Thursday, March 31, 2011

Sometimes a girl needs...

A cake.

A whole cake, all to herself.  She can eat it all in one day, or she can cut it into slices and put them in the freezer to enjoy for- breakfast for a week.

And other times, a girl doesn't need a whole cake.  In fact, I am right to say that a girl rarely (if ever) needs to finish an entire cake on her own, no matter the size.  And when I made this for work...

... I did not intend on eating the whole thing, all by myself.

Would I create 8 fondant daisies for a cake I mean to eat by myself?  Would I cover it in delicate silver sprinkles?

Would I bake 4 layers of delicious, strawberry cake, and fill it with creamy Swiss Meringue Buttercream?

No.  No I wouldn't.

If I baked a cake for myself, it would look very little like this.  It would be full of berries and lemon curd, topped in (of course) cream cheese frosting, and probably pretty lumpy and not picture-worthy.

It would look nothing like this.  How vain do you think I am?

Don't answer that question...

But Saturday morning, I brought in this cake to work; and there it stood for hours, undisturbed.  I cut into it to give a slice to a client, and when I had some spare time, I took a slice myself.  And then, I enjoyed another slice.  And then my co-worker said to me, "Boy, you sure can put down some food."


And the cake continued to sit, and it was nearly 4:00PM.  So as it was time for me to go, I cut two, huge chunks of cake, and put it in my remaining co-workers' bags.  HA!  And they thought they weren't eating cake today.

"Wah ha ha ha!  Buah ha ha ha!"  Ahem.

As much as I like, even love my new place, they get no more cake.

Ever.  It is making me too chubby.

OK.  That is a bit harsh.  I can be persuaded.

After all, we are all so very cute...

I really like these people, and I would do nearly anything for them, including wearing a Polo shirt and posing beside a golf cart.

And I would bake them another cake, even if only to eat all by myself.  That's what being "confectionate" is all about.

Rachel Bee

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Fight those calories and women who bear cupcakes!

It is nearly ten minutes until 6 AM, and I already can tell that today is going to be a good day.

How can I be so sure?  Well, I am drinking coffee from my favorite cup, and carrot muffins have delighted their way into my oven, and soon one (or two) of them will be in my belly.  OK.  Probably just one.  I plan to go for a run this afternoon, weather permitting, and we have a photoshoot this evening with a good (however new) friend (again, weather permitting).

The point of this particular post is not to lure you with muffins and coffee, but the opposite, really.  Or is it?  I can't be sure.  What I am getting at is that yesterday morning, I asked a friend what sort of cupcakes I should bring to our very last small group meeting Wednesday morning, which began a dialogue.

You see, I have been struggling to deliver cupcakes to people since the start of the year, as a small gathering of dedicated men and women have joined together to slim down as a contest of sorts.  Some of them have done incredibly well, and now, during the last week of said "contest," they are really trying to keep the momentum going.  And I think it is great.

Really, I do.

Really: to the point of tears.  There is very little that makes me happier than people who conquer their food issues.  All of us who have done it know that it is an ongoing battle, but it can be done; and... and... I really am struggling with where to go here.  Pictures.

This is me, now(ish):

Remember, from yesterday?

This is me 10 years ago:

Yes.  On the left.  More?  OK.

Someone told me a pixy was a good idea.  And one more...

Geez.  I am hoping this was just the worst angle ever.  I thought that shirt made me look thin.  EESH.

First of all, let me tell you what I was doing 10-12 years ago.  I was in Bible college in middle Tennessee, and I was not happy.  I went there for three reasons:

1.  If I went, I got to keep my car (if I went to Converse where I was already enrolled with scholarships, my car stayed at home).
2.  I chose Converse because... well, Converse had no essay on its application.
3.  Converse was an all-girls' liberal arts school and would 8 years of single-sex education make me into a lesbian?

I admit, all ridiculous reasons.  All RIDICULOUS reasons.

I struggled at this Bible school to fit into the mold of what was a "godly woman," in my vintage clothes and pixy-cuts, questions about EVERYTHING, and hormones that were simply going wild.  When I entered Bible school, I was not thin, nor had I ever been; but I was curvy, and carrying my weight in "all the right places."  I was not proud of my figure in the mid-to-late 90's, when Kate Moss's boyish physique was at the height of glamour, but I could put on a nice dress and still feel good about myself.

At this Bible school, there was an honor code of no drinking, smoking, etc., but in my quest to rebel, I found myself at every 24-hour restaurant; sometimes two or three in a night, eating up every greasy treat I could find.

"Haha!  I am up past my bedtime!  Eat that!  Ooh...don't mind if I do."

The summer after graduation, I made a major error in judgement, and this error caused me to binge even more.  I remember looking in the mirror at this point and thinking, "I am officially fat."

For the next five years, I went back and forth between "curvy" and "fat," until the summer of 2004. It was then while sitting on a sofa, watching my 8th hour of television with my future husband, that I had an epiphany: I was gross.  I joined the gym the following day, and never looked back.

It took me about 7 months to lose 40 lbs., and nearly seven years, a baby, and a baking obsession later, I have managed to keep it off.  There have been times in those 7 years that have been much harder than others: more obsessive, and more unhealthy.  There have been times I have catalogued calories, times I have worked out 3 hours in a day, and times I have stepped on the scale upwards of 20 occasions in a morning.  I really did think that losing that weight would solve so many problems, but for the 2 people who think I am cooler because I am thin, there are 3 who think I can "never relate" to weight issues because I am thin.

Yes, I eat cake, and cupcakes, and muffins, and by extension white flour and sugar.  No, I don't drink my calories, I don't eat fast food hamburgers, and no more gummies (the WORST candy ever), high fructose corn syrup or trans fat.  I eat between 1200-1500 calories a day (1200 if I don't work out, 1500 if I do), and sometimes I blast those totals out of the water, and it really bothers me.  I am incredibly aware of what is in EVERYTHING I eat, and this knowledge (I believe) is what keeps me small.

All of this to say, eat a cupcake.  Or eat half of one.  Or eat it and (God forbid) don't eat lunch.  Don't replace cupcakes for lunch everyday, but you are a grown-up.  You can eat a cupcake for lunch if you want to.   I tell myself that at least once a week, and it makes me happy.

So there you have it.  Stay the course, and fight those calories and (if you must) women who bear cupcakes.  You can do it!

Rachel Bee

Sunday, March 27, 2011

A night that warranted a week off...

All or most of you know that Friday night a week ago, my church had a special event called "The Big Show."

Many churches have a volunteer banquet of some sort, but this evening was so much more than a dinner buffet over sterno warmers.  It was a full-on award show a la Golden Globes, with a catered meal served at round tables; and (I am sure) the very best green beans I have ever tasted in my entire life.

I know.  It is weird to give the first of my compliments to the green beans, but they were heaven.  I have a source who might divulge whatever sweetness made them irresistible.  Then I will keep the recipe to myself, and eat nothing but green beans for the rest of my life.

Despite the event being in it's first year, I would say that it went off so well, and everyone looked amazing. I had so many people come up to me to say that they were "wearing my eyes" or  how they had pinned up their hair per my instruction, and it made me feel so warm.  Thanks to all of you who brighten my life.  Really.

And those of you who were there also saw way too much of me, as I played "Miss Big Show," or the stage manager in a pink dress.  I (not always so gracefully) handed out awards to presenters, and made eyes at the sexy photog in the back of the room.  You can all guess who he is.

Here are a few pics of what I did with my hair and makeup for the night...

I told my friend, Stephanie, to give me a style I could not do on myself; so with a deep breath, a few pins, and a handful of weave: she went.

Sorry, Steph.  These were taken at around 10:30 PM, about 8 hours after you pinned my hair up.

Here is a pic of me, award in hand...

...and a guy named "J." And that was not my award, if there is any confusion.  The "awards" were given to people who had shown extraordinary effort in whatever ministry they are a part of.  They are called "Vollys."

From "volunteer."


And here I am with my beloved dad, who IS single by the way...

I wish you all could see my shoes.  They are adorable, and look like the ones worn in "Dirty Dancing."

As we are going on about the Big Show, I would be remiss not to say that I went through 11.5 pounds of sugar last week, making these...

And these...

Chocolate Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Swiss Meringue Buttercream.  The toppers were little gumpaste stars with gobs of edible glitter and a little pearl inset.  They sparkled beautifully against the low lights, and I am told they tasted just fine.  Or good.  I did not try one.  When you make 168 of something, you have eaten plenty.  And this, the most unflattering picture of me, is a great snapshot of what one's kitchen looks like after baking 168 cupcakes.

Really.  Could it look worse?

It was fun, and all I can say, and state, and reiterate, is that I love my church.  It is a generous group, and I would bake a million cupcakes for them.  And if it wasn't incredibly inappropriate, I would take my pastor by the face, and squeeze it up against mine (like cheek to cheek: nothing funny).  And while I am completely violating his personal space, I would say, "thank you, thank you, thank you.  I really am having a blast."

What a good idea it was to show me back to Jesus.

Really.  Thanks, Brent.

Have a good one, all.

Rachel Bee

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Big Show, big hair tutorial...

It is a shame.  A horrible, horrible shame.

Especially when speaking as a stylist.

I live in Augusta, GA- perhaps one of the most stereotypical Southern cities I have ever lived in.  People readily say "ma'am and mister," love their sweet tea, and fix a gossip with, "but bless her heart!"  Every truck is studded with a deer sticker, and women are nuts about being bronze and blonde.  They love their "Lily," Reagan, and "Social" is a must for the young up-and-comers.

What is so shameful about this city?  Well, I'll tell you.  An entire city of women have been ruined for big hair, by one very small group of people.  I won't go into who they are or how... fabulous (?) their hair can be at a grocery store on a Saturday night- but I can say that the instant I start to pull out a teasing comb during an updo, my guest inevitably says, "Now- I don't want to look like a _____."

It is so very frustrating.  In my mind, nothing says "glamour" more than big, full, curly hair.  A person can go overboard (as our neighbors often demonstrate), but lets not let them lay claim to all of the elegance, allure, and excitement represented in a bit of back-combing!

C'mon people!  Lets take back our hairspray.  Lets take back our curls.  Throw out the flat iron for one evening, an lets have some fun!

So, here I am, sporting some moderately big hair.  It is tasteful, but still special enough for an evening in sequins.

When I get out of the shower, I do my makeup, brush my teeth, and then head for the blow-dryer.  I begin about 15 minutes out of the shower, by adding a little bit of sculpting foam.  We'll call it a "dallop."

These are the products I am using today:

Work the foam through very well, from roots to ends.  Then turn on your dryer, and throw your hair around like a rag doll.

Focus on drying your roots up and away from your head...

...until you are about 75% dry.  What does that look like?  An 80's rocker...

Your roots will be almost dry, but your ends still need some work.

If your hair is long, a clip will work well to pull some of your hair to the side.  I just brush mine over...

Then grab a large round brush and go for it, starting with the underneath portion of your hair.

What I am doing here is called "under-directing."  I am pulling the hair down and drying it, which will give maximum smoothness and minimum body.  I usually do this with the underneath portion of my hair.  Here is a good side view of it...

Now, this is "over-directing."  See how I am pulling my roots up where they grow?

"Over-directing" produces maximum volume.  If I was using a smaller brush, I could get a decent amount of curl from this technique, but I could also (if not careful) get the brush really tangled in my hair.  So, if you have hair as long as mine or longer, you should really use a large brush.

Now, for the top portion of my hair, I will attempt to demonstrate what I do for the most "oomph."

Comb your hair over, like this...

Now, take your brush and rest it on the base of that section.

Now, pulling up and over, start rotating the brush away from your head, still holding it taut at the base.

Your brush should start to pick up the hair it is resting on.  Now, once you have accumulated
all of the hair on your brush, start to pull it up and out...

And roll down...

And then hold the dryer to it until its dry.  If you turn it and still feel some drag, it is not dry.  If your brush easily turns, it is!

Continue this all over your head.  Feel free to turn off your dryer at times to position your brush.  It really can be a workout!

Now, for my bangs: I gently put the brush under them, and I dry them with the dryer positioned horizontally, directly behind them.  I do not roll my bangs onto the brush, as this is not 1992.  I had a picture of this, but my face is just frightful in it.  I think my tongue is actually hanging out.  

When you are dry, blow your hair all around again, to be sure you are really dry.  We are about to curl, and you can't curl wet hair.  

This is the finished product:

Man.  I could just kiss my hair to pieces.  I love it.  

Now.  Clip up the top of your hair.  Hope you have had a curling iron heating up...

Before I start, let me show you how not to curl hair...

Do not take a section of hair, clamp it at the bottom, and roll up.  

Think about it.  Your ends are the most fragile part of your hair.  If you do this, you are exposing them first, keeping them closest to the barrel, and then rolling everything else on top of them.  your ends will be curly, but your mid-shaft will be limp or even straight (please ignore any innuendos.  It is very late.)  And you will have hair (again) from 1992.  Instead, do this...

Clamp your hair at the mid-shaft, and while rolling away from your face, feed the hair through by turning and quickly clicking your iron.  It takes some practice, but you can do it.  Turn and click until all of the hair is fed through, and you will have a much more modern wave.  

Note that the slower you are while feeding the hair through, the curlier it will be.  By extension, the faster you move, the looser your curl will be.  If you pull the hair out and the curl is too tight, gently tug on it while it is still hot, and the curl will loosen.  

So, here is my hair clamped up...

I know.  time to do the roots on that black.  Or not.  

Start curling, section by section.  Your iron can only take as much hair as it is wide, meaning if you have a 1" iron, it is most effective at curling it's width (at the base of your scalp) in hair.  Get it?  No?

Well, just don't put too much hair in your iron.  Here we go.  

AWAY from your face.  One side will be harder to do than the other, but remember: they are sisters, not twins.  

Here I am, halfway through:

And finished...

I could stop here, but I do this all the time on a Sunday morning.  I need something bigger...

So, take a paddle brush, and when your curls are COMPLETELY cool, brush through that mess!

Believe me, this will not take your curls away.  I just like the softness of this look.  

It draws all of the curls together, and makes it look less like 8th grade graduation, and more like today.  

Now, sprinkle some Powder Play in the crown of your head, like this:

Next,  take a teasing comb, and gather the section at your crown.  If you used the Powder Play, this will be a bit more difficult, but do it.  

Now, place your comb about 2 inches away from your scalp on this section, and run up and down your hair shaft ten times.  

When you are done, your hair should stand off your head, like this...

You could continue to back-comb all over, but I will stop here for now.  Take a comb and a hand mirror, and gently cover up any of the rattiness you just created...

Now, take your hands, placing your fingertips just into your hair, and lift gently until you have the look you desire.

Finally, take any hairspray you like, lean over, and spray.

Stay leaning until the spray has dried.  Lift and spray.

Do not drop until it is dry.  Now, check yourself out.  Are you the picture of hotness?

Of allure?

Of husband-come-and-do-only-g-rated-things-to-me-for-the-sake-of-the-blogness?

Of course you are.  And the "travelers" can eat their heart out.  

My back-combing.  MINE!

See you soon,

Rachel Bee