Six hundred and eighteen

Tips on common sense cooking (lessons I learned the hard way over the past week)

Tip #1: pay attention when using sharp knives

It’s the first time I’ve used a knife since deciding it would be fun to stab myself in the hand full force, hitting the muscle, bleeding and hurting like hell.  Although I do consider myself a much-improved cook, I’ve got a long way to go.  And no, I didn’t stab myself on purpose or think it was fun.  I was trying to fit a big knife into it’s sleeve; I didn’t realize the sleeve was open on the end, the knife got stuck, I pushed harder, it slipped in through the sleeve and out the end, into my hand.  Yes, ouch!  And yes, it was very stupid!  Alas, these kinds of injuries do happen when using sharp knives.  I am recovered, although I do have a large bruise on the palm of my left hand still, one week later.  And I’m a little more tentative while cutting today.

Moral of the story: don’t have your hand behind anything you’re pushing a knife into.

Tip #2: cut onions before putting on makeup that is not waterproof

I just looked in the mirror to find black makeup running down my face, after crying from cutting onions.  Enough said.

Moral of the story: buy waterproof mascara.

Tip #3: when you’re having someone over for dinner, plan ahead, or else you’ll end up serving them almost rotten vegetables

I am absolutely THE WORST for this.  I always think I have all the ingredients in my house to make something, then find out as I’m starting to cook that the pepper I had in the fridge that I bought a couple of weeks ago is feeling pretty mushy, and I’ve run out of rice, but have some quinoa in the back of the cupboard.  I always end up making something with the all the ingredients I have, but never quite what I set out to do.  I’m getting better at this, but it’s a challenge for me.  (Don’t worry friends, I don’t ever serve you completely rotten vegetables)

Moral of the story: check the quality of veggies in the fridge before planning to use them in a meal.

Tip#4: wearing white white cooking something red is not a good idea

I’ve had to change so many times because I’ve splattered on my clothes.

Moral of the story: wear an apron – always.

Why I still keep cooking despite my silly mistakes:

I know many of these seem like common sense.  And yes, they are.  Sometimes my common sense is overshadowed by the many thoughts rolling around in my head.  Sometimes it’s hard for me to fully concentrate on one task when I’m thinking of my next blog post, or some big idea I have, or what I’m doing the following week.  I’m slowly learning that when it comes to cooking, it’s best to pay attention completely to what I’m doing. I think this might be why I’m learning to love it: it’s one place where I am forced to get out of my head and just do it.  Cooking is peaceful for me (when I’m actually focusing), and that’s why it’s worth a stab in the hand, or tomato sauce on my white blouse, or mascara running down my cheeks.

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Six hundred and eleven

I have a confession to make…

(Note: this is not my photo. I borrowed it off Flickr because I lent my camera out)

I sew my socks when they get holes in them.  I know it’s crazy, but I do.  I made the mistake of mentioning this at work the other day and got teased for it.  It takes less time and less money to sew up a little hole, than it does to go to the store to buy a new pair.  Obviously when the holes get too big, I give up sewing them.  But then I use them for dusting or cleaning rags.

I don’t really know where I picked up this habit.  Maybe from my grandmother or my mother?  Or else I’m too thrifty to not use everything I buy to the fullest.  I use every last drop in any creams and soaps before I throw the bottle out, or reuse the bottle for something else.  I swish water around to pick up any last shampoo suds.  I have been known to cut open tubes of face creams to scrape out every last bit of it left inside.  There were times in my life when I didn’t have very much money and those few extra days of soap suds made a difference on my budget.

Then there is the environmental factor.  We already consume too much as a society.  Our waste is atrocious.  If I can stretch out the lifespan of a pair of socks by a few months by taking two minutes to sew up a little hole, I am going to.  Less waste is always better.

Just after my co-workers made fun of my sock-sewing habit, I read one of those “forward-on/feel-good/chain letter” stories on Facebook. It’s about an older lady who talks about how the world has changed so much and that although there was no such thing as “green” in her day, she had much less waste than our generation does.  (I generally hate chain letters, but I’ve added it below if you want to read it.) It really made me think of how much we do waste now, what silly things many of us spend our money on, and how proud I am that I sew my socks.  When I finally buy a new pair of socks, I really understand the value of them.  Hello, my name is Lindsay, and I am a sock-sewer.

Being Green
(I’m not sure who to credit this to, so if you know, let me know and I’ll add the author in)

Checking out at the store, the young cashier suggested to the older woman, that she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags weren’t good for the environment.

The woman apologized and explained, “We didn’t have this green thing back in my earlier days.”
The young clerk responded, “That’s our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment f or future generations.”

She was right — our generation didn’t have the green thing in its day.
Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were truely recycled.

But we didn’t have the green thing back in our day.
Grocery stores bagged our groceries in brown paper bags, that we reused for numerous things, most memorable besides household garbage bags, was the use of brown paper bags as book covers for our schoolbooks. This was to ensure that public property, (the books provided for our use by the school) was not defaced by our scribblings. Then we were able to personalize our books on the brown paper bags.

But too bad we didn’t do the green thing back then.
We walked up stairs, because we didn’t have an escalator in every store and office building. We walked to the grocery store and didn’t climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks.

But she was right. We didn’t have the green thing in our day.
Back then, we washed the baby’s diapers because we didn’t have the throwaway kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy-gobbling machine burning up 220 volts — wind and solar power really did dry our clothes back in our early days. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing.

But that young lady is right; we didn’t have the green thing back in our day.
Back then, we had one TV, or radio, in the house — not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of the state of Montana. In the kitchen, we blended and stirred by hand because we didn’t have electric machines to do everything for us. When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used wadded up old newspapers to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap. Back then, we didn’t fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power. We exercised by working so we didn’t need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity.

But she’s right; we didn’t have the green thing back then.
We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water. We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull.

But we didn’t have the green thing back then.
Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service. We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn’t need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 23,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest burger joint.

But isn’t it sad the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks were just because we didn’t have the green thing back then?

Six hundred and four

Cooking is more fun drinking red wine!

I learned to cook over the past few years, and I don’t think I’m too bad at it now.  I’ve figured out how to mix ingredients.  I’m really good at a few basics, and am confident to experiment with new ideas.  One thing I have figured out, though, is cooking is more fun while having a glass of wine.  (Not too much wine, of course, or then it’s not pretty.)

I am running around at the moment getting ready for a dinner party I’m having.  I worry I don’t have enough food.  I worry I made too much. Other people are bringing food, so hopefully it works out.  I worry I forgot to clean something.  I worry I won’t be ready in time.  Yes, I know, I worry too much!  My friend just told me to stop being a “mama”!  The glass of wine is helping.  And my apron, which I love.  I feel very 50s housewife in it.

This is going to be a short post, because my kitchen is still a disaster, and I need to finish prepping, get myself ready and beautiful, and then charm my guests.  Ahhhh!  Wish me luck!

Five hundred and ninety-seven

Annoying elevator music and top ten reasons I can’t survive without traveling!

Why is it that when you’re on hold, companies have to play the most annoying music ever?  You have to listen to it, because you’re waiting for the “next available agent”.  Even if you put it on speaker and you keep doing the things you need to, you still have to have the electronic flute with repetitive beat music in the background.  Arg!

I spent the day on the phone with my credit card company (and now my phone company, but that’s a different story), trying to book flights for my upcoming trip to… are you ready for this?… Thailand and Cambodia, with an added-on week in Melbourne to visit my old friends there!!!!!  Oh yes, I am going to Thailand in the new year with a girl friend of mine!  I have always wanted to go and I am so excited!  Can you tell?

I’m feeling silly today (and a little delirious after staring at my computer all day and listening to horrible elevator music on my phone), and in honour of my upcoming trip to Thailand (!!!!!!), I have decided to do a top-ten list of why I can’t live without traveling and seeing the world.  Without further ado:

The Top Tens Reasons I Can’t Live Without Traveling the World

#10 – Life experience was a great selling point on my online dating profile.

#9 – I can say “thank you” in nine languages.  That’s got to count for something, right?

#8 – How else am I going to spend my travel points from my credit card?

#7 – I swear my feet physically get itchy and I go through withdrawal if I don’t take a trip every couple of months – even if it’s just to a neighbouring city.

#6 –  I forget the smell of fresh air and what it feels like in my lungs when I’m stuck in Toronto for too long.

#5 – I love getting hugs and “I missed you!” when I come back.

#4 – I’d rather spend my money on a great experience, new foods, and meeting interesting people than a big screen television.

#3 – Everyone should be able to tell their grandchildren about their “European summer romance”.

#2 – Seeing the world has changed the way I view things, my acceptance of other cultures and understanding different ways of life, and allowed me to meet so many great friends.

And the number one reason I can’t live without traveling is…

#1 – My boring friends have to live vicariously through someone.