Thursday, 18 August 2016

Eating My Veggies

Cooking is something that brings me joy, though I am fortunate to have access to and can generally afford delicious and high quality foods.  Food is one of the ways I show love, but a passion for good nutrition as well as good tastes means I am going to find a way to make those vegetables delicious rather than constantly feed my loved ones chocolate cake.  Though I will do that too!   It's easy to forget to consider myself one of those who deserves delicious wholesome food as an expression of love, though in fairness my stamina and energy often do not allow me to cook much.  I try to make large batches and freeze things so that my freezer is well stocked with soups and stews, something easy to reheat on the non-cooking days. 

I have mentioned before that I eat a low carb, high fat diet.  This statement tends to alarm people but it is what brings me optimum health and is backed by science, though media is slow to update the public and many still fear fat too much and sugars and starches not enough. Carbohydrates are the macro nutrient I consume the least of and what I do eat comes from mainly from vegetables, small amounts in dairy and nuts.  I love vegetables, but I've never been a huge fan of them raw, nor of salads made mostly of leaves, though a leaf does make a good carrier for some nice creamy dressing.

It's hot lately, and one of the hottest days of summer occurred today but I still turned on my oven and had a vegetable cooking party that should have included a glass of wine only I was too busy and forgot!  Afterwards I sat in front of the electric fan and had a nice big glass of sugar-free lemonade.  Ahhh

 Here it is before going in the oven.  I wish I'd had more green beans.  I roasted them at 400 degrees F for about half an hour, stirring them half way through the cooking time.

In my opinion vegetables are never better than when they are roasted.  A good mix of roasted vegetables is a great way to use up a hodge-podge and in my case, buying many vegetables in advance can be risky.  If I don't have the energy to cook every day then vegetables end up rotting in my fridge.  It's better to cook up a large batch and eat them over the course of a week, just reheating as needed.  So I roasted green beans, mushrooms, onions, fennel bulb, red pepper, eggplant, carrots and garlic, tossed in olive oil and butter.  When they were done, I added salt and herbes de provence.  Yum!!

Another thing I do with roasted vegetables is puree them in tomato juice or pure tomato sauce to make a thicker, richer tasting sauce that's great with meat or added to soups and stews.

I also had baby spinach and baby kale to use.  I wish I could say I grew most of these veggies but that's not an option for me.  

One of my favourite dishes is something I thought up myself but probably didn't invent.  I don't think there is anything new-it's all been done before.  I call it Creamy Kale Custard and this is how I make it. 

Here is some stuff you need:

I definitely take shortcuts to reduce my required energy output but I still want to cook with real food ingredients.  I usually buy spinach and baby kale in these horrific plastic tubs which are at least recyclable.  I find it the freshest of what is available and the only way to get organically grown leaves.  I can't afford to buy all my produce organically grown, but I prefer to with leaves, red peppers, apples and strawberries.  Whether or not buying food labelled organically grown is worthwhile or not is a huge debate you can immerse yourself in online if you care to. 

Other shortcuts I often take is buying bags of already grated cheese when they are on sale and dehydrated chopped garlic. 

For this recipe you need

1 onion                1 cup cream (I use half 18% and half 33%)*
butter                   1 cup crumbled feta cheese
olive oil                1 tsp salt
4 eggs                  garlic
5 cups greens

When cooking I am not always terribly precise about measuring.  The eggs and cream ratio I stick with as it gives me a result I like but other measurements are generally just approximate. 

Chop the onion and soften in a frying pan with a generous knob of butter and some olive oil.
I just like it done this way but you could skip this step.  Combining butter and oil keeps the butter from burning and I like the flavours of both.

Put the cooked onion, 1/2 cup of feta and the garlic in a baking dish.  I don't know if mine is 8x8" or 9x9" or something in between. 

Whisk together the eggs, salt and cream ( * I used what is called coffee cream or table cream here and whipping cream.  I've made this with full fat milk as well. ) Lens cap optional.

Put the greens on top of the onion mixture.  I don't actually measure out 5 cups; it's more like five handfuls.  I combined a bit of spinach with baby kale in this case.  It's just preference.  Pack the greens down with your hands and top with the rest of the feta cheese. 

It will look like this:

Then pour the egg-cream mixture evenly over top.  I press it all down with my rubber spatula after, just to even it out.

This dish would lend itself well to being topped with breadcrumbs but I didn't have any gluten free and low carb bread on hand. It would also be lovely with more grated cheese on top, any white cheese or cheddar.  Is there any such thing as too much cheese? 

Bake it in an oven preheated to 375 degrees F for about 35 minutes.  A toothpick should come out clean when inserted in the centre.

This makes about 4 servings if it's the main dish and 6-8 if it's eaten as a side dish. I happily eat it for breakfast too.

Tomorrow it's a pork roast in the slow cooker! 

Monday, 15 August 2016

Life is About Change

This morning around 6am I wrote a really good blog post in my head as I lay in bed.  I was exhausted from shopping for vegetables and prepping them all and doing some big batch cooking the previous night, so instead of getting up and recording all of these brilliant thoughts, I went back to sleep and woke again at 1:22 pm having forgotten entirely about writing anything.

I have been wondering if this blog is dead and whenever I am wondering something it usually turns out to be very true.  Is it resting or is it dead? I don't yet know but something is going on.  Or not going on.  Maybe it's just change.

We all go through change.

I am somewhat aware of having a blogging audience though its seems a little surreal and I tend to forget.  Through blogging I met a wonderful group of women, mostly personal style bloggers whose blogs I was reading at the time I began this one.  They welcomed me to their blogging community and supported me.  They were (and some still are) regular readers and commenters on my blog.   Then two things happened.

One is that I figured out my personal style and also figured out that I didn't want to photograph it.  What to do?  Well, I rarely lack something to talk or write about and I am still obsessed with colour and still have opinions on style and clothing and various other things.  And the theme of this blog was never quite set in stone though I don't think I am succeeding at writing for a target audience.  I write for myself and to reach anyone I happen to reach.  I like to imagine connections, commonalities, being able to help someone somehow with my own experiences.

The other thing that happened is that I got exhausted and overwhelmed because I took on too much.  Any of us can do that.  We all have our limits.  Mine are more pervasive in my life than I want them to be, or perhaps more than I think they should be in order for me to live up to the societal standard of business and extroversion.

In my offline life I am not terribly social and I do not have a large circle of friends.  I have many acquaintances and several casual friends whom I might see once or twice a year.  I have two close friends, parents, a son and a partner who are my priorities in life.  This is the maximum I can manage and even then I do not meet my own standards.  Why did I think I could manage a large online social circle as well?  I suppose I thought so because the internet provides a certain amount of anonymity, a casual environment, the privacy of one's own home, all which appeal to an introvert.  And thus I mistakenly thought I could maintain a circle of online friends whose blogs I would read daily and comment on.

Hah! Why would I think that when I see my closest girl friend about once a month? 

I am not capable of demonstrating how much I care, how interested I am and of being a supportive friend to every person I meet whom I really like.  And yet I have somehow gotten the idea that I should.  Or maybe it's not a should, maybe I would like to, but it's definitely not realistic.  And why should I imagine that most people will notice or care if I slip quietly away.  I cannot imagine myself  as important to too many people even if well liked.

So what is going on with my thinking that I am struggling with enormous guilt over this shift?

If I knew the answer to that I probably wouldn't have a blog.

I am driven to write and I write in many places.  I readily share my thoughts, opinions and musings on many subjects though am also much more private than I at first appear.  This blog is not about the people in my life.  It is not a family lifestyle blog.  I do not talk about my son, my partner or my parents other than to sometimes mention them in passing.  In many ways my intention was to write about how I go through life coping with a debilitating autoimmune disease, and yet I've found that I don't like to dwell on the negative, on my limits, on the obstacles.  There are large gaps in the story of my life if you try to piece it together by what you read here.  It's very easy for me to forget that this is the internet, that it is public and forever.  On the other hand, perhaps I am subconsciously more aware of that than I realise myself.  I don't care that there are now many photos of me looking less than my best and that sometimes I even get startled by my own image if I do a google search for something.  And it's not likely to be photo I actually like.  I wonder sometimes if anyone has used a photo of me randomly as an example of something.  Resting bitch face?  Ugly skirt?  How not to pose?  Not that I care.

What I care about, what I am protective of and  typically don't write about is not 'what' but 'whom'.   I realise that I have tantalisingly dropped the word 'partner' a few times and yes that is my way of dipping my toes in the ocean.  As I figure out where this blog is going, and it may just amble for awhile, I am also figuring out what aspects of my personal life will be told here.  Some are too precious, too personal, too complicated to share.  Some of my own stories are tangled up in the stories that also belong to others and they are not mine to make public.

I've been so exhausted for the past six months that I've done little writing or painting.  I've had little to share and it felt like my style journey was over, at least for now.  There has also been something else occupying much of my attention.

Fairy Tale Romance : The Abridged Version.

I have had a very rewarding long distance friendship for several years and although we clearly loved each other we thought there were too many obstacles keeping us physically apart.  Despite this we could not give each other up and thus accepted the limitations of the relationship rather than reject it and move on.  I kept this relationship very private, though not a total secret, and typically referred to myself as a divorced and single woman.  One day, several months back, a misunderstanding occurred in which my friend and I each thought the other was breaking it off.  This thankfully brief period of grief was when a friend convinced me to take my mind off things by trying online dating and I recorded some of my experiences here.

Thankfully the 'break-up' and the online dating lasted only five days and after getting things all sorted out again, we made new plans and new arrangements and are moving forward together as a couple.  I imagine I might want to write more about this in the future but for now I am not sure. 

There are many thoughts in my head about relationships, abusive marriages, moving forward in life, but it's easier to post terrible pictures of unflattering skirts and talk about whether or not I am a Soft Summer and more socially acceptable too!  Transitions are coming and while they may not involve clothes I will probably find myself writing about them.

Friday, 5 August 2016

Soft Summer Yellow

My relationship with yellow has always been complicated.  It's one of the colours where I love some versions and really dislike others.  I could never find a yellow that flattered me so have not even attempted to wear yellow since 1986.  In home decor I tend to favour ochre yellow and certain mustards but never felt they were my best colours to wear.  I also love pale buttery yellows but those seem to show up in the shops much less often than brighter yellows.

Once I had Soft Summer colour swatches to play with I fell deeply in love with the Soft Summer yellow and am now on a quest to find it.  I must have some clothing in this yellow!

The closest I have come so far is a very very pale yellow tee shirt that my mother informed me was cream.  I still think it's very pale yellow but it does seem to depend what colour you see it next to.  Whatever you call it, I love it.  It's coloured something like this one from Soft Surroundings.

In the meantime I collect pictures of what I believe to be Soft Summer yellows on my Pinterest board, keeping in mind it is difficult to identify a colour without comparisons. 

                                                            Source: Pinterest

                                             J Crew dress-not sure of picture source

I love the yellow on the top and the grey-blue colour on the bottom of this image.  Soft Summer yellow gets a bit of a greenish look as it gets darker, because it is toned with a bit of blue-grey as all the colours are.



If I were younger and doing the bride thing, I would wear a pale yellow gown.

                                             A flapper  bride could wear this one.

                                                      Pinterest dead link


I keep coming back to look at this colour combination though I wonder if the scarf is a bit too bright.  Still, it gives me ideas!

This isn't my Polyvore set and I wouldn't wear any of these things but I love the yellow of the dress.



This pale yellow is probably my favourite.  Just a little more yellow than cream, perhaps. Pale butter.  According the site these are actually white roses, so it's just the lighting that makes them look yellow.

                                                  How about a soft yellow door?




                       It looks like my key word when shopping should be buttercream.



How could I not even realise how crazy I am about soft yellow?  Well the secret's out now.  I could keep collecting pictures all night.

None of these images are mine and they were all sourced through Pinterest.  I have attempted to follow the links and attribute the source but I don't think all sources I've credited are original.  

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Soft Summer Celebrities

 This turned into a very long post.  It seems to be the way I do things lately-huge post once a week.  It's just me, sorting my thoughts, getting it out to make room in my head.

 Many of the Soft Summer celebrity examples have darker skin and are notable for a low-medium contrast between hair, skin and eyes.  However, most celebrities are also likely to have dyed blonde hair and a faux tan.  It has been close to thirty years since I've gotten a deliberate sun tan and in avoidance of the so-called farmer tan I always applied sunscreen when I went out to do any gardening.  Any slight colour I may pick from brief exposure is generally not noticeable to anyone.  It has also been a good twenty years since I've attempted to be a blonde and in the past year I've given up all dying experiments and am just wearing my natural hair.  Until I discovered the Soft Summer category of personal colour analysis I thought I was dull and boring looking.


We are not taught to see beauty in the soft and subtle appearance that is natural to the soft season categories.  Anyone who has ever had her hair colour called mousy or dish-water believed that in order to shine she had to correct her hair.  In the picture above, Kerri  Russel is wearing makeup.  She probably has the whole works-brow pencil, eye liner and shadow, foundation, blush, lipstick-but it is applied lightly and the colours are soft.  There is no bronzer.  There are probably highlights in her hair but they are subtle, just one or two shades away from her natural colour, thinner and thicker sections coloured but not too many of them.  Her dress is a beautiful soft blue.  She looks gorgeous and you could believe that she just naturally looks like this.

A Soft Summer can pull off black but a muted softened black is best-more slate or charcoal.  Typically, wearing black does require some dramatic makeup to balance it.  Kerri pulls off this look though I would make the dress a softer slate colour and the lips less icy pink if I could.  I prefer the look in the picture above but sometimes we dress ourselves to suit the situation more than to suit our own natural look.  The eye liner used here does not appear to be black, though it is dark. 


This is what happens when Soft Summer wears black eye makeup.


So much prettier without, in my opinion.  Now we see those stunning eyes!


The best glamour photo of Kerri Russel I have found is this one.  The makeup is still more dramatic than every day makeup but it's soft, smokey, blended, and the lips are not ice-pink.  Photoshopped, yes, but still stunning.  Keep this stylist!


 Here is another glamour look that is less soft but still works because it is how Soft Summer does bold.  It's still softer than the red dress photo above.  Kerri's best version of a red dress would be less saturated and a slightly bluer-red. I have a medium-dark mauve pink lipstick that reads as red on me.  The lipstick Kerri is wearing is probably more pink looking in the tube but it has the same effect as a bold red lip.  Her eye-liner is probably charcoal, not black and it's smudged slightly.

 When I get my makeup wrong it sits on top of my face.  You look at me and see makeup.  If I am in the right general region of colour you might see pretty makeup.  That's what happens when my makeup colours are too cool, and what I discovered when I experimented with the True/Cool Summer colours.

Of course you can do whatever the feck you want to.  If you like neon purple lips and rainbow eye shadow you are clearly not aiming to look like you woke up like that.  If you are goth and line your eyes heavily in black because you like the goth look, not because you think you are making your eyes more beautiful, then you are aiming for something different from what I am talking about.  In fact the goth look probably works best on those of us who don't wear black well, since the whole look is aiming for death warmed over slightly.

  When we see celebrities or models we are usually seeing them in a highly manipulated state, regardless of whether the manipulations are believable looking or not.   Thus you will see the same lighter coloured celebrity typed sometimes as a summer and other times as a spring, or a darker coloured one sometimes as an autumn and other times as a winter. It can be difficult to determine if someone is Soft Summer or Soft Autumn just going by photos. 

Thus, Finding celebrity examples of your seasonal colour type is probably not overly helpful.  Looking at celebrity images may have actually delayed or confused my journey to identifying my own colouring.  I had initially thought I was Soft Summer and then with so many of the celebrity examples having duskier skin than I do, many of them tanned whether faux or real, I kept second guessing, and thinking that my slightly higher contrast level must mean True/Cool Summer.  I eventually realised that my photos were not always going to be accurate representations of my colouring in the same way that they aren't always for celebrities.  Different lighting can enhance or detract in different ways.  I became frustrated with taking outfit photos because I couldn't get accurate lighting so the darks looked much darker and the lights much lighter. I have seen photos of myself where my eyes and hair looked nearly black. 

 I can get very natural lighting in my kitchen sometimes but I now know that my camera is still making the image cooler.  I learned that trying to take photos of some beautiful yellow fabric which kept showing up as white in the photo.  In brighter sunlight I look a little more golden and that is also closer to what I see in the bathroom mirror because I have a skylight in my bathroom.

These photos are about a week apart, taken in different rooms with different levels of sunlight coming in the window.  I am probably wearing mascara in the top photo, and no makeup at all in the bottom one. 

                                                      Here is the difference.

So, figuring out a celebrities seasonal colour type from photos is tricky and it's not the way to figure out your own either unless you use a large quantity of photos for comparisons and eliminate the obviously inaccurate pictures.  Comparing pictures of yourself or even your reflection in the mirror with pictures of celebrities is not the best or easiest way to figure out your own type either though it might help narrow it down.  Photos like the top photo of me lead me astray in the direction of True/Cool summer because the picture is very cool toned.  I do wear the lightest shade of makeup available in foundation but it's a neutral one, not cool or warm.  The cool ones are too pink and the warm ones too orange.

 When True/Cool Summer wasn't quite working I noticed it first in the makeup.  But I also realised that I was instinctively selecting Soft Summer colours and convincing myself they were True Summer colours.  Without a comparison the difference is subtle.  I just naturally sought the softest and most muted cool colours I could find.  I also am drawn to cool shades of brown which do work for a Soft Summer and typically do not work for a True/Cool Summer who is best in light to medium grey. While dark colours can drain me if they are heavily saturated, Soft Summer colours do include darker tones than True/Cool Summer does. T/C Summer is brighter. 

I decided there was a hierarchy of what suited me.

Best:  soft and cool-neutral

Second Best:  cool tied with very soft neutral-warm

Second Worst:  dark and strongly saturated

Worst:  bright and saturated

Deadly:  bright and warm

I also noticed that while many of the celebrities identified as Soft Summer have a sort of slightly tanned, dusky skin tone (a caveat being that they are probably also spray-tanned) there were some identified as Soft Summer who at least sometimes looked as fair skinned as I do.

Naturally darker haired, paler skinned celebrities thought to be Soft Summer include Kristen Stewart, Bianca Balti and Rachel McAdams and Emilia Clarke as well as Kerri Russel, who I began this blog post with.

                                          Emilia Clarke     Source

                                          Bianca Balti      Source

And finally, I read that Soft Summers are often misidentified as Winters, especially so in the days of Color Me Beautiful and only four seasons.  That is exactly what happened to me.  I knew it was wrong and I was miserable with the designation.  Winter colours felt oppressive.

I am going to stop right here....okay not quite here but soon.  I bought myself a second Soft Summer colours fan to use when shopping.  I ordered it from True Colour International, an Australian company,  and am very pleased with it.

It's difficult to find photos with accurate colouring but this one is really good.  It's just not quite the whole fan.

                                     Source: Pinterest further links seem to be dead

Here is the fan spread out.  Also found on Pinterest but with a dead link.

I am currently obsessed with the Soft Summer yellows.  Expect my next post to be about yellow.