Saturday, September 29, 2007

Let's Face It

As Rita Rudner says in this fabulous little book I bought today called "I'm too young to be this darn old"..."I don't plan to grow old gracefully. I plan to have face-lifts till my ears meet."

Well, I didn't have a face-lift radical surgery...but I did give my face a real lift...I went to have a facial...I had stalled long daughter had given me a gift certificate to the spa back in June...and I finally took the plunge...and it was so four month tension-filled face finally felt relaxed.

As I put on my towel wrap and prepared to slide under the warm covers on the massage table...I knew my 49 year old face was in for a treat...Donna, the facial therapist, put on soothing music and the scent of lavender filled the air...she examined my skin..."not too bad," she said, "but you have some breakout areas near your chin and around your mouth...are you having digestion problems?" she asked. (How could she tell from my face that I had irritable bowel was pure magic...she was a facial magician.)

"You should take acidophilus," she said, "to improve your flora and it will help that breakout area around your mouth and chin." (Imagine...from flora to face...and I thought it was the chocolate brownies I had eaten...or the other sweets I had consumed...when it really is the stress from my stomach that is causing my face to break out...I will have to keep eating my Activa yogurt that's supposed to fix my digestive woes...and then maybe my face will be fixed for good.)

Once Donna finished analyzing my face and dipensing flora advice...she moved on to exfoliate my skin, remove the impurities (as the brochure description said) and massage my face and neck...then there was the customized mask and treatment was simply face felt like I was 49 going on 40...not 49 going on 50.

"You should have monthly facials," said Donna, "It will make your skin glow and your makeup will go on more smoothly." That's all I needed and I was sold...when the going gets tough...I'm going to get glowing...I went straight to the register...paid my bill and did something I always say I'm going to do, but never do...I made my next monthly appointment for November...and I'm going to promise my 49 year old self not to cancel it...or not to forget about it either...I'm going to put my facial appointment on my big, bold letters..."Let's face it," I said to myself, "this 49 year old face has to keep glowing if it's going to look good when I'm 50."

And maybe next time I might even venture out and try another kind of facial...there are so many to choose from:

-the anti-aging hydration treatment...this is the one I want to try incorporates a collagen veil for moisture & collagen stimulation with a warm paraffin mask appled over it for maximum penetration and hydration (my face could definitely use some stimulation...maybe if it was stimulated the wrinkles would fade away.)

- the lifting, firming and tightening treatment...this one sounds good too...maybe this is the next one I want to's an intense facial that includes a medium retinal resurfacing treatment to soften facial expression lines. (I wonder what my face would look like if my facial expressions were softened?)

- Pumpkin Enzyme Peel...ooh, maybe I'll try this one next...wonder if they put pumpkin on your says that this natural fruit enzyme has a powerful antioxidant and rich source of beta carotene.(I've eaten pumpkin bread and pumpkin pie...but I've never put it on my face...but I'm adventurous in my old age...I'm ready to try it.)

Oh, I think I'll just try them all...there are 12 months in a year...I have plenty of time for more facials.


Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Letters Home

I was looking though some papers in my basement the other day and found my old letters from college...letters I had written about once a week...or once every two weeks...when I was in college in the 70s...odd to think that there was no internet did I exist...I actually wrote letters...there were all kinds of letters...each one more anxious than the next...each one with a sense of urgency to them..."you must read this," I would say to my mom, " I miss you."

I didn't really like myself in college...I was 20 pounds heavier than I am today...I had a tight perm and wore Qiana shirts (how did I let myself go out like that...were clingy Qiana shirts really glad the styles have more Qiana for me) college days were not filled with excitement...they were filled with work...hard work...I think about half the letters I read said "I'm leaving...I really wasn't meant to be at Cornell...I'm homesick...I want to go home...I'm lonely"...but my mother was right...I was a strong person...I stuck it out...I passed the test...and then it was 1979 and I was graduating.

There were letters on Snoopy stationery...and letters with Betsy Clark stationery...those were the Hallmark days...I was a big supporter of I'm more 49 I've become a member of the Papyrus card club.

Back in the 70s my letters home talked about my Wrangler jeans (did I really wear Wranglers?)...and my Dr. Scholl's clogs (I remember those hard wood clogs with the leather strap and adjustable buckle across the top of my foot...they were all the rage in the 70s)...and I wore Donnekenny tops and Aileen sportswear...I even wrote about those brands in my letters home...I was so devoted to my branded attire...just like my kids are to their Abercrombie and Fitch...I always wanted to be like Annie Hall...she was my American Idol.

February '76..."I like economics...we are learning a lot about consumer issues, such as boycotting meats and how to be a better consumer" (Didn't even remember I was an activist in my college days...didn't even remember that I took economics...but I'm glad I did.)

March '77..."Last weekend I finally had a date. I think I made history, thought that dates didn't exist anymore." (Guess there wasn't much of a dating scene in college...we didn't have Facebook to check our dates out in advance...not like today...not that any of my dates were memorable...glad I have these letters to help me remember.)

January '78..."Well, I got up to school okay, but I tell you it looks like I'm never going to get out until June when all the snow melts. It's been snowing non-stop since I got back. The streets and sidewalks can't be seen. I've never seen it this bad, you can't even see the mailbox, that's an example of how deep the snow is!"(No wonder I didn't like college...why didn't I pick a school in Florida...I should encourage my son to read these letters before he selects his college of choice.)

February '79..."I checked my transcripts and found my cum to be better than I thought. Overall, my average is a B- and my average in my major is a B...I was really happy...aren't you happy for me?...I start my disco dancing and clown workshop this week. I'm looking forward to it..."(And I thought I wasn't going to graduate...I did okay in college...and I even took disco dancing and learned to be a clown...glad I started to enjoy myself in my senior took four years to lighten me up...but I did it.)

Oh the lessons I learned in my college years...they've helped me through the past 25+ years...and will likely be with me the rest of my life...I learned to be be be able to count on myself and to never give up when the going gets stick it out.

Glad my mom saved my letters home...glad there weren't any cellphones...or I wouldn't have the memories from those letters home to read..with the Snoopy stationery...and the 13 cent stamps...and the saying on one of my handmade stationery papers that read "Remember --this is the first day of the rest of your life."


Sunday, September 23, 2007

Fall Fashion Trends to Lift My Spirits

Now that I have atoned all my sins for the Jewish year 5767...atoned all the extra shopping I did in 5767 instead of giving more to charity (I also gave a lot to charity...but I can always do more...and will in my fiftieth year...maybe a special donation for my fiftieth...will have to think about that idea further)...I'm ready to begin the new Jewish year 5768...ready to begin 5768...the year I will turn 50. It's only fitting that I get ready to dress the of course I had to check out what the fashions are for the fall...and think about how my soon to be fifty-something body will fit into them...according to Saks Fifth Avenue there are "Nine Trends for Her"...let's see what I'll have to add to my wardrobe:

- Shine (Yes, I want to shine in 5768 and in 2008...funny how my birthday is on the 8th, and both the Jewish year and the calendar year both end in "8"...I think this is my lucky lucky year to shine...I'm glad I bought that "shiny" red patent leather belt last week...I do love did make me shine when I wore made me smile...made me happy...I think I'll get some additional shiny items for my fall wardrobe.)

- Textured Cardigan (I do like sweaters...maybe I'll have to go to London or Ireland for my 50th birthday and buy a nice textured cardigan...or go back to Italy...and get some exquisite Italian cardigan to keep me matronly cardigan for me...I'm going to have a beautiful textured sweater...will definitely add this to my shopping list.)

- High Heel ( high heels for my 50 year old feet...what happened to the ballerina flats...they must have been on Nordstroms' list...or in Vogue, or InStyle...I know I saw ballerina flats on someone's fall list...that's what I'll be wearing...or my favorite kitten heels in shiny patent leather...still have to get those red patent leather shoes...I want to be Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz in her red shoes...I especially need my red patent to shine this year.)

- Cape (I don't think I want a Batman cape for me...I'll go to New York favorite city in 5768 and 2008...just not in a Gotham black cape.)

- Opaque Leg (Yes...I like see-through stockings for my spider-veins...maybe I will get a pair of interesting textured opaque stockings and a new form-fitted skirt to go with them.)

- Shoe Bootie (Not sure I'm up for booties...but will have to check them out...see if the heel is not too high...see what they look like with my new DKNY jeans...maybe I'll have to step out in new shoe booties for my special number "8" year)

- Cropped Jacket (Well...well, well, well...I tried one of these jackets on in the store the other day...actually...I tried two different jackets on...the first one looked quite cute on the hanger...but when I put it on my 5'3" body it looked like I was missing the other half of the jacket...wonder what someone 5'10" looks like in these just about fit over my looked like someone cut off the bottom half of the I tried another one on...a different style cropped jacket...I felt like Goldilocks...the same thing happened...only it was even shorter...think this is one fashion trend I am going to pass on.)

- Dramatic Lash (Love long dramatic lashes...if I would just get that laser eye surgery then I wouldn't have to wear glasses as much and you would see my dramatic lashes if I had some...will have to check out the beauty counter...although my eyes always get irritated from special mascaras...except for my Almay mascara...hope they have a dramatic lash variety.)

- Structured Handbag (I got it...I got it...I'm ready...I bought a beautiful fall structured handbag at my favorite crafts fair this summer. It was designed by Susy is going to be my lucky "8" bag...and it is structured...who knew I was buying a trendy bag...thank you Susy says on her website at bags have "colors and designs that lift up your spirits"...can't wait to use my new structured Susy bag to ensure my "spirits are lifted"...I definitely need my "spirits to be in high gear" this year.)

It's's 5768...soon it will be 2008...and I'm turning 50...and I have a structured Susy bag to "lift my spirits"...and a red patent belt to make me shine...let the new season begin!


Thursday, September 20, 2007

An Intermission from Life was not a good day...the stress is building up...or is it that my body is breaking down...let's say my mind, body, and soul are breaking's tough going through day after day of high stress situations...some today...I wish I could rewind my life...push the de-stress button and rewind my a time when my husband was not ill (My Soulmate - June 17) a time when I could go to work...come home...enjoy some blogging...or watch a chick flick...or my Audrey Hepburn collection...and relax.

Boy...has my life changed the past few months...yes, I've been playing super-woman...but today I had to hit the de-stress button......especially after I left the hospital where my husband was lying in pain (my father was right...when you have your are rich)...I felt like that movie Network...where Peter Finch screams out "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore"...I had to!

As luck would have it...I found my bottle of Kiss My Face Obsessively Natural Anti-Stress foaming bath and shower gel under my bathroom vanity...the bottle that a colleague had given me awhile ago...I read the back label.."Recuperate, revive, relax," it said...just what I needed...I read more...the words were music to my ears..."Let the warm, calming water drench your body. Sooth and calm your mind. Allow these time tested herbs to create a sense of composure, a feeling of peace and quietude within your being. Let them sooth your skin. Treat yourself to an 'intermission' from life. You'll be ready to face the world."

That's it...that's exactly what I needed..."an intermission from life"...I was ready to pour the entire bottle into my bathtub...who ever wrote those words must have been thinking of me...or maybe she had been through a lousy day like I had been through today (it had to be a 'she' 'he' would write those words...and I bet it was a peri-menopausal copywriter)...all it took was a capful of Anti-Stress...a capful in a warm bath and my 'intermission' was in high gear (wish I had the chocolate covered raisins that my colleague had given me along with the bath foam...but I had already eaten the entire container of chocolate covered raisins...they were all gone and there were no raisonettes around to take their place...note to some raisonettes to keep on hand for future 'intermissions').

After a half hour in the bath I was totally de-stressed...and then I put on some of my new Wexler Intensive Night Reversal and Repair Face Cream that I bought at Bath & Body Works...yes, tonight, even if my body was going to be moving forward with its aging process I was going to make sure my face would be moving in reverse...Patricia Wexler M.D. says in the brochure that "The best time for intense treatment is when the body is at rest and safe from daily stresses."

And as I settled down to finish my 'intermission from life,' I grabbed some Turkey Hill light ice cream with the chocolate covered pretzels to top off the night (yummy...almost as good as my missing chocolate covered raisins)...and I read the New York Times Obituary about Laurel Burch...(I know this sounds morbid...but sometimes I like to read the obituaries and read all about the lives of some fascinating people...people that sometimes I recognize)...Laurel Burch was an artist...I recognized her fanciful cat designs in the picture...but it was the last sentence in the obituary that struck me during my 'intermission' from was an American Indian proverb that Laurel Burch included in her last artworks:

"The soul would have no rainbow if the eyes had no tears."

A lovely closing act for my 'intermission"...thank you Laurel...your art lives on.


Sunday, September 16, 2007

From Thirtysomething to Fiftysomething

As I get ready to watch the Emmy Awards, I am reminded of my favorite television show from 20 years was called "Thirtysomething"...I loved that show...I so identified with that show in my was all about couples who were in their thirties...who had young kids...who were struggling with their careers, motherhood, and their life as baby boomers...just like I was in my thirties.

How did 20 years pass so is it that Hope, Melissa, Nancy and Ellen...are now in their fifties and I am approaching my 50th too?

And I just read that they are spokespeople for a new campaign called Keep Moving (, sponsored by the Arthritis Foundation and Tylenol. According to a feature in AARP magazine (yes, I'm still reading my husband's AARP's not MY magazine...YET...but...every so often there is a good article that gives me an advance of what I can expect when I'm 50+)...this campaign promotes the benefits of exercise and healthy eating for people suffering from knee or hip osteoarthritis (I think I have arthritis in my back...I remember a few years ago my doctor said that I had the beginnings of arthritis in my is not fun...and it's been aching lately...but...if my friends from "Thirtysomething" have arthritis...then I'm in good company.)

So, bag my arthritis for this evening...tonight is the Emmy third favorite awards show...after the Golden Globes and the Oscars...tonight I'm not going to worry about my arthritis...tonight I'm not going to identify with my former "Thirtysomething" crowd who are now fiftysomething...tonight I'm going to relate to my new TV friends...the younger crowd I now hang out with on weekend and weeknight evenings...the crowd from my favorite shows...from Grey's Anatomy (I'll keep dreaming of McDreamy)...from Desperate Housewives (love those suburban housewives)...from The Office (just like my office friends at work)...from Entourage (one day you guys will be 50+ too...but I'll be eightysomething then...ooh...that hurts)...from The Sopranos (Carmela looked great this past season - you go girl)...and from The Hills (the only reality show I watch besides occasionally watching American Idol).

It's September of my 49th's the Emmy Awards...I'm going to get to bed late tonight...better get my under-eye concealer ready for tomorrow's circles.


Thursday, September 13, 2007

Happy New Year

Just like the fall...I also look forward to the Jewish New is a time when I look back and look ahead...when I reflect on the year I've had...and the person I've been...and not been...I like the Jewish New Year because I can cast away all of my sins...all the bad stuff I've said...all the bad things I've done...and start fresh.

I enjoyed religious services today...renewing my felt so good...I always listen to the rabbi's sermon...this time it was a female rabbi...a newly ordained female rabbi...the entire service was led by females...what a change from when I was growing up...back in the '60s females weren't even allowed to sit in the same area of the temple as the men...not in the orthodox temple my family attended...I remember the could I forget them...we would walk with my dad to the temple...he would go to services...we would walk back...then we would enjoy apples and honey...and we lived right near the Bronx Botanical Gardens...and in the afternoon...after eating our apples and honey...and our challah...we would walk around the Gardens...then we would come home and have a big dinner...of brisket...and potato latkes...and plum cake...sweet plum cake that my mom would bake.

Now at 49, I have new son joined me today at son who knew all the Hebrew son who is now taller than me...just the two of us...we went to services...and we prayed...we prayed to stay healthy...we prayed that our family should be together next year...all together...and then we practiced our new ritual...we went to Wegman's grocery store...and bought all our prepared food for our New Year feast...roast turkey...and potato latkes...and broccoli and cauliflower with pinenuts...and a round challah...and together we enjoyed our new ritual until our tummies were filled to the brim...but after we finished...after we finished...we realized that our ritual was not complete.

"Where's the honey?" my son asked as we started to leave the table, "Did you forget the honey?"..."Oh, no," I said. "You are right, we must have honey...we must have honey because this must be a sweet year...yes...the Jewish Year 5768 must be sweet...I am turning 50...and I must have a sweet year," I added as I wrote H-O-N-E-Y on the top of my shopping list...honey it is...get those bees buzzing...we're going to have lots of sweetness this coming year...tomorrow we will have honey for our challah.

L'Shana Tova


Saturday, September 8, 2007

Come September

It's September 8th...could not let the 8th pass by without recording something...after is four months and counting from today that I turn 50...where did the other eight months is it the Fall already...I do like the Fall...there are always new beginnings in the Fall...I like new beginnings...even if it is not technically Fall on the calendar for a few more is Fall to me...once Labor Day Weekend has passed and the school buses are on the road again...I think about the Fall...

- Not that I am starting any would be nice to take some classes...I'd like to become a personal coach some day and take classes to learn how to become a coach...I've also always wanted to take a fabric draping class at The Moore College of Art (to learn how to drape fabrics...for the future...when I start sewing again)...maybe next year...although...actually I am starting classes...I'm starting the 12th grade...I do always feel like I experience school with my son...that's because I worry about all the work he has...especially when I read all the class syllabuses the evening of the first day of school...I don't remember ever receiving any class syllabuses when I went to school...things are different they need to stress the kids out starting the first day of school...and stress the parents out as well so we know what we have to look forward to all year long...I can tell I am not going to like 12th grade...just too stressful...however I noticed I will be reading Hamlet and Macbeth...I do like Shakespeare..."To Be Or Not To Be...that is the Question."

I know it isn't truly the Fall is still Summer for a few more months...but once school is in session I always think Fall...I enjoyed seeing all the kids walking to school the other day...walking with their big back-packs on their backs...step by step...just like I did 40+ years ago...when I walked in my new Buster-Brown Mary Janes to school and back home buses for me...we walked...I loved when my mom took me to buy my new school shoes...I couldn't wait to wear them on the first day.

- Fall fashions are all over the paper and magazines...I did read the 800+ page September issue of Vogue...and the hundreds of pages of the September issue of In Style...and the Fashions of the Times magazine...and the Philadelphia Inquirer special Fall Fashion supplement...just love to keep up with the Fall fashions...not sure what Fall fashions I will be able to wear...those new Fall 2007 Mary Janes are not like the ones I bought in the 1960s...the heels are too high for my 49 year old feet...but it is nice to see that patent leather is in style...just love patent leather shoes!)

- Fall makeup and nail polish - had to buy some of the new Russian shades of OPI nail polish...can't wait to put on my new nail colors for burgundy colors are my favorites...will have to catch up on the popular makeup colors for Fall 2007 too...will my 49 year old face be able to adjust to the new Fall colors...we will see...can I still get away with wearing MAC makeup for my 49th Fall...or should I start to make the switch now to a more mature makeup line like Estee Lauder or Elizabeth Arden...maybe I will just have to fall in step and have a Fall makeover...ooh la la.

- There are more new beginnings in the Fall...all the new Fall televisions shows will be starting soon...the Emmy Awards are in the Fall and the MTV Video Music Awards are in September (love those awards to watch all the celebrities and see what they are wearing...even after all these years...I'm still a celebrity junkie).

- And my hubby is moving in the Fall...he is moving to his next phase of his rehabilitation.(My Soulmate - June 17) a long-term care facility that will help him on his road to recovery...his journey to "get better" so he can give me all the hugs he owes me...hopefully in the Fall...not the Winter...that's too long to wait...I need a hug before my 50th birthday...four months from today...that's the goal post...and I'll be waiting...come September...come November...come's Fall and I'll be waiting.


Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Peri or Provence

Here goes my peri-menopause's acting up...and I don't like it...I was having such severe cramps again much so that I went to the doctor...just to check things out...didn't want to take a chance that I would have those cysts or fibroids I called my doctor.

Doctor C was great..."What are you here for?" he asked me this evening..."I'm having severe cramps," I said..."Oh, are you still having your period?" he said as he looked at my chart...he wasn't my regular gynecologist so he didn't know my history..." haven't had my period in over three months...but sometimes I still feel the symptoms...just like today...the bloating...the cramping...the anger," I said.

And as he examined me we started to chat..."What are you doing for your 50th birthday?" he asked me..."Actually, I'm blogging my way to 50," I said..." is that?" he asked..."It's like an on-line diary," I told him. "Oh, that's interesting," he said, "but are are you doing anything fun for your 50th...going anywhere special?"...."Yes, I am," I told him, "but I don't know where I'm going is definitely going to be somewhere special...really special...absolutely special."

And as he examined me I started to think about my list of special places...the absolutely...positively... wonderful and special places I would like to go for my birthday" head was filling with fabulous places...exciting places...I had just read the new Bon Appetit magazine(I always bring a magazine to the doctor's office...when they put me in the room and get me half undressed and make me wait for 30 minutes...even after I've pressed the button to let them know I'm ready...I need something to keep me occupied)... and there was a feature on the foods of Provence...tres bien...tres bien...I started to practice my French French that I haven't studied since high school.

Provence sounds like the perfect place to celebrate my least for hits all my criteria...good food...good wine...good scenery...haven't been there...right now it is on the top of my list...I am ready to book my ticket...not sure what the weather is like in Provence in January...will have to do some research...luckily I have four more months to plan...and my 50th will last all I can always pick the best month for rush...this is supposed to be a relaxing vacation...a special birthday vacation.

And then Dr. C finished examining me...back to reality..."nothing wrong...your ovaries are okay...your uterus too...your just's pretty common...take some ibuprofen," said Dr. C. And as he left the room...before he closed the door...he sighed and added, "Fifty isn't so's 55 that's the tough one...50 is easy."

Thank you Dr. C.


Sunday, September 2, 2007

Single in September

It's September...Labor Day Weekend...and I'm single in hubby is still in the hospital.(My Soulmate - June 17) daughter is back to son is off at the shore...and I'm in single-dom...Ms. Independent...haven't been this way in a long...long...long time...not sure I ever really was Ms. Independent...I've always had my parents...roommates...a husband...or kids around me...all my life.

"Sooooo....sooooo...what should I do now," I said to myself this afternoon. "Should I go shopping?"...I don't really feel like buying fall clothes yet..."Should I go to the gym?"...yep, yep, yep...better get back to building those muscles..."Should I go grocery shopping?"....yep, yep, yep...I went grocery shopping and filled up my shopping cart with so much food...why I don't know...especially since I am in single-dom for the next few days...but I'm not used to living in do singles live...I don't know.

It's lonely in single-dom...and quiet...I didn't like the I turned on Vivaldi's The Four Seasons...and since it is September...I played the end of the Summer Concerto and the Autumn Concerto too (it is my favorite but when I am in family-dom no one wants to listen to classical I don't get a chance to play it...I used to listen to Vivaldi all the time in my pre-family-dom started to bring back memories.)

Then I cooked...I actually followed a recipe, which I haven't done in months...maybe even years...I wrote down all the ingredients and I remembered to buy the ingredients at the store too...this was a big...big...big deal...only problem was I cooked for my family...but they weren't there...and I could not eat all four servings of my Dijon Chicken Mushroom Stroganoff...even though it was an old Weight Watchers recipe...and it was calibrated for a lower calorie and lower fat meal...I don't think it was meant for one person to eat all four chicken cutlets and four cups of yolk-free noodles and a half-pound of I ate two portions (I could not just eat one...I pretended that I was eating for I ate both portions to ensure that I would not go hungry)...and I packed the extra two servings away for another day.

Then I baked...I followed another recipe...this one was was one of my favorite cakes from The Cake Mix Doctor...I love the Cake Mix Doctor...her cakes are made from a cake mix...but you add so many things to the cake mix that the cake mix cake doesn't taste like a cake made from a cake mix...and the recipes are easy.

I baked a large Banana cake with some of the three pounds of bananas I bought at the discount produce store...not sure what I'm going to do with the rest of the bananas...this cake will last me a long time in single-dom...even in double-dom when my son returns this week...I only ate one slice...was just too full from my double portion of Chicken Mushroom I put the rest of the cake away...the whole cake...minus one corner piece...some pieces went in the freezer...and I packed up a basket of pieces for the nurses that are helping my hubby to get get better so I won't be in single-dom come next September.

I ended the day with a glass of favorite Yellow Tail Pino Grigio...the fruity white wine I like...and I drank two glasses...and I raised a toast to myself...I survived my 49th was over...never to re-live again...onward and upward...I raised a glass...four months and counting...and I'll be the big 5-0.


P.S. - If you are ever single in September and have the urge to bake...this banana cake is really good...good for family-dom...or Ms. Independents who like to have a lot of cake around. Thought I would share the recipe adapted from "The Cake Mix Doctor" by Anne Byrn (Workman, 1999). It takes about 1 hour total to prep and bake:

Banana Cake

Solid vegetable shortening
1 package (18 1/4 ounces) plain yellow cake mix
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 ripe bananas, mashed (about 1 cup)
1 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons creme de banane liqueur (I never use this ingredient and it still tastes great)

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 13x9 inch baking pan with shortening, and dust with flour. Shake out excess flour.
2. Place cake mix, brown sugar and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl. Add mashed bananas, 1 cup water, oil, eggs and, if desired liqueur. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed 1 minute. Stop mixer and scrape down side of bowl with rubber spatula. Beat 2 minutes at medium speed until well blended, scraping side again, if needed. Pour into prepared pan, and place on center rack of oven.
3. Bake until top is lightly browned and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.

Yield: 16 servings

Banana Cream Cheese Frosting (I don't always make this frosting...but it is very, very good with the cake...I didn't write down the ingredients on my shopping list my 49 year old brain forgot to get the ingredients for the frosting!)

4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, at room temperature
1 3/4 cups confectioners sugar
3 to 4 drops LorAnn banana creme flavor or 1/2 teaspoon imitation banana

1. Place cream cheese and butter in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed until combined. Add confectioners sugar a bit at a time, and blend on low speed until well incorporated, 1 minute. Add flavoring, and blend at medium speed until fluffy, 1 minute more.

2. Use at once to frost top of cake.

Yield: 1 1/2 cups