The 90 Seconds and Velvet Story


Welcome life-loving friends to my blog about all the things that make me happy, things that make me get up and work hard, things I feel I need to share. Food, family, fitness, fun, community, fashion, social media, trends, books, theater, causes, the things that make life rich, like velvety rich, the things that make me happy, you'll find them here.

And speaking of velvet, we have a small matter of, "what's in a name" to answer -  Why "90 Seconds and Velvet"?  It's my little pet-phrase for how I live my life - equal parts "joie de vivre" and "carpe diem". Live richly, life is short.

Here is the forward from a cookbook I wrote a few years ago, that might help explain. I wrote this while operating Facile Belle Personal Chef and Personal Fitness. It was a great little business that allowed me to indulge my passion for food while meeting some amazing folks and teaching and training anything from bellydance to salsa to hula hooping.  I taught wellness in schools and healthy body image to teens and had a great curriculum for folks starting a path to wellness from a place of total ignorance.  It was called , "Total Wellbeing" and the cookbook was part of a comprehensive syllabus around food and fitness. It changed a lot of lives and probably even made them a little longer..

The company closed a few years ago when I went back into the mainstream (but STILL in events and food, of course) after 5 solid years of personal chef clients, fabulous healthy dinner parties, bellydance weekends, salsa in the street, al fresco hula hooping, plus hundreds of students who will, hopefully, be followers here.  I hope I taught you something in all those dance, kickboxing, cooking, personal training, kids, nutrition and wellness classe. If you took away one thing then, that one thing I said over and over again, and you'll hear more about it here..."Live every moment like it is 90 seconds long and made of crushed red velvet".

From the introduction to 
Eat Well, Volume One, the cookbook of Facile Belle Personal Chef/Fitness

Facile Belle, from the French for Easy, beautiful, is all about rediscovering your inner and outer beauty by simplifying your life. This cookbook is filled with simple recipes I prepare for my weekly cooking clients. By preparing foods from high quality, fresh ingredients, I simplify the work of meal making, without sacrificing the taste or the presentation. The title Eat Well, means just that, enjoy wonderful food that will make you look and feel better, and gain more time to take long walks, play with your children, laugh with your partner, visit with your friends, try new things or just be alone with yourself.

This cookbook began with a class, Total Well-being, to be exact. This class, I thought, would be perfect for people like the old me. People who had forgotten how to take care of themselves. People who couldn’t get past the obligations that seemed to engulf them. People who didn’t know about good food verses diet food. I wanted to teach a class for people who wanted to look and feel better, but didn’t have the knowledge, the willpower or the resources to begin.

Truthfully, I wanted to teach a class for people like me, or that semi-permanent, post-partum me that I remember vividly, who I thank for my current success but who I’d rather leave in the past with her empty pizza boxes and her “I give up” sweat pants. That girl exists just past four years ago, right after the birth of my daughter. Her appearance taught me everything I need to know about making the most of every second, about squeezing 90 seconds out of every minute and making every one of those seconds as lush, and meaningful and delicious as I can. Her brief tenure is what got me to this place I am so happy to occupy in the present.

It wasn’t a choice, really, it was more a matter of survival. I, like so many of my friends struggled along that long, obstructed road back from childbirth, scraping for some “Me” time against a tidal wave of parental obligations. I, too, had walked (not run) this road back from a fat, lazy pregnancy and a long recovery from self-pity and self-loathing. Each time I put out clothes for an early morning trip to the gym, my daughter responded with an all-nighter of hollering, crying and general rowdy sleeplessness. The harder I tried to rediscover the “normal” me, the harder she pushed for my attention. I began to feel she was trying to sabotage my efforts. I began to see parenthood as the end of my life as I knew it, and I just wasn’t ready to stop being who I was. I liked the old me, the independent me, the pre-motherhood me, and I had awaited her return after the delivery of this baby like a reunion with a beloved old friend. I really needed her back, but I wasn’t sure she’d ever get past the tiny gatekeeper.

After months of this game, and the resultant frustration and depression, I finally did get that visit from my innovative old self. She was just as no-nonsense as I remembered. She told me to stop feeling bad for myself and take the situation into my own hands. She told me to find a way to be a mother and a wife - for face it, that’s who I was now - without giving up on my own identity. She believed, no, knew, it could be done and she wasn’t taking no for an answer. She told me to start by getting myself a baby backpack, and a good one.

I did it. Many people watched me carry Julia (my baby girl) up and down the hills in our hometown until she was foolishly large in the contraption. At that point, I bought a jogging stroller, again, a good one, and now I push that around for my exercise. I walked for stress management. I walked for exercise. I walked to steal alone time with myself and my baby. We sang songs to each other while we walked. We told stories and we laughed and we learned to get both our needs met on terms that worked well for everyone. I decided I loved the emotional release that came from exercise enough to make a career of it, so I got certified as a personal trainer.

The cooking piece of Facile Belle came soon after, when that same old me came by to teach me a few things I’d forgotten about food. She helped me to reshape the way I felt about food and to stop seeing it as an enemy to conquer but as a beautiful part of a rich life to be enjoyed but not abused. She led me back to my childhood hearth, and to my mother’s kitchen where that love of food was born and is daily fostered, but where things like legumes, giant salads, Caribbean spices and fresh seafood were the piece de resistance and “cream of anything” was not on the menu. The old me reminded me of how to indulge my absolute love (maybe lust) for food, without turning into a wildebeest. She taught me to love food again, without hating myself by getting smart about what I ate.

My old self, my new self and my little girl created Facile Belle, LLC the Easy, beautiful way of life. This cookbook is at the heart of it all. We hope you enjoy it.
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