Sunday, June 26, 2011

Eeeke!! My Kitchen Smells Like Food!

It’s Monday morning. The tattooed meter man is walking up the path to my front door. I go down to let him in. No matter the weather, he is always cheerful and polite. He walks in, wipes his feet and says, “Gee, something smells good.” The aroma of last night’s roasted chicken still lingers in the house. I follow him as he makes his way downstairs. He knows the way.

“It reminds me of my Grandmother’s house,” he continues. “It always smelled like cooking. Her English wasn’t too good….she was from Italy….. but she sure could cook.”

I see the wedding ring on his finger and ask a question to which I already know the answer. “Is your wife a good cook?”

He gives a hearty laugh and says, “My wife thinks a home cooked meal comes from a package she nukes in the microwave, cuts open and dumps on the plate.” Obviously feeling a bit guilty at having said that, he quickly adds, “But, you know, she’s busy. She works, too. Can’t live on take-out.”

Just a guess, but I am probably older than the tattooed meter man’s Mother and younger than his Grandmother, which puts me pretty squarely in the last generation of American women who makes home cooked meals on a regular basis.
And that is not a guess.

The young woman who can cook or has any desire to do so today is rare indeed.

Of course, when it comes time for her to buy her first house, she wants nothing less than a state-of-the-art kitchen with professional grade appliances, which she will never use, except for the microwave.

I thought I had heard every excuse imaginable for not cooking (don’t know how, no time, no interest, hate the clean-up), until one night while watching the Food network I heard this little gem. A young woman was planning a brunch with her caterer. She told her caterer that her kitchen was off limits. The caterer was to prepare all food off site because, she said firmly, “I don’t want my house to smell like food.” Huh??

For too many Americans, sitting down to a home cooked dinner is something they see only in old movies on Turner Classic or reruns of The Dick Van Dyke Show.

The concept of mealtime and everything it entails no longer exists for them. They no longer know when, how or what to eat, so they eat whatever whenever and wherever they are at all hours of the day and night.

The American relationship with food has become largely dysfunctional and the results are painfully obvious.

Sadly, not only has this dysfunctional relationship had a deleterious effect on our health, but on our ability to interact successfully on a social level. The family dinner table was not just a place where children traditionally learned table manners, but where they began the process of learning how to interact socially.

The catch phrase “a teachable moment” has become quite popular lately. Everything that happens, good or bad, we are told, has intrinsic value as a teachable moment.

The family dinner is, for me, the perfect teachable moment for a young child.

Other than how to use a knife and fork properly, here is what I learned at the family dinner table as a child.

 Don’t put your elbows on the table;
 Don’t chew with your mouth open;
 Don’t shovel food into your mouth;
 Don’t talk with food in your mouth;
 Don’t interrupt when someone is speaking;
 Think before you speak;
 Don’t slouch; and
 Don’t fidget.

All children start out as little hedonistic savages. It’s up to parents to civilize them for their own good and for that of society. Why not make family dinner a teachable moment for your child?

After all, the first thing Annie Sullivan taught her unruly charge, Helen Keller, was how to sit at table and use a fork.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

My Three Make-Up Must-Haves

When Father Time seduces Mother Nature, we Ladies pay the price. If you are une femme d’un certain âge, you know exactly what I mean every time you look in the mirror.

Fortunately, through the ages, women young and old have known the value of the skillful alliance of art and nature.

As her friends prepare the beautiful young Yum-Yum for her wedding to the wandering minstrel, Nanki-Poo, who is actually the son of the Mikado in disguise, they sing these words:

“Braid the raven hair —
Weave the supple tress —
Deck the maiden fair
In her loveliness —
Paint the pretty face —
Dye the coral lip —
Emphasize the grace
Of her ladyship!
Art and nature, thus allied,
Go to make a pretty bride.
Art and nature, thus allied,
Go to make a pretty bride.”
(“The Mikado” by Gilbert & Sullivan)

Even young Yum-Yum knows that natural beauty only takes a Gal so far and only lasts so long. Sooner or later, most of us turn to the cosmetic counter for a little help in looking our best.

In 1935, Max Factor of Hollywood created a cosmetic sensation when he introduced American women to Pan-Cake make-up.

Max Factor had developed Pan-Cake make-up from its theatrical predecessor, Grease Paint, for Hollywood’s new color films. It gave complete coverage and made stars, such as Judy Garland, look flawless and natural on film.

And for the price of a small, round pan of make-up, the average American woman could look like a glamorous movie star.

Since the days of Max’s Pan-Cake make-up, a dizzying array of skin care products and cosmetics have been launched on the market to the delight of some and the confusion of others.

While we women “of a certain age” do not expect miracles from our make-up, today’s cutting edge cosmetics are better able to deliver what we really do need from a make-up product as we age – subtle enhancement and natural coverage.

The following are the three make-up products I would grab if my house were on fire.

Tinted Moisturizer with SPF 20 by Laura Mercier ($42) - We’ve come a long way, Baby, from Max Factor’s Pan-Cake make-up to today’s lightweight, tinted moisturizers, and this award winning version by Laura Mercier is my absolute favorite.

It comes in an array of colors from Porcelain, the shade I wear, to Mocha. It’s lighter and sheerer than foundation and gives your complexion a healthy, youthful glow which lasts all day.

And the best part? It is simplicity itself to apply. Just use your fingers and see how beautifully and evenly it blends.

The oil-free version is great for summer.

Foundation Primer by Laura Mercier ($30) – As an artist must prime his canvas before applying his paints, so your face needs to be “primed” before applying your tinted moisturizer or foundation.

This lightweight, colorless gel creates a protective layer for your skin allowing your tinted moisturizer or foundation to glide over those tiny lines around your mouth and forehead and stay color-true the entire day.

It also contains antioxidants such as Vitamins A, C and E.

Laura Mercier suggests keeping it in the refrigerator for a refreshing, cooling effect on those hot summer days when you and your skin need a bit of a refresher.

Secret Brightening Powder by Laura Mercier ($22) - This powder looks white in the container, but as soon as you apply it, becomes invisible while adding a subtle brightness to whatever it touches.

I use it under my eyes and around my mouth, wherever I want to minimize a little darkness and add a little brightness. The light reflecting quality of its micronized pigments ensures that it will not settle into fine lines and will brighten any shadowy areas while remaining invisible. I call it my mini-facelift in a jar.

Well, Ladies, there you have it, my Make-Up Must-Have List. How about you?

What make-up products would you grab if your house were on fire?

What products can you absolutely not live without?

Do tell; we’d love to know!!!