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

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)!

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.

pure

The first image of him was actually a background one. One in which he stood as a stand in character or an extra on a television set. I didn’t think much about it. Like all the other strangers that have passed by before me, why would he be different?

We started to see each other more. Accidentally. In hallways. Through campus. We found out we had mutual friends. And like that. It was too easy.

The pieces started to come together so nicely. We talked. We took the same classes. They were big, so it made sense I had never seen him. Or maybe I did, but in the background. And then I couldn’t un-see him anymore. Never again.

We never defined ourselves. So we never really knew what we meant to each other. The kind of way one would describe with labels or titles. But I can describe how he made me feel. How it made me feel.

It was pure. It was sweet. It was new. It was exciting. So exciting. My heart was overwhelmed and happy. It felt full and refreshed; a different energy was pulsing through me and it felt so natural and good.

letting go and holding on

The emotions wash over me,
It overtakes my body, heart, spirit.
Control no longer exists,
Only my insides know what’s up.

Unseen for so long,
Hidden under a pile of excuses,
It found resurrection
From a bit of light.

Revived from the shadows,
After it was pushed aside
Months ago, a thousand minutes
Drift in and out.

Longing for something to hold onto.

hidden hearts

I have the music so loud that I can’t even hear these words. These words that are being typed. Like a silent film being watched as time passes. Slowly, and ever continuous. There are so many ways in which our hearts sing the very songs we refuse to hear. The very words and beats we need. So I continue hiding the very heart I need. Muting the very sound I need to hear. How many hidden hearts do you see? Are they hidden after all?

hidden hearts

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.

being young and dating

Tonight, I read an old journal entry about a boy I was dating at the time. Flipping to the beginning pages were memories of hand holding, date nights at pizza parlors and walking around in the city to a few pages later in which I write a list of our similarities and differences. Apparently we both really liked films and blogging but were on opposite sides when it came to our choice of fruit and tv shows we preferred watching. Then came the eventual pages of miscommunication and wondering what he was thinking, but I was too afraid to come off as needy. He made the first move and asked me out. I made the first move and held his hand. He liked my confidence and I liked his spontaneity. That made me wonder. And feel alive.

pink skies

Book review: Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

AttachmentsAttachments by Rainbow Rowell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Attachments is an entertaining and funny love story between two co-workers at a newspaper company called The Courier. They find love at the intersection of technology and the breakroom of a typical 9-to-5 job.

The story starts by introducing friends Jennifer Scribner-Snyder and Beth Fremont through a personal email at work. They often send each other such emails despite knowing that it is being monitored. Lincoln O’Neill is the IT security person whose job it is to do just that and other IT troubleshooting needs in a Y2K technological era.

Given their humorous and charming banter, Lincoln finds their emails the highlight of his day at a pretty lonely and boring night-shift job. He inevitably falls in love with one of them. While the attraction is mutual, Lincoln never fully understood her perspective until they finally meet-cute; seeing one another for who they are and validating their strong feelings for one another.

This story is complex, but not heavy. The three main characters are no longer recent college graduates getting used to their 20s; rather they’re entering their 30s and meeting expectations of what their next steps in life should be. Lincoln, Beth and Jennifer each exhibit different relationship perspectives; being single, in a committed relationship and married, respectively. They each overcome their internal conflicts which results in changed selves by the end of it.

Rainbow Rowell did such a great job in writing a novel that encompassed a romantic comedy love story (that didn’t involve the internet 24/7) without it being too sappy and dramatic. She also did a seamless job in presenting the commentary on the changing times of a new era where parking lots are valued over old movie theaters and acknowledging that we are at an age where love may come before at first sight. Attachments made me laugh out loud more than a few times and swept me off my feet with its delightful characters and dialogue.

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