Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Komen, I Give Up ...

At the end of every 3-Day, the host repeats, with increasing conviction, "We will never give up."

Never give up on finding a cure, that is. A cure for breast cancer.

And I will never give up on finding a cure.

But today, after many years, I gave up on Komen.

You may or may not have heard that the Susan G. Komen Foundation will no longer give money to Planned Parenthood in accordance with its policy that it does not fund organizations that are under Congressional investigation. (From the New York Times: "A spokeswoman for the Komen foundation, Leslie Aun, told The Associated Press that the main factor in the decision was a new rule adopted by Komen that prohibits grants to organizations being investigated by local, state or federal authorities. Ms. Aun told The A.P. that Planned Parenthood was therefore disqualified from financing because of an inquiry being conducted by Representative Cliff Stearns, Republican of Florida, who is looking at how Planned Parenthood spends and reports its money.")

ACORN, anyone? ACORN? Anyone can say – and has said – things about organizations in order to vilify them, in order to cut their funding, in order to dismantle them. Truth need not matter. Words have great power, both words that convey truth and words that convey untruth. Sometimes, the latter is more powerful than the former. ACORN is gone. And Planned Parenthood has been dealt several severe blows of late.

The right wing of this country clearly has it in for progressive organizations. In 2010, the right campaigned – successfully – on the issue of job creation. In 2011, 80 new abortion restrictions were enacted. States passed 162 new measures for reproductive rights in the first half of last year.

Senator Jon Kyl famously stood on the floor of the Senate chamber and stated that "well over 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does" is provide abortions. Way to lie into the Congressional record, Senator.

In fact, only 3 percent of services provided by Planned Parenthood are abortion related.

Three percent.

Not 90 percent.

Three.

His office later commented that Senator Kyl's absurd claim was "not intended to be a factual statement."

In other words, it was a lie.

Also, from Huffington Post: "Komen's new vice president, Karen Handel, had run for governor of Georgia in 2010 on an aggressively anti-abortion and anti-Planned Parenthood platform."

So is today's news coincidence? Of course not.

But this is not a post about abortions. Abortions make up a very small percentage of the services and procedures performed by Planned Parenthood.

Do you know what Planned Parenthood provides a lot of?

Cancer screenings.

Breast cancer screenings.

Breast cancer affects 1 in 8 women in this country. Komen has raised billions of dollars over the years. The amount it gave to Planned Parenthood was small, but that small number enabled Planned Parenthood to provide a lot of services.

It is unconscionable to me that an organization founded on the promise to find a cure for breast cancer would eliminate funding for an organization that is, for many women, their only source of healthcare.

Over the years, I have participated in seven 3-Day events. I have walked more than 400 miles on those events. I have raised nearly $20,000 for Komen.

That ends today.

Many friends have voiced their concerns about aspects of Komen. Until today, I chose to focus on the good it was doing, knowing that no organization is perfect.

But this is a step too far.

I have friends who have registered for Komen events this year. They are left not knowing what to do. I advised them to call Komen and cancel their participation, to eat the registration fees, and to find another outlet to continue the quest for a cure.

I cannot imagine trying to fundraise on behalf of Komen from the day forward.

I will continue to do whatever I can to help find a cure for breast cancer.

But Komen, on you, I give up.

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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Hello, Handsome ...

Angelo must not sleep.

He can't possibly. There aren't enough hours in a day to accomplish all that he accomplishes, so he must tap into the night, too.

This evening, he posted a few links to some new pieces.

And I have fallen in love with this:


Isn't he handsome?

I told Angelo that he needs to ship this stunner with a bottle of Scotch. This is a Scotch-drinkin' perch, that's what this is.

Go buy a bottle. (I'm a Macallan girl, myself.) You'll have money in your pocket because not only is this settee gorgeous, he's impossibly affordable.

Don't you feel more refined already?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

For The Love Of Office Supplies ...

I have always loved school supplies.

When I was younger and my mom would haul me with her to the pharmacy where she paid our electric bill – and perhaps picked up prescriptions, too – I was allowed to wander down the school supply aisle because it was in line with the service window, so she was able to keep an eye on me.

I was in my heaven among the Pink Pearl erasers and translucent rulers and spiral-bound notebooks, the bane of teachers everywhere. Pencil boxes and markers – oh, markers – and folders and packs of loose-leaf paper. And the piece de resistance, the box of 64 crayons with the sharpener built in.

Heaven, I tell you. Heaven.

And sometimes, my dad would take me to the stationery store when he had to pick up a new rubber stamp for his business. I remember the day I discovered larger binder rings. He bought a few of them for me. They made excellent bracelets.

To this day, I'm plenty happy to wander around an office-supply store. Sometimes, I even need to buy something. My relationship with binder clips is well known to many. (Doesn't everyone have four sizes on hand?)

The store I frequent most frequently begins with an Office and ends with a Depot. And recently, the location I frequent most frequently moved. From next door to the Bed Bath & Beyond to the space formerly occupied by Barnes & Noble.

The new location is carpeted. It feels wrong.

And now I have to learn the new layout. I used to know right where I was headed when I actually needed something, but now, oh, nothing where it's supposed to be.

But I was there the other day because I needed to buy some shipping boxes. I spied the shipping supply section. Labels. Tape. Bubble mailers. Tubes. Clasp envelopes. But nary a box. Seriously? Could they only be had online? Crap.

But no. I found them. All the way at the back of the store. Which made no sense. But fine. I grabbed four 6x6x6 boxes in their flattened state, $1.49 each. Six bucks for four boxes. That seemed kind of silly.

Then I remembered that I needed jewel cases. (Yes, I still use them sometimes.) I found my way to them and was reaching for a 50-pack for $16 and change when I spied a 30-pack for ... $7.59.

Now, math was not my best subject in school, but I did OK on my 2s when I learned multiplication.

$7.59 x 2 = $15.18

and

30 x 2 = 60

Huh. Ten more cases for less money?

I didn't need 50 anyway. So I grabbed a 30-pack and headed for the checkout, still thinking that $6 seemed like a lot of money to spend for four boxes, but c'est la vie.

At home, though, I looked for them online. Uline sells boxes.

Do you know what Uline charges for a 6x6x6 box? $0.26. Yeah, that's right: 26 cents.

Granted, I have to buy at least 25 of 'em.

But do you know what 25 x $0.26 is?

$6.50.

So, yeah, Office Depot won't be seeing any future box-buying business from me.

I requested a Uline catalog today. It's available online, but I still like printed pieces. I am more than a little giddy at the thought of ordering mailing tubes for shipping sleeves of cookies. And boxes in assorted sizes. And bubble mailers.

No crayons. But lots of other good stuff. Including jewel cases.

Heaven.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

On Behalf Of Women, Continued ...

This post is a continuation of a post I wrote last month.

The day after I posted that entry, I wrote much of what follows. And then I didn't post it. It didn't feel done. But reading it again tonight, in combination with a comment I left for a friend on Facebook earlier today, it now feels newly relevant. So I'm posting it with new content at the end.

Yesterday, I was feeling glib. And so I wrote glibly.

But as my friend who first posted the question that inspired my post and I kept trading comments on Facebook, the discussion turned more thoughtful.

I mentioned that women, from an early age, are conditioned to be mindful of their looks. "Toddlers & Tiaras" is a horrifying example, but, I went on to point out, there is no male equivalent of beauty pageants, there are no events at which men are judged solely on their looks.

He replied to say he hadn't considered that before, that the closest male competition would be Mr. Universe.

But that, I pointed out, is a competition based on a pursuit. No man is born looking that way. They have to work hard to get those monstrous bodies.

In pageants, on the other hand, women strut around in their bathing suits and frighteningly white teeth and seek approval of their looks from the likes of – talking about adding insult to injury – Donald Trump.

It was a good discussion, as Facebook discussions go, and some friends chimed in with thoughts and quips. One female friend wondered why women of a certain age are only ever seen on television to discuss their irregularity. (Gales of laughter when I read that.)

But my brain continued to ruminate on the topic, and I realized that I was thinking about a woman I saw at the post office on Saturday. An older woman, in her mid to late 70s, I'd guess. Maybe older. Lovely white hair. She was in front of me in line, a couple of people ahead. She was wearing a long navy coat. She interacted with the clerk kindly.

On my way out the door, I noticed her behind me and held the door for her. She thanked me. "Some doors are so heavy," she said.

"They are," I agreed.

The door wasn't heavy by my standards, but it was by hers.

This, though, was the first time I saw her face, and I was struck by her makeup. It was applied beautifully, but I don't often see women of her age in full makeup.

And I wondered, yesterday, about why she still wears it. Habit? Did she grow up learning that she should never leave the house without putting on her face?

And that phrase struck me in a way that it's never registered with me before: put on your face. As if the face each of us was born with isn't good enough to show the world?

Of course, she may simply like to wear makeup. It may just make her feel pretty. And that's fine.

When I was younger, I couldn't wait to wear makeup. I used to badger my mom. (Hi, mom. Sorry about that.) But I never got into wearing it. Because, I suppose, my mom didn't wear it. Not the way many women do. She'd give her eyebrows a little oomph and swipe on a coat of mascara and maybe a touch of lipstick, but that was it. No foundation, no powder, no eyeshadow, no eyeliner, no lipliner, no blush.

Today, my routine isn't much different: a pat-down of powder, a smudge of eyeliner, a coat of mascara, a swipe of lipstick on my lower lip, rub my lips together and go.

I've had my makeup done a few times, once for my headshot, once because the makeup artist at the salon where J-D as doing my hair noticed that I needed help (I bought products from her that day, since that's what one is supposed to do when one has a makeover; the foundation shade she chose for me makes me look like John Boehner; I've never used it), and once before a birthday lunch. Ronnie, bless his heart, is very good at what he does, but I had to tell him to get rid of the metallic gold eye makeup. I looked like Cleopatra. (In more-than-my-usual makeup, I swing between looking like Cleopatra and John Boehner. No wonder I don't wear it.) Cleopatra notwithstanding, when I've had my makeup done, I've mostly liked the results.

But I wear very little is my point. At the end of the day, I don't wash off a flesh-colored mask.


And today, what made this feel relevant was Melissa McCarthy's Oscar nomination.

A friend on Facebook posted this link from Salon: "Melissa McCarthy’s great big win: The 'Bridesmaids' star and best supporting actress nominee proves success doesn't always come in a size zero."

I clicked.

I read.

I sighed.

I wrote on the friend's page, "It saddens me that a 'Woohoo! A fat person got an Oscar nod!' story is, in fact, a story. Meanwhile, Angelina Jolie looks painfully close to being anorexic. The whole 'beauty' industry is insane."

Insane.

It saddens me. No one feels the need to write a story when a hefty man achieves a well-deserved accolade.

And tonight I saw Marie Osmond in a commercial looking almost nothing like Marie Osmond. What the hell did she allow to be done to her face? In the name of what? Because, Marie, dear, I hate to tell you, but that's not beauty. That's disfigurement.

And even as models die and photographs are Photoshopped to whittle images of women into impossibly inhuman forms, it persists.

Is there truly no end? It seems to be chronic and incurable, this hideous pursuit of beauty, this ceaseless pursuit of superficial worth.

There must be a remedy.

Mustn't there?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

A Cookie Story ...

I remember churning out a ridiculous number of cookies from the oven of my apartment-sized stove in my little studio on Waveland. Maybe that was the year all this started.

Or maybe it wasn't. But somewhere along the line, cookies became my thing.

One of my editors dubbed me The Cookie Queen. I liked it. CQ, for short. Which is also shorthand, in the world of newspaper editing, for "I checked this. It's correct." Familiarity breeds contentment.

So, I baked. Each year, the holidays would roll around and I'd plot my list of cookies, which grew to somewhat ridiculous proportions. No one needs a selection of 14 varieties, but, well, I may have a bit of a problem with shelving an idea once it worms its way into my brain. And each year, I would make a list of recipients, and that swelled, too.

And I would bake. And somehow, I would manage to stash them all in my freezer, Tetris style, and then I would package them and dole them out as the calendar wended its way toward Christmas, and people were happy.

Really happy.

Which is why I bake.

Baking means never having to say you're jaded.

There have been days over the years when I have been more than a little loathe to begin and there have been days over the years when I am more than happy to wash the last cookie sheet, tuck the KitchenAid back into the corner where it rests, and bid my equipment goodnight.

But the joy they bring, those humble offerings of butter and sugar and flour and love. Amazing. Every time.

And so, over the years, people have told me I should open a bakery, I should sell cookies online, I should do something more.

And I've thought about it. And that was it.

I am very good at talking myself out of many things.

A bakery wouldn't work, I decided, because:

a) I cannot make every cookie myself. There are only so many hours in a day.

b) What makes my cookies special is that I make them.

c) I do not want to hand over a recipe to a commercial baker and say, "I need 10,000 of these today, please."

d) I do not want to bake every day. Some days, I'm inspired. Other days, I'm not. I told myself I didn't want to lose my love for it.

e) (You get the idea.)

But for all the things I've decided not to do in life – become a doctor, persist with online dating, camp – the notion of baking for more than just family and friends hasn't gone away.

Always, there are little nudges, suggestions, hints.

Some, come to think of it, have not been so little. But they all add up.

The encouragement of family and friends is valuable and yet easy to discount. Of course they say those things, I tell myself. They're my family and friends.

But more and bigger pieces are starting to slot into place.

Last year, I started contributing to Angelo's blog, knowing full well that he wasn't asking me to provide content so much as he was challenging me to think more creatively and pursue this path. His blog provides an outlet beyond my own.

And then a few months ago, a friend asked me to bake for him for his clients for the holidays.

And around that same time, someone who has enjoyed my baked goods in the past asked me if I would consider baking for her for events at her home.

And somewhere along the line, I became a more avid reader of Leite's Culinaria and became cyber pals with its namesake. I do not believe David could be more delightful and charming if he tried.

And for Christmas, my brother's family gave me a gift card to Williams-Sonoma (tucked inside a very awesome oven mitt) and I wandered around the store and while I found many things I would like, I settled on Sarabeth's Bakery: From My Hands to Yours. (Which, oddly, doesn't appear in the cookbook offerings on Williams-Sonoma's site, hence the link to Amazon.) I thought I might not need another baking book, but it was beautiful, and Angelo loves Sarabeth's chocolate shortbread (and other treats), so it came home with me. And I sat and read it. Not every word of every recipe – not yet – but all of the text upfront and at least part of every page.

And then, on Thursday, Leite's Culinaria featured a post by Sarabeth and the recipe for her croissants.

And this is where the story gets interesting. Or maybe more interesting. I hope it's been interesting all along.

I commented on the post: "I bought her book recently. I’m in love with it. Easily one of the best baking books I own. I’ve never attempted croissants, but this recipe (along with the scene playing in my head of Meryl Streep making chocolate croissants for Steve Martin in “It’s Complicated”) make me want to try!"

And the next comment to post was from Sarabeth: "I remember it like it was yesterday when Meryl Streeep learned from me to roll the croissant for the movie. She picked up the technique quickly… a natural at everthing. The scenes inside the bakery were shot at Sarabeth’s Bakery. There is a quick moment when you see someone sheeting the dough through our sheeting machine. It’s in slo-mo….that someone is me!"

I had no idea!

Meanwhile, I discovered (via Renee Schettler, if memory serves) that Sarabeth has an account on Twitter. So I followed her. (She's @goddessobakedom, FYI.) And she, much to my delight, followed me back. I tweeted Angelo into the mix, presuming that he would like to follow her, too. And she followed him back. So now we were all connected in a happy Twitter loop.

And then later that day, I saw this:


Um, wait. What?

Sarabeth just plugged my cookies?

Sarabeth, she of the jam-making, café-opening, pastry-empire-building, Meryl-Streep-croissant-tutoring, gorgeous-baking-book-authoring genius, just plugged my cookies?!

Whoa.

The next day, I relayed the story to some friends.

"You have to get on a plane to New York! You have to meet her!"

Well, yes, I do. Someday. That would be lovely.

In the meantime, I sent a note to her. Told her it would be my pleasure to bake for her. Asked if she had a favorite.

She replied with her favorite.

I asked where I might send them.

And she sent me an address.

So, I shall bake for Sarabeth. And I hope she enjoys what I send.

Food people seem to like when other people do the cooking. Or the baking. I know I do.

I love the path she's taken, from cooking jam – well, marmalade first – in her apartment to the success she enjoys today. I can relate to the early part of her story. Perhaps someday I will be able to relate to more.

Last week, I wrote a post about my concern that too much of my life was frivolous. I've long felt like I should be doing something "important." Whatever that means.

And I included a photo of a rock from my friend Patti's site. "Do what you love."

Recently, I asked Angelo about the best part of his day. "Hmmmmm," he mused. "I had a chocolate shortbread cookie from Sarabeth's at Lord & Taylor." He cited other things, too, but I love that he led with a chocolate shortbread cookie from Sarabeth's.

There is a lot of joy to be found in a chocolate shortbread cookie.

There is lot of love that goes into baking for others.

It is a simple act. But it is profound.

It is, most definitely not, frivolous.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Double Chocolate Espresso Cookies ...

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

'Lost And Found' ...

Somehow, it's been nearly two years since I wrote this post about Geneen Roth's Women Food and God.

I reread it tonight. A lot of thought went into that post, mostly about me, not as much about the book, but it's odd to summarize books of this ilk. What's important to me isn't necessarily important to you. And I surely do not intend for my posts to serve as replacements. If the book appeals to you, it's worth looking into for yourself.

Last night, I finished reading Roth's Lost and Found, which, for me anyway, struck me as even more important than Women Food and God.

Losing all of her life savings to Bernie Madoff's scam forces her to, once and for all, confront her issues about dealing with money, and she draws the parallels between dealing with money and dealing with food. Or, to begin with, not dealing with money and not dealing with food.

I read the entire book aloud, yes, to myself. I do that sometimes, when I really want to focus on the message. Reading actively that way channels it more effectively into my brain. My mind is less likely to wander as I read.

As with her last book, I don't feel like it's my place to talk about what's most relevant. Though, for me, almost all of it was relevant.

Except the part about losing $1 million to Bernie Madoff. That didn't happen to me. And now, it never will.

But I will share this: "The true disaster is living the life in your mind and missing the one in front of you."

I read that and felt it like someone had punched me in the chest.

What I appreciated about this book was its lack of exercises. This isn't a book that requires putting pen to paper. Not overtly, anyway. But she provides plenty of food for thought.

It's a very worthwhile read.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Frivolous ...

I have been having a conversation with three amazing women, only one of whom I know.

The other two are new in my life, since last week. I have yet to meet them, but I suppose it is unfair to say that I do not know them.

I know them. I know a bit about them, as much as one can glean in two conversations that have had to end.

These women are insightful in ways that I am not often insightful for myself.

Today, one of them said something so simple, I was literally struck dumb for a moment.

"I never thought of that," I finally managed to say.

I never thought of that.

In the first conversation, last week, I mentioned that I feel like too much of my life is frivolous. I had never described it that way before, and I was a little surprised when the word came out of my mouth. Frivolous. Frivolous. What a strange word.

Frivolous.

Look at it.

Frivolous.

It almost looks like nonsense.

There is this divide in my brain, this chasm that yawns between thoughts of things that I should do and things that bring me joy.

They are not the same things.

There is my mother's voice in my head (she hates when I use the word "mother," and it's true that she is not a "mother," she is very much a "mom"), telling me from a very young age that God gave me a very good brain.

I'll set the God component aside and own up to the very good brain part.

I'm smart. Really smart.

And I don't say that to boast, but to illustrate my point that being really smart predisposes me to believe that I have to do something with my life that very smart people do.

Many have told me I should go into politics.

No. No. A thousand times, no. The inanity would kill me.

Inanity. Rhymes with "insanity."

Politics, in its mature form, is certainly worthy. Politics, in its existing form, makes my stomach churn. And my head hurt. Who knew grown-ups could act that way? I've seen toddlers with better coping skills.

I am a leader, people tell me.

It has only now – literally, just seconds before I typed this – dawned on me that the only person I need to lead is myself.

I do not need to lead a team. Truly, I suck at delegating anyway. When I see something that I want done, I see the way I want it done, and I do it.

I needn't lead others directly.

Well. Huh. That's a good realization.

Way to go, brain.

I told the women about Patti Digh, my friend and author and all-around extraordinary gal, about her new web site and the daily rock.

"Do what you love," read the rock when I went to visit today.

It was later that I realized that I was looking at her home page and not her blog, which is the default page when anyone visits 37days.com and which features the true daily rock. No, the rock on her home page is static.

But still, today, as a message, it was important.

I've been making my way through Life is a Verb, her first book, which is not her first book, really, but which is the first book that came from her true self. Her earlier books were business books and I'm sure they're fine business books, as I can't imagine Patti turning in any work that is not fine, but when they arrived at her home, she felt nothing. No wonder. Patti is about as far away from traditional business as a woman can get.

Tonight, I flipped through it to read some of my notes in the margins and one of the first ones I wrote to myself was, "Importance is relative."

Why, yes, Beth, it is. And how nice of you to have already had that thought.

Importance is relative. What is important to me is very possibly not important to you.

Also, my brain is telling me that at the moment, I have no real way of knowing the future. Who knows what lies five years down the road? One year, for that matter. One week.

"When you take charge of your life, there is no longer need to ask permission of other people or society at large. When you ask permission, you give someone veto power over your life."
— Albert F. Geoffrey

Patti included that quote in a margin some pages later. Powerful. Veto power. (The politics association is not lost on me.)

What an amazing thing, letting go of expectations. Not expectations that others have of me. I clearly don't care about living up to those. If I did, everyone'd be sorely disappointed by now. But letting go of expectations I have of myself. The shoulds. The soul-crushing shoulds.

Should has gotten me nowhere. The Universe has kicked me out of every "should" situation I've tried.

Should. There's another weird word.

Should.

Who decides my shoulds?

Me.

Not other people or society at large.

"You're supposed to be the leading lady in your own life, for God's sake!"

I love that line, from "The Holiday."

Indeed.

And what could be less frivolous than that?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Good Times, January Edition ...


The January cookie installment for the angelo:HOME blog features Coconut Chocolate Almond Biscotti, a biscotti of my own creation, inspired by an Almond Joy.

Monday, January 09, 2012

'The Magic Room' ...

One of my goals for the new year – not a formal goal, but a "Yeah, that'd be good" – is to read at least a book a week.

I've gotten far away from reading books. Magazines? You betcha. Long-form writing online? Yup. But books, my long-time beloveds, have languished.

Jeff, my very-prolific-author friend, always sends his latest book to me. Reliably, the day a book drops, clunk!, there it is in my mailbox, too. It's very generous of him, very kind.

And so it was, a couple of days after Christmas, when The Magic Room: A Story About The Love We Wish For Our Daughters arrived from UPS.

Jeff had this book in the works when Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot last year. Jeff has become the go-to guy for quick-turnaround books from notable folks – Randy Pausch, Capt. Sully – and likewise he was tapped to help Gabby and her husband, Mark Kelly, tell their story. Gabby arrived in stores (and in my mailbox) November 15th. I started it, but the holidays took over and, well, reading didn't happen much.

But once the holidays had passed, I picked up Gabby again. And then The Magic Room arrived. And I found myself holding a book from Jeff in each hand.

I decided that I would read Gabby when I had time during the day and that I would read The Magic Room at night, before bed.

Before I knew it, I had read 90 pages of The Magic Room. And then last night, I read 90 more. And then I noticed the time. So I went to bed, but then I couldn't sleep, so I read until nearly 1 a.m. And I didn't much want to stop. But I did. And then I finished the book while I sipped my coffee this morning.

It's very sweet, well structured, with interesting stories to tell from the brides-to-be. (The Magic Room is a converted bank vault in Becker's Bridal in Fowler, Michigan, which has been run by the same family since 1934. It's paneled with mirrors to allow brides to step up on to the pedestal and see themselves from all angles and into infinity.) Jeff did a great job selecting a mix of brides: some younger, some older, some widowed, some divorced.

I fell in love with Meredith (awesome photo of your bridal party, woman!) and tried to understand Erika. And I cried when I read the recountings of all of the brides' weddings. I am a sap through and through.

Jeff had been trying to find the right hook on which to hang a book about love.

He found it.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Makes Beth Happy, January 8 ...

The Makes-Beth-Happy Word of the Day is:

Verge!
As in, what comes before merge!


The Makes-Beth-Happy Recipe of the Day is:

Homemade Nutella

Mind you, I will never actually make this. For the same reason that I no longer buy the jars at the store. And that reason is because I love it so much that if I were to eat it in proportion to how much I love it, the day would come when a crew would have to remove my roof and use a crane to extract me from my house.


And the Makes-Beth-Happy Objet of the Day is:

Vierra Dinner Napkins

I love the happy colors and the black and white stripes! The end of napkin confusion and festive, to boot! A lovely addition to dining outdoors, methinks.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

37 Days ...


My pal Patti Digh, ever the doer, just hosted an online event – a party – for, give or take, 1,200 of her fans and friends.

It was a chance for her to unveil her web site, 37days.com, but in typical Patti fashion, also to offer questions for us to ask of ourselves, and I am quiet now, not moving, chewing on this food for thought.

It will take quite some time to digest it. I relish that.

She asked all of us to bring cupcakes, because a party can hardly be called a party without cupcakes.

And so, today, I baked. Which is not unusual for me, generally, but today was special because as I frosted the cupcakes, I thought about the cupcakes I had baked in the past, and I realized that I had never baked cupcakes until today. And baking cupcakes was a nice first.

I made white frosting (as white as vanilla extract will allow frosting to be) and made it spiky, as a Patti tribute. Patti has fabulous white hair, made even more fabulous, I am happy to say, by J-D, my hair architect. And now, hers, too.

I added sprinkles, because they're important, and I held up each color candle I had on hand to help me decide, even though in my mind, I always knew that I would choose pink.

I encourage you to visit Patti's site and get to know my amazing friend. Who is excited to have a new orange desk. And a beautiful chair. And a space in which to create.

And who encourages us to do the same.

Bald Move: The Philosophy ...

In November I wrote this post:

I am going to have someone shave my head.

I am going to raise $100,000 for St. Baldrick's and when I do, I am going to have someone shave my head at the St. Baldrick's event to benefit Donna's Good Things.

Not "I am going to
try to raise $100,000 ... ," I am going to raise $100,000 for St. Baldrick's to benefit Donna's Good Things.

How, you ask?

With your help. And the help of everyone you tell. And the help of everyone I know in the media who will help me spread the word.

This is Donna. This is Donna's Cancer Story, written by Donna's Mama, my amazing friend Sheila.

She and her husband, Jeremy, are two of the most extraordinary people I have the great privilege to know. Sheila and I went to high school together. We lost touch after graduation, but reconnected on Facebook in September 2009.

I was happy to hear from her. I was not prepared to learn that her daughter was in hospice.

On October 19, 2009, Donna died. She was 4.

I didn't have the chance to meet Donna, but she has changed my life.

As her parents wrote in her obituary, "Donna was singular."

She lived a large life in her short time here.

Her parents continue to parent her by doing good things in her name.

And I'm asking you to help me to help them do even more.

Share this post. Share the link to my St. Baldrick's page. Ask everyone you know to share it and contribute what they can, because $100,000 can accomplish a lot of good things.

My love and gratitude to you.


Here are a few words about my philosophy behind such events:

I'm willing to do the "big" thing or the "hard" thing, but I need others to help me.

I've walked 60 miles in Chicago in August for many years for the 3-Day, because folks came through for me and contributed to my fundraising. One year, we walked from St. Charles to Montrose Harbor.

Here's a Google Maps depiction, to give you a sense:


I walked that. In three days. Me and about 2,000 other people. And we raised a lot of money. Thanks to folks like you.

We'll walk the 60 miles. But we need folks like you to write the checks. We can't do it all on our own.

And the same goes for St. Baldrick's.

I'm willing to submit to a shearing if folks show up in a big way with the fundraising for Donna's Good Things.

These locks will not go cheaply. But they will go.

So long as others are willing to join me by helping me get to my goal.

Your contributions honor Donna's memory.

Kindly give what you can and share this post. The more people I reach, the more likely I'll reach my goal.

As ever, I thank you.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

New Year, New Cookie ...


These little beauties are Cream Cheese Shortbread with Toasted Walnuts from the forthcoming One Girl Cookies: Recipes for Cakes, Cupcakes, Whoopie Pies, and Cookies from Brooklyn's Beloved Bakery which you should pre-order right now, because, trust me, you're going to want a copy.

I made a batch yesterday and thought they were a smidgen too salty, so I made another batch today and cut the teaspoon of salt back to 3/4 teaspoon, and yup, they're perfect for my palate now.

They're delightful little cookies: crumbly, sandy, nutty goodness, the perfect beginning to baking in the new year. (You'll note that they dressed for the occasion in the sparkly, cut-glass dish and had a flute of Champagne nearby.)