no takeout for 30 days – notes & tips

My family and I have not eaten takeout for about a month now for any meals. It was purely by accident. This realization came about when I was out grocery shopping for turkey burger ingredients that I’m going to make today (ahhh, so excited to figure out the seasonings and assembling the final product with melted American cheese, a slice of tomato, lettuce and a homemade sauce). In the past, takeout would be more frequent within the month. I’d just drive over to the nearest fast food place, place an order and pay. Wait. Drive home. Avoid crazy drivers (can you hear the annoyance in my voice haha) Eat it–knowing I’m poorer for it and not knowing how the burger was made. If I felt motivated, I’d make my own, but it wasn’t, sadly, my first instinct to do so. It just felt too much of a hassle. And weirdly, now it feels the opposite: it’s a hassle to get takeout.

Cooking has become a bit therapeutic for me. I really enjoy it. My favorite is cutting the veggies and sauteing them in the pan. In the past, I’ve posted a lot of my home cookin’ here. This renewed love for it has overflowed into my daily life and now my family and I can enjoy the delicious creations.

Here are some of my favorites from past posts:

After coming to this realization, I wanted to share a few notes and tips I had in case it’s something you want to try out, too.

The Benefits

  • I feel like my diet is more in my control. I’m not on a specific diet per se, but more in that I am aware of the amount of veggies I’m eating and my serving size. It’s not decided for me as it would be if I were to order out. Was anyone else shocked when you learned how many more calories were in a fast food salad as opposed to french fries? What?!?
  • I’m saving loads of money. Well, not loads, but a lot based on calculating the amount of what it would cost for each meal. I never eat out for each meal, but you know what I mean. For example, if I were to make mac & cheese, the cost of the ingredients alone would be a fraction of a price of a bowl of it at a restaurant. And homemade would be for a family size, not just a cup.
  • The act of making something for myself and others and having it be enjoyed is so gratifying. It’s instant, too. Now I understand my mom’s love for cooking more. She’d always want me to get seconds or to bring some leftovers with me when I left. It’s a form of creation and love.
  • Cooking at home is another way for me to exercise my creativity. I love finding recipe gems I’ve used over and over, but also modify each time. Maybe this needed more onion powder or less soy sauce next time. Maybe next time I’ll use shrimp instead of beef.
  • It seems to put everyone in a good mood. Good food is important for our health in all aspects of our lives, including emotional and mental. And homemade just always tastes better to me. It’s nourishing.

Tips

  • Start with super easy recipes and start small. The first step is to develop confidence in the cooking process itself and feel comfortable with what you have.
  • And you don’t need to be fancy for every meal. You have a loaf of bread, eggs and cheese? That’s a breakfast or lunch. So is just plain cereal. You have some frozen spinach, onions and rice. That could be a meal, too.
  • Frozen food is a good one, too. We’re currently working on eating up frozen pizzas we bought, which we will unlikely buy again since it just doesn’t taste good.
  • I’m not sure if this is true for everyone else, but the more food I made, the more I was inclined to continue. I went from basic easy recipes to more elaborate and time-consuming. A genuine passion develops and the food starts to taste a lot better with all the practice. And my motivation to seek out new recipes.
  • Plan a few days in advance about which dishes you want to make and then go to the grocery store. The more supplies you have ready at home, the likelihood you’ll want to use it (at least this is the case for me and needing to be budget conscious). The more you do this, the more you realize which food items are your staples and which are just special once in a while items.
  • Always have the right basic tools ready. It’s annoying to be in the middle of cooking only to find out you are missing that 1/3 measuring cup or a mixing bowl big enough for the mixture.
  • Experiment with the different spices and seasonings that are available. There are so many amazing flavorings out there that are available to us. I’m still learning this myself. Spices are expensive, so I want to make sure I actually use them. Some basics I always have on hand and replenish are: onion powder, garlic powder, cumin, paprika, salt, pepper, vanilla, cinnamon, sesame oil, and soy sauce. I feel like I’m forgetting something, but this is the gist.

I hope this was helpful. I hope I continue on this streak. It makes me genuinely proud and happy. And I am so grateful to find peace and joy in cooking.

My cooking/baking goals at the moment (but I’m in no rush):

  • Bread loaf
  • Ice-cream
  • Thai yellow curry from scratch
  • Chili
  • A delicious pie

december 2019

The last month of this year. The last year and month of the year 20-teen decade. I didn’t want to miss you. I wanted to make sure I said hello before you drift on by and 2020 comes swinging around and you’re long gone.

I know I have all month to do it, but why not on the first day?

December’s always been an important month. It’s the last time and opportunity you get to figure out and do all the things you ever wanted to do in the current year. A nice farewell to a long 12 months is just as appropriate as welcoming the first month of the year ahead.

And it will fly by. As we celebrate the holidays, birthdays that share the same days, school vacation and time off from work, please take some time to thank this year. We’ve all grown.

I’ll start.

Thank you, 2019, for letting me heal and recover from a crazy 2018. Thank you for all the moments I felt happy with my family and friends. The laughter that hurt my insides and had me in tears. The beautiful landscapes, live performances, and recipes I felt inspired by. The strong individuals who are so passionate and wise; opens the minds of all those around them. I am grateful for all the questions that came to me this year and challenged me to go beyond my boundaries to answer them. Thank you for the warmth, patience and reflection I needed to connect with the deep gratitude that lead me back to love and happiness.

I look forward to spending time with you. I hope we get to end this year well together. Let’s make that delicious looking coffee cake; a recipe I’ve been eyeing for these last couple of days. Or create more poetry. And organize this house a little so 2020 doesn’t feel out of place when it arrives.

love for maggie rogers

Maggie Rogers is a phenomenal performer, singer and songwriter. Her passion for music and her live performances give me life. It’s a renewal. She woke me up from the slumber of the droning hum of what I used to consider current music. She has changed what I identify as music, its culture and a new definition of love for it. I think we all feel it. That change of sound, the openness of originality and creativity; not just from her, but from a couple of contemporary artists today. I truly feel grateful.

As I wrestle with my current writer’s block on my other posts, I thought to share my love for Maggie’s music and why. She’s infectious. She takes the energy she feels and illuminates it; pours it out of her being. You can see and feel the warmth when her music is being played. I feel like she got it. This genius honesty and gratitude. She’s not in-between or waiting. She’s here and she’s ready and she’s got it. Here’s her performance from The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. She doesn’t make life seem exciting. She is life.

Oh and forgot to share this video, as well. I love this video so much. I’m a sucker for those one-shot productions. Their impressive and raw.

grateful

it’s been a very loving and happy couple of weeks. i think a few things have played a role. for one, i’ve been getting myself into a routine and it’s amazing. it’s gotten me to do the things i need to do, but also make time for things that i don’t usually have time for. it’s given me clarity on my life overall, honestly. who knew all those school days from being a student taught me the importance of routine and tradition.

another delicious reason is that i’ve been cooking a lot lately. i’ve made about a dozen (or more) of different dishes or iterations of the veggies, grains and meats i’ve had on hand and it’s given me so much comfort (in my heart and in my stomach). i used to document a lot of my food cooking adventures, but lately, i’ve just kind of enjoyed this quiet cooking existence. to do something just for fun, for joy and for spontaneity. i would like to still write more cooking posts in the future, but for now, it’s been nice to not pressure myself to take photographs & stage the shots while cooking.

thirdly, i think just being able to be grateful, every day. seeing the beauty in the little and big things that come our way and letting go of the things that make us unhappy. it’s been worth it to me to guide myself into a different way of thinking and looking at life through different perspectives.

i hope this continues. and i hope you all are also happy and taking in the peace and calm (despite the busy holiday season that is upon us)!

morning gratitude

However you came upon my blog, I want to thank you for reading my words. Thank you to the new followers and visitors. It’s always a happy feeling to see that the things I create matter in some way because within this space, I try to create with my heart first. And I appreciate that we can connect in that way.

Another cold morning. I rose today on my own. No cars passing by or alarm to ring in my ears. My body slept well and with deep sleep, I have the motivation and energy to welcome the morning. Hello morning. I am possibly going to have another fairly busy day, but I want to remind myself to take deep breathes. Take in the moment at hand and really value it. Our minds are so good at thinking. It’s their job to do so, but sometimes, if we don’t take care of them and let them relax, they can constantly run through a million thoughts.

I’m going to try to balance the ins and outs of my being and energy today. Sleep well another night and be kind to myself today.

kindness today

I had a pretty challenging day. I woke up kinda feeling not all that well. Maybe it is the colder weather. Maybe it is the nearing deadlines I have to meet. Maybe it’s just that kind of day.

But I take this moment now to reflect on how it really went out there. How did it go without my busy self going from one place to another and actually taking a moment to breathe?

It went okay. Not terrible or bad.

I am guilty of really pushing myself to get a lot of things done and reaching expectations that are not realistic. I came in with a plan that had too many snags and not taking into account of my energy, my mindset and my heart.

There was a woman who kindly helped me today. I think she saw the urgency in my eyes and decided to lend a hand. I am so grateful. I know she also had her own day, but she made it a point to go outside of herself and reach out to me. I am thankful. And I want to learn from her.

So here is me reaching out to you in case you are having a hard time. I hope you are doing well today. I wish you happiness and strength with whatever challenge is in front of you. With every experience we have, good or bad, we become stronger.

someone you loved

I just made banana bread; warm out of the oven. The sweetness of the banana smell fills up my little cold room here. And there’s nothing I want more than to see you again. Share a slice with me as we talk about nothing. You tell me about some obscure fact that you somehow learned and picked up. I look at you; never certain what you’re thinking but know that your presence matters to me. It always has. You used to catch me off guard. You’d tell me something really honest and deep that makes me wonder how long you’ve held it in until you decided to open up to me. Thank you. Thank you for letting me be someone you loved and you being that someone for me.

connect through food

We drove a while until we saw on the GPS that our destination was around the corner. I was hungry. It was his idea to go further by the coast and climb mountains to get a better view before though. Loved the time with nature, but was also starved and depleted. Decorated like a home, this restaurant had succulents along the path of the entrance. You can tell it was a family restaurant, with the father who led us to a table. I could see the window and walls carrying little pieces of their history, aged by the frequent sunlight that shined through. A man sitting at the table diagonal from us had ordered something I’m unfamiliar with. He silently ate bit by bit as he looked up every so often. He seemed to quite liked it as his plate was completely clean before he left. I searched through the menu; sticky on some pages. And then I knew what I wanted. The son took our order. Moments after the food arrived, my stomach was full and my heart was happy. There’s something undeniably beautiful about the human connection that needs no introduction. Just a passionate cook, a hungry patron and a dish holding years of family tradition, a touch of love and plate full of deliciousness.

grandpa memories

I came across the 73 Questions With Roger Federer from Vogue and it made me feel how much time has passed by. It reminded me of grandpa. Here’s a few loosely strung memories I’ve compiled about him:

As a kid, my dad would drive our family over to visit grandpa a few times a year. We’d get lost on the same curvy road and pass by the same grocery store wondering if we needed to take a left or right turn. On one of our visits, he had Wimbledon on the television and explained to me how tennis worked. I didn’t get it for a while, but it didn’t stop me from spending lazy weekends watching a few tournaments myself.

Seeing Federer on screen again was like being a kid again trying to understand what love meant (in terms of tennis scoring) and connecting with my grandpa through his perspective. I tried by asking him once what kind of music he liked and he said he wasn’t fond of music at all. I was shocked. I never met anyone who didn’t like music in some capacity. Sports, gardening and playing Bridge was what he enjoyed doing.

Just writing the title now made me remember how my sister and I would re-read our thank you cards and letters over and over again because the word “granpa” or “granma” just looked too weird. Obviously, they were spelled wrong. I was a little kid trying to impress the adults with my perfect handwriting and articulate word choices. Looking back on them, the slanted writing alignment, things we considered important to mention and the misspellings made them all the more special and cute. It’s funny and kind of sad how much time we spend fretting over things that ultimately don’t matter.

Grandpa kind of taught me that in passing. He lived it with his life. He didn’t worry about upcoming surgeries, he just got whatever he needed done and moved on. He didn’t complain about working over his retirement age or giving up his stuff to move into a smaller apartment. He didn’t even make silent awkward moments awkward. While I was in high school, he gave me a copy of a journal he wrote. It was fascinating to read again as an adult and I am honored he decided to share his thoughts and feelings with me. He didn’t hide his emotions during trying times or walk away when the pressure was heavy. He even admitted to me when he was scared or when things weren’t going great. His strength, honor and bravery are what I remember most about him. He was human and was the best at it more than anyone I know.

Rest in peace, grandpa. I hope you get to eat delicious chocolate cake all the time and beating all the Bridge games you’re playing. I miss you all the time.

meditating and mindfulness on a train

Deep breathe in.

Deep breathe out.

My aunt introduced me to meditation about a decade ago.I had done mindfulness before I even knew what it was called, but after she gave me a proper idea and definition of meditation, I was able to focus my energy towards the practice more deeply. After practicing it a few times I’ve had only a couple of instances that truly stand out. And honestly, I do not do it as often as I like to.

The last time I meditated was, unusually, on a semi-packed train. I was having a rough morning. The specific details are lost on me now, but I remember the only thing that comforted me was just closing my eyes and focusing on my breathing. Being mindful. The noises on the train were barely there. I felt balance filled with immense gratitude. I felt empowered. It’s hard to describe, but it felt like whatever it was that bothered me that morning just did not matter anymore. I was gently uplifted by the new energy that developed.

I read once that meditation and mindfulness are ways for our brains to recharge. To let our minds take rest and reset our thoughts. It’s so easy to wrap our heads around a specific idea or a pattern over and over again. We’re just a computer that needs to reboot sometimes.

little rewards

sunrise

we put in the time to sleep early, wake up early and drive over there to see this. it was our little reward that we so desperately needed in that time in our lives. it’s interesting to think about and wonder how many moments in our lives we create by just putting in a little effort; by wanting that small glimpse of what amazing could look like. it’s hope. hope that it’ll all be good someday.

shop has been added & other thoughts

In the last few weeks, my life has turned around a bit quite a few times. With new opportunities, ideas, travel, tasks and the day to day routine, I’ve felt a bit overwhelmed overall. Moment to moment doesn’t feel intense, really, but it’s more of the whole picture. I sat on the porch today taking in the breeze. It was glorious. It made me value, as it tends to do, time. Summer is finally here and more than any other season, it is the only one I feel most inspired and motivated by. There is literally something in the air. To clarify though, I don’t feel a rush. I feel excitement. But the kind like a soft and gentle glee you get when you see your crush or hearing good news.

Summer has made me want to knock off my heavy boots and embrace the lightness of sandals and flats. I don’t need to carry over the heaviness of last year’s sorrow so carefully and forcefully. I can comfort my wounds with love and gratitude. I can cherish rather than regret. I want to.

So, I’m trying new things. I have added a little shop here to find new homes for secondhand goods. Feel free to check out. I may change up the theme setting on this blog some more, but haven’t fully committed. I switched up the way one of my rooms look with new house plants and curtains. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely feel the summer lounging vibes, but I’m also feeling power of action.