Of Masks and Men

Fashion Statements

I asked my friend Martha, who is a social Cuban butterfly, how she was holding up in the pandemic.

“Oh, I change from one mumu to another every day,” she said.

She really misses having dinner parties, socializing, going shopping and out to lunch.

Martha is kind of famous for her mumus, which are not actually mumus, but Mexican embroidered, cotton dresses. If she invites us to dinner and says “I’m in my mumu,” we know she’ll greet us barefoot and dinner will be a casual affair, around the kitchen table.

When I mentioned getting a mumu like Martha’s to Zeke a while ago, he was firmly against it. He thought it would be an indication I’d given up on life. Now, however, I asked how he would feel if I ordered a Mexican mumu and he said “At least I’ll know you’ve changed out of your pajamas.”

Because, even though last week I actually changed out of yoga clothes into dresses a couple times, this week I regressed, staying in my pajamas for more than the morning. It’s interesting to see how people are dressing during the stay-at-home coronavirus scare.

Chrissy Teigen said on Ellen, she’s in her element because she likes to lounge around in robes during normal circumstances. She has a wide variety of robes, acquired from all over, from vintage, to sexy and flirty; Stay at Home orders are the perfect opportunity to showcase them. The Pioneer Woman, who I watched yesterday, wore a kimono over a black top. I like kimonos, but certainly don’t think they’re the most practical thing to cook in, given the drapey sleeves. I can just see one landing in my pancake batter or being set aflame from the stove.

And some women are apparently going braless during this time of social isolation. This was actually an article in The Miami Herald last week. That is how desperate the situation is getting. The only news in the paper is coronavirus-related, even fashion wise (or lack thereof).

There was a segment on CBS Sunday Morning about a woman who went through her closet, trying on clothes that reminded her of happy occasions. She then took selfies and posted them to Instagram. She said it made her feel so much better about life. This sounds like the worst kind of torture to me. I HATE trying on clothes, even ones that remind me of happy occasions. And I’m sure a lot of them wouldn’t even fit me right now.

And there’s also the pillowcase challenge, where people are strapping a pillow to themselves with a belt, and taking selfies. Halle Berry rocked this look, looking like an Audrey Hepburn Breakfast at Tiffanys diva, but she could look good wearing a paper bag. I’m not jumping on this craze anytime soon; Lately, I just need a small pillow to scream into on occasion.

Every Day is a Bad hair Day

Everyone seems concerned with their hair these days, and what to do about it. I have a friend who had her hairstylist come to her house and color and cut her hair and also, the rest of the family. My friend Ellen attempting to cut what she calls her “tri-color” hair. She confessed it turned out lopsided. Our friend Sherida said she cut her own bangs and her boyfriend’s hair, but this is something she did before the pandemic. So, if you have those skills, go for it but I will not attempt to cut my own hair, nor any of my loved ones. For this, they should be thankful.

My hair is getting darker by the day, so I broke down and ordered a tip kit on Amazon, although It hasn’t come yet. I haven’t been a natural blonde since I was about 15, but when my hair gets dark I just don’t feel like myself. Luckily (I think) some of my hair is growing in grey so it doesn’t look as dark as usual. Come to think of it, my hair is tri-colored too with: my natural (dark) roots, highlighted ends and encroaching grey strands at the temples.

In the last six weeks, I’ve given myself two mani-pedis and endless facial masks. My nails never turn out as good when I do it myself (they always get messed up) and of course, I don’t have a massage chair, which is the best part of getting a mani-pedi. I have a friend who has her Nail Lady come to her house and I’m thinking that my friends who have Hairstylist/Nail Techs/Masseuses come to their house are on to something. Import your staff and be an island unto yourself.

I’m hoping my housekeeper will consider coming back soon. While the girls originally, in optimistic first days of the outbreak, were pretty good about picking up after themselves in the kitchen, these days there are countless cookie sheets, dishes, glasses and silverware collecting on the counter and in the sink. I finally left a note informing them to clean after themselves and that “Isa is not here.”

It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to

Emma was supposed to graduate from F.S.U. last Saturday. They did a Virtual Graduation at 2 p.m., but did not call individual names, as there were too many students. What normally stretches over two days, with two ceremonies a day, was condensed into one ceremony. I’m not sure who would want to watch a Virtual Graduation, especially without hearing the student’s name being called. The commencement addresses are usually something you suffer through to see your child cross the stage and grab their hard-earned (and expensive) diploma. Watching the ceremony, without that payoff in the end, seems pointless.

We did have a graduation dinner for Emma on Wednesday. She wanted stone crabs and, as luck would have it, my brother-in-law called to see if we wanted some Sunday. The only catch was, they were selling them in 10 pound portions, so we took 10 pounds and made three meals and a dip with them. Commercial fisherman who used to sell their stone crabs to hotels and restaurants have been left with a lot of inventory and no one to buy it. Stone Crab season ends May 15th.

The graduation dinner consisted of: cracked stone crabs with mustard sauce and butter, Joe’s tomatoes, Cole slaw, hash browns and pecan pie for dessert (Emma’s request). Zeke also made his famous tuna nachos as an appetizer to go with the celebratory champagne.

Since I had so many stone crabs, I made Crab Toast on Tuesday, a NYT recipe from Gabrielle Hamilton, chef and owner of Prune. It was delicious (even though I messed up the recipe). I served it with asparagus soup, topped with crispy prosciutto, making a perfect Spring meal. My favorite meal all week was a Stone Crab Roll I came up with, since I had leftover stone crab meat and a mayo, butter sauce. I served it on a butter-toasted hamburger bun (I had no hot dog buns) with shredded lettuce and a thin slice of beefsteak tomato. It was heavenly. The buttery crunch of the bread with the creamy, succulent crab meat, fresh snap of the lettuce and sweetness of the tomato, made it a memorable sandwich.

Zeke cooked on Sunday. I made a super easy 2-ingredient dip with chipotle in adobo and cashews; I served it with pita chips, cooked in the oven, for an appetizer. We sipped wine as Zeke grilled steaks on his charcoal grill. He made a delicious, perfectly cooked steak, with Gorgonzola cheese, a shallot, balsamic vinegar sauce, baked potatoes, salad and a baguette. Dessert was ice cream with a caramel fig sauce and a pita chip garnish.

Since I ordered seven heads of garlic on mistake, I made Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic for Monday’s meal, a delicious James Beard recipe. I served it with mashed potatoes, Brussel Sprouts and, of course, hot crusty bread to dip into the jus and spread the roasted garlic on. A tip: Farm Stores sells delicious freshly baked bread and it will save you a trip to the germy grocery store.

Start me Up…

I was very excited when I picked up some sourdough starter from a friend’s house, but when I asked for instructions on what to do with it, she told me to “Feed it three days every 12 hours, then once a week. Feed it an hour before you use it.” I wasn’t sure if I had sourdough starter on my hands or a demanding tamagotchi. I haven’t made any bread with it yet, but it’s on my list of future projects.

Probably the most exciting news this week is our tenants in our Key Largo condo finally left Friday, clearing the decks for us to reclaim “our little slice of Paradise”. Joy turned to dismay when we discovered several treasured items that their dog destroyed. There was also dog hair all over the couch and easy chair, which sent Zeke into a sneezing fit. I don’t think we’ll ever rent again. Lesson learned.

People in the Keys (and only Key’s residents can be down here now) don’t seem as vigilant about following rules for the coronavirus as in Miami. Publix on Saturday was packed with people, many without masks and not following the arrows indicating direction down the aisles. The cashiers and bag boys, did have masks, however. People walking down the street, for the most part, aren’t wearing masks.

“Maybe because there are so few cases?” I speculated to my sister Kelley, who’s been stuck at home by herself since this whole thing started.

“Or maybe because it’s the Keys, and people in the Keys don’t like to follow rules,” she said.

Zeke ordered me a cute face covering from the Florida Keys Brewing Company, one of our favored establishments. You wear it around your neck when not in use, then pull it up over mouth and nose when needed. It’s pretty neat. I have to admit, I’ve had a hard time with this mask thing. My sister Kelley gave me a mask she made, but it was a little large and gaped at my chin. I made my own mask with a bandana, but it’s so thick it practically suffocates me when I use it. My latest option, seems the best, although I discovered it doesn’t work with ponytails.

After unpacking stuff we brought down, having to call a locksmith to get into our owner’s closet (I packed the key IN the owner’s closet) and unpacking the boxes from the owner’s closet, we were too tired to cook so ordered Thai food from The Key Thai and Sushi. We got Spring Rolls, a Spicy Tuna Roll, Drunken Noodles and Red Curry with Pork and Rice. With a nice glass of Josh Sauvignon Blanc, it really hit the spot. I love The Key Thai and Sushi restaurant, located in a strip mall near a Dollar Store, and it’s a stone’s throw from our condo, making it super convenient.

Saturday night was Surf ‘N Turf, with grilled shrimp, coffee-rubbed filet mignons, a delicious Caesar salad, baked potatoes and mushrooms cooked with red wine. We used bamboo skewers, soaked in water, to grill the shrimp and we used two, so the shrimp didn’t curl up. Quite yummy and then we went down to the Chickee Hut (which Wyatt used to call the chicken hut) to have a glass of wine and watch the sunset with fellow condo owners. Again, no one had masks on.

Zeke’s returned to Miami, since the girls accused us of bailing on them and he has work. He will now be the chief cook and bottle washer at home, while I relax in my little slice of paradise. “Alone, alone, alone!” as Dorothy told Jerry McGuire. And some restaurants in the Keys are opening for business, starting today. So that first restaurant meal I dreamed of, on the water, with a seafood dinner and the perfect margarita, may be eaten by myself.

Sunset in the Keys.

Up Next: Easy Cinco de Mayo Meal with the Perfect Margarita, How to Grocery Shop Safely and What to do with Ten Pounds of Stone Crabs.

Published by gleeguilford

Born and raised in Miami, the daughter of a pilot and stay-at-home Mom, I love food in all forms. My great grandfather opened the first Italian restaurant in Miami in the 20's, The Boathouse on the Miami river. I love exploring my heritage and linking food and recipes to personal stories. I've been published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Food and Love and wrote restaurant reviews and news as the Miami Dining Examiner for three years. I love exploring Miami's latest hot spots, hole in the walls and institutions. I'm always looking for innovative ways to use the plethora of tropical fruits and vegetables South Florida offers, especially from my own garden.

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