Monday, February 16, 2015

Anatomy of a Perfect Burrito...



Wonderers!  I hope this blog finds you well.  As always, it has been forever since my last post - this blog is really just a storage place for interesting thoughts that come to my little brain, and this entry will be no different.

Just yesterday, the boyfriend and I were out for a post-Valentine's, pre-movie breakfast burrito at my favorite burrito spot.  It was over these burritos (and perhaps the recent creating of rubrics I've done for school) that it suddenly dawned on me how simple it could be to determine a burrito's satisfaction quotient.
A thing of beauty.

To preface what follows, I, a self-proclaimed burrito snob, have not developed a rubric for creating the perfect burrito.  There are just too many variables, and too many different tastes/opinions to combat.  Instead, I have decided to call attention to a few simple factors that can make or break a burrito's performance on the tastebuds.

*It should be noted that this list applies to burritos of both standard, and breakfast varieties.  It absolutely does NOT apply to fast food garbage like Taco Bell.*

1.  The Tortilla

Let's start with the number one thing that makes a burrito, a burrito.  A burrito, by definition, is a selection of fillings wrapped in a tortilla.  Am I crazy, or does that mean maybe we should pay a little attention to the tortilla portion of a burrito?  The thing is, all tortillas are not created equally.  And they are not treated with the same care.  Having lived in San Diego (seemingly the burrito capital of California - some would argue the country) for a good six years, I had the chance to develop a taste for a really well made tortillas.  For those of you who have never had the pleasure of tasting a freshly made tortilla, I can tell you that it tastes nothing like ANY tortilla you can find at your local grocery store.

In the best cases, a burrito is influenced by the flavors and the texture of its encasing - after all, that's why it's edible!  A tortilla should be just thick enough, and just dry enough to have a nice chew, were you to say, get a few layers in your mouth at a time - like you might at either end.  Too thin, or too moist and your burrito will break, not to mention it might have a softness that makes it stick to the roof of your mouth when you take a bite.  *Note: I find that the tortillas at Chipotle to be like this, too soft and mushy.  It should taste vaguely of salt and flour, with a gentle sweetness.  Just oily enough to wrap around the fillings, but not so oily that your hands get greasy while eating.  In fact, the tortilla should stiffen just slightly after it has been wrapped around the burrito fillings, as that is how the burrito keeps its shape.  It should look a lot like the first photo in this post.
EAT THIS
NOT THAT 

2. The "Wrap Job"

Another frequently overlooked factor of a burrito's enjoyability is the way it was wrapped.  It is very important to note that many, many people on this earth do not understand the proper way to wrap a burrito.  Let's start with this; have you ever attempted to make a burrito, or even a wrap sandwich at home?  Then you probably realized that there's more to it than shoving some stuff in a tortilla and rolling it up.  *Note:  At home, I like to butter the tortilla and a pan or a griddle until the tortilla is just soft enough to be pliable without tearing.*

For starters, a burrito is meant to be portable.  You eat it with your hands - sometimes just with one, so the last thing you need is to have burrito guts spill all over you.  This means it needs to be closed ON ALL SIDES before you take your first bite.  To clarify, both ends should have a tight, inward fold.  Without enough slack to fold the edges inside, the ends are prone to open under the pressure of biting into the burrito, and in those cases, you have only the paper and/or foil it's wrapped in to save you.  Second, the overlapping edge should not have ingredients spilling out of it.  And absolutely NO corners!  If your burrito has a corner, it is a burst waiting to happen.  Let's look at some examples:

Granted, this one is served "wet" on a plate, but that is no excuse for the shoddy wrap job on this burrito.  Just because it must be eaten with a knife and fork does not mean it can forego the necessary wrapping that makes it a burrito.  Look at the end; it is practically spilling out with its weak fold.  It almost looks like someone just tried to re-stuff it with their fingers.  This is a classic case of a poor filling-to-tortilla ratio.  May as well open it up and serve it in a bowl...

 Take a look at these.  These are frozen burritos.  Do you see how the filling is spilling out the side?  That means it's also going to be spilling all over your fingers.  Worse yet, once the leak has been established, it makes the area slippery, meaning even more of the burrito filling can be squeezed out with very little pressure.  Lots of fillings on your hands, mouthfuls of empty tortilla.  No.








How about this one?  This burrito has a corner.  This means that not only are the filling ingredients distributed unevenly, leaving pockets of air throughout the burrito, but also that there is more than one weak spot in the structure of the burrito itself.  The corner will burst first, probably with just a small amount of pressure, say, the displacement of ingredients after a first bite. After that, it will probably collapse to one side, likely opposite the burst hole.  I don't think I need to tell you that this is basically burrito-geddon.  Fillings everywhere.  On you, on the table, on the floor... you get the picture.  There's a condom joke in here somewhere, but I'll leave it to your imaginations...



3. Proportions

There are two ways in which proportions affect a burrito.  One way is the proportion of ingredients to other ingredients.  The other, is the ratio of filling to the size of the tortilla.  We'll start there.  Once again, I am obliged to bring up Chipotle and their ginormous burritos.  Aside from the fact that their burritos are about twice the size they should be, and therefore at least two servings, they also have something to learn about the amount of filling they put inside that too-soft tortilla.  There is WAY too much filling inside a Chipotle burrito, which is probably why it is usually shaped short and fat, as opposed to long and more cylindrical (see first photo).  This, coupled especially with the soft tortilla, makes Chipotle's burrito susceptible to a burst about twice as easily as any other poorly made burrito.  (It's a simple fix, if you're listening, Chipotle. Use. Smaller. Spoons.) It also means that you will take bites of an overfilled burrito and end up with only fillings in your mouth.  As previously stated, the tortilla is part of the burrito experience, and you should have both tortilla and fillings in every bite you take.

Be aware that this situation can also happen in reverse, where not enough fillings have made it into the tortilla, and the result is a dry, chewy, wrapped tortilla that may as well be eaten flat like a quesadilla.

Perfection.
The other ratio that is important to recognize is that of the different ingredients together.  Burritos come in many flavors, however, an imbalance in ingredients is not pleasurable.  Too many beans, not enough salsa; too much rice, not enough meat; too much cheese, not enough beans... the possibilities are endless.  You should be able to taste ALL of the ingredients in the burrito, that's why they're in there.  Also, NO burrito should ever suffer from THIS kind of misunderstood nonsense.

And for those burrito joints outside of San Diego that have started offering the genius that is the California burrito... the french fries are INSTEAD OF the rice.  There is no rice in a California burrito.  Don't make me ask you to take it off.  And put some fresh avocado or guacamole on it.  California is where avocados grow.



~*~

Those are the big three factors to pay attention to the next time you are out looking for a burrito.  The tortilla, the wrap job, and two kinds of proportions.  

I would mention that the combination of ingredients should taste good together, and not be crazy for the sake of innovation, but I understand that people's palates are different, and "tasting good" is sort of implied in a list like this.

It is also good to keep in mind that a burrito should be complemented with a good hot sauce.  That's right, hot sauce, NOT salsa.  They are different.  

My favorite hot sauces are usually rich in texture, more like a thin purée, not watery, and not chunky.  Depending on my chosen burrito, I like green, tomatillo-based hot sauces because they tend to be milder, and slightly vinegary... which can cut through the richness of beans and cheese.  I also like hot sauces that have roasted ingredients in them, because they provide a depth of flavor.  However, there is nothing worse to me, than a hot sauce whose flavor is simply "hot."  These usually have visible seeds from the peppers that were used, or a visibly noticeable ratio that is dominated by pieces of the peppers themselves.

I have friends who choose to use these ultra-hot sauces for reasons I don't really understand, other than maybe to prove something - no better than a pissing contest.  But the reason I don't like HOT hot sauces is that any other flavor I might have tasted is then compromised, because the only flavor I can taste is hot.  My tastebuds go numb, and water or soda only spreads the heat around my mouth.  It's not worth it.  So if you ever tell me that your favorite kind of hot sauce is the really, really hot kind... I'm just going to assume you don't actually like the flavors of the food you're about to put it on.

That's it.  A few simple items to help you on your way to discovering your own, favorite, perfect burrito.  Ándale!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Forcing the Negative Out, One Day at a Time

Friends.  Wonderers.  Internet trolls.  I write to you today about a resolution of sorts.  Something I think is long overdue for me.  I am writing to you about trying to force negative energy out of my life.

This is not an epiphany I had during a yoga session.  It's not an idea born out of literature I've been reading.  It's not even something I saw on a Pinterest board.  Nope.  This resolution came right out of my own brain after a particularly rough month of July.  I need a change.  And this is the first step.

My relationship has been something of a mess lately, and FAB and I have been having a lot of heavy conversations about what we can do to make it better.  I take a lot of responsibility for the issues we've been having, as I am arguably the most bitchy and selfish version of myself I have been since my teenage years.  How I manage to keep him around at all, I couldn't tell you.  He's amazing like that.

Anyway, something that came up in one of our discussions is my negative energy, brought on by how negative my family is.  As hard as this is to hear, I have absolutely no defense against it.  It's 100% true.  Always has been.  As a kid, my house was always booming with loud arguments.  There are also series of judgmental family members, and gripes about who didn't do what when it was asked of them, or why this person is making poor life choices.  The most bizarre thing about this, is that one of the worst offenders of these crimes was my mother.  And my mother was also the glue that held everyone together; vibrantly happy, even in her last, more depressive years.  Now that she isn't around to be the sunshine in the family, I seem to be facing an endless expanse of storm clouds.

Just this morning, I was having a conversation with my Facebook-abusing aunt (well, finishing a conversation from yesterday) about my cousin being covered in tattoos.  Finding out that my young cousin has 11 tattoos on her body somehow signaled to my aunt that my cousins life is in shambles and she was headed for all kinds of trouble.  I'm not saying I agree or support all the decisions my cousin is making right now, but her 11 tattoos are the least of my worries.  She continued to tell me that she feels bad for, but loves my cousin anyway.  And then she told me she doesn't consider my cousins brothers her family.  That's quite the jump, isn't it?

I understand that she is feeling neglected by these particular family members.  Promises were made, and not kept, and they don't make an effort to stay in touch.  But that is no reason to disown them!  She explained to me that she "can't care about someone who doesn't care about her."  Okay, that's fair.  Then why waste your energy thinking about how much you disapprove of their choices?  If they aren't worth your time, they aren't worth your time.  Period.  She even mentioned a few more of my cousins who do make the effort to see her and my grandmother.  Okay.  Great.  They don't really make an effort to see me or my dad, but instead of being angry about it, I'm just gonna not think about them.  My time is too precious to waste judging my family for the things they don't do.

So, I am trying to keep my chin up through it all.  Forcing out the bad, and searching for the good.  It's exhausting, but it's better than the alternative.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Wedding OBSESSED...

Okay.  Maybe it's the age I'm at.  Maybe it's because not only is my best friend engaged, but in my cohort of classmates, there were 4 brides-to-be (out of a total of 10 people).  Maybe it's because I have dreamed of the day I would don that big white dress and pledge my love to my forever partner since as long as I can remember.  Maybe it's because Pinterest makes everything so damn accessible.

Whatever the case, I have noticed that in the last few weeks, I have been brazenly, unabashedly, unforgivingly obsessed with planning a wedding that would take lottery winnings to afford.  Seriously, my wedding board has more pins on it than any other board in my profile.  And that includes THREE separate food boards.

Honestly, as previously stated, I've dreamed of my I-Do-Day as long as I can remember.  Once upon a time, I even considered planning weddings as a career, so perhaps I shouldn't be too surprised by my recent antics.  Even my wonderful boyfriend has expressed that he is feeling pressure from me to… *ahem* put a ring on it.  Though I always try to remind him that I am the first to admit we're not ready for that commitment, I certainly understand his feelings based on the images he sees on the iPad in the lap next to him on the couch.

A glimpse at my "secret" wedding board, A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes
I have tried to pass off much of this recent obsession by attempting to be the best bridesmaid I can be for my bestie.  She has recently discovered a venue (after much searching) and now I can really begin to use my imagination.  It's true what I say, about doing most of my pinning for my friend's sake… I really am looking for ideas to inspire her wedding.  She lives in another city, and so getting together to even talk about dreamy, girly things like flowers and place settings is difficult.  Pinterest is (at the moment) really my best way to help her out, and let her know I'm here for her.  And okay, maybe I feel really bad about being upset that she's getting married first.  Maybe I'm trying to be supportive in the only way I'm able right now.  I am happy for her, I am happy for her, I am happy for her.  I AM.

Photo by a future in-law of the bride
But maybe… just maybe, I just really like looking at wedding stuff.  Do I find inspiration for my own future wedding?  All the time.  Do I pin helpful tips about etiquette, and timelines, and questions to ask?  Of course.  I send them to my friend first… but as Cher Horowitz would say, "there's no harm in looking for myself also."

I've been spending time with a recently married friend lately, and she mentioned to me that even after her big day, she is still on Pinterest, pinning wedding stuff for the wedding her future daughter might have.  This was extremely comforting to me, because it occurred to me that maybe I am just one of those women who really enjoys wedding stuff.  As I said before, I am completely aware that I am not ready to get married yet.  I am totally ready to throw the biggest party ever while wearing the most beautiful dress I can imagine, but I am level-headed enough to know the difference between the readiness for a wedding and the readiness for a marriage.  And I am NOT ready for marriage.

So as much as I don't want to pressure my wonderful partner to make a commitment before he is ready, I am hoping that one day, when I have a real reason to be looking at wedding inspiration, he will be thankful that I've done some research ahead of time.  And maybe I'll try harder to wait to look at all the shiny, pretty things, when he's not there to notice.

Monday, June 2, 2014

We Need to Bring Childhood Back to Our Children...

Greetings from limbo, Wonderers!  I know I've been gone a lot (which, actually, should not surprise anyone, given my posting habits) but I have something to share.  Very wordy, as always.

As I sit through the last days of my second student teaching placement (middle school has and always will be an awful place), doing my homework for grad school in the back of the classroom while students watch movies, period after dreadful period, it occurs to me that there is a sad trend happening to today's youth.  They are not being given a childhood.

There will be many, many people, I'm sure, to argue against my opinion.  But hear me out.

A student walked into the classroom earlier today wearing a classic Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles t-shirt.  The totally tubular turtles from the 90s, not the radical warriors they are today.  Let me show you a couple images to bring this home to you:


90s TMNT:  Happy faces, welcoming round eyes, just a bunch of bros who like eating pizza and fighting crime.













TMNT Now:  Slitted eyes, angry expressions, definitely mid-combat.  These guys are mad.  And they're coming for YOU.  Excuse me, but, what the hell?






It pleased me to see that the legacy of the original Turtles lives on.  I have no idea where she came across the shirt, whether she bought it or if it was a real, (dare I say) vintage t-shirt, passed down to her from the best uncle ever.  Either way, I appreciated the throwback to what was, in my humble opinion, a better time for kids.

How about the evolution of My Little Pony?


These are the original ponies.  Notice, the happy little scene the've put together here.  Look at their sweet, friendly faces.  Filled with innocence.  A rainbow, a flowering tree, a spacious meadow, and ponies that actually somewhat resemble ponies.










Then the ponies looked like this.  They still look like ponies.  A little more three-dimensional, a little bit shiny, but taken out of context.  Where's the grass?  And also, is it me, or did they get… sexier?  They're definitely flirting...


This is what they look like now.  Japanimation is very present as an influence for this animator.  And what exactly are they supposed to look like? Because from where I'm standing, they look like CatPigPonies.  And, a dragon?








Don't even get me started on Barbie's new body, or Ken with real hair.  I get that Mattel was trying to send a more positive message about body image to young girls, but with the media being what it is, and the Kardashians splashed on every magazine cover, what difference is one doll really making?  Not to mention that every Disney princess in the history of ever had a rack so round and perky it would make plastic surgeons drool, and nobody ever says "boo" about that...

Kids today are inundated with technology, and hyper-sexualized cartoons and video games.  I once got into a debate with an aide at my current student teaching placement about kindergarteners with cell phones.  Yes, I still call it a cell phone.  Why, oh why, does a five-year-old need a phone with them at all times?  The aide's argument was that the parent could have a change of plans, and maybe someone else would come to pick the child up from school, and with a phone, they can notify the child directly.  Or they can have the child explain the situation to the friend's parent picking them up from school.  I'm sorry, but I wouldn't trust a kindergartener as far as I could throw her if she up and told me that I was picking her up from school because her mommy said so.  Why would you ask such a small child to be accountable for his or her own schedule?  Why would you let them dictate their own schedule?  Whatever happened to letting the office know the situation and having someone inform the child?  Or the other parent?  Need I remind you, these children are FIVE YEARS OLD!?  Why would you expect them to have the same grip on life that you, a well-adjusted adult have spent so many years cultivating?

Even music today is less about love, happiness, and helping one another.  Now we have songs about humping, killing, booties, and "popping tags" at the thrift store.  Macklemore, really?  You wrote a song about STEALING CLOTHES FROM A THRIFT SHOP?  Most things in there don't cost more than $5 anyway!

School is harder.  Tests are harder.  Expectations are higher, and punishments are more severe in the long run.  My former second grade teacher once said (right when I first started my credentialing program) that her current kindergarten students are learning things I wouldn't have learned until at least first grade.  Did children just start getting born smarter?  I don't think so.  And now that there are so many ways to qualify for special education, those students that need help are getting left even further in the dust.

So let's band together and get the old narrative back.  Parents, listen up.  I get that you want your kids to like you, and be your friends.  But you're not supposed to be their friend.  You're supposed to be their parent.  So take the responsibility and let your kid be a kid.  Children deserve to have real childhoods.  Ones where they play outside on a jungle gym, instead of watching a Sim character play on one on their computer.  Playing board games instead of video games.  Using their imaginations to turn a cardboard box into the BEST toy they've ever had the pleasure of calling their own.  Kids don't have that anymore.  And they need it more than ever.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

My Best Friend Is Having My Pinterest Wedding…

…and I'm having a LOT of issues with it.

I wasn't sure if I should write this post or not.  It leaves me open to a lot of judgmental comments from people about one thing or another… most likely about how I probably could use an attitude adjustment. To any of you who feel the inclination… we don't judge here, so get out.  I should preface this whole post by saying this:

I am fully aware that I am not currently ready to get married.  I am in a relationship with the man I intend to spend the rest of my life with, but at this juncture in our lives, we are not in a position where marriage is something we realistically talk about.  We'd like to have a bit more stability in all areas of our lives before we make the big, legal commitment.  And I am 100% okay with that.

That being said, there must be something in the water because more people than I've ever known at one time are all getting engaged right now.  I mean, seriously, it's like once a week.  I have started hiding them from my Facebook news feed.  And while I know my day will come, impatient as I may grow, I am starting to feel a little left out because I don't have the latest shiny accessory all the "cool girls" are wearing.

Let's start at the beginning…

Ever since I was a little girl, I have dreamed of getting married.  Yes.  I'm that girl.  I have been planning various iterations of my future wedding since I figured out it was a thing that some people did.  I dreamed of Edwardian princess style dresses, tiaras, flowers, cakes, you name it!  Over the years, my tastes have changed, and thus, my hypothetical weddings have too.  For example, I can proudly state that at 28 years old, I no longer want a bubblegum pink wedding, a tiara in my hair, or a giant ball gown with puffy sleeves that is not only white, but also pink, purple, and blue.  My seven-year-old self was ever so much more eccentric than I am.

However…

Since the birth of Pinterest (and no thanks to my cousin who first showed it to me), I have found a few more… realistic ideas about how I'd like my wedding to look.  Initially, I had promised myself that I would not plan another one of my future weddings until I had a reason to do so.  And then I got a boyfriend, and Pinterest introduced secret boards.  So that promise went to hell.  In a really fast car.

My secret wedding board on Pinterest is filled with images of cakes, and dresses, and rings.  With lace, and pearls, and twinkle lights.  With a definite bias toward a Parisian theme in colors of mint green, peach, and gray.  There are entirely too many pins on this board for any reasonably healthy 20-something who is not engaged.  Yet.

Moving on…

Roommate (remember her?) has recently found herself betrothed, and has enlisted me as a bridesmaid.  We won't go into detail about how I also have issues with her getting married before me for a number of reasons.  I have made peace with that issue and it isn't worth revisiting.  When she first got engaged, I found myself imagining her wedding.  What it would look like, and without question, how different it would be from my own.  I pictured her colors as blush pink, pale yellow, and, okay, gray.  It would be kind of rustic, in a cute, shabby chic kind of way.

"So, what kind of colors are you looking at?"

"I'm thinking mint, blush, and gray."  *picture me with steam coming out of my ears*

"Any venues you like?"

"I didn't expect to like it, but we're looking at this New Orleans style French courtyard downtown."

We went dress shopping this weekend.  The bride, her mother, myself, and one other bridesmaid.  She came out in a dress I would have chosen myself.  Strapless lace bodice with a drop waist, seamless A-line, full length dress, two layers of organza sprinkled with pieces of lace.  Put on her mother's veil, a necklace from the case, and the sales woman handed her a "faux-quet."  She looked beautiful.  Perfect. She cried.  I cried.  Things were emotional.  I felt all the feels.

My tears shifted internally to the realization that one day, I will be engaged, trying on dresses with my bridesmaids around me, but there will be no mother's veil.  There will be no mother at all.  It would have been the one moment in my life when I wouldn't have had to put up a fight to take her shopping with me, the moment my mom and I could bond like two squealing teenagers, the moment she'd cry when she saw me in "the dress."  And all of that is gone.  She won't be there to tell me how beautiful I look.  She won't be there to gasp with excitement as only she can.  She won't wear Diane Keaton's dress from Father of the Bride.

I never expected that this wedding would be this hard for me.

So go ahead.  Judge.  Tell me I'm a terrible, selfish bitch because I'm having issues with my best friend, getting married before me.  Tell me I'm a bad person because I'm horrifically jealous that my best friend is having my dream wedding.  Tell me I insult you because I'm upset that she gets to share this milestone with her mom, and I won't have that luxury.  Give it a shot.  I'm not listening anyway.  I'm too busy planning a whole NEW Pinterest wedding for myself.

In the end, of course her wedding would be my Pinterest dream wedding.  Of course we have similar tastes in wedding gowns.  Of course she would want her wedding in a French courtyard with twisty, rot-iron gates.  This is why we're best friends.  And I will stand up beside her on her wedding day, jealous out of my mind, feeling all the love in the world for her.  I will keep her from crying, I will give her the pep talks, I will hold her dress while she's peeing.  She is my best friend, and no wedding will change that.  Not even if it was mine first.

ADDENDUM:

Roommate's wedding plans are well underway, and I can comfortably say they no longer look like plans I had envisioned for myself.  The process is becoming more fun by the minute, and I am coming to terms with the whole ordeal.  This really will be a fun day.  I can breathe easy.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

That One Time I Did a Juice Cleanse, OR Why I Hate Dieting

Ever-generous M bought us a juicer for Christmas, so over this past weekend, FAB and I decided to try a juice cleanse, along with one of our roommates.  Why, you may ask, would my foodie self who enjoys food so much decide to go on an all liquid diet? One, because we needed a good excuse to break in our delightful new toy.  Also because we needed to reverse our food intake a little after our holiday visit to FAB's family in Missouri.

*Note:  FAB added that he wanted this juice cleanse to help him eat healthier after we finished.  I told him I already eat healthy.  This, coming from a person who frequents Taco Bell, sparked an argument where he scoffed at me because I sometimes cook with butter and cream.  I maintain that cooking with butter does not mean I don't eat healthy.*

We decided do do this juice cleanse before we left the Midwest, and our research led to Joe Cross's three day juice cleanse, which can be found on Dr. Oz's website here.  The reason we chose this cleanse was mostly because it was very organized and came with specific recipes and a shopping list.  This particular cleanse allows for one solid food meal a day, for dinner, made only of fruits and veggies.  We ate sweet potato and carrot "fries" with a side of green beans.  We also watched Joe Cross's documentary Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead, which is available via Netflix.  I enjoyed the documentary far more than I enjoyed the juice cleanse.  Also, if you watch the documentary, I find Phil's story to be far more compelling than Joe's. 

I learned a lot over the course of the last three days.  Most specifically, though perhaps not surprisingly,  I learned that I do not like being on a juice cleanse.  Here is a list of things I learned.

1.  Not missing solid food is a lie.  Almost any juice cleanse will tell you that after the first day or two, you will not miss eating solid food.  I am here to tell you, that is a boldfaced lie.  From the moment I tasted the first juice, I already knew I was in for a long three days, and could not WAIT until the end of the day for my solid food dinner.  I am a girl who likes to eat, and chew, and enjoy food.  I do not like to drink my meals.

2.  I do not like kale.  Adding kale to anything will make it taste like the inside of a lawn mower.
Sometimes juice separates and makes density stripes!
3.  Be ready to commit.  When on this cleanse, there is really very little time to do anything else during the day.  When making juice (especially for three people), it takes a lot of time. You have to prep the food before it goes into the juicer (because juicers don't like things like apple cores and citrus rind), actually make the juice, clean the juicer, and drink the juice.  By the time you've finished drinking the juice you've just made, it's practically time to make the next one.  I can now tell you that over three days, that juicer was cleaned FIFTEEN TIMES.  That's five times a day.  It's a lot.
Kind of sad, that this beautiful plate of food...
…turns into this.
4.  The word "cleanse" actually means "empty."  This is kind of part of the commitment.  The time you are not spending making or drinking juice is most likely going to be spent in your bathroom.  I will spare you the ugly, uncomfortable, unladylike details, but I'll leave you with this:  what comes out of you is directly related to what goes in.  Sit on that for a while.

5.  You MUST adjust the portions.  I don't know what kind of tiny-ass produce Joe Cross was using, but his portions are WAY out of whack.  The first few juices we made were triple batches, as the recipes you will see on the website are for one juice for one person.  This made about a glass and a half, to two glasses of juice PER PERSON.  We later adjusted to making one and a half batches, sometimes adding an extra apple or cucumber to adjust for volume.  Adding apple and cucumber can only make it taste better.
One unadjusted portion of lawn mower juice, comin' right up!
6.  Juice cleanses are expensive.  We did a lot of shopping at Costco, and made up the difference from the grocery store.  Because the portion size is so crazy, we over-shopped and now have a lot of leftover fruit and veggies. But we threw away all the kale. 
Our refrigerator.  We also had a cooler filled with food that wouldn't fit in the fridge.
7.  Never EVER go on a juice cleanse (or any diet) when it's "that time of the month."  This is the second time FAB has suggested and started a diet right when I started my period.  It's partially my fault for not suggesting we postpone it until after, but the timing worked out really well relative to vacation time.  I don't normally have a sweet tooth.  I sort of lost it as I got older.  But with absolute certainty, all I want when I'm *ahem* having a visit with Aunt Flo, is chocolate, and candy, and all the foods I KNOW I shouldn't eat.  This juice cleanse turned me into a mean, irritable, whiny little dragon who did nothing but complain for three days.  I'm sorry FAB, for yelling at you.  The cotton pony made me do it.

Now, despite all these negative take-aways from the worst three days of the new year, I did learn a few more positive things from the juice.

1.  Developing a system is important.  Remember how I told you it takes a lot of time to prepare juice?  As long as you develop a system that works for you (this can be anything from how to cut certain vegetables to making the juice far enough in advance to refrigerate it because it tastes better cold), the time can be minimized.  FAB and I took turns washing the juicer, making the juice, cutting fruits and veggies, and we made sure to make juice ahead of time so it could be refrigerated.  Hint: If you are doing this cleanse, when making the third juice, use the bell peppers as a cavity for parsley or the parsley will fly up in your face, go easy on the onion, and add an extra lime.  Trust me.

2.  A change in energy.  Yes, as much as I hate to admit that this juice cleanse did anything for me, I did notice my levels of energy were higher.  My skin got slightly clearer, and I slept better at night.  I still wouldn't do it again.  FAB and our roommate lost like five pounds.  I lost like, two ounces.  Yes I was on my period, and bloated, and puffy, but juicing for three days is not gonna get you anywhere weight-loss wise, so unless you're a dude who's kind of athletic (my boys all play softball) don't expect to lose any poundage.

3.  I didn't get sick.  Fun fact:  During these three days, all of my roommates, including FAB, were sick, except me.  One even had the flu, and was basically quarantined to his bedroom.  I'm pretty sure that the juice cleanse helped FAB and our other roommate get over their illnesses (we even gave some of our extra juice to our flu-mate, who spent a lot of his time coming up with flu puns) a lot quicker.  I'm definitely sure that taking in this much liquid, with this many nutrients is the main reason that I experienced no symptoms of illness at any time.  Also probably because I work with kids every day and am developing immunities, but we'll pretend that's not a factor.

For the last part of this post, I want to explain for a minute why I hate the word "diet" and the concept of dieting in general.  The word "diet" inherently implies impermanence (I just LOVE alliteration).  When you go on a diet, for the most part, you are setting aside a finite amount of time where you will drastically change your eating habits, lose a bunch of water weight, and the day after you will allow yourself to eat whatever you want, causing you to gain back that weight almost immediately.  Also, because diets are temporary, and frequently force you to deprive yourself of certain foods, guaranteed, those are the only foods you will want to eat.  By not allowing yourself to indulge, you are more likely to cheat, thereby completely negating the purpose of your diet to begin with.  

If you want to lose weight, you need to change your eating habits.  Plain and simple.  Eat healthy food.  Exercise.  Make sure you're eating fruits, and veggies, along with proteins, and carbs, and dairy.  And manage your portion control.  Don't clean your plate, eat until you're full.  You want that ice cream bar, or extra piece of pizza?  Go ahead.  Go right ahead and have it.  Just make sure that you aren't making it a habit.  Don't deprive yourself of all the foods you love, make it a treat to eat them.  Everything in moderation, including moderation.  By eating right and making sure I was exercising even a little bit, I was able to lose 15-20 pounds in about four to six months.  Yes, I became a calorie counting fiend for a while, but even when I was counting those calories, I would allow for the occasional cookie, or scoop of ice cream.  Or a beer.  I have never had that much success on any "diet," ever.

My pal Foamy the Squirrel knows what I'm talking about…


Don't diet.  Eat right.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

I Never Knew Selling Your House Was Such an Invasive Process...

Good evening, Wonderers.  As I mentioned in my last post, I'm trying to use blogging as a means of therapy (since I don't currently have time to take advantage of the free therapy sessions my mother's former therapist has offered to me), and since yesterday was a pretty awful day many ways around, I thought it would be a good excuse to write.

I'm not going to talk about driving out of my way to go to the Auto Club and deliver my request for a duplicate title to my car, only to find out that I only have to have my buyer fill out the reverse side of the request form because the form acts as the title.  And my registration is overdue.

I'm not going to talk about driving to two separate stores to find a hair catch for the shower drain, and how neither store had what I was looking for.  To be fair, one store had it, but they were out of stock.

I'm not going to talk about having to go to class on no sleep, filled with anxiety and frustration from 4-10pm.  Or how some of the girls in my cohort make me frustrated and jealous because they decided to take leaves of absence from work (or any number of other decisions to take responsibility and burden off their plates), whilst I'm watching my life fall apart around me.

What I'm going to talk about is the truly invasive, rapey process of selling a house.

Now, I'm not gonna say that I'm not extra emotional given the other circumstances of my life.  Doing pretty much anything is more difficult while simultaneously grieving the loss of my mother.  But I feel like I've been moving for the past three months and we are FINALLY down to the last week in my childhood home.

The thing that has affected me the most throughout this whole ordeal is the number of times I have been asked to LEAVE MY HOUSE.  I understand that it is easier to sell a house when the occupants are not there, but when all I want to do is curl into a ball and cry about everything that is happening in my life, being told to be anywhere but home is very upsetting.  Thankfully, the house was only on the market for four days before it was sold.  But since it has been sold, I have still been asked on multiple occasions to vacate the premises.  The buyers want to come by and look at the house again.  The buyers want to come make decisions about how they are going to "flip" it and sell it for a higher price.  As we are coming to the end of our move, my dad and I have been decidedly more emotional about leaving.  Yesterday was the straw that broke the camel's back.  Make no mistake, I didn't have an emotional outburst or throw a tantrum, or point a shotgun a la Clint Eastwood in Gran Torino.  But it certainly didn't make my terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day any better.

Yesterday, I called my dad on my way home from work to let him know that I would be returning to the house for a few hours before class.  I wanted to get more things done.  He told me that the buyers were there with their crew, taking measurements and making decisions, and that he was not thrilled about their presence in the house.  After my aforementioned adventures in frustration, I returned to my home to find the buyer and their contractors still at the house.  They were there for an additional hour before leaving for the day.

Am I wrong, or is it kind of inconsiderate and horrible that these people couldn't wait another SEVEN days for us to be gone?  It is also particularly difficult to pack up your stuff when there are people wandering around your house from room to room, and making you all the more painfully aware that your house is not your home anymore.  It also feels a lot like being forcibly removed from the building by a corrupt security guard.  As if to say, "you may leave at our earliest convenience."  I have been sexually assaulted and felt less raped than that.

So my internal response to these people is this:  You want me to get out?  I have news for you, this is still my house for a few more days.  YOU get out.  Get the FUCK out of my house!

Moving sucks.  Grieving sucks.  Bad days suck.

Rant over.