Sunday, December 31, 2006

baking for the 40-year old boy.

life is not a series of events to lose weight for. the wedding, the reunion, the other wedding, the other reunion...please god no, let that not be my life.

life is, in my mind anyway, a series of events to bake for.

and so, yesterday was such an event. it was my friend/director/boss's 40th birthday, and if any occasion deserves a cake made from scratch it's a 40th birthday party for a guy like s. he wanted chocolate-chocolate and so, chocolate-chocolate he got.

the cake recipe comes from a friend's mama in North Carolina and is probably the best chocolate cake i've ever made or eaten. uber-moist, but not gooey, and easy peasy. the frosting is an adaptation of a Nigella Lawson recipe that i found in her book Feast: Food to Celebrate Life (appropriate, no?). it has a bit of sour cream in it which gives it a slight tang, and i used a bit of bittersweet chocolate instead of all semi-sweet for a bit more, ahem, sophistication.

Hershey Syrup Cake
from the kitchen of Mrs. Doty

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cup sugar
6 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup of flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 large bottle Hershey's Syrup

I used my pink KitchenAid mixer with the whisk attachment, but you could easily make this cake by hand. Good for the biceps. Cream butter and sugar together. Gradually add eggs one by one, mixing to combine. Add vanilla. In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients. Add flour mixture to wet mixture, mixing to combine. Uncork the Hershey's syrup and pour it in there (getting a little on your fingertips so you can sample it. Must check the quality!). Beat on medium for a couple of minutes until all lumpy lumps are gone and the batter is smooth and shiny. Pour into 3 round 8-inch cake pans, greased and lined with parchment paper (or not. a generous spray of Pam will work fine too). Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean. This is a really moist cake, so it really shouldn't come out perfectly clean. Let cool on wire racks for 10 minutes. Then unmold the cakes and let cool completely. Then, frost!

Old Fashioned Chocolate Frosting
adapted from Nigella Lawson's Feast: Food to Celebrate Life

3/4 stick unsalted butter
4 ounces good quality semisweet chocolate, broken into small pieces
2 ounces good quality bittersweet chocolate, broken into small pieces
2 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt the butter and chocolate in a good-sized bowl in the microwave or suspended over a pan of simmering water. Go slowly. You don't want any burning or seizing. Allow it to cool a bit. Add the corn syrup to the chocolate mixture, then add the sour cream and vanilla. Mix to combine. Whisk in the sifted confectioner's sugar (ya gotta sift or you'll end up with lumpy frosting. Lumpy mashed potatoes - good. Lumpy frosting - bad). Nigella does all of this using a food processor, but I'm too lazy to pull that beast out for something this simple so, whisk i will. Frost away! Lick whisk.

...and for the perfect post-Christmas baking outfit. see below.

my neighbor bought me these socks and flip-flops for Christmas, and i couldn't wait 'til next year to debut them. we food porn-starlets must have our signature outfits; Nigella's got her cleavage-bearing tops, i've got my thigh-highs.

Friday, December 29, 2006

home for the holidays, rule #7

things always get better.

they found (and delivered) my luggage, and only one bottle of conditioner exploded.


and...i must apologize to all of you who have posted a comment in the past, ohhhhh 6 months. Blogger has been urging me to update to the "New Blogger," and i've been ignoring their requests. last night, i updated and WHAM! suddenly, i had 40 comments to approve or reject from the past 6 months. good lord. i'm blushing. oh, really, stop.

anyway...thanks for your comments, i'll do my best to respond to all of them, and please continue to do so. it's so validating!

and that's probably something i should discuss with my therapist.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

home for the holidays, universal rule

you have no free will.

the sooner you accept it and just "float" a la Holly Hunter in the brilliantly funny, appropriately-named movie Home for the Holidays, the better (or at least more sane) your experience will be. and maybe, just maybe, if you let It all go...all those ideas of what Christmas is supposed to be like with your family, you'll find a different It that fits just fine. It may not be what you expected. you might get tinsel, when you expected garland, but hey...they both sparkle.

and if that philosophy doesn't work, there's always the fully-loaded Christmas punch.


home for the holidays, rule #6b

it can get worse.

they lost my luggage too.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

home for the holidays, rule #6

Northwest sucks ass.

i'm stuck in the Detroit airport. i landed at 1pm. due to cancellations, my connecting flight to NYC will not depart until 9:30pm.

8.5 hour delay, and i got a $5 food voucher.

i want to cry, but i already did that once today, and i'm done. tears in an airport are so unoriginal.

so! i got a massage at the airport spa-la-la, and i'm about to sidle up to the airport bar for a cocktail and fries. a girl's gotta make rice krispy treats out of stale rice krispies.

home for the holidays, rule #5

watch Titanic with your dad. it gives him a chance to show off his new enormous HDTV...

this is better than a movie theater, isn't it, margaux?

you'll discover that your tendency to audibly "hmmm," "hmph," and "oh god" your way through a movie was inherited from your father...found on the same chromosome as devilish eyebrows and a love of the cheesy romance flick.

also, the perfect reminder that mr. big professional football player is actually mr. big professional sentimental sap, and wow, that makes loving him a little bit easier when he's got his helmet on.

Monday, December 25, 2006

home for the holidays, rule #4

antlers look better on 6-year olds. still...everyone in the family should have to wear them. can you imagine taking anything anyone says seriously? all possible criticisms are rendered moot because they're wearing fuzzy brown antlers.

home for the holidays, rule #3

"You surprised to see us, Clark?"

"Oh, Eddie... If I woke up tomorrow with my head sewn to the carpet, I wouldn't be more surprised than I am now. "

watch Chevy Chase's Christmas Vacation with your parents and grandparents. they will wheeze with paroxysms laughter. you will giggle at their glee and tear-stained faces, but you will also wish you'd paid more attention when you learned CPR, and are there any nitroglycerin tablets in the medicine cabinet?

home for the holidays, rule #2

to your father you are still the 14-year old girl who likes to spend two hours wrapping all of his presents for other people (including a 40-pound home stereo system). accept it. Christmas is not the time to try to convince your parents that you're a grown-up. that requires way too much time, a husband, and a baby.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

home for the holidays, rule #1

answer all potentially incendiary comments with a zen-like benevolent silence.

for example, in response to the rosie o'donnell/donald trump skirmish (they are both idiots, but i'm frustrated by trump's constant criticism of her looks - C'MON!), someone says:

"rosie o'donnell is such a homely woman, isn't she?"

stare stare stare at the television with great intent. you are not rudely ignoring her, you are just so interested in whatever that dapper Anderson Cooper has to say, you just didn't hear her!

try try try not to stifle your screams by shoving another cookie down your throat. you will only feel worse, and it will only lead to inevitable weight gain, which will only lead to more annoying questions like:

"so, what sort of thing do you do for exercise?"

to which, i suggest the response:

"lots and lots of really great sex with jewish black men who don't support the war."*

*substitute most parent-offensive ethnic group as needed.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

saying is believing.

i watched this commercial the other night on YouTube (alright, i'm a little addicted), and it made me cry. weep, actually, but then...






i weep...but! i also laugh really really loudly so it all balances out in the end.

i just rec'd these pictures of my 7-year old niece, Madison Jane, BEAMING with her big ol' bloody, gap tooth smile...

she is simply joy joy joy incarnate.

to think that she could ever find herself less than perfect (and i mean perfectly imperfect like those bumpy though succulent apples you get from the orchard not the shiny ones from the Super Wal-Mart that taste like terrycloth soaked in apple juice), makes me downright depressed.


fathers, uncles, grandfathers, brothers, boyfriends, husbands...tell the little girls (and the big ones too) in your life how beautiful they are. no, it shouldn't matter, but oh, goddammit, it does.

Monday, December 18, 2006

that's fo' sho.

my friend m. snapped this pic of me a couple of weeks ago when we were at the artist studios in long island city.

tee hee hee.

thanks, mac 'n' cheese.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

my brother has created a monster...

and an angel...

Ethan Daniel, my brother Beau's youngest spitfire offspring rumored to nibble dog food - face planted directly into bowl - for snacks. we share the same birthday, we're both the youngest of 3 children families, we were both born in years ending in 5 (1975, 2005), and we both, i dare say, have our own sort of "food issues."

Saturday, December 16, 2006

positive thinking

"i think i'm going to get a bikini wax."

"what? why would you put yourself through that?"


Friday, December 15, 2006

ich habe genug

i adore Maira Kalman. she's an artist and author probably most known among us Big Pommeranians for her New Yorker cover "New Yorkistan" that ran in December 2001. it was, according to my cousin C, one of the first things she saw that actually made her smile after 9/11. if you're feeling generous, buy yourself a subscription to The New York Times so you'll have access to TimesSelect. she does a monthly column there called The Principles of Uncertainty complete with ubercharming illustrations and profound musings.

I go home and wash dishes. Washing dishes is an antidote to confusion. I know that for a fact.
Maira Kalman

Thursday, December 14, 2006

not a looker, but boy was she smart.

Do what you feel in your heart to be right.
You'll be criticized anyway.

Anna Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962)

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

better effects than star wars.

i had dinner last night with a film editor. he's got his paws on a number of different projects, but one of his big accounts is working on the television advertising campaign for a major cosmetcis company.

here's what i learned:

1. the Lemon-Basil Martinis at Marion's on The Bowery are delicioso. like a spring picnic in a glass!

2. Kate Moss has cellulite.




3. i knew that every commercial still photo was touched up in some way - skin smoothed, eyes brightened, wrinkles buffed - but i had NO IDEA that they could do that with film and television, a seemingly "mobile" medium. as recently as the 80s, they didn't have the technology to "correct" a physical flaw for an entire commercial or film, but now they do. he assured me that even baby-faced, 16-year old models are touched up to perfection. and...those commercials for make-up that feature "mature" women with charming little eye crinkles? those aren't even their real wrinkles. they're half-ass wrinkles. they've softened those too, just not as much.

so, the next time you're in a movie theater, asking yourself, "how is it that she has skin that clear up this close?" remember...she doesn't. she has an excellent make-up artist and Director of Photography, and she's sleeping with the "Special Effects" guy.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

U.F.C. 2006

this year, we'd originally planned on meeting at K-Mart to get our "family portrait" done at Olan Mills, but that plan got dashed in favor of dressing up and posing like fools in the comfort of our "dad's" home (and they don't peddle martinis at K-Mart).

in 2002, myself and three of my nearest and dearest college chums got together to celebrate our own Christmas before heading home to our families. we ate Chicken Spaghetti, drank cheap wine, opened presents, then stayed up all night "cuttin' the fool." we've done the same every year since then, and i think i can speak for all of us when i say that it's the highlight of the Christmas season. we call it Urban Family Christmas or UFC.

some things change: the location, the quality of gifts, the menu.

some things don't: who's there, how much we eat and drink (too much), how we act (like complete idiots), how many photos are taken for eventual blackmail (plenty).

it's always a bit of a bummer going home on Sunday afternoon, even if you are laden down with loads and loads of thoughtful gifts that will make you a better-dressed and more well-read person. to laugh, to dance, to sing so hard for hours, and then to enter an empty apartment that smells like prehistoric macaroni and cheese is not an easy thing. look at the pictures from the evening, and you marvel at the fact that in this whacked-out world that can often leave you feeling like the strange little kid that no one picks for kickball, there are at least three people weirder than you who love you very much.

Chicken Spaghetti rocks...Velveeta, Ro-Tel and can you go wrong?

b and i got a little silly in the kitchen singing "silent night." the video sucks, and i actually think the video and sound is out of whack, but if you close your eyes it sounds (almost) pretty.

happy holidays, folks.

Monday, December 11, 2006

deep-fried philosophy

my friend m is 26. she's confused about what she wants to do with her life. she was talking to her very Southern mama on the phone the other night about her troubles to which her mama wisely replied:

well, m. you've got one foot in yesterday, another in t'morra, and yer pissin' all over today. i don't know how yer gonna git anythin' done.

amen, mama, amen.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

for softer, smoother boob hair.

this picture makes it look almost pleasant.

on saturday morning, i went to get my annual mammogram and a breast sonogram. the mammogram hurt more than it ever has, but instead of viewing that as a bad thing, i'm choosing to view it as a good thing. the woman that performed the mammogram was INCREDIBLY thorough. she hoisted my breast up there and smooshed, smashed, smished my boob between those two cold metal plates until it resembled a breast no longer - more like a pancake, with a single solitary raspberry smack in the center. she then brought me back into the room to isolate an area higher up on the breast. this time, a smaller plate and even more pressure. excellent way to spend your saturday morning, folks.

[they put these little floral print stickers (with a small metal dot enclosed) on your nipples that help the doctor locate the nipple in the x-ray. "nipple markers," they're called, they're like itsy bitsy pasties, and they hurt like the dickens when you pull them off. i wonder if i'm the only weirdo who saved hers for her scrapbook. likely.]

then, onto the breast sonogram. lisette, a sweet sweet sweet petite Latin woman performed the procedure. if you've never had one done - in short, they squirt a gel-like substance onto your breast and then rub it down with a flat metal plate on the end of a small wand ( i promise it sounds much more fun than it is) that takes pictures of any suspicious spots in your breast tissue. sweet Lisette warmed the gel before. i thanked her and told her that when i'd had it done before, the gel was ice cold.

that eez so meaann! so lazy. it takes two seconds to warm eet. sooo mean.

lisette then told me, as she rubbed down my lubricated boobs, that she was going to buy a winter coat today at Burlington Coat Factory, and see, she even has a 20% coupon. surely there must be a coat there that she would like, and do i know what train she should take to get there? surely you'll find something cozy, i said, and take the 1 or the 9 to 23rd street.

lisette proclaimed both of my breasts "lovely," and then excused herself to show the pictures to the doctor. as i waited, still lubricated and sticky, i wondered what that gel actually was...the ingredients, etc. (my way, i imagine, of avoiding thinking about less pleasant topics. death, for example.) when lisette returned, i asked her.

oh, eet's just called Ultrasound Gel from some sort of medical supply company, but you know, on humeed days during the summer, i come een and put eet een my hair. reeally good for getting reed of frizz, and it's alcohol free.

Friday, December 08, 2006

ripeness is all.

She wasn't among those whose response to tragedy or loss was limited to offering the conventional expressions of sympathy before moving on with their own lives. In 1988, an old friend phoned us to say that his grown daughter, a young woman we'd known since she was a child, had been raped by an intruder. This was a dozen years after Alice had been operated on for lung cancer, and among the things that she wrote to our friend's daughter was that having lung cancer and being raped were comparable only in that both were what she called "realizations of our worst nightmares." She said that there was some relief at surviving what you might have thought was not survivable. "No one would ever choose to have cancer or to be raped," she wrote. "But you don't get to choose, and it is possible at least to understand what Ernest Becker meant when he said something like 'To live fully is to live with an awareness of the rumble of terror that underlies everything.' or to begin to understand the line in 'King Lear'--'Ripeness is all.' You might have chosen to become ripe less dramatically or dangerously, but you can still savor ripeness."
from About Alice, a new book by writer Calvin Trillin about his remarkable wife ("Educator, Author and Muse" was the The New York Times obit headline) who died in 2001. i first read it when it ran as an article in New Yorker several months ago. i was so touched, i tore it out and saved it. i found the book the other day on the "free table" at work and promptly snatched it up.

so lovely, and strangely not depressing considering the subject matter. easily read on a lazy winter's morning at the bagel shop, sunlight streaming in, coffee cup steaming...someone on your christmas list would love it. i'd pinky swear on it.

Betting Your Life, a New Yorker article by Alice Stewart Trillin on "doctors, illness, and family. It was published eight months before her death from heart failure."

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

an important comment
loved the post and the promo video. must say, the
comment regarding your fam's admiration of lost weight
hit home HARD. it's so confusing, especially when
you're young, to have your mom look at you with
pleasure at your thinner body only to have her, a few
months later, wake you up in the middle of the night
crying and begging you to eat because now you are "too

i am still swayed by their opinions, more so than any
other person in the world. i can't say many people
here notice (or give a good damn) i lost weight, but
at thanksgiving, my mom, in the most complimentary
way, said, "you don't make a good shadow, honey!"
and i felt praised. gosh, margaux, it's SICKSICKSICK.

always good to hear your voice.
love, me.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

size ate promo...FINALLY.

i literally started working on this promo video a year ago. good lord. things always take longer than you'd imagined, don't they? ah it is. it's a little fuzzy b/c i had to compress it so it could fit on YouTube and MySpace, but presence is more important than perfection.

enjoy, and please spread it around like pixie dust. oh! and please take a sec to leave glowing comments on YouTube so passersby will stop and view.

self-care my bum

when one thinks of activities and items that fall under the umbrella of "self-care," one generally thinks of warm and fuzzy things. things that make you feel good now. slippers. silky slips of underwear dotted with ribbon roses. Bath & Body Works Vanilla Sugar body cream. baking cookies on a rainy afternoon. a real grown-up vacation to someplace exotic where clean towels multiply like Gremlins and pina coladas grow on trees.

bored the other night at work, i did a quick search on using the following keywords.

self-love: 36,284 books

self-care: 21,158 books

self-comfort: 3,383 books

self-nurture: 1,924 books

i know many of these books serve a purpose. i'm sure i've read many of them. i'm sure a number of them rest on my bookshelves just waiting for me to crack them open so they can SAVE MY LIFE.


here's the thing though - i don't think a single one of them tells you that an act in the name of self-care can often feel like someone has scraped the innards of your soul out with one of those little grapefruit spoons with a serrated edge. sitting there raw and exposed and bleeding, you try try try to wrap your noggin around the fact that the Someone who did this to you is YOU, and you did it as an act of self-loooooooooove.


yes, it's called taking care of yourself and sometimes, it sucks ass.

we go to the ob-gyn. we go to the gym. we go to the dentist knowing that we are putting our tender mouths into the hands of a strange Egyptian man who knows all the Muzak tunes by heart and wears Drakkar Noir, the same cologne your high school boyfriend wore (oh God, please don't try to make out with me, Dr. G). we go anyway, because we know the torture we endure today is nothing compared to the torture we will be forced to endure as a toothless geriatric gumming scrambled eggs while the rest of the world masticates Kobe steak with their cared for canines.

yeah, so you do things that you know know know in the short run are going to hurt like the dickens. you shell out $550 for a plane ticket home for the holidays even though you'd rather, oh i dunno, pay rent. you get tested for the breast cancer gene even though it scares you shitless, and it might be easier to not know that you're that much more likely to die (or not) breastless and alone. you decide to draw some emotional boundaries that greatly change the landscape of your day to day life, and you sorta loved that landscape, bumpy and uncertain though it was.

but you sacrifice in the short run because you know you deserve more in the long run.


self-care is eating eggs now, so we can have steak later. i just wish they tasted better going down.

Monday, December 04, 2006

artsy fartsy sunday in queens

queens is definitely the underrated borough.

on Sunday afternoon, a few friends and i (is that grammatically correct?) went to Crane Street Studios in Long Island City for their Open Studios. maybe 100 visual artists rent rooms in in an old industrial warehouse that is completely covered in graffiti (all legal). we saw a ton of great art and whacked out artists' studios (eureka! my messy apartment isn't cluttered, it's creative!), and the building itself is an industrial-sized piece of Jolly Rancher eye candy - Willy Wonka and Wizard of Oz all rolled into one.

my friend a and i decided we want to rent a space, buy rollerskates and then rollerskate up and down the hallways...after dipping our skates in paint. i think i'll follow behind her with glitter. theme song? lovely day by bill withers.

if you have out of town guests, i highly recommend taking the 7 train out to the 45 Road/ Court Square stop to check it out. not sure how often they have open studios, but the graffiti alone is worth the trip. while you're there, you can check out P.S 1 just a couple blocks away. your guests will leave NY thinking that you are the coolest person ever.

and you are, to me.

view from inside the warehouse

a few of my faves...

anki king, a lanky Norwegian artist, did a series of self-portraits "from alternate realties" i.e. if she were Large, Little, Crippled, Black, Tall, etc.

If (Large)

fernando rangel's paintings are fascinating. he takes macro digital photographs of watercolors before they dry, and then paints the image in oil paints.

Temporal Scape, oil on linen, 68 x 34

and sonomi kobayashi-clemente, a japanese artist whose subtle artwork makes my heart beat a bit slower (in a good way), and reminds me of my friend r's artwork...delicate and seemingly simple, but not...just look at it from somewhere else in the room.
Synchronicity 2, oil and pastel and pencil on paper

and then there was the guy w/ an actual swing in his studio. of course i swang...swung...swanged. whatever.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

my boyfriend terrence howard...oh, okay, so he's not my boyfriend, but that doesn't mean he shouldn't be. two quotes from an InStyle magazine feature on this toffee-colored papa point to why i should be wearing his class ring on my index finger with a corn pad to keep it from falling off:
"I don't like skinny girls. A woman is supposed to have curves. I'm definitely attracted to the waves in the ocean."

...he thinks menswear is especially restrictive when it comes to colors. Chartreuse? Marigold? Bring it on, says Howard. "Color sedates and calms people," he asserts. "I can't see a man in pink starting a fight."
see? soulmates.

Friday, December 01, 2006