Twenties

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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TBT: My Trouble With Stitches

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It’s been awhile since I’ve done a TBT post. So here goes.

I like to boast about my lack of trips to the emergency room growing up. I never broke a bone. ::knock on wood:: Never even sprained anything. ::again knock on wood:: (You better have knocked on wood after reading that. If you didn’t and I break something, I’m blaming you.)

There was only one thing that made me go to the hospital as a child: stitches. I always found a way to rupture my skin deep enough that a band-aid couldn’t help.

This Monday, there were two things I wanted to do when I got home from work: cook dinner and relax. Unfortunately, the universe had other plans for me. While my yummy crispy chicken was in the oven, I decided to do some dishes and dry them. I was drying a glass when it shattered in my hand almost severing a chunk of skin from my ring finger. (This is why I don’t clean. It’s dangerous!)

Quick side note about the glass: Yes it was a wine glass. To quote my friend Pam, “It’s the ones we love the most that hurt us the most.”

Everything after that happened pretty quickly. My bf took one look at the blood squirting from my finger and knew our night of relaxation had to be postponed. Three shots, several stitches and one immobile right hand later, I was home and in pain.

I am not one of those people who posts a photo of themselves on the beach less than a week ago and calls it a TBT. That story was just meant as a set up. I am very familiar with stitches. This wasn’t my first rodeo. However, I was able to go 26 years inbetween stitch sessions. Pretty impressive for someone who is as clumsy as I am.

When I was a kid, I made an art of getting stitches. It started before I was even one-years-old when I was first learning how to walk. My first trip to the ER happened when I was still doing the walking-like-a-penguin, need-to-hold-onto-everything-or-I’ll-fall thing.

Eleven-month-old Liz was wobbling along in the living room playing with a coaster. (I was a weird child. Coasters are fun!) I had one hand on the coffee table and the other holding a coaster. (I bet you sang that like Alanis. If you don’t know who Alanis is, I love you but you may be too young for my blog.) At this time in my life, I wasn’t ridden with anxiety yet, I was still a brave soul. So when I reached the end of the coffee table, I thought I could make it to the end table just a few feet away.

I couldn’t. The second my hand moved away from the safety of the coffee table, I went down. Down went my little body and down went my little mouth right into the coaster. Apparently, this coaster was made of steel because it ruptured the inside of my mouth.

That was just the beginning of cuts above my face. My second foray into stitches was a direct result of me being a little shit. My childhood home in Brooklyn had these brick steps on the stoop. They were very dangerous and my sisters and I were always told to be careful. We rarely listened. The stoop also had a railing that was incredibly fun to slide down.

I spent many hours climbing up and down this railing with no incident. At 5-years-old, it’s natural to think you’re invincible. Nothing can ever hurt you, until it does. That’s the only way to learn your lesson. And learn a lesson I did.

I was playing on the railing when my mom told me to get down before I get hurt. I made a face and kept right on climbing. Not even two seconds later, Bam! I fell head first onto the concrete. I actually remember parts of this myself and not just from retellings. When I first fell, I blacked out. I do remember randomly waking up on a hospital bed as a doctor was examining my head.

Once again, it was determined that stitches were necessary. I still have a small bald spot at my hairline reminding me that I’m a dumbass and should be more cautious.

My last adventure with stitches before this week was interesting. It happened when I was 6-years-old and I was sitting in the back seat of my uncle’s car. Apparently I thought I was a dog, so I had my head out the window. This was also around the time when I started morphing into my true clumsy self. As my head was out the window enjoying the breeze, my elbow leaned on the button to close the window. Not wanting to have my head chopped off, I pulled my head back in. I just wasn’t fast enough.

As my tiny head was making its way back into the safety of the car, my mouth got stuck. The car window closed on my bottom lip, almost ripping a corner of it completely off. (To this day, I am still not sure exactly how this happened. Nobody is.)

I sat in the backseat of my uncle’s car screaming my head off with blood pouring down my face. The screaming kept up for the next several hours. My dumbass at one point started shouting that I needed a bandaid. My lip was hanging off but I thought a simple bandage would fix it right up. Brilliant!

Having stitches on my face at 6-years-old was not fun. It was probably the first time I remember feeling self-conscious. So both my anxiety and confidence issues can be traced back to my stitches. And now I can add a fear of wine glasses to the list. Fun!

Do you have any TBT stitches stories?

It’s Complicated Until It’s Not

There’s no secret that dating was not always easy for me. Just look through the dating and relationships tags on this blog and you’ll find many rambles from a lady who was ready to wave the white flag.

When I was dating someone, I was usually left with more questions than answers. Does he like me? Do I really like him? When should I sleep with him? Will he judge me if it’s “too soon?” Can I actually see this going anywhere? Does he see this going anywhere?

I regularly contemplated the why of the whole thing. Why am I even dating? Is it worth all the hassle, and the first date interviews, and the stressing about what to wear? Do I even want a boyfriend?

That last question popped up in my head a lot. I was living on my own and starting a new career. I had this whole life of my own. I was already struggling to fit everything into my life. Did I really want to add in an entirely new relationship? Where would I find the time? Do I really want to bring a new person into my life, introduce them to my friends, have them meet my family, etc.?

So. Many. Questions.

By the time I reached my late 20s, dating was a very complicated ordeal. And it was. Dating can be complicated. Until you realize that it isn’t.

Eventually you’ll meet that person where the only questions you’ll be asking are “what should we eat for dinner?” and ” what should we watch on Netflix tonight?”

You’ll soon discover that if you have to ask “does he like me?”, the answer is either “no” or “not enough.”

There will be that person you don’t need to struggle to find time for. They will fit seamlessly into your life. Making time for them won’t feel like a hassle or obligation.

In its simplest form dating is easy. Boy likes girl, girl likes boy. Both boy and girl decide they want to spend as much time as possible with each other. I’m a firm believer in the theory that things shouldn’t be difficult in the beginning. The beginning is the time for butterflies and excitement.

When you find that person who makes you stop questioning, hold on tight. You may have finally found your uncomplicated ever after.

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!

Worrying Won’t Stop Bad Things from Happening

By now you guys are fully aware of my anxiety issues. I am a worrier. It’s in my nature. I don’t think I am ever going to fully change that about myself. But lately I’ve been noticing that my worrying has been getting worse.

I am becoming a bit of a Debbie Downer. Did you know that almost anything fun in this world can end in some sort of fatal result?

I’ve recently discovered that I really enjoy hiking.  It’s wonderful exercise and the views are amazing. Nature can be pretty awesome sometimes. But do you know what’s not awesome about nature? Bugs, particularly ticks. I have been reading through tons of articles stressing how bad the ticks will be this year on the east coast. With every article I read, the more anxious I become.

Aside from hiking, the summer months also bring a chance to spend hours in the pool. Since my new apartment is connected to my sister’s house, I can spend every weekend chilling in the pool with my sister and my adorable nephews. At five and three, my nephews are at that adorable age where every conversation we have ends in fits of laughter. All of this should be cause for celebration, right? Wrong! Did you ever hear of a thing called dry drowning?  It’s real and it’s terrifying.

Lately I feel like every event in my life comes with a list of ways it could go horribly wrong. It’s as though I have become acutely aware of just how fragile life can be. In an instant things can change for the worst.

I know what you’re thinking: “Chill out Liz!” Don’t worry, I’m not offended. I’m thinking the same thing.

While life is fragile and it’s impossible to stop bad things from happening, worrying will not make any of it better. In fact, my constant worrying and anxiety is just making my life harder. It’s preventing me from fully enjoying things.

It’s time to start enjoying things in the moment. I recognize that things can change in an instant. And in life, bad things inevitably happen. But really awesome, amazing things happen as well. I want to enjoy those moments worry-free* so when the not-so-great stuff happens, I can look back and remember that not everything in life is all ticks and dry drowning!

*Worry-free enjoyment does include dousing myself in bug spray and constantly shouting at my nephews to not swallow water.

Being the Bigger Person Sucks

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*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!