Rainy Soup Day

It’s finally raining!  After four long, dry, Sahara-like months, we got some rain today.  Yes, it was sprinkly and extremely light and not likely to bring my grass back to its verdant glory, but it was real rain nonetheless.  I’ll take frizz for the sake of my plants (and water supply).

I had originally planned on making a stir-fry for dinner but settled on a vegetable marinara pasta dinner after looking at the state of my vegetables and weighing which ones needed eating first.  However, give a girl some rain and a temperature below 80 F and she’ll get shivery and want soup.  It’s not so bad, being capricious like that, right?

So I made a huge vat of spicy lentil chili soup, from this Wegmans recipe, modified a la me by upping the spice quotient from the positively shy amounts listed and using regular lentils instead of pretty red ones–I’m tired of waiting for the red lentil boat to come to Trinidad to enjoy this soup.  I also can’t believe I made–and loved–a recipe from Wegmans; that supermarket was my undergrad moneymaking gig and I did not ever want to step foot in there again after one too many unfortunate incidents involving rotisserie chicken grease.

Oh well, wonders never cease.  And behold, in its muddy but delicious glory, with very sexy bruschetta toast, tonight’s soup delight:

Makes me (almost) wish it was colder more often.  Only almost, though.

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Other run of the mill happenings included the wearing of the black polka dot skirt with the combo below:

Blouse from Kohl’s, skirt from Marshalls in Puerto Rico, cardigan from New Look in the UK, shoes from Tarjay Boutique, fringe trim by my impatient hand.  My hair has grown like weeds since my December haircut and it takes plenty of self-control to stop myself from hacking at its unruliness.  I just need to breathe and repeat that it’s six weeks until I reach the wonderful Michael (and his talented scissor ways) in Buffalo–if only he could cut my hair in the airport bathroom so no one saw the mess on my head….

After a short and sweet (and speedy) swim, I attacked a very snazzy redo of yesterday’s salad (lettuce, tomato, onion, peppers, cucumber, green onion), this time with a spicy dressing of olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, oregano, tahini, and harissa:

Which was followed by more Bailey’s than a person should drink while at work at a coworker’s farewell. It’s a pretty odd choice for a workplace drink, isn’t it?  I’m not complaining.

I’m now going to Zen myself into a state of relaxed anticipation (is there such a thing?) for tomorrow’s planned four-mile run, to which I’d ideally add a half mile to make up for Wednesday’s dodgy run.  Wise?  Probably not.  That’s why the Zen session is necessary.

My Weekend and The Matter of Good Hair

I have two whole rest days scheduled back to back this weekend, no beach trips.  So, because I had a bit of time this morning (and the humidity has been tolerably low), I decided to do something I haven’t done since around Christmas:

I blow-dried my hair straight.

It’s not just that I’m lazy, or that my exercise schedule makes copious hair-drying time impractical, or even that I am committed to shiny un-fried hair.  Those are some of the reasons why I don’t blow-dry daily.

It’s also that I feel awkward and strange and quite freaky with straight hair.  It takes me back to middle school battles and high-school memories that, frankly, I’d rather not remember.  And, despite the fact that no one really cares anymore, it’s an assertion of being myself and of not complying with certain Puerto Rican expectations about beauty and appearance–expectations that call for all girls to have straight, smooth, preferably very long, hair.

Want to see for yourselves?  This is what baby Laura had on her head:

And this is what three-year-old Laura had on her head:

Smooth much?  Of course–not just because my curls released a bit, but because they were meticulously dried straight by my mom.  And so it went for all of my childhood.  Now, I don’t accuse my Mamalicious of trying to hide my hair’s texture or any such thing–she was just making me prettier, as far as little girl hair went.  Pretty little Puerto Rican girls did not leave the house with frizz and flyaways, and in those days every little girl whose mama (and aunts and grandmas) loved her knew what it was like to sit still for the thrice-weekly attack with the hairdryer and brushes.

Frankly, I had NO idea that my hair was anything but what you see above until I got a short bob in seventh grade, at which point my mom told me I was old enough to dry my own.  One girl inexperienced with the fine arts of hair drying + one short blunt bob = frizzy, tear-inducing disaster.  I couldn’t understand why my hair was so freaky, and I was resentful (in a sullen twelve-year-old way) at my mom for not warning me before I chopped off the necessary length to keep the newly-discovered rat’s nest under control.

Eventually, I learned to dry it tolerably straight, and I was even recruited to dry the hair of subsequent sisters with the same “problem.”  Little A had smooth hair in the back and a kinky mess in the front (which was affectionately called “pasas,” or raisins, probably because it was crinkly like said food?), Minxy had hit the genetic jackpot with pin-straight black hair…. and Baby Bel had a mass of ultra-thick, tightly-curled  hair.  The mere suggestion of having to sit the child down for half an hour to de-kink her head was enough to induce tears on a bad day–for me if I was dragged into doing it, and for her if someone DIDN’T.

University days were straight hair times.  Grad school was a half-and-half proposition, as I was pressed for time and patience and some nice wavy hairstyles came into fashion (or whatever).  Slowly, I stopped drying my hair straight and felt incredibly liberated by not doing it.  It was ok to admit to frizz, and I didn’t want to be complicit in the kind of ideals for Puerto Rican girls that demanded hair halfway down the back, gently highlighted, and smooth.  I felt a frisson of naughtiness when I left the house with wet hair–and gained a half hour in the morning!

After that, I never looked back.  The misty English weather during my four years in Coventry kept me curly, and the heat and humidity of Trinidad have conspired to ensure that I’ve dried my hair straight exactly five times in the year and a half  that I’ve lived here–and that’s counting the time I dressed up as Sarah Palin for Halloween.

So that is why I keep myself curly/wavy/messy.  I like my hair to look as loopy as I feel.  And, once in a while, I’m pleasantly surprised at still being able to smooth things out:

Just not too often.

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When a girl has blow-dried hair in Trinidad, she avoids doing things that make her sweaty and bothered.  I mean, this hair is newsworthy.  So I kept all cooking low-key.  On Saturday, that meant potato, mushrooms, and egg scramble with toast:

Apple and peanut butter sandwich for lunch:

And taco salad (taco-seasoned lentils, lettuce, tomato, onion, peppers, tortilla chips) for dinner:

With such straight hair, you are also more prone to wardrobe changes, going from Old Navy shorts and sister hand-me-up T-shirt on Saturday:

To a Sunday combo of Little A hand-me-up blouse (I think it’s from Charlotte Russe, but I took the label out because it scratched so I can’t be sure) and Old Navy denim shorts:

Orange juggling in action

On a Sunday of good hair, especially when said hair is attached to a head that aches from two measly pints of beer the night before, things are kept low-key in the kitchen with apple and dried cranberry oatmeal, plus strong black coffee to power me through a trip to the farmer’s market and supermarket:

And, for lunch, easy scrambled egg and salsa wraps–because stirring requires little energy expenditure and minimal risk of frizz:

And, since we’re talking about minimal expenditure of effort, I made an easy provisions soup with cassava, taro root, and carrots in an herby onion, garlic and celery broth, plus cornbread (which I’ve made so many times I could do it with my eyes closed) and a red pepper that looked pretty scrumptious:

As for the activities of the weekend…  Sewing mania, folks, sewing mania:  much buying of fabric, mad bookmarking of styles to make, putting together of patterns, cutting of test items and general mess-making.  Had I not fallen victim to my ridiculously low drink tolerance, there would have been actual sewing results, or at the very least pictures of the fabric, mais non–all I can offer up for now is this, the mess and process of Saturday’s pattern-cutting:

After which came Sunday, spent on the couch with a book, some zzz’s, and Michael C. Hall/Dexter.

But I’ll come back soon with some fabric evidence for you to savor, tomorrow, when my head stops hurting and my hair returns to its natural wavy texture.

Costume Prep, Part 1,257

Last night I set about making the last big item for my carnival costume.  I had been planning on whipping up a satin pouch for my sunscreen, safety pins, extra glitter, vex money (emergency cash, in Trinispeak), and lip balm, plus a few ibuprofen and a teeny bottle of eyelash glue.  Some people carry mini backpacks on Carnival, and the band actually provides a small and sweet swag bag for this, but no way am I letting anything ruin the look of the outfit.  Hence the idea of the little pack, which I designed with elastic that could be pinned or looped onto my belt–unobtrosive, hands-free, matching.

The finished bag:

The bag I will actually use:  The Man Purse (aka Mr. Laura and his capacious costume pockets).

After stitching and gloating, I went to try it on with my costume.  Major fail.  The decorated chains and beads would tangle up on the bag if I had it hanging from my hip, and there is NO SPACE to hide it or attach it anywhere else.  Bag decoration operation was aborted, and Husband was wheedled into pinning the bag and its contents to his shorts (in addition to stuffing his costume pockets with more stuff, like tiny hand sanitizer and sunblock bottles.)

There’s a saying about playing mas that goes “don’t bring sand to the beach”–or, don’t play mas with your significant other because there will be plenty other people to dance and party with.  Personally, I want to bring a BUCKET of sand to the beach because I want to minimize any unwanted wining upon my person.  And, not only will said bucket of sand (e.g. The Man) provide excellent bodyguard services, it will also serve to carry my necessary goods.

Speaking of which, he’s got a mighty spiffy costume too! Check for yourself. Nice, huh?  Because a Ruby of Mumbai should always have her own personal maharajah at hand.

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I feel a bit of a throat itch coming on, so I stayed away from the pool.  I’m not taking any chances on being sick in the next few days.  If that means no running tomorrow, then so be it (though if I do run tomorrow, I might do it with a feather in my headband, just to get in the spirit of things).  My attitude to this potential possible sickness?

Apart from taking vitamin C, I also fought off any possible impending sniffles with bright clothes and shoes:

Scrambled eggs and guava toast:

Mediterranean chickpea salad and broccoli soup for lunch:

And pasta with tomato sauce and grilled garlicky eggplant:

A good night’s sleep is in order because my Carnival officially starts tomorrow night at 10 pm–I’m going to a little fete called International Soca Monarch, which is only the biggest fete of the season because all the soca acts play their top songs and compete for awards.  Come four am I hope to be getting down with Faye-Ann Lyons as she hopefully retains her Power Soca, Groovy Soca, and International Soca Monarch titles–all of which this goddess of groove won and performed for last year one week before having a baby. BIG ups.  I can only aspire…

Night y’all!

The Lazy Sunday Taskmistress: Reporting for Duty

It feels like forever since I’ve typed those seven words, doesn’t it?  Don’t get me wrong–I loved the Tobago break and the Christmas fun back at the family homestead, but it’s great to be back in my home and in the swing of things.

As per my New Year’s Resolution Number 11, I decided to be chill about the kind of timekeeping and errands that don’t warrant clock-watching stress, so instead of beating myself up for not getting to the market by nine this morning I lingered over a mini breakfast of Honey Bunnies dipped in strawberry jam and soy milk:

Since it’s scientifically impossible to get stressed after dipping bunnies in jam and chomping their heads off, I sauntered my c hill self to the market in a wonderful mood and had a great time catching up with all the lovely vendors and stocking up on goodies for the week’s foodings, which will be:

  • Korean bibimbap (rice with veggie fixings, Korean dressing, egg, and seasoned sliced beef)
  • African peanut stew with sweet potatoes, eggplant, and chickpeas
  • Pita pizzas (probably eggplant and ham) with bean soup (not sure which kind yet, but I have plenty of fixings for this so i’ll play it by ear)
  • Veggie pad thai
  • Leftover pastelles and stewed pigeon peas

And, as per New Year’s Resolution Number 8, there’s not one, but TWO new recipes on the menu.  I’m sure the bibimbap will be easy enough (it just involves cooking rice, mixing up a dressing, and sauteeing some vegetables, and I can’t wait to try the African peanut stew, which comes from the delectable The Tropical Vegan Kitchen that I bought after Christmas; I used to make an African peanut stew with mushrooms and tofu, but the seasonings for this are a bit different and brighter than the other one, which felt much more like a winter dish.

After the market, I did my best Little Mermaid impression at the pool, where I threw down thirty laps and tried to stop myself from kicking at the knees (hence the Little Mermaid comparison–I look NOWHERE near as graceful as Ariel in the water), showered up, and ate breakfast number two, which was more like the real thing:

The Christmas season is over, but my love affair with pumpkin and pumpkin-spiced pancakes isn’t (and it shouldn’t be–it’s pumpkin season all year long here in Trinidad).  I ate my four (of the twenty-four I made for freezing) with silky bananas and a touch of liquid gold (aka maple syrup).  After I was done dotting my pancakes with the syrup, Mr. Man proceeded to pour the stuff liberally over his pancakes, and I had to stop myself from taking the bottle away and smacking him over the head with it (I gasped loudly, as it were).  What is he thinking???  Precious stuff, that sysrup!  Hmph.

Once I recovered from what could have been a domestic incident, I donned my Sunday finest:

Or not.  The top is from Old Navy, the skirt from H and M, and in case you need confirmation, yes, those are boots that you are seeing–Sundays from now until Carnival have officially been proclaimed Break In The Carnival Boots Day in this house.  The boots were a star purchase from Charlotte Russe in Buffalo and cost an incredibly reasonable $25.  To be honest, I don’t think they need any breaking in, as they are very soft and thin faux suede, have a very comfortable and flexible bottom, and have no heel to speak of.  They are also plenty roomy even with fat socks underneath, which means my toes will not be smushed, even with socks and arch insoles inside on Carnival.  Once I’m convinced I’ve broken them in enough, I’ll be spray-painting and blinging them to match my outfit, at which point they’ll be so fabulous y’all will be withering in jealousy and shoe lust (ok, not quite, but they WILL be hotness).

Thus attired like a maniac, my Sunday afternoon consisted of a productive tidying of the green “guest room” (my preferred chaos spot), laundry, some phone and skype catch-up calls, and a bit of decoration to make me smile every time I open my closet, should the blaring brights of my wardrobe not do the trick:

My three 5K race numbers are now proudly displayed as a daily reminder of how far the nerd with two left feet has come.  Never in my days did I think I’d have race numbers, and my first three mean the world to me, each for a different reason, and I’d rather see them every day in this way because it reminds me that I’m a little fashionista AND a runner, too.  Sniff sniff, these things make me more emotional than is dignified, so I’m stopping now.

My delightful, relaxed yet productive Sunday also featured corn soup from the Chomping Shop and an old favorite, portobello mushroom sandwiches with chipotle mayo:

As I’m waiting for suggestions for the carnival fete dress, no sewing will take place tonight and I plan on ending my Sunday (and the eve of my birthday I’m-Not-Counting-Anymore) with a Six Feet Under season six lovefest (or rather, two episodes), curled up on my couch kinda like so:

Except more lady-like.