Seriously. Forty years old, she decides to learn to cook. Just for the heck of it. And she does it so well that her name is now practically synonymous with cooking. She was incredible.
And one of the greatest bits of wisdom I've gleaned from her is not how to cook sole meuniere (which I've honestly never even tried to do), but this: never apologize, never explain.
“I don't believe in twisting yourself into knots of excuses and explanations over the food you make. When one's hostess starts in with self-deprecations such as 'Oh, I don't know how to cook...,' or 'Poor little me...,' or 'This may taste awful...,' it is so dreadful to have to reassure her that everything is delicious and fine, whether it is or not.
Besides, such admissions only draw attention to one's shortcomings (or self-perceived shortcomings), and make the other person think, 'Yes, you're right, this really is an awful meal!' Maybe the cat has fallen into the stew, or the lettuce has frozen, or the cake has collapsed -- eh bien, tant pis! Usually one's cooking is better than one thinks it is. And if the food is truly vile, as my ersatz eggs Florentine surely were, then the cook must simply grit her teeth and bear it with a smile -- and learn from her mistakes.”
I have to think she would approve of me extending this principle to my quilting. I learn a little more every time, but the truth is, the vision in my head never matches what my hands are capable of creating.
Nonetheless, I press onward, knowing that little babies don't care about perfectly squared up blocks or wonky patches. Never apologize, never explain--just keep sewing and making for these little ones coming into the world.