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I am a group person. Let me just put that out there right up front. You may find it hard to believe but I was a very shy child. Not until fourth grade when I cracked a joke and most of the class laughed did I feel any level of confidence. Until that moment I was a loner, hiding behind Mama’s legs then using my baby sister as a shield.

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 In sixth grade Mama took us to Ala-teen, a support group for teenagers with alcoholic loved ones. I joined the theatre. When I moved to New York I joined a Buddhist cult – for only a day and half but I still joined! When I became a mom I joined La Leche League. When I wanted to lose weight I joined Weight Watchers.  I lead various breastfeeding support groups. I belong to the B & N 5 – a writing group.  

Last spring I was talking to my friend Amy, she and her husband own a fantastic café in the East Village , ciao for now. Amy and I often talk about parenting – we both have three children. I whined a bit about Phoebe graduating high school and starting her freshman year of college. We both welled up with tears lamenting the passing of time. I mentioned my changing body, peri-menopause, aging, all the changes we women experience. “We need a support group for that!” we nearly sang in unison. Amy immediately offered up her café  as a spot for our group. I let the idea simmer for a couple of days. I had also mentioned to the B & N 5 that I wanted to teach a writing class. An idea gelled. Writing Through Transitions! I search the web and found a woman on the west coast had written an e-book and was doing workshops by that name, so much for original ideas.

I bought and read her book. It was good but she is a therapist and her approach was different.

My background is more in peer-to-peer support.  My new group would be for women, we would talk and write about all of these changes, these transitions. I have creative strategies for managing the group and divining memories from the past while being able to express oneself and to be heard.  A few of us gathered last fall to workshop the idea at ciao for now. I saw what worked and what I needed to change. So now, beginning March 20 we launch the official Women Words & Transitions workshop at Lila Wellness.

If you are a woman of any age in or around New York City I hope you will consider joining me in this creative, self-exploration journey. You need not be a writer just a woman.  I can help you explore the many changes in your body, mind, relationships and more.

I plan to offer weekend long workshops for those who cannot commit to weekly meetings. Let me know if you are interested!

 

I love baking. It relaxes me. It chills me out.

I tried knitting. I would go to conferences and see the Zen aura haloing the knitting needled goddesses as the sticks gently clacked together as soft sweaters and scarves emerged. I tried it. It totally freaked me out! I wanted to scream. I wanted to impale those needles into the eyes of those sweater-making freaks. I could not sit still and make sure I counted those stitches and the rows. What if I fell short a stitch. I could not go back. If I unrolled it I would cry. Eventually my daughter finished the scarf I started years ago. She wrapped it up in beautiful Christmas wrap and placed it under the tree.

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So, I went back to the kitchen. Baking is honest, straightforward.  There are rules but they are bendable. There is creativity. Before I was a lactation consultant I had a little baking business called Leigh Anne’s Southern Sweet Tooth. I baked for a local café and I baked for a restaurant in SoHo. I also baked for private events including a couple of weddings.

About three years ago I discovered I was allergic to wheat! Yikes! I have toyed with gluten-free flours and flour-free baking. Some has been great while some has turned out disastrous.

Nonetheless I still bake with beautiful, silky, binding flour. Nothing holds a cake or cookies together the same as good old-fashioned wheat flour – not whole wheat, just regular flour. Go get some, run your hands through it. It is dreamy.

One of my popular cakes is my lemon cake. No one makes the way I do – until now. I am going to share this recipe. This is a dense, moist, sweet and tart cake.

Enjoy!

 

Leigh Anne’s Luscious Lemon Cake

 

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1 ½ cups sugar

4 eggs

1 cup vegetable oil

1 cup of fresh squeezed lemon juice (6-8 lemons)

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Zest of 2 lemons (some will be used for the frosting)

2 ½ cups flour

½ teaspoon salt

2 ¼ teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

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Preheat oven to 350. I like to put wax paper on my pans and use butter to prep the cake pans. I use two eight-inch pans.

 

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Beat together the eggs and sugar for 30 seconds.

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Add the remaining ingredients and beat on high for a minute and a half. Pour into the baking pans. Bake for about 20 minutes. Use a cake tester, knife or fork to test for doneness.

Let cool.

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Frosting:

1 box of confectioners sugar

1 block of cream cheese

1 stick of unsalted butter

Zest of one lemon

1 teaspoon vanilla

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Let the cream cheese reach room temperature, combine all the ingredients until smooth.

Frost the cake and enjoy!