Goodbye Life of a Spinster Aunt

I never imagined my wedding as a little girl.

My sister and I had bunkbeds as kids and it wasn’t rare that I’d fall asleep listening to her describe in painstaking detail every minute aspect of her shockingly purple wedding-to-be.

But that’s just it, I fell asleep. I wasn’t into wedding planning as an eight year old, even then I think they may have been some doubt because I don’t think I ever really thought I would get married. I just kind of assumed I’d grow too old and become a cat lady with no cats (cause I’m allergic) and just be a spinster aunt. I wasn’t even really disturbed by this reality, it just seemed like it was bound to be reality, it seemed natural.

I never really got particularly lonely as a child, I liked to read and play alone, and I was a little odd. We all know looking back we were a little odd but some people grow out of that. I don’t think I ever did, in fact I think I grew into it. I just kind of assumed that no one would want to put up with my weird and drama and pickiness and silly and I was okay with that, I didn’t think anyone had to. I’m a rather logical person; it seemed a rather logical conclusion.

And yet here I am, wedding planning. I’m still a little shocked sometimes that Ryan loves me, goodness, even likes me! I don’t even like me very much of the time! But then I wake up to a text, “Good morning beautiful” and I go to sleep to “I love you” and it’s this happy little surprise every time because somewhere inside I feel I can never expect it. I never expect to be loved and am often surprised to find that I’m liked. I am still not very good at being in touch with my emotions but I’m trying and the fact that someone could be so in touch with theirs as to consciously choose to spend some liking me, am I really worth it?

And please don’t think I say this so people can assure me that I am (in fact assurance has yet to have much affect and I’m 23) I simply say it because what I never expected, and assumed would never happen, has, and I picked out “The” white dress today and we’re picking venues and choosing colours and building up our wedding party squad and sometimes it’s like I’m in someone else’s dream because how could it possibly actually be mine? Where are the cats? Where is the spinster life? What is this love and acceptance and friendship and future?

It’s mine.

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A Beginner is Cooking: C is for Casserole

I may have to start buying my own meat. Relying on what is in the house is proving to be a severe handicap in learning to cook unless I want to go vegetarian in which case we need some tofu or squashes or avocado (I greatly dislike avocado by the way, why is it in every recipe these days?) The issue this provides is that I’m not really sure that I’m willing to invest money into this hobby that I’m not particularly enjoying. I mean I understand that eating isn’t a hobby, but cooking my own menu of things is when I could just eat soup of sandwiches. Once living away from home I do the shopping and choose the ingredients, I don’t really have that freedom at home for the most part unless I want to super clearly label all my stuff and hide it in the fridge.

After struggling to find a recipe that we had ingredients for I managed to dig up a recipe for a tuna casserole for one. Now I rather like “for one” recipes because it means less math for me! Some things are surprisingly difficult to half or quarter! Ingredients present, I cook. Today we shall use both the stove top and the oven, I venture further into the world of the kitchen…

They say the third time is the charm. Now maybe it was getting more comfortable in the kitchen, maybe it’s because at last I found a beginner recipe that actually even had seasonings as a part of the recipe, or maybe it was sheer dumb luck, but folks, this tasted good. My only critique is that it was actually quite large for a single serving but that’s part of what this cooking experience is about, learning to eat proper amounts, still wasn’t able to finish it though, but eh! Leftovers are also a part of cooking right?

When they say "lightly golden" I take it very seriously. Browning is not golden...

When they say “lightly golden” I take it very seriously. Browning is not golden…

This was surprisingly easy to make, I even chopped and cooked onions without crying! (thank you to who ever taught me the mint gum trick!) It had multiple parts to be combined at the end but unlike the last recipe they weren’t all being made at the same time, they happened one at a time and sat and waited once they were finished until the others were done, it was just the way a recipe should be. Next time (and there will be a next time for this one) I would mix up more bread crumbs, in my opinion there weren’t enough but that’s probably more of a personal thing that a recipe critique 😛

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I have discovered however that most of the food I’ve made has been rather monochrome, perhaps its time to venture to multi part dishes, to sides, to, dare I say it? Vegetables…

A Beginner is Cooking: B is for Blandness

Well today my issue was not lack of pre-cook prep, it was lack of resources once more. Thankfully this time discovered before choosing a recipe! There is a lack of meat in the house presently (apparently a shop is due) so the only available chicken (my preferred meat!) was frozen in a three pack. I attempted to pry apart one without defrosting the others but they were frozen together and insist upon being defrosted together, thus, I have gone meatless for today. I chose to make mac and cheese from scratch, because really, who doesn’t like mac and cheese? Crazy people, that’s who.
(Sorry if that’s you. Reality can be hard sometimes ya know? ;P)

I used this recipe which promised me mac and cheese within 15 minutes. I am hungry. I am ready. Let’s cook.

Did step one correctly this time round and checked for all the ingredients before starting, even did full prep and shredded the cheese before starting, my goodness, who am I? I did realize once the water for the pasta had boil however that cooking the pasta was going to take as long as one step of the sauce, so if they were to be done around the same time, the pasta shouldn’t have been started first so I held back on starting it a little.

I almost missed the fact that the milk had to be heated (even the best laid plans try and go awry…) but all seemed to go smoothly though it was a tad tricky balancing two pots at the same time with one needing constant stirring and the other fairly regular stirring but we got there. The cheese which was added into the sauce last actually melted a lot faster than I expected it to – nearly instantly! So sauce added to noodles, stuck it in a dish and give it a taste.

Boringgggggggg. This is the first meal I’ve ever had that I have added salt and pepper to. I don’t really know what other seasonings can go in things without getting gross so I added a tad of salt and a bit of pepper which made it okay, but still, boring! You could barely taste the cheese, it was just creamy pasta. Guess that’s not really my fault, more just a recipe that I’m not fond of and I suppose I could always try again sometime with more cheese. At least it looked like proper mac and cheese! Nice and creamy!

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Dece.

If you like fast, easy, and tasteless, this is the recipe for you! I read in the post comments after the fact that one person made it and then baked it with a panko crumbs crust and that sounded like it could be really nice! I feel like the texture would kinda add something to counter the tastlessness… haha

Meal for week two down. I am slowly getting slightly more comfortable in the kitchen but baking is still proving to be much more rewarding.

A Beginner is Cooking: A is for Alfredo

Meat is the bane of my existence.

Okay that may be a slight exaggeration, I should clarify. What I mean to say is, I dislike cooking meat.

I have no issues eating it, definitely not a vegetarian! Not a super fan of fish and refuse to eat veal and lamb because cute baby animals but everything else is usually pretty safe! It’s the cooking… the raw slimy floppy I’ll move on, I’m grossing myself out.

So not a fan of raw meat, yet I’ve made the decision to cook. Huzzah. This should go well.

I tried to cop out today, I really did. I looked through a bunch of vegetarian meals but they all had weird ingredients that I didn’t recognize. I think the health-fanatic vegetarians and vegans have scared me off. Also a lot of the things I don’t just have lying around – is goat cheese substitutable with just, like, normal cheese…? I don’t know these things!

I kind of a fan of those thirty second “Tasty” videos on Facebook that make cooking look so fun and easy with their cheery music and fastness and I had saved one of a one-pot chicken alfredo thing. Now I quite like chicken alfredo so this seemed like it could be a nice lunch.

First speed bump. I discovered the recipe calls for heavy cream. (Again, do people normally have these things lying around or are they actually smart enough to plan ahead? People I admire you.) My good friend Google told me that I could make a heavy cream substitute with milk and butter though so here we go, we’re gonna start straying from the recipe before we even start. Rebel. Yes. That’s right.

But it got worse. Oh friends, the gong show has yet to begin.

So I made the mistake of assuming we would have something as common as say, parmesan cheese. Apparently not. Thankfully before starting to cook the chicken (which I discovered it much easier and less gross to cook with gloves on, very glad mum bought those!) Our parmesan seemed had been forgotten at a relative’s house after Easter and no one had yet noticed. I was the one who got to discover the glaring lack. Alfredo is simply not alfredo without parmesan cheese thus I grabbed my ever-suffering sister to chauffeur me to the grocery store. (Mental note, get driver’s license faster.) Actually having to pay money for this learning experiment was unexpected and cooking is stressful and I was starting to get cranky. It was at this point that I dramatically texted my boyfriend, “It’s official, I hate cooking.”

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Having obtained the rogue cheese (and a chocolate bar) I began cooking. It was after adding the chicken broth and “cream”, as I was stirring that suddenly the smell wafted up to me. It smelt good. People, at this moment it came to me, this could actually work.

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After painstakingly waiting for it to simmer 15-20 minutes, (you know the plus side to sandwiches is you get hungry and within two minutes you’re eating) it was time. I stirred in the parmesan cheese and tasted it.

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Folks it was pretty decent. The cheese didn’t fully melt and not as much of the brothy stuff had evaporated as I thought but it doesn’t have to look pretty to taste decent right? The next few hours will finalize if I live or not… It wasn’t super flavourful, kinda salty from the broth I think. But it was food and I made it and I have officially cooked a meal on my own, no help, huzzah!

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I’m gonna go eat my chocolate bar now.

Overall time from start to eating: hour and a half.

Should have taken: maybe 30 minutes? (quite possibly less)

Stress level: One med-large chocolate bar

In the end: Might make again, but almost too cheesy and salty. Maybe with less broth and less cheese?

 

(Feel free to follow me on snapchat @rlpdean for real-time annoying updates when I’m “cooking”!)

The ABCs: A Beginner is Cooking

I am twenty-two years old, five foot six inches and weigh 110lbs.

Now why did I tell you that? Because I should not weigh 110lbs. For my height I shouldn’t be less than 120lbs and I am clearly quite a bit smaller than that.

So do I choose to eat as little as I can manage to get away with? Do I exercise too much and too hard? Do I make myself throw up after I eat? No, no, none of the above. I eat as much as I can get away with (often junk), exercise as little as I can, and throwing up reminds me of panic attacks and really bad flus so in no universe would I do it on purpose. Then why am I ten pounds underweight? Well, I have a high metabolism (genetics were a blessing, thanks mum), am a bit lazy while being able to get overly one-track minded, and greatly dislike, to the point of being afraid of, cooking.

High metabolism, I can’t fix, just gotta eat more, however, therein lies my issue. I’ve gotten used to not eating a lot and, in a way that is sort of comparable to people recovering from serious eating disorders, now find that I am not able to eat as much as I should. I’ve allowed my stomach to shrink and my body to learn to function on too little and it hurts to reverse that, it now hurts to eat the right amount of food.

I am also a bit lazy when it comes to food. I can make a small number of dishes to perfection, quick dishes with minimal ingredients such as toast of many varieties, for example, peanut butter toast, baked beans on toast, poached egg on toast, or cheese on toast, garlic toast (some might argue having achieved perfection here…), etc, etc. I can boil and scramble eggs. I can make grilled cheese wonderfully (yes, that is different than cheese on toast), as well as make various sandwiches and salads and frozen pizzas. Oh, and soup from a can. I am very good at making soup from a can. So yes, I’m sure you see the patterns – ready-made, minimal ingredients, and little to no cooking. Also, few of these things are very healthy. They’re food, yes, but they can’t really sustain you if they’re all you’re eating.

I also forget to eat sometimes. It’s not that I chose not to eat, I actually forget to. I just look up and realize that I haven’t eaten in six hours or so and didn’t notice. I don’t know quite how I manage this because as soon as I see the time I’m suddenly very hungry, but before that I wasn’t. It’s weird. Bodies are weird. Maybe I need to set alarms for certain times each day to make sure I remember to eat.

However, I don’t like cooking. I do like baking! Baking is very precise with exact measurements and times and sweet treats as a reward for efforts. Cooking is a lot of “brown”, or cook “until done”, and add “to taste” etc and I do not appreciate that. My bad habit of being a control freak perfectionist kicks in and rather than risk failing I chose not to try. This has unfortunately been a pattern in other areas of my life too but I’m working at facing it in some of those areas and now it’s time to face eating habits and health. I may fail, I may burn things, but I am going to attempt to learn to cook edible food.

How I fear this may go…

That’s right. I’m going to try to learn how to cook. In an effort to get into better eating habits I’m going to try cooking a new dish at least once a week, either a single serving dish pour moi, or (if I’m feeling over-confident) perhaps even a meal for the fam! We’ll see. Getting to that point may take a while… But I’m going to blog my attempts because I have a feeling that will help me get over the failures (I’m sure there will be some failures) because then at least you and I can laugh over them together instead of me moping around a kitchen faintly filled with black smoke and smelling of burnt *insert your choice of food name here* all alone.

I want to stress, this is not going to become a foodie blog. I am not a foodie. This is going to be a let’s-laugh-at-how-bad-Becky-is-at-cooking blog. It’s going to be stories, not recipes or reviews; it may not even be interesting, but if it gets me attempting to cook then so be it!

I have ten pounds to gain healthily and cooking to learn. Let’s do this. You are cordially invited to join me in experiencing ABCs, A Beginner is Cooking.

 

Do you have any good beginner recipes that you like to make? Please comment them below and give me some ideas!

The Need of Internet

I don’t need the Internet anymore.

Now there are a couple things in this sentence you could confront me on, first, need – who needs the Internet? But also anymore – so I did need it then? And what changed?

I’m reading a book for my Media and Society class right now called The Digital Invasion: How Technology is Shaping You and Your Relationships and it’s sort of freaking me out a tad but I think I’m also learning lots. It talks about Internet addiction and how it affects our brains and how we function and how it changes our relationships (for better and for worse, it’s not a doomsday book, they acknowledge that there are benefits!) but it’s making me consider how much I use the Internet and social media and why.

I began using the Internet more and more starting from around age seventeen. A friend introduced me to the vlogger (video-blogger) side of Youtube and within a few months I was vlogging myself. At this time I was in grade twelve and slowly giving into minor depression as I grew increasingly afraid of my unknown future and saw my friends all drifting into the great unknown. I felt that I was losing my friends, didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life, didn’t like my part time job at a grocery store post-grad (I would “entertain” myself by seeing how far into a shift I could get without talking to someone. I clearly wasn’t a cashier!) and wasn’t pushing into God and building my faith thus allowing that to drift away too. I was lonely.

And the Internet, oh the Internet! The Internet helped me find friends, find friends fast and who had common interests and fun hobbies. I had Facebook, and now Youtube, next was Twitter and Tumblr, more and more ways to connect with my new friends. Now I’m not bashing this because it actually served a purpose in where I was at because as I somewhat dissolved into “living in” the Internet, it also helped bring me back out. I went to a convention in California, meeting friends I’d only previously known online. I’ve since gone on a second trip to DisneyWorld with them. I began organizing meet ups in Winnipeg a couple times a year for other people who were fans of some of the same Youtubers as I was.

"Nerdfighter" meet-up 2012

“Winnipeg Nerdfighter” meet-up 2012

"Nerdfighter" meet-up 2013

“Winnipeg Nerdfighter” meet-up 2013

The Internet sucked me in, yes. I became too reliant on it, yes. But it also helped me grow, a lot. I planned my portion of two trips out of the country and then travelled there alone. I organized meet-ups with people I’d never met before and spent time getting to know them. As I found solace online I began to gain more confidence in my real life outside of the Internet. I made friends with coworkers, I reconnected with high school friends, I figured out what I wanted to do with my life. As I gained a few subscribers on Youtube I began to value my voice and think about what I was saying more and through vlogging I actually developed an interest and some practical skill in video making, an aspect of what I hope my future career will involve.

Lately the Internet hasn’t been very fulfilling though. It’s no longer serving the purpose it once did and I think perhaps I’ve outgrown it. It’s not that I don’t value the friendships I made while regularly vlogging or even regularly watching Youtube videos – I do, very much, I would consider many of them to now be friends, but I no longer solely need the Internet to feel that I am connecting with people and being heard. I begin to find it tiresome, Internet connections cannot interact the same way as people in real life. I have friends and hobbies and goals and a life that extends past the limitations of my laptop and my wifi. I can appreciate the ability to stay connected using social media and the like, but I prefer to see friends in person and actually go out and to things and build relationships in that sense. And that’s a big change for me. There was a time when I would Facebook message you instead of trying to get together in person. Now, well… now I’ll do both 😉

I suppose over the last five years I’ve been able to mature and get to know myself better. I’ve experienced life online, and it’s fun for a time and serves its purpose, but I’ve discovered it’s crucially important to maintain a solid foundation in the real world. To be able connect with people in person is something that cannot be replaced and it is only through the challenges and bumps that we face along the road that we can grow, and those are rarely found within the safe walls we build up for ourselves online. Online is a place to hide from challenges and bumps, however, in the sage words of The Sound of Music‘s Reverend Mother, “These walls were not built to shut out problems. You have to face them. You have to live the life you were born to live.”

-B