Elephant Memories

Posted by Aarti on April 12th, 2012

Well I’m back! And oh me, oh my, I feel like there’s a good deal of things I need to share with you.

There’s the emotional-spiritual things that I learned, but let’s be honest here. What would you prefer to see: yet another long, tear-streaked post about my inner psyche… or photos of me PETTING AN ELEPHANT?!

Yeah. I thought so. Continue reading »

 

This is Three, a mature mama elephant, so named because that was the number of the container in which she arrived at the game preserve.

I was a bit tentative around her, not just because she could gouge out my innards with her tusks if something caught her eye suddenly… but because her feet were the size of tree trunks.  Should she plonk one of her footsies down on one of mine?  Well, there goes my tap dancing career.

And despite the fact that we have all probably seen zillions of photos of elephants, and maybe even seen a couple sad ones at the zoo, in person, with only inches between us, I still gasped in wonder when I saw her.  She is marvelous.

 

Here are things you notice when you’re up close and personal with an elephant.  She doesn’t smell.  She has insanely long eyelashes (I’m talking a couple of inches), which don’t grow uniformly in one direction… north, south, east, west; they stretch out wherever their fancies take them.  They look thick, even a little coarse.  Her skin is wonderfully rough, a little like the surface of an old barn that has seen its share of afternoon storms.  Rough, a little prickly, but soulful, inviting.  And then, just as you think you get her, someone tells you to stroke the back of her friendly, Africa-shaped ears.  Oh!  What a surprise!  No wood barns here.  Just soft, smooth leather, cool against your sun-warmed hands.  Oh to be back there again, as golden hour kisses the tall grass and paints everything and everyone in a magical golden glow, cooing at Three as she searches with quiet determination for the next clump of sweet grass.

Three has two babies, one biological, one adopted.  I can’t remember which one this was, but I do know that I wanted to take her home with me, especially after she ate some grass straight out of my hand.  Once you let me feed you, you have my heart.

 

-x-

aarti

 

 

 

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Day 2 in South Africa

Posted by Aarti on March 11th, 2012

Ok, yet again, I must rush off to bed because tomorrow is a big day, but I just wanted to let you know that, HURRAH! My suitcase came today! Thanks for your prayers, and thanks to the hard work of a great many here! I have never been treated so well in my life; these South Africans are true gems.

Alright. I’m hoping that decaf coffee at the end of dinner wasn’t a bad idea because I must fall asleep pronto!

Later, I will try and post photos from my game drive today… I got to pet a cheetah! Isn’t that incredible???

-x-

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Safe and Sound!

Posted by Aarti on March 10th, 2012

Hi guys!

I just wanted to let you know that I arrived in South Africa, safe and sound. I would write more but I’m late to a breakfast meeting, ack!

In the meantime, would you send up a quick prayer that my luggage would arrive today?!

Yeah. That happened. Tell you more later.

Love you all! God bless you this Sabbath!

-x-
aarti

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No Fear for 40 Days

Posted by Aarti on March 1st, 2012

If you read this blog with any regularity, then you know that I have a rather unhealthy problem with fear.

Opportunities that others see as adventures, I see as opportunities to fail, horribly. I just can’t see it any other way.

And while I was hoping that God would rid me of this fear by pressing some kind of fear-erasing button in my soul (that exists, right?!), I don’t think it works that way. In fact, I’m beginning to realize that the only way to face down fear is to… face it down. God keeps giving me opportunities to do just that. I’d like to say that I do a cartwheel every time one of those comes up, but usually, I just gripe at Him: “Come ON! Again? Really? Can this be the last time? Please, oh pretty please? I don’t like it! Stop making me do these things!”.

(And yes, I realise that I sound like a petulant 7-year old girl when I talk to God. You can go ahead and picture me that way if you like because I’m sure that’s just what God sees: mess of curls bouncing with rage, cheeks puffed out in a huff, lips pouting, little foot in patent leather mary jane stamping on the ground repeatedly. Ok, I’m laughing at myself now. At least I keep Him entertained, right? Huh? HUH?!)

God has lined up a pretty hectic month for me. Next Friday, I leave for South Africa (yaaaaay!) to do some press because, holy heck, my show is on the air there and it’s doing really well! GOOD LORD! Isn’t that amazing?

Three or four days later, I toodle off to Dubai (DOUBLE yaaaayyyy!) to do a couple of demos at the Taste of Dubai festival. I haven’t been home in a decade, and what a way to go back! Such a blessing.

Ok, THEN, I fly back to the States, via New York, where I’m shooting an episode of a show that scares the skinny jeans off me! I’m trying not to take it so seriously, and I’m determined not to let this single, solitary thing ruin the whole trip for me, but late at night, as I settle under the covers, that’s when the monster sticks an ugly toe out of my closet.

Fear starts bubbling. Tears start welling. It’s totally, utterly, wholly irrational, and what makes it worse? I feel horribly ungrateful for being scared of such incredible opportunities. So then I’m feeling scared and guilty at the same time! I’m a mess!

(Also, that image is from a Threadless tshirt that I think I need.)

But something kinda cool happened last Sunday.

I was sitting in church, listening to the sermon, when in what was either a rush of the Holy Spirit or a rush of caffeine from my morning cup of coffee, an excited thought popped into my head: “HEY! I know what I’m going to do. I’m going to give up fear for Lent! I’m just going to give it up! YEAH! That’s what I’m gonna do!”.

An hour later, once the afore-mentioned euphoria had evaporated, my grumpus settled in with a hmph.

“That’s the dumbest idea ever. We’re not doing that,” it said.

And that was that.

Until that evening, when I went back to church to see an amazing speaker. Somewhere in the middle of his talk, completely out of nowhere and apropos to nothing he says, “You know what? I think we should give up fear for Lent.”

“WHAT?” I yelled in my seat. (Luckily, it was louder in my head than it was in the room.)

Good God. Here’s a concept I’ve never heard of before, and then I hear it twice in one day?

So, yeah. Y’all might think I’m crazy but that’s too big of a sign for me to ignore. I’m just gonna give it up for Lent.

Just like that.

Sometimes, it just has to be that simple. It’s always been easier for me to give up a food entirely than allow myself to have it every now and then. There’s no thinking involved. Whenever the option or the craving presents itself, I just say, nope, can’t have it. It makes self-control so much easier. So, for the next fourty days (and how handy that Lent covers my entire trip!), fear isn’t an option. It’s off the menu. Whenever fear sticks his toe out of the closet, I’m not gonna look at him. I’m gonna look at Him. And hopefully, that will be enough for that moment.

What do you think?

-x-
aarti

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Da Hair, again

Posted by Aarti on February 24th, 2012

Ok without further ado, here’s the new technique I’ve been using when it comes to my hair, and I’ve been loving the results:

Here I am after my demo at the Le Creuset store here in Los Angeles… you can see, it looks pretty good, right?

Here’s the drill. Some of this is repetitive from my last post on curly hair techniques, but it bears repeating if you never read it. Again, I’m not getting paid by any of these companies, so you can trust me!

Continue reading »

1) Shampoo: I only shampoo it about once a week. Anything more and my hair manages the impossible: it’s both limp AND frizzy! When I *do* shampoo, I either use something incredibly moisturizing like Bumble and Bumble’s Coco de Creme shampoo, or Deva Curl’s No-poo which doesn’t lather because it’s absolutely sulfate-free (sulfates are the nasty things that apparently make our curly hair go haywire). They both smell delicious.

1b) Co-washing: Bren does this every now and then, so I thought I’d mention it. I’ve tried it a couple of times, but I love that freshly-shampoo’d tingly-scalp feeling so I’m not a fan, but his hair always looks great when he does it. Keep in mind that Bren does not ever shampoo his hair. Or condition it. He just rinses it through with water and leaves it the way God made it.

I know what you’re thinking. But hang on a second.

I remember watching a BBC documentary about a woman who hadn’t washed her hair in years, and it looked so healthy, glossy, beautiful. The anchor sniffed her hair and said it smelled great! So, I’ve tried to remain pretty open-minded about Bren’s decision to live “product-free”, but we’ve still had a lot of “discussions” about this over the years; he says that when he shampoos it, it looks awful no matter how much conditioner he uses. I used to say that he just hadn’t found the right one. Cut to countless experiments on my part, and he’s right; his hair just does NOT want to cooperate. Huge surprise since Bren has such a rebellious nature to begin with. (Hope you can hear the sarcasm in my voice).

Anyway, co-washing is simple. Go to the store. Buy the absolute cheapest conditioner you can find (we bought a bottle of Sauve). Use it as you’d use a shampoo: ie. massage it into your scalp. Rinse. Treat the ends (and only the ends) of your hair to a rich, conditioner. Rinse. Dry. Done.

3) Conditioner: I condition my hair every time I’m in the shower, from the ends up, avoiding the roots altogether of course.

If I’ve just shampooed it, then I like using Pantene’s Deep Moisturizing Treatment for Curly Hair, but I ran out of that so I’ve been using either the B&B Coco conditioner or another B&B conditioner called Quenching. Both of these conditioners last me about 6 months because I only use them after I’ve shampooed, because that’s when I need the extra oomph. Otherwise I just use Pantene. I know. It’s a little OCD. I think Bren will be horrified when he reads this post and realises how long I think about my hair.

4) Rinsing out the conditioner: here’s part of the secret. Don’t wash all the conditioner out of your hair. Leave just a little in. Not sure how much to leave in? Then just wash it all out, squeeze the tiniest bit onto your palm and reapply without washing it out.

4) Toweling off

Remember when I mentioned the tshirt on my head in my makeup post a couple of weeks ago? It’s Bren Superman tshirt. It makes me giggle to think that I’m using his superhero tshirt to dry my hair. Heehee!

Ok, this is it, the big crucial trick. Your hair still has some conditioner in it and it’s sopping wet (I do this while I’m still in the shower actually). Run a little of whatever curly-hair product you normally use, whether it’s Bumble & Bumble’s Curl Creme like me, or whatever mousse, gel, Mrs. Jesse’s whatever stuff you like… run it through now. Then, grab an old tshirt and twist it around your head in a turban. Yes, I know your hair is probably very wet. But don’t be tempted to towel dry it first; apparently those thick towel fibers encourage frizz. The tshirt doesn’t. Leave the turban on for about 20 minutes, then pull it off and let your hair air dry. You’ll notice that it’s mostly dry anyway, and has a lovely light bouncy quality to it. And no frizz! Usually at this point, I’ll arrange my part and then leave it alone. LOVE IT!

And that’s it! Let me know what your tricks are, or if you decide to try this one, let me know how it turns out!

-x-
aarti

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Pride Goeth Before… the Haircut?

Posted by Aarti on February 23rd, 2012

Once upon a time, in a little city called Chicago, there was a young woman named Aarti.

She was in her twenties, living it up the way that Sex and the City told her to (ie. breaking up with her college boyfriend because everyone told her that she couldn’t POSSIBLY be sure that he was the one if she hadn’t “played the field”. What a gross term. Don’t ever listen to someone who uses that term), and while it had been exhilarating for a couple of months, the joyride had crashed. She found herself desperately unhappy, and realised that she’d been a fool to break up with her noble boyfriend (who had moved to LA to pursue his dreams of being a character actor).

So, she decided to ask him if he’d take her back. She wasn’t sure if he would, but she needed to do it.

She had a plan. In the four years they’d been together, they’d taken boatloads of photobooth pics. She’d saved them in a little box. What better way to request his hand again than by sending him a little photostrip of herself?

Continue reading »

She bought herself a new top. Then she looked at her recently-trimmed mane and thought, oooh new hair-do! So, rather than return to her tried-and-true hair dresser, she decided to try her friend’s uber-hip one, who worked in an uber-hip part of town, and had an uber-hip haircut herself: hair about 1/2 inch long, all over. It looked gorgeous on her.

I sat down, told her that I wanted her to give me a cute pixie cut, something that Winona Ryder may have been rocking at the time. Then I took off my glasses and let her rip.

Here’s where the people-pleaser part of my personality bit me in the butt-onsky. And I know I’m not alone here. My Spidey-senses tingled. She seemed to be taking an awfully long time. And more and more hair was falling on the floor behind me. But, I thought, I’m sure she knows what she’s doing and I don’t want to hurt her feelings by putting my glasses on and checking on her.

“All done!” she finally said.

I put my glasses on.

And felt the tears sting my eyes.

My hair was… gone.

Or at least pretty much gone. And whatever hair was left, bore a striking resemblance to her haircut.

Oh, I said.

“Oh no! You don’t like it!” she gasped.

No, it’s ok. Um, I think I just have to get used to it.

And then, the icing on the cake: I paid her $80 (plus tip!) for the cut, even bought a little product, and left. Ooooof.

I remember my friends gasping at me when I saw them. I remember whipping my head to get invisible hair out of my face, and then realising that my mane wasn’t there anymore. For the first time, it dawned on me how vain I had always been about my hair, how much I derived my identity as a woman from my locks!

There was nothing to be done but let it grow. And later that week, I went to the photobooth and took this “beauty”:

Bren’s first thought when he got that photostrip in the mail? Oh dear. She must be really distraught!

And blessedly, for me, he took me back… and a few years later, he gave me this photostrip:

And they lived happily ever after.

-x-
aarti

p.s. That curly hair tip tomorrow! I promise! I started telling this story and it was just too good to cut short!!

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Lent: Booty Kicker & Habit-Breaker

Posted by Aarti on February 22nd, 2012

someecards.com - I still want to be Facebook friends

If you follow me on Facebook then you’ll know that I’m severing the cord for Lent. Or perhaps severing sounds too final. Putting one of those clamps on it that they always seem to use on Grey’s Anatomy.

I can’t pretend I’m not just the slightest bit nervous that I will lose some of you in the process, since it’s much easier to update on Facebook than it is to update here. But I think this is a good step for me; I’ve found that, with all the political and philosophical tension on Facebook, my blood pressure spikes every 10 minutes when I’m on there. I don’t enjoy it, and yet, it’s kinda like that moment in “The Jungle Book” where Mowgli can’t resist the snake because he’s hypnotising him (that part always used to freak me out!).

My sister-in-law put it best: “I don’t even WANT to go on there, but it’s so automatic!”

Too true! I’ve already typed ‘f’ in my browser window once today without even thinking about it.

Anyway, I’m kinda hoping that it pushes me to write more here on the blog. It is such a huge regret of mine that I don’t write on here as much as I used to. Part of it is that I always want to write A+ posts for you guys, things worthy of your time, and that kind of pressure is a tad paralyzing… part of it is that I’m sometimes going through things that are so overwhelming (and yet so personal)… other times, I’m just too damn lazy.

So, here’s to seeing more of each other over the next 40 days!

Tomorrow: my new little curly-hair technique. It’s a goodie!

-x-
aarti

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Weepy Mess

Posted by Aarti on February 15th, 2012

I’m cleaning up the house because it looks like a bomb went off in here.

Also, truthfully, whenever I feel like I’m a mess inside, that’s when I start cleaning my surroundings.  Because that’ll fix it.

Ha!

Anyway, I took a break, and as a reward looked this video up; I’d heard about it last year but never had the time to watch.

Now I’m a weepy, joyful mess… but the good kind.

Won’t you join me?

 

 

Way to put it perspective, Lord.

Amen.

-x-

aarti

 

 

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“Hey, Hot Stuff!” Pots de Creme

Posted by Aarti on February 13th, 2012

Nutella.

Sriracha.

Dark chocolate.

Cream.

Mmmmmmmm.

You need these little pots of joy.

Valentine’s Day be damned.  These luscious cups of what is essentially grown-up pudding are exactly what you need to either celebrate the day, or wish it a quiet death.

And if you’ve been put off (as I have) by the traditional slightly fussy technique of cooking the pots in a waterbath in the oven, have no fear.

These are cooked on the stovetop.  In about 10 minutes.

Yeah.  Really. Continue reading »

I’m making these at my demo tomorrow at the Le Creuset outlet at the Citadel, just outside of Los Angeles (1030am!  Free!), but here’s the recipe for all of you who have been asking.

Here’s the only sad thing about these little pots de creme: when it’s time to eat, it’s all over too fast.  Creamy, decadent, with a little playful threat of spice tickling the back of my throat… I can’t stop myself from diving my spoon into the little pot over and over.

And then it’s all gone!

Good thing it makes about 6 servings.

Oh, and if you don’t have these fancy Le Creuset cocottes?  Make them in teacups.  They are UNBELIEVABLY cute.  And since there’s no fussy waterbath-cooking, you can even use your most delicate cups because they’ll never see the heat of the oven.  Just the cool chill of your fridge.

No teacups?  How about some mason jars?  Or martini glasses?  Or small coffee mugs?  Just find something small, so that they set quickly in your fridge.

I can’t WAIT for you to try these.  They are perhaps, my biggest pride and joy at the moment.  So without further ado…

 

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Smoke & Mirrors: Foundation

Posted by Aarti on February 2nd, 2012

I’m in a makeup phase.  I’m loving the ritual of it, the transformation of it, the me-time-ness about it.

Bren isn’t a fan of this phase, because like practically every boy I know, he prefers his lady without makeup.  Have you found that to be true?  It’s cute, huh?

Anyway, talking about makeup might not be something you’d expect or want to find on a blog dedicated mostly to food.  But I’m talking about it because, (a) this is my blog dangit! and (b)…

I want to be as honest as possible about all the smoke and mirrors that go into making us look good on camera.  Because the sooner we realise how impossible it is to look that good everyday, the sooner we’ll stop being so hard on ourselves and stop obsessing with how we look.  At least, it seems to work for me!

So I’ve got a super awesome trick to share with you.  The makeup artist on my first season used it on me during my first season of Aarti Party and it made me look a little thinner, and incredibly refreshed.

(Yes I realise that this post is a big of a contradiction in terms.  But whatever.  You’ll love it.  Keep reading!)

Continue reading »

You may not know this but I sit in hair and makeup for 1.5 hours before I go on camera.  That’s in the hands of a professional, which means about 3 hours in my amateur hands!  The most beautiful women on TV at the moment, in my opinion, might be the Kardashians.  I’ve been told that they take about 3 hours in makeup.  I’m sure they are naturally GORGEOUS (those cheekbones!  That skin!) but… think about how you’d look after three hours in the capable hands of some of the best makeup artists in the country.

Anyway, to that makeup trick I enticed you with.

This is my face without a stitch of makeup.  (Gulp).

Look (double-gulp) closer.  Yes, there are acne scars — thank you hormones and gluten! — but you might also notice how many different colours dapple my face.  It’s brighter on my forehead and across my cheeks.  Around my hairline and my jawline?  Darker.

Go look at yours, and I’m guessing you’ll find something similar.

And, raise your hand if this happens to you… you put your foundation on, and suddenly, your face looks wider, flatter and slightly… odd.  That’s because you’ve suddenly erased all the natural contouring out of your face by painting it the same colour all over.

What to do?

Put the shading back!

Here’s what I do.

I grab TWO foundations, one that is the colour of my skin at my jawline, and one that is two or three shades lighter.  I love Makeup Forever and NARS foundations, but for everyday, I head to the drugstore.  I’m a big fan of Revlon’s Photo Ready foundation at the moment.  Caramel suits my natural skin tone.  Golden beige is my highlight.

WARNING: You might look a little like TuneYards for a bit, but just bear with me and you’ll look like you just got back from a weekend at the spa!

First, either using a foundation brush, or as I did, your fingers, apply the lighter shade in the center of your forehead, down your nose, and then across your cheeks… basically anywhere sunlight would naturally hit it and make it glow.

Why yes, that IS Bren’s Superman tshirt wrapped around my head.  More on that in my curly hair tricks post!

While this photo doesn’t show it very well, my highlighter colour is much lighter than my natural skin tone.

Ok, now grab your darker foundation and fill in the darker spots on your face: sides of forehead (top of forehead too if you have a normal sized one, and not the puny one I have!), jawline, chin, neck.

Usually, at this point, I’m ululating and channeling my inner tribeswoman.

In my mind.

Then, still ululating (in my mind), I grab a slightly fluffy brush.  I like this one.

You could also use a kabuki, or a sponge.  Whatever floats your boat.  You can even use your fingers.  I like this brush though; it’s from a Crown Brush kit I got last year, one of the best makeup investments I’ve ever made.  Just buff away, moving the brush in small circles with an emphasis on moving the brush downwards… why?  Because, apparently, your pores face downwards, so you’ll have a smoother finish that way.

I don’t know if it’s true.  I just do it.

Focus on blending away any severe lines between the lighter and darker foundation swaths, and make sure you get those hard to reach spots around your nostrils and under your eyes.  I’ll use my fingers to get those spots if my brush isn’t doing a good job.

And looky, looky here… someone’s starting to look refreshed!

See, I just contoured my face… gave it shape.  Looking at this photo, I could have used even more of that dark colour, around the side of my face, and under my cheekbones.

Normally, you contour by using a powder or bronzer that’s slightly darker than your natural skin tone, but that poses two problems for me: 1) I have trouble finding a shade dark enough to contour with and 2) If I do find one, it always looks a little “dirty”.  You know what I mean?

Another way to look refreshed, and I nicked this from the afore-mentioned Kardashians, is to grab a very light shade of concealer and dot it under the eyes… a good deal of it.

I kinda like how that looks, don’t you?

Then, use a fluffy eyeshadow brush (I use a MAC 227) and blend away in a semi-circular motion, even blending down to the top of your cheekbone.

A little blush, brown eyeliner (tightline & waterline) and mascara… and boomski!  Even, refreshed and 3-dimensional!

By the way, you should be able to click on any of these photos to look at them close-up.  (Triple gulp).

What do you think?

-x-

aarti

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