I couldn't decide if I looked stylish or like Steve Urkel.
For ten minutes I stood in front of the long mirror in my living room, awkwardly rotating in what amounted to the worst attempt at striking a Cupcakes and Cashmere pose ever. I grimaced at the ensemble, bearing my teeth like a pit bull readying to attack a squirrel. After several moments of said grimacing, I yanked off the built-in belt on my olive green high-waisted skirt and looped on a tan woven one instead.
"Now this will definitely be chic!" I told myself as I tucked my bright orange top back in.
Yet even then something looked slightly off to me. I still didn't see "chic" in the reflection in the mirror. I saw a girl trying to be chic. A girl trying to be effortlessly stylish. Which, of course, defeated the whole point of effortless style.
I love clothes and am perfectly capable of picking out a cute dress at Anthropologie, but I've never been the type of gal who knows exactly what to do with, say, a pair of bright red shorts or a denim collared shirt. I would never even buy a denim shirt. I would walk right past it and pick up a v-neck merino wool sweater in a color I already own. It would look perfectly acceptable on me, but wouldn't inspire the type of reaction I usually have when I see my friend Ashley in a new outfit. Usually along the lines of, "How on earth did you figure out how to put a denim shirt with a wool skirt and suede ankle boots?!"
It's like that scene in Good Will Hunting when Matt Damon explains why he's so wicked smaht to Minnie Driver. She wonders if he has a photographic memory, he responds with a metaphor about Beethoven. "He looked at a piano and it just made sense to him." He says.
I always feel like it's some sort of fluke when I put something stylish together or find a dress that is flattering enough to warrant a compliment. I don't feel like I'm the Beethoven of fashion. I feel like a girl who can't figure out if tucking a bright orange shirt into an olive green skirt makes her look like the female version of the nerdiest character in the "TGIF" line-up.
"Did I do that?"
While it would be fun to be that girl, I'm not too terribly worked up about it. Because even if I will never be able to wear a denim shirt without looking like a cowboy, I have other tricks up my sleeves (no pun intended). I can string words together without grammatical errors (usually), I can run for an hour (or more) without stopping, and I can (effortlessly) make quinoa topped with Port wine and balsamic roasted plums for breakfast on a random weekday morning.
I know that if I boil just shy of a half cup of water to the ratio of a quarter cup of quinoa, it will come out perfectly fluffy after 15 minutes. I know that if I roast plums in Port wine and balsamic vinegar, they will come out deliciously gooey and jam-like. I know that if I ladle them over said quinoa and douse the whole thing in 2% milk, I'll be so busy sighing with pleasure, I won't care that my outfit isn't chic.
This is what makes sense to me. When it comes to quinoa, when it comes to boozy sweet plums, I can just play.
Makes approximately 1 cup (enough jammy goodness for 2 people)
Notes: Since plums are on the way out the door, feel free to experiment with the more seasonally apropos pears. While I make the plums for my quinoa, I also thing they'd be fantastic with oatmeal, over a bowl of vanilla ice cream (like pie without the crust!), with Greek yogurt and granola, or even served alongside roast chicken.
2-3 largish plums, sliced into 1/4 inch thick slices
2 tablespoons Port wine
2 teaspoons Balsamic vinegar
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Lightly grease a glass baking dish (preferably with butter). Toss plums with Port wine and Balsamic vinegar, then spread out in a single layer in the baking dish. Bake, stirring once, until tender and caramelized, approximately 25-30 minutes. Serve warm.
For quinoa preparation: Rinse 1/4 cup of quinoa well to remove the bitter outer layer. Bring 1/2 cup minus 2 tablespoons water to boil in a small saucepan. Add the quinoa, a few good shakes of cinnamon, a shake of salt and a shake of nutmeg. Cover, reduce the hear, and simmer for 15 minutes untouched. Remove the lid, fluff with a fork, and add a splash of milk. Turn off the heat and let sit for 5-10 minutes before serving. Top with plums and add milk in desired quantity.