular injections
was my dedication to a very difficult change in my diet.
several months into treatment,
i was told that, among multiple diagnosis,
that i had candida -
the presence of profound yeast overgrowth in the gut.
candida can become so serious if left untreated
that it can pollute the blood stream.
the prospect of managing my symptoms
with a strict diet was presented to me
and within days i had eliminated entire food groups
in effort of creating an internal environment
near impossible for yeast to grow in.

though i had long-since graduated to herb's
school of breakfast thought on the weekends,
it was only then that my weekday smoothie was finally retired.
low-fat, artificially sweetened vanilla yogurt was benched
and replaced by full-fat unsweetened plain yogurt.
bananas, too sweet for my diet, were traded in for frozen berries
orange juice was banished
and coconut milk introduced.
and in case the nectar of the gods
(and brazilians)
didn't provide enough liquid to the blended concoction,
i learned to enjoy rice milk.

that was over a year and a half ago.
since then, i have lost 25 pounds,
(ceased my strict diet and re-gained 15 of them)
and made some strides with my health.

about a month ago, i shared with one of my doctors
that i continue to struggle with stomach cramping, fatigue,
and an overall lack in my sense of physical well-being.
this doctor, known for her holistic and natural approach to medicine,
prescribed a detox-diet plan and a daily "shake".
the parameters are not unlike those of the candida diet which,
aside from my mid-week smoothie re-mix and absence of soda,
i have long since abandoned.

i face this diet with similar hope
(and even stricter parameters)

but this time i know what i am doing.
and instead of embracing a diet of exclusion,
i will shift my focus to a celebration of inclusion.

instead of mourning the loss of blue cheese and ice cream,
this time i will celebrate the room that is being made for things like
homemade pesto, starwberry papyas and walnuts.
i will learn about the foods that i can eat
and embrace the healing qualities they, in and of themselves possess.

and i have made one more change to that time-tested breakfast smoothie:
almond milk.

now produced without added sugar,
i have a sexier, creamier means of bringing liquid to my local smoothie.

stay tunes for more stories on the healing powers of your food and mine.


it was amazing, but it didn't look like a large round piece of orchard fruit

"the city of perpetual motion
the city that never sleeps
that's alright,
i wasn't tired anyways"

- shannon mcnally

it was lovely.
four days in NYC.
with my herb.

he loves maps
and noise
and staying out late
and public transportation

and we had them all.
in excess.

it was all equally matched
in its utter deliciousness
to the butternut squash risotto cake
that i indulged in our first evening.
every bite better than the next,
leaving a lingering sensation
of the warm gooey combination
of unsuspected flavors,
which together,
created a tiny island
of unsuspected perfection.

we had a bit of a dahrma & greg moment
on the second day
after schleping our baggage
across the city:

ME: "it's WONDERFUL, don't you think!!!"
HIM: "no, i hate it, but you are so happy
that i didn't want to say anything!"

you see, the bed & coffee that i desperately wanted to stay in
was only available for our
second and third evening in the city.
so i found another place for us to stay on evening one.
though it was equal to ripping
an unweaned puppy
away from its mother,
he was a very very good sport about
trading in our king size bed from the first night
for the double beds in our new room.
and sharing a bathroom with multiple 20-something europeans
(the european part was actually a bonus, not a problem).
and the two flights of stairs that gave off the vague impression
that it would be best if we ascended them one person at a time.
and the unending party outside of our window.
well, i suppose the party did end eventually.
right around the time that the delivery trucks
started making their rounds.

after we arrived on friday night,
i whisked herb away to see an unforgettable show!
it all felt so very new york.
we were two hours late getting in, so our long,
lingering journey to the theatre was not an option.
instead, we moved quickly to the subway station
and popped out on the other end,
finding ourselves hungry but without much time.
a corner pizza place (packed with people)
solved all of our problems and more
with a "chicken roll"
(think calazone but without the sauce . . .
and more of a roll than a pocket)
we spilt it and ate it on a little table right on the bustling sidewalk.
the perfect beginning to the weekend.
the show was spectacular
and you already know how i felt about
the risotto cake that i had later at this place
i was speechless as we wandered back to our hotel,
well after midnight,
only to find the city as alive as it was earlier in the evening.
in fact, at one point, we entered a cross walk
with at least 50 other people.
did i mention it was well after midnight?
no wonder new yorkers have a reputation for being cranky:

saturday was filled with walking
and sunshine
and central park
and a few lovely museums.
we had another memorable dining experience
and another late night.

sunday, we scurried to the upper west side to meet sally woodson.
sally and my mom met their freshman year of college
and remain good friends to this day.
she told us stories of long, painful evenings
worshiping the god's of porcelain & tile.
and how technically,
it is she who is responsible for introducing my parents.

sally has an incredible life story
so many pieces
some dark and some light
coming together to create
the beautiful mosaic of her present life.
she directs a large program that
provides music experiences to families.
a kansas girl who, despite many tear-filled
evenings on the floors of roach-infested apartments
in her early years,
has survived NYC for over 30 years
and followed her dreams,
even when things seemed bleak.
she is my new hero.

next, we rushed again,
this time to union square
to meet a group of ladies from this little community.
among my new friends are gigi and rebecca.

the highlight, of course,
was finally putting a real live person
to my long-time blog & email friend,
the lovely rhian caroline from wales, UK.
herb and i both immediatley fell deeply in love with her.
like, iced chai tea with a dab of whipped cream kind of in love.
like, long sunny days with nothing to do kind of in love.
like cottage cheese blueberry pancakes
eaten in your jammies
on a saturday morning
kind of in love.


herb headed back to the MoMA
and left me to dine with my lovely ladies.
after a good meal,
some picture taking,
some anthropology drooling,
some banana republic buying
(can we say, the perfect teal dress for $35????
now, somebody invite me to something fancy!),
and starbucks sipping,
herb came back for me
and this time HE whisked ME away
for a wonderful evening watching RENT.
it was perfect.

monday gave us more time with rhi
and her friend sarah
(also quite lovely)
while i was trying to find the girls in union square,
herb stopped to watch the last few minutes of
the outdoor taping of the Today Show.
he didn't see much,
but as he was looking for me,
he nearly
ran right into this household fave of ours.
now, i'm not out to embarrass anyone here
that's not my style
but there is someone i know quite well
who is still daydreaming
about the conversation he could have had
if she had not been on her cell phone.

after a chance to sit down
and talk with the girls over a quiet lunch
and more walking in central park
(which, to no surprise of those who know me, i LOVE),
herb and i headed off to stand in line.
for what?
well, you'll just have to go check out herb's blog to find out.

stay tuned for pictures . . . when my iphoto stops acting like a moron.


apostle paul remixed

there are things i value
things i want
believe in
feel passionate about

and then there are the things i do

sometimes the things i do
are the things i value
believe in
feel passionate about

and sometimes

are just the opposite of
what i want
believe in
or feel passionate about

i even think
i do these things
that i don't want to do
in order to make sure
that i don't want to do
that i do want to do


where she blogs again

(excuse the pun, but this has become "the weekly grind" . . . i have been lugging out all of these beautiful bags every week to make a very hearty, high fiber, low-carb whole grain bread for me and herb.
i feel so healthy just looking at them, willing them to make my body strong and healthy.
i feel so domestic.
so pioneer-ish.
well, um, so much like a a modern pioneer-ish woman since i AM using a bread machine.)

i have talked about this before,
but i have a wee bit of a problem with perfectionism.
if there is something i really care about
but i can't do it perfectly
i don't do it at all.
this doesn't pertain to everything.
but it seems to really get me caught up when it comes to creative things.
that is why i have not blogged in a while.
it is why i don't make art as often as i would like
or work on my writing goals.

then i look at women like my friend tamara or elsie flannigan.
i have always enjoyed their art work
but recently, i have seen them both push out of their cocoons and launch to a whole new level of talent.
and i remind myself,
they are amazing now,
but they didn't walk out of the womb
painting like this!
they started somewhere else
and it has been a journey of consistency, exploration, and dedication to get where they are with their skill.

so, with that in mind,
today, i blog.
even if it is not interesting
or thought provoking
or gramatically correct,
i blog.

small baby steps.
it is not something i am always that great at.
i want to sit down,
open my computer or notebook
and write the most compelling
best-selling book you have ever seen.

but i have things like "the list" that keep me paced.
doing small things at a time
building towards a larger goal.
completing the list by july 11th is the ultimate goal.
but some of the goals seem to have sub-goals and require planning.

so far i have:
* taken the light rail (more than once)
* planned a hot date for herb . . . we are going to see Stomp on Broadway when we are in NYC this weekend! it was meant to be a surprise like the list ordered, but he saw my computer screen at an inopportune moment and he found out.
* i worked with leo on Sweet Caroline . . . it is a work in progress (see former post for details on the "binky issue").
* i am planning Brittany's Best 16th Birthday Downtown Adventure of a Lifetime! sure to include public transportation, walking shoes, fancy schmancy treatment at a fancy schmancy hotel, a massage, dinner out, book stores, and if all goes well, a jazz club (my favorite club does not card! we don't need any drinkies but we do need the music!)
* the writing sabbatical has been set for six weeks (at the end of may - beginning of july) in orcas island, WA
* said sabbatical will be on an island
* said island is on water (right?) and will provide plenty of opportunities for me to learn how to kayak
* a karaoke night is being planned with the lovely tamara and her kooky husband matt (said kooky husband is technically my boss.)
* a book about the 100 mile meal concept is being read (the meal will take place once the farmer's markets open up!)
* flowers were sent to a lovely friend . . . for no reason at all . . . just as the list instructed!

a few real exciting trips were eluded to in the above list . . .
and i should probably elaborate . . .

* we are indeed planning a crazy six week sabbatical to orcas island, WA..
herb will work on stuff for current clients, along with working on some other creative projects
he will probably ride a bike and drink some coffee and take some naps.
i am studying about eating local and intend to do a lot of healthy/local cooking while we are there.
surprisingly, the island is jam packed full of farms!
who knew?
i am also going to learn to kayak
and take about 2-4 hours on weekdays to write.
we are so blessed and thrilled that this is really going to happen!!!

* herb loves this musical and we are finally going to go see it together in new york this weekend! while we are there, i get to meet one of my lovely bloggy, scrappy pen pals! Rhi is going to be in New York also, so we are finally going to meet outside of our "fake internet lives"! there will also be plenty of museum going, subway taking, bagel dog eating, people watching, picture taking, and musical, Today Show, and David Letterman viewing! we might also get to meet one of my mom's friends that she has known for over 30 years! love that! AND i get to meet a whole gaggle of crazy girls from this fun place for a fun lunch!!!!

so there.
i blogged.
are you happy?
i hope so.

i am.