Life

Cooking Tips from a Mediocre Chef

If I told you a few years ago that I wanted to cook you dinner, you’d think one of three things: 1. OMG I hope this idiot doesn’t burn the house down. 2. Let me put the pizza delivery guy on speed dial now. 3. I better not get food poisoning. In many cases, you’d usually think all three.

I was never as bad as the gif above. My family can make all the jokes they want, I never set the house on fire. (I did set the alarm this Easter for burning bacon in the oven but that was more the pans fault than mine.) But I was pretty bad. Thankfully, over the years I’ve gotten a lot more comfortable in the kitchen.

Now when I tell someone I’m going to cook for them, they usually think, “ok cool, there’s a chance this meal won’t be terrible and if I’m lucky and she’s on her game, it’ll actually be really tasty.”

The list of things I can make comfortably grows everyday (mashed potatoes, buttercream frosting, homemade cake, tacos, roasted veggies, and more). At a certain point, I realized that cooking is a necessity. I can’t rely on someone else to cook for me all the time and ordering from seamless is an expense I just do not need.

I have an oven, I have a fridge. I should be able to make things on my own. It didn’t come easy and there were plenty of mishaps along the way. This weekend I’m attempting bread for the first time so the list of mishaps will continue to grow. But I have gotten a lot better so I’d like to share some tips for a person afraid of the kitchen but who wants to get started.

  1. Start small. You’re not going to step into the kitchen and create a meal that Gordon Ramsay will love. That dude is picky so it ain’t going to happen. Try baking some chicken with roasted veggies and/or potatoes. This is a relatively easy meal that you can play around with. Choose different seasonings and sauces. Roast different vegetables. The possibilities are endless.
  2. Cooking is an art, baking is a science. When cooking something, it’s OK to tweak the recipe a bit. You can switch up spices. You can add a little less or a little more of something. However, this is not so easy with baking. Decide to decrease the amount of baking soda and there’s a good chance you’ll wind up with a lifeless cake. Wait till you’re really comfortable with baking before you start playing around with the recipe.
  3. The more you cook, the cheaper it will become. For awhile, I never cooked unless it was a special occasion. If I was going to a girl’s night, I’d decide to bake some cookies or bring some mac and cheese. Since this was the only time I cooked, I’d have to buy every single ingredient on the recipe list. As you start cooking, you’ll notice that there are plenty of staples found in many recipes. Once you buy these, they should last for several different recipes.
  4. You are enough to cook for. I love cooking for people. Cooking for people is fun. I love seeing the reactions of people when they enjoy what I’ve made. I also like getting critiqued on ways I could have made the meal better. However, you don’t always need an audience to whip up a yummy meal. I struggle with this a lot because I tend to only cook when my BF is going to be over. Don’t be like that. You deserve a home cooked meal even if it’s just a table of one.
  5. Take advantage of your freezer. Now here’s the downside of cooking for yourself or a small audience: Leftovers. Leftovers can be good for lunch the next day, but what if it’s just too much? Well, you’d be surprised at how many things you can freeze. I made a cake the other day and had way too much icing leftover. I packed it in an airtight container and put that bad boy in the freezer. Now, next time I make cake, I already have icing prepared.
  6. Freezers are also great for meal prepping. Cooking everyday can get tiring. No matter how much I enjoy it, sometimes I just want to come home and plop in front of the TV without touching the oven. That’s why I started making certain things in bulk. Soup freezes very well. I also usually make 2-3 batches of banana muffins at a time to freeze for later use. Instant breakfast on-the-go. Also, drop some chicken breast with salsa in the crockpot for a few hours and you can turn that into chicken avocado burritos for later use. Easy for lunch or dinner.
  7. Do not get discouraged! This is the biggest one of all. I have had so many mishaps in the kitchen. They are bound to happen. You will make meals that even your dog won’t eat. Don’t give up. The more you cook, the better you’ll become.
  8. Have fun! While 7 is the biggest thing, this is the most important. Cooking should be fun, almost as fun as the eating part.

Happy Cooking!

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Reasons for Blogging

OMG you guys, guess what?! This post is number 100! Considering that I’ve been blogging since April of 2014 (over 1100 days), I shouldn’t be too proud of that number. But Goddamit, let me have this!

It’s been quite the journey. 33,415 views. 21,935 visitors. 2,365 comments. 2,304 followers. 100 posts.

You guys have been with me through a lot. Multiple dates. Endless heartaches. Moving struggles. Falling in love with someone new. Going back to school. Starting a new job. Struggling, figuring it out, and then struggling again with this whole adult thing.

When I started, I assumed my sisters would read it, a few of my friends I harassed, maybe my mom. I never imagined I’d actually make friends from blogging and connect with so many different people.

I want to thank every single person who took the time out to visit, share, like, or comment. You have no idea how much it means to me.

You guys allow me to keep this little diary running. And that’s really all my blog is: a personal diary that I’ve decided to share with the world. I can look back at posts and remember exactly what I was going through during that period. As someone who stopped keeping an actual diary at the age of 8, it’s a really great thing to have.

For my 100th post, I’d like to look back at some of my favorite posts. (Is that lazy? It may be a little lazy but this is my blog so I’ll do what I want. I promise I’ll try to make it interesting.) I wanna look back at my favorite posts and relive how things were then. Recognize how much has changed and how in many cases things are still exactly the same.

Am I too young to be so bitter? – While this isn’t my first post ever, I feel like this is the one that started it all. With 588 likes and 369 comments, it is by far my most popular. This post makes me laugh now because I’m complaining about student debt and just a few months later I went back to school and doubled the amount I owe.

Questions I ask myself regularly since becoming an “adult” – Guess what? These are still questions I ask myself regularly. Anyone have the answers?

Returning to school after a long break – Ah, returning back to school. At this point, it seems like a lifetime ago. But I remember how stressful and overwhelmed I felt. It was basically an entire year and a half of wanting to drown myself in bleach.

Getting in a new relationship after being single forever – The introduction to JR. This was a post I was so nervous to write because writing about it made it real. But I am glad I finally did. My relationship with JR is such a special part of my life and I loved sharing some of it with you.

A letter to my 20-year-old self – I went into my 20s with so many expectations. And so many of those expectations did not happen. However, by the time I turned 30, most of those expectations and goals I had did not matter. I entered my 30s with a whole new vision for my life which I’m sure reality is ready to laugh at. I’m sure the letter to my 30-year-old self will be filled with the list of things that did not go the way I planned.

10 life lessons for people in their twenties – Late twenties, early thirties, teens, nineties. I don’t think there is any age limit for these lessons.

Dating shouldn’t be this exhausting – This post was written when I was ready to give up on dating. It was right after things ended with this guy I was dating. It was less than two months before my first date with JR. Boy am I glad I did not give up when I wanted to.

Dating advice from someone who is horrible at it – The funny thing about this post is that it came just 10 days before the “dating is exhausting” post. I wasn’t kidding when I said I’m horrible. But as sucky as I am at dating, I do think I give some pretty good advice. There’s a reason friends come to me when they’re having problems.

Facebook when you first joined versus now – This post was a shameless plug. And now I’m including it as a shameless plug. (My blog, my rules.) Follow me on Facebook!

Twenty-nine is a very strange age – Twenty-nine was a really confusing age for me. I found my late twenties to be even more confusing than my earlier ones. Twenty-nine was a rough age and this post was my attempt at putting it into words.

Confession: I am a Fraud

On May 1st, I started a new job. I am still a librarian and I still work for the same system, but I got a new title and began working at a different branch.

My new title is Library Information Supervisor. It’s a mouthful but it loosely translates to Assistant Manager of the branch. When the manager isn’t in, I’m the boss. That’s right, someone actually made me in charge of something.

It’s been quite the adjustment. I’m someone who still feels like they’re playing dress up when wearing my interview clothes. A blazer and heels doesn’t feel natural. So starting a job where my title is supervisor has made me feel like a complete and utter fraud.

There have been several occasions at work that have made me want to run away or scream “Don’t come to me. I have no idea what I’m doing.”

  • Anytime someone asks me if they can take a break, I get confused. “Why are you asking me? I don’t care if you take a break.” Then I remember, “Right! They have to ask me cause I’m in charge.” The answer to their break question is always yes.
  • Being a boss bitch is not in my future. I cannot just tell people to do something. I have to always add a “please”  or  “when you get the chance.” I also cannot say no when I’m asked a favor.
  • But I do think I can handle being a boss baby. A boss bitch is in control all the time. She knows what she wants and she goes for it. I imagine a boss baby is a much more tame version of this. I have an idea of what I want and I’m willing to do some things for it. Just do not ask me to ever fire anyone. If I’m responsible for firing, then employees are working for the company for life.
  • Reprimanding someone is almost as bad as being reprimanded. Twice I had to have someone step into my office because we needed to talk. (My office means the real boss’s office because all I have is my own desk.) Having to do this filled me with so much anxiety. Please everyone do your job so I never have to have these conversations. They’re uncomfortable for you. They’re painful for me. No one wins!
  • Patrons suddenly listen to me. Prior to my promotion, patrons never believed I knew what I was talking about.  “What do you mean there are fines for late books at the library? I’ve never heard of such a thing. Let me speak to a manager.” Now when a patron says this, I’m the manager they speak to. There’s something about being summoned by phone to come speak to a patron that gives you an aura of authority. Most of the time I’m just repeating what has already been told to them but NOW they actually listen to me.
  • You cannot hide as easily when you’re a supervisor. I’m not lazy and I do like my job but I will be the first to admit that I like to slack off. I always get my work done on time but there’s a lot of browsing the internet in between. Spending time taking a quiz to determine what  pastry I am (thanks Buzzfeed) was totally fine in my previous position. Between patrons complaining and employees asking to take breaks, I cannot get away with it as easily now.
  • Every week gets a little more comfortable. When I first started my position, I came home every night on the verge of tears. I felt completely overwhelmed and out of my element. Now, the verge of tears happens only every other week. (Progress!) There are some days where I even feel like I know what I’m doing. And when I don’t, there’s always faking it!

Being the Bigger Person Sucks

Image result for i wish i could punch you gif

*Full disclosure:  This is going to be a long winded post full of angry complaints.

Back in March, I moved out of my apartment into a new one. Moving can be incredibly stressful. I wasn’t looking forward to moving yet again. But I knew it would be worth it. My older sister recently bought a home that came equipped with a one bedroom apartment on the second floor. The new place would be brighter than my old apartment, cheaper, and I’d be practically living with my sister and my adorable nephews.

And best of all, I’d be escaping my dreadful old apartment.  This apartment was a disaster in so many ways. It was a side apartment in a home, so I was renting from the family who owned the home. From the family to the conditions of the apartment when I moved in, I never had an actual moment of peace in my old apartment.

I briefly mentioned this in a previous post about moving and making horrible choices. When I first moved into the apartment, it was insanely dirty. I had to spend a good week scrubbing the place for hours after work each night before I was able to move in comfortably.

So I started off in my apartment with a bad taste in my mouth, and things just got worse from there. The wife in this family was a monster. Thankfully, I never experienced her wrath personally, but it didn’t mean I was immune to it. I would wake up at all hours of the night to the wife screaming uncontrollably to her husband. The screaming did not stop during the day. During the day, it was directed towards her kids and then her husband some more when he would come home from work. The only time I had peace in my apartment was when the owners were on vacation.

Then there were the bugs! One fateful summer night, I noticed a flying ant on the wall of my bedroom. I freaked out a little, killed it immediately, but thought nothing of it. It was the summer. Bugs finding their way into the home is inevitable. Then around midnight, I went to the bathroom. When I came back, I saw a few more flying ants. Then I noticed a scratching noise by the window. I pulled aside my curtains and saw a swarm of flying ants right outside my bedroom window.

I packed a bag and fled my apartment as fast I could. Now my landlords are pretty horrible people but thankfully they have their limits. As soon as they knew of the problem, it was handled. However, it doesn’t change the fact that I had to flee my apartment in the middle of the night. I was also incredibly understanding about the whole situation and didn’t demand a thing from my landlords. (Knowing what I know now, I should have refused to pay half month’s rent.)

With all the above being said, it’s no surprise that I was beyond happy to be changing my living situation. Little did I know this was just the beginning of my problems.

My landlords were supposed to mail me my security deposit after I moved out. Three weeks pass and still no check in the mail. After spending an entire weekend attempting to reach my landlords, I finally get a text back that it’s in the mail and should arrive shortly. Another week passes and still no check. After talking with my landlord again, it’s determined that the check must be “lost” in the mail (AKA it was never mailed out). She told me she’d leave it in the mailbox for me to pick up later that day.

Thankfully when I arrived at the mailbox, the check was there ($200 less than what it should have been), and it was accompanied with a letter. A poorly written letter filled with lies.

My lovely landlord determined that I caused thousands of dollars worth of damage, but out of the kindness of her heart she only deducted $200 from my security deposit to be fair.  (I recognized the $200 deduction for what it was: it was just the right amount to sting but not enough for me to really cause trouble over.)

Spoiler: I did not cause thousands of dollars in damage. If anything, I left that apartment in better condition because it was actually clean.

The best part is that my former landlord claimed the apartment smelled of cigarette smoke. Aside from the two puffs I had in the 6th grade to look cool, I have never smoked a cigarette in my life.

When I first got the letter, I was livid. After ranting and raving to my sister, bf and anyone else who would listen, I sat down at my computer to write my own letter. This letter let my landlord know what I felt about her grammatically-challenged letter and how living under her household for the past year crushed my soul.

I basically let her know all the ways I thought she was a horrible human being.

I never sent the letter. I wanted to. And sometimes I still do. But I recognize there isn’t much of a point. One of three things will happen:

1. It gets lost in the mail. If this happens, I’ll never actually know if it was received. There is no satisfaction in this scenario.
2. She gets the letter, reads it, doesn’t recognize her horrible traits laid out for her, assumes I’m just bitter, and throws the letter away. Once again, this scenario brings me no satisfaction.
3. She gets the letter and immediately becomes as irate as I did when I received my letter. She decides to contact me to retaliate for my letter. This scenario just brings me headache and drama.

So I left the letter sitting in my drafts untouched. I decided to be the bigger person, but it doesn’t feel good. There is a huge part of me that still wants to give her a piece of my mind.

If I ever run into her, I can’t promise my bigger person stance will last. That will probably result in a whole new post.

Stay tuned!

Things I’ve Come to Terms with at 31

I turned 31 a few weeks ago. For the most part I have come to terms with my “old age.” The number is just going to get higher so I should stop fighting it. I did have a very small breakdown about officially being in my thirties but overall I dealt with it. Entering a new decade has definitely had its perks.

Your twenties are all about trying out new things and finding out who you are as a person. Want to move to a different place every year? That’s what your twenties are for.

Your thirties are a lot more mellow. Don’t get me wrong. I still want to try new things. There are plenty of places I still want to visit. Hobbies I still want to pickup. Books I eventually want to write. But my thirties have definitely shown me that there are quite a few things in my life that are set. I plan on spending my thirties embracing the little things that make me who I am and stop trying to change them.

Staying up all night will never happen again. This one makes me a little sad. When I was younger, “breaking night” while having a sleepover was one of my favorite things to do. Now, the idea of staying awake the entire night is torturous. A sunrise is a sunrise. I don’t need to see it. Let me sleep.

I will never dance well. This always used to be something I was embarrassed of: my horrendous dancing skills. Sadly, I was never blessed with rhythm but I am done fighting it. Next dance party I attend, I’m letting my inner-Elaine run free without any fear of judgment.

Being sexy will never come natural to me. This isn’t a self-deprecating comment. I am not saying that I’m never sexy. My boyfriend thinks I’m sexy. However, if I actively try to be sexy, I have the opposite effect. A striptease from me is a ball of awkward and will most likely end with me somehow getting stuck in my lingerie in a fit of laughter.

I will never enjoy exercising or eating healthy. I am still going to do it. Since I’ve gotten older, I’ve become more and more concerned about exercising and eating healthy. I’ll continue to give these things a chance for health reasons and all that nonsense, but I’m not going to like it. My couch will always be more appealing than the gym. I’ll always love cupcakes more than kale.

Being a millionaire is not in the cards for me. Why did we think we would be rich when we were younger? I considered having a nice car and my own home by the time I was thirty inevitable. Getting rich seemed like it was an attainable goal back in the days. Boy was I wrong. Now I just want to make enough money so I won’t have to work until I’m 80-years-old. The new American dream!

A day at Bed Bath and Beyond is now my favorite way to splurge. Partying it up all night at the latest club? No thanks, my apartment has $10 bottles of wine and Netflix. Dining out at that hot new restaurant? I’ll take my own cooked meal and sweatpants. Do you want these 20% off coupons at Bed Bath and Beyond? OMG yes! Clear my schedule. I need to spend the next several hours buying gadgets for my apartment. This toilet seat easily removes to make cleaning a breeze! (This toilet seat is a real thing and I absolutely love it.)

A feeling of impending death will always overcome me after a night of heavy drinking. My body can still handle a glass or two or three of wine at night to unwind. I can wake up from this ready to start my day. However, bring in the hard liquor and shots and all hell breaks loose. I can kiss productivity out the door for the next two to three days. That is how much time I’ll need to recover.

I’ll never pick up and move to a new place without a set plan. When I was in my twenties, I always entertained the idea of picking up and moving to another place. I still like this idea but it is a lot more reasonable. I would like to leave New York one day but not before I have a job secured somewhere. I have become a lot more practical in my thirties. That may sound depressing and boring, but do you know what isn’t boring? The ability to buy food and pay rent!

It doesn’t matter what other people think of me. I spent so many years of my twenties in a perpetual state of anxiousness. What others thought of me mattered way too much. This made friendships difficult. Relationships challenging. It made life in general rough. I am so over that nonsense. Here is something that young people really need to remember: The opinions of others truly do not matter. Life becomes a lot more free when you live it exactly how you want and now how other people want you to.

It’s Okay to Not Feel Okay

The past few weeks I have been in a bit of a funk. I haven’t spoken to too many people about it because I really don’t know how to put into words what I’m feeling. There isn’t a specific event or occurrence that I can attribute to my depressed state.  I am not sure why I’ve been feeling the way that I have. I have just been feeling down.

When I get into a funk that has no real explanation, it always makes me feel worse. I have a roof over my head. I am relatively healthy. I don’t go to bed hungry. I have a job I enjoy. There is no real reason to feel the way that I do.

The lack of reasoning results in feelings of guilt. So on top of feeling down, I also feel incredibly guilty. Clearly I am overreacting and being ungrateful. I’ll often invalidate my own feelings. Instead of accepting the things I’m feeling, I fight them. This action has a tendency to simply make me feel worse.

There’s a major flaw in this way of thinking: All feelings are valid. And sometimes feeling shitty is just a part of being alive. In fact, I may question your humanness if you are ALWAYS happy. There is no way that is healthy.

So I’ve been feeling a little down. It could be the long winter. It could be my upcoming birthday which always fills me with doom and existential thoughts. It could be a chemical imbalance. Or, and the likely culprit, it could just be life.

Sometimes life is really awesome and sometimes it’s really shitty. It is okay for your mind to react accordingly. If you ran a mile or worked a 13 hour shift, no one would fault you for being exhausted. The same thing applies to your mind. Life can become exhausting and overwhelming. Allow your mind to take a break without feeling guilty.

If you find yourself going through a funk, don’t fight it. Recognize all the things in your life to be grateful for. Don’t brush them off. However, don’t use them as an excuse to invalidate your feelings. Healthy people can get depressed. People with a roof over their head and a job can feel anxious.

Remember: All feelings are real, even the crappy ones.

All the Diets I’ve Tried This Year

Like anyone living in a world with the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show and Photoshop, I am not happy with my body. Yes, I recognize that there are a lot of unrealistic images out there. However, I also see very real people walking the streets rocking jeans and a crop top without a muffin top. (Muffin Tops: great to put in your body but not to have on your body.)

Every year the scale creeps up just a little higher than it was the previous year. And every year I come up with new ways to prevent those numbers from going up. Because I am incapable of doing anything in moderation, I normally concoct the most outlandish diets.

Spoiler Alert: They never work! Here are some of the diets I’ve tried this year to get rid my ever-increasing muffin top.

The “Eat as much as I can on Sunday” Diet – This is my favorite diet because it’s just a precursor to every other diet. Sometime during the week I’ll come up with a whole new plan on how I’m going to get skinny. This time it will be different and I’ll really stick to the diet. But before I start the diet of boring, unfulfilling green shit, I have to treat myself, right? That’s where this diet comes in. The weekend rolls around and I will divulge in all the fattening food I won’t be able to eat once my diet starts.

The “1200 calories a day” Diet – I’ll download the MyFitnessPal app and start recording every single bite I take. This works great for all of breakfast and part of lunch until I realize that every single thing has calories. Why do I have to include the butter I put on my bread? Why the hell does mayonnaise have so many calories? It’s only purpose is to make sure my God damn sandwich isn’t dry!

The “Clean eating” Diet – I can eat unlimited amounts of chicken, veggies, fruit, and sweet potatoes? I love all those things. This should be a piece of cake! And it was. Until I realized that cake was NOT on the clean eating menu.

The “Eat just half of everything” Diet – This diet actually worked for me once. Four years ago. When I was younger and had a much faster metabolism. I also had a lot more self control. I lost about 7 pounds in this diet once. Not this year when I tried it. It turns out that eating half a slice of pizza is impossible.

The “I’m too poor to be this fat” Diet – This diet usually comes not from looking at the scale but from looking at my bank account. When I notice that 95% of my money goes to food, it’s time to go on a money diet.

The “Life is too short to be on a diet” Diet – I have to say, this diet really worked for me this year. It was the only diet I was able to stick to for more than a day. I think I may continue this diet in 2017 because life is too short not to eat the cupcake.