Grocery Shopping

So I’ve noticed a lot of the time when I’m at home I have absolutely no self-restraint. If there are hostess cupcakes or cookies or even chocolate chips in the pantry, I’ll eat them all. I’ll genuinely dig into that bag of chocolate chips with a spoon and stand in the kitchen eating my pure chocolate and generally considering what exactly it is that has brought me to this point.

I’m also incredibly lazy when it comes to food preparation. If it takes more than 20 minutes I’m out, because most likely I’ve waited until the last minute of hunger to start preparing my meal. I usually end up snacking while making lunch or dinner because I just can’t wait any longer to eat.

I’m sure I’m not the only one. As a society we are generally very lazy human beings with limited self-restraint. Most people I know will not be able to ignore the pudding snacks in the pantry for long before tearing into them after supper.

When I first started living on my own at college I was in an apartment in London with several other girls. The fridge was a public venture and I only had one shelf to house my items; more than that, I could only buy food for a few days because the walk to and from the grocery store was so long that lugging a full bag of groceries would have slowly torn my arms off. And then I’d have been stuck at home trying to figure out how to eat my seven cans of soup with my feet.

I wasted a lot of food that first semester. I didn’t realize just how hard it can be to plan your meals around expiration dates and various events – I also didn’t yet realize that if you’re one person buying a loaf of bread, unless you eat two pieces of bread a day, you’d better freeze your damn bread. There were a lot of rookie mistakes to be made, and believe me, I still make rookie mistakes a lot.

But I did realize some things in my journey to becoming at least slightly capable of maintaining a full kitchen with healthy things, so here are my tips for sustaining yourself with nutritious things in our current society!

It all pivots upon a healthy grocery trip. Seriously. What I said earlier about having no self-restraint is true, and that’s why it’s important to only buy healthy foods when you’re shopping. If you allow yourself to be tempted by unhealthy snacks at the grocery store, then you’re going to end up eating them at home. But if you’re home and want something to snack on but all you have in your fridge is fruit and pretzels, then that’s what you’re going to eat.

Healthy doesn’t have to be boring. I’ve found a lot of snacks and desserts that I really enjoy that involve a little bit of unhealthy food paired with a little bit of healthy food. For example, I like to mix semi-sweet chocolate chips with craisins in a bowl. A good dinner that I’ll post about later is what I call Honey Apple Chicken, which is just making apples and chicken cooked in honey on the stove. It’s sweet and summery but healthy.

Buy basics once a week and buy fruits and augmentations more frequently. It’s best to go grocery shopping a few times a week, but only one time does it have to be a huge trip. I’ve gotten in the habit of buying bread, eggs, rice, pasta, cereal, peanut butter, etc. once a week, and then on my way home from class or at least a few times a week getting something for that night and the following night. Sometimes that’ll be an avocado to add to my eggs and toast, sometimes it’ll be apples to make the apple and chicken meal I mentioned, sometimes it’ll be veggies to put in a risotto. This helps to keep your day-to-day shopping trips lighter.

On Sunday night, figure out your dinner plans for the week. Especially if you’re on a budget, this can be really helpful because it means you won’t be buying extra things that you’ll never use. Last semester I had three cans of tuna sit on my shelf from August to December and I ended up throwing them out when it was time to move out. Only buy things that you’ll realistically prepare and eat, and get them just a few days before you eat them to ensure they don’t go bad.

I’m definitely not an expert in the least but if you’re heading off to college and you’re wondering what the hell you’re going to deal with the stress of grocery shopping, use these tips to avoid making some of the simple mistakes that I made at first. And if you have any other tips, leave a comment below!

Reunion

You’ve dreamt of it for ages. Maybe months, maybe several weeks. Maybe just  a few days. You’re standing in the airport (substitute bus terminal, parking lot, your own driveway, your car, etc.) holding flowers you bought at the grocery store for a (whopping) $10 earlier today. It’s midnight (or maybe for you it’s the middle of the day) and people are slowly coming into baggage claim, where you’ve set up shop. You’re holding your flowers and trying to look as normal as possible while your entire body is buzzing with excitement. Your kindle, which you shoved in your bag in case of long wait, remains unread. You picture, over and over, the moment she comes into view. You’re so excited, adrenaline is pumping, you don’t care what time it is, you’re wide awake —

You see her, finally, and she sees you. Her face breaks into a smile and you feel a whoosh, a release of the tension of being apart for all the days since you last saw her. The last moment lasts a very short time, and you aren’t sure if it’s a last moment or a first. She runs toward you, entirely undignified, and  you open your arms and accept her into them. The flowers press against her back.

I thought about this moment a lot in the first month my girlfriend and I were parted. I thought about what it would feel like to hug her and kiss her. I fantasized about how great it would feel.

I worried too, briefly, about the other people waiting around me. With one sharp look or a word of disapproval they could shatter my perfect moment. As I stood there with the flowers in my hand, a chauffeur holding a sign that said “Mr. Smith” on it looked at me, then looked away, then slowly looked back at me. The brightly dyed daisies I was carrying were maybe a little startling to me – why was this girl wearing flip flops and a Shakespeare t-shirt, in the airport, half past midnight, holding flowers? The key word, of course, being girl. Carrying flowers she would give to another girl. I worried that if she came before he left he might make some snide remark and boom – shattered. He would ruin the moment.

Being in a queer relationship long distance is interesting – it takes away the constant decision making surrounding whether or not to hold her hand or kiss her in public. Usually, in an ‘I don’t care what anyone thinks’ attitude, I act normally and don’t change my behavior in the slightest for anyone’s comfort. But when she’s not around, no one would guess that I’m in a relationship with a woman. I’m a cisgendered woman who presents female most of the time. I’m not particularly femme but I definitely look, dress, and act ‘female’. As I stood waiting for my girlfriend to come down the stairs and into baggage claim, I became increasingly worried about what the people around me would think of a display of affection between two women who seemed, more or less, straight up until the moment they were kissing each other.

She came and I had the aforementioned moment – I saw her, she ran to me, we hugged, we kissed, I presented her with the flowers, we were basically in our own little world. I forgot about everyone else around us and my worries from the moments before – until a woman came up to us.

She must have been in her twenties, and she walked up and said, “Excuse me?”

Neither of us could stop grinning and my arm was around Kayla as we looked to her in a bit of confusion. I was a little apprehensive before she said, “I just saw that whole thing unfold and I wanted you guys to know that you’re both adorable and that I almost cried a little bit.”

We both responded and thanked her, and she walked away.

I didn’t notice anyone reacting in any negative way, which was good, and the woman who came up to us and told us how cute we were made me feel so much better. Of course the reunion would have been perfect either way, but this woman’s positive reaction – and the fact that she had the guts to come up and tell us about it – gave me a world of confidence. For some reason we’re often afraid to go up to someone and give them a compliment, but after knowing how good this woman made me feel, I feel differently about that. Especially if I see a queer couple holding hands or kissing in couple, instead of looking away (or maybe staring too long, as younger me would have) I’m going to make a conscious effort to smile at them or nod or even, if the situation warrants it, go up and tell them that I think they’re adorable together, so they can feel as welcomed as I did.

“Gay Pilgrimage”

Hey guys! I hope your weeks have all been LOVELY. I’ve been a little absent this week because my girlfriend is visiting from Colorado, so of course I’ve been trying to soak up as much time with her as possible. We’ve been pretty busy and we’re about three-quarters of the way through her two-week visit.

For Memorial Day weekend we went to the beach with my family. We’ve gone to Rehoboth every summer for years, and if you’re from the East Coast, you might know that Rehoboth Beach is the “gayest beach”. A few years back my mom and I were exploring the town and we stumbled upon an LGBT bookstore called Proud Bookstore. At the time I was closeted and confused, so we left, but I’ve been curious about the place ever since. Each time I’ve found myself alone on the boardwalk I’ve wandered up and down, searching for it, being too nervous to look up the address and pretending that wasn’t what I was looking for.

Now I knew that I had to go back, as like a pilgrimage to my younger self who had been too nervous to go in and explore this part of who I was. It was actually so cool, and while there were a lot of things angled to gay men, the parts of the store that were devoted to women loving women were especially enjoyable. There were books that told stories about lesbian couples, photographs and postcards and magnets and greeting cards and sex books and advice books and on and on. This is my girlfriend with a little flag we found.

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All in all the place was really cool and we agreed that we’d never felt quite so able to be open anywhere before. I think it’s important that there be more LGBT-geared places that aren’t bars or clubs. Bookstores and cafes and restaurants, places that are geared to the LGBT community, should become more common, because it’s so important to have a place you feel you truly belong and aren’t judged at all.

So, to my younger self who was afraid to go into the bookstore and explore what it really meant to be part of the LGBT community: when you’re twenty, you’re going to go in with your girlfriend, and you’ll browse the books and talk and laugh and be completely comfortable, and you’ll wonder why you were ever afraid of this part of yourself. Just wait.

Curly Hair Don’t Care

If you have curly hair, then you know that summer is the season of bushy hair and broken ponytail holders. If you leave it down for more than a few hours it gets to be like a pyramid sitting atop your head. Small birds are probably living somewhere in there but you’ll never find them.

I used to hate my hair because I never knew what to do with it. I tried cutting it short – didn’t work, in fact that only made it bushier. I tried getting it layered but that also made it bushier. Turns out, thick curly hair needs to have weight to it so it pulls its own self down. I found that out the hard way.

I also found out that most gels and hairsprays don’t work. For awhile, I used the ‘No ‘poo’ method of hair care, which involves not using shampoo because most shampoos kill your curls. This method worked fairly well, but after awhile I felt like rubbing conditioner into my scalp wasn’t doing the washing trick, so I went back to shampoo – but this time I used TRESemmé Curl Hydration, and I haven’t looked back.

I still didn’t have a good hair product, though, until I bought this, the leave-in conditioner with the longest name on the planet: Garnier Fructis Triple Nutrition Curl Nourish Butter Cream.

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So my hair routine is usually this: I brush it out before getting in the shower, usually a big no-no, but it removes a lot of the extra hair that’s causing it to be so bushy. Then I shampoo and condition it, and comb through it with a wide-toothed comb. Once I get out, I towel-dry it but I NEVER, EVER, EVER comb or brush it AFTER a shower. While it’s still pretty wet (don’t let it dry too much before doing this), I liberally use the Garnier Fructis, which I usually refer to as “my actual lord and savior.” Then I just try not to ever touch my hair, ever, and viola! My curls are actual curls and my hair is relatively flat – or at least as flat as curly hair can ever be.

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sunset sky

don’t be with someone who turns you yellow
be with someone who lightens you up
and reveals your sunset sky

the setting of the sun
taught me a lesson today;

as I stood there and thought Gee I wanna be like you

you are
the clouds seemed to spell out
the gold trim on their underbellies shining
even as the sun dipped beneath the blue mountains

-Helen Armstrong

LDR Tips | Rabb.it

Last week I wrote about how great it is to watch TV shows together on the phone while far away from your partner, and a lovely blogger named Sarah commented to suggest that we try out rabb.it, a website that allows you to stream a video via a shared connection. Dubiously, I checked it out, worried that like so many other streaming sites it would be clunky and filled with viruses waiting to happen.

I was pleasantly surprised to find a very neat, streamlined site that was easy to use and gave plenty of video and chatting options! After signing up, you get your own “Room” to which you can invite people via e-mail. They don’t even have to make their own account to join. Then you choose a streaming host or site to go to.

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Once you’ve chosen – for us it was Netflix – it comes up like this:

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You’re able to navigate the site and you can both see it, and even switch between who has control. In the lower left are your icons – when she joined me, there was another one next to mine – which can be voice only or video chat. Once you’re both there, all you have to do is hit play and watch! It makes it way easier and really does feel like you’re in the same “room” together, even though this one is virtual.

Music Monday

I’ve been obsessed with this song, particularly this version, for the better part of a month now. It got me through finals and the end of my semester in Italy, and two weeks’ traveling through Italy and Germany afterwards as an emotional wreck because I’d had to say goodbye to my friends and my girlfriend. This song will forever remind me of that time, the bittersweet end of the semester but the rush of traveling to new places and seeing new things.

Slam Poetry Recommendations

I’ve fallen once more into the Button Poetry area of YouTube and instead of crawling out, this time I’ve decided to pull more people down with me. Here are some of my all-time favorite slam poems:

(side note – I got to see Neil Hilborn at my college last winter and he was amazing, so funny, so interesting, so real)

(this one reduced me to a crying mess in the kitchen during a sangria party)

Weekly Wrapup

At the end of the week I like to think of a handful of good things that happened to me or that I accomplished this week. It’s a good practice to get into on Fridays – instead of dismissing the week you’ve just had in favor of the weekend, take a bit of time to reflect on the good things about your week.

For example, for me, three positive things about this week:

  1. I interviewed for and got a job on campus
  2. I visited my best friend for the first time in months
  3. I started a blog!

How about you? Leave a comment with three positive things about your week!

LDR Tips | Netflix and Phone?!

In this day and age we love to watch TV together. In fact, it’s often better and more rewarding than actually talking to each other. (Cue the gasps of everyone born before 1950.) Even the Baby Boomers know that Netflix is where it’s at. My parents have been trying to get my brother and I out of the house constantly so they have time to be alone together…and watch Downton Abbey.

Netflix is what seems to be keeping love alive these days and hey, that’s okay; at least something’s doing it. If you’re in a long-distance relationship, then Netflix seems to be generally off the cards. After all, what’s the point in Netflixing without the chilling?

I was in this mindset until my girlfriend and I decided to do what all 90s kids used to do – we grabbed our cell phones, our respective bowls of popcorn, and queued up the first episode of The L Word. (Insert corny stereotype joke here.)

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Whatever. It’s like the gay Gossip Girl and if you think I didn’t watch with rapt attention as I blew through all 6 seasons of that overdramatic Upper East Side prep school bullshit in under a month then you’re wrong.

Our show choice aside, I had qualms about how this would work out. Even saying “Let’s hit start on go. One, two, three, GO!” didn’t keep us perfectly in time with each other. One of us inevitably ends up ahead of the other and laughs at jokes first, and forget about trying to pause it because that just makes everything all that much wonkier.

Technical difficulties aside, though, it was the most bonded to my girlfriend I’d felt since we last saw each other in person. Even if our laughter was staggered, we were still laughing at the same things. We were still talking. “Oh my god NO don’t sleep with her!” and “look at that precious baby bisexual look at her” and “ew this guy is almost as bad as Larry on Orange is the New Black.” It suddenly didn’t matter that she was in Colorado and I was in Pennsylvania because we were both doing the same thing, at the same time.

So give it a try. Even though it seems old-fashioned and maybe you think it’ll be awkward, I guarantee  you that the frustrations will only last a few minutes and the benefits will far outweigh them in the end.