Sunday, February 04, 2007

how sweet the days

If life isn't about balance, it's not about much of anything.

As a person of legendary introversion, I work diligently to create balance through spending time with friends and family when I'm more inclined to hole up by myself. It's not always easy, but along the way I've learned that when I really, really need to be alone, I know it. I am always grateful for and often surprised by the wonderful experiences I have with other people, and this weekend the rewards of my efforts were simple, sweet, and so worthwhile.

In addition to a fun and inspiring Friday breakfast with my friend Valecia at my favorite neighborhood spot, Mani's, my friend Carol came over on Friday night. Carol, whom I've known and loved since our days as hungry film students, never comes alone. This time she brought a tasty dinner of Cuban food and a nice bottle of red wine. For dessert she brought flan, which after having stuffed myself on fried sweet plaintains I'm glad I didn't have the appetite to eat. For me to like flan, it has to be soft, almost closer to pudding than custard. Carol said the flan she brought was too firm for her taste too, so I was safe from a late night flan raid. The two of us watched The Departed. I know everyone raves about this film, but Carol and I found it formulaic and dull. Oh well. It was about the company, not the activity.

Capping off my social calendar was a Saturday outing with a co-worker, Terry. It seems like once we abandon the sandbox set, we never know when it's safe to call a relationship a friendship. Remember 7? When someone moved next door and with that sole gesture, became the best friend you ever had? I will venture to say that Terry and I are becoming friends. This is especially true after seeing her in these:

1960s sunglasses that remind me of old TV sets. Terry liked them, which makes her a good candidate for friendship. Almost as good as if she'd moved next door.

She donned these Jetsonian wonders at the Vintage Expo in Santa Monica, where she'd invited me to join her and Eileen, a student and former employee at our school.

Here's Eileen before she discovered that this shawl cost $300:

And here she is afterward:

This expo was not for the faint of heart. The first item I looked at, a pretty (but simple) green and white cotton 70s summer dress, was $172. It was one of those if you have to ask, you can't afford it sitchiations. I know that vintage has become a misnomer for pricey, but we all thought there'd be more of a mix of price points. Once I realized my $50 budget wasn't going to net me much booty, I treated the experience like a visit to a museum and very much enjoyed myself. It wasn't long before I came upon a classy dress pattern.

Completely cute and only 7 pieces to cut! I look forward to making this one.

Because my desire to make this dress is sure to be overshadowed by the amount of time it takes me to get it done, God must've looked at me and thought, Let me throw her a bone. I went on to find a fabulous printed cotton dress -- from my favorite sartorial decade, the '50s -- with the most flattering ruching ever. Really, it's a dress among dresses. I tried it on and it looked so good that I decided to have a birthday party just so people can see it. I'll be a lady and wait to debut it on the big day. The cost? Thirty-six dollars, which prompted the woman who zipped me up in the dressing room to remark that I'd found the only $36 dress in the whole place.

A few other notables:

These bloomers had Terry's name all over them
Dial-up purse
Show me to the Oscars, if you please
Terry's dream jacket -- Vivienne Westwood (only?) $450
A blast from my past
Felt story belt
I'd shot my wad with the dress and the pattern, so when Terry asked if I wanted to join for lunch, I suggested Tacos Por Favor (thank you, Ellen!). Great food cheap. We all loved it, and it was such a joy to get to know Terry and Eileen -- someone I'd only seen in passing -- better. It's so easy to forget that everybody's got a story. Everybody.

I woke up feeling so good this morning that only French toast could provide the proper celebratory sustenance. I like to do a healthier version, with a snap.

How about a recipe?
Spicy French Toast
(yields 3 slices)
  • Start with a good whole-grain bread. The more seeds and fiber, the better. I like to use Rudi's Organic 7 Grain and Flax (available at Whole Foods)
  • In a wide, shallow bowl or dish, break 1 egg and whip it up a bit
  • Pour in 3/4 cup of soy milk and stir. Westsoy Unsweetened Organic is pretty tasty
  • Add cinnamon to your heart's content, but at least 1/4 tsp
  • Add nutmeg to your heart's content, but no more than 1/4 tsp
  • Now for the kicker, stir in a pinch or two of cayenne pepper
  • Whip it good. The consistency should be similar to a thin eggnog
  • Heat a large skillet laced up with about a tablespoon of butter (Yes, dammit, butter! Good, fresh butter. Organic if you got a bonus at work. If you use margarine to make this recipe, I will personally come to your house and beat you.)
  • While the butter's heating (don't let it brown -- if you want to slow the browning process, coat the skillet with a cooking spray, preferably canola oil, first), take a slice of bread and lay it in the batter. Because whole grain bread tends to be more dense than white bread, I like to poke it with a fork a few times, especially in the corners, to make sure it gets moist all the way through. There's not a thing worse than dry French toast. Flip the slice and do the same on the other side. Get the bread nice and soaked, but not to the point where it's falling apart
  • By now the butter should be ready, so gingerly place the slice in the skillet
  • Repeat the dunking, poking process with the other slices, and place them in the skillet
  • Cook each side to an irresistible golden brown, flip and repeat
  • Take out the slices as they are ready. Stack 'em up and add fruit, a dollop of cream or yogurt, or my preferred topping since I'm just a gal from Toledo, syrup
  • Enjoy the sweet and spicy goodness as it dances on your tastebuds.
Ooh. I want more right now.

Happy New Week, everybody.


Niki said...

Hi Carla,
The photographs throughout your blog are excellent! I enjoy looking at your blog site.

Adrienne " A little dramatic at times" said...

HA! love the barrettes! I remember those!!!! Can't wait to see your dress finished!

Ellen Bloom said...

Yeah, I know how it is to see really cool vintage stuff and not being able to afford to buy it!

Now, when I go to estate sales, etc. I satisfy my urge to own everything by owning the IMAGE of everything instead. Digi-photos almost do the trick for me...except, of course when I'm looking at costume jewelry.

The French toast sounds yummy. Thanks for the recipe!

Deborah said...

Hot pepper on french toast, gotta try that!

I steer clear of 'vintage' shows. They are always expensive. I prefer rummage or flea markets - more in my budget!

Anonymous said...

bub says your entry gets 4star rating:
hilarious,fun,and informative.When not being able to spend time with this pearl of a woman, there is nothing better than reading about her escapades while i am away. She is an artistic chef who has brought together a melange of photography,arts&crafts,writing,music,technology,love,sensitivity,and fun in a dish that is truly victorious! Go Purly!

MonkeyGurrrrrl said...

Wow. Them's pricey stuff, but they shur are purty. I find when something is refered to as an "expo" or a "faire", it's gonna be way to 'spensive fo moi. EggSPECIALLY when they charge admission!!

sappmama said...

Hi, Niki. Thank you so much. I have a lot of fun with the pictures.

Adrienne, aren't they old school? Ha ha.

Ellen, I'm with you. The pictures are a good sub.

Deborah, this one took "vintage" to a whole new level of expensive.

Bub, you're too sweet.

Monkey, I've learned my lesson.