Will you be my Valentine?

IMG_4567When I first moved here in July, we had a housewarming party where friends brought gifts of nice bottles of wine and alcohol, flowers and local finds. Detroiters are proud of their heritage and are proud to bring anything that is locally made and I welcome it. Three different friends all brought three different bottles of vodka. One from Two James distillery in Corktown, another from Our/Detroit in Detroit and the other bottle was from Valentine‘s Distillery in Ferndale–all Detroit local vodkas. The Two James bottle was opened right away even before I got a chance to say thanks for the gift. It has a “manly” appeal with it’s old school label and metal embossed logo of two prohibition era-type looking silhouettes, of two men. The Our/Detroit bottle is much simpler and still 6 months later, hasn’t been opened. It looks as if it came out of a pharmacy or chemistry lab with it’s almost medicinal shape and simple handwritten-like font. The Valentine bottle also not yet opened, has a sexy, pin-up girl plastered on the bottle with a seductive look,whispering “Come hither” as she holds her welcoming martini glass. At first glance, I associated the pin-up girl to something cheap and assumed if the bottle looks cheap the vodka must be cheap and not all that good… wow, was I WRONG!!!!  I apologize for judging a vodka by it’s label and now understand that in fact, this lovely “Valentine” is a lot smarter than the other vodkas out there and she’s a reminder of high standards and quality. Valentine vodka has won numerous awards for quality and taste. It received 94 points of some award that I’m sorry I can’t remember, but it beat  Belvedere by 2 points, Ketel One by 3 and with Grey Goose by 4 points!

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Before yesterday’s tour of the Valentine Distillery, the bottle of Valentine’s tucked away in the back of our liquor cabinet had no chance of being opened, but now since the tour I’m dreaming of the next cocktail to serve with it at our parties or just pour a little for sipping as a night0cap.  The two-hour tour flew by. Fifteen of us from the BBNC group- a newcomer group of expats and people who have moved around as much as me, met up at 10:30AM to start our vodka tasting.  A bit early for most of us moms that had to pick up kids at 3, but it would give us enough time to grab some lunch and soak up the alcohol. I don’t think I’ve been to a bar this early in the morning since my World Cup days in NYC following my Brit, “futbol” maniac, obsessed boyfriend, at the time.  Sometimes he’d have us wake-up at 5AM, dragging me to a bar that was open on off hours, just for the match. I was foolish then!  Anyway, I quickly forgot the hour of the day because once inside Valentine’s Distillery, I was transported in time, back to a relaxed speak-easy from the years of prohibition. The building alone has so much history as it’s comprised of many different elements from that era. Everything has been repurposed from the windows to the old Packer Factory to beams from a Micihigan farm and so on. It’s real. I especially loved the tasting area, to me it had a Parisian vibe with the gorgeous velvet red sofas and soft lighting, or maybe it was the French music playing in the background that had me dreaming of quaint Parisian hide-outs. Never the less, we weren’t in Paris, but in Detroit, which was however once called, the “Paris of the Midwest.”

For my complimentary cocktail I focused on an acceptable early-morning drink and chose a Bloody Mary. A perfect choice. The local McClures pickles were spicy, the tomato juice smooth and the vodka wan’t too strong nor too weak.

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After a bit of chit-chat and socializing with the other women, Heather, the very informative bartender started the tasting. We tried each alcohol in little beakers. Our first taste was of Valentine’s original vodka. I don’t normally sip straight vodka but this was wonderfully smooth and not harsh like other vodkas. It was great. Our second tasting was my favorite –a bit more on the sweet side, the Elderberry Flower infused Vodka called White Blossom was delicious. I can’t wait to re-create a drink I saw on their menu with basil,honey and their white blossom vodka!

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We also tasted two kinds of gin–both had strong delicious notes of cardamon, which was a nice change from the typical, harsh Tanguerey or other yulky smelling gins. It was a pleasure to rediscover gin as I swore off from it 10-years ago. Finally the last tasting, the bourbon, which my husband would have loved, but he wasn’t with me so I selfishly went home with my favorite, the White Blossom Vodka. The tour of this local distillery was inspiring and made me proud to see great production, or more appropriately AMAZING production, coming out of Detroit. It was completely worth my little $20 bill and I will never buy mass-produced vodka, again! I definitely found my love for vodka, my true valentine!

http://valentinedistilling.com

http://ourvodka.com/ourdetroit/

http://twojames.com/our-spirits/?age-verified=d69bc16f56

The unnatural is natural

 

 

 

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Having talked about my idea to create my own cooking channel on YouTube for over 4-months and actually doing it has been a process. The fear of having this project turn into what my husband calls, “a half-baked idea” was beginning to hatch. Every time I started, I couldn’t follow through. I’ll admit, at first it was mainly due to my fear of reading the instruction manual to my Gopro and learning how to get this minuscule camera to work. But then, it wasn’t my fault that my camcorder died on me nor could I be blamed for my sudden case amnesia when it came to editing on iMovie. Regardless of the issues, I’m proud to have finally posted two YouTube videos. It took a while, but thanks to YouTube and my Apple One-on-One class, I got it done.

I was so excited with my first little video called L’omelette, which my mother quickly noted I spelled the title wrong and that I don’t have to add milk to the eggs… well I know, but it’s my recipe, so I can make it how I want, is what I thought to myself… But these comments were the beginning of an avalanche to come where my friends, family, old co-workers and acquaintances all had an expert opinion on how I should act, be and do my show.

I posted my video on Facebook for my friends and family to see I had finally started Deliciously Detroit. Some overly liked my video and shared it with gushing compliments that actually embarrassed me because I knew the episode was filled with mistakes and had a ton of room for improvement. Once the compliments died down, subjective, opinionated, director-like, expert-in-the-field, which nobody I’m closely acquainted to is really in the “industry” as they say in LA, came pouring in. Comments lacking compliments surfaced…. some I agreed with, but it was a lot to swallow. My 9-year old son is also getting into having his own YouTube channel. He wants to show the world his latest Mine craft creations, newest Nerf guns, or expertise at reverse filming turning pieces of ripped paper miraculously back into a full sheet of paper. But, even my son had something to say about my video. He came upstairs after making a mini-movie with his dad and stated, “Papa thinks I’m better than you at making movies than you.” Annoyed, I ask my husband who is walking behind him, what he means by this. He tells me, “Seb sounds natural, you sound like you are out of it, or trying to be someone else.” I say in defense, “But that’s my voice over voice!” and “The guy on YouTube teaching me how to get rid of Poison Ivy sounded like an idiot,” I retort to Paul. “Yeah, but he is an idiot, at least he sounds like himself and is real,” says Paul.

I secretively listen to my voice over again and realize that Paul is right. I re-edit my voice-over and my Quaalude-sounding, slurring voice transforms into a peppy, clear and articulate me. Much improved. I repost on Facebook thinking the compliments will pour in. Ping… first comment– I’m told I could use direction and possible video and editing help. PING… my footage is too fast. Ping.. my footage is too slow. PING…I should smile more. PING.. I should drink through the whole episode and be drunk, because drunk people on YouTube are funny. PING.. I should dress like a French maid. PING.. I should have a cigarette hanging from my mouth. PING… and it just goes on and on.

The phone rings, it’s my good friend calling from California. I was happy to hear from her. “Hi there,” I answer. Not even a “hello” or a “How are you”, she jumps right in, “I just need to tell you the problems with your video…” Argh, here we go again, as much as I love her and respect her opinion and taste, I just really don’t want to hear it right now and wished I hadn’t answered. How much more advice can I handle? Did anybody realize I wasn’t trying to win an Oscar or beauty pageant? What do any of the comments thus far have to do with cooking and sharing recipes? OK, fine, my mom did ask me why I was adding milk to the eggs and that she cooks her omelette differently, but really. I agree it’s true you want to look your best on camera, I actually learned this the hard way with one of my Periscope broadcastings. I did a little live broadcast, actually it’s always live, no room for mistakes or editing. Anyway, it took me 2 days to get over the comments I got from viewers watching me on Periscope that night. One person said “Wow, old lady knows how to use an app” Must have been an annoying new millennial kid, as 43 is up there but far from old. Then someone said I looked like a meth addict. Another viewer came to my defense saying, “ She lives in Bloomfield Hills, she’s too rich to be a Meth addict.” That hurt! Now I was the stereotypical rich, Bloomfield Hills, housewife which offended me even more. We aren’t rich and I’m far from being a perfect housewife. But it wasn’t until the next day when I went to Google image to see what a meth addict looks like that I was horrified at the images and the following day shopping at  Costco, I grabbed the Crest White Strips for the first time in hope of the promised whiter teeth in 24 hours.

Official seal of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan

Official seal of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My friend’s still on the phone “ I know, I know, I’m working on it! I interrupt and tell her. I try to change the conversation and move onto a different topic – “How are your parents?” She says she still has a few more comments to make that are important on my direction and editing. I continue to listen without getting a word in. Anything I say at this point will just make me sound like an argumentative, little JR. copywriter that is in love with his work. It takes thick skin to be a copywriter, I know this as I worked over 10-years in the industry. Knowing when to let go of a bad idea and understanding that a car commercial featuring a car driving on water isn’t a good demonstration of superior driving machine, hello Chappaquiddick, cars and water don’t mix?! However a little side-note, my husband and I did randomly see car/boat that went on land and water one day in Como, Italy so it is possible, but again this is not a good idea for a major GM spot.

It’s been over 10-minutes of listening to my friend tell me how to stand, sound, talk, be…. I continue to bite my tongue and listen to how the real “karine” isn’t present in the video, that I don’t even have an intro and how are people to know how funny, quirky, French/ American or well travelled I am? I know she is doing it out of love and means well, but I interrupt, it’s the only way to get a word in, letting her know that an intro is on my YouTube channel page and in the “About” section of my blog. She goes on saying I should take a step in towards the camera when talking, not a step back. Totally frustrated, I end the conversation nicely saying that I appreciate the constructive criticism and I do realize I need to improve. She then snappily says, “Well you wanted comments.” I didn’t get into it and tell her that when I say in my video, “please comment,” I mean for food comments or recipe ideas-something about food or Detroit. I didn’t post the video on Facebook and write, “Please comment on my video” I just posted it to show what I’ve been up to. When a Vlogger asks for comments, they aren’t really asking about direction. I mean really, since when do you look at a cooking video and comment to the Vlogger, that you don’t like the color of their nail polish, that they should put some lipstick on or that you don’t think they should look into the camera so much and be more natural? I got off the phone letting her know that I was super excited about my next attempt at my food video and that I would send her an unedited clip right away so that she can see the improvements. We hang-up and I send her the clip. I was hoping for a “much better” or “super, keep on going”… or “I like it better, you are getting there,” response.Example, you see your friend in a race or marathon struggling on the last mile, you don’t say, “Change your form, you need to work harder, move your legs!” It’s obvious! You say, “Keep going,” “You can do it” you don’t go into the faults. But my friend did just that. She tells me, “I think you shouldn’t look at the camera so much but just focus on the cooking and it looks like it’s freezing inside your house!” I guess she didn’t like my warm wooly sweater and cool scarf I was wearing? She continues… “Wear an apron ala 50’s attire with a cute dress… June cleaver.” She writes. Ok wait, I thought I was supposed to be more natural and show the real Karine… Am I now a 1950’s housewife? I’m doing a show about cooking not about June cleaver. My image is me, am I supposed to seem more natural by becoming someone else? And by the way, it’s freezing here, I live in Detroit and it’s Winter! If I were to put on a skimpy little dress or play the French Maid then I’d look pretty ridiculous?

So maybe the natural me is unnatural? Totally discouraged I complain to my husband and he just says, “You are the one that posted on Facebook.” I tell him, imagine if he posted one of his paintings up on Facebook and got comments like: “I think you should have painted the leaf a bit more green, your focus should be more on the plants and not the house, still life is passé, you should wear a beret… “and so on. You get the point, right? It’s easy to criticize until you are staring at that little circle on your iPhone trying to sound natural and talk while cooking. Before this the only talking I would do while cooking would be, “OH shit, I forgot the roast in the oven, it’s burnt!”, or “Crap, I forgot to steam the veggies…” Just as I was almost done with writing this post I got one last Ping… my sister. She lives in Geneva, CH and has been my life-time critic, as a sister should be, and my stylist and supporter who is not afraid to tell me how it is. Her comments came to me in such a surprise. A positive and good surprise that I needed… that little morsel of hope you’re doing something that is remotely good. She wrote: “What a fantastic blog karine! I just read it all online in one go…. I really loved it. I also liked the videos. Really fantastic. You know you don’t need to wear makeup for them nor earrings–you are so beautiful as it is… think about it! It might look cool. It already looks super cool though. Lots of love. Elisa loved the cookie video we watched it 3 times in a row. XX.” Conflicting opinions of looking sexy, June cleaver, 50’s housewife, to the 60’s feminist with no make-up. Whatever the direction or advise, I take my sister’s as MOTIVATION! Thanks!

The Reformer-transformed or reformed?

A week after our move to our new home, I receive a “Welcome to the neighborhood” packet with a bunch of different gift certificates– a free pizza with one topping, a $10 gift certificate to a seriously cool pharmacy that sells wine, beer, European treats that I normally hoard in my suitcase on my trips back from Paris, a $10 gift certificate to a pet store with the high-end treats for your furry friends and finally a Pilates voucher–6 free visits with a one-on-one private equipment class. The Pilates certificate is what turned things around and you could say, “reformed me.” I’d done Pilates before but only at home with little 10-minute DVD workouts. I had no idea what to expect. I feel I’m fairly fit however since our move I’ve not done much exercise aside from lifting heavy boxes and unpacking them sprinkled with a few walks here and there and a try on my new treadmill.

Arriving at this small studio for my private lesson I fill out a bunch of forms letting the studio know if I were injured I wouldn’t sue. A mid-50’s fit woman with deep, dark eyes leads me to a small, private room with a few machines. She tells me to get on the contraption called the Reformer. It’s hard to describe this long rectangle box, with straps, color coded springs, a headrest and a foot bar. I hesitated but got on and began to follow instruction. I put my hands in the straps and tried to balance while lifting and lowering my arms. Visions of giving birth in Japan comes to mind. 9-years-ago, I was in a birthing room, on a normal looking doctors chair when all of a sudden when it was time to push, the nurses rushed in and changed my whole chair into a type of jungle gym. “Cochi, cochi, cochi,” they shout. No idea what they mean as I’d only taken a few Japanese lessons. After a few more “Cochi, cochi, cochi” commands and a bit of charades, I realize they want me to push and not pull on the bar. I guess mentally the pain of not being aloud to have an epidural made me want to pull myself out of this moment. Like my birthing jungle gym, the reformer too could transform itself into different positions. After a painful and shaking 1 hour one-on-one, my instructor congratulates me for a job well done. I sign up for group Bar intensity classes and another beginner reformer class.

Curso de Instructor de Pilates

Curso de Instructor de Pilates (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A few days later I return to the studio for my first bar intensity class. I follow the other women and get a mat, weights and whatever else. We start in with planks. I look around and notice these women look as though they should be in a workout video. They were the quintessential trophy wives. Perfect tight, little bodies, hair and make-up to perfection, if you like the typical Michigan-style. Expensive jewelry dangled from their thin, toned arms and necks showing what little mortgage or college payments they have. Their moves are as choreographed as their looks. Most sported the infamous Lulu Lemon apparel. They are definitely brand oriented with no personal fashion style. There is nothing so amazing about Lulu lemon aside from the fact it’s become the must have yoga and workout gear and for many, the everyday wardrobe to go grocery shopping in or meet up with the ladies for coffee. These women were camera-ready. The ex-ballerina, stick instructor has moved onto a more difficult part of the workout. She screams on her microphone, “ Come on, lift, one two, three, four… you are here to work, you are here for your bodies… 8,9,10…!” Michael Jackson blares from the speaker. I try to concentrate on my moves or more like concentrate on not stopping. “Good form Margo!” “Keep it up, Candace.” She says. I noticed in the far corner, another woman who looked out of place. She basically didn’t fit in with her simple workout clothes, un-manicured toes and un made-up face. She screamed newbie. I make it through the class. 55minutes are luckily up. We stretch, yet 3 of the trophy ladies seem rushed as they skip the stretch by quickly grabbing the spray bottle to wipe down their mats. Maybe they have to go to some other housewife event, possible facial? A manicure…or just gossip meeting, who knows, but they are definitely in a hurry to go somewhere. Miss ballerina instructor tells the newbie she did a great job on her first class! Miss Newbie turns to me and exclaims, “That was my first class!” … as if I were to be impressed and tell her what a natural she is. I smile and respond, “Mine too!”

In the locker room I get my coat and carefully lace-up my boots. I can’t help not to eaves drop, as the conversation is too rich and reminiscent of my past relationships and conversations with other women, especially mommy ones. The sport of moms; learning how to toss passive aggressive dings while giving a huge fake smile. 9-years ago I partook in this type of sport. I assumed it’s how mommy life was. I used to let these types of mothers bother me. It all started in the life of an expat in Tokyo where you connect with these moms with only two things in common–living in a foreign country and being a mom. I remember feeling like shit when meeting these women who zinged off hurtful comments while hiding behind their recently bleached pearly whites. I remember once I went to a mommy get-together after a sleepless night. “ Oh you poor thing you look so tired!” one mommy said to me. NICE! As if she really felt bad. Another would chime in, “I feel so bad for you that your son isn’t sleeping through the night at age 1, I wouldn’t be able to handle it if Jennie didn’t start sleeping 10 hours a night at 3-months old!” I left this world when we moved to Italy where the women seemed a bit more genuine and real. It wasn’t until two years later, when I moved to Palos Verdes, California that I came across this cattiness, again.

Just about ready to leave the locker room, I hear a group of new women come in for the next class “ Hi Margo, how are you, you look great, I’ve not seen you in so long! “ Wow, your hair! I’m in shock, it’s so short!” “ I know, I know, but my hair grows so fast, no need to take vitamins, I just have so much hair, I’m not worried.” responds Margo. Then very cleverly the first jab comes in. Margo asks her “friend,” “So how is Aidan adjusting to 5th grade?” The woman responds in a truthful way, “Well, he’s ok, not loving it, he’s struggling at the moment making friends and he isn’t really into sports at the momen…” Margo interrupts almost in glee. “Oh really, that is so strange, Conrad just loves school. As a matter of fact, we were in shock last Saturday because he was bummed it wasn’t a school day!” She continues with more salt in the wound. “Anyway, he felt better once we reminded him he had two soccer practices and a Karate lesson.” Margo distracted sees another friend walk in and leaves the conversation ignoring her seemingly, miffed friend. “Hi Jan, how are you? We have to get the boys together soon, maybe out for drinks and dinner?” I’m assuming she’s not talking about her kids. “OH My God, cute boots, are those Vince?” And the conversations continue with facial procedure comparisons, clothing and more bragging about this or this or that. I leave understanding the world I just worked out with. A place I tried to block out through meditation and acupuncture while living in Palos Verdes. You get a taste of this life if you read the book, “The Tribes of Palos Verdes.” Oddly the main characters in this book moved from Michigan to California –opposite of me.

I get home and call my friend Wendy who is a Pilate’s expert. Actually she is my expert on everything from my son’s issues, to my husband’s moods, to dealing with being a mom and trying to have a career. She’s like a mom. Wendy tells me all about the reformer and the bar classes and that in the end she bought her own Bar and Reformer, which is seriously expensive, because she couldn’t deal with the women at her studio in Palos Verdes. She suggests I check out other Pilates centers.

 

I take her advice. Groupon in hand I go to another studio the next week to try it out. The annoying thing is I have to go on Saturday to prove to this new studio that I’m not going to have a heart attack or fall off the equipment. The class is as easy going as the clientele. The class ends and I’ve passed the test to move-up to the next level.

I go back a few days later. Six women are already on the reformers, waiting for the class to start. They seemed more normal with personal style not dictated by Harpers Bazar or InStyle Magazine. I overhear conversations of travel and culture, restaurants, music concerts… Total opposite of the other studio. And, these women aren’t perfectly fit, as a matter of fact they are a bit round and chunky. The Pilates instructor is actually the most unfit with her hanging gut, arms popping out of her sweatshirt, and tights showing a few folds that are cute on a newborn, but not so much on a 30-something. Hmmm, it’s always a concern of mine to take exercise direction from someone who is more unfit than me. Anyway, I deal with the class, trying to concentrate on the moves rather than the private one-on-one session’s conversation, next door. The class is over and I’m underwhelmed.

Could it be that the Trophy Wives are smarter when it comes to working-out? The intellectuals are happy just doing a few lifts for the sake of exercise or maybe they are there for a sound body and mind. If I’m paying this much for Pilates, I want to tone my body not my mind. Maybe deep down, I’m a trophy-wife wanna be. Maybe it all starts at some point when you hit 40! My first year in California I was totally opposed to Botox…I’ve still never done it, but after a few years in Los Angeles, I secretively wished my wealthy friend still took me up on the offer to give me a few jabs for my Birthday, when she looked at my furrow brow and said I could use a few injections!. I try to fight becoming one of these women, it’s too difficult and dangerous of a sport, but my mind is already thinking of maybe buying one of these cute little workout outfits. Oh no, have I been “reformed?”

The first November snow


 

The anticipation of snow from a 9-year old is as intense as waiting to see if you’ve been accepted on a bid for a future home or seeing if you get upgraded to business class, ok maybe not, I just can’t decribe it.It’s Santa, the tooth fairy and the Easter Bunny all wrapped in one. The snow to Seb is still magical, we’ll see how he feels 4 months from now.  Seb spent most of his life in Los Angeles, California. His early years in Tokyo showed a few flurries and in Italy, he experienced the real snowy alps, but he was too young to really remember. This is my son’s first winter living in Detroit and his excitement turned a quiet, dark sleeping house into one of chaos. He set his alarm for 6AM to see the snow. As a matter-of-fact, I had told him it would begin snowing at 6AM not knowing he’d actually set an alarm. Lucky I didn’t really tell him my Iphone showed 3AM. 6AM this morning to me felt like the worst Jet-lag where your brain is foggy and body  dizzy and weak as if you are about to pass out.  Getting that Nespresso puck into the machine as fast as possible with the belief that caffeine will erase a sleepless night is my morning ritual after nights like this one. For the most part caffeine helps me until I’ve had one shot too many, kind of like alcohol. But the effect isn’t as the fun as the rambling, nonsensical conversations from one glass too many.  It’s more like a stressful, nervous feeling with thoughts of a true panic attack or could it be early signs of a heart attack until you do your yoga breathing or meditative thoughts to realize it’s just too much caffeine. At least that’s how I get when I ask for the triple grande non-fat latte after I’ve already had a few nespressos at home. I call the triple grande, nonfat latte the “molto complicato” my friend and I giggle about it as we seem to be always on the phone talking to each other when at least one of us is at the Starbucks counter shyly asking for our strange and complicated, high maintenance order while the other listens.  The best is to get the friend in conversation and while they are talking, quickly press mute and spit out your order.  However this can back fire as they always ask for your name. I say Karine, and what kills me is my phone call is thwarted when they ask me how to spell it. Dam, my friend stopped talking. I say,  “k, a,r, i,n,e” ” You’re at Starbucks! ” my friend exclaims on the other line. She and I both lived in Italy and are embarrased by our new Americanized coffee habits. In Italy it was straight forward, no skinny this, half caf that, etc.  Capuccino, espresso, doppio, machiato or doppio machiato. The closest thing to complicato was the Maruquena which had chocolate drizzled in the cup before the espresso would drip down and whipped cream on top, but this was only on special occasions. Pumkin spice brulee toasted nut latte, peppermint dream cream and all of that or in the summer, frazle dazzle berry go nuts… I don’t know the actual names of the coffee drinks would be fun to have a job to name them. They don’t exist in the real word other than the land of Starbucks.  Another annoying thing about coffee is getting it for others or even making it for others. Yes, I seem to be a bitch but you all know what I’m talking about.   I would ask my collegues when making an afternoon coffee run if they wanted coffee I’d be crossing my fingers behind my back in hopes they’d decline, not because I’m cheap, I’m just impatient. Well sometimes I was on a budget and just had enough after their order to get the plain drip-short, not even tall, grande or venti.  The worse is when you get an order of 4 or more exclusive “molto complicato” drinks.  First it takes about 10 mins to write down the order, you loose the paper then call the person while standing at the counter with 5 people waiting impatiently behind.  “What did you want? A tall, what?  Oh a grande, skinny, half caf decaf, with a shot of vanilla? Anyway, kids are lucky.  They wake right up and are alive. Seb was ready to go this snowy morning.  The thrill of him seeing the snow brought back my own happy childhood memories of building snow jumps, tunnels, sledding till your face is red, blue and pink with no feeling.  My sister and I  were lucky, we had the best hill on the block, in Leverett, Massachusetts.  All the neighbor kids would congregate on our hill. We played for hours till we had no more feeling in our toes and fingers. I even remember being sick and stuck inside watching everyone from the bathroom window by standing on the bathtub to catch a peek at my friends and sister playing in the snow.

But today snow can’t even make me feel alive, I’m tired. I want to go back to bed.  Our night last night went a bit like this…. Seb  finally asleep at 9:30 just before Paul got back from Los Angeles.  Paul and I had a small dinner at 10PM- we are Spainyards at heart… we watched TV till 11 or 11:30. Paul put Lilly, our puppy in her crate for the night. 3AM my son wakes, he’s thirsty, actually so am I, we aren’t used to the heaters in the winter. Lucky the Iphone was wrong and it didn’t start snowing yet or Seb would have never fallen back asleep. Seb got back to bed, but then Lilly woke. Paul and I argue about whose turn it is to take Lilly out by trying to win the war on who is more tired. I loose and take Lilly outside. At 6AM Seb’s alarm goes off and we start again the argument of whose turn it is to wake-up. I win and get to be horizontal for just a few more minutes.  This is how I feel every morning….see photo 😉IMG_2821

 

Stuffing and IRS

It’s Monday morning with snow still on the ground. The day started off normally, aside that fact that my son and I were trying to figure if one goes to school with boots or without in snowy Michigan weather. We decided to go with the boots. I carefully place his sneakers in a ziplock bag, in his backpack.  After dropping him at school I sat at my computer in my kitchen office thinking of what to do first. I’m not scheduled to work during this downtime in Fashion so my day is pretty open. Thanksgiving is in a few days so I start to scan through different recipes for chestnut stuffing on the internet and find a few that look interesting. The home phone rings. I never answer it as it’s usually a scam or someone trying to get me to sign up for an alarm system, buy new windows or get life insurance. The only reason I have a home phone is due to my fear of loosing cell service with my mobile phone. Living through 9/11 in NYC when the cell towers literally fell and then 12-years ago in Detroit with the black-out that lasted days made me want a land line. I answer the phone.  It’s a recording saying that my name is involved in a lawsuit. Normally, I would hang-up at the sound of the recording but because I’ve received 3 letters of concern from the LA City Government office, I think it’s real and serious. I write the number the recording tells me to call. I immediately phone this 202 area code number. A man with a foreign accent answers stating he’s an IRS employee and asks for my name. I  barely understand him and he barely understand me.  He looked up my name and was able to tell me where I lived, address and all!!!! He also told me I owed $9,750 dollars and if I didn’t pay the lawsuit would begin.  Normally, I would think this was a scam and tell him to go F himself, but again, due to the official looking documents I received prior, I believed him. The foreign man on the phone when I asked if they got my certified letter that I had written back in October responding to this nonsense letting the government know that I made peanuts, he said they received it and that I no longer owed $54,750 but now just $9,750-just… just??? Discount!!!? I said I needed time to investigate. He said I should get legal representation and that it’s now in the Michigan State’s hands. He was brief and ended our call by telling me someone would come to my home today between 12-2pm to investigate. To investigate this 3-year mess up.  What? I have always payed taxes, been honest, well… honest? Maybe a few restaurant receipts and nail salon visits weren’t exactly “work-related” but for the most part, I didn’t do a thing wrong.

Now in tears I freak out. At the same time I receive messages from a good friend telling me her husband didn’t cheat on her and she feels better… I roll my eyes and wonder what the hell is going on. I feel like I am wrongly accused and things could get worse. My friend’s partner’s car got re- possesed due to a billing mishap and was car-less for over a week, when it wasn’t his fault. What could they take from me? I think if they come I will give him the stored paintings Paul made back in NYC as a starving artist. It could be worth 9grand-They are huge and very graphic which is why we store them as the religious Michiganders don’t appreciate it. I start thinking what could they do or take. But then Paul says the worst, that they could take me!  They could arrest me.  Chaos and the overwhelming feeling of doom. Paul and I are in shock. We call our CPA every name in the book. “What the hell, we pay to get our taxes done and now this?”  I call our brother-in-law who is a chief of police. I try to make myself clear and concise, but like usual, I’m all over the place. His calm cop-like manner brings things back to a calming place. Visions of me spending Thanksgiving in the clink start to dissolve and maybe after all I’ll get to make my chestnut stuffing. My brother-in-law tells me it’s a scam. I’m convinced it’s not. He looks up the number that I called from the recording and it comes up on his police files as an IRS scam. He asks me to send him a bullet point email with dates and info so he can start a case. Funny, he must somehow know my writing, most who tell me to write bullet points are trying to tell me nicely to stop being so longwinded and tangental.

I decided to also CC my CPA on this bullet point email. I ask Paul for the email address of our CPA. Tensions are still high. “I sent it to you already.”Shouts Paul. “I know Paul, but please send the contact info, again, that was a month ago, I don’t have it anymore.” “But, why won’t you just press ‘add to contact?”, what if I drop dead? ” snaps Paul. With tears from the drama I retort, “If you dropped dead, then I’d just go into your phone!” I start hysterically crying from all the stress and tension from the past 30-minutes.  Paul then hands me my phone, I take it and add the contact like a scolded 5-year old.  I gaze at my email with blurry, tear-filled eyes trying to proof-read it before sending it to the chief of police and CPA. Paul says, “Get a grip,I love you.”He leaves for work and I sit here wondering what happened to the morning.  I wonder if the phone call today is related to the letters I’ve been receiving? Well, I just received from my CPA

Hi Karine,
The City of LA is something entirely different and only coincidental that you are dealing with them and receiving the IRS scamming phone call.
The “IRS” call is a scam and you should ignore.  The IRS will always mail you their issues with several attempts at mailing to you so ignore the phone call that purports to be the IRS.
Bummer….

Deliciously Armani

Yesterday was a strange day. I went for my Apple One-on-One training at the Mac store, at the Somerset Mall. I needed to brush up on Imovie. I realized in trying to film and edit my 1st episode of Deliciously Detroit, amnesia hit and I couldn’t remember anything or more like Imovie is constantly changing. It’s been a slow start to my filming process.

I thought it would be cool to show cooking from my perspective with a  Gopro.  With luck after joining Costco, there was Hero3 silver Gopro for sale and a $50 rebate. Sweet! It’s not the latest model, but for my cooking show, it would do. After all,  I’m not exactly taking jumps off the alps or longboarding down the PCH anymore, well not that I ever was. I got my Gopro in September, I never figured out how to mail in the $50 rebate, but anyway, I had a new device to start filming  Deliciously Detroit episodes. Alas, it’s now November. I don’t know if any of you are my age, but the fear of programming a VCR kicked in. I must have a type of adult ADD! Reading directions just freaks me out. I opened the box, looked at the components and just got overwhelmed and carefully placed everything back in the box and put it in a drawer. A few days later I tried again. This time I did it with a guy on youtube opening up the same Gopro box. It worked, I was ready to start, well until the guy on youtube mentioned I needed an SD card. So one click shopping on Amazon and two days later with my Amazon Prime, the SD was here. I was ready. I first tried it on my head, I couldn’t see what I was doing nor could the future viewer.  My filming was dizzy and nausea inspiring. I then set it up on a bunch of cookbooks and random objects that would hold it up to seem steady. This just gave a huge wide angle. I seemed distant in the frame and my voice was barely audible. I also noticed how bad I looked and acted on camera. I looked shifty, I discovered I had twitches of a mentally disturbed person. Seriously how many times can one twirl their hair, touch their earring, move side to side, tap one’s foot? I did all and more in less than 3 minutes!!  Now I remember back 12 years ago, why my Creative Director wanted me to take copywriting presentation class!  The natural became unnatural. My friend said I needed a script, but how to read it while looking in the camera, when I couldn’t even figure out where to look into the gopro even without a script? I guess Rachel Ray isn’t such an idiot after all!

That night, I decided I needed an old school camcorder along with the Gopro. I found my camcorder in our last few moving boxes. If you didn’t know, we just moved from California to Detroit. On every move there are always a few unpacked boxes, typically the boxes that are Pandora-like, filled with junk, uncatergorized memories, old cell phones, silly objects, souvenirs, basically junk.  If the box had fallen in the Pacific, I’d probably not miss it. We’ve moved from NYC-Detroit-Tokyo-Milan-Los Angeles and now back to Detroit in the past 13 years. That’s a lot of boxes and a lot of junk.

Back to my efforts to launch Deliciously Detroit…. My road to stardom was put on pause once again when I discovered  the cord to charge the camera was missing.  Every swear word came into mind cursing the movers that packed us.  They were not the smartest. Why would you not put the cord with the camcorder?  Anyway, we tore every last moving box apart. This went on for days. I became obsessed searching for this cord.  Finally, I gave up. I couldn’t search in the same box again for the 3rd time. My new search began on the internet trying to decifer the serial and make of my camcorder. Ebay saved the day, I found the cord and put in a bid for $20 as I felt their $50 asking price was a bit extreme. I was notified via email I lost out on the bid…so a few days later, miraculously I found a little company on the internet that sold old Sony parts. My Sony camcorder dates back to Tokyo Days when my son was a newborn-9 years ago. It’s old. It uses tapes, in camcorder speak, it’s ancient.

Two days later my friendly UPS man shows up with my shiny new cord. I’ve become friendly with him as he comes daily with chairs, tables, nerf guns, pillows, lamps, legos, whatever it takes to get our place set up and my 9-year old occupied while doing so.

Excitedly, I plug the cord into the camera.  Yes!  There is life:  a little bleep, bing, blip sound cries out. Joy, it was gonna charge. That evening in hopes of filming my Deliciously Detroit Maigret de Canard, I discovered the camera was dead! I tried over and over to hear any sound of life. There was no bling, bleep or bing, nothing.  At this point I think maybe the battery pack died. This time Amazon prime saves the day with one click,  the battery pack arrives two days later, same UPS man brings it to me. I open it up, place it on the camera and nothing. I do it over and over,like trying to revive our dead goldfish!   It wasn’t the battery pack. The camcorder that filmed funky cherry blossoms festivals in Tokyo, my son’s first steps, my sister’s wedding, moments in Malta, Milan, and Michigan, cute toddler performances, my grandfathers last moments…was gone. I was crushed.  You must be thinking it’s just a camera and I’m a drama queen, but my Sony’s death started thoughts of “What the hell am I doing with my life?” and “Should I get a normal 9-5 job and stop my side Fashion Rep job and dreams of writing and making food?” “Do I go back to advertising and work the grueling copywriter hours?”  Oh wait, I’d never see my 9-year old and oh I forgot in a field where most at my level are in there 30s with the mentality of a 1st grader, this wasn’t possible. That day I decided to look up headhunters and suck it up and do any job. I’ve done a lot since leaving Detroit Advertising. I did voice overs, I was a robot on Tokyo TV, a sultry jeans spokesperson on a Guess video in Italy.  I was also a school teacher at an international school in Japan, a shiatsu masseuse in Italy, a landscaper on the rooftops in NYC, a hostess at the infamous Les Halles, thanks to Antony Bourdain and the list goes on. So now what?  Do I get a Masters at CCS in design?  Do I really need another degree I’ve already gone back to school out of survival learning Japanese and Italian. I can’t think of making it happen again, my brain is slightly saturated for anything other than food, fashion and fun.  So now what?  What can I do?  The one thing that has remained the same is my passion for food and cooking. I love looking at food photos, reading recipes, I’m a Food Network and Cooking channel addict.  I pretend I’m on Top Chef or the Iron Chef.  Confused and a bit depressed with lack of direction, I reached out to my previous Excutive Creative Director. I wrote him a plea for help and advice. To sum up his email reply, he said to follow your dreams and passion. He always said his favorite quote was “Go in the direction you fear!” Mine fear is poverty-kidding, but my direction won’t pay much, at least for now until I am discovered ;). After showing my husband my old bosses email Paul, my husband said, “Just get your early Christmas present and buy yourself a camcorder!”  That night I researched all different kinds…. I’m not a professional, so couldn’t I just get a 200 dollar one? Or should I splurge and learn yet another device for $800 dollars?  I slept on this. Now back to my Mac class. That was the next day.  This is when I met my savvy young, tech tutor and told him my goals in filming Deliciously Detroit. He suggested I use my iphone and Gopro. Of course, the Iphone!  After a quick lesson in Imovie and learning that I needed to update my programs to El Capitain, I bought a mini tripod.  I thanked him and left the Mac store cutting through Saks Fifth Avenue, to get to the parking lot.  The make-up counter lady, a late middle aged, overly made up woman nabbed me. She excitedly told me the reknowned make-up artist for Armani fashion shows was here and that he would make me look like a million bucks. Hmmm, I decided to sit in her make-up high chair and listen to her babble on about this cream and that cream. She then asked me what my goals were… argh, this again, I don’t know what I want to do, or more specifically, I know what I want to do, I’m just am having trouble doing it. She looks at me with a blank look.  Oh wait, I’m an idiot, she’s not asking life goals, she was interested in my skin goals, a lot more shallow and something I could easily answer. I’m all about make-up and fashion talk.  Relieved I rambled about my skin and make-up goals, something I became an expert at doing after living 4 plus years in LA.  Actually, check out my  Hair Goal story I wrote a few years ago.  Hair Goal | lifeinpv.wordpress.com

After a bit of wine and pampering, I caved and bought the $38 lipstick number 503 and the navy blue mascara which aparantly, Armani says “It’s the “new black!” So there you have it, my new look.  A little make-up goes a long way and I have to say I’m a make-up whore who barely wears any. It’s my hoarder side of collecting make-up. I collect eye shadows, lipsticks, eye liners, any new gadget that is to improve my look. I have lipsticks upon lipsticks. It all started in 2000 when I first walked through the Saks Make-up department. A freaky looking woman asked me to sit down in her chair. That moment I was hypnotized believing I needed a special brush to apply lipstick, that I’ve been doing it all wrong for all those years. It didn’t take long for me to become a faithful Nars addict, I sometimes flirted with Mac and Smashbox but for the most part it was all about Nars until my sister did a type of intervention. She was tired of my red,bold eyeshadows with the hot pink blush with a name like Orgasm. According to her I was borderline hooking material or ghetto mom. So on my visit to see her in Geneva, Switzerland where she still currently lives,  she raced me immediately after picking me up at the train station to the Laura Mercier counter to get my make-up done.  4-years since that day I was married to Laura Mercier. Today I’m getting a divorce from Laura and her make-up will be piled up like my son’s hundreds of Hot Wheel cars still in a box unplayed with since the move. Cadavers in a back make up drawer : stale Nars blushes and Smash box eyeshadows, dozens of lip glosses probably expired and other random items with promises of beauty and fame. My shiny new Armani is moving in. Maybe it was the glass of Simi white wine they offered me that swayed my opinion?  Maybe it was the oudles of compliments the lovely perfume women gave me at the Bond NYC Saks counter? Who knows, but I felt Deliciously Detroit!  The creams are divine. The foundation is like no other. You can’t tell you are wearing it and it feels luxurious, well it is at $80 a tube. Immediately upon returning home I fixed my iphone into the nifty little tripod and was ready to film.  I did a bunch of tests trying to figure out where to look to make it seem as though I was talking to the camera. My “on-camera” presence still sucked! I still need practice but my new look is on target. I’m almost ready! Soon to come Deliciously Detroit.  IMG_2773