Cake Slices: Basic Cooking

One thing that stood out to me when I moved to America was the amount of times people seemed to go out to eat, or order take out. Having come from a place where meals out were saved for special occasions, and from a family for whom regular take out was not financially viable, it sort of blew my mind. On the flip side, I’ve blown the minds of some people here who can’t believe that it’s possible to cook for yourself for more than 6 days running. I wish that was a joke.

Therefore, the next slice of the self-improvement cake shall be cooking. It honestly isn’t that difficult, and luckily there are a whole lot more resources out there now. There are the food services, like Blue Apron, which would be a good place to test the waters for yourself and create the habit. I like the idea of these in theory, but they produce so much waste with the individually wrapped ingredients that it turns me off.

I once was told “if you can read, you can cook” and then handed a recipe book. Thankfully, there are so many recipe websites and inspired week menus to help you out with planning and making your meals. While no recipe has a guarantee of success, I’ve found that if you follow the instructions then more often than not you will get something edible. There are so many reasons to eat at home more: save money, reduce waste, relaxation, healthier, and time away from a screen.

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  1. Choose a day to do a weekly grocery shop on, and make a menu plan before you go so you can list out all the ingredients you need. The added bonus of a precise list is that you’re less likely to have impulse purchases!
  2. Start with simple recipes to build up your confidence.
  3. When planning your week, think about how leftovers can be repurposed for other meals. Tacos can become a taco salad for work the next day. A roast chicken can last through a variety of meals and days.
  4. If you have a busy week at work, plan accordingly! Make a big pot of soup or stew at the weekend you can heat up easily when you get home, or have frozen leftovers thaw during the day for a quick microwave when you’re home.
  5. Be safe with reheating leftovers, especially meat and rice.
  6. Bookmark successful and tasty recipes for you to reuse in the future.
  7. Give each day a theme to make it easier to think of new meals. Such as “Meatless Monday”. That said, if you like a meal and want to repeat it, then go forth and enjoy.
  8. Wash up as you go, or put things into the dishwasher as you go, to keep the kitchen tidier as you cook and to avoid having to do it all in one go.
  9. Don’t oversalt!
  10. Miss your fave take out meal? Look online for a dupe recipe and try making it for yourself at home! It will probably be healthier, and you might even like it better.

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Mutton Dressed As Fabulous

Do you ever wonder if you’re too old to wear something? That thought is a milestone unto itself since I never wondered such things when I was 23. Society is keen to point out what is age appropriate to wear, via shaming articles dressed up as sartorial self-help pieces. When I started thinking about these standards, the ‘mutton dressed as lamb’ sayings, I began to notice that it’s always aimed at women. Not once did I find an example of a man being told to dress his age.
(Although if you can find one, I’d very much be open to seeing it!)

Regardless, it cannot be argued that ‘dressing your age’ is a female-focused topic. The subtext is sexual, as most subtext tends to be. ‘Dressing your age’ translates to “nobody wants to see that!” and sometimes removing sexuality from women society deems too old to be reproductively ‘useful’. At other times, the ‘do’s and don’ts’ seem arbitrary and rooted in outdated norms: why should we care if people over 40 want to wear distressed denim?

Whenever a woman decides to shun the subtly imposed uniform of the aged, and reclaim her body, the response is most likely to be of the “Put it away, lady” variety. The uniform, often unique across cultures, races, and economic status, shares the underlying theme of muted, covered up, and invisible. The uniform should be optional, with Iris Apfel and Baddie Winkle leading the way of advanced style.

real estate in the city
Advanced Style, Baddie Winkle

When we are also told that 40 is the new 30, and “you’re only as young as you feel”, what does ‘dressing your age’ even mean? The Advanced Style publication showed us that fashion and style has no age limit, and that we aren’t all destined for Chico’s. Happy, healthy and comfortable always look good, whether wearing orthopedic shoes or thigh high boots.

We don’t think twice about these helpful guides online, telling us to throw out our miniskirts when we reach our 30th birthdays, or toss our glittery eyeshadow when we leave our parents Obamacare plans. Magazines and stylists tell us how to dress our body in an ‘age appropriate’ manner, and banning us from certain stores. I’ve counted too many articles chastising me for owning graphic tees, sheer dresses, and a Hello Kitty purse. Well, excuse me, but fuck your articles.

While we focus too much on 30-something women reclaiming a youthful style; we need to look older. Can we stop nagging women over 60 who want to wear fast fashion or light up sneakers? Can we just focus on encouraging the exploration of personal style, regardless of age? I’m sure I won’t have exactly the same style when I’m 70 as I do now, but I would hope that wherever my style goes, I’d be free to wear it without the fashion police tutting at me for not dressing my age.

No Reason

It’s sometimes the simplest piece of advice that can have the greatest impact. A few years ago, when in a session with my doctor, she said something so… obvious, and yet it kind of blew my mind.

You don’t have to justify why you say ‘no’.

How many of us feel guilt when refusing or declining something that we feel we must give a reason why?
“No thank you… I have a boyfriend.”
“No… I’ve been really busy lately.”
“No… but we can definitely do it tomorrow.”
I’m not suggesting that you need to stop giving reasons completely, in fact sometimes it is necessary. It’s more with the situations when you maybe can’t articulate why something doesn’t feel right, or you’re not in the mood, or you’ve had a long day and you’d rather scream into a pillow. It should be enough to say “no, thank you” but it often isn’t, especially for women.

At work, it is often more diplomatic to agree to tasks outside our job descriptions, but there should be another way to deflect. Our friends should know not to push why we don’t feel like drinking that day. In dating, it should be enough to just say no.

We are guilted into being accommodating, because heaven forbid we’re seen as a bitch or not ‘nurturing’. We’re scared into giving reasons that cannot be dismissed as easily as it is to dismiss what women say.

Saying “no” in and of itself is oddly empowering. When asked if you want to eat somewhere, you can say “no” without following up with “but I love that place, I just ate there recently” even if it’s a lie. You can say “no” to being a bridesmaid, and thank them for the honor, but you don’t owe them a reason why.

We also need to look at ourselves. Do you push things when someone says ‘no’? Do you push them to give a reason why? Do you keep bringing it up later? Do you try and guilt them into saying yes? (Obviously, if a friend appears depressed and you’re concerned, you could try to get below the surface!). How many of us who claim #MeToo were guilted or chastised for saying no? No means no, and you don’t need to apologize for it.

Don’t abandon manners, but don’t always feel like you need to justify why you say no. If someone makes you uncomfortable, you can say no and not owe them an explanation of why they are leaving. If you’re asked to do something you don’t want to do, even by your boss, you can decline. It’s better to explain later, than to try and justify your fears in the moment. A reasonable person will understand if you tell them ‘no thank you’. It’s a good barometer for the type of person you’re dealing with.

Golden Roses

rose gold mood

I feel like the popularity of rose gold is waning. Will yellow gold have a comeback? Are we due for a silver domination? I’m rather fond of mixing metals, and I’m still fond of rose gold.

There was a time when rose gold seemed to cover anything and everything. It was to accessories what mason jars were to weddings, which is to say it was everywhere. I like rose gold because it is flattering to everyone, and a more delicate metallic than its cousin bronze.

2018 is the year of ultra violet, which has a natural match with silver. That said, I wouldn’t throw all your rose gold things out too soon.

Fashion in 2017: 10 Trends I Liked + 10 Trends I Did Not Like

It’s that time of year when we reminisce and ponder on what has transpired, for good or for bad. I like to look back on the notable style and fashion trends from the year so I can make some guesses about where things might go. So we can end on a positive note, let’s go the bad stuff out of the way first!

Trends I Did Not Like in 2017

  1. Mules and kitten heels, or the dreaded mule with kitten heels, were definitely a trend I did not like. They are no made for walking, and look so darn silly. I didn’t mind the mules with block heels, but it’s certainly not a shoe style that I love.
  2. White boots (some with kitten heels too!) are a latecomer to the year, only really cropping up in articles now. They are not going to age well, and should have been left in the 80s, with the perms and over use of blush.
  3. Cropped bootcut flares seemed to cover the legs of influencers and the pages of fashion blogs, but I don’t remember actually seeing them in the wild. Could it be because this is not a very flattering style of jeans?
  4. Mom jeans also seemed to creep back as some 90s normcore came back in style, and why don’t we learn from the mistakes of the past?
  5. Collaborations got a bit bananas in 2017, with the Supreme x Louis Vuitton being the most gauche. Hypebeasts need to chill the fuck out in 2018.
  6. Straw purses and bucket bags are pushed upon us every year, and I have no space in my life for Wes Anderson twee picnic purses, or bulky sacks designed to swallow my car keys.
  7. Oh, you think that dress is cute? Haha, gotcha! It has no back and no sides so good luck wearing a bra with it.
  8. I think the issue with the “cold shoulder sweater” is in its name.
  9. Super distressed jeans with fishnets underneath? We’re doing this again? No thanks.
  10. Zips in illogical places, designed to snag and be annoying.

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Trends I Liked In 2017

  1. Sneakers! All the sneakers. So many choices, and because they are ‘fashionable’ they are now more acceptable at work.
  2. For all the shitty styles of jeans, it was nice to see thick, good quality denim become more easily found in stores.
  3. Athleisure is not going anywhere, and I’m cool with that. Being able to find a diverse selection of leggings and hoodies is very useful.
  4. Politics made some brands take a stand, which was great to see. Lots of smaller brands who donated via purchase, and inclusive messaging are the way to go.
  5. I actually like millennial pink. It’s universally flattering. Don’t @ me.
  6. Dainty jewelry made a comeback, which is a welcome change from the bulky ‘statement’ pieces that screamed tacky to me.
  7. Socks got a bit more attention, which was unexpected. From the sheer ankle socks to Stance x Rihanna, I was psyched to see it all.
  8. Faux Fur is not only cruelty free, but delightfully fun to wear. I love standing in the corner and stroking my arm without having to be high. I’m glad this trend has stuck around.
  9. I actually liked the exaggerated sleeve trend, within reason. I liked the bell-shape or flared sleeves, but the big bell batwings can go away.
  10. That whole “silk jammies but worn outside and as clothes” was pretty neat.

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