Real Women

Recently, a friend of mine gave voice on his Facebook page to a frustration common to many of us (male and female)–how pop culture and advertising skew our idea of healthy body image.

He finished his comment with this statement:

“Don’t believe that your natural self is shameful, gross, or inappropriate! No man-made product can improve what God gave you! There is no need to hide behind that stuff. Let’s learn to respect what’s natural.”

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Photo courtesy of my wonderful friend, Marybeth Hoover

As someone interested in both history and the history of fashion, I recognize that every time period has had its ideal female body type. In each of those cultures, women with differing body types have had only a few options: rebel, force their bodies into submission through diet and shape wear, or give up.

The rebels of those time periods often give rise to a new ideal. Consider the strict hourglass look of the 50s and 60s and the rebels who broke through. People like Audrey Hepburn and Twiggy brought hope to the hearts of many a straight-figured girl. Sadly, they also unintentionally created a new ideal. Suddenly, shapeliness became fatness.

Today, we have women rebelling against this new ideal. Their maxim? “Real women have curves!”

As a broad shoulder, thin-hipped girl, I can’t help but take some offense at this statement. I’m disgusted as anyone at the emaciated beauty ideal being pushed on us today. However, despite years of wishing, I’ll never have hourglass proportions. (Incidentally, I’ll never have model proportions either) Does this mean I’m not a real woman?

Yes, real women do have curves, but they also have straight figures. Real women have apple figures, pear figures, rectangle figures, and whatever other fruits and shapes have been used to describe a woman’s body. Real women are just that, women. They come in every shape, size, and weight. Being a women doesn’t come from your subscription to or rejection of any culturally ideal look. It’s defined by a set of chromosomes.

I’m not trying to say you shouldn’t care how you look or that you shouldn’t appreciate beauty. Yes, take care of yourself; look your best; stay healthy. What bothers me isn’t a balanced attention to physical appearance but rather how we women judge our worth by that physical appearance. We live in a culture that makes it hard to do anything else.

Recently, while I was crossing the road in the face of oncoming traffic, a man crossing from the other side commented as he went by, “Don’t worry, you’re too pretty to run over.”

I laughed at the comment and didn’t take it too seriously. I live in an eccentric city with a lot of eccentric men who like to give random compliments. But it did start the train of thought that first inspired this essay. Would my death be any less tragic had that man thought me any less pretty?

How often do we ascribe greater worth to prettier people? We gravitate toward them. We even view them as smarter, more talented. We’re more saddened when they, in our view, waste that intelligence and talent. We view attractive people as better people, better leaders, better politicians, better for the community as a whole.

I firmly believe we were each created by a good God for a purpose. That God doesn’t care whether we match our culture’s current beauty ideal. He looks at the heart.

As real women (and real men), isn’t time we started doing the same?

Quince and Knitbot: Beautiful Sweaters

As I mentioned in a previous post, I modeled for a collaborative Quince & Co and Knitbot project in August. I’m excited to announce that this project is about to be released to the public. So if you’re a knitter, stop by Quince or Knitbot next Tuesday!

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I think the best part of doing this shoot was getting to wear those gorgeous sweaters. I wanted to steal them all after the shoot. While my knitting has been mostly limited to a few scarves, two washcloths, and one sock (yeah, I get distracted easily), I’m ready to take the plunge and learn to do some real knitting. These patterns will definitely be on the top of my project list this winter. Let’s just hope the learning curve isn’t too . . . curvy.

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It was such an honor working all the talented ladies at Quince and Knitbot. I’m awed by their work. Such beautiful sweaters, yarn, and photography.

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Photos: Courtesy of Carrie Hoge, Quince & Co

Sweater Design: Hannah Fettig, Knitbot. Worked in Quince & Co Yarn

Cheap and Delicious {Perfect Panfried Chicken Thighs and Drumsticks}

I’m not a huge fan of dark chicken meat. Something about the texture has always disturbed me. In the pursuit of a lower food budget, though, we buy a lot of chicken thighs and drumsticks. Until recently, I would cook those up for the hubby and content myself with the sides. I’ve always preferred veggies and grains, anyway. Recently, though, that changed, and it’s all due to this recipe.

Cooked to within an inch of their life (yes, I fully recognize the irony of that statement-the chicken is already dead), these panfried chicken thighs have changed my opinion of dark meat. Sometimes, I even start thinking I’m eating deep-fried, breaded chicken.

As a bonus, if you use cast iron, you’ll season your pan in the process (don’t be surprised if you set off your smoke alarm, too).

Ingredients

  • bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs and/or drumsticks (as long as they fit in your pan, use as many chicken pieces as you like)
  • 4 Tb olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • heavy duty, oven safe frying pan, preferably cast iron

Directions

1) Preheat oven to 450 F.

2) Place frying pan over med-high heat. Add oil. Heat.

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3) Meanwhile, rinse chicken. Place chicken skin side up on a plate. Generously salt and pepper skin side.

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4) When oil just barely begins to smoke, place chicken pieces skin side down in frying pan. Set a timer for 15 minutes.

5) While chicken cooks, salt and pepper un-seasoned side of the chicken. Nudge chicken pieces occasionally to make sure they don’t stick to pan.

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6) After fifteen minutes, transfer pan to stove. Set timer for 15 another minutes.

7) After fifteen minutes, flip chicken pieces. Return to stove. Set timer for 10 minutes.

8) Finally, remove chicken from the stove. Let cool for a few minutes.

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Enjoy!

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By the way, don’t waste that delicious oil from the cooked chicken. When you’re done, remove the chicken from the pan and sautee some greens, such as kale, in the leftover oil. Delicious!

Roller Coasters Rides and Circle Skirts

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Days so quickly turn into weeks and weeks into months! It’s hard to believe that I accidentally took a a 5-week hiatus from this blog. Sometimes, life is like a country drive. You control the direction and speed as you travel leisurely down the road. Other times, it’s like a roller coaster. You hang on for dear life and try to remember that someone else whom you can trust is in control. While I may enjoy country drives more, I always learn more on the roller coaster ride.

Life lately, has been the roller coaster.

When things finally slowed down, I heard my sewing machine beckon me. I had a few complicated projects half finished but decided to procrastinate on those and soothe my tired mind with something fun. A circle skirt!

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I’ve always wanted to draft a circle skirt but never felt up to the task. After doing a little research, however, I realized it was easier than my current project of drafting my own pencil skirt pattern. It seemed like the perfect way to get back into sewing!

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Every time I see this, all I can think is, “When did my hair get that long?!

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Another thing I discovered while researching is how many confusing tutorials are out there. I had to draft my pattern several times before coming up with one that worked. And the one I used still had some hiccups I need to work out before making another skirt. This inspired me. A circle skirt pattern should be fairly simple to make. But you need understandable directions. Maybe I should write my own tutorial? Something even the beginning seamstress can understand?

Outfit Details

Shirt: Reny’s (Liz Clairborne Brand)

Skirt: Handmade by me

Tights: Urban Outfitters

Boots: Thrifted, Nine West

Purse: The Cambridge Satchel

*All photos courtesy of Marybeth Hoover

4 A.M. Wakeups

This morning was, to say the least, eventful. I woke up at 4:30. Did my hair. Put in contacts. And “made my face” (as my mother would say). I then drove 15 minutes across town to the beach. Why? Well, that’s the life of a model!

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I say that last sentence tongue in cheek. Calling myself a model seems a bit presumptuous at this point. It sounds more accurate to say that I did some sunrise modeling for Quince & Co and Knitbot, two amazing local companies here in Portland.

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All told, sunrise photo shoots might be my new favorite thing. Yes, I pressed snooze once or twice this morning. And no, I didn’t want to open my eyes wide enough for contacts at 4:30. And yes, I was rather groggy driving across town at 5:30. But the ocean just before sunrise made the entire ordeal worth it.

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It’s like Carrie of Quince and I said as we walked to the shoot location. We hate getting up early, but we love being up early.

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Weekly Roundup (and a cute baby!)

It’s been weeks since I posted this so-called weekly roundup. But here I am again. Here are a few things I’ve found inspiring across the interwebs.

  • My sister wrote this post a few weeks back on dealing with weaknesses. As I struggle with the same exhaustion and frustration, I found this truly inspiring.
  • Loved the Clothes Horse’s winter to summer remix.
  • Overjoyed to hear Colette Patterns has a new pattern coming out in September. Can’t wait!
  • Got some new bloggers to follow!

What I’ve found most inspiring this past week, though, is my little nephew, Cedar, whom I met for the first time on Saturday night.

The little guy loves my hair!

The little guy loves my hair!

How to Have a Happy Husband {Whole Wheat Yogurt Blueberry Muffins}

Sometimes, life is complicated. Other times, it’s surprisingly simple. For instance, this last week, all it took to have a happy husband was a batch of whole wheat yogurt blueberry muffins.

A few weeks back I was looking for a way to use up some aging yogurt and a boatload of wild Maine blueberries (we’ve just had blueberry season up here!). The Pioneer Woman came to the rescue. I hadn’t expected the recipe to be such a hit, but the hubby didn’t stop singing their praises until I made them again.

Breakfast.

Here’s the recipe, with a few of my tweaks. Keep in mind these are fairly hardy. If you’re looking for a traditional, sweeter dessert type muffin, this might not be your cup of tea. But if I were you, I’d give them a try. You might be surprised at how delicious you think they are.

Whole Wheat Yogurt Blueberry Muffins

Ingredients

  • 3 scant cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • dash of cloves
  • 3/4 cup raw sugar (1 cup if you like things sweeter)
  • 1 stick butter, melted or 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups plain yogurt (I make my own, thus the mason jar.)
  • 2 1/2 cups wild Maine blueberries. Use regular blueberries if you can’t find these.
  • Raw sugar
The rather darkish looking blur to the left is the blueberries.

The rather darkish looking blur to the left is the blueberries.

 

Directions

1. Grease muffin tins. I used a mixture of small and jumbo. The recipe made 12 small and 6 large muffins. Keep in mind, the cooking times are for smaller tins, so you’ll have to cook larger muffins longer.

2. Preheat oven to 385.

3. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl. Whisk together.

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4. Combine wet ingredients. Whisk.

5. Combine dry and wet ingredients. Mix together very lightly.

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6. Add 1 1/2 cups blueberries to the batter. Mix gently.

7. Spoon batter into prepared pans.

8. Top muffins with remaining cup of blueberries. Sprinkle raw sugar on top of berries. Press muffins flat slightly.

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9. Cook 20-25 minutes. Cook 5-10 minutes longer for larger muffins. Muffins are done when a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Breakfast.

Breakfast.

You can eat these muffins hot from the oven, but the flavors really start shining at room temperature. Try cooking them in the evening, indulging in one before bed (I was never good at following the “let cool completely before serving” instructions), then eat the cooled muffins for breakfast the next day.

Make sure you hop on over to this recipe on the Pioneer Woman’s blog. She has a great yogurt blueberry sauce to top them with.

Sometimes Bare Feet are the Best Accessory

While planning my wedding two years ago, I hunted high and low for the perfect pair of shoes to match my vintage-style, outdoor wedding. I hunted in vain. So, instead, I went with the flow and decided to sport the footwear I feel most comfortable in. Bare feet.

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Two years later, on our anniversary. We went to the ocean. Once again, I ran around barefoot.

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What can I say? I love the feel of the ground underneath me, and barefeet really are my favorite accessory.

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Although, hats aren’t half-bad either.

An Anniversary Post

Yesterday, we celebrated our 2 year wedding anniversary. The day before, on her 12 year wedding anniversary, a friend learned her husband is dying from cancer. As I mourn and pray for this friend, I also pause to reflect.

We’re taught to treasure the moments in life. This glib statement often seems accompanied by the idea that the moments to treasure are the happy ones, the sunshine-filled, laughing days. But are those the only beautiful moments?0814

For two years, I have lived with, fought with, loved, angered, and stood alongside a very real, very human, and very lovable man. We’ve had our wonderful moments and our awful moments. So, should I treasure only the wonderful moments? It’s a hard question. I hate it when we fight and struggle, but those fights and struggles are part and parcel of the life we’re building together. The friction, either from the storms of life or from each other, grows us and our marriage.

As I watch this friend struggle through watching her husband die, I have no glib statements. How can you treasure these moments, good or bad, knowing all the moments you dreamed of will soon end? At the same time, I’m awed by her. Through the pain and tears, she looks for God’s little miracles and counts it a blessing to hold her husband’s hand.

Maybe this seems like a gloomy anniversary post. I’m not sure. But I’m reminded that every kiss could be our last, every fight could be the final one, and all our humans plans could come crumbling down at the feet of a good, sovereign God. I’m reminded to thank God for the time, good and seemingly bad, that I’ve had with my husband and for the time we have left, whether it’s a lifetime or another minute.

I’m thankful I get to fight with and for this man. Every breath we share is from God, and I thank Him for every breath He gives.

I’m thankful, too, for my friend who right now models true for-better-or-for-worse-love. God doesn’t tell us never to sorrow; He just reminds us that we sorrow with hope. Thank you, friend, for your transparent example of sorrow and hope.

Give it Some Time {How to Make Raspberry Vinegar}

My mom called me a couple weeks ago, excited about a free PYO raspberry spot she’d found. I’m a sucker for free (even if it means traveling over an hour to my hometown). So on a bright (TOO bright) morning that week, I spent several hours with my mom, wading through brambles, squishing berries on my favorite jeans, and getting sunburnt. While we picked, she told me about this strange new thing she’d heard about—Raspberry Vinegar.

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I was suspicious. I mean, I love vinegar. Seriously—LOVE it! As in, I might drink it. But I couldn’t wrap my mind around fruit-flavored vinegar (apple cider vinegar being an obvious exception). The next day, though, with fresh raspberries in a cooler in my living room, I ventured to a local kitchen store and tried a sampling of their raspberry vinegar. That sealed the deal. I knew this delicious concoction was in our future.

It might sound intimidating, but raspberry vinegar actually has only three components: raspberries, vinegar, and time. Here’s how it’s done.

Raspberry Vinegar Recipe

Ingredients

2 cups raspberries (don’t worry, frozen works just as well as fresh)

2 cups vinegar (I made two batches, one with white balsamic and one with black balsamic)

Patience

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Directions

1) In a mason jar, combine rasberries and vinegar.

Left: White Balsamic Right: Black Balsamic

Left: White Balsamic
Right: Black Balsamic

2) Let set in a dark place for two weeks. I cheated and did one week and six days. Guess I should work on that patience thing.

3) Strain vinegar through a fine-mesh sieve. Discard raspberries.

Can't get over how much darker the raspberries in the balsamic came out!

Can’t get over how much darker the raspberries in the balsamic came out!

4) Enjoy!

White Balsamic Raspberry Vinegar. Somehow I neglected to get a pic of the black balsamic.

White Balsamic Raspberry Vinegar. Somehow, I neglected to get a pic of the black balsamic.

The vinegar makes a delicious vinaigrette when mixed with a little olive oil. It’s also surprisingly sweet and can (I’ve heard) be mixed with seltzer water for a delicious soda. I’ll fill you in on that recipe once I try it.

Next up? Wild Maine Blueberry vinegar! Can’t wait to try blueberry soda.