Thursday, September 18, 2014

If You Can't Stand the Heat, Get Thee to a Motel 6

Escaping the heatwave on my birthday

Hey-o, so the weather earlier this week...what was THAT about? Don't get me wrong, I've experienced hot, humid weather just never while living in San Diego. I've learned to deal with hot, but not I-can't-breathe-sweat-in-my-eyes kind of temps that blasted down upon us. 

Like many San Diegans, I don't have air-conditioning in my apartment, so when the temperatures rise, the old walls just hang onto all that heat and let me bake slowly inside like a chocolate chip cookie. Saturday to yesterday were bruuutal. 

And, then that pseudo-hurricane. Are zombies really getting ready to attack? I mean, is this IT?

I decided with wisdom that can only come from turning another year older, that me and my love would hit up the Motel 6. Scoff if you must at my self-indulgent decision, but I swear it saved my sanity. Once in a great while, I make impulsive decisions based on the notion that I like to do whatever I want.

Motel 6, man, is not comfortable. The sheets are scratchy and the bed is like the poor fold-out beds from the couches you had growing up. The towels are like paper towels that barely cover anything let alone dry you. But, their A/C was working like a charm with WiFi to boot!

We spent two nights at Motel 6 and went for a third night at an equally cheap hotel with equally uncomfortable linens and a weird, onion-type smell, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

There is a practical side of me that knows what I could have done with that extra money, but the more dominant side of me doesn't allow for that type of reasoning. I don't know how you all handled the heat, but I applaud you. The weather is now back to a reasonable cool where the fans running 'round the clock work just fine. 

Who knew that a Motel 6 would come through in a pinch?

Monday, September 8, 2014

Birthday Resolutions: Act Like You Care

Celebrate with vodka (or your drink of choice)! photo from Flickr

One week from today I celebrate my birthday! You can send all gifts to...just kidding, but cheers to all the fellow Virgos out there! 

For a few years now, I've planned birthday resolutions to kick my "new year" off right. Similar to the popular New Year's resolutions or vision boards, the birthday resolutions are meant to create a change that will last longer than your temporary gym membership. 

What's the point of birthday resolutions, you ask? If you're anything like me, you get stuck in ruts. You have lofty ideas of the kind of life you would like to live and the types of things you would like to do and then you wake up and a year has gone by, two years, a decade, you get the picture. 

When Sally laments about turning 40, I am of the same age to feel the same way. (Go to 1:49 of the clip to hear her exasperation)

Honestly though, I am not that worried about getting older. That "oh shit" feeling has yet to hit me and hopefully it never will. I actively pursue ways to lead the kind of life I want. I don't just say, "Welp, too old to do that. Oh, well." 

Birthday resolutions give you a chance to make changes, big or small, that will bring your more adventure, and ultimately, happiness and sense of accomplishment to your life.

It's not something to set you up for failure, but rather to keep you on track for future goals, so that you don't let them slip away. 

I haven't created my full list, but I know this year I will attempt to once more to finish a novel (or at least a collection of short stories) within 30 days for NaNoMo. 

International travel, exploring new cities, more consistent creative writing (rather than just writing for work) are all also on the list. I have already taken active steps to make sure that these resolutions come to fruition.

Don't act like you have reached a point in your life where this is always how it's going to be. Don't just accept a way of living because you don't want to make an effort to change or improve or take a different path than someone else (including your old self) has set out for you.

Give yourself the proper attention you deserve. Take care of business. Have this year be a little better than last. Celebrate.

Do you make birthday resolutions? Care to share?

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Cooking on a Budget: Recipes for Two

When I lived alone a typical dinner might have been: 

  • leftover pizza
  • microwave popcorn
  • Ramen noodles
  • cereal 

Living with someone makes me realize that both he and I deserve a better effort. Although, don't knock cereal for dinner. It's quick with easy cleanup. 

I find myself making the same things: spaghetti, tacos, and ordering Chinese takeout. I ask people for dinner ideas all the time and know there is no shortage of recipes online to choose from, but it all seems like so much work!

For those who are with me and honestly don't have much time or money to spend on cooking, I have a few meal ideas to share with you that are perfect for two or for one plus leftovers.

Meal #1: 

rice pilaf

Marinate the salmon in teriyaki sauce or cover in pesto before baking. Preheat oven to 450 degrees and cook for 20 minutes. Use foil on your baking sheet so it's easier to clean up. 

You can buy salmon in packs of two at Fresh and Easy for fairly inexpensive. On one side of the baking sheet, put your marinated salmon. On the other side, add asparagus and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Put in the oven to bake away.

Then, get yourself a microwaveable bag of rice pilaf. In just 90 seconds, you have delicious rice pilaf and you didn't have to dirty a single dish. For someone who doesn't have a dishwasher, this means a lot.

When you put this on a plate, it looks like you put in true effort, when really the whole thing takes about 20 minutes and uses one baking sheet.

My plating skills could use some work.
Meal #2: 

baby carrots

Roast definitely makes you feel like a big deal when really you put everything in a pot and let it simmer forever. Raise your hand if you received a crockpot for your high school graduation. Raise your hand if you have not used said crockpot since graduation. 

I fall into that category only using my crockpot to make queso dip a.k.a. Velveeta cheese + Rotel. I could really go for some of that right now.

I pulled out the ol' crockpot in my eager anticipation for fall and decided to cook a roast. Make sure to season that sucker before dropping it in or it will be bland. I used: salt, pepper, garlic powder, and seasoning salt. Rub it in to the meat and place in crockpot. Add in veggies of your choosing. I have always had roast with potatoes and carrots, so that's what I added, plus some chopped up onions.

At this point you can cover with cream of mushroom soup, beef broth, or just use water like I did because I forgot to buy the first two mentioned items. Turn your crockpot to high for about 5 hours or so. Oh, I also squeezed in some BBQ sauce because I felt like that was the right thing to do.

After cooking, use some of the broth to make gravy. Start by mixing about a cup of the broth with flour and then add to a pan on the stove. Stir in more broth and flour as needed for thickness. Taste and season.

There is roast underneath that swimming pool of vegetables.

Meal #3: 

Stir fry

When I fear like something is about to go bad, I put it in the freezer to hopefully use at a later date. This actually worked to my advantage for once as I remembered I had chopped up, cooked chicken in the freezer. 

I added vegetable oil to a pan and added in cut up potatoes. I like using the Yukon gold or fingerling because the skin is better to eat. Once these became slightly tender, I added in my chicken, cut up zucchini, cut up leftover asparagus, and rice. I added in salt, pepper, soy sauce, and sriracha. I didn't take a picture because I was too hungry since I had just finished taking an Insanity class. But it was delicious and took practically no time at all. 

These are all recipes if you don't have a lot of time or don't want to take a lot of time. Or, if you are tired of getting take out. Or, if you are on a food budget. I am all three. But please, please share with me your easy recipes.