• Introduction to Cooking for Yourself


    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



    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


    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



    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



    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.


  • Creating a Basic First Aid Kit



    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 One Tool that will Save Your Move




    In the past 9 Years I have moved a grand total of 8 times. I also have a bit of a reputation to family and friends as a giant pack rat who keeps an absurd amount of useless things for no reason (for example one move we found the bottom half of a pair of jeans my sister cut into shorts 3 years before…)

    Between the number of moves and the amount of stuff I have a plethora of lessons to share about moving, But today I’ll be sharing an “AHA!” moment from my most recent move.

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  • Museum Etiquette



    As a history major and a history nerd I absolutely love museums. They are the non negotiable stops while traveling and a favorite suggestion as an addition to a girls weekend.

    Mamma May is very big on etiquette and exhibiting proper behavior so it is no surprise that from a young age we knew exactly how to behave in places like museums, art galleries and nice restaurants. I took these lessons for granted and finally this year while standing in the Louvre ready to punch a fellow tourist in the back of the head I realized that maybe not everyone has had the strict training that we had growing up and have not been taught how to behave in certain situations or places.

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  • Steps to take when you’re laid off from a Job




    Losing your job happens. It happens to almost everyone, I know it’s hard when you think that you are a special little snowflake.  but it’s true. Industries change, the economy fluctuates, business models are updated and sometimes you are the one who as to go.

    The only thing you can do is to be prepared when the day comes. As someone who was not at all prepared and as someone who needs to have a plan for everything, when my time came I was caught very off guard and felt very lost.

    Through my experience and from long conversations with friends and family who have been in the same situations, I have pulled together some things that either we wish we had known or that worked well for us at the time.

    In the Moment

    1. Stay pleasant and professional.

    It may seem like this would be obvious. However, in the heat of the moment emotions can run high and some people may say things they regret. Tears on the other hand are completely acceptable. I’m not saying start wailing away like a banshee but it can be a blow to your ego and sometimes those damn tears just escape at the worst time. The most important thing though is to remember that you still may want to use these people as references for your next job and you don’t want to burn any bridges at this point

    2. Ask them to walk you through the offer letter

    Unless you’re an HR or Legal expert some of the terms and phrases they will use may be confusing or difficult, and you will also be able to clarify any issues you may have right away which will come in handy during some of the next few steps

    3. Request a soft copy of the offer to be sent to your personal email account

    Especially if you are someone who has all your important files online or on a hard drive. Also this way if you accidentally get your snack on your official letter you have a back up.

    4. Ask them to call you a cab while you pack your desk

    Even if they say “just flag one and expense it” say “Please have one waiting for me”. This is not an extreme request and sometimes they let you go at 8:30 in the morning when there are no cabs and you have to walk home with your bankers box full of all the food items you stashed away in your desk over the years. In case you cant tell that’s personal experience talking. I wish I had been more firm and made them call me one while I was busy filling my box full of hand lotion and cans of tuna.

    Once you get home

    1. Get a second set of eyes on your offer

    This is where the soft copy comes in handy. Email it to your HR or Lawyer friend or to your mummydaddy because mummydaddies know all the things. And your significant other who knows way more fancy people than you do. This will help to make sure you’re getting the right offer and if there are any other questions you didn’t think of in the moment

    2. Rally your support system

    Don’t be embarrassed or feel weird about telling friends and family what happened. Maybe don’t post about it on social media right away but your close friends and family will be able to support you and remind you of how awesome and fantastic you are. And if they don’t remind you just send me a message and I’ll make sure you know how super duper you are!

    3. Turn off your alarms for the next morning

    You get to sleep in! Leave the planning for later, just relax stay in bed and do nothing in the morning because you can do whatever you want and you had a hard day.

    The next day

    Today is an important day. You may be in for an emotional roller coaster or you might be just fine. Take the day to yourself and don’t try to fill up your first day with busy work.

    1. Build a budget

    You should already have and follow a budget but let’s face it sometimes being an adult means that you build one and forget about it because… shoes. So make a spreadsheet, download an app go old school with a notebook. However you do it just make sure you cover your basics. Figure out how much time you have before you absolutely need a new job and if you need to borrow money.

    2. Look up employment laws in your province or state

    Even though you may have had someone look over your offer letter it is good to be well versed in your rights and make sure you fully understand your situation and reassure yourself that you are taking all the necessary precautions and steps.

    3. File for your unemployment insurance

    The sooner the better. It is easier for it to be put on hold than it is to back date and stress about it.

    4. Take a nap

    Seriously. How often can you take a nap at 11 am on a Wednesday just because?

    The next week

    1. Start a routine

    We let you sleep in for a week now it’s time to really start a routine. This will help in the long run, being unemployed can dampen your spirit and it can make you very very lazy but having a routine will help combat some of those issues. Set a time to wake up EVERY morning. No excuses. Do the same with bed time. Make a schedule for hobbies, job hunting and household chores and stick to it. As tempting as it may be don’t stick your butt in front of the tv all day every day.

     2. Network, Network, Network

    If you left on good terms reach out to your former bosses or co-workers and invite them out for coffee. Keep these relationships open you never know who they may know or what companies and organizations they may have connections to. Also reach out to former colleagues and do your research on Linkedin. It’s never too soon to start planning your next step

    3. Re-discover yourself

    Maybe this is a blessing in disguise, maybe you weren’t completely happy at your job before. Or maybe you have always wanted to move to a new city or take that class that scares you. Take advantage of this free time and do your research, read those books on your shelf you bought to make yourself look smarter. Visit your friend who lives far enough away that you dont see them very often. Focus on yourself. Right now it is all about you and you deserve to be happy.

    The next few weeks will have it’s ups and downs but remember that you will get through it and be stronger when you make it out the other side. Which you will.

  • Getting to Know Yourself – Part 1


    Paris Fountain Couple

    Throughout your schooling years, there is a huge focus on how your identify yourself and who you think you are. from the simplistic primary school drawings of “a brown eyed girl who likes dogs” you start to gain a perceived ‘identity’ that slowly changes as your interests change and you grow, but through the art projects and other self reflecting assignments you begin to build a bigger picture of yourself.


    Then comes university, college or trade school and you get to identify with your part time job, your studies and if you play sports. I was a lifeguard who was studying International Development. I felt strongly about both, I was good at my job and I loved my studies so using both as identifiers made sense and was something I was proud of.

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