Manolo for the Big Girl Fashion, Lifestyle, and Humor for the Plus Sized Woman.

April 24, 2010

A Quick Question For You All

Filed under: Uncategorized — Twistie @ 3:30 pm

Hey all, it’s almost May.

For the past two years, I have done Food Friendly May, where I write about any and all aspects of food I can think of for one month out of the year.

This year, however, I have been doing my Recipe of the Week, and in light of that, I have a question: do you want me to do Food Friendly May, or is a recipe every week more than enough blathering about food from Twistie for you all?

Don’t worry about hurting my feelings or bucking the tide. Just let me know what you think. I can go either way, and I want to know what you want from me.

What’s So Awesome About You?

There’s been something in the air of late. The first inkling I got was when my esteemed colleague wrote about how to take a compliment, already. And seriously, if you haven’t read it go do so right now. It’s a wonderful and important article we all should read.

But then I saw this post on Shapely Prose, which should also be required reading. Warning, the language is far saltier there than it is here. We are PG, SP is hard R. Just so’s you know what you’re getting yourself in for. And this isn’t the only place I’ve seen this concept. It’s starting to float around the Fatosphere in a big way, and I – for one – am completely in favor of it.

If you haven’t gone to see what the concept is, it happens to be standing up to be counted as brilliant at something, no apologies.

So here are a few things that make me, Twistie, pretty darn fabulous:

I’m a terrific self-taught cook and baker. In over forty years of baking, I have never made a bad pie crust. I can put together a good meal out of unlikely resources. If you come to Casa Twistie, chances are you will not leave hungry.

Over the course of the last three years or so, I have overcome my lifelong phobia of dogs. No longer do I quail in the face of corgis. Not only that, I have been adopted by my neighbor’s chihuahua and another friends’ tribe of rotts. I still approach strange dogs with caution, but the sight of a perfectly well-behaved small dog on a short leash no longer fills me with such panic that I have to cross the street.

Cats and small children instinctively trust me.

I taught myself to make bobbin lace and made all eleven yards of lace for my own wedding gown.

I can find the upside or the funny in almost any situation, and get the joke across to someone else.

I come up with quips and aphorisms off the top of my head that people assume were written by someone famous.

I have had people literally stop me in public places to tell me how fabulous I am. You can’t ask for better proof of awesome than that, can you?

When I sing out loud, I can be heard half a block away without benefit of a microphone.

So what about all of you? I want you to come right out and tell me what’s so special about you, and I want it without quibbles, apologies, or caveats. Be proud of yourselves.

April 23, 2010

Five Great Finishing School Lessons: Pt 4, Condolence Letters

Filed under: Five Great... — Miss Plumcake @ 1:34 pm

So I wasn’t really planning on doing a lesson on how to write sympathy cards, but it occurred to me it’s a handy skill to have, and much more fraught with peril than a card of thanks.

The problem with writing sympathy notes is there are so many variables; it takes a lot more finesse than a regular card and there are a LOT more “don’ts” than “do’s” when it comes to the subtle art of sending condolences.

So let’s have a go.

Phrases That Ought Never Appear in Sympathy Notes:

“I am sorry for your loss” –My problem with “I’m sorry for your loss.” aside from it being clichéd, is it smacks of “sucks to be you!” Use simple “I’m sorry” or “Please accept my condolences” instead. It’s not like the bereaved need to be reminded why you’re sorry. I can’t imagine a grieving widow opening a note the day after her husband’s funeral and thinking “Oh wow, I guess Cousin Alfred really IS sorry for that time he set that pair of attack swans on me at Aunt Winnie’s rose tea.”

“Passed” Trains pass: people die. Unless the deceased bought it while playing bridge and you can’t resist the pun. See also: “Was Lost”

“Let me know if you need anything.” Good intention, but completely useless. Of course they won’t let you know if they need anything. Instead make a very specific invitation no closer than three weeks away. “I’m going to the exhibit at the wildflower center next month and I’d love your company if you’re up to it.” Don’t expect a response, but do call a week or so before the event and extend the invitation again.

“Heaven has another angel” “Holding you up to the light” or anything you’d hear in a country song. Don’t. Just don’t.

“It’s a blessing” I understand if someone has had a long suffering illness it’s tempting, but don’t. If the bereaved do consider it a blessing, they don’t need to be reminded. If they don’t, you’ve REALLY stuck your foot in it.

Here are two examples of condolence letters: one for someone you knew, one for someone you didn’t. I find store-bought sympathy cards cheap and in poor taste. Use your personal stationery.

Dear Bert,

I’m so, so sorry to hear about Ernie, I cannot imagine how you must feel. You and Ernie had such a special relationship, and I loved the way two were always laughing together. I was just thinking about that time he thought your pigeons were looking sickly and gave them alka-seltzer. That was Ernie all over, always so caring, and of course the times we went out for brunch at Le Canard en Caoutchouc will remain some of my very happiest memories. I know you’re probably overwhelmed, so don’t worry about responding now, but there’s an exhibit on bottle caps through the ages at the Museum of Useless Ephemera next month and I’d love the company.


Know you’re in my thoughts and prayers and you –as always– have all my love.

With deepest sympathy,

Plummy

OR

Dear Bert,

I’m so, so sorry to hear about Ernie, I cannot imagine how you must feel. I never got the chance to know Ernie, but anyone you loved that well must have been a heck of a guy. I was just remembering the story you told me about that time he thought your pigeons were looking sickly and gave them alka-seltzer. Such a sweet story. I know you’re probably overwhelmed right now, so don’t worry about responding now, but there’s an exhibit on bottle caps through the ages at the Museum of Useless Ephemera next month and I’d love the company.

With deepest sympathy,

Plumcake


April 22, 2010

Five Great Finishing School Lessons: Pt 3, No, Thank YOU.

Filed under: Five Great...,Plumcake's Closet — Miss Plumcake @ 5:41 pm

Dearest Big Willie,

William you are the sweetest thing with two eyebrows on the face of this earth! Thank you so much for the monogrammed set of toothbrushes, I just adore them. I’ve needed a good toiletry set for ages and these are perfect. Now I can keep one at the cathedral and one at Lambeth, so you won’t have to go waking up the curates asking them to run to the corner shop. You’re so thoughtful! The whole thing reminds me of the time we were up all night writing “Canterbury Rules, York Drools” in toothpaste on Archbishop Sentamu’s Daewoo. The look on his face! We should definitely do it again soon…how is Pentecost looking for you? I’d love to express my appreciation in person. Thank you again and give my best to the Queen next time you see her, is she still made at us? I’m so embarrassed. Who would’ve thought palace walls would be so thin.

All my love,

Plumcake

That, my friend is how you write a thank-you note, which you should do. Often. On nice stationery with a proper pen. If you think you can get away without writing thank you notes you are wrong wrong wrongity wrong.  Email is handy, the telephone is fun, and texting is convenient but nothing will ever replace the thoughtfully written note of thanks, received in the mail.

Now, the received wisdom is “Nice Girls only use Crane” and rest assured, I love my Crane letterhead, but  for notes I’ve been a devotee of the California Classic Frame from Sassy Girl Stationery for years.

Plumcake's stationery

And since an order from Sassy Girl usually sets me back  less than $60 including embossed envelopes and monogram seals as compared to Crane where fifty embossed note cards would set me back over $300.  Crane IS better, but it’s not $240/yr better.

The format for writing a thank you note is as follows:

  • Salutation –If you are affectionate with the person, use an affectionate salutation. Otherwise use the appropriate business title and plain old “Dear”.
  • Opening Acclimation —This is finesse work and makes the note feel more conversational
  • First Thanks —You thank the person for the gift, specifying what it is.
  • Express Need — Let them know how your life was just a shell before their gift IF IT’S A BAD GIFT skip expressing need and put something nice about how flattered you are that Auntie Hilda was thinking about you.
  • Express intent —What you’re going to DO with the gift.
  • Personal Anecdote —Another bit of finesse work. Remind them of a happy time together.
  • Invitation —Invite them to keep in touch or have an activity together so you can thank them in person. If this isn’t plausible, at least express a wish.
  • Final Thanks —Thank them again and add a little “stinger” at the end to make them smile.
  • Closing —Love, Sincerely, whatever works for you and is appropriate.

April 21, 2010

Five Great Lessons from Finishing School: Pt 2 Merci Mercy Me (ugh)

“Thank you.”

“Oh thank you! You’ve just made my day!”

“Stop, stop.  I couldn’t listen to more than another hour of this.”

“Well, one tries.”

“You’re too kind.”

“Can you write that down? I want to send it to my mother.”

“Aren’t you the sweetest thing?”

“Well, a girl’s gotta have a hobby.

Those are just some of my tried-and-true ways of accepting a compliment, today’s finishing school lesson.  For some reason we are just not taught how to respond graciously to a compliment.

It

drives

me

INSANE.

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve told a girlfriend she looked fantastic only to have her automatically touch her hair or make a face and respond “No, I look awful.”

It takes all my generations of breeding and counting to ten not to snatch her bald and say “Listen, I’ve got better taste than you do. I’ve ALWAYS had better taste than you do,  so when I say you look nice, shut up and say ‘thank you’ because people pay me a LOT of money for my approval and it doesn’t come easily.”

And while I understand women are conditioned to deflect any compliment because GOD FORBID a woman think highly of herself (or worse, actually be BETTER than someone else) denying a honestly-paid compliment is one thing and one thing only:

Rude.

Okay two things: rude and stupid.

Wait, three:  rude and stupid and annoying.

When you fail to accept a compliment graciously, it’s an insult to the person who paid it.

You wouldn’t go up to someone and say “Hi, you know your favorite green cardigan? It’s awful. Seriously. It looks like a tennis ball sexually assaulted your grandma.”  (well, I’d say that, but you all are nicer than I am) because obviously they LIKE the sweater and you don’t just go up to people and tell them they have bad taste, even if they really really deserve it.

This is doubly true in states with concealed handgun laws.

See, it doesn’t matter whether you believe the compliment or not. If someone says you have a lovely singing voice and you say you sound like a frog, what you’re telling this person is they have bad taste in music.

Rude.

So, next time, instead of making an ass of yourself, make  A ASS of yourself:

Acknowledge – body language, a nodded head or a hand to the chest (preferably your chest) conveying you heard what they said and it’s touched you.

Accept – the actual words you use, “Thank you” is a good start. Keep it brief.

Smile – a smile lets them know they’ve made you happy, even if you don’t believe them

Shut up – Don’t devalue the compliment or try to repay it. You don’t want them to feel like they were fishing for a compliment of their own.

That’s it.

Feel free to use some of my favorites, but you’ll want to be careful with using humor at first since it’s so easy to be self-deprecating. Do your best to just say “Thank you” until you feel more comfortable.

Good luck!

April 20, 2010

Five Great Lessons from Finishing School: Part 1, The Way I Walk

Filed under: Absolutely Fabulous,Elements of Style,Five Great... — Miss Plumcake @ 2:30 pm

As I mentioned yesterday is has been raining in Austin for the past three days, which is like a year and a half in Texas time, and since the Volvo is in the shop I have been partaking in the varied smells and delights of public transportation.

Now you’d think I would be anti-bus, what with me hating poor people and the environment and all, but you would be wrong; I heart the bus.

See, deep down (okay, not that deep down) I’m one of those Southerners who will have a conversation with anybody about anything (as long as it’s decent) and there are few things that give me more delight than asking how someone’s mama is.  Sometimes I ask even if I don’t really know the person, because they won’t know they haven’t said anything and odds are if you live in the South, you will ALWAYS have a story about your mama.

So that part of the bus is awesome, as is getting exercise first thing in the morning.  The part I do not relish is getting caught in the rain.

One might suspect that a girl who collects silk umbrellas wouldn’t get caught without one very often. Well, one would be wrong. Sometimes I’ll remember to take an umbrella, but odds are I’ll leave it somewhere.  If the homeless citizenry of Austin have, on average, a posher collection of parapluies  than the average city it’s mostly because I have personally bumbershot them all myself.  See also: Ray-Ban Classic Wayfarers (in tortoiseshell, if you please).

That being said, if you DO get caught in the rain there is an excellent life lesson to be learned (and it’s not “stop forgetting your stupid umbrella, you dingdong.”)

Walk gracefully in the rain.

I know, I know, it doesn’t make any sense, but trust me. Shoulders back, head up (like that little neck scrunch is going to do a darn thing to keep you dry anyway) determined –or at least not miserable– look and purposeful steps.

The moral of the story is this:

If you can walk with dignity in the rain, you can walk with dignity anywhere.

You can walk with dignity when you’ve been entirely humiliated by an ex-boyfriend, you can walk with dignity when you’ve been turned down for a promotion or laid off. You can walk with dignity even if you’ve just show the publisher of your newspaper your rear-end (festooned with Laundry Day Undies) because it’s the ONE FREAKIN’  DAY you forgot to wear a slip. You can walk with dignity and command a room before you even open your mouth if you’re called on to make a speech, and for safety reasons, you can walk with dignity down a dark street at night and make potential baddies think twice about messing with you.

How many of us really pay attention to our walks? And yet they say so much. Remember that scene in Pretty Woman when Julia Roberts lopes like a linebacker through the hotel lobby? Or Mister Humphries adorable mince in Are You Being Served?  What about John Wayne in pretty much everything? Just as much –perhaps more– than clothing, your walk defines how people see you and what’s better: it doesn’t cost a dime.
And for a little added tuition in the ambulatory arts, let’s hear from Professor Lux Interior and the rest of The Cramps playing The Way I Walk, live at Napa State Mental Hospital, 1978.

April 19, 2010

Lazy Monday Poll

Filed under: Lazy Poll — Miss Plumcake @ 11:58 am

Good morning my sweet corn niblets, how was your weekend? Mine was eh, it rained and rained and rainedandrainedandrained which is good for my hair but no so great for my backyard which now has weeds that are literally –and I mean literally– higher than my privacy fence.   I emailed my lawn people a week ago saying the grounds of stately Château Gâteau were looking a little more Meth Lab than I personally find ideal, but it’s raining so whaddya gonna do?

I’ll tell you what I miss: the teenager who spoke like three words of English and would cater to my every lawn maintenance whim for five dollars and a lemonade Popsicle.  Good times.

Mmm popsicles

***

Last Lazy Monday Janey was pondering buying some new delicates, Frances and I had a chat about how to wear a short-brimmed vintage hat without it looking costumey, Marya wrote a lovely comment on her springtime bud watch, Genvieve touted the wisdom of knowing a very good cobbler, a bunch of us helped Tropical Chrome find a sandal for a baseball game, our soon-to-be-wed Sara A. had a pre-wedding existential crisis and there was much moaning and gnashing of teeth re: nothing-to-wear from the delightfully-named Petunia Chowder.

This week we’re going to feature Five Great Finishing School Lessons plus some other bits of loveliness here and there.

So what’s been going on with you? On the hunt for anything in particular? Do anything fun this weekend, or do you have something glammy going on this week? Let me know!

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