Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Power to the (Fat) People

Six years ago I started my own body revolution. I devoured books, like this one and this one, and started following fat feminists like Marilyn Wann, Ragen Chastaine, Lindy West, Tess Munster and Jes Baker. They helped me find my way and find my voice.

Three years ago I spoke to a sold out crowd at the Egyptian Theater downtown Boise about how to be fat and fabulous. I stood on that stage and was more scared than I had ever been. I told Boise that I weighed 250 pounds and my life's purpose wasn't determined on whether or not you wanted to fuck me and that I was happy with myself, just the way I am and that I eat cake and celery. Ignite Boise filmed all the presenters' five minute pitches, and posted them on YouTube. My little talk has been viewed now by around 900 people, and commented on by various trolls (the term for being a prick on the internet because you can). They wrote things like "this woman wants to keep people down" and "people like you make me so angry" and "you lost your way for a number of reasons."

Two years ago I got the burning desire to once again bring my ideas of Health at Every Size and fat acceptance to a wider audience. At an event similar to Ignite Boise, I proposed a public, family-friendly, dessert picnic for International No Diet Day at the very first Feast. The whole thing was a dinner event at the Visual Arts Center in Garden City and the house was packed and I was nervous but talked about body love and size discrimination and healthy relationships with eating and food. The audience votes on the best community/art project proposal and the winner got $1000 to make it happen (it wasn't me). But, once again, I felt good about getting the message out there, even when one female audience member came up after and was like, "I'm all for loving your body and stuff, but wouldn't your event be so much better if you, like, served fresh veggies and fruit instead of desserts?"

The next day I began a week-long, painful miscarriage of a baby we had already grown to love, somewhere around eight weeks along. The day after that I found out that a local male business owner who goes by the Twitter name "Cranky Clown" was at the Feast event and had been live tweeting negative things not only about my message, but about my body, my words, my mind, my family, my friends, and about fat people in general. And when I found out about it, I tweeted him back, and his responses got more hateful. Some of his other local Twitter friends joined in and started attacking me, too. (And, yes, I know his real life name and his real life business - that he has since lost - but I won't tell you here.) Years later, he still tweets on occasion about how much he hates fatties. He never thought, I'm fairly certain, about the real life woman at home, curled up in a ball, bleeding and in tears, wrapped up in grief around a hot pad while she missed her daughter's kindergarten registration.

About a month later, the fat hatred and misogyny found its way to my Facebook wall, where I had begun posting body confident links and messages. This time, the meanest came from two different men, who I knew barely in real life, and a handful of women, who I also knew personally. After mean-spirited back and forth banter I had to unfriend them, on the internet and in real life. I took the entire summer off from the internets because these bigoted trolls had so damaged my heart, mind, thoughts, and activism, that I desperately needed a break to heal. (Years later, these people, too, still post on Facebook bigoted and sizist commentary.)

But I came back, stronger and louder. The trolls are still here, on the internet and in my little Idaho city. In fact, I'm currently fighting some misogyny due to my strong, loud voice. This week Lindy West, a nationally known writer and feminist and fat activist, told a story about a particularly hurtful troll who created a false Twitter account, posing as her recently deceased father, on NPR's This American Life. She tweeted about it, he read it, and apologized to her. They have a live telephone conversation on this particular podcast and the story will both break your heart and make it grow. This woman encounters trolling and hateful comments about her weight and feminist stances on a daily basis, so her skin is thick.

Mine? Not so much. Also, I'm no Lindy West. I can count the troll commentary I've received on one - okay, two - hands. Does that make it hurt less? No. Have any of my trolls ever apologized? Never. In fact, Lindy's troll is the first person I've ever heard of admitting to his hatred and trying to make up for it.

Do I write this because I want you to feel sorry for me? Not at all. What do I want, then? When you hear or read someone using bullying, dangerous and hurtful words, I want you stand up next to me, and speak loud and strong, too.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

THRIFTY: Homemade Bath Goodies

Every year for the holidays, the girls and I love making homemade and handmade gifts for our friends and neighbors. Often it's baked goods, like my family-famous pumpkin bread, candy or cookies. Some years, though, we get a bit more ambitious and want to make something new and offbeat, not your traditional Christmas goodies. This past year was one.
As always, I love to use inexpensive ingredients and reuse and repurpose items. This fall we had harvested our lavender plants, dried the flowers, and put them in the freezer to preserve. I had also saved this bath sachet recipe on a Pinterest board several years ago and knew these would be perfect.

I had a box of powdered milk in my pantry, as well as oatmeal, rubber bands and twine. I ran to my neighborhood Dollar Tree and grabbed a few boxes of baby washcloths, which were 4 for $1. You could, however, just use any scrap of fabric you have, cheesecloth or muslin.

I think the images do justice in place of written explanation on how to make these (read: SO EASY). I typed up these little directions, printed them off, cut them and attached the to the sachets.

OATMEAL LAVENDAR MILK BATH SACHET | Tie the twine to hang the bundle under the faucet as hot water fills the tub. Squeeze the sachet to release the herbal properties into the water, or swirl the sachet around in the tub. The tub is now your giant cup of herbal tea! Once the bath is over, shake the wet herbs into a flowerbed, compost, or other container for disposal. The washcloth is yours to be used again!

In addition to the bath sachets, Alice and I whipped up some brown sugar coffee scrub. Every day after drinking my pot of java, I dump the grinds onto a large tray in the garage to dry. Once dried (this may take a few weeks because you really want them to be very dry), you mix the coffee grinds, brown sugar, olive oil, a tiny bit of vanilla extract, and a few shakes of cinnamon. I used a version of this recipe, but quadrupled it to make a lot more. Having a plethora of baby food jars from Arlo, I spray painted the lids a festive red, filled them with this yummy scrub, and tied on a cute paper tag. This scrub is ideal for dry hands and feet and works really well. It makes a huge mess of coffee grinds if used in the tub, though, just FYI. For this project, I had all the ingredients on hand, and repurposed the jars and paper tags, so it cost me next to nothing. Both projects turned out great, were fun to make in the kitchen, and so easy for the girls to help with. They'd be perfect for Valentine's Day or Mother's Day, too!

Friday, January 9, 2015

STYLE: Chewbeads

My friend Kristyn wore a strand of these really cute large turquoise beads to a party about a year ago and I complimented her on them. She told me they weren't real costume jewelry, but these safe spongy rubber-type beads for teething babies. You guys, this blew my mind. Being pregnant with Arlo at the time and knowing the chewiness that comes with baby territory, I couldn't wait to get my own.

Fast-forward about six months and I had my wee babe in my arms and he was so drooly and trying to eat all my unsafe vintage necklaces. I called around town and found out that both our baby boutiques downtown Boise, Cassis Kids on Idaho and Buns in the Oven in BoDo, carry Chewbeads. They are 100% silicone necklaces that are cute for mom and safe for baby. They come in a variety of styles, but the classic one I'm wearing here is the least expensive, running about $29.99. The colors are fun and funky (I picked bright yellow but they have more muted colors like brown and black if that's more your style) and I can't even tell you how much Arlo loves them. As soon as I put them on in the store, they went straight in his mouth. Worth every penny.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

FOODIE: A New Year's Resolution Revolution, Take Two

Resolution, resosmultion. I don't resolve to do most things, but I can totally get behind the desire to evolve. So I never do New Year Resolutions, but New Year Revolutions.

This year I'm taking on an old favorite. In 2010, I made the pledge to cook every single recipe in the Pioneer Woman's brand new, and first, cookbook, a la Julie & Julia. I've been a fan of Ree Drummond since way back in her beginning blogging days, and now she's a full-fledged celebrity chef. Five years ago I was super successful in making all fifty-something recipes in her book and it was a treasure and a treat. Many of those recipes are now mainstays in our culinary repertoire. I'm a bit of a Food Network Fangirl (see the Food Network Cookoff I've hosted every year for the past five years). I'm also a bit of a cookbook hoarder. Combine the two and you've got a kitchen revolution in the making.

For 2015, I decided to take on the challenge of making every single recipe in one of my newer cookbooks. I lobbied for Smitten Kitchen, or maybe Paula Deen's classic, but Eric won me over with his profound love of PW, so I hearby announce that I'll be making all the recipes in her second cookbook, The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food From My Frontier (2012).

I'm really excited. But also a bit worried. Because there are 109 recipes in this book. ONE. HUNDRED. AND. NINE.

Rest assured, I'm aware that means I have to make at least two recipes a week for the entire year. Or have several parties where I make, like, ten of them. A handful of recipes are cocktails, and some are side dishes, so that should help. But, STILL. And, if you've ever made PW's recipes before, you know they can be massive, home-cooking, comfort food undertakings. And so, so worth every minute and ingredient.

A few recipes from this book are tried and true family favorites already, so I'm scratching those from the list: Simple Sesame Noodles, Restaurant Style Salsa, and her Apple Dumplings. Not because they aren't amazing, but that they are SO AMAZING that we make the all the time already. They've been a staple in our house for years, as I first discovered the recipes on her blog. (In fact, the year I took on the Pioneer Woman in my Food Network Cookoff I won first place with those Apple Dumplings in the dessert category because MOUNTAIN DEW is the secret ingredient.) Also, two recipes at the end are canning recipes and while canning pushes me outside my comfort zone in a good way, the recipes are for sweet pickles and strawberry jam, two things I do not love. So, 104 recipes it is.

Wish me luck.

(PS I'll be grammin' all this over here and posting regular updates on the blog. Last night I made the Roasted Cauliflower and it was truly the best cauliflower I've ever eaten. Eric agrees. And, yes, I always write notes in my cookbooks for future chefs and memories sake.)