So the big night came and went, like a wave that reaches its crescendo, crashes down and washes back out to sea. Well – kind of. The thing with waves is that they all get lost in one big mass of water. The difference about the Stepping Out To Celebrate Life fashion show is that we truly made a difference. We got together as a bunch of breast cancer survivors and raised money to help others that will become survivors just like us and, also, hopefully to slowly help chip away at the number of people – women and men – who fall victim to this awful disease.
The runway experience was out of this world. From the camaraderie behind the scenes, to the way we were all transformed by the hair and make-up of those lovely Paul Mitchel girls, to the sick feeling in the pit of my stomach before going out in front of 500 people for the first time, to the euphoria that I felt as the show ended and the dancing began and that awesome feeling that we had all done something that would be with us forever (however long that might be), come what may.
We all received certificates of recognition for our contribution from the California State Senate. It reads “We applaud your generosity of spirit in raising money for support services for breast cancer survivors and we are in awe of your courage and grace in meeting the challenges of your own personal struggle with the disease. You are a model not only in the fashion show but to each of us in how to face adversity and celebrate life!”. Wow. If that isn’t a big kick up the bum to remind us to live for the day and to celebrate each and every moment, I’m not sure what is.
Days later the email chain is still rolling. We are all chatting, sharing photos and reveling in the moment. My Facebook page has never been quite so active and I giggle as I put up a pic of myself and Sammy Hagar on stage. Thank you Sammy for supporting the cause! The glamor – unfortunately – hasn’t lingered quite so long. My nail polish is slowly chipping (the perfect manicure was not meant to withstand tedious housework), my hair is back to its normal manelike untamed self (don’t get me wrong – I am very grateful for my hair, whatever challenges it presents) and my children are relieved that I am back to my normal self and that the lofty days of fashion show mania are over. Well, at least over for now – until next year, when I will definitely be there again, behind the scenes.
I go to see my breast surgeon and she hugs me warmly and tells me how proud she is of us all for putting on such a great event. I thank her for saving my life and allowing me to have been around to have the experience. I’m not sure I’ve ever thanked her for that before. It feels good to say the words. She replies and tells me that I saved my own life.
The day after the show, we head out onto the San Francisco Bay on a friends boat. The weather is glorious and we marvel at the view and tell ourselves how lucky we are to be living here. We really are!
I look at the same view from the opposite direction the following day, while I sit with my mum at Crissy Fields in her last few hours before she leaves sunny California and heads back to the UK. T proudly plays tour guide. Quite an impressive repertoire for a four year old. We head for a swim in the pool once we’ve dropped her off at the airport bus. It’s almost 100F and we are melting. Thank God for swimming pools!
M makes a spectacular paella that feeds us for a few days and provides a welcome respite from cooking food in this steaming heat. It not only looks, but also tastes phenomenal. This is how he makes it:
1 lbs boneless/skinless chicken breast (organic, hormone free)
1/2 lbs mussels (ensure they are fresh)
10 large prawns (sustainably farmed/wild)
5 x 32 floz Vegetable broth
1 red bell pepper (organic)
3 slicing tomatoes (ripe)
1/2 lbs green beans (organic fresh)
2 cup green peas (organic frozen)
1 large yellow onion (sliced)
1 14oz can of great northern beans
3 cups arborio rice (or brown rice if you prefer BUT will take twice as long to cook)
1 teaspoon saffron
4 cloves garlic (organic)
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon paprika powder
How to make it:
NOTE: Keep the broth heated on the stove during the cooking!
1. Cover your Paella dish (or a stainless steel frying pan if you don’t have a dish) with olive oil, add the onion and garlic.
2. Cut the chicken breast in 1 inch cubes and add to pan.
3. Once the chicken has been seared add the bell pepper, green peas, green beans, great northern beans and rosemary.
4. Once the chicken has a light brown texture add the rice and ensure you stir it properly, mixing all the ingredients in the pan.
5. Add the saffron and paprika powder.
6. Start gradually adding the broth and cook for approximately 30 minutes. It is crucial that you always ensure that there is enough broth in the pan so the rice cooks properly and does not burn.
7. After 20 minutes add the prawns and the mussels and let them cook in the dish for the remaining 10 mins, keep adding broth.
8. Dish is ready to serve, simply squeeze a lemon over the dish for that authentic Spanish flavor. (NOTE: Make sure you taste the rice to ensure it is cooked properly, different rice types require cooking time).
A great place to buy your paella dish is the Spanish Table.