Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Food

I should have realized a long time ago that food is important to me. Some of my favorite memories are in the kitchen—making applesauce and canning fruit with my mom, learning the trick for the perfect pancake (when the bubbles stop closing in the center, it's ready to flip). But at some point I got it in my head that I was bad at cooking—probably because everyone in my family is so good, not because I actually was bad, and because I thought following a recipe meant I was somehow deficient in skill.

In high school, I had baking parties with friends but we mostly stuck to pizza and dutch babies. When I went off to college, I didn't cook because I was in the dorm. Lack of experience increased my insecurity, and then my roommate Kindra came along and she dragged to the nasty dorm kitchen to make polenta and homemade sauce, and artichoke with may aioli. I was jealous of her confidence with such sparse equipment, and I felt very keenly that if I loved to eat so much, I should be able to cook.

When I came back to college after a year abroad, I had my own kitchen off campus with my cousin. This is when I began cooking. We made beans and soup and our grandma's popovers. I told my brothers about my fear of cooking and they laughed at me and then bought me Betty Crocker's Cooking Basics. I never read it, but I immediately felt like I could do anything.

As a personal challenge, I applied the next year to be Food Editor for my school's newspaper, The Collegian. Never to half-ass anything, I spent 4-6 hours every week preparing recipes—I never once copied a recipe, instead I looked up 10-15 from my favorite cooking blogs and books, and then made my own ingredient list and kept track of my personal cooking method. I fully committed to my original recipes. Sometimes my experiments went badly, like when I tried halving the recommended sugar for lemon bars, but I always came through. I am proud of every recipe I published.

In my free time, I watch cooking shows—today, I watched the final episode for Mind of a Chef, and next, I'll be watching Chef's Table. I've realized that food is more than a hobby—it's kind of an obsession. When I'm bored in class, I write grocery lists, and Kindra and I still continually talk about food. Lucky for her, she's in a nutrition program—even though she hates the homeward and doesn't agree with all the health principles they dole out, I know deep down she's happy to be there.

Finally realizing this passion is why I'm looking for jobs at food magazines and blogs; It's why I wander into specialty culinary shops wherever I go; It's why I'm chose to mimic Bon Appetit as my magazine project for InDesign class; It's why I get irritated at my roommate when she throws my ceramic knife in the sink; It's why I'm writing this post.

Food is where I'm headed. I wish I had realized sooner, but I'm glad I'm realizing now.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Everything in between

I had high hopes for this blog. Maybe that's why it didn't keep up. I think I had too many expectations about what this blog was supposed to be and what it wasn't.

I've recently begun to practice yoga and it might be the best things that's happened to me. Physically, it energizes me — I need less sleep than I used to because it's gotten me to do something physical on a regular basis. I also am developing upper body and core strength, something that I've never even been able to claim I had. But it's also been wonderful for my mind.

Today has been one of the least productive days of my school year. Even less than last quarter when I became so overwhelmed that I just shut down and laid in bed for hours (it was a bad time). But today, the sun wasn't out, and my leg hurt so bad from long boarding yesterday that I just moped around the house. I talked with a few people and that was nice — I even skyped my family and played "tea" with my nephew through our screens — but even that couldn't get me to do any of the things on my to-do list.

As I was about to take my third shower of the day, I realized what I was doing. I shut off the water, put on a shirt that makes me feel good about myself (even though it's about five years old and pilling like nobody's business) and dashed into the living room. I planted my feet, took some deep breaths and did some yoga. I'm such a beginner that I don't even know what I did — I have no names for anything except downward dog, cobra, and Shavasana. But it helped. I moved through it until I felt my leg and my mind release, and now here I am, on a blog I haven't touched in eight months.

I am grateful for the power of those five minutes of yoga. I am grateful that even when I have a bad day, there are lessons to be learned. I am grateful that I'm finding things in my life that are important to me.


Monday, August 11, 2014

What's my age again?

My brother aptly pointed out that I was the ripe age of 8 when the Blink-182 song was released, but that doesn't stop me from quoting a classic on my birthday. Yes, I turned 23 this weekend, and I got to spend my time with my wonderful boyfriend in Walla Walla. 

When I arrived, he was at work, but he had a dozen lavender roses waiting for me and a note reminding me that I'm loved ... and that I'm now two years older than him--it's only for a month but he enjoys calling me a cougar for it. 



Later, he gave me a bigger birthday gift--a black blade ceramic knife by Kyocera. It's really the best. I'm over the moon about it. It will likely be the only knife I ever use now. 

The other part of my birthday gift (yes, he spoils me) was a home-cooked meal. He let me choose everything. I made the salad based on a zesty kale salad I had at a friend's house a few weeks ago, and a mushroom lasagna I'd been wanting to try. I was really proud of him--he did everything with the lasagna without help. I had a fun time explaining how the flour, butter, and milk mixture he was making was called a roux. For dessert, we had lemon sorbet float with grape juice (or alternately with a berry wine). Woah, baby. It was good.

It had been far too long that we'd been apart. It was nice to cuddle in the breeze of the a/c, watching Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel, Jean-Pierre Jeunet's Am√©lie, and talking face-to-face. Amazingly, we only watched one episode of House of Cards. 


image via nypost.com
Sunday morning, we went to Bacon & Eggs. We'd heard great things from all our friends about it and decided to try it out. We made it right between rushes and waited an extra two minutes (gasp!) to sit outside. Had we arrived later, it would have been too hot, but a 10 am brunch did just fine for us. Michael ordered the special for the day, Eggs Benedict with heirloom tomatoes, pesto, hollandaise, and bacon. I ordered chilaquiles with two poached eggs. I'd forgotten how much I love chilaquiles. We both highly recommend Bacon & Eggs if you're ever in the Walla Walla area.


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Fight right

I've read a lot about relationship and about fighting and I've always prided myself on my argument/discussion abilities. Well, pride comes before a fall, and I've realized, this week especially, that I'm a horrible fighter--probably one of the worst. 

In fact, I find that I want to be right more than I want to find a solution. This is not a good attitude and I know it needs to change.

"Before Your Next Fight, Read This,"the title says. And it's right, which means you probably need to read this right now. I wish I had. 

This is probably the thing I needed most to hear: When fighting, "I can say and do things to turn both of us into partners. All it takes is persistence in trying to understand [my S.O.'s] point of view so that [he] feels appreciated."

Find out what I'm talking about here. I'm sure this article made the rounds when it was first published, but it really needs to resurface. 


Sunday, August 3, 2014

No easy answer

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Today we lost a duck--Mac. For a few weeks, we've known that there is a momma raccoon with three little babies living in the backyard, but today tragedy struck. The two ducks were let out into their bath and forgot about. I took Kindra's brother to the gym to her mom could do things around the house. I got back just when Kindra was getting home from work.

As I came in and sat down on the couch, I heard a yell from Kindra. At first, I couldn't tell if it was excitement or fear. Further cries established that it was sadness. I ran outside to find her with one of the two ducks, clutching her tightly in her arms. The other, she told me between sobs, had been killed by the momma raccoon.

Kindra went inside and got a gun. She waited for the raccoons to show themselves but when the little heads appeared above the fence. She turned around, put the gun away, and left the house.

This is not an easy thing to deal with. The chickens and ducks are pets, not just livestock. I think I would have reacted exactly the same.

But now I wonder, what should be done? Should we put extra barriers on the coop and leave the raccoons as they are? Should we relocate the raccoons? Should we exterminate them? None of these options are good because no matter what we do, we've already lost a duck--a favorite duck.

This is not a happy day for us. Only time will tell what we decide.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Strength

Campsite before summiting Mt. Whitney--Hitchcock Lakes
Three of my girlfriends, Kindra, Julie and Sera, and I are prepping to backpack the Lost Coast. The Lost Coast is an 55 mile stretch (approximately) of hiking trail in northern California along the beach. The closest town would be Petrolia, CA. There's not much around but it is beautiful. It's known to be a trip to remember--a trip you will never regret.

Last year, Kindra, Julie, and another great friend Brenna, hiked from Onion Valley to Whitney Portal, summiting Mt. Whitney the 8th day of our 9 day trip. Julie was in great shape because she runs. That, and she's always been really fit. Kindra, Brenna, and I are all about the same level so starting out was pretty tough. By the end of the trip, we felt pretty unstoppable, but I remember distinctly on the first day, thinking we would never get away from the parking lot. It seemed like we could see it every time we looked back.

This year, I hope to be more prepared, not because I don't think I can do it, but because I want to be able to enjoy the trail more and not be so focused on my pace and breathing--I want it to be a more natural experience.
Brenna, Julie, Me, Kindra
At the end of our 9-day journey--Whitney Portal
So, Kindra and I have been doing one of those infamous 30-day-challenges. We chose the "Beach Body Challenge." We hate the name, but we picked it because it works a lot of different parts of the body. It seemed more holistic, which we like.

Today, we made it to day 12. We did the day 12 challenge yesterday because we both overused our wrists at work--go figure. So today, we tackled day 11: 25 pushups and 75 tricep dips. It was unpleasant--quite unpleasant. A lot of grunts and stifled curses floated through the house.

Today's challenge made me realize just how weak I really am. I cannot successfully complete a single pushup because I have a weak wrist. Okay, that's actually a cop-out. I can't successfully complete even one pushup because I have no arm strength.

I've always said I want to be strong, but I've never done anything about it. Now, I'm doing something. I want to keep it up and pick up the pace. I want to be ready to do things at a moment's notice.

Me at the top of Mt. Whitney.
The flag is a copy of a flag some of our friends used
in a music video for Walla Walla University


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Manual labor

For the last three weeks, I've been taking care of an older couple's home in the area. I met the wife, Gwen, at Jazzercise and when the group went out to coffee afterwards, I made it a point to give my number to as many of the Jazzercise ladies as possible. I made sure I emphasized that I'm willing to do hard work outside in the sun, or clean, or do pretty much anything they might need. Just an hour later, I got a call from Gwen and another call from a woman named Mary who needed me to house sit and take care of her dog for four days.

I'm a little bit embarrassed I took this photo,
but this was after my first day of work.
I was pretty proud.

My soapbox topic for today is that if you're willing to work hard an make yourself available, good things happen.

The reason I'm in Maltby, WA this summer and not at home in NorCal, or in Walla Walla, WA with my boyfriend, is that I'm taking summer classes at Everett Community College. I decided to add another minor to the mix during my last year of college (genius or crazy? The jury's still out). In order to make this happen, I have to take one Into to Web Design and Intro to Photography, otherwise my class load will be overloaded come fall.

First day of class at EVCC

I was very excited about this because I get to live with my best friend, Kindra, and her family in their amazing fixer-upper house complete with a treasure trove of a garden. However, my summer classes only last 8 weeks and this really isn't enough time to get hired and trained out in the "real world."

So, I took matters into my own hands and hired myself out to Gwen and Mary. Last week, I was at Mary's house taking care of the cutest golden doodle, Daisy, and every Tuesday and Wednesday, I've been pulling weeds in scorching sun and pouring rain at Gwen's house. I even spent 6 hours digging and hole and power sawing roots out of the way so she could plant a new hydrangea bush in the perfect spot. I've gained muscles and a tan, and invested in a awesome pair of purple work gloves (I swear, it makes a difference for my attitude).

My work may not be much, but it's getting me through the summer. I have a small income that I was worried I wouldn't have at all. I'm so glad I put my pride aside and gave my number out. I even gave my number to a realtor when I walked through the open house she was hosting down the road. These may not have been the jobs I envisioned working this summer, but I'm proud of my work ethic and I'm proud that I made a good enough impression to some strangers that they hired me with no hesitation.

This is Daisy. She was a handful, but so nice!