Boss Up with Bevin Your dream life is at the end of your comfort zone

2017-05-23

Everyday Glitter

Hello and Happy Tuesday from my beautiful home in Los Angeles! I have a couple of deeper posts I’m working on but in the meantime wanted to share with you some everyday glitter–little bits and bobs of things that are delighting me right now, that might also delight you!

Jeffrey Marsh Text Joy
I adore Jeffrey Marsh! I have solidly recommended their book How to Be You to everyone I know and am slowly buying it for each teen in my life that I sense is a weirdo. In a world that vilifies difference, Jeffrey’s message that it’s completely spectacular to be your own unique self is vital!

If you want to grab a delight in your phone, text MARSH to 75985. It is a sweet journey. I could only do two days of the ShineText situation before my phone went spontaneously dead (which is why you haven’t seen me on Instagram in four days), but I found it uplifting for those two days. You deserve kind reminders!

Get to know Jeffrey (and me!) a little more, through this delightful video interview!

Jeffrey performing and inspiring at the Love & Resistance shabbat dinner I produced with my friend Rick Sorkin on inauguration day as a way to build up and empower activists. Photo by Rachel Crowl.

Meet ClaraBelle Blue
Adiba Nelson tried in vain to find a children’s book that centered the experience of a special needs child that had a personality, so she decided to write her own. Meet ClaraBelle Blue is inspired by her daughter and helps ALL children understand that you don’t need to be defined by your abilities. In addition to the main character with cerebral palsy, the book also includes characters with invisible illnesses such as anxiety and ADHD.

I think it’s a great way to show kids about difference and get more comfortable create relationships with people who are different. Check out the book trailer below, buy the book and share it on social media! (And read little excerpts in this Buzzfeed article.)

Nitika Chopra’s Love Entourage
I met Nitika last December and have experienced so much delight from her social media. She’s very upbeat and sweet, her Instagram stories are full of love, motivation, fun and exploration: of beauty products, spending quality time with her soul sisters and sharing her family’s culture. Like me, Nitika believes in the transformational power of self-care and that beauty rituals are an amazing way to connect to self love. She has had debilitating psoriasis for 26 years and the experience helped transform her perspective on life, she focuses on her happiness instead of her suffering.

Nitika is a lot of things and one of them is a life coach! She is launching a new round of her Love Entourage group coaching on June 5th. If you’re interested in working with someone who knows about self love to help you dig it up in you, check it out!

Flip or Flop Vegas
Since I retired from thirteen years of Real Estate law practice, I get my money these days through a lot of tiny hustles, many of which I can perform while watching mindless TV. I am a total sucker for home renovation shows and I love to watch the transformations, the design and the problem solving. Charismatic designers and hosts help, too!

I read People Magazine and I was really curious if the Flip or Flop spin-off, Flip or Flop Vegas was in response to the divorce of the couple in the original Flip or Flop. I certainly don’t believe people need to be married in order to be on HGTV, but as friends have reported from the producers of those house hunter shows, if you’re gay they are going to ask you to get someone to be your fake partner. Regardless of the intentions behind the creation of the show I am surprised to say how much I enjoy Flip or Flop Vegas.

It has a lot going for it. Like the original, this is a married general contractor and realtor/interior designer couple, where they buy places for cash and transform them into properties buyers will love (informed by their work with real estate clients). Aubrey is blonde and thin, Bristol is a hunky MMA fighter. Vegas is a rough flip market, it was very heavily hit in the 2008 real estate market crash and I remember before the crash reading a lot of articles about how bad the crash would be for Vegas since there was so much speculative building during that time.

Since the success of a flip is dependent on cutting the margins, they do a lot to save money without sacrificing quality. Aubrey shops mega clearance and develops relationships with suppliers who also supply casinos and celebrity homes, which means she gets higher end glitz and glam supplies at a huge discount from the leftovers of casino projects. I’m a Femme who LOVES a good bargain, I call it my “hunting” so I really appreciate the vicarious thrill of finding high end tile on clearance.

I can’t say Cottage Glam was my favorite end-result design but I loved that she pinterested this wall design and had Bristol build it. I find it relatable and her design choices to be adventurous.

Because of the Vegas influence, Aubrey can’t help but incorporate “glam” into almost every project, including a “Cottage Glam” and “Farmhouse Glam” projects. This is obviously something I’m super into. I also like that Bristol will DIY just about anything, like making a pergola from scratch instead of buying it off the rack or building barn doors. They are a pinterest dream come true. I find it pretty satisfying to watch their projects come together, and Aubrey’s staging is always very fabulous.

Nate & Jeremiah By Design
I can’t plug a heteronormative design show on HGTV without plugging the gay couple holding it down on TLC. Nate Berkus folks might remember as Oprah’s go-to interior designer in the latter years of her talk show and occasional specials on OWN. After losing his partner in the Sri Lanka tsunami he has found new love with his now husband, another interior designer, Jeremiah Brent.

It’s a combo of a regular house renovation show and Extreme Home Makeover, the tear-jerking heart pulling ABC show I wish was still on the air. Nate and Jeremiah rush in to save a couple from an ongoing renovation that has stalled out for some reason. Usually because home renovation can become a money-pit, but in some cases because couples can’t agree on a vision or because they are stymied by indecision or too many small decisions. (Oh, how I can relate.) They work with a small budget the couple has, call in some favors and deliver a stunning reno that works for the family.

I feel like the show is missing a key element, in that at least a couple of the episodes it was clear that one or both of the couple could use some therapy work around what was stalling their renovation. One woman refused to step foot in her kitchen because it was too dirty with other people’s germs even after her husband hired three cleaning crews, and her husband and daughters ate their meals separate from her. A home renovation is only relieving a symptom but isn’t going to address the cause. This show is beautiful design work and a great reminder to me to do my self work so that I don’t let my perfectionism get out of control and grind my life to a halt!

Like many design shows we get pieces of their home life. Nate and Jeremiah, gay dads worried about pre school admissions just like other upper middle class families I see on TV!

2016-04-06

Incredibly Delicious Supplements Delivered Via Raw Honey Made By Awesome People

Some of you may remember that Dara did this huge organizing project in 2012. She quit her day job, lived off savings and ran a global initiative aimed at building peace. She met a lot of really great folks doing that work and it has been such a pleasure for me to meet and interact with them.

At her NYC going away party I hung out with Zak for the first time. Zak’s a really great guy–positive energy radiates from him and he’s really just the kind of person who elevates your mood when you’re around. He’s an entrepreneur and I knew his work with the Ring Thing because Dara had sold them in partnership with Good 4 Me with a school non-profit she was consulting with. I have had a Ring Thing on my phone ever since Dara was selling them and I cannot endorse it enough as a wildly useful phone accessory–a kickstand, hook, handle and many more things in one. I use it many times a day.

darazakDara and Zak at her going away party at Chelsea Piers.

So here’s Zak, this great dude I’ve only just met whose work already has been an intimately helpful part of my life, and he says that he and his business partners at Good For Me Lifestyle have a new product they are unveiling. He literally whips out a box of superfoods to let me taste. A whole fleet of superfoods infused in delicious raw honey.

“Hell yes I would like to try those,” I said.

While everyone else in Dara’s NYC party went on to the karaoke bar, Zak and I sat down for some one on one time talking superfood honeys.

They enable you to take all of the superfood stuff you know (and probably some you don’t know) and get it into your life easier. It’s ideal when you have time to plan a biodiverse menu for yourself and your family full of superfood plant products.

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But there are times when you’re busy, traveling, sick, whatever and you don’t have capacity for that. These supplements handle that, or just add to your already super spectacular menu.

Since they’re infused into honey you can just grab a tiny spoonful (maybe 1/2 teaspoon or so) and eat it. Or you add it to hot water to make a delicious beverage. They can be added to food really easily and the new butter infusions are fabulous to cook with.

Zak gave me a flight of honeys to try and they were a Goddesssend during our cross country road trip. I served them in microwaved sweet potatoes or gluten-free peanut butter sandwiches when I made us dinner in hotel rooms, we used them as supplements, and they were really great when our bodies were weary or sick from travel. Dara’s a cancer survivor and we take making sure we eat well pretty seriously.

Here are all of the flavors you can choose from:

Energize Me–a delicious chocolate flavor is actually all naturally occurring from the superfoods, Organic Cacao Beans, Organic Bee Pollen and Organic Maca Root. It’s great for a pick me up and focus. I’ve never used it in lieu of caffeine I really just think it’s delicious and throw it on oatmeal a lot.

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Heal Me–the answer to my complete inability to ever actually make the anti-inflammatory powerhouse golden milk. Instead of doing all of that cooking I just grab the superfood and enjoy the tumeric, black pepper (activates the absorption of tumeric), and cinnamon. I use anti-inflammatories to help with my chronic digestive disorder as well as keeping me from getting sick. The Good 4 Me Lifestyle literature espouses these further benefits: treating migraines, menstrual pain, upset stomach, detoxing and more. I think it is delicious and also great as a baste for chicken, tea, oatmeal and sweet potatoes.

Love Me is their blend of Cayenne, Ginger and Goji Berry. All are great at healing when you feel sick or under the weather. Also great for heart health, treating migraines, allergies and more. It’s spicy, I really like it!

Savor Me is better than pesto, in my opinion. Moringa, Himalayan Rock Salt and Basil Leaf
are anti-inflammatory, improve your immune system, restores cell pH and lots of other benefits. Zak suggested putting it on pasta and he was right!

Not on the website now is Fuel Me, their supplement that includes protein powder that Dara and I really ran through as a meal supplement when we didn’t have time to eat big meals while on the road. I hear you can special order it!

These things are delicious. They sell out regularly at farmer’s markets. This is the kind of thing where someone is giving you a tester and you’re like, “Oh yes this is amazing sign me up.”

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All of their supplements are sold in month supplies, $45 (on sale for $40 right now) for four jars. The jars are infinitely reusable, too, I love them for storage. You can get one flavor or a variety pack.

While on our road trip we stopped at Jordan’s house to say a quick hello while leaving New Orleans. Jordan, like Zak, was also totally charismatic, genuine, high vibration sweet guy. He made us organic sprouted brown rice crispie treats using the Heal Me butter, which is a perfect road treat. We got to see the home where Semaj (the other third of the trio of awesome folks behind Good 4 Me Lifestyle) makes the superfood supplements.

jordansemajJordan and Semaj are also wildly talented musicians and their album the Zenn project (named after their adorable daughter Zenn, who is on the cover of the album) is fabulous!

I feel pretty strongly that everything carries energy and these are great people making great products. I seek to operate at the vibration they are! Seriously!

As someone who has started a small product-based business, I know how hard you have to work and how much you have to believe in what you do. Zak, Jordan and Semaj are working hard to get healing to people and these are fabulous products I am excited to support. (P.S. I always say when a post is sponsored, and this one is not. I’ve used and enjoyed this stuff immensely and want to support this great small business!)

If the superfood honeys or butters sound great to you, give them a chance you will not be disappointed!

Keep up with Good For Me Lifestyle on Instagram!

2014-12-09

Craft Tutorial: Awesome 80s Menorah

I’m a total crafter and I also totally adore the holidays (my birthday is Christmas Eve; I love all things glitter and sparkly). Since I am a deck the halls as much as possible person and I decided that after the really difficult year I had that I was going to go as all out as possible I encouraged Dara to get a menorah for Hanukkah so we could represent her cultural heritage in our holiday melee.

We spent a good amount of time looking online for a really cool menorah, even googling “awesome menorah” to see what came up. I saw a pez dispenser menorah and told her I could easily craft it for her. And so, the Awesome 80s Menorah began.

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To make an Awesome 80s Menorah like the one above, what you’ll need:

9 toys that represent the 80s to you, one that is a little bit taller than the rest (or some type of platform to raise it) for the shamash
2 VHS tapes of your favorite 80s movies
Felt for the base
Nuts to act as candleholders
A hot glue gun and a whole lot of hot glue sticks
A set of Hanukkah candles

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1. The first thing we did was gather our supplies. I really think the “craft” in this project is the curation of the toys used to create it. Dara and I went to a candy store in Williamsburg called Handsome Dan’s and got everything we used. We spent a long time (and a bit of cash) curating the right mix of emblematic 80s toys. They had some arcade game controller candy holders which we loved and thought was a little kitschier than only using pez dispensers. We loved the Tetris block as a way to elevate the shamash (helper candle). And the non branded My Little Pony looked enough like the 80s version that we thought it worked really well.

You could easily curate this from Amazon. Like this Star Wars set of pez.

You could also use 80s Hot Wheels cars or something else in the toy genre that expresses your nostalgia. Whatever.

2. I ordered the VHS tapes we used as a base from Amazon. Used tapes are only like $4 including shipping and came pretty fast. Dara’s favorites were Top Gun and the Breakfast Club so that’s what we got. You’ll need 2 in order to have a large enough base.

3. Once I had the candles we were going to use I went to the hardware store and bought nuts to create the candleholders. I checked to see that it fit the candles but I wish I had gone a size up, so when you buy it get some that are a bit bigger than your candles, and get double what I got, two for each candle holder, which will make your life easier.

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4. Now it’s time to get crafty! Measure twice, cut once is my belief so take everything out of its packaging and set it up. I chose to get rid of the candy in the holders so that it wouldn’t attract mice or insects and be easy to store. That’s your call.

I played with the placement of everything, with Dara’s input as well as my friends Dewey and Johnny. It was really helpful to have extra eyes.

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5. Cut a piece of felt just smaller than the size you need with both VHS tapes together. Cut another piece of felt just smaller than the bottom of one of the VHS tapes.

6. Hot glue the VHS tapes to their cases so they don’t slide around, then hot glue the smaller felt piece to the bottom of one tape, and hot glue the other tape to the bottom of the other VHS tape to make a long stand. (The orientation of the connection of the tapes is totally up to your design discretion, I went with the way the names of the movies looked best when viewed from the front.)

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7. Glue the nuts to the top of the toys, making sure to not have a huge puddle of glue in the middle, or just take the hot tip of the gun and stick it in the nut to melt the little puddle of glue.

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8. Now that your stand is constructed, start gluing the toys to the stand. I started with the center and worked out from there, paying attention to the photo I had of my practice run. (Measure twice, cut once or glue once.)

9. Insert candles! If you find your candles are a little too big or don’t fit quite right, you can use a razor to shave them down so they fit. If you took my advice and double stacked nuts, you can take a tiny bit of foil to the base of the candle and slide them into the nuts.

Voila! Have a Happy Awesome 80s Hanukkah and don’t forget the gluten-free sufganiyot, which I will be making at our holiday cookie making party on Saturday night (okay, they’re donuts not cookies but who cares)!

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2013-01-31

Casserole Party

My BFF Brian told me about an annual party thrown during the summer by his friends in New Jersey. A casserole party with prizes! Encouraging folks to bring casseroles to compete in competitions for expensive cooking gear. It’s a huge gay hurrah with over forty people and a theme. Brian noted that this year’s winner (chicken kiev or something) did not adhere to the theme (carnival).

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Me and Damien. Vintage Aprons, Damien Luxe Private Collection, my navy blue dress courtesy Brooklyn Boobala.

I had this nugget in the back of my mind for months when I asked my roommate if she wanted to throw a mid-Winter get together for our friends. I thought it was a great Winter theme because casseroles are typically served warm and are great comfort food. Our apartment is especially good for parties in the Winter because it gets pretty warm from the living room’s abundant heat and we can easily seat 20 folks on our glamorous couches.

As we prepared our own casserole offerings for the evening, Damien and I discussed what we would have done if we were Baller Lesbians. (Which I like to relanguage, Law of Attraction style, as “When we are Baller Lesbians.”) Like bought some party favors of cute pot holders for everyone. Had a Le Cruset casserole dish as the big prize and a few other kitschy kitchen items for the runner-up prize categories. Like best name, most compelling casserole transport saga, best vegetarian dish, etc…

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We made numbered index cards for fauxnonymous voting. There was a big discussion about whether people should know who made what because popularity might be a factor.

What we did, instead of a Baller Lesbian Prize, was a $1 buy-in, winner take all. I think the total was $13. We also told everyone who came to either bring a casserole or a beverage. Everyone who tasted the casseroles could vote.

It was sort of necessary to define casserole for some of our attendees. Since our friends consist of folks from all over the country and the world, not everyone is familiar with the concept of casserole (or “hot dish” as my friend Victoria, a Minnesota native, calls it). This is what Damien came up with and I really loved it:

Not just a combination of sticky and cooked foodstuffs, the casserole is a wintery dish that sticks to the ribs AND the heart, just like your favorite femmes who would love you to attend!

I was once engaged to marry an Iowa native and have dated my fair share of Midwesterners, so I know folks have really strong opinions about what makes a casserole legitimate (often “cream of whatever” soup is that legitimizing ingredient) and whether or not Jello can be considered salad.

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Cole and Amanda, clean plate club.

I once made up my own casserole recipe in honor of my favorite dyke stand-up comic, Kelli Dunham. She had a birthday and I encouraged folks to bring food inspired by her comedy and she tells a joke about being asked not to bring her Spotted Owl Casserole to the dyke potlucks anymore. I made up Spotted Owl Casserole based on a tater tot casserole recipe I read on a blog in 2002 but it’s actually vegetarian so there you go.

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This is Kelli Dunham, unveiling her casseroles.

Early on in the evening our friends wondered if the vegetarian dishes would have an advantage over the meat dishes, since everyone attending would be able to eat the veg dishes and not everyone would be able to try the dishes.

In that realm, I thought that perhaps Jess bringing a lamb and beef shephard’s pie might be a risky entry at a queer potluck, as both of those are controversial meats.

I made Oklahoma Baked Cheese Grits, adding a bit more Worcestershire sauce to them, using half parmesan cheese and cheddar cheese, and forgetting to put in the eggs. Thankfully, it did not suffer for the omission. I also made Chicken and Dumplings Casserole, but I used a Paula Deen chicken stock recipe and free range chicken legs for the meat instead of just commercial chicken stock and chicken cubes called for in the recipe. I think it was a wise choice, and the extra chicken stock I made has helped the leftovers. I think it made the recipe extremely flavorful.

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Damien made her famous Food Bank Casserole in three versions: vegan, gluten-free vegan, and full-meat. She describes food bank casserole as the use of typical food bank treasures. Usually you get a can of mixed vegetables, a can of “cream of whatever” soup, a can of tuna or fish, a container of biscuit mix. My understand of how the casserole comes together is to mix all canned ingredients, prepare the biscuit mix and layer it on top. Bake it at the typical casserole degrees (350) and voila! Deliciousness!

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Other casseroles brought to our home were: Asses of Fire, Kelli named this hot as hell vegetarian dish. The secret ingredient was some kind of chili. She also made Midwesterner’s Socially Awkward Meaty Surprise which was careful layers of cheese, sliced potatoes, chicken and bacon. A vegetarian casserole of black bean tostada variety. Carnivore’s Vegan Disaster which was sort of like a vegan pate’ and something was definitely off in the texture. Emily, who brought the dish, had two major items that were missing in the preparation and I can’t remember what they were.

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This one was Carnivore’s Vegan Disaster.

We had everyone vote at a certain point and then we had another round of guests arrive before we tallied. Jessica Halem even brought a salad which was certainly welcome after all of those carbs. Also, we had a latecomer casserole that was a braised beef shephards pie that was incredible but hardly anyone had room to eat it. Sam left me the leftovers so I felt like I really won a grand prize.

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This is Emily, showcasing a very Virgo-style tasting method. She ate this plate clockwise.

All of our guests sat around digesting casseroles and chatted about many things, including a long story about San Francisco performance art, food bank policy, a redux of the epic Myth party the weekend before and social justice strategies.

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When it came time to announce the winner of Best Casserole we did a couple of side categories, Toddlers and Tiaras style. We had “Best Casserole Transportation Saga” because it was snowing that night and transporting casseroles on public transit in New York is hella harder than you think. Kelli had this epic thing where everything was wrapped in towels, ace bandages and packing tape. Jess won, though, because she lives near where that dolphin was stuck in the Gowanus Canal, she found out the dolphin died, the casserole was leaking on the subway and then when it got to our place it almost set our oven on fire and set off the fire alarm in the hallway of our building.

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Creative transport via cardboard. Sam and Jessica Halem.

We also gave an award for best name and Kelli won that for Asses of Fire, though I believe Carnivore’s Vegan Disaster was a close second.

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The overall winner of the potluck was… the Lamb and Beef Shepherds Pie! Jess really took home a lot of glory on that fine Winter’s evening!

I hope some of you out there are inspired to have a warm and inviting party for your friends this Winter!

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2012-08-23

Re-Entry Nacho Bites

Oh gentle readers. As you know I was away in the woods for two weeks, on an epic road trip to Michigan and back, then I threw Rebel Cupcake (joyfully joined by so many of my friends en route home from Michigan and en route to Baltimore), then I hopped a bus to Baltimore to join the Femme Conference already in progress. I have been on a queer magical utopia high for three weeks and I am having to make adjustments in order to come down from it and get back into my pretty magical day-to-day life.

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At the Femme Conference being unintentionally matchy-matchy with Emma because they picked my outfit that morning.

“Re-entry” as it is called in our circle, “decompression” as it is called in other circles, is really rough. Returning to the “default world” is hard. I used to be the kind of summer camp attendee who cried on the bus coming home (I no longer cry on the way home). I’m a comfortable Earth sign, change can be hard. So I usually build some time into my life for re-entry that usually involves a lot of downtime, watching a series on dvd or something and a shame spiral about cleaning and unpacking. I never know what it is going to take. I also work from home which means I am working to catch-up on being away but also doing the downtime/shame spiral. I’m a mess.

This year I decided to get really decadent when I had a lot of Feelings I didn’t know what to do with and make myself Nacho Bites from scratch. I love tiny food a lot, enjoy a small plates lifestyle even though it’s totally impractical as a bachelorette. Anyone in my immediate circle has heard me proselytizing about Nacho Bites this summer. It’s made by Hot Pockets and is an appetizer in the grocery freezer section and I think has queso, ground beef and salsa. I have been meaning to make them myself with ingredients I liked more that felt less processed and I decided to get into it yesterday.

It took over two hours to prep and then more time to clean-up but I thought it was totally worth it. I usually turn on some kind of inspirational noise (like a talk, sermon or interview) and it’s very meditative. I also felt really grounded and in my space afterward, having felt so odd and not quite at home at home until then.

So, here’s how I cobbled together my Nacho Bites and I am interested to know if folks have better/different/faster dumpling assembly methods than my sort of figure it out on the fly methods. I always love when my favorite bloggers share recipes so here goes.

Ingredients:

Tortilla Dough
(I followed this recipe)
3 cups unbleached flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
4-6 Tbsp. vegetable shortening or lard
about 1 1/4 cups warm water

Homemade Queso
(I followed this recipe–I just didn’t feel like doing the Velveeta version though it is infinitely faster)
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 small onion, diced
1 Serrano chile, diced
2 jalapeños, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1(4-ounce) can RO*TEL (or any can of diced tomatoes with green chiles)
3 cups shredded cheese, cheddar and Jack varieties recommended
1/4 cup sour cream

Nacho Bites Innards
1 recipe Tortilla Dough (or 15 tortilla dough rounds)
1 recipe Homemade Queso (or like 1 1/2 cups of your favorite Queso)
2/3 pounds of ground meat prepared with spice OR some kind of taco seasoning
Try: Soy Chorizo from Trader Joe’s (my fav), chorizo the regular kind, ground turkey/beef/chicken (I think the poultry sucks up the taco seasoning well, maybe even some carnitas if you’re getting fancy
1 diced jalepeno
1 diced tomato
(You could easily sub about 1/2 cup of salsa but since my queso was very involved I skipped the queso)
1/3 bunch diced fresh cilantro
(I suppose cilantro averse could forego it but I am very very very pro cilantro)
Small handful of scallions if your CSA is overabundant with them like mine is.

Prepare the tortilla dough and pull apart fifteen little globs of it, about an inch and a half each round. Set them out to rise a little.

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Prepare the queso. Take a long time because it takes a long time and be really mindful of the roux. I had to throw in some corn starch toward the end. I also only had buttermilk but whatever. I wish it was a little spicier, so I’ll add more chili next time.

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The queso is so flavorful.

Prepare the meat by cooking it all the way through. Also, if you prepare it with taco seasoning, cook all the water out so there are very little juices left.

Dice up the rest of your ingredients and set aside in little bowls or plates or whatever and prepare to make dumplings!

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At this point pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees and put the cookie sheet in there to pre-heat as well.

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The cilantro is really so beautiful.

I flattened out each ball of tortilla dough and assembled them like little mini tacos, being sure not to overfill. Putting a spoonful of meat, then a generous drizzle of queso, a couple dices of jalepeno and tomato and a little sprinkle of cilantro. Then I bundled them together. Traditional Nacho Bites have a pyramid shape and I tried making that, which was most effective.

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I accidentally overfilled one batch of them so I’ve learned from that.

Then take the heated cookie sheet out of the oven (be careful, obvs) and lightly grease it with a little olive oil misto action or some butter, and transfer your dumpling babies to the cookie sheet. Bake for about 10-15 minutes, until golden brown. Then pull out and let sit a couple of minutes. Enjoy!

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My dumpling assembly skills continue to need work.

2012-03-11

A Brief Guide To Home Organization By Someone Who Is Not a Design Blogger

As I have mentioned, I moved about six weeks ago. A move that was neither anticipated or instigated by myself has resulted favorably–a great apartment, a fabulous roommate–but has created no small amount of upheaval.

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Taylor cat sat for my while I was on my Lesbian Jack Kerouac Gay American Road Trip and he mentioned my bedroom was entirely too small to relax in–and he was right! It was totally the kind of thing I needed an outsider to tell me.

I have been treating this as an opportunity to start fresh. My old place was pretty tiny, poorly laid out and filled with half-completed home organization and improvement projects. I purged a ton when I moved, as one does. I am much better at purging than I used to be. I grew up poor and we moved thirteen times by the time I was thirteen years old. I love to “nest” and I like having a lot of things. I’m also a magpie, anything shiny I want to keep around me. Further, I’m a perfectonist. I often don’t finish things because I’m afraid they won’t look perfect and therefore won’t be good enough. It’s a treacherous cycle.

In the last few years I’ve practiced time and again getting rid of things and freeing myself. But it doesn’t mean I don’t still have a lot of stuff. Clothes, especially. And craft stuff! Dear lord. I love to design things with my hands and I’ve always dreamed of having a dedicated craft area. It was my plan to convert my old living room into a craft room. I was about halfway there and then sort of stopped, at a loss of how to organize it and also an issue with getting shelving up.

I’m a good information organizer but not so great at things.

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The finished craft corner. There will be a new bookshelf to replace those cardboard boxes full of books.

Along comes my friend Elisabeth, who pitches herself as an organizational top and volunteered to help me sort my new craft area. It was a really incredible process! She was so kind! So many of those TV shows about organization start with someone mean about people’s stuff. But Elisabeth was gentle. Between our time together in my craft area and my bathroom I learned a lot about simple steps to home organization from Elisabeth and I wanted to share them with my readers who are not organizationally-inclined.

1. Take all the stuff you need to organize out, and separate like with like.

For my crafts we started with what project they created (all hair bling stuff went together, knitting stuff went together, etc…), then subsections based on what part of the project they work for. So hair bling flowers are in a bag together, hair bling backings are together, feathers have a shoe box.

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I designed this hair bling to go with this jacket–as seen on Golden Girls’ Blanche, by the way.

For the bathroom we just pulled things out of boxes and saw the categories, even though I couldn’t think of them until we started pulling them out. Like medicine, hair accessories, lotion, nail stuff, etc…

2. Start putting stuff together and find spots that make sense, and containers that make sense.

I really believed that I had to get special matchy matchy organizational boxes or whatever to really succeed at this project. I didn’t. Elisabeth said very distinctly “Don’t wait to have the ‘right’ sorting mechanisms. So, I just used what I had and it seems to work great. In fact, I have this huge surplus of these great purple re-usable shopping bags I made as merch once but didn’t sell even half of them. So those are quite handy, and don’t look bad.

I also used a lot of vases and tiny glass bottles and previous organizing craft caddies I already had.

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I also have noticed in the bathroom already there’s a section of stuff that could use a different kind of container, so I’m going to keep my eyes peeled for a basket or something cool during my thrifting adventures.

3. Save the micro projects for later.

There’s a few little things I need to consolidate further, but not getting bogged down in the micro projects meant we could finish sooner.

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I dislike cleaning, so to make it more fun I wear a cute apron. This oil cloth apron is water proof and is a cute vintage style. Also, I believe in cute baskets for organizing, like Baby Girl Chicken (tea, duh) and a stereo for music while cleaning. Shout out to Bklyn Boihood calendar!

4. Be gentle, loving and willing.

Elisabeth was so sweet and loving during the whole project. It was nice to have conversations about items. I was very willing to take her direction (and, in fact, really needed direction, even if it was heading somewhere I was already inclined) and willing to let go of stuff that didn’t make sense.

Being gentle meant I could be flexible with the space. Sometimes sorting things helped the space take shape around where things needed to go. It felt pretty amazing and freeing.

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Pretty much all of our appliances have outfits. I didn’t realize my Kitchen Aid was naked until it had this jaunty crocheted doiley.

5. Use the Buddy System.

Elisabeth said I really just needed to invite friends over to do this work with me. It was quite nice to share the experience, talk about my stuff on the outside instead of relying on my inner process which is often clouded by a critic who is hard to ignore, especially when doing something daunting.

It was also lovely to catch-up with a friend! And we discovered in my archives box that we had the same Day/Night journal from 1999. She said she had struggled with how to use the two sides of the journal. I totally used one side for day-to-day journaling and the other side for BAD poetry.

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Me and Elisabeth! Thank you again so much!!!

So that’s it! I’m no design blogger, but I hope these tips are helpful to folks like me who always want their presents to look Martha Stewart fancy but more often than not use the store’s bag and tissue as the wrapping. My life is going to always be a work in progress. But this progress feels so significant and I celebrate that the progress is where the living happens.

2012-02-24

Balance, Priorities, New Lesbian Tea Basket, Everyday Glitter

Hey, things are really amazing in all of these tender and small ways. I think it’s pretty impressive when I feel settled and calm even when the stuff around me is far from perfect. Boxes everywhere. An ill-conceived pile of shoes in the path to the bedroom door because I couldn’t figure out where they should go until I install their shelves. Macy looking plaintively up at me because she cannot scale the pile of the shoes to the tote bag she is using as a makeshift dog bed because her actual dog beds are still in boxes someplace. My vanity mirror is still packed so my desk is the site of hand mirror make-up application, meaning my day to day make-up look is either more colorful than intended or a little haphazard.

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Me a little haphazard and my fresh niece, AJ. 5 days old. By the next day my hair just looked like an updated version of a witch from a Disney movie.

But still. Even in all that. There is calm. And there is joy in little and big things that make the agita of the post-move bearable.

Someone interviewed me for a school project and asked me how I “do all the things” that I do. The answer is that I live a balanced life with priorities. And it’s not like I am standing rock solid on the teeter totter of my life like Wonder Woman somehow doing it all. I don’t do it all.* But I know what’s important to me and I do that.

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Etta Pearl, big sister, with newbie AJ.

The thing about priorities in life is that they change. As I got to know myself more I started to shift and adjust what I plan to do with my days to align with my core values. I am nowhere near perfect at this. I had to really learn how to have reasonable expectations of myself. When I first started working from home and had my own business my to do list was far beyond any possibility of what I could get done but I thought by creating this giant expectations I was doing myself a favor, that somehow I was going to conform to this perfect superhuman level of task completion. No way! It was sort of like I was doing what the weight loss industry wants to do to fat folks–shaming them into losing the wight. Shame actually has the opposite effect, it causes you to freeze up and do nothing. Feeling bad about yourself is not the way to get anything done.

When I feel seized by my perfectionism and shame, I just check out and play clickie clickie games on the internet. Nothing gets done. I feel the shame spiral. It sucks.

To change this I got simple. Started from scratch.

When I was a teenager this motivational speaker told this parable during an assembly about time management. He was describing life as a jar and the things we have to do every day as tiny pebbles. Our priorities make our pebbles bigger or smaller, depending. He asked how we get as much as possible in the jar. The answer was to fill it first with the big pebbles, your priority rocks. Then fill it with the other smaller pebbles so they can shift around it. And that’s the thing about little rocks. They slide into the rest of it.

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I really wanted an armchair to put next to my fire escape garden. Damien calls it my “feelings chair.” $35 from my favorite South Jersey thrift store!

And that’s what I did with my to do list. I got the big stuff and let the little things slide into it. Sometimes they get done, sometimes they don’t but it is rarely make or break.

In the last couple of years as I’ve learned what is really important to me and learned to let go of what isn’t, how to say no to things and how to check in with myself about what I am doing and how I am doing it. Moreover, I’ve learned how to identify for myself what is important to me, how to turn off all the voices of what I “should” be doing or who I “should” become, what my body “should” look like or how much I “should” love myself even when it’s hard. I got tired of shoulding and wanted to instead be living and enjoying my life. Thus, I have created a practice whereby I check in with myself about my priorities. I try to do this every week, but basically it comes up for me when I feel off balance.

When I let go of the shoulds and am instead leading my life based on my priorities it is a lot easier to get things done, go to the gym, be happy. Let go of expecting to do it all.

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I really wish I could always have time do do fancy make-up and hair. But when I do make time it feels really great.

Moving felt like I was working at work and working at home and trying to keep up with the minimum amount of self-care I could get away with. Which isn’t a very gentle life. And then my new niece was born, so I shifted again, because seeing this little baby at 5 days old was worth another week amongst the boxes, grabbing a cocktail dress and thinking it was a nightgown because I don’t have my closet rods up and my loungerie looks like going out attire inside a suitcase. You should see the weird disaster outfit I came up with for painting. Sure, the perfectionist inside me wanted to have the exact right painting clothes but stuff still got painted. And sure, the perfectionist inside me told me it sucked that my painting didn’t all get done in one night like I planned, but I had to change my expectations when I realized I didn’t have the tools I needed to get it all done.

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Chavon helping me paint.


Post painting lavender.

So, all the imbalance of moving is just a reminder to stop, think about what is the biggest priority, and be guided accordingly. Sometimes it feels like I am flat on my butt on the ground having fallen off that teetertotter. I’ve noticed my attention getting swayed in different directions which are not in line with my priorities and don’t give me balance or peace. Gentle shifting.

Right now my big rocks are my spiritual practice, self care, work and creating a peaceful, artistic and fun home environment. And at some point they will shift as they need to but I know I need to go to the gym to feel calm and I know I also need to focus on what is working and what is delighting me in order to not focus on all the unfinished stress. That’s what Everyday Glitter is for! Focusing on the small joys that make up the whole of a fulfilling life.

Glitter Item the First: There is a new episode of the Lesbian Tea Basket! I review Mackenzi’s chalkboard mugs (buy them here) and also this incredible tea I found at a local store in Brooklyn, Choice Greene.

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Glitter Item the Second: The Body Love Revolutionaries Telesummit I participated in was really amazing. The last minute addition of Ivette González-Alé of Marimacho clothing, Azucar party and the new web series The Peculiar Kind (omg, totally go watch it, episode one is online), a reality series about queer women of color in Brooklyn.

You can register and download the telesummit recording for free until 3PM Friday, after that you have to buy a pass for the conference and you can download all of the telesummits through the end of March (sliding scale starts at $20).

Glitter Item the Third: I am really into making comfort foods for myself in these days of new job and moving transition and stress. You know how when you’re moving you have to keep eating take-out because your kitchen is in boxes? Between work food and home food being take-out I spent all my money on food. I also got reaaaaaaallly broke from the cost of movers (renting a truck and trying to get friends to do it was going to cost almost as much and eat up all my favors from my friends) and coming up with unexpected first, last, security. So while I waited patiently for my first paycheck (a long month) I had to get unpacked in the kitchen really fast and find something to eat that cost next to nothing.

Twice Baked Potatoes! Seriously, I hadn’t had them since childhood but a friend told me about one she had stuffed with short ribs and then I was ready to make it real for myself. I bought a bag of baking potatoes, baked them in the oven for an hour, cut them like little canoes, shoveled out the insides into a bowl, being careful to leave enough potato on the skin to keep the shape. Added some sour cream, butter, salt, pepper, sauteed onions, cremini mushrooms (I got the fancy kind, since enough for several twice bakeds was only $2) and mixed it together. I filled the potatoes again, sprinkled the tops with gruyere from trader joe’s and also the lids with some gruyere (making potato skins) and baked again for 15 minutes or so. I think I got 10 potatoes out of all of those ingredients for $10. Super comforting food and easy to reheat (toaster oven is best) and great for winter and cheap.

Heather said “Bevin you’re a lawyer, how do you have time to bake this twice??” The weekend. That’s how.

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Heather temped in our office one day when the front desk gay had strep throat.

I also made bolognese sauce from scratch. It took over two hours. It makes me feel really special when I eat it for lunch at work. This was not as cheap but taking the time to make something for so long felt like I was taking extra special care of myself.

Glitter Item the Fourth: I’m on Pinterest. Still not sure what that’s all about but I am enjoying making visual boards. If you’re on there I am @queerfatfemme.


Fashion wins by Heather and Erica.

Glitter Item the Fifth: I made a new Spotify playlist! (Clicking the link opens Spotify, which is free.) An everything bagel sort of playlist, it’s a mix of what I was obsessed with listening to about two weeks ago. A little top hits, a little dance, a little country.

*I also want to mention that I have a lot of free time because I am single. Relationships take a lot of time! I am not saying it’s not worth it but certainly it is more difficult to be both productive and have self-care when you are also negotiating with someone else’s time and priorities.

2012-02-10

Guest Post: How I Learned to Eat Greens by Blyth

Filed under: Fat Femme Foodie,Guest Post — Tags: , , , , , , , — Bevin @ 11:55 am

One of the benefits of living with a good friend is that sometimes I come home from work and through no effort of my own my pals are hanging around in my kitchen. Wednesday night I had the most amazing experience with Heather, where she popped out a pile of bok choy and we sauteed it up. I have never eaten bok choy (or cooked it) to my knowledge and she taught me how to make it. It was amazing! Great food for wild ponies like us.

The experience of learning how to make the bok choy from one of my close friends reminded me of an amazing piece I had read just that very day. I related to it from a very deep level–raised by a single mom just barely above poverty level and often relying on fast and instant foods for lack of time, and growing up in a fat body. It is so honest, so beautiful and I am so grateful to Blyth for allowing me to share it with you below. I think food justice and healing our relationships with food starts when we are very honest about our her/his/theirstories and come together to discuss them. And when we share our resources and knowledge base to enjoy new and different ways of eating.

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This is the spread made by queer hands for Heather’s birthday party. The drink we called the “Punani Sunrise” which somehow had to do with my tendency to date/sleep with people from California. It is champagne, vodka, grapefruit juice, a squeeze of lime and some mint. Quite refreshing. Those pigs in a blanket were hand rolled by me and cooked in bacon fat.

How I Learned to Eat Greens
by Blyth

Most of my time in my mother’s house was spent eating something quickly over the sink, changing my clothes or maybe sleeping. From age 11 on I made it a point to be in a house with my mother as little as possible. To say I left home would imply that home was something steady. When the truth is that home had always been in transition, so it was not a place I could leave, it was something that traveled with me. Most nights I stayed with a friend or alone at my Grandparents. Andrea’s mother fed me more frequently then my own. Most of the time food was not expected anyway.

When I was in college I went home with my freshman year roommate for a holiday and embarrassed myself by starting to eat the lavish meal her mother prepared for us while I leaned against their kitchen cupboard. She looked at me with confusion, and maybe a little sadness, and said, “Would you like to sit at the table?”. It was the first time I noticed my inclination to eat standing. It ensured that there was little room for feigned intimacy and my ability to walk away was always close at hand.

Nobody taught me to eat. Nobody told me that people should share a table or chew slowly. Not that vegetables could come from somewhere besides a can or that bread could be made fresh. I was 15 when I walked into a friends kitchen and saw a pot of potatoes boiling on the stove. I asked her what she was making and her response shocked me, mashed potatoes. It never occurred to me that mashed potatoes could be made from anything besides pale flakes in a brown box. I remember the surprise registering in every limb of me and the humiliation of not thinking of that sooner.

I grew up working class. We went to pick up our welfare check and food stamps on the first of each month. Food stamps back when they still came in small booklets of play money. Some booklets were worth $10, some $20, some maybe even $50. And each booklet had an assortment of $5 or $1 ‘bills’ inside it. Though really I only remember the $1 bills. The ones that always tore too noisily from the binding at the end of the month when you were searching desolated packets for just 10 measly slips of paper. There was no way to be quiet or quick about it. And you weren’t allowed to rip them out ahead of time because they wanted to make sure you weren’t selling them or giving them away. They had to be torn from the packet in front of the cashier, which also meant in front of everybody else in your small Ohio town.

Shame and eating for a poor fat girl is a layered thing. There was the shame of being hungry, of feeling watched every time I put something to my mouth. And there was also the shame that had to be endured just to get the food in the first place. People make a lot of assumptions about poor folks on welfare. Like we’re all just taking a vacation on the system. Somehow my large body seemed to prove that point. So all of a sudden I was not just deciding on food for my ten year old self, I was also trying to guess at what would please every tax payer around me so that they wouldn’t think I was ungrateful. So I could earn the right to eat at all.

My eating and access to food seemed to always be negated by my weight. Even though I ate much less than anyone I knew and much less frequently. In reality we rarely if ever had the food we needed throughout the month. Most of the times because the food stamps ran out, but some of the times because neither my mother or I could face going to the grocery store to buy any.

When we did have food we ate Hamburger Helper, Tuna Helper if it was a special occasion, shit-on-a-shingle (which is ground beef, salt, and flour over a slice of white bread), pasta with Prego sauce, discount cereal and whatever my Mom happened to bring home from the deli counter she worked at. Vegetables were canned corn or green beans. Every now and then someone would decide that we should eat healthier and frozen broccoli would get thrown into the mix for a while. Of course these meals always changed depending on where we were in the month and whether we could actually buy food at all.

After lots of work/saving/borrowing/ass-kissing, I left for college when I was 17. And when I got there I found I could camouflage my broke roots with politics. All of a sudden I wasn’t poor, I was anti-capitalist. I learned where to dumpster dive for food and got most of my toiletries from the trash at the CVS where I worked. Any extra food I got was from the $1 store or purchased for me by a friend with too many points on their college meal plan. And I didn’t stand out because my friends (who I was shocked to learn weren’t actually broke) were digging for dumpstered donuts right along side me. All of a sudden this was a value system. It was something to be proud of.

In my junior year of college I started dating a woman. It was my first queer relationship and I was so into her I could hardly stand it. She was sexy and nerdy and political. She grew up in Connecticut with parents who were still together, who loved her dearly, and who had taught her the importance of balanced meals. In an effort to woo her I invited her over to my place for dinner. Angel hair pasta from the dollar store, flavored with a dash of vegetable oil and a heavy pour of Adobo seasoning. It was classy. Nothing came from a trash can, it was angel hair pasta instead of regular old spaghetti, and I might have even stolen some of my housemates olive oil to use instead of vegetable. She wasn’t impressed, though she never told me that. She asked me later if I ate like that all the time. I told her no, sometimes it’s not so fancy. I remember that not being the answer she expected. We talked in length about food. Where we got it, what we learned about it, what we liked about it. She told me she wanted to be a farmer and was fascinated by nutrition. And I don’t remember feeling ashamed. Which is really a credit to her and how she framed things.

She was good at slipping things underneath the radar. She once asked if she could make me my lunch, since she was concerned that I didn’t eat frequently enough. I told her she was sweet to worry but I could feed myself. She tried to argue the point but my pride ballooned bigger and bigger. However, over the next few months it happened more and more frequently that her quest to try and cook a new vegetable left her with way too much food. And of course she needed my help eating it cause her fridge was too small for storage and she didn’t want it to go to waste. So I would cross the campus from class and sit down to a lunch of brown rice, sweet potatoes and kale. Had I not been so deeply infatuated with her I probably would have never put any of it in my mouth. As it was, I smothered nearly everything in ketchup until she banned it all together. She told me I could only put it on potato products like french fries or tater tots and she rolled her eyes at me when I pointed out that sweet potatoes were actually in the potato family.

These lunches were her way of feeding me, nourishing me, and side stepping my ego which was wrapped in a desperate need to fend for myself. She taught me how to boil rice and what vinegars tasted good. She introduced me to leafy greens and showed me how to let a vegetables flavor shine through instead of being smashed by seasoning. She sauteed chard, reminded me to drink water and managed to make squash a dessert. She would casually comment about how inexpensive rice and beans were and how kale was only 79cents a bunch. She set a table for us and I ate those meals seated, plates spread out on a small dorm room table. Of course I knew what she was doing, though my pride and perhaps my shock wouldn’t let me say anything at the time. But she was teaching me how to eat. How to receive love. She was showing me what it was like to be cared for. It was overwhelming. And so desperately simple.

Now, years later, I live in San Francisco and find myself among many others who have the privilege of choosing their food. At the moment I’m a lapsed vegan who does her best to avoid the gluten and cheese that wreak havoc on her body. I eat remarkably slowly. It is something friends and lovers comment on, though I hardly notice it. The perfect bite has become a prayer, a gesture of gratitude. It is a reminder to separate shame and sustenance. It is a reminder to appreciate not only the food on my fork but also the space and safety required to enjoy it.

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Blyth is a babe. Read her blog!

2011-06-07

Everyday Glitter

After months of seemingly endless rain/fog/end of times weather, we’ve finally got summer in full swing here in Brooklyn. I thought I’d celebrate this by doing a round-up of the little things that are delighting me lately.

ITEM THE FIRST: Hot Summer

Summer always starts so suddenly, like she throws you up against a wall and gets you all flustered, making you forget your own wardrobe. That you do, in fact, own 90 degree weather appropriate fare, except you begin scrambling. Before the Trans Women Belong Here dance party (we made $379!) last week it was so incredibly hot. I tried a new outfit three times and ended up wearing a dress I’ve owned for at least five years. I’ve learned that once I try three unsuccessful permutations of a new outfit I must accept that it is not happening, and thus I need to turn to a tried and true favorite. Same thing happened with my hair, I had an idea in my head of what I wanted it to look like but after three attempts I just did my femmepadour and called it a night. The following photo is not what I wore to the TWBH benefit (still waiting for the photographer’s shots).

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This was my favorite going out outfit in May–a black and gold rosette tunic with teggings and black and gold boots. Sadly it’s too hot to wear that now.

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Speaking of hot summer wardrobes, Cristy Road introduced these shorts as “nightlife shorts.” Too short to take the bus in Bed Stuy, just short enough for the dance party. Photo from Rebel Cupcake.

Since as I write this it is Prince’s birthday (June 7), he has released a new song called Hot Summer. It’s a good listen. Google for it, as the link I’ve had keeps going away.

ITEM THE SECOND: Monday Funday

Since I work a non-traditional schedule and Mackenzi owns a store that is closed on Mondays we often partake in Monday Funday activities. This ranges from mani/pedis to going to the beach to trips to the suburbs for soup and breadsticks to meanders in local neighborhoods. This Monday Funday we went to Park Slope for lunch and had a delightful stroll. I didn’t realize how much walking we would be doing but we ended up clocking a lot of blocks. By far the most awesome part of our day was getting glitter tattoos at Exit 9 in Brooklyn.

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Mac had her existing tattoo glittered. The shop keeper expertly and quickly filled it in.

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I just went all lesbian cliche, with a rainbow glitter dolphin on my dominant wrist.

We capped off our adventure by getting burritos at the new taqueria on my corner and ate them on my stoop. It was so peaceful and lovely.

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No Mexican food for Macy.

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ITEM THE THIRD: More Stoop Sitting

Stoop time is really my favorite part of the beginning of summer. My friend Heather lives around the corner and one night at 11pm she texted “Come have a beer on my stoop with me.” I was already in my loungerie and settled in front of an episode of Grey’s Anatomy* but something about the ability to be outside and have a heart to heart compelled me to throw on real clothes and walk Macy over to Heather’s. And it was exactly what I needed. We talked about being artists and summer and love lives.

You know how sometimes your friends tell you something really simple and it’s exactly what you need to hear? Heather said “Bevin you have to remember that you’re really pretty. Don’t forget that.” You do all this work around self-love and unlearning the hatred and feelings of ugliness and whatever and yet sometimes the scared little kid inside you forgets and you just need someone to remind you that you’re pretty and you’re worthy just because you’re alive.

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So that’s what good friends are for. That’s why you let people in. That’s why you show people the tender underside of yourself because you need them to help. To remind you of the basics. When you’re different in a way society deems unpalatable you need ways to undue that armor that gets built up just to exist. You need ways to develop tender connections to other people. My relationships with queer femmes and other folks who are supportive of my identity was crucial to becoming an actualized human being and not just a robot going through the motions before I die.

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Anyway. Heather. Magical. Thank you.

ITEM THE FOURTH: Femmespiration

Speaking of Heather, she invited me to be on a panel of young** Femmes that was going to compliment a panel of Femme performance artists from NYC and London as part of the MUSING MUSES: A FeMUSEum conversation with Lois Weaver, Carmelita Tropicana, Amy Lamé and Bird la Bird.

The panel was so inspirational! And in such a meta way, too, because the panel was about the muses for each of the participants. Dolly Parton, Divine and everyone’s grandmothers were mentioned. Sometimes it is really helpful to hear other artists talk about how they find their motivation to create in order to rev your own mojo.

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Each of the artists on the panel has done so much, too, it was very femmespirational. I am especially excited to see Lois Weaver’s work on femmes and aging, see a performance of Carmelita’s, and visit Bird La Bird and Amy Lamé in London. Um, Amy is producing a pageant called Burger Queen. What I wouldn’t give for a patron to fund my trip across the pond so that I could compete. I really love the artistic format for pageants and one of the categories is cooking–I have a great recipe for Spotted Owl Casserole. And Amy is gorgeous and accomplished and I just want to follow her around.

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Amanda Cheong as a giant vagina. Amanda’s writing something new for Rebel Cupcake: Love Long Distance on Thursday.

Amy interviewed Kate Bornstein on stage. I couldn’t love Kate more. She makes me want to be a better artist. She, as an artist and a human being, truly has the ability to make her audience feel safe and loved.

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Kate’s Femme swagger is killer.

ITEM THE FIFTH: A Pig Grows in Brooklyn

Almost as quickly as we said hello to Penelope the pet piglet that my roommate was raising here, she moved upstate to my butch ironworker roommate’s boyfriend’s farm. Turns out my roommate is allergic to her, and Penelope was a lot happier being able to roll around in real mud instead of scratching herself on our (turned off) radiator.

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Silas, Penelope and Macy.

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Brian, Arnulfo and Penelope.

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It’s so hard to say goodbye to yesterday, Penelope. We’ll miss you. Hopefully I can go upstate to visit her in her new digs with the baby goat and the baby ducks.

ITEM THE SIXTH: Random Hotness

I was surprised and delighted to find out I was listed as one of the Autostraddle’s Hot 100 Real Gay Ladies***. It’s an honor that such a rad popular website is so supportive of my mission to promote self-acceptance. I’m also pleased to be on a list with so many other hot queers.

And just today I found out I am nominated for a “couple” of awards at the Go Nightlife Awards. Won’t you join me on June 15th? What I love about it is that it brings out such a cross-section of NYC nightlife. I went to the event last year and it actually did end up getting me a couple of dates with a steamy 20 year old. I’m bringing Taylor as my date so we’ll see how I do rustling up some casual action this year. He is an excellent wing man. 1,000+ people on the dance floor…

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*I have recently rediscovered this show. I never liked Grey’s Anatomy before but it is watch instantly on netflix now and for some reason it is speaking to me. In a month I’ve watched 50 episodes.
**I love to be reminded that 32 is young.
***Yes, I made it on an internet hot list and I still need my friends to remind me sometimes that I’m pretty. Self-love is a daily practice!

2011-04-23

Everyday Glitter

Growing up in California’s Bay Area I never appreciated the way Spring opens up the world again the way I do now, at 32, living in a place with real seasons. I feel like every piece of Spring’s evidence is a little bit of glitter added to the world. A magnolia tree in bloom. Cherry blossom trees.* Birds chirping like laughter, the smell of a freshly tilled garden. There is so much! Let’s talk some everyday glitter…

ITEM THE FIRST

My (genderflexible) Butch Ironworker Roommate brought home a piglet from her boyfriend’s farm in upstate New York. The first thing I said as I was cuddling with Penelope was “I can’t believe she’s going to become bacon!” BIR responded “Oh no! She’s a pet! She’ll live a long and healthy life, not for eating.”

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The first part of that life is going to be spent in Brooklyn with us until she’s too big to go back and forth.

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I am thrilled about this. Pigs are awesome. I learned a lot about them when I was a Girl Scout camp counselor as we had a petting zoo with two Vietnamese Pot Bellied Pigs. I also learned a lot about pigs from this amazing comic at The Oatmeal. I have always wanted a pig as a pet and now I get to borrow one without having to truly add to my menagerie of muppets. (My friend Kelli Dunham calls sleeping on my couch “Trying to take a nap in the cantina bar in Star Wars.”)

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Things I have already done with Penelope: Dressed her up in Macy’s puppy clothes, filmed a forthcoming episode of the Lesbian Tea Basket, cuddled with her while watching a Mandy Moore movie.

Things I intend to do with Penelope: Read her Charlotte’s Web, watch Babe: Pig in the City (so she starts to understand what happens when her momma takes her out on a leash), take glamorous photos of me all dressed up holding a piglet.

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My daily glitter increases at least 50% when a piglet is involved.


Macy meeting Penelope.

ITEM THE SECOND

Every day I go on a twenty minute walk. This is an essential practice for my mental, physical, emotional and spiritual health. Sometimes it’s with my dog Macy, sometimes it’s on a break from work. Recently I’ve been looking for new neighborhoods to explore within the twenty minute radius of Re/Dress and found this playground. In flagrant disregard of that New York City municipal law that you have to be accompanied by a child in order to go into a playground (it was empty, anyway), I went on the swings. I had so much fun, my favorite silver boots in the air swishing back and forth.

Being Downtown Brooklyn, there was a spectacular view. I could see skyscrapers in the financial district of Manhattan and Jersey City.

I highly recommend a five minute stop a swing set when you need a little pick-up.

ITEM THE THIRD

It has been a super dreary Spring so far, lots and lots of April Showers. In those in between times though, I am just soaking it up. The sun had just started peaking out late one afternoon as I was driving past the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. I stopped spontaneously and went in for a couple of hours. And since I’ve been lamenting extra hard lately that I don’t have a garden to till and luxuriate in, I bought a membership. It’s like a season pass so I can go all the time and has some great benefits like later hours on Wednesdays and private picnic times (you aren’t allowed to bring food into the BBG).

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Getting a membership felt like honoring the intention of “I want a backyard,” and I can’t wait to just stop in and enjoy the canopy of cherry blossoms or the koi lake or any of the other incredible nooks and crannies whenever I want.

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Also the organic cotton tote bag I got with my membership made me feel like a grown-up liberal in her thirties.

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I spent the late afternoon enjoying the latest Oprah magazine and gazing into the sky.

ITEM THE FOURTH

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Glenn Marla spent the better part of a couple of work days decoupaging the bathroom at Re/Dress with copies of Hilda prints. I love Hilda, she’s one of my favorite pin-ups. She was the work of Duane Bryer for many years. I love that she’s a pin-up who is being herself, really goofy and doesn’t really care about the viewer. Most other pin-ups are clearly aware of their audience, Hilda’s just being Hilda.

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That’s the kind of Femme I like to be. Goofy, unselfconscious, genuine.

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I’ve always wanted to recreate a bunch of Hilda portraits with a photographer. I already have a little white dog!

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ITEM THE FIFTH
On National Grilled Cheese Day I made this tasty sandwich of sourdough, gruyere, bacon, tomatoes, spring mix, deli mustard.

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ITEM THE SIXTH
I got stuck in traffic for over an hour one day on the FDR drive in Manhattan. I was coming home from this crazy Petsmart/Target complex in Harlem I discovered as an alternative to suburban trips to Petsmart. (Petsmart definitely has the best prices on fancy cat and dog food as well as cat litter, believe me I’ve researched this like crazy.)

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The complex was huge and space-age looking and had a great view.

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The traffic jam was awful, sort of like the Everybody Hurts video where all the LA drivers get out of their cars and have soulful Michael Stipe moments. People were doing that! I stayed put (that kind of stuff makes me super nervous–what if the traffic starts moving!) and just took some pictures. If you gotta be stuck in traffic you might as well have an incredible view!!

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Whether it’s chock full of plans or you’re taking it easy, I hope you’re having a glittery weekend!

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ALF on my new aubergine bedspread.

*I am very cherry blossom identified.

2011-04-04

Everyday Glitter

My yoga teacher says at the end of each class “The light in me bows down to the light and the teacher in all of you.” I definitely feel that teaching is a two way process. I get just as much out of mentoring people, teaching workshops and writing this blog as people tell me they get out of those classes or this website. I treasure each compliment and appreciate them more than you know. But even more so, doing the art I do, blogging, writing, performing, producing, helps me to keep going on this journey, this lifetime journey, to loving myself. Teaching the gems I’ve mined about learning to love yourself and your body helps me mine even more gems.

At my workshop at Swarthmore I compared and contrasted the mainstream standards of beauty with what an alternative standard of beauty would look like. The gist of the mainstream standard is that it is virtually impossible to achieve and creates insecurity. An alternative standard is fluid. I said to the attendees, “You are all beautiful right this minute. The thing we need to learn is how to see ourselves as beautiful.”

I’ve talked about celebrating the fact that we are glitter identified people on the blog before. But I’d like to get deeper and start thinking about what are we doing every day that is putting together our amazing glittery lives? How are our lives beautiful right this minute? Where is our “too much” coming from, piece by piece?

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Sometimes my glitter literally comes in fistfuls from gay boys at dance parties. Hey Queen, July 2010.

Sometimes I find reading other people’s shines* really inspirational so hopefully you will find mine inspirational, too.

1. Spring! It’s still hovering in the 40s but today we got a couple of moments where it was downright near 60. I took my hoodie off for a precious brisk walk from the car to the grocery store. And not to be deterred, the birds are back chirping up a storm in the morning and some of the more dedicated early bloomers are thrusting forth.

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I spend a lot of time with my face toward the sky inspecting the trees for budding leaves. You can just barely make out silhouettes of buds here. All photos taken today in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

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2. The perfect color of aubergine. For months I’ve wanted these deep purple sheets I saw on a reality show. Today at an impromptu trip to Ikea with Mackenzi I found a bedspread in that exact shade of aubergine, perfectly slippery so as to repel cat hair.

We went to scope out entertainment center options for my great living room redecoration project. Might as well start with a fast and easy fix to revolutionize my bedroom and acknowledge the continued need for comforters. I feel like the reverse of the Princess and the Pea. Instead of adding mattresses for comfort I am adding comforters for warmth!

3. The ridiculousness of an ornate cat food bowl. I couldn’t think of a more perfect setting for my cats to eat from, and a nod to old school Fancy Feast branding. (Note I feed them Nutro Indoor Senior food, not Fancy Feast.)

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They have to eat atop a chair so Macy can’t get into their food. I think it needs some sort of silver tray.

4. Mackenzi shouts to me, “Sugar Free Bacon Vinaigrette!” from across the aisle in the grocery store. I yell back “What has you speaking my love language?”

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It’s this miracle my lovelies. I can’t wait to try it out. It’s made with real bacon and comes from some maple farm.**

5. New gays moved into the loftiminiums across the street from my apartment!

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6. Trading coffees with Heather! Bedford Hill, the new coffee shop on my corner is awesome. They have a board where you can buy your friend a coffee and chalk it up for them to find. I bought Heather a coffee to help her with planning her tour (hey midwest! go see the Heels on Wheels Road Show!) and she reciprocated! I went down there and worked on my memoir today.

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Also the staff is really nice and cute. Their egg, avocado, cheese bagel sandwich will change your life.

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Heather and Damien are going to put on an amazing tour as soon as they finish reading this book about unicorns at a house party!

7. Brunch with friends! I am on this aggressively pursuing brunch on Sundays kick. I have worked retail so many weekends it kills it for me trying to do muggle brunch timing. But I miss my friends and I want to share cheap eats with them!

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I hope you are all putting your glitter out there this week!

*Shines and whines were something my college Resident Advisor staff used to do at staff meetings and I love them. It’s a way to communicate your highs and lows.
**Recall how much of a maple chaser I am.

2011-04-03

Home is Wherever I’m With You

I came home Thursday night and felt as though I had been stood up. Perhaps my relationship to Netflix has become a little codependent. I used to be a total Netflix failure–the type of customer that is the reason they are profitable. I would get a dvd, let it gather dust on top of the TV, distracted by my fast-paced lifestyle, steadily losing interest in the contents. Eventually losing the dvd and letting my membership expire months of no activity later, after my credit card number changed or expired. This has happened many times.

In the last few weeks suddenly I am a rapt user of Netflix discs. Maybe it’s like a retroactive winter hibernation even though the calendar says Spring. (I’m still using three comforters at night and the “real feel” temperature is 22 degrees right now.) My social plans have ground to near stop and I’m using my free time to get my life more manageable, focus on my spirituality and rest.

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I’m spending a lot of my time nose to nose with Macy, my Shih Tzu.

I’ve actually been craving this kind of down time. Sometimes my life is so non-stop I lament that I don’t take time to record the amazing things that happen and give them appropriate reverence. Also, I am practicing being compassionate with myself and that starts with slowing down and prioritizing self-care. I feel such a weight lifted off of me when I say no to doing something I would be doing out of obligation and not genuine want, or schedule a night home for myself. Also when I stop to think about my compulsion to be social and fear of missing out versus taking it easy I have a better handle on what my actual needs are.

I was telling my co-worker Bunny after a 9.5 hour Shop Girl day that I was really looking forward to a Thursday night at home with the movie Baby Mama that Netflix lead me to believe was going to be waiting in my mailbox. I mean, you develop certain expectations and when the email says it’s arriving “tomorrow” I imagine that to be the case.

Not so. The mailbox was cavernous, not even a junk catalog from one of the million affiliates of Jessica London that I get every other day. (I have only ever shopped from them once and it was online! Their junk mail is relentless.)

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The cats (Bear, left, ALF, right) were home to greet me.

At least when I get stood up by Netflix I have the charms of the Branlandingham Bunch to keep me company. They are all squishy faced and they each have distinct, sweet and ever so slight snores. And, you know, the Netflix has watch instantly so I wasn’t totally empty handed.

But instead of streaming I grabbed a book and put on some Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. And instead of reading I started daydreaming (this is why I am such a slow reader). I was thinking about what home means, especially what it means to me these days. I think slowing down has helped me notice that I treat my home as a closet for my stuff but not as a sanctuary for my mind.

I had an incredible experience at the Queer and Trans conference I presented and performed at Swarthmore College last weekend. (More on that later.) There was a workshop given by Mia Mingus and Stacy Milbern that has totally reshaped how I think about home. They have a blog about their experience moving together from different locations in the South to their new shared home in Berkeley, CA. They are two queer disabled diasporic Korean women of color and there is an incredible amount of thought and intention behind their home and their shared values. In addition to an incredible primer on dis/ability justice, what it means to create truly accessible space, crossing the boundaries between different kinds of dis/ability, they also showed us in a truly intimate setting–their home–how they are re-imagining how they and the collective “we” support liberation.

Their presentation was given via skype and projected from a computer onto a huge screen. (I wish I had a photo of it, it was a spectacular use of technology.) They showed us the guiding principles and shared values they wrote and put up (not unlike art, because it sort of is) in their living room from their living room. They could see us (well, half the room) in a lecture hall in a nice liberal arts college campus 3,000 miles away.

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I was trying to explain to a friend the weird places Bear likes to sleep. Like curled up next to the bathtub.

They talked a lot about how to create interdependence and what that means. That healing is organizing and healers are organizers. That social justice can start right at home. Building a home with intention is important.

Some of their shared values were intimacy, making time for each other, shared meals and adventures. I also appreciated their acknowledgment of the importance of their relationship with one another but also building their community support network and dating relationships.

I listened in awe of what they created together and how much intention they put into it. How important it is for activists to put a lot of love and care into their home in order to be centered. Being centered is where we must start in order to do the work we want to do to make change in the world. It’s just like that airplane emergency speech–put your oxygen mask on before you assist a child. How do you help someone else breathe if you can’t breathe yourself?

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When I was in the workshop I admired Mia and Stacey and also felt some grief and sadness. There are a lot of people I considered family of choice, who I longed to create this kind of domestic situation with who are no longer in my life. I thought I had built unshakable bonds that turned out to be strong for as long as they needed to be, but we’ve drifted apart. And in a more tangible way, I don’t put a lot of intention into my homes. I have interest in it–I read Southern Living magazine every month–yet I have barely paid attention to decorating my homes (yes, multiple) since the last time I lived with a partner. I seriously have two boxes of art I haven’t put up since I moved into my Brooklyn apartment nearly two years ago. I have basically made my apartments livable and functional but never finalized anything.

And maybe I find home with a lot of different people and not just in a space. Sometimes my home is 90 miles away with friends I’ve had for a decade, who helped me learn to be at home in my body and on stage.

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And sometimes they become parents and you get to be an aunt to their magical baby.

Sometimes my home is on the road. I really do feel at home in adventure. I think a lot about getting an RV and piling the muppets in to tour the country giving workshops about body love, performances and getting to hang out with my friends all over.

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Etta is the greatest baby.

Two weeks a year my home is a tent in the woods with a rolling garment rack, people I cherish and the Pandora station of cicadas and tree frogs.

Right now my work and my home are here in this charming Brooklyn brownstone apartment. I’m doing a lot of centering and spiritual work that deserves a place. I have an amazing roommate who doesn’t care that the living room is a craftastrophe and sometimes buys me fruit. I want to paint my living room at long last and turn it into a real design space so that there aren’t spools of ribbon everywhere (glitter will likely remain no matter what, I’m okay with that). And I want to stop waiting for someone else to be in my domestic life plan to settle all the way into my home. I’m the one I’ve been waiting for. I am enough.

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I’m never alone with animal companions. She waits for me to come to bed by sleeping on the side of the bed (and two of the three comforters).

So I am learning from Stacy and Mia’s example without waiting for a Stacy or a Mia to enter into my life. I am incredibly inspired by their example and the intention behind their home. I want to write guiding principles for my home life. I want it to be peaceful.

And while I work on that, I’ll finish watching Baby Mama.

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