Archive | January, 2011

Bookshelf: Poser

29 Jan

Oh, have I got a book for you. A delicious book. One I gobbled up in two days.

Claire Dederer

In her debut, Poser, Claire Dederer achieves the seemingly impossible: an unpretentious book about yoga. Poser is the story of Dederer’s life, told through the lessons offered by twenty-three yoga poses. And it’s a gem.

Eat, Pray, Love author, and reigning memoir-queen, Elizabeth Gilbert puts it this way: “It is very difficult to find books about yoga that aren’t incredibly annoying. I’m sorry to say it, but yoga sometimes makes people talk like jerks. Thank goodness, then, for Clair Dederer, who has written the book we all need: the long-awaited funny, smart, clear-headed, thoughtful, truthful, and inspiring yoga memoir.”

Really, it’s hard to provide a better description of Poser. As a newcomer to yoga myself, I have found yoga-culture to be sometimes intimidating, self-righteous, and replete with white yuppies appropriating the language, dress, and spiritual traditions of brown-skinned people. I relate, then, to Dederer’s hilarious descriptions of her absurd experiences in various yoga studios. (For example, instructors who are clearly not Indian, speaking to their classes in Indian accents.)

Yet yoga offers something to this woman who is obsessed with perfectionism in the wake of an off-beat childhood, her parents’ strange un-marriage, two traumatic childbirth experiences, a depressed husband, and the constant pressures of living in an ultra-liberal north Seattle community. In turn, this book offers something to women who know all-too-well the pressures of being perfect in the face of life’s messiness.

An excerpt, to tantalize you:

“OK,” he said. “I wouldn’t normally do this, but I think we should try eagle. It’s a little advanced for you guys.” My eyes immediately started roaming nervously around the room. What in tarnation was eagle? What if everyone could do it but me?

Eagle: We shifted our weight onto our right legs. We bent our right knees just a bit. We hooked our left legs over the right, as though we were about to sit cross-legged in a chair. This seemed like enough; this seemed like plenty. But there was more: We hooked our left feet around the back of our right calves. My foot slipped back there easily, as if it had been waiting its whole life to find this cozy location.

When I was in high school I had a best friend who was a boy. We never had a sexual relationship, never even kissed. He liked girls who dressed mod and had straight, shiny hair; I liked boys who were mean. We had a thing we used to do while we lay on the couch watching TV or listening to Special Beat Service; we found what we called “perfect fits.” His chin inside my elbow; my shoulder in his armpit; his one foot resting between my two. That we never pursued the ultimate male-female perfect fit only made these couplings sweeter and more relaxing.

Left leg hooked over right knee; left foot hooked behind right calf. It felt perfect. It was a perfect fit, but I was alone. Good lord, there was more. We were supposed to do arms. Right elbow fitted on top of the crevice of left elbow; then we twisted them together so the hands caught each other. Another perfect fit; my arms and hands seemed made to slip into this strange arrangement. My legs wavered, but I snuggled them tighter.

“Lift your elbows,” said Jonathan. “Bend your knees a little more deeply.”

Staring at the floor fixedly, I accomplished these motions. I felt like some advanced, 2.0 version of myself. I glanced up. The rest of the class had come out of the pose. Jonathan was standing there, openly laughing at me. “Clair has found her pose,” he said. As he spoke, I caught sight of myself in the mirror. I felt completely at ease in the pose, and yet I looked utterly like myself.

I had discovered something; there was a pleasure in becoming something new. You could will yourself into a fresh shape. Now all I had to do was figure out how to do it out there, in my life.

Nail Fix

22 Jan

I am having major issues with my nails at the moment. Some folks are accustomed to chronic nail problems, but I am not one of those people. My nails are usually thick, strong and healthy. I’ve received countless compliments on them.

This might sound vain, but honestly I take no credit for my nail health because I do absolutely nothing to make them compliment-worthy. Plus, I don’t exactly consider healthy nails to be a vanity-inducing quality. That is, until last month when they started peeling, breaking and causing me all sorts of anxiety. Now I’d rank attractive nails right up there with luxurious hair and straight, white teeth.

Naturally, I’ve embarked on a hunt for a fix. Just in case you are dealing with a similar nail tragedy, here are two products that might help…

Organic Soy Nail Polish Remover by Karma Organics

This lavendar-scented nail polish remover is non-toxic, non-carcinogenic, and one hundred percent biodegradable. As a dog-owner, this is important to me. My pup has been known to knock over bottles of nail polish remover and snatch remover-soaked cotton rounds from countertops and trash cans. The organic polish remover is gentle on the skin, especially the skin around your nail edges that tends to dry out in winter. Plus, it came recommended by a fabulous friend who wouldn’t steer me wrong!

Sally Hansen Nail Nutrition Green Tea & Olive Leaf Nail Growth

The strengthening properties of antioxidants and bamboo in this nail strengthener bond nail layers to prevent that horrible peeling by which I’m plagued. Plus, flexible nails are less likely to break while you’re performing tasks like typing, cooking, or just plain existing (lately my nails seem to break for no reason whatsoever). This is not an immediate fix, but if you commit to applying it several times a week, your nail structure will improve. I’ve been using it for a couple weeks and I can already see a difference!

Cheekie News!

12 Jan

Hello friends!

Just a quick note to let you know that Cheekie is currently being retooled to better serve and entertain our readers. The first couple months have been fabulous, and we have learned a lot from your feedback.

Thank you in advance for your patience. We will be back in a fantastic way very soon!

Best,

Lauren Constance, Editor

Gourmet Food for Your Broke Ass!

4 Jan

I am the queen of Champagne Taste on a PBR Budget. I have a knack for choosing the priciest candle on the shelf. The most costly curtain design. That pair of boots that will break the bank–you know, the one surrounded by dozens of cheaper or discounted pairs.

Gabi Moscowitz

If you can relate then you are sure to be stoked about a fabulous blog I recently discovered: BrokeAss Gourmet. Blogger Gabi Moskowitz posts recipes for delicious gourmet food. Here’s the kicker: every recipe can be created for less than $20 (assuming you have basic pantry stock items like olive oil). Some are as low as $4!

I don’t particularly enjoy cooking. In theory, I make food at home in order to save money. Yet often by the time I finish buying all the ingredients I’ve spent more than I would on a meal at my favorite restaurant! BrokeAss Gourmet ensures you know what you’ll be spending before you even step foot in the supermarket. And you won’t have to eat scrambled eggs or plain pasta for dinner five nights a week. Imagine feasting on Eggplant-Chard Won Ton Soup for $8 or Apple-Cabbage Piroshkis for $10! Can’t beat that.

Moskowitz often includes charming stories with her recipes. My favorite? Red Cabbage Striptease Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing. I just dare you to not click that link and read the story behind this unexpected recipe. I don’t think you can do it.

BrokeAss Gourmet has been kind enough to pass along two recipes for Cheekie’s readers. Enjoy!

Seared Scallops with Wasabi Aioli

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 lb fresh sea scallops $7.50
  • soy sauce Pantry
  • 1/8 cup light mayonnaise Pantry
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced Pantry
  • 1 tsp (more/less to taste) prepared wasabi $2 for 4 oz.
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil Pantry
  • freshly-ground black pepper Pantry
  • 2 handfuls mixed greens $1.50
  • Sriracha or other Asian chili sauce $1.50 for 8 oz.
  • toasted sesame seeds for garnish $3 for an 8-oz. container
  • Total Cost of Ingredients: $15.50

    DIRECTIONS

    Toss the scallops with 1/4 cup soy sauce and refrigerate for 5-10 minutes.

    Whisk together the mayonnaise, garlic, wasabi and a dash of soy sauce. Refrigerate until ready to use.

    Heat olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Sear scallops for 1-2 minutes on each side (they should develop a nice brown crust).

    Divide greens between two plates and top with the seared scallops.

    Top each scallop with a dollop of the aioli and a dot of chili sauce. Garnish with the toasted sesame seeds.

    Serve immediately. Serves 2.

    Prep Time 0:20

    Cook Time 0:04

    Grilled Peaches Over Mixed Greens with Ricotta, Avocado, and Sweet Onion Dressing

    INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil, plus more for brushing grill/grill pan Pantry
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced $0.50
  • 1 handful mint, plus more for garnish $0.50
  • 1 tbsp plus 2 tsp balsamic vinegar Pantry
  • 1 tbsp olive oil Pantry
  • 1 tsp honey, plus more for drizzling Pantry
  • 2 ripe peaches (I like white peaches for this recipe), halved, pit removed $2
  • 8 tbsp ricotta cheese $4 for 15 oz.
  • 8 cups mixed greens $3
  • 1 ripe avocado, sliced $1.50
  • salt and pepper Pantry
  • Total Cost of Ingredients: $11.50

    DIRECTIONS

    Heat vegetable oil in a medium frying pan over medium-low heat. Add sliced onions and cook, stirring very occasionally, for 10-12 minutes. The onions should become very soft and fragrant.

    In a food processor or blender, puree caramelized onions, mint, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, honey, and a pinch of salt. Add a few drops of water if necessary to achieve a nearly-smooth dressing. Set aside.

    Heat grill or grill pan over high heat. Brush lightly with oil. Grill peaches flesh-side down for 2-3 minutes, or until grill marks appear and peaches soften slightly. Remove from heat.

    To assemble salads, toss greens together with dressing and divide between 2 or 4 plates. Top with a few avocado slices and 1 or 2 peach halves. Top each peach half with a generous dollop of ricotta, a light drizzle of honey and freshly-cracked pepper. Serve immediately. Serves 2-4.

    Psst: Make this recipe vegan by leaving off the ricotta!

    Prep Time 0:25

    Cook Time 0:15

    Women Food and God: An Excerpt

    3 Jan

    On New Year’s Day we posted about Women Food and God, a wonderful book by Geneen Roth. Today we are providing you with an excerpt from the book, in hopes that it will inspire all of you to read it (whether or not you have a weight “problem” or food addiction). Women Food and God can be enlightening for anyone–even, say, a thin male atheist.

    Food is the example Roth uses, as she has struggled personally with a food addiction and worked for decades with people who have eating disorders. Still, her words apply to anyone who has experienced an obsessive behavior–whether food, sex, drugs, alcohol, excercise, or any other substance/activity be the drug of choice.

    The following excerpt is particularly striking to me as a 27 year-old grappling with the questions, disappointments and confusions of life.

    Deficiency. Emptiness. They’re just words, names that evoke scary thoughts, which then evoke scary feelings. And both the thoughts and the feelings are based on her idea of what is supposed to be happening that isn’t: “I’m supposed to be Someone Special and here I am doing grunt work and reviewing other people’s documents. This isn’t what I dreamed about. I’m never going to amount to anything. My life is a waste. What if it’s always like this? What if my dreams are just pipe dreams? I should have known this was going to happen. I should have listened to my eighth-grade teacher, Mrs. Simpkinson, when she told me I’d never amount to anything. Oh, I feel so empty. I feel deficient, flawed, like I am and never will be enough. I need to eat.”

    Deficiency sounds awful, but is it? What does it actually feel like? Is it a big hole in her stomach? Her chest? Does it feel like everything has dropped away and she’s holding on to the edge of a huge abyss, about to fall in? If she stops trying to hold on and lets herself fall, what would happen? (Remember that all of these are images in her mind. She’s not really holding on to the edge of an abyss, she’s probably sitting in a chair. She wouldn’t actually fall anywhere if, in her mind, she let herself “fall.”) Is emptiness the experience of space or is it something else? If it’s space and she feels it direclty–in her body where it resides–she might notice if there is anything that is actually scary about it or if it’s just a story she is telling herself.

    There is a whole universe to discover between “I’m feeling empty” and turning to food to make it go away. The problem of weight is predictable. We know what to do when we have that problem. Beat ourselves up. Make ourselves wrong. Eat fewer donuts. But staying with the emptiness–entering it, welcoming it, using it to get to know ourselves better, being able to distinguish the stories we tell ourselves about it from the actual feeling itself–that’s radical.

    Imagine not being frightened by any feeling. Imagine knowing that nothing will destroy you. That you are beyond any feeling, any state. Bigger than. Vaster than. That there is no reason to use drugs because anything a drug could do would pale in comparison to knowing who you are. To what you can understand, live, be, just by being with what presents itself to you in the form of the feelings you have when you get home from work at night…

    Women Food and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything, pp 56-57

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