Why I obsess (intermittently) about cooking

Readers of this blog, and of my FB page/Twitter feeds, will notice that I am a little obsessed with the fact that I’m a crappy cook. My husband, bless him, repeatedly lets me off the hook for this, “Nobody expects you to cook dinner…so don’t.” And I find that when I heed this, I do better. I plan on a few low-pressure dinners a week—picking up prepared stuff at Whole Foods—sushi, rotisserie chicken, sides; baking a frozen lasagna (I like Michael Angelo’s, because it tastes fresh, believe it or not); making “cheater’s flatbread” from Pillsbury Pizza Dough in the can, with some goat cheese, rosemary , EVOO, and balsamic and tossing a salad to go with it. Then, when I have the time and patience, I’ll put together a low-key, low-effort dinner. Garlic roasted chicken and tomatoes, roasted cauliflower tossed with red peppers, pine nuts and balsamic was a recent hit.

But in case you are wondering why I put so much pressure on myself, it’s because not only is my husband a killer amateur chef, but so are some of my best friends . Just check out this post from my pal Florida Keys Girl, and note that we were the guests at the first dinner party. Yum. She did leave out that more than a splash of wine wound up on my white jeans—for which Florida Keys Girl was quick to provide a spray of WineAway. My new favorite product.  (I could have cared less, FlKeys Guy, if you’d actually ruined them, given that they were $17 pants from TJ Maxx, but you didn’t!)

Wine Away Signature Pack

(photo borrowed from Wineaway.com Go there and buy this stuff. It’s awesome.)


For Patty

Well, dear reader (by which I mean Patty), you asked for photos of the look. The only time I had to get this photo was outside the orthodontist’s office. Photo credits: Lance Rothchild.




My four year-old stylist rocks!

I’m not ashamed to tell you that my four year-old dressed me today. I’m very lazy about my style. I live in the mountains and feel like I need an excuse to dress nicely. Seth, on the other hand, is big on dressing up, looking “handsome,” and finding the occasion in the everyday. Hence, he often shows up to school or some other function in full cowboy regalia, including leather vest, or a preppy look with sweater vest and khakis. When he dresses me, he does it because I just helped him get dressed, and his sense of fair play dictates that he should return the favor. He knows my basic style includes some sort of sweater—light fabrics in spring, heavier knits in winter—and jeans.  And that’s when I’m “dressing up.” Much of my day-to-day look involves fleece. And yoga pants. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. (Just ask my friend, Florida Keys Girl, who once said, “I don’t actually do yoga, I just like the pants.”)

So this morning, he marched into my closet and announced: “I’ll get your sweater.” A moment. And then: “Mommy, how about this jeans sweater?”

Ah, yes, my very favorite denim jacket, purchased about 12 years ago, when I was shopping with my friend and colleague, Sue, after we wrapped a photo shoot. Wearing this jacket always takes me back to that day—we’d rented a convertible to tool around LA, driven up the coast to Gladstone’s On the Beach, and then, to the Santa Monica Pier for shopping. The denim jacket looks broken-in in just the right way. I smile every time Iwear it. Sue, you see, is a lot of fun, and a great friend who I don’t see nearly enough. Later, I enhanced the jacket with a brooch in the shape of an apple, festooned with rhinestones in the pattern of an American Flag. I bought it in an Israeli-owned accessories store in Grand Central Terminal, on my first trip to NYC after 9/11, just weeks after we’d moved to Utah.

Ok, so what to wear with a “denim sweater”? Jeans were out. Dammit. The Old Navy black cropped-and-cuffed pants (yes, I know, I’m 5’1 and have no business in a cropped pant. I should go to Banana Republic and buy these.); a black t-shirt from eco yoga, with an abstract black and grey silk-screen that has some rhinestones scattered in the pattern, just-so. And, my trusty running-around-after-kids shoes, Dansko Sela sandals.

So, thus suited, I plopped down on the floor to put together a big puzzle with my “stylist,” then managed the dogs, loaded us into the car for errands and day-care drop off, and headed to my mobile office at Park City Coffee Roaster. In the parking lot, I ran into my friend Joanna, who said, “Look at you, GLAM GIRL! Do you have a meeting?” Which shows you how much more frequently I cheat with jeans and a fleece, or yoga pants and a fleece, or shorts and a fleece.

I think, too, that my accessories for the day—my new every day accessories—might have added to her shock. I used to carry some amalgam of canvas totes and reusable shopping bags, plus a tiny little purse from H&M. But last week, while I was visiting Naples, FL with my husband, I splurged. Actually, it was at his express urging, plus a well-timed chime in from my high-school pal Rosana, who happened to be there, too.

So, I now carry this great LV monogram zip-top tote to take the thinking out of what bag I’ll carry.

The tote, for the record, holds my laptop, an iPad, snacks for the kids (and me), miscellaneous paperwork that I always seem to need on-hand, and a pouch filled with band-aids, ibuprofen and lip gloss. After dark, I take out the electronics and it’s lightweight and still polished-looking.

I’ve never been a label-hound. Frankly, I don’t love logos. But I scoured for a logo-free tote that met all my needs, and, still, this one best fit the bill. And, I reasoned, if I can afford this bag, I can afford to donate a similar sum to charity—so everyone wins, right? Oy, the guilt.

Then, I splurged again on Tom Ford sunglasses—because I’d never had a really, really nice pair of shades before, and these were really pretty.

I mulled this as I booted up my MacBook in the Roaster, and wandered over to my former colleague Marlien’s site, LeCatch. Because procrastination is the writer’s first line of defense.

Still, I’m glad I went there. Marlein’s style choices reflect the closet of my dreams. That is, a mix of designer and trendy-chic-on-the-cheap. She’s likely to pair a skirt from H&M with a JCrew top and a designer bag. I wasn’t an expensive-bag kind of person until a week ago—and I bought the one I did because it meant I didn’t need a bunch of bags. And, frankly, the whole of my wardrobe is early-century outlet mall, at best. Every few years I buy something a little more upscale—a piece here or there—and pair it with basics from TJ Maxx. But reading LeCatch is giving me the courage to figure out which items in my closet  should be swapped out for better-grade items, and which I can wear with impunity. Granted, I’m still recovering from investing in an expensive bag and shades—so you’ll find me trawling TJ’s for deals as a way to “cancel out” the splurge. But maybe I need to get used to the idea that investing in a few great things is better than a closet full of also-rans. And maybe, just maybe, LeCatch will help get me there.

As for you, dear reader, LeCatch is your must-read. Why? Because my stylist is not for hire—it would violate all sorts of child-labor laws.

So go check it out–and let me know when you last splurged—and on what?