Beautiful but

This is a phrase I have heard too many times in my life and I would like to put a stop to it.  I am beautiful, but there is always an exception to my beauty.  How’s a girl supposed to have any confidence in herself?  How am I supposed to accept a compliment without expecting the other shoe to drop?  How is one expected to like their face or body or flaws when there is always a but?

I had a thought today…what would happen if I retrain my brain to hear: “Devon, you are beautiful butt. Blah blah blah.” and I will imagine they are talking about my behind.  This will take some work, but it has to be better then the mental beating I take every time someone decides to grace me with a “except-ional”compliment.

I have an assignment for you, my dear friends and readers, I ask you to offer one person a compliment without exception and without the expectation of having one thrown back at you.  The compliment can be given to a stranger or a loved one.  It will feel good and it will surely make someones day.

Here I am. No makeup, no veneers and a cheesy smile. Beautiful, no but.



On August 13, 2008, I was diagnosed with Celiac disease.  I can still remember the sense of relief that I could be fixed.  The month prior to my revelation I had been in for an endoscope of my belly.  When I came out of my drug induced relaxation, my doctor told me he had some good news and some okay news.  The good news: I didn’t have an ulcer or any unusual bumps, the okay news: I probably have celiac disease.

My first question: “Is there gluten in rice?”
“No”, replies the doctor.
Me: “Okay, then I’ll be fine.”

While in surgery, he took a biopsy of my stomach and told me the results were going to take a few weeks, he also sent me for another blood test and told me to continue eating gluten until I had the results in case they needed to run anymore tests.

On my drive home I decided I had three and a half weeks to eat whatever I wanted.  My system was already used to being sick all the time, so I went full out.  I admit that I didn’t know a lot about celiac, so I bought one book (mostly to make sure I ate all the gluten I could) and I planned to deal with the celiac thing starting the day after my appointment.

What does one eat while saying goodbye to gluten?
– so much pizza (homemade and restaurant)
– Chinese food = most importantly dim sum, ginger beef (in Alberta), any vegetable in oyster sauce or hoisin, salt & pepper squid and many dumplings (I am proudly 1/4 Chinese and this was one of the hardest things for me to give up)
– Japanese food = most importantly shrimp and veggie tempura, any sushi roll with tempura in it
– Pasta! (homemade and restaurant)
– Chocolate cookies with white chocolate chips
– Crispy crunch cake with white chocolate icing
– Bread = croissant, pain au chocolat, baguette, biscuits, dinner rolls (homemade), cranberry orange bread and cinnamon toast
– Beer = Dieu du Ciel

The day of my results appointment I planned a last hoorah at my favorite Ethiopian restaurant and then beers at DdC.  If only I had read my book a wee bit more, I would have known that Ethiopian bread is traditionally made from teff and is perfectly safe for people avoiding gluten!

Hears a taste:

Nil bleu.

I love going to Nil Bleu.  Ethiopian is best enjoyed in groups and when you have a lot of time.  I would not recommend Ethiopian before a show, deadlines do not exist in this world.
You eat with your hands, teff bread is your utensil.  The mix of flavours and spices are unique and delicious.  From the spicy and tangy berber sauce to the sweet, stewed potatoes and carrots.  So good.

What I ate (and can still eat!):
Doro Watt – spiced chicken with onions and a boiled egg
Assa Watt – fish cooked in berber sauce
Gommen – spinach
Yatakelt Watt – potatoes, cabbage and carrot
Yebeg Tibbs – lamb with green peppers and ginger

Ordering Ethiopian:
In my many trips to Nil Bleu, I think I have mastered the perfect order.
Start with 1 vegetarian platter, then add 1 meat/per person.
Example – For a group of 4, I would order:
1 vegetarian platter
1 Doro Watt
1 Yebeg Tibbs
1 Assa Watt

More people = more meat and an extra spinach.

Click me!

Dress Drama

I would like to start by saying that this post will in no way change the state of the world, but it will serve as a peek into the oddity of the business I’m trying to be a part of.  And I hope it makes you laugh a little.

Where to start…
I will begin with the tragic story of my arms (B.C.), because I believe they are a source of my insanity / uncertainty.
I am an opera a singer and my body is put together of everything you might expect in a singer.  I have big, resonating bones 😉 , I have an ample bosom and a broad behind, but my arms are the talk of the town.  According to every competition I have ever performed in, my arms are holding me back.  Feedback from the professionals say that if I wear something sleeveless, my arms “make [me] look heavier than I should”, T-shirt style sleeves make me look “too casual” and don’t even get me started on capped sleeves.  Long sleeves resulted in being “too cut off to [my] public” and 3/4 length are just “insulting”.  I have actually been advised to not wear every available type of sleeve.  Needless to say, I have become somewhat sensitive about my arms (that are actually very proportionate to my body) and my clothing choices.  I sometimes consider removing my arms from the whole equation.

Fast forward a few years, I have lost some weight (thanks celiac!) and have somewhat gotten over my fear of choosing a sleeve, but my confidence in my performance wear is still fragile.  I’m currently taking part in a voice program in Montreal and I was asked to perform in a concert this past weekend.   Good news, you might think, but definitely the cause of more stress than it should have been!

I sang in a very similar concert last summer and in a lesson prior to the performance we discussed my attire for a pretty heavy aria.  I knew the concert dress code would be formal, but I felt that satin, sparkles and glam might not be appropriate for an aria about being ignored by the institution meant to protect us.  We decided on a long black dress with simple jewelry (pearls) and a wrap.  I had a broken toe at the time, so I went for my beige character shoes.  Not a bad picture, right?  Long story short, I created a lot of drama and it wasn’t until I dropped the name of the teacher who had told me how to dress that everyone calmed down and agreed that my outfit would do.

This summer, I was not going to go through the same mind warp, so I asked straight out what I should wear.  I was asked: “What would you like to wear?  What do you feel beautiful in?” I replied my gray cocktail dress with gorgeous, matte beading across the chest and although I still feel this is too glitzy for this aria, I feel confident in this dress.  Perfect, I take my little dress down to the cleaners on Thursday to be pressed and I’m good to go for Saturday.  Nope.

I had a staging session on Friday with a director and just as I’m on my way out the door, he asks: “What are we wearing?  A long dress right?  This aria needs a long dress.”  Ah!  I guess I can find something at home that is long and fancier than a black dress.  I get home on Friday night and head straight for my closet.

I don’t know how I did it, but I have actually lost a whole dress!  I have three beautiful gowns that were made for me and one of them has disappeared.  Of course once I realized it was gone, I could not let go of the idea that it would have been perfect.  I tried on all my dresses and they are all too big!  One might be excited at the revelation, but I was freaking out!

Saturday morning I was up and shopping.  I made a run through downtown Montreal and I found nothing.  I tried on some very unfortunate items hoping they might look better on, I was wrong.  Finally a light bulb flashed!  Maybe my wonderful friend Dayle could pin one of my dresses and if I get stabbed a few times, it will be fine!

Dayle came over and did her magic, not only did she pin my dress, she sewed it so that I wouldn’t get stabbed!  Amazing.  Crisis averted.

Upon arrival at the church we were performing in, each singer had a time to run through their piece.  I was wearing a purple cotton dress from Target (I payed $15 for it).   I did my quick sound check and the director says: “Sounds good, more arms and the dress is perfect!  I love it!”

I went straight to the dressing room and put on my first choice, my grey dress!  These people will drive me to my crazy.

This would have been the perfect dress for 'Papers' from The Consul by Menotti.

Veggie Basket!

Week 5

Meet my beautiful veggie basket.  This is her 5th week in our lives and we couldn’t be happier.  Andrew and I decided to purchase a farmshare this summer to help with our menu making and it has been inspiring.  Every week we have something new to play with.  Everything tastes better!  I eat raw zucchini all the time (I thought it had to be cooked to taste good), cucumbers and carrots are incredible, and the blueberries!  Oh the blueberries!  Quebec has so much goodness to offer.

What have we been making?
So much SALAD!
I’m not a big salad fan, but I do have to say that lettuce picked the day before you eat it is so good.  I might become a salad liker…as long as Andrew keeps cleaning the lettuce.  So far my favorite salad dressing has been a mixture of avocado oil, pomegranate molasses, salt & pepper with a hint of dijon mustard and a little bit of maple syrup.
Andrew also made a delicious zucchini ribbon salad with red onion and red wine vinegar.

Zucchini is still my favorite grilling vegetable.  I like it with a bit of crunch or soft and mushy.

I made hummus (not from the veggie basket), the perfect dip for carrots and cucumbers and zucchini.
Green Sauce!  With all the mint, basil and cilantro we want, how could I not make Krista’s green sauce? (I’ll have to get her permission to post the recipe)

I have a taco addiction and I found an amazing recipe for Radish Salsa on Martha Stewart’s site.  She calls it a salad, but I’ve adjusted it a little (add more heat!) to make it more like a salsa.  The lime and jalapeño were not from my veggie basket.

Let’s talk about blueberries.  They are delicious and jam packed with healthy.  Whenever I buy a pricey little pint of these blue goodies, I end up picking out a bunch of the yucky ones or some will be sour or too mooshy; I’m never totally satisfied.  Then came my veggie basket.  I’ve never had blueberries like this, so when they offered us the option of buying an extra case I jumped for blueberry joy.

The case

I’ve had these two pie crusts in my freezer for quite some time and my case of blueberry perfection called for a pie!  Last Thanksgiving, I found these crusts at Whole Foods in Toronto, they are by a company called “Circle of Life Bakery“.  They bake up very nicely and are super easy if you’re not in the mood for crust making mess.  I cut up one crust to make a lattice pattern.

Raw, but still pretty