Triple Ginger Mille Crepe Cake

A few weeks ago, Molly at My Name Is Yeh was giving away a gorgeous wooden cake stand. For an entry, you had to comment with what you would display on the cake stand, were you to win. I said I would like to develop a recipe for a cake version of my beloved triple-ginger cookies which are, in turn, based slightly on Ina Garten's version. My entry never went through and since I wasn't likely to win that way, I decided to develop the recipe anyway. Thanks, Molly, for spurring me onward into uncommon inspiration! I made that cake. Successfully. And not just any cake...a crepe cake! The byproduct of this sudden inspiration is Triple Ginger Mille Crepe Cake. This cake is basically pancake-ception....a cake made out of gently spiced pancakes with layers of punch-packing ginger pastry-cream. If you are looking for the all the satisfaction of an unapologetically pugnacious gingersnap without actually making a batch of gingersnaps, then this cake is for you. It looks like the sister of Jabba the Hut optimistically clad in shapewear, but man alive is it good. The recipe follows the glamour-shoot.

An easy way to peel ginger is to scrape it with the bowl of a spoon!



That cream tho.



Triple Ginger Mille Crepe Cake
(adapted drastically from the Green Tea Crepe Cake from Martha Stewart)

Crepes (makes about eighteen)
Active time: 1 hr. 10 min.
Total time: 1 hr. 40 min., plus chilling
2 cups cake flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon french gray sea salt
2 1/4 cups whole milk, room temperature
6 large eggs, room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cups butter melted, plus another 1/4 cup for pan

Ginger Pastry Cream
Active time: 30 min.
Total Time: 30. min, plus chilling
3 cups whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 cup molasses
Pinch of coarse salt
1 tablespoon sliced, fresh ginger left in large pieces
6 large egg yolks
6 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup candied ginger, minced

1.) For Crepes: Place flour, sugar, salt, milk, eggs, vanilla, ginger, other spices, and butter in blender. Blend well for a minute or so. Scrape down sides as needed, then cover and chill in the refrigerator at least two hours or overnight. While chilling, make pastry cream (recipe below).
2.) Process batter again (briefly) to remove lumps. Lightly coat a small skillet with butter. If possible, use a non-stick skillet coated with butter. My crepes would have turned out thinner if I had had access to one. Heat over medium heat until butter begins to smoke. Pour 1/4 cup of batter into center of pan and swirl to cover. Reduce heat to medium-low and return pan to heat. Cook till edges are golden and center is firm, about a minute. Lift and flip crepe either with a large spatula or your fingers. If using fingers, be careful - it can hurt rather badly. Cook 15 seconds more, then transfer to a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Feel free to stack the crepes as they come off the heat - they will not stick to each other.
3.) For Cream: In medium saucepan, combine milk, 1/4 cup of sugar, molasses, the salt, and fresh ginger slices. Cook over medium-high heat until mixture comes to a simmer. Fish out ginger slices.
4.) In a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks, cornstarch, and remaining 1/4 cup of sugar. Whisking constantly, slowing pour about 1/2 cup of the hot mixture into the egg yolk mixture. Continue adding the hot stuff to the egg yolks, whisking until incorporated. Return to the saucepan and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until it thickens and comes to a boil. Let boil, still whisking, two minutes.
5.) Remove from heat and, straining out any lumps, add vanilla and minced candied ginger. Add butter and stir until butter melts and mixture cools, about 5 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap pressed directly onto the surface of the cream to prevent a "skin" from forming. Chill until cool, at least 2 hours and up to two days.
6.) Assembly: Assemble your cake by alternating layers of crepe and cream. Sift a half-teaspoon of cinnamon overtop of the cake and decorate as you wish!

DIY Autumn Wild-Flower Arrangements

“Let there be something alive in every room of the home,”
I once read in an article on home-decorating. Though I haven’t the luxury yet of designing my own home, I do love to put the touch of extra elegance in a room or two. One of the easiest and most satisfying ways to bring a room “alive” is to add fresh flowers. I’m terrible at keeping potted things alive; my orchid, Veronica-Millicent-Agnes-And-Jane, died last year because I kept it in a draughty spot with the window open all fall. Miraculously, I kept it around long enough that it sprouted a new leaf and perhaps in a year or so there will be second-generation blooms. Succulents are also an option. Succulents are cute but somehow don’t grab my heart like flowers. Maybe it is because blossoms are kissable and cactuses are inherently not. Am I alone in that I sometimes can’t help but kiss a flower I especially love? Probably. Still, the impulse is there, just as it is when I pick up a kitten or a chubby toddler, or any other sort of sweet, innocent thing. In my house, flowers get kisses.



The transition from summer’s bounty to autumn, however, can be a little confusing. The garden still grows a smattering of zinnias, but they cling to the aura of a pool-party in their fuchsia and orange and determined yellow. The roses out front are having a revival, but I’m not ready for roses either. Roses of this hue (a perky raspberry pink) say “spring-summer” to me. The September season is especially puzzling because I don’t want to bring out the cranberries, russets, olives, and plum colors that belong to October and November. If I start to make the house look like Thanksgiving two months early, I’m tired of it by the time there really is nothing else to go with. In the stores, the only summer-fall-segue arrangements seem to be hell-bent on sunflowers. Don’t get me wrong: I love sunflowers. But one can have too much of a good thing and sometimes sunflowers are too robust and…dare I say it….architectural for softening a corner of a room? Besides, I have a constitutional dislike for doing what everyone else is doing. This is where I steal from the Master Artist and pretend like it was my idea all along. What I like to do come the autumn is to take a look at what is growing wild. What colors are rioting together naturally? Have you ever seen anything prettier than the bank of a country road in autumn? Jewelweed hangs its red and orange lanterns with promises of healing properties, the Queen Anne’s lace is taking a hiatus and bowing out in favor of a bevvy of Jerusalem Artichoke and Goldenrod. And popping up to join the farewell-to-summer are a dozen different kinds of purple and blue flowers ranging in color from periwinkle to Cookie-Monster to violet. So what is my choice for an early-autumn palette for the indoors?


Purple & Gold.

Some, if not most, of the blue and purple wildflowers do best left growing outside. They don’t cherish being brought into the house and either drop their petals or turn to seed-fluff in a day or two. I’m not sure why, but that has been my experience. So when I saw deep purple stock being sold at Trader Joe’s for a very reasonable $3, I knew I had to take it home. I scoped out the banks on either side of the road on my way home and, fixing on a good patch of goldenrod, began to plan. Of course the stock would have been pretty enough on its own, but an early-evening walk to snip some gold (and a few seedy rushes) was half the pleasure.


My number one tip for creating beautiful wild-inspired arrangements is to look at how it is growing, how it is arranged in the wild, and to replicate that indoors. Go with your gut. I’ve made the most gorgeous arrangements with no real flowers at all, just seed-pods, seed-heads, and graceful branches. So I’m going purple and gold this week. And the best part of it? After the stocks hands in its apron, I can cut a little more golden-rod , pull out of my blue glass, and have early-autumn Round Two ready to go. I know not all of you have the luxury of living out in the country, but certainly you can find a roadside or an empty lot where the stubborn ones, the hangers-on of summer, have elbowed in. I drive through the city often. There are always “weeds” and it only takes a cock-eyed optimist to change a weed into a wildflower.





Here’s to wild roadsides. May the mowers long forget them and may you never be adopted by a Lyme's Disease-ridden tick! (P.S. Wearing jeans helps with this.)

Spiced Raw Pecan Butter

Confession Time: I pretty much despise most breakfast foods. You don't catch me craving waffles or pancakes, pressing to make breakfast for dinner, or trying my hardest to get a group of friends together for a sleepover and brunch. I'd so much rather grab leftover fajitas out of the fridge. You can get my heart on the subject of pastries or the perfect biscuit with salty Virginia ham, but those aren't foods it behooves me to choose very often. And yet, if I skip breakfast I am absolutely ravenous for the rest of the day and make worse choices because easy food is often slightly maniacal in what it does to your body. This is where quick, healthy, filling breakfast options come in. With a little prep-time, anything is possible and I leave for work feeling like I've got one on the day ahead. Protein is a must. Flavor, equally important. And one does get tired of an easy-over egg day after day after day. One of my favorite solutions is a yummy nut butter spread on toast or a banana: hassle-free, scrumptious tasty, and quick. What could be better? Below, I've shared my recipe for Spiced Raw Pecan Butter. Think peanut-butter, but ten times tastier. Vaguely sweet, mildly spicy. All you need are a few spices, a bag of raw pecans, and a pinch of salt. Oh yeah, and a blender. That's all. Mornings, I raise you a gauntlet. Get past that if you may.





Spiced Raw Pecan Butter
8 oz. raw pecans
Pinch of sea salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground mace

How To: Dump everything into the blender or food processor. It's a loud, longish process so be ready to stop the blender every thirty seconds and scrape down the sides with a spatula. You are essentially babysitting the nuts as they are spun from whole nuts to nut-meal to sticky powder to nut-butter. This process takes 6-10 minutes. If your nuts are not spectacularly oily or if you prefer a runnier nut-butter, feel free to add a teaspoon of coconut oil to the mixture. But don't give up! Your nuts will turn into butter. I promise.
Makes 1 cup

Happy weekend! I hope I've been able to help you up your toast game! Trader Joe's had bags of raw hazelnuts...I'm plotting a raw, clean version of Nutella. Mwahahah. Catch you kids later.

Champagne, Back Steps: Eating Classy For Cheap in Colonial Williamsburg

This actually has nothing to do with champagne, which I don't drink. But writing "champagne" and saying it is so rewarding, like saying "Dior" or "Louboutin," or "Versace." Now I've got a silly grin on my face. I'm getting ready to tell you something big. Something really big. I don't have many secrets but those I have don't usually get out, which is pretty much the purpose of secrets, come to think of it. Here's what I'm going to tell you: an insider's tip on how to have a classy picnic for under $2 a person in Colonial Williamsburg. I'm going to give the example of a party of five, okay? So get yourself and four friends and head to Williamsburg and the tour can begin.


First Step: head to Merchant's Square. This is the square of shops at the head of Duke of Gloucester St. (D.O.G Street to those who know it well). There is a delicious men's haberdashery store, and a jeweler with windows you can absolutely drool over, a Williams-Sonoma (my favorite), and a Scottish store which sells a men's cologne, "Royalle Rugby" which every woman should take a whiff of.


Second Step: Find The Fat Canary. Skim its outdoor eating arrangements and you will find The Cheese Shop. Yes, The Cheese Shop. To the right of The Cheese Shop will be the Wythe Candy Shop and you ought to go inside because A) it smells wonderful and B) there are free samples. For your information.



Third Step: Gather samples, reassemble in front of The Cheese Shop. Go into The Cheese Shop. Enter and admire the way the sunlight gleams through bottles of every kind of honey imaginable. Check out the drinking balsamic vinegar. At this point I always start humming a country song, mentally: "Kisses sweeter than Tupelo honey..."

Fourth Step: Find the sandwich counter which, having entered the doors, ought to be directly in front of you at the back of the store. But don't order a sandwich. What you'll want to do now is go to this funky looking hammock thing hung from the ceiling to the right of the counter, near the drinks cooler:


See that? Bread Ends: $1. Each bag contains five hunks of various types of bread, sawed off the ends of the sandwiches. Each chunk of bread is enough to feed one person without stuffing them or having leftovers. Snatch a bag up: you've just done bread-for-five at twenty cents per head. Highest of fives.

Step Five: Find your perfect cheese. Inside, it will soon become obvious to you where the cheese is kept: in a beautiful, beautiful cooler with a beaming man or woman standing behind, wire-bundle at the ready to slice off a gleamy, creamy piece of whatever you fancy.


But first, make sure you check the "discount cheese" bins which are usually on a rack someplace in the center of the store because there could be a weight-limit on how small a piece of cheese you can buy, whereas the "discount" bin usually contains smaller pieces and/or the ends of bigger blocks.
As for types, might I recommend the Wisconsin, the 2-year Aged Red Leaf cheddar, apple-wood smoked cheddar, Cotswold Double Gloucester, Havarti, or a young Holland Gouda? But I've never bought a cheese I disliked. Also, if you liked smoked sausages, getting a landjaeger is a good choice. This will hike up your price-per-head about .50 but it's worth it.


 The cheese shops sell drinks that run about $2 per bottle/can. I love the lemon, blood orange, or grapefruit San Pellegrino but the birch-beer is also yummy. Typically, though, I try to bring my own water-bottle. Choose your cheese: purchasing a couple good, low-price cheeses from The Cheese Shop (enough for five people) will cost five or six dollars. Remember to ask the cheese-man for a plate and knife! To the cheese, we added dried cherries which cost $4.


Step Six: Exit and find a spot for your picnic. I have three spots which I favor. One is top secret, but I will share the other two. The first can be found by walking the opposite way down Duke of Gloucester Street (away from the college, toward the historic section) until you reach the Palace Green. Instead of picnicking on the Green, however, which can be crowded, so turn to the right and head into the empty field/segue lined with trees which gently slopes down to a quiet road. This is prime picnic territory. The other spot can be found in the yard of two buildings near the parking lots on the corners of Francis and Henry streets. No one has told us not to sit there...but I'm not really sure they're officially Colonial Williamsburg property at all. However, it's a very pretty, secluded spot while being smack-dab next to your car. See? You can see Merchant's Square perfectly.


Step Seven: Spread out and enjoy yourself! Use the paper bags bought with your foodstuffs as plates. They ought to supply you with napkins as well. This is where your instinct as to How To Have A Good Picnic gets to have its say. From here on out, you're on your own and I trust you'll have a pleasant time! Williamsburg picnics are my favorite and my specialty. I hope the weather is just lovely for you...maybe you'll even hit Golden Hour.






So to recap, here are the costs of having a spontaneous, prep-free picnic (drinks aside):

Picnic For Five:

- Bread: $1
- Cheese: $6
- Sausage: $2
- Dried Fruit: $4

Total: $13
Total Per Guest: $2.60

Two dollars and sixty cents. And that's if you went for the landjaeger, which some of you will want to skip. For atmosphere, faux Parisian-vibes, ease, and Pinterest-level, it can't be beaten! And if you want to take some of that money you saved and splurge on a coffee later? Go to Aroma's (from The Cheese Shop, one block to the right, one block up) and get a chai latte. You'll thank me later.
I hope this post will be helpful to those of you who end up in Williamsburg...it's a tried and true method I'm very fond of. Bon chance! 

York Peppermint Patty S'mores


August 10th was National S'mores Day. When you start to look at the schedule, there are so many National Whatever-Days in the year, it's almost overwhelming. What's next? National Big Toe Day? But, I mean, s'mores. You can't exactly gripe about the fact that you have a legitimate, nationalized reason to plan something delicious. Especially when the plan is something as Soon-To-Be-Legendary as York S'mores.

Oh yes. I went there.

My version of York S'mores (I'm sure someone else has come up with one, but I took no cues.) uses the recipe for Chocolate Graham Crackers from Paintchips & Frosting. I knew that my concept of York S'mores included a marshmallow and a York peppermint patty, which, I'll admit, sounded a bit overkill. So I decided to echo the traditional chocolate and graham-cracker elements in, well, a chocolate graham cracker. And I decided to go small, meaning I cut out my graham crackers with a round cookie cutter about the size of a shot-glass. In fact, I'm certain you could use a shot-glass if you found yourself short a small cookie cutter. To make these s'mores, you'll need:

  • One small bag York peppermint patties
  • One small bag regular marshmallows
  • One batch of Chocolate Graham Crackers
As you can see, I used a candle instead of a campfire. If you do the same, just be sure that you don't use a scented candle. These babies have enough flavor without adding Black Orchid Soy to the palette. Also, unless you like your marshmallows toasty (burnt) as I do, be sure to rotate the marshmallow over the flame so they don't randomly catch fire. Ahem. Kids, don't try this at home. I also assume that you know how to make a s'more so I won't detail that process here. If you are ignorant of such things, I'm afraid you'll have to chump it. S'mores cannot be taught. They are an art.





Chocolate Graham Crackers: (based off recipe from The Kitchenarian via Paintchips & Frosting)
  • 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Line two cookie sheets with parchment or waxed paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, salt, cocoa, sugar, and baking powder together. Cut the butter into the flour mixture using a pastry blender or two knives criss-crossing.
  3. Combine the maple syrup in cream in a small bowl, stir until the syrup dissolves completely in the milk.
  4. Add the liquid into the bowl with the dry ingredients and mix it with a fork until the dough comes together. Add a little more cream if necessary, but don't add too much because the dough needs to be workable.
  5. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and fold it over gently 10 to 12 times, until smooth.  Divide the dough in half and keep the remaining dough covered in the bowl.  Transfer half the dough to a piece of parchment.
  6. Roll the dough until it's about 1/16" thick. Cut out circles with a small cookie cutter or shot glass and prick with the tines of a fork. Place the rolled-out dough pieces on the lined baking sheet.  Repeat with the remaining dough. Repeat with second half of dough. 
  7. Bake the crackers for 12-15 minutes, or until they smell good and chocolatey. Halfway through baking, sprinkle top of crackers with sugar.
  8. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with a little more sugar and scoop onto a rack to cool. Assemble s'mores per usual.

Red Plum + Thyme Shrub


What's up? What's up?

Shrubbery, that's what (At least, I think "shrubbery" ought to be the official term for the art of making a shrub.). And this red plum and thyme version is going to have you savoring sunshine in a glass during this non-committal segue into my favorite season. What is a shrub? In loose terminology, a shrub is a drinking vinegar, usually infused with berries or other juicy fruit. First, the fruit is combined with sugar and left to rest for twenty-four hours. It is then strained and the resulting syrup mixed with vinegar, which is then "cured" in the refrigerator for a week. When these steps are finished, your shrub is ready to use! A shrub kept in the refrigerator will last at least three months if not quite a long while more.

My first encounter with "drinking vinegar" was a cherry balsamic, which I learned the overpowering way was meant to be diluted in water. But my family has always been vinegarically-inclined, though I've never gone so far as to drink pickle juice. While thinking about what recipe I wanted to feature next on the blog, I couldn't get plums out of my mind. Then the phrase "plum and thyme" popped up out of nowhere. The only thing I can think is that I have some vague recollection of seeing a plum-thyme sorbet in Erin Gleeson's The Forest Feast cookbook? Either way, I remembered I had been wanting to make a shrub for a while now and, well, here we have it. The recipe is mine, concocted by instinct and the suggestions of several general suggestions for shrubbing a plum. This is version is something that tastes the way I imagine rosé would taste, which probably means it tastes nothing like rosé. Still, plums and thyme are a surprisingly robust combination when paired with vinegar; equal parts feminine and strong, masculine and delicate. This red plum and thyme shrub would be the perfect drink for a romantic picnic, or a quiet, linen-clad afternoon lounging by the sea in Nantucket. And for those of us who are single and Nantucketless? A glass of this shrub whisked into soda water (or something stronger, if that's your thing) will take you to a moment of reddish-gold contentment you thought you wouldn't get till mid-October. It's just that special.











Red Plum + Thyme Shrub:

4 cups sliced red plums, packed (about 2 pounds)
2 cups all-natural cane sugar
1 Tablespoon fresh thyme leaves (or a light palmful of sprigs)
1 cup white wine vinegar
1 cup red wine vinegar

1.) Muddle the fresh thyme in the sugar, crushing the leaves slightly before adding, and pressing well into the sugar with the back of a wooden spoon. You may also use a mortar and pestle if you have one.
2.) Add sugar to the fruit, muddle about, then cover with plastic wrap and allow to marinate (macerate might be a more accurate term) in the resulting juice/syrup for 24 hours, stirring occasionally.
3.) Strain syrup through a sieve into a pitcher. I used a double-colander and allowed some of the smaller thyme pieces to remain in the syrup. Kind of like confetti.
4.) Add vinegar, being sure to dissolve all the sugar. Pour into a glass bottle and let your shrub rest in the fridge for a week before using, when flavor will be keenest.
To Use: Pour 2 Tablespoons of your brilliant concoction over a glass of ice. Add seltzer water to finish filling the glass. Swizzle around and enjoy!

(And now watch a video of me spazzing about the colors of the plums because evidently I didn't feel the camera was doing them justice.)

"Hey, Fat Girl!"


“Body Positive.”

People throw that term around like it’s something easy to be. It’s not. As a substantially-framed woman, I can say it’s not easy and I can feel annoyed with skinny girls who talk about fat days. Except I can’t, because body-image problems plague all women. Why? Because it’s a head-game and "fat girls" aren’t the only ones who play head-games.


Our culture is on an upswing body- image-wise with more and more people widely accepting the fact that there is beauty to be found in every body-type. Though Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass” doesn’t address the issue of the popular lie that we’re sexual creatures when we’re really so magnificently much more, I do appreciate the fact that she literally seconds with her lyrics what my own mother has always told me. “I got all the right junk in all the right places.” Also, the song’s just ridiculously catchy. But hearing on the radio that “every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top,” or that plus size model Erica Jean Schenk was given the award for Courage by Teen’s Choice Awards, or that a young woman has done an intriguing social study by undressing in public and letting people draw love-hearts on her arms, legs, stomach, back…these things don’t fix the fact that most – if not all – of us struggle with fully loving our physical forms. Though I’ve had problems with self-image, I’ve never struggled with self-loathing. Actually, an honest answer would be that I have never loathed myself so much that I wished I could die. It took me years to accept, not the fact that it was structurally impossible I will ever be a size two, but the fact that my body as is, is gorgeous. It’s so, so easy to half-believe I’m beautiful by thinking, “Yes, I would be gorgeous if I could just change this one thing, or that one thing.” Or to think I’ve really conquered body-image with this (true) statement: “My personality is incredibly beautiful.”

But no. I’m saying right now that my body, as is, is gorgeous. So is yours. Right now, no additions, omissions, or caveats. Okay. So my body’s not perfect and it could definitely use some upgrades and repairs, but it’s a fascinating piece of technology. But since when does “perfect” constitute “beautiful?” I’m pretty darn certain that a medical community wouldn’t look at some new form of cancer treatment machine and remark that it had got a few scratches on its stainless-steel surface in transit so, no thanks, keep the stuff.

Guys. My body is GORGEOUS.
In a field alongside the Transfagarasan near Brasov, Romania

It consumes and processes food, turns food into energy, and with that energy powers the most intricate of neural processes.  And I beat myself up because when I look at my reflection sideways in a mirror, I can see that my belly isn’t flat and my love-handles show. My body has these eyes that not only see images of the world around me, flip them, and send them to the brain, but also happen to come with these pieces of skin lined with silky lashes that lower over the delicate ocular devices to aid me in sleeping and to keep out any particles that shouldn’t get in.  And I complain that these eyes are too small, or have dark circles under them, or are hidden in my smile. I have legs that take me places – that have allowed me to stand on top of European mountains and play soccer with my little girls, to curl up in bed at night and walk the streets of exciting cities. I have arms that seriously aid me in pursuing my work as a nanny, lifting hefty, growing children on and off counters, folding laundry, braiding hair, teaching letters, scrubbing floors. And hands! Mine are actually connected to my brain and obey that massive technological mystery by transferring feathery imagination into tangible image for paintings, illustrations, doodles, or novel-writing. My fingers can type and tickle and pick berries and roll croissants. I can paint. I can crack my knuckles. And my body has all the normal female processes and prepares itself every single month to host a baby and then realizes we’re not ready for that just now and cleans house to start afresh next month, and does an okay job of keeping all these various hormones in line (all right, so mine could use some help here), and is amazingly WOMANLY, just doing its woman –thing which is pretty awesome.  And you know how I thank that body? By looking at my reflection in the mirror and critiquing my ample hips and the fact that I wasn’t born an hour-glass shape and that my lips aren’t fuller and that my butt doesn’t look like hers and that my arms are never toned and that I have the Heffington Nose. And let’s not even get started on my soul, which the prettiest, most mysterious, most precious part of me. The part that will go on to live forever. Forever, mind you. The real one. Not the “BFF” one.

on top of that mountain, which I climbed barefoot
I’m grateful today that I’m able to say with honesty, I’m beautiful. I think my body’s beautiful. Most days. And the days I’m not feeling the love? I look the Ugly-Lies straight on and tell them, in the words of a dear woman I recently met, “Go back to the PIT A’ HELL.” Because here’s another truth: we will always battle self-image because we have an enemy that runs a feed-lot of lies for women that we just run to voluntarily. But once we’ve embraced the truth about ourselves, we have the ability to shut the lies down and move on with the real knowledge that our bodies are truly beautiful.  I want to go further than addressing the lies and give you ways to apply this pep-talk to your real life. Because step away from the computer screen and you’ll have choices to make: are you going to hand yourself over to a falsehood or live in the truth? The truth is, you are beautiful.


Body-Love 101:

Take Care With Your Appearance: On a “fat day” I realize you don’t feel like any amount of makeup will cover the fact that you’re just as ugly as they come. But you know what? Put your big-girl pants on. Wear the high-heels or the leather boots or the glitzy sandals. Apply lipstick liberally. Wear more jewelry than is strictly necessary. Wear what makes you feel like the best version of yourself. This tip doesn’t only apply to days when you’re struggling to feel beautiful. This is my number one beauty rule. Adventure is always out there. Destiny is always right around the corner. Believe me: you don’t want to look shabby for destiny. Our attire should not be a cover-up, but an adornment. Personal style is you telling the world what you want the world to know before you’ve said even a word. Tell ‘em straight or they’ll try to tell you and you don’t want their opinion.
Take Care With Your Body: Get up and move around. Take a walk. Have a dance-party. Find some sort of exercise, whether it’s swimming, biking, jogging, walking, zumba, or dance and make time for it. I like to get my “workouts” in at the front of my day, and then they’re finished, I feel better, and it’s off my mind for the rest of the day. Eat well. Go to fresh fruits and vegetables before anything else. Make sure you’ve had protein. Drink enough water. When I’m truly taking the best care of my body, I cut out wheat and all processed sugars, not as a diet but as a gift to my body. Diets don’t work for long. A life-style  of healthy food and the occasional treat does. Feels amazing. Go to sleep at a reasonable hour and wake up at an accountable time each morning. Save sleeping-in for days off or weekends. And when you’re pursuing the best life for your body, it’ll find its healthy weight which, I might mention, will not be the same as every other woman’s healthy weight.
Take Care With Other People: Pay a compliment to a woman you’ve never met. Random compliments are one of the sweetest surprises and confidence-boosters I can think of. Smile at strangers, hold open the door for someone, buy a latte for a friend and deliver it to their desk at work as a surprise. Text a friend you haven’t spoken with in a while, write a thank-you note. Hang out with your family. Keep critical comments to a low and instead look for the praiseworthy in those around you. There is always more to be found than the weary soul realizes. Sending surprise packages and letters is my particular brand of getting outside myself – or one of them, rather. As a general rule, you can never go wrong by loving someone in a way in which you love to be ministered to. And above all, be sincere.
Take Care With Your Mind: Allow for time to read a new book or work on a drawing, to cook with a new recipe or learn a new song on your ukulele (I don’t know…). Allow for time to just be, and appreciate the fact that that amazing body of yours is doing its stuff in addition to going double-time to keep up with your life. Stress has a large impact on how we view ourselves and redirecting the mind from the day’s troubles to something beautiful or intellectually challenging is a great way to snap out of a funk.
Take Care With Your Heart: Do a check-up now and then and make sure you’re following Truth instead of Deception. Spend time in the scriptures and in prayer, feeding your soul. Ask God to show you His standard of beauty and for ways to bring out the beauty in others. Get out of harmful relationships and take personal responsibility for your wrongdoings and yours only. Let go of grudges and learn to forgive. You can’t let other people be your affirmation, so make sure you’re confident in your identity (P.S. True and full identity can only be found in Christ.) and from that confidence, help others find who they were created to be.
Take Care With Your Words: I can’t even remember where I first heard the term, “You aren’t fat. You have fat,” but it has become a favorite saying of mine. Be careful what names you call yourself, even mentally. Make sure the words you apply are true words, kind words. You should never call yourself what you would not call another woman. Would you walk up to a girl in line at TJ Maxx and say, “Hey, Fat Girl, what’s up? Why aren’t you smaller?” No? Then how dare you say it to yourself? Use words in relation to yourself and others that contain the nearest thing to the whole truth. Those are the words that really apply. Also, purposely take a look at yourself in the mirror when you are dressing in the morning. We’ve got to get over the mindset that says, “Let me hide from my reflection while I wriggle into these jeans.” So you’ve got cellulite, or maybe you’re super skinny and bony and your kneecaps stick out. As do many other people. So what? I had to get over the whole “I don’t want to see myself without clothes on” thing when I got a new dresser with a huge mirror and couldn’t avoid the sight. And guess what? I’m used to myself now, and I’m actually pretty gorgeous, in whatever state of attire I’m viewing.

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I’ve tried to be thoroughly honest in this post and I hope that someone finds it informative, helpful, or inspiring. I feel strongly that body image is something most women struggle with on some level at some point in life…and knowing that you’re not the only one and that there is truth to counter your lie…that’s worth a lot. It was worth a lot to me. Thank you so much for reading this far and sticking with me as I bash into your brains the complexity of who you are as an individual, unique creation with absolutely boundless potential. And you know what I hope more than all this? I hope that you are able to look at yourself in the next mirror you see and ask your reflection with a smile (maybe the first smile you’ve given her in a very long time):

“Hey. What’s up, Beautiful?”