So: soul food?

Certain sweets are irresistible to me. White cupcakes with white frosting. Homemade oatmeal raisin cookies. Wine gums. Dark chocolate covered jujubes. Coffee Crisp chocolate bars. Old fashioned donuts. Dark chocolate Cadbury Mini Eggs. Yum! My mouth is watering.

But the one treat that I love above all others is the butter tart. Basically they are tart crusts filled with a mixture of lots of butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, eggs, vanilla and sometimes raisins or chopped nuts. Sounds healthy, right? (here’s a recipe from Canadian Living magazine if you want to see the basic ingredients)

When our Toronto-based friend Liz was visiting Dallas, she imported a package as a gift for us. So I did what I had to do: I froze them. I did it because I knew that they would be hard as rocks and would need serious thawing time to become deliciously gooey again. It was the only way I knew to save me from myself and still have butter tarts in the house. They freeze very well. They also thaw well, but you must practice your patience as you wait for them to thaw.

It was only fitting that on my birthday this year, instead of birthday cake or a cupcake, I had the last remaining butter tart to celebrate. It was delicious. It was also good that it was the last one left in the freezer.

I never had a butter tart until I was 25 when my then-boyfriend Bruce  introduced me to them. Oh man. I was hooked. I’ve never seen them outside of Canada unless I’ve made them myself (which I have and they are amazingly delicious). They are a bit of work, but totally worth it. To save time, I’ve also made them in a bar version which is just as good but doesn’t have as much crust.

My father-in-law Ed also loved them. And because I loved them too and he knew I wouldn’t buy them for myself (because I’d eat the whole package), he would often pick some up when he knew Bruce and I were visiting. He did the same thing with donuts, by the way.

When we lived in Canada, I also used the excuse of visitors, especially American visitors to ensure butter tarts were in the house when company visited. After all, they hadn’t had them before and who was I to deny them a delicious, though extremely sweet, taste of Canada.

Now, when I go to Canada, I use the excuse of not being able to have them very often to treat myself. I’ve sampled the grocery store versions, upscale bakery versions, small town bakery versions, farmers market versions. I’ve had ones made with chocolate, dried cranberries, and other exotic flavors. They’re ok, but the kind that I crave the most are the ones made in someone’s kitchen because they’re baked with a secret ingredient: love.

They may not be not good for me in terms of nutrition or calories, but they’re sure good for the soul.


So: new ‘do, new hue

Last weekend I had a hair appointment. I cancelled it because I wasn’t feeling 100% and when I’m not feeling so great, I tend to make bad hair decisions. However, the stylist I see is fabulous, popular, and always very busy. If you want a Saturday appointment, you’re going to wait or cross your fingers that someone cancels. (I probably made someone very happy.)

Not only did I wait 8 weeks for that now-cancelled appointment, I’ll wait 4 more weeks to see her. But it’s ok and here’s why:

I’ve never been one to keep a hairstyle for long. I like change. So I’ve had very short choppy hair. Yes, pixie cuts and slightly longer spiky numbers. I’ve had mid-length shaggy hairdos. I’ve had a range of bobs of various lengths and asymmetricities (not sure that’s a word). Bad perms in high school. Lots of different styles.

One thing that has always eluded me is to sport hair past my shoulders. You know, the length you can just throw into a ponytail at a moment’s notice and run out the door looking sophisticatedly polished. The length that looks sporty and cute when you throw a baseball cap over it when you haven’t washed your hair for a couple of days. The length that you can pull back so that it doesn’t whip you in the face when the wind picks up—or get into your meal or drink. The length you can put into a fancy updo for a black tie wedding.

I’ve always been too impatient for serious hair growth. But not this time. Why? Longer would be a whole lot more convenient for all the outdoor activities that I love to do. It would make early morning dog walks have fewer head covering decisions: Headband? Bandana? Toque? Hat? None of the above? Just pull it back and add an elastic ponytail thingie (I’ve got to buy some of those thingies so if you have recommendations, let me know.)

Color is another story. I’ve had highlights in a hair color rainbow. I’ve been blondish. I’ve been a redhead. I’ve had dark hair, almost black, though my natural color is pretty dark. I won’t lie: it’s been fun to try out different hair. I’ve liked all my looks, although there was a time where I got too blonde for my own good.

Now, I’m trying out another new style: my natural highlights of a silvery tint throughout my natural dark color. The current plan is to let my hard-earned silvery sparkles shine through. Truthfully, I’m curious about exactly how many I have. So far it looks like they are plentiful, yet scattered throughout in single strands—at least, that’s how it is on top of my head and at my temples as the deep dark color flecked with sparkles forces itself upon the warmer light brown in a DIY ombre.

Truthfully, I’m tired of hair dye. It’s not the price, although I can find many other more enjoyable ways to spend the money that it costs every 6 or so weeks. I really, really hate the smell. I hate the cold, heavy feeling for the 30 minutes or so while it processes into the color. I hate the feeling of it being rinsed out. And the smell. But most of all, I hate the time it takes away from other stuff.

So, I’m going to see if I can learn to love what I’ve got.

IMG_9821Have you kept your natural hair color or decided to go gray? Why or why not?


So: very bad day

Ever have a day that was so messed up that you wonder what kinds of karmic misdeeds you did to piss off the universe so much? A day when you were already feeling frayed, frazzled, and funky (not the good kind either)?

That was my yesterday.

First, my iphone did a swan dive into a nice wet, round porcelain recepticle. At my work. Yes, I tried to save it. Reached in, fished it out and shook the toilet water out of it. Used air in a can on it.

It was alive long enough for me to back it up to my computer, then it started randomly calling people (hi Claire!) and finally died. Hopefully Gazelle will give me $20 for it since that’s the going rate for a non-working iPhone. It tried to turn on one more time last night and then promptly gave up.

Now you’re sufficiently grossed out (sorry, I wasn’t going to try to flush it down and there was no other way to handle the situation without leaving it in the bowl longer than 30 seconds), I need to tell you the rest of the story.

It may be hard to believe, but my day got worse.

Yes, worse than the very nice Genius with the Italian accent at the Apple Store telling me the price tag of my new phone which made me gasp. It was first new iPhone I’ve had in ages. Usually I keep Bruce’s cast offs then use them until the battery no longer charges.

Truth be told, my iPhone was almost ready for replacement since I was having to have a charger handy at all times and recharge ½ way through the work day. Besides the obvious price tag sticker shock, the timing was really the problem. You see, I’m going on a business trip Wednesday morning. Going at lunch on Tuesday wasn’t going to happen since I already had a meeting scheduled. Then last night was Zumba and in order to get over to the Apple Store and get a new phone, I had to skip it. Grrr. I was already going to miss my booty shaking and sweating on Wednesday. Grrr.

As I headed down the highway from the office towards the Apple Store closest to my house, I noticed that my tire pressure light suddenly came on. Thinking one of my tires might be a little low, I got off at my usual exit and went to the first gas station for air. No luck on the air machine, but there was another gas station a few blocks away and I knew they had a machine.

When I got out of the car, I checked the usual suspects: my front tires. In the past that’s where the problem was. Then I saw my back passenger tire rapidly deflating.

UGH! Close to home. No phone. A flat tire with a big hunk of metal embedded right in the middle of the treads. Ugh. Ugh. Ugh. And I hadn’t changed a tire in years. With the clock ticking and the Apple Store hours rapidly evaporating, I started unpacking the trunk. I also grabbed the manual since I didn’t want to screw anything up.

As I was sizing up the situation (and trying not to cry in frustration), a man called out to me and asked if I needed help. I didn’t want to bother him or anyone and said that I was ok. That’s when he insisted on helping. He wasn’t from around here, but he was in the area helping out on a job.

Neither he nor I could speak the other’s language very well, but we figured out between the two of us how to use the very new (and super stiff) tire jack and get the spare tire on. It probably took him a lot less time than it would have taken me since he was much stronger than I am. He was also probably much younger that I am.

Nice Man also told me it wasn’t proper for me to change the tire so that’s why he was helping. Maybe I reminded him a little of his mother or a favorite aunt.

While this was all happening, several more nice men stopped to ask if I needed help. Some were dressed for various trades, some were in various renditions of corporate business wear. One tradesman looking guy had a big old red and white pit bull in the back of his truck and seemed shocked when I said “I’m good, but I love your dog.”

When Nice Man was finished changing the tire and the spare was on, I thanked him profusely and asked if I could pay him something for his help. He said no and said that he was just doing what he was supposed to do. A good deed.

I thanked him over and over and probably made him a little embarrassed with my thank yous in the gas station parking lot. He was still in his car when I drove off, maybe waiting for a friend who worked at the gas station to finish his shift. And when I got home, Bruce drove me to the Apple Store.

While I was in the moment, it may have felt like the worse day ever, but in hindsight, perhaps it was one of the best.

First, it reaffirmed my belief in the power of the kindness of strangers.

Second, it helped to remind me that there is hope for the people of this country and not everyone is an angry, hateful person, despite what the news is portraying. There are nice people all around us, even at the corner gas station. All you have to do is listen.