Right Now…

Santa Monica

Shifting my life around to fit better in LA. A little nudge in that direction, a little tug here, trying to find the best way that my life fits here.

Planning out my schedule. This fall will be at least one, possibly two internships and 9 credit hours of online course work.

Organizing my finances. Because apparently I’m almost an adult now. Whatever that means.

Trying to get back into the groove of blogging, but I keep running into chronic lateness.

Spending days at a time without leaving the apartment, writing, tooling around on social media, and watching Fringe. A few other summer shows, but mostly Fringe.

Hanging out with one of my best friends who is visiting on her way back to Seattle.  Which involves…

Swimming in the ocean.  Not something I would have done on my own, but a lot of fun all the same.

Printing pictures for the first time on the photo printer I’ve had for over a year. Including some underwater pictures we took at the beach.

Yearning to get back into yoga, and getting excited whenever I see a studio relatively near me.

Wearing shorts and tank tops around the apartment, because it’s too damn hot for anything else.

Hating the heat. My body does not respond well to heat (sunburn, heat rash). I know I chose this, and I’m dealing with it, but I was clearly made for temperate zones.

Eating simple foods to keep the burners and oven off.

Loving my new shorty haircut.  I cut it all off to donate to Children with Hair Loss, following along in the #hairfohazel and #itgrowsback campaign that is happening around the new The Fault in Our Stars movie.

Riding my scooter new around town when I leave the apartment.

Going to fancy LA premiere parties. Like you do.

Describing delicious food as a “good life decision”. In and Out. Watermelon.

Spending less by eating in as much as possible and going to free things. Like sitcom tapings and parties with friends.

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And the Kitchen Sink: No-Cook Tuna Salad on Toast

Lately I’ve been eating terribly. Not that I’ve been eating junk food per se (though I did get a box of dairy-free, mini ice cream sandwiches that I’ve been eating a bit quickly), more that I haven’t been eating enough or at the “right” times.

Since getting out of school I’ve been eating haphazardly, when and if I feel like it. Some days I’ll sleep in later than I’ve slept in in my life, leading to tacos and yogurt being consumed at noon. Some days I get so wrapped up in Fringe that I don’t eat anything resembling dinner until nearly eleven and even then it’s just a PB&J (side note: PB&J kind of a miracle food, if you’re in a hurry and need to make a quick decision, make it a PB&J).

Part of the response to this is making meals as simply as possible. And in this heat, there’s super points for not turning on any heating implements at all (this is a bit hard without a microwave or toaster oven).

The solution (of course) is no-cook meals.  Everything on toast.  Cold soup.  Simple sandwiches.  And every once and a while a take away meal.  (though I’m trying not to do that too often).  Today is Tuna Salad on toast.

tuna salad

Ingredients:
canned tuna
2 T. mayonnaise
1 T. mustard
1 chopped celery stalk
1 chopped carrot (not pictured)
3 T. grated cheese
salt and pepper to taste
slice of bread

This is pretty much the simplest thing ever. Just mix all the ingredients together with a fork, toast the bread, and put the whole caboodle on toast. Sometimes I skip the cheese in the salad and then grill it into a tuna melt sandwich, but it is just too hot for that lately. Toast sandwich is it.

I’ve been making a variant of this since I was about twelve, and the ingredients pretty much depend on what in the fridge. Leftover onion? Yup. Try it with Goat cheese? Provolone? Be my guest. You can also do the same thing with chicken which is equally as delicious.

Serve with Iced Tea and the knowledge that there’s probably enough nutrients in this to hold you over for about half a day.  Possibly an apple.

What’s your favorite no-cook meal?

This Has Been: June 2013

new apartment

This month has been bizarre. And also awesome. From hanging out and going to yoga with friends to working my way though some fantastic TV, and MOVING TO LOS ANGELES, I’ve had a great month. A few of my favorite happenings around here:

  • I went to a screening of Much Ado About Nothing (I wrote this review from a festival screening, but still went to see it again once it came out in theaters).
  • Yoga is awesome.
  • I said goodbye to my home city.
  • And hello to a new one through memories of past moves.
  • I quietly launched a new series about cooking. Recipes and the like in the works!
  • Speaking of in the works, I also talked a bit about how I approach blogging and how that’s changing.

My biggest goal of the month (moving to LA) was passed with flying colors, I moved into a new apartment on the 19th, signing a years lease to live in the City of Angels. Well, if you count a handful of boxes and some IKEA furniture “moving in”. Most of my stuff is still in Chicago, so I’m trying out minimalist living for a little while.

Two of my goals involved organization and planning. I wanted to plan out my day the night before, and put together a new focus for the blog. Day-planning was successful to an extent. I didn’t plan every day, but I did notice a great increase in productivity on days that I did plan for. Encouraging, now to make it a habit.

Blog re-focusing was a little more vague than I had intended, but I did come up with some new blogging goals of having series/reoccurring topics on the blog. Some of this I’m still trying to figure out, but you can see what I’ve got so far in my new page on series/topics. I also am trying to be sure that new content is more heartfelt. By showing more of myself I hope to be able to connect better with you all.

My other goal was much more concrete. I wanted to post two vlogs onto my YouTube channel. So far I still don’t have any subscribers there (be the first!), which is fine because I’m still trying to figure out how my channel fits in to my life. This was not a success. I posted one, and filmed a second, but haven’t even edited it yet.  Editing is probably going to be the bane of my YouTube existence.

Another goal that was met this month – well met a few months ago, but I discovered was met this month – was making the deans list.  I got a letter from school saying that I made the deans list for the spring semester. This was one of my birthday goals, so I’m glad to hear that I made it! Just the summer and fall semesters to go, we’ll see how I do.

What did you do this month?  I’d love to hear about you guys in the comments.

New Approach

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My word lately seems to be focus. I’m so worked up in the questions of what do I want to focus on, and how I want to focus my time. And my biggest focus this month has been this blog and this space.  Figuring out in more solid terms what I want from it and what purpose it serves.

I started this blog without a plan. In a lot of ways I’m still not sure if I have a plan. This month one of my goals was to come up with one. It quickly became clear that my plan needed to start with more focus on what I wanted the blog to be for myself and for my readers. With a little help* I set off refining my “About” page, which has redefined how I go about creating content for my blog.

I want this blog to be a place where I can share my story, but also a place where I can encourage others to share their story. That said, while I will continue to post my Writing About Writing Mondays and my monthly goals and reviews, I want to turn more of my focus outwards for other reoccurring topics.

One of these topics will be cooking and how to get around the kitchen. I’ll be posting monthly under the title “And the Kitchen Sink” about cooking and baking, tools and recipes. I have a handful of ideas to start out, and I’d love to hear your ideas of what kitchen/cooking related things you’re curious about. I thinking working in the kitchen teaches us so much and I want to share that passion in a way that is accessible to others.

For now I’ll be sticking to four days a week of posting, Monday through Thursday at 10am PST. The only set formulas are Writing About Writing on Monday and media-related on Wednesday, after that I’ll set reoccurring topics (Kitchen Sink, What I’m Reading, and monthly reviews) and fill in the blanks with events, ideas, and other goings on. I’ve created pages for each of the reoccurring topics I’ll be covering, which you can find above the header on my site (while you’re there check out the updated television page).

While I’m not yet at the level of blogging that I’m striving for, I feel like I’m starting to get the response I was looking for when I started blogging 2 years ago. With 1 year on WordPress and 10 months of consistent (4 days a week) posting, I’m so excited to see this space grow into what I have envisioned, and I have my handful of readers to thank for this growth.

I know a small handful of people who follow my blog, but I can see from my stats that there are more of you, and not everyone is coming by mistake. If I don’t know you personally and you’ve become a follower I’m so grateful. I’m glad for each and every comment, and reference that I can see in the numbers. I’ll welcome old hats and newcomers alike to leave a comment letting me know how you found my blog and I can’t wait to see the ways that this space will grow in the coming months and years.

*I used Alexandra Fragen’s “Great I AM worksheet” to help figure out what I wanted out of my about page.  She’s pretty awesome and is a great resource for people who are trying to define themselves and their work.

And the Kitchen Sink: The Basics

I don’t think it will come as a surprise to anyone that I love to cook. I’ve been in the kitchen for as long as I can remember doing everything from making cookies to helping with big meals. I have a well documented love of all things put together by Chef Gordon Ramsey, and a less documented love of the entire PBS Saturday cooking show line-up. As a teenager I went to cooking camp for three summers in a row and I had such a blast. We would get there at 9am and cook all morning, then have a late lunch of everything we made that day. Heaven.

Since I have a background in it, I’m always amazed when people don’t know how to cook, and I just want to tell them how awesome it is to cook your own food. Not only is cooking fun, but it is also be educational. By cooking ethnic foods you can learn about different cultures, in baking you learn about exact measurements and the science of leavening agents, if you cook with friends or family you learn how to work with others to make something delicious.

To start you off, today I’m going to share a list of basic tools that you can then use to create millions of dishes. I am barely even scratching the surface of kitchen tools, but if you don’t have these guys you’ll be done before you can start.

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  1. Spoons. Can be wood, plastic, or metal. Wood is the best, but plastic is much cheaper. Metal can ruin your pots and pans, so be careful.
  2. Spatula. Plastic or metal. Different materials are for different purposes, if you do more cooking get plastic (see above note on metal). If you do more baking (more on that in a future post) get metal.
  3. Chef Knife. I have so much to say about knives, but I’m trying to save it for a future post. For now I’ll say that a chef knife is really the only knife you need in the kitchen.
  4. Knife guard. These come in plastic or magnetic material and can save you from slicing your finger when sifting through drawers looking for things.
  5. Bottle opener. Obviously.
  6. Paring Knife. I know I said you ONLY need the chefs knife. You don’t NEED a paring knife, but cutting fruit and other small, soft things is much easier with one. Be sure you have a knife guard for this one too.
  7. Scissors. Sometimes it’s just easier to cut things with scissors. Don’t use regular scissors in the kitchen, get kitchen scissors and use them only in the kitchen.
  8. Grater. I like the three way kind I have with bigger grates for softer cheese, smaller grates for harder cheese and a slicer, but if you want to get just one kind I’d lean one with bigger grates.
  9. Can opener. This one opens cans two ways and bottles as well.
  10. Tongs. These will be your best friend. I like the kind with plastic or rubber grips because, as previously mentioned, metal can seriously mess up your pans. Am I mentioning that too much? Maybe, but it’s true.

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  1. Pot. A 3 quart pot will get you through most things, a cover can come in handy. If you make homemade soup it may be worth it to invest in a stock pot.
  2. Frying pan. Get a non-stick frying pan, and don’t put it through the dishwasher. Even if it is dishwasher safe, hand washing will make it last longer. Again a cover can come in handy, but I don’t use one as much for the frying pan.

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  1. Mixing bowls. Metal, glass, or plastic, take your pick. Metal and plastic are more durable, plastic and glass can be microwaved, and plastic will be cheapest (again). It is possible to cook with only one size mixing bowl, but it would behoove you to own multiple sizes.
  2. Colander/Strainer. For straining pasta or veggies, colanders are magic. Strainers are a bit more difficult to use, but once you get the hang of it they are especially adept if whatever you are strainer will need to stay in the pot. Bonus: steam facial.

Not pictured: pot holders/oven mitts (to save your hands from burning), cutting board (to save your counter tops), and an apron (to save your clothes). And a million other little gadgets that are helpful, but maybe not quite necessary.

A word on quality. As with most things in life you will get the most out of quality tools. They will last the longest and serve you the best. That being said, half of the things in the top picture are from thrift stores or the grocery store and they’ve served me just fine. You have my permission to buy neon colored knives from some random aisle of Target (not that you needed my permission, but now you have it anyway).

I’m really excited to be writing this series and sharing my love of cooking with you all. In future posts I’ll be talking about baking tools, knife skills, and appliances, and many more things. What would you like to hear about? What are your favorite things to cook?

This Will Be: January 2013 Edition

1-WP_20121231_001I’ve been putting off writing this post for a long time.  Usually I have these month review/preview posts all set up about a week in advance and then will check them over the day before to make sure this points are still accurate.  Not this time.  I’m writing this one on Monday, the day before it goes out.

I know exactly why too, it’s because I still don’t quite know what this month will hold.  While usually I can talk about holidays, events, and the like that I will be celebrating or attending, work that I am slotted to do, January has nothing.

In the whole month of January the only thing listed on my calendar so far is the series finale of Fringe.

While I could end this post here, saying that the month will be spent in anticipation and morning of a television show, that is not my sole reason for existing this month.  I promise.  Instead, I’m going to use this as an opportunity to set a few goals for myself.  So, thing’s I’d like to do in January:

  • Write!  I want to work on the exercises in the travel writing book (see yesterday’s post) and work on some blog features.  I’m also interested in writing personal essays and outlining a new script I have in mind.
  • Cook dinner for my family once a week.
  • Get to know more people in the city.  Most of the people I know now are still in High School or are gone away to college.  I’d like to get to meet a bit more of an older crowd so that I have people to talk to/go out with.
  • Yoga, climb, or hike at least twice a week.
  • Visit three museums including at least one outside of the city proper.
  • A little bit of blog re-vamping.  I’ve promised it a few times, but now I actually have the free time to be sure that it happens.