Improvisational Cooking: Creative in the Kitchen

As a writer and daydreamer, I like to think that I am observational. I do have supreme organizational skills and can focus on smaller details, but last night, from the lack of sleep the night before, I was kind of a mess. I couldn’t stop yawning and was tucked into my bed by 9:00 PM on the dot. And I don’t remember much after that. After dinner, I enjoy a cup of peppermint tea to ease digestion and settle my stomach for rest, but I made it halfway through my cup last night before I realized it tasted funny. I never put the tea bag into the cup, so I was just drinking hot water and didn’t even notice. I think this says more about me and how tired I was yesterday than the tea, which is just awkward.

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Notice the tea bag in this photo! Evidence that I haven’t completely gone bonkers- yet.

Looking at this picture, I can see that it is not one of my “dark” days for my eyebrows. Yes, I have eyebrows. When I was teaching, I had a student ask me why I didn’t have any, which was discouraging. I happen to have alarmingly light eyebrows, lasting remnants of what was once shockingly white blonde hair from the ages of 3-5. I had no hair before that, prompting my mother to pierce my ears from the moment I left the womb and forcing her to tape little pink bows on top of my head. My hypothesis is that my light eyebrows and thin hair are the product of the same thing, but what that thing is, I don’t know. All I know is that very light, almost non-existent, eyebrows cause my already large head to appear larger. Some might even say that I have a five-head. It’s good that I can talk about it now.

The cold does not make waking up early and trekking it to the gym any easier. Since I’ve survived so far, my hope is that once it’s warmer-if it ever is- and the day’s longer, it will be even easier to wake up in the morning. My one complaint, other than the usual dreadfulness of hearing the alarm clock blast, is stepping outside into the frigid air and waiting eons for the car to warm up. I don’t even wait, I just drive, and by the time I’m comfortable, I’m pulling into the gym. Wah. It’s been good so far though and there’s no denying how much better I feel throughout my day once I’ve gotten that workout in!

My day started with a scoop of peanut butter, chopped banana and strawberries, rolled into a whole wheat tortilla. I would have snapped a picture, but the banana wasn’t looking too fresh- even though it tasted great- and I didn’t think it needed to be documented forever.

At the gym, it fueled me through a kettlebell and a dumbbell circuit. For each, I did 4 sets of 12 reps. Kettlebells included swings, deadlifts, shoulder raises, high lifts, and mermaid raises. For dumbbells, I made it through kickback rows, alternating shoulder presses, alternating bicep curls, alternating front lifts, and used the stability ball for overhead extensions and bench presses. Alternating weight, grips, and equipment- even for the same moves- help to keep your body guessing and makes a workout more effective. I haven’t done box jumps in a few days, so I went through 4 sets of 12 reps of those and did a short plank sequence before jumping on the treadmill for a two-miler.

I was feeling nice and energized after a shower and sat down to enjoy this bowl of oats. The night before, I mixed oats, cinnamon, raisins, dates, mashed banana, walnuts, and milk to make overnight oatmeal. I threw some blueberries in there for an extra health kick. The cold oats with my hot coffee made a nice dynamic duo and I was satiated until lunchtime.

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I was such a big fan of my lunch! I had more of these chicken meatballs- four is one serving and they are so SO good! I threw them into stir-fried veggies of peppers, carrots, baby spinach, mushrooms, and snap peas on top of some rice and mixed it all with a thai peanut sauce. It made my stomach happy because it was yummy and healthy! I rounded out my meal with a juicy orange. This time of year, it’s better to have an excess of vitamin C than not enough to stave off colds!

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Look at these bad boys. Aren’t they beautiful? I had high hopes for these fish tacos. I seasoned tilapia with a little Cajun seasoning, chopped it up and tossed them onto two corn tortillas with a medley of fresh veggies- baby kale, butternut squash, zucchini, peppers, and mushrooms. I also drizzled some cheese and more of that Thai peanut sauce on top. Once I bit into it, it became apparent that the shells were not sturdy. Improvising, I decided the tortillas didn’t taste well enough to waste on my calories, so instead I took out the filling and ate it like a stir fry. For my grains, I had two pieces of whole wheat sour dough toast. The end result was a divine meal, even if it didn’t look as pretty as what you see now.

photo 3Reminder that food can still be fun and tasty when it’s healthy. It just means you- or the person who cooks for you- has to tap into their more creative side. I forget this sometimes, especially when it comes to the weekend, but I’m making more of an effort to try new recipes and home cooking rather than spending money on food out at restaurants. Half the time now, I find myself disappointed or thinking I could have made a dish fresher, healthier, and tastier, not to mention cheaper, if I made it myself at home. Maybe this means I need to have a dinner party!

Gimme Gimme More

Isn’t Britney so witty? She always has a song or lyric to describe life.

I’ve decided I want to do a bit more around here. And when I say a bit more, I mean a lot more. Not to throw me in your face or anything, but if I want to be a legitimate blogger, I need to actually blog.

Thus, I have decided to have weekly segments pop up here and there for your enjoyment. This means potentially discussing what I like to eat or do for workouts, reviews of products/movies/tv/clothes/books I enjoy, and from time to time some short stories/poems/random pieces I write.

No fear though because I will still tell you the crazy things that happen to me. Hmm, for an example, like the time I was running by myself at night, tripped AND ACTUALLY CAUGHT MYSELF but slightly twisted my ankle, so I walked the rest of the way. And then I walked right into a raccoon. The little bastard stared me down, I mean, he would not back down and I thought I saw him flex a paw at me and he looked like he might start running towards me and I was slightly injured so I was vulnerable and decided it was in my best interest to hobble as fast as I could away from there.

Lesson to be learned: I am no longer running by myself at night. Which, if I had listened to my sister in the first place, I suppose I shouldn’t have been doing that anyways. But, I blame her because she texted me I shouldn’t do it like two minutes before I fell. She basically willed bad karma on me. SHAME ON YOU LAUREN! *JK, please don’t will anything else on me, I love you. I think her and the raccoon are in cahoots….

INSERT RANDOM PICTURE OF BANDIT TO MAKE TRANSITION LESS AWKWARD.

Meow. I’m so cute, but I will eat you. Meow.

He’s pretty friggin adorable, but I think that makes him even scarier.

I just finished the first two books of the All Souls trilogy by Deborah Harkness, A Discovery of Witches and Shadow of Night. They were pretty good. I read them mostly because they were based in Oxford and I had just re-read Harry Potter (don’t judge me, asshole) and I was riding a supernatural high. But the third one hasn’t even been announced yet and by the time it comes out, I’ll probably have forgotten everything that’s happened, so that’s great… If you’re looking for a new trilogy that’s fun, British, and has good characters, then I suggest to go for it.

Lauren suggested that I link you all to a few websites that I read, and if you read through that raccoon story above, then you know that we should all probably listen to her from now on.

Anyways, here are a few of my daily sites and blogs:

The website that made me interested in blogging: http://thebloggess.com/
*I also highly recommend her book “Let’s Pretend This Never Happened.”

Good recipes, workouts, and voice: http://www.pbfingers.com/
And some health websites I enjoy:
http://www.fitsugar.com/
http://www.self.com/
http://www.shape.com/

If anyone has any suggestions for me, I am always looking, so thanks in advance. If not, shame on you. Lauren said to do it, so watch out for rabid raccoons!

Also, if anyone has any suggestions for topics or anything else they’d like to see around here, please don’t hesitate to throw it out there either on here or Facebook or Twitter. Again, please comment or give me feedback! Sometimes, I feel like I’m talking to myself and I already do enough of that otherwise!

Follow me on Twitter @Lady_Brightly or on Pinterest @ladyxbrightly.

Thanks!!!!!!!

How Do You Say…?

I have the unfortunate tendency to pronounce words wrong. I mean, I’m an English major and I’m good at it. When I was in fifth grade, I was the ultimate winner of Cow Dictionary. I think there were only five times or less that someone else won. The first round we ever played was a practice round and I was eliminated first and it was humiliating so I vowed never to do that again. Though one word does evade me always, kindergarten or kindergarden. “D” or “T”? I still don’t know.

Let me just say, I am a champion speller and that just proves it, except for the very last thing I mentioned. But I cannot pronounce words correctly for the life of me.

Example One: My mom was driving with my sister sitting up front and me in the back. I was browsing through a magazine and came upon a word I didn’t know the definition.

Me: Mom, what does libido mean? *pronounced li-bid-do.

Mom: Excuse me?

Lauren: Oh my God.

Me: Li-bid-do

Mom pulls over while her and my sister are choking on their laughter.

Mom: It’s li-bee-do and it means sex drive.

Lauren: You’re dumb.

Example Two: This happens all of the time so there’s no general timeframe, but I cannot pronounce the word “compromise.” I call it com-promise as in “com” and the word “promise.” I don’t know why the word isn’t just like that because it makes much more sense, but apparently whoever came up with compromise, couldn’t compromise and wanted a fancy pronunciation.

Example Three:

Me: WHOA! *wow-a*

My friend Bobby: What?

Me: WOW-A!

Bobby: It’s just whoa. There’s no “a.”

Me: There’s an “a” in the spelling.

Bobby: Just don’t talk.

Example Four: At a funeral.

Me: Mom is putting on her nurse facade. *hard “c”

Lauren: A what?

Me: A facade.

Lauren: It’s facade. *soft “c”.

Me: My whole life has been altered.

Not great.

That’s Katja creeping in the background. Where she belongs!! Just kidding Katja!

Also, I should be famous. I would be the best famous person. Not only do I have astronomical talents, but I have a slightly diva attitude that would work well in that industry. Plus, my personality is definitely larger than life that feels contained sometimes just living this life of a college student. People just don’t understand me. When I say I’m going to be famous they just look at me and walk away.

Angst. Angst. Like that Potter Puppet Pals. See, I’m perfect for theatre!

This is Bandit. He is smarter than me.

I Don’t Even Have Enough Hair to Curl

For Easter, my mom always gets us a small thing to go in our baskets (because yes we are not too old for that) and so this year I said I wanted a jump rope and a yoga mat. The one condition was that the yoga mat need not be expensive, but it had to be pink. So yesterday my mom texts me that they don’t have pink and do I want green or light blue? This is unacceptable as pink is my color and I can’t be seen in public without it. All I said was “pink” in response, so she answers that I need to choose from the two of them she said. Clearly she is not looking very hard, but I chose light blue and it hurts a little. When I go to yoga people will mock me.

Also, I am always stressed out about this curling iron COVER I now own. I bought it because I had a gift card to buy books, but there was this one hour in my life that I thought I wanted a curling iron and I thought maybe the website would have one and looked it up not quite seriously. Turns out they did and it wasn’t expensive so I decided to buy it. When it came in the mail, I was in for a surprise because it wasn’t the curling iron, it was a heating cover for a curling iron I was already supposed to have owned. When I tried to return it, customer service told me they would do it, but I would only receive $1.15 for it back. One. Dollar. And fifteen cents. Thanks, but I paid FIFTEEN for it in the first place, so no thanks. Assholes. So the customer service people said I could return it myself and I keep pushing it back to the point where I don’t think I can even return it anymore because it’s way past the 40 days mark. Every time I look at it this awful feeling bubbles up in my stomach and I ask myself why didn’t I just buy a damn book. Especially because there are about 20 books that I want to read, but don’t want to spend money on. All because I wanted a curling iron for one hour of my life and tried to live spontaneously. Also, the picture on the website featured a curling iron with the cover and I thought how nice it was that they sent me a cover with it as I pressed BUY NOW. So now I just own a curling iron cover and no curling iron because I am just that cool. Lesson learned: Just buy books.

The funniest part about the whole curling iron cover fiasco is that I never even needed a curling iron in the first place. I don’t remember how the moment even transpired, but it never should have happened since my hair is so thin as it is. So thin that when curling it, I need maybe three of those big curly things on my entire head. We used to have to curl it when I was a cheerleader and people would fight over who got to do me because it ended so quickly. I like to refer to my hair as “the strand” because to other people who have the normal amount of hair, it would be one strand out of many. I also like to call it my “little shitty” when I put it on the very top of my head and twirl it around real tight because it looks like a little shitty that has some charm to it. My friend Katie, who I call Katja, has the biggest hair I have ever seen. There’s just layer upon layer of hair. I’m not asking for that much because I think I’m too anxiety prone to have to worry about what to do with that much hair every day, but I thought that if me and Katja could just put our hair together and divide it evenly, then we would both have the perfect amount of hair.

Here is the shitty in all of its glory:

My roommate, Stephanie’s, mother is kind of obsessed with it. Like so much so that when Stephanie- who I call Ann, Gus, or Bobo sometimes- is on the phone with her mother, her mother will ask, “How’s Caitlin’s shitty?” Not how is Caitlin, but how is the shitty? Kind of awesome. I blame the strand for not buying the right thing and not my obliviousness to life.

I am sitting at the desk at work typing this while my textbook lies open and unread and a patron comes up to me. This is fine because I am technically here to serve them and so I stopped typing. But then the girl leans in real close like she wants to tell me a secret. This is disconcerting because I don’t even like to hug people I know very much as it encroaches on my space and is very awkward. Especially when you think about hugging while in the midst of a hug. I never know what to do and it would be way awkward if I put both of my arms around them in a vice grip and they didn’t expect a hug of such extremes and I end up looking like an awkward asshole. So then I usually just hug them with that weird one shoulder lunge into their body and pat their back twice with one hand and end up looking like an awkward asshole anyways.

I digress- so I’m freaking out because this girl is leaning in too close and I don’t know what she’s doing and I’m looking at her like, just tell me what book you want. Then she starts to whisper, which I guess is ok because we are in a library, but she’s speaking in a serious tone about the book and telling me it’s a textbook like I wouldn’t understand it. I stand up to grab it and check it out and whatever and she nods as if telling me “good job.” People are so weird and I’m probably even stranger for thinking this was a valid story to type out. But I mentioned before that I overanalyze every situation I’ve ever been in, so this is the sort of thing to expect.

BTW: Follow me on Twitter @Lady_Brightly. I am trying to figure out how to link it to my blog, but I fail with technology. #winning
Me failing:

Since I’ve typed this, I have hounded Stephanie for pictures of my little shitty because my hair looks nice today and I don’t want to mess it up and she has a lot on her phone that she has sent to her mom.

Nice hair day:

And I also was run off the sidewalk by some freakishly tall woman. You might argue that she is not freakishly tall but I am really short (5’3), but you would be wrong. I felt a dark and ominous figure coming up behind me, with my Jedi powers of course. My first instinct was to throw myself to the ground and cover my face, but I tried to stand my ground. She sort of just walked through me and I fell off of the sidewalk into the grassy area. I am already unstable on my feet. Don’t test me giant woman!

Also, I wrote this in my writing class for an exercise on lists that tells you something about someone.

Day In The Life:
Wake up. Hit alarm clock. Roll out of bed. Brush teeth. Floss. Sip mouthwash. Swivel and spit. Pull clothes out of drawer. Dress. Apply make-up. Brush hair into ponytail. Make breakfast. Eat breakfast. Browse newspaper. Make lunch. Find car keys. Drive to work. Work. Ignore phone calls. Go on Facebook. Throw away lunch. Go out to lunch. Get hit by bus. Be late for own funeral.

I don’t know why my professor keeps telling me I write morbid things. I think it’s funny and kinda clever. Try to live spontaneously and it might kill you. Of course, these are the things I would worry about.

Go Suck An Egg

Let me start off today telling you about one of my painfully awkward, but secretly amazing celebrity encounters. My mom and I went to see Chelsea Handler last year and after her stand-up show, there was a book signing afterwards which I had to go to, obviously. You needed to buy a copy of her book there, which I already had but bought another copy anyways just to get that wristband. For some reason, my mom refused to buy her own copy so I had to wait in line by myself.

This is never a good idea because when I meet celebrities, especially ones who are my IDOLS, I tend to either stare at them with my mouth open and say nothing or mumble incoherently. Waiting in line, I tried to psych myself up because it’s Chelsea Handler and one day we will be best friends. I really wanted her to sign my book, “Caitlin, go suck an egg! Chelsea Handler” because she says that on her show sometimes, and of course I say that to my friends all the time.

When I finally got up there, I said something along the lines of “Hi Chelsea can you please sign my book blah blah blah,” but of course it’s mumbled and before I know it I’m swept out of the room. When I showed my mom all it said was, “Caitlin sucks eggs, love Chelsea.” Touché, Ms. Handler. I need to learn to enunciate. Apparently.

My incoherency has gotten me into trouble before but it has more to do with me being beyond awkward and shy than anything else. Like, if I’m not one hundred percent comfortable with you, or even if I am sometimes, I don’t always know what to do. This happens even within my own family, not my parents or siblings or really close people, but to cousins or aunts and uncles I haven’t seen in awhile. It’s painful. And completely, totally my fault. So sorry about that.

This can be especially difficult when I am around authority figures or people who I consider to be better than me. My job search is agonizing because when I first see something interesting I think it’s the perfect thing and I am going to own it. But as I start to write my cover letter and fill out the application, my confidence drains until I’m convinced I can’t do that job or any job at all. Of course, this is ridiculous because I have succeeded at every stage of my development (thus far), but before any big thing in my life happens, I have to go through a stage of, not so much self-loathing, as self-doubting.

Also, I should mention, it’s not so much about the tasks I’m going to be asked to do but the people I will work with. I live in a constant state of fear thinking that people are judging me or don’t like me. This used to really bother me, but recently I’ve been under the impression that I don’t care anymore. That’s a lie though now that I write it because I want everyone to love me. In my head, I’m famous and everyone loves me. Which sounds a little freaky, but it’s just my ardent imagination.

The point is though, the worry of people not liking me has lessened to the point where I can just push it back to the deepest corner of my brain and I can just pretend like it doesn’t bother me. Because if you don’t like me, then just go suck an egg and get over it. Not my problem.

In a complete reversal of topics, I was talking to my brother, Jimmy, last night about what would happen if we were to write a book collaboratively. He’s five years younger than me, but we happen to have a similar sense of humor which can be frightening. Our book would be really stupid and really funny, but everyone would read it. Then we started talking about what would happen if my sister, Lauren, who is three years older than me, wrote a book and my brother says that it could be described in one sentence, “If A Tree Falls In The Woods And There’s No One To Hear It, Then Shakespeare Is Really Good.”

A true humorist never explains her jokes, but since you hardly know me I’ll have to. Let me just give you a little back story and you can fill in the blanks. I’ll keep it short: I programmed Siri (on my phone) to call me “Princess Caitlin.” My sister asked Siri to call her “Shakespeare.” You can see how our priorities might be a little different. But she’s super smart and can take a joke so that’s why I’m putting it here. Hi, Lois!

Speaking of Lois, you may notice that I call my family members a lot of different names. Not to be insulting, I just sometimes get bored saying the same names all of the time, so I make some up. For my sister, I usually just alternate between Lauren and Lois and my dad I just call dad because I’m pretty sure he would just ignore me if I tried calling him something else. My brother tries to ignore me too, but that just makes me try harder to call him something like Jambalaya or Jimmy pronounced “Himmy,” Jaime, or Jay-mez. My mom has the best (worst?) nicknames as I make a new one up every time I see her: Margeau, Magic, Madge, Madonna, Moo, Moo-moo, and the list goes on.

FYI: Red Sox start in three days. Prepare yourselves!!!

BTW: I don’t remember if I ever really introduced myself in my first post. My name is Caitlin and one day I will be a princess. Have you seen my crown?

My Dog Yawns When He Feels Awkward

What an awesome way to introduce myself. It’s attention-grabbing and it’s a true story. When my dog- Mac- thinks we’re laughing at something he does or knows we’re talking about him, he doesn’t know how to react so he just yawns. This is a genius strategy because I often find myself in awkward predicaments where I don’t know what to say or do, so now I just yawn. Imagine me yawning right now.

One of my biggest pet peeves are people who talk a lot about what they want to do, but then they never do anything productive or proactive to get there. Of course, I’ve been hypocritical and guilty of doing just that in putting off starting this blog. As a writer in this time, it’s clear that I need to write a blog, so even if only one person ever reads this, then I guess I will have succeeded in some way…?

In less than two months, I’ll be graduating from college, a terrifying thing because I don’t have a job or a clue about what I want to do right after graduation. My ultimate goal is to move to LA and write for television, but as I am just finishing up school, I need to figure out a few things before I get there. One could argue that this is me being hypocritical again, but I’m not procrastinating so much as preparing. If we’re getting technical, that means I’m a logical, practical, and intelligent human being.

Truth be told, I would like to be a princess, but it seems I was born in the wrong era and the wrong country. That doesn’t mean that I can’t wear a tiara whenever I want though, despite people suggesting that I am too old for such a childish act. For instance, I like to be honored (especially for actual achievements) so for my graduation party, I want a tiara as a present. I don’t mean an expensive one, just not the fake plastic kind. And I will wear it at the party, not the actual graduation, and in future moments of excellence. People seem to find this idea ridiculous but I don’t understand any of their invalid arguments. If I want to wear a tiara, I can wear a tiara. End. Of. Story.

I also happen to be slightly overdramatic and start many stories with “Oh my God I almost just died…” when there was probably not a real threat of death. Usually this includes me falling over, tripping, or running across the street and having the cars stare at me in a threatening, ominous way. My anxiety makes me overanalyze a lot of things and my friends tend to make things worse (especially my roommate) by giving me shit for it, but it does usually turn out to be funny in the end. Laughing at the moment does not help though, assholes!

Television, movies, books, and baseball are my passions. I will write a lot about my favorite things, mainly a lot of TV shows, Star Wars, Harry Potter, and the Red Sox. Fair warning so now you can’t complain if I talk a lot about them in the future.

Also, I’ve recently lost 82 pounds (and counting). This is great and all and I really do feel better and blah blah, but no one warned me how awkward it is trying to get accustomed to a new body. Like really, I look in the mirror and some days I’m like “damn, I’m good” and other days I feel like nothing has changed at all. I know this is a psychological issue everyone faces every single day, but I guess I’ve always been under the presumption that if you weren’t overweight then you didn’t face these issues. Very ignorant of me, yes I admit to it now. But I also used to believe, albeit never seriously, that I’d wake up one morning in tip-top shape, meet my prince charming, and be really really famous without ever having to do anything. Denial is one hell of a sucker punch. Having done it now, I think that my pet peeve is relevant and acceptable for me to take on as my pet peeve!

Hard work really does pay off though, so I’d like to share some tidbits of my ongoing challenge as we progress. Nothing fancy here, I’ll warn you. Just a lot of working hard, eating right, but being very balanced about it all. For one thing, I love chocolate and if someone ever tries to take it away from me, I am likely to bite their hand off. And another, I don’t believe in depriving oneself. If you want something, have it, but do it in moderation. It works! I promise!

I mentioned my dog, but I also have a really cute cat named Bandit who is kind of like my pride and joy, but he only tolerates my existence. My parents are completely normal and so are my two siblings. I can only blame my “un-normalness” on the fact that I am the middle child and am constantly demanding attention. When I told her I wanted to start a blog, my older sister told me that it was an excellent idea because I have a very funny way of looking at the world. Earlier, I accepted this as a compliment, but looking back as I type this out I’m wondering if she didn’t mean funny as in kind of humorous but also strange. I’m choosing not to be insulted.

For now, I think this is good enough. Everything on here will be a random assortment of my ramblings and confessions, but I find them funny so maybe you will too.

Welcome to these glimpses of my life!