Recent Posts by VeronicaMay

Introduction to Cooking for Yourself

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Most of us do not grow up with Jamie Oliver or Gordon Ramsay as our parents. We don’t grow up making fresh vegetarian lasagna for a television show on a weekly basis. Some of us (myself included) were lucky that our parents not only knew how to cook but actively allowed us to participate in the process.

 

However, sometimes your parents or guardians did not know how to cook, or maybe they were too busy or maybe they were vegetarian and you love meat. Whatever the reason, we all have to start somewhere and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. There is also nothing wrong with having frozen pizza and takeout every night but cooking for yourself can be just as easy. Not to mention healthier and friendlier to your wallet.

 

The first step is recognizing the desire or the need to start cooking for yourself (and or your family) on a regular basis. The second step: knowing that you CAN do it. I always roll my eyes so hard when I hear people say “I just can’t cook!” like it’s a badge of honor. If you can read and you have taste buds then you can cook. Simple as that. Yes, you will make things that burn, or you will make something that tastes so terrible your dog won’t eat it. I’m here to tell you that you sucked at walking when you first tried it, you also really sucked at talking when you were first learning. So don’t be so hard on yourself and just keep trying.

 

One of the best things about cooking for yourself is being able to have your favorite dishes at any time! When I first moved away from home I ate mashed potatoes for an insane number of meals and snacks. Think about your usual takeout order or what you usually order at a restaurant. Do you gravitate towards pasta dishes? Maybe fish or even ethnic foods? This is the best place to start. You will already have a baseline for what it should taste like when done well and what it tastes like when it’s cooked terribly. It will also give you the incentive to cook it since you already know it is something you enjoy. Once you get better then definitely experiment and try new recipes but for starting out stick with the familiar.

 

Once you’ve chosen your favourites, go online and look up 2-3 recipes and compare them. Find the one with the least amount of ingredients and the least amount of steps. Don’t Make it harder on yourself than it has to be. Read each recipe all the way through. Often there are good hints and tips in one that another author may have forgotten to mention. Make a shopping list and get the ingredients you need. Don’t worry about fancy gadgets or anything yet. As long as you have a pot a frying pan a wooden spoon and a knife you should be ok.

 

If you’re not big on cooking yet chances are you will have a limited pantry or stock of ingredients. My advice to you is to wait and gradually stock up. Only buy things you know you will use and not because “it was on sale at the grocery store”. Once you start learning 2 or 3 of your favorite dishes you will need to have some of the basics on hand to make them. However, you will obtain these through specific grocery shopping for the recipe. Make sure you have Salt and Pepper but the rest can wait.

 

When you do start purchasing ingredients always try to go for the freshest and the best quality that fits into your budget. Read the signs and see where your fresh ingredients come from, try going to Farmers Markets in your area. Fresh and local will make a huge difference in the quality of your cooking. There’s nothing technically wrong with frozen or canned, especially when fresh isn’t available, but quality ingredients can hide some of your little mistakes.

 

I will be posting some easy recipes here but in the meantime start searching through Pinterest or Yummly to get some inspiration

 

 

 

Surviving Your First Long Haul Flight

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When you first start traveling every flight seems long. But once you survive your first long flight you feel invincible. It doesn’t mean that after one flight you’ll love being stuck in a pressurized tube for hours. However, if you are properly prepared and know what to expect it really doesn’t seem so bad.

 

The key to surviving this flight is to be prepared with everything you might need and with what to expect when you are on board. These are a few of my top things I tell people who are heading out on their first long flight that has drastically decreased their nerves and stress levels.

Things to bring:

  1. Snacks – one snack for every 2 hours of travel time. (see THIS post for some snack ideas!)
  2. Activities – Yes, there is a very good chance there will be an in-seat entertainment system that has more movies and tv shows than you could possibly watch but there is a chance that you will get stuck with one whose screen cuts out halfway through the flight or that won’t stay on for more than 3 and a half minutes before going into ‘sleep mode’ (both of these have happened in the past year…) so make sure you download some Netflix shows onto your tablet or phone, load up your e-reader and maybe even grab a puzzle book or adult coloring book if that’s what you’re into. Even if nothing goes wrong and you watch the entirety of Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit (yep done that too, works well to pass the time) it’s nice to know in the back of your mind that you have a backup. A backup that also doesn’t take up much room in your bags as it’s with stuff you should be bringing along anyway.
  3. Sleep Aids. – Chances are if you’re on a long flight you will want to sleep at some point. Always bring an eye mask, ear plugs and if you can; noise canceling headphones
  4. Temperature Controls – Wear layers. It can get warm while you’re just sitting on the runway but once you’re in the air the temperature can drop and the paper thin blankets they give you just won’t cut it. I like to bring a long cardigan and wear it like a snuggie.  I also bring a pair of fuzzy socks and change into them on the plane. That way even if you wear them to the bathroom you won’t feel as gross because you can change into your normal socks before landing. Don’t forget to bring a scarf as well that will double as warmth. (Pashminas, blanket scarves are both good for this) Bonus points is that these 3 items (Scarf, Cardigan and Fuzzy Socks) can be worn at your destination.

Things to keep in mind:

 

  1. Your feet can (and most likely will) swell up. This is completely normal, but just try to do in seat stretches or get up to stretch every few hours. So don’t panic when you go to land and your shoes feel too tight! (Also take off your shoes after your board, (unless your feet are super smelly) it really makes a difference for feeling comfortable through the flight)
  2. Check in online and choose your seat according to your needs. Window if you’re a sleeper or aisle if you know you’ll need to use the bathroom often or have sore joints and will need to stand up to stretch.
  3. You will most likely be fed a main meal shortly after takeoff and another shortly before you land. If the flight is long enough you will also get a snack or other mini meal halfway through the flight as well. For flights over 10 hours, they usually have a basket of snacks that you just have to ask for. So you can plan your airport eating and snacks around this basic schedule.
  4. I believe the devil invented neck pillows. I have never actually seen someone using one on a plane before for its intended purpose. They always end up on the floor or on their lap. Don’t bother buying a fancy one expecting it to be a lifesaver on the trip. Chances are it will just end up being one more bulky thing to carry.
  5. By hour 4 or 5 the air starts getting incredibly dry. Remember to drink lots of water and bring moisturizer. You can also go to the galley and ask the flight attendants to fill up your water bottle. (remember to be very polite. Often flight attendants are on break or eating dinner back there. So try to find someone who isn’t resting or has their mouth full. Their jobs are safety officers, not your personal concierge)

 

The main thing to remember is to sit back, relax and enjoy this forced time to be unplugged from the world. You have no emails to answer, you can’t see people’s idiotic posts on facebook, no one is texting you for life advice. It’s just you and your seat mate, and solitary activities. How often do you get permission to sit on your butt and watch movies for that long? Embrace it and try to enjoy it.

 

Taboo Topics: 3 Things to never discuss in polite conversation

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Moving to a new country has forced me to step outside my introverted comfort zone and do things like attend events alone to try and meet new friends and other expats or locals. I often end up meeting groups of younger expats in their 20s and 30s and I have noticed that at every single event at least one person brings up something from one of the three categories I was always told to NEVER bring up in polite conversation.

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Getting to know yourself Part II: Journaling

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A few months ago I introduced “Getting to know yourself” where I discussed the issues with having to reidentify yourself throughout your life.

We have already taken this first step: recognizing that how you identify yourself changes and the need to have a system in place to help us through life changes and to better understand our changing selves.

The next step we’re going to take is to start journaling. Forget all the preconceived notions you have about journaling. This doesn’t have to take up a ton of time, you don’t even have to be that creative. All you need to do is once a day write something down. That’s it. If you do a quick google or Pinterest search of journaling you will get thousands of hits and inspirations. There are so many different types of journals and there have to be some ideas that suit you and your lifestyle.

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How to Clean your Pillows

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I will be perfectly honest here. Cleaning pillows is a relatively new habit for me. For some reason I always pictured pillows to be too delicate for the washing machine or something. I also never thought about how dirty they might be. I’m clean so my pillows should be clean right? I change my pillow cases very regularly so that protects them doesn’t it?

Well, apparently not. The problem is since you are sleeping while using your pillow you don’t really think about what’s going on during those 6-10 hours your face is smooshed into it. Let’s start with the obvious. Drool. We’ve all rubbed our faces in that gross little wet spot and it happens it’s just part of getting really comfortable and relaxed. Then there’s the sweat. There are going to be those nights where you’re tossing and turning, the heat in the room is all wrong and you’re all sweaty while sleeping. You could wake up feeling just fine but trust me it’s there. Next is Dust. If there is dust on your nightstand there is dust on your pillow. Then where there is dust there is dust mites.

So now think about that. You bought your pillow when? And the last time you cleaned it was? I know. Gross right? I felt the same way.

I decided to do some research on how exactly to clean my pillows and everyone basically says the same thing.

Step 1:

Remove from pillowcase and pillow protector cover (if you have one)

Step 2:

Place pillow (maximum 2 pillows) directly into the washing machine with about half the detergent you would use for a regular load

Step 3:

After the wash has finished keep them in the machine for one more rinse and spin cycle

Step 4:

Read the instructions on the care tag. You can either put them in the dryer or lay them out to dry.

That’s it.

Seriously. I thought it would be way more involved and would need like 2 days to finish.

Our pillows needed to be air dried and even then it took about an hour before they were completely dry.

You know how amazing fresh sheets feel? Well knowing your pillows are fresh and clean feels about 500% more amazing than that.

Best part is you only need to wash them every 3 to 6 months. So plan it in your calendar. Take a Saturday or Sunday morning and dedicate it to cleaning your pillows. Your face and lungs will thank you.

 

The Power Of Staying Quiet

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I still remember my very first example of just staying quiet. We were at the cottage as children and my Grandfather said something boring and of little importance to my Grandmother. She simply nodded then continued what she was doing. That small act blew my small mind. For some reason I had always been under the impression that you must respond verbally in some way to every single thing anyone ever says. Granted kid logic isn’t always the best but this small event made a huge difference in my life.

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Creating a Basic First Aid Kit

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I grew up surrounded by excessive amounts of first aid supplies. When you come from an accident prone family having a well stocked cabinet was necessary. We had every type of bandage, multiple antiseptics, tensors, medical tape, easy access to crutches, canes and slings. Man, thinking back now was it ever impressive.

So when I moved out on my own for the first time I never thought to stock my own first aid supplies. They were always readily available so I didn’t even think about it. Of course I had a box of bandages (loving high heels and not having the money for super nice leather ones means so many blisters) but that’s where my kit started and ended. I realized the hard way that I needed to head out to the Pharmacy.

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The Personal Choice of Exploring

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It seems that Instagram and blogs are full of beautiful destinations, old buildings, quiet beaches, picturesque jungle treks. For some these are places on bucket lists and future travel itineraries, for others though, these are just pretty pictures that make nice backgrounds for your laptop. The latter was a realization I had only recently.

 

When I think of travel I think of the endless list of countries, cities, jungles, remote islands and beaches that seem to be calling my name. I love finding new places and trying new foods. I crave that feeling of not knowing and the ‘escape’.

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Intro to Wedding Etiquette

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Now that Engagement season has come to and end Wedding season is about to begin! I am getting to that age, late 20’s when it seems like everyone you ever knew is getting engaged, married and having tiny humans. Its very weird to see pictures of that girl’s hair you always had to hold back at parties holding a tiny human and you know they grew that themselves… And you realize how much you all have changed.

Then the wedding invites start coming in and you’re asked to be in wedding parties. All of a sudden you’re planning your own wedding! its madness I tell you. MADNESS!

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A Case For Staying In While Travelling

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a-case-for-staying-in

 

The first time I ever technically traveled alone was to new York. I was about 23 and our family was all going for a few days, but I had some vacation time to use up and it had been a stressful summer so I decided to get a feel for the solo travel experience and fly in a day early. So for the first time in my life I’d be all alone in another city for almost 36 hours. At this point I had already been to new York a few times and already had my favorite areas and had done all the touristy things so these 36 hours were just for me. I went shopping along Broadway got lost in Soho and sat in central park and people watched. By the late afternoon I was tired and a little cranky for reasons I couldn’t figure out and as I sat in the park on that beautiful sunny fall day I realized that I don’t have to cram my time with things to do. I was there to relax. I had no one to answer to, no one to entertain and this trip was all about me. So I threw the rest of my itinerary out the window and sat in the park and just did nothing. I Started getting hungry but really didn’t feel like interacting with other humans so on the way back to the hotel I stopped at the store and grabbed chips and other snacks then stopped at a liquor store and bought myself a bottle of nice wine. I sat in the hotel room and had wine and junk food for dinner while watching terrible TV and spend the evening blissfully relaxed.

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