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

Bananas Are Good…so are birthdays

A couple days ago, I had a couple pounds of bananas that desperately needed eating. It also happened that my birthday was a couple days ago.

And when I happen to have some good fruit sitting on the edge and something to celebrate, I bake. Yesterday I made my birthday cake. Banana with a bittersweet chocolate sour cream ganache. That was my birthday cake.

One of the best garage sale finds I’ve ever made was a copy of The Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum, which I picked up for a whopping buck. Her Cordon Rose Banana Cake is amazingly good. I’ve never made a bad cake out of that book, but it’s the banana cake I keep returning to. It’s tasty, not too sweet, a perfect backdrop for the fabulous ganache that’s also featured in the book, and popular with my friends.

Baking is one of my all-time favorite pastimes. It’s something I have a gift for. From earliest childhood, baked goods have done my will with barely any effort from me. Pie crust – that most elusive of culinary accomplishments – turned out flaky and golden on my very first try at the tender age of seven. And so to this day, I usually bake myself a birthday treat. Usually it’s a cake, but pie has been featured more than once, too.

Life has not been the kindest to me and mine over the past year. Money’s always tight, disaster looms over some of the best people I know, good people have battled dread illnesses, and anxiety seems to reign supreme some weeks…but last night in my kitchen there was delicious banana cake, a good friend to share it with, and a hopeful feeling in the air. By the time I headed up to bed, I felt ready to face nearly anything.

Sometimes a good bit of baking can do that.

So what brings hope and relaxation in your world?

Mmmmmm . . . . Colooooorrrrrrrssss . . . .

Francesca has discovered the delightful designs of J. Renee, and now there is no going back.

Look at all the luscious colors of, and detailing on, these shoes! And they come in wide widths!
Green with a green sunflower!

Pastel metallic print with a unique leather trim! Francesca likes!

Francesca’s favorite! Mint green with exquisite gold ribboning. Ooooooh. Francesca must have these. Must. Have. Them.

Happy shopping and happy weekend!

xoxo, Francesca

The Big Question: Musical Edition

Francesca and Plumcake ask:

You’re getting ready to go out for a night on the town. You’ve glued on your fake eyelashes, strapped on your party hair and have plunged your piggies into shoes so cute that baby ponies vomit all over themselves out of sheer envy. What music do you play to make you feel as fierce as you look?

Plumcake says: It takes five songs to drive from Château Gâteau to my favorite clubs, during which I listen to a double shot each of The Cramps “Thee Most Exalted Potentate of Love” and “Hot Pool of Woman Need” and The Flametrick Subs –“The Way I Walk” and “What Makes a Good Girl Go Bad?” followed by Link Wray’s “Rumble” a song that was so scandalous when it was first released it was banned for being too provocative, even though it doesn’t have any words!

Francesca recommends books

Francesca wishes to celebrate the females with the larger-than-life personalities of superfantasticness!

Here is a comprehensive biography of the inimitable and fascinating “lady reporter,” Nellie Bly. In an age when women journalists were relegated to the “women’s pages,” Nellie Bly convinced her editor to allow her to be admitted into an insane asylum in order to expose conditions there. She traveled around the world by train and boat to see whether it could indeed be done in 80 days or fewer, and became an international celebrity and American hero. This book is about a woman with balls, and a window into the history of journalism, too.

If you can get your hands on a copy of this biography of the late, great stage actress Sarah Bernhardt, you will not be disappointed. Bernhardt was highly eccentric and dramatic and had a tabloid-worthy personal life . . . which leads one to believe that one does not need Hollywood to be a little bit Hollywood.

Of course, we mustn’t forget the intelligent and inspiring Helen Keller. No introductions necessary for this admirable woman and her brave, loyal teacher.

In the realm of fiction, Francesca insists that you read, or re-read, Harriet the Spy. Harriet is one of the great heroines of pre-teen fiction, right up there with Anne of Green Gables for her spunk, verve, and smarts. Like Anne, she makes mistakes from which she must learn hard lessons. Unlike Anne, she lives in Manhattan, is cared for by a Nanny, and enjoys spying on people. Like Francesca, she is a writer. We love Harriet!

And finally, Francesca very much enjoys this cookbook by one of Francesca’s favorite personalities, a confident Big Girl who knows she is beautiful.

Happy New Year

Tonight begins Rosh Hashanah, the New Year of the Jewish calendar, and we wish all of our Jewish friends a happy holiday and a year of joy and superfantasticness.

Here is a handsome, honey-colored shoe, very elegant for going to Temple to declare the Majesty of the King of Kings. And it is available in a wide width!

The Military Dietitian of Straightforwardness

When Francesca signed up to write this blog, she stated specifically that this blog would not become the place “where dieting or exercise are encouraged or discouraged, as I believe that Manolo’s readers are intelligent enough to decide for themselves how to take care of their bodies and how much time or effort to invest in losing weight, and when or if to do so.”

Francesca sticks by this policy, and so before continuing she wishes to emphasize that this post is about a personal decision made at a particular time, and in no way suggests what Francesca thinks any of you, our dear readers, should do with your bodies. Francesca spends enough on therapy talking about her own body without worrying about yours!

A few years ago Francesca was under the care of a nutritionist, and it did not go well. Ms. Nutritionist was young and perky and smiled and said things like “We’ll make small changes, baby steps” and “there is no such thing as a food you can’t have; everything in moderation” and then proceeded to try to turn my life upside down with the new diet, which, as Garfield would remind us, is “die” with a “t” at the end.

Umbridge

Francesca suspected that Ms. Nutritionist had never been overweight, that she was one of those people who have always had perfect self control, and who, underneath the gentle words about moderation, harbored a secret revulsion for fat and for fat people, and she made Francesca wonder what sort of person becomes a nutritionist, anyway? I mean, who decides they want to spend their days telling others what to eat? Can we say “control issues”? Ech!

Fast forward to the last year or so, when Francesca has been so busy doing super-fantastic things like writing witty blog posts in cute bistros and reading good books and looking at beautiful art and playing Spider Solitaire at Level Two, that her weight crept upward and upward and the lumpy-squishies increased, and more importantly Francesca started to feel sluggish and tired and yucky. If it were just a matter of buying larger clothes, Francesca would gladly use any excuse to buy a new wardrobe. But sluggishness and Francesca do not mix! And there is also the matter that Francesca is in a high-risk group for diabetes, and although many diabetics are indeed superfantastic, diabetes itself is not superfantastic. Francesca decided the time had come to take action!

So Francesca made an appointment with the dietitian of a superfantastic friend (S.F. for short). SF had warned Francesca that said dietician is a “drill sergeant,” but that she is very talented and has helped many people to lose weight. Additionally, said dietitian specializes in helping people who have certain medical conditions, including a disorder which Francesca has which makes it difficult to lose weight. Francesca called and discovered there is a 3-month waiting list! Well! It would perhaps be worth the try, and anyway there would then be an excuse to eat whatever Francesca wants for the next 3 months! (Just kidding. Sort of.)

Two weeks ago, Francesca met with the Drill Sergeant Dietitian of Doom. This lady is neither young nor perky, and though it was obvious that she understands the nature of my medical needs and does not secretly think that being fat is my “fault,” she also does not sugarcoat a thing. When Francesca asked if she can ever have cake or cookies, did Drill Sergeant Lady speak of small portions and special occasions? No! She said “Francesca, it is poison for you. Poison.”

She also did not pretend we are making small steps. She said “I insist that you make changes X and Y and Z before our next meeting, because you really need to lose weight.”

On exercise: “Francesca, you have no excuses. You are young and mobile and there is no reason you should not be exercising. You. Have. No. Excuse.”

Not long ago, Francesca would have said “Pah! I do not need to listen to this! I am Francesca, and I will make changes at whatever rate I please, and I will have a real Coke sometimes, and cake, and you are a rude, impolite, unfeeling woman and I hate you!”

But as Francesca indicated at the beginning of this blog, sometimes the decision to lose weight is a matter of it being the right situation at the right time. The Sickly-Sweet Nutritionist of Moderation did not work for me, and I am tired of feeling sluggish, and so Francesca decided that since she is paying through the nose for Sergeant Dietitian to dispense advice, she may as well listen to it. It is true Francesca doesn’t have to listen to it, but she realized that the Drill Sergeant is not Francesca’s boss, she is Francesca’s employee, someone from whom Francesca has sought expertise.

At the moment Francesca has decided that she wants to follow this expertise, and that she finds the Straightforward Truth rather refreshing. At this point of Francesca’s life, she prefers the Sometimes Painful Truth to the Harbored Condescention of Saccharine.

Drill Sergeant

So Francesca has been exercising more and eating better. So far she has not lost any weight but she has more energy and feels much better. And that is always superfantastic!

Sale at Monif C!

From now through September 16 there are steep discounts of 50% or more from many items at Monif C.

Francesca has a rather on-and-off love affair with Monif C’s wares, loving many items while hating others. The site is certainly worth a look though, and since sale items move quickly it is worthwhile to visit the site soon.

To keep for next spring, Francesca likes this pretty-in-pink silk sundress, down from $265 to $133:

Francesca also admires this velvet number, available in wine or black, down from $210 to $105: