usda-food-plate.jpgIt is the consummate, diet-related cliché: “you can stop drinking, or smoking, but you can’t just stop eating.” You can, of course, stop eating; Ghandi used that strategy to magnificent effect. As a method of reaching a healthy weight, however, it’s frowned upon. What you have to do to lose weight is not to stop eating, but to stop eating the way you used to eat. I’m doing it, and it’s working, but it complicates the hell out of my life as a cook.

I’ve struggled with weight all my life, losing and re-gaining the same 30+ pounds several times. I established a pathetic pattern worthy of a medieval tapestry: the large woman stops eating (anything, carbs, second helpings and fast food), exercises (incorrectly, so intensely that she gets shin splints, until she abhors the sight of her Nikes) and becomes smaller. She buys tinier clothes, and basks in the admiration of all of the people who want to know her “secret.” She gets busy, stressed, cocky and inattentive and starts to eat like she used to, she becomes larger again, and in the final tableau she is folding her smaller clothes and putting them in bags to donate to Goodwill, and then pulling the larger versions from the back of the closet where she saved them for the inevitable.

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laughingglassIt’s almost summer – in L.A. it feels like summer already. We were sent a sample of a new drink from Laughing Glass Cocktails. Okay, we like the name, too.

It’s an artisan tequila. No, it’s an artisan margarita. In a bottle, pre-mixed (but it doesn’t feel mixed at all, it’s so light and delicious....) and all natural. The name alone was perfect. Just pour it over ice in a wine glass and if you want to be fancy add a slice of lime. But for a summer barbecue, (or a guacamole starter) and a light incredible drink under the stars, we recommend it highly! And, for a party, it’s so simple, three bottles and no muss and fuss, and slightly lighter (thank goodness) on the alcohol content than if you’d mixed it at home. Some of us have a no alcohol before six rule around here, but you don’t, I bet it would be delicious with huevos rancheros, too!

balsamicBalsamic Vinegar. Yes, it’s a standard. It’s the norm. Can I have the salad with balsamic on the side. The price of balsamic varies like wine, but a few years ago we discovered a moderately priced balsamic (also artisanal, also limited edition, also limited distribution like the Laughing Glass above) called Leonardo & Roberto’s. It’s quite simply incredible!! I’m addicted.

Only available, as near as I can tell online or at some of John Edwards select Farmers’ Markets. Less is more. The taste is fuller, the amount of dressing you need is less as well as the amount of balsamic you need in the dressing is less. If I could, I’d send everyone I know a bottle instantly. We like the traditional but also, available in other flavors....!

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kleenexshoes.jpgAs the world becomes shortage and space obsessed, I realize how ahead of the curve I've been in making myriad reuses of everything and everyone. Call me frugal/economical and/or exploitive/anal.

I reuse big tissue boxes as snowshoes for a friend's kids (kids become two-pronged sources of love and laughs, lumbering around like "transformer bots"); I use their abandoned toy cars as conveyances for salt and pepper shakers glued on top, as "pass the salt" makes the dining room table a speedway.

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female_mannequin.jpgEvery time I see a naked mannequin, I just want to stick one finger out, point, and yell “NAKED MANNEQUIN!”

I can’t be the only one, and I certainly can’t be the only one who has wanted to dress that naked mannequin up in a summer outfit just so I could invite him or her—or it—out for tea time in Central Park.

Yes, certainly, we’d have a tea party as lovely as the Mad Hatter’s on a blanket spread out on the Great Lawn. Although, I’d leave the invite for the Red Queen behind, because she’d surely be too delighted with how easy it would be to “be off with it’s head—that is, if the mannequin I window shopped for on 5th Avenue had a head at all!

But we’d sit for hours in the sun…me the Mad Hatter, and the mannequin, the Alice to my imaginary Wonderland-ah yes, it’d be the perfect tea party for two. Both of us, pale, and in serious need of SPF 50, we’d sprawl out across my blanket, and we’d laugh about the kids swinging and missing in their game of wiffle ball, and we’d compliment the jazz performers we could hear off in the distance, and above all, we’d share stories.

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ImageEveryone wants to move to Maine these days...It wasn't like that when we were growing up. In fact, very few people that lived here wanted to stay here, but they couldn't afford to move. No one knew where Maine was, they would stare blankly at you like it was a foreign country.

My neighbors are still the neighbors that I have had for the last fifty years or so. They watch out for you in a non-cloying way just as you watch out for them. That is just what you do in a small town. I always am thankful that my nearest neighbor is over a half mile away except for my sister's house a mere 100 feet away.

It is heavenly to be in a dense oak tree forest on a bucolic lake watching the snow storms make their way across the frozen lake. It has been peaceful and people-less for the last 35 years. Neighbors in seasonal cottages that stayed a month or two but never more than that – until now.

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