Just eat the goddamn pudding

Baking, Thoughts

Bread pudding!

Bread pudding!

I have what you can call an interesting relationship with food.

As a kid I basically ate everything which meant I was a little soft around the edges.

This meant A LOT of teasing in primary school and as I grew older, I grew heavier. Finally, in high school there came a year where I ate very little and exercised very much.

That year changed my relationship with food – it became an enemy and something to fear. Weirdly enough I also started thinking about it a whole lot more – despite not consuming very much.

Fifteen years later I still have a very intense relationship with food but don’t think I will ever fall back into the pit of unhealthy deprivation. I eat specific things that I think are healthy and nutritious and give me a lot of energy. I also make sure I have an allotment of chocolate everyday for, you know, #health.

Still sometimes, when I want to make and eat a desert all these old feelings of trepidation rush back – is this is a good idea, will there be too much, do I really need these extra calories, but I CAN’T BE EATING CAKE FOR BREAKFAST FOR FIVE DAYS!!!!

This past weekend all these confusing feelings and thoughts flooded my brain after I decided I had to make bread pudding (I mean I had a leftover baguette, what’s a girl to do?). That was when I had a bit of a “check yourself, before you wreck yourself,” moment.

Eating a bit of bread pudding is not going to kill me. It might even make me happy (in that moment, I know food is not the solution to all things). And while I don’t advocate eating cake and bread pudding and generous mouthfuls of refined white sugar everyday, it’s important to let myself eat the things I want and love, sometimes.

It’s irritating, but also true, that moderation might be the only way to approach food and also life.

*The bread pudding I linked to is the recipe I used and it was GORGEOUS. Skip the sauce though – eat with maple syrup/honey instead!

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Weekend Hangover

Life, Thoughts

DRANK!

DRANK!

As I sit here typing this – it’s lunch time and I’m halfway through the day. So far I’ve been doing the daily tasks that I need to complete, I am facing an unexpected finance department complication and I have been adding about one new thing to my to-do list per hour.

I have also decided that this is the best time to question my wardrobe choices, the general direction of my life and of course, where I went wrong in everything I have ever done.

Now this is what you call a weekend hangover.*

When your weekend is SO much fun that the mundanity and actual normalcy of real life makes you feel like there’s something wrong.

Calm down. Drink some very delicious coffee and just slowly get your work done and wrap your head around not being overly excited. It’s not a bad thing. It’s just a thing.

Also remind yourself, the next weekend is only in five days.

* DISCLAIMER: I am not suffering from real hangover, only a weekend hangover brought upon by fun hiking, running, fooding and friending.

Blocked and Loaded

Thoughts, Wisdom

On the cusp of... texting

On the cusp of… texting

HI!

So I haven’t been writing because I… just don’t feel like it.

I am / my phone is full of pictures, stories, reviews and more and I… just want to not deal with ANY of it.

I think, my friends, this is what you call a rut. I’m in a creative rut and rather than work it out by myself I have decided to air out my not-so-dirty laundry here.

1. I’m in a rut because after a truly exciting and fun birthday (I dragged out celebrations for about one week because #imworthit) a return to normalcy feels a little too normal. Where is my 10th birthday cake? Why aren’t people randomly hugging me anymore? Does this mean I get no more free wine?

2. I’m a rut because a close friend moved away for her PhD – and I miss her. I used to be able to completely deal with saying goodbye to a friend, especially having moved so much as a kid, but the older I get the more I realize I am not the Tin Man. Which is super annoying.

3. I’m in a rut because I have SO many projects to start on – that I don’t know where to start. Do I re-start my failed scrap booking project? Do I start reading about and implementing the terrifying KonMarie method? Do I finally keep the promise I made to myself and readers to amp up the blog with better photography – using the gazillion props my friends have gifted me over my past two brithdays (IGETTHEHINT).

I feel like I am on the cusp of doing some great stuff and yet something, specifically my mind, is holding me back.

Still I know the only solution to this rut, and to most other problems – imaginary or real – that I might have, is to get my head out of my ass and get on with it.

Actually after writing this, I’m already feeling a little less blocked. Excuse the imagery.

Weighed, measured, and found AWESOME

Life, Thoughts, Wisdom, Work

This post is the first time I have gotten a request to write about something specific.

In this case a friend asked me “So when’s your next blog post?”

“I dunno – tomorrow?” (This was yesterday)

“Cool.”

“What do you want it to be about?”

“Overcoming crippling feelings of inadequacy?”

As I mulled that over I was all – shit how am I going to write about that? I don’t feel inadequate – like EVER. Remember, I’ve said before that I suffer from hubris?

But then I started thinking – maybe it’s not that I don’t feel inadequate. Maybe it’s that I just don’t think about it enough and I don’t let whatever feelings I have, prevent me from doing anything.

This resilience comes from a having a relatively rough childhood – when you combine doting parents, gullibility and pudginess – you get a combo that bullies cannot resist. For most of my pre-pubescent life I was ridiculed for my weight, was no where close to the cool kids’ table and was generally a try-hard. But in school I did really well. My grades were high, I kissed-ass like no other and the feedback from teachers was nothing short of glowing. I continued in this vein till now, sometimes succeeding in school, sometimes succeeding socially and now I’ve kind of got a place at work and with friends that I really like.

Still sometimes, when I’m faced with a peer who makes more than me or friends in long-standing, stable relationships – I begin to wonder, what’s wrong with me?

I think it might be that very question, that holds me back. If I’m wondering about what’s wrong with me, or as the Internet defines inadequacy – what’s lacking in quality about me or insufficient or wanting, how can I perform or be present and do whatever it is I need to do? If I constantly think I’m not up to the task or not worthy of something – how will I ever achieve it? That’s self-fulfilling prophecies for you – the eternal annoying as hell chicken and egg situation.

So there isn’t any real solution to overcoming feelings of inadequacy. BUT I think it’s important not to let feelings or perceptions of inadequacy cripple you, especially when you need to perform. I have three suggestions for overcoming this:

1. Be confident in yourself and your abilities by doing the work that is needed to be confident. Basically over prepare. This isn’t my advice, this is from Mindy Kaling.

2. I’m not going to go on this you’re totally adequate and you can do anything rant, because if you were able to convince yourself of that you wouldn’t need this. Instead it’s always helpful to me to imagine that most people are like me and also go through bouts of feeling inadequate and are still generally able to make it in their career, love and life. So you don’t have to beat anyone. You just have to join them.

3. Just do whatever it is that you need to do because what’s the worst thing that could happen? If you’re suffering from nerves before a first day or work or need to make a presentation or need courage to text someone, but think you’re not qualified or a shitty public speaker or not hot enough (OH THE STRUGGLE!), let me just ask, “What’s the worse thing that could happen?” In all these scenarios, you could stumble and mess up and be embarrassed as HELL and it really won’t matter – in the grand scheme of things. So get over yourself and get on with it.

29 and counting

Life, Thoughts, Wisdom
Five years old and surrounded by Barbie Dolls #blessed

Five years old and surrounded by Barbie Dolls #blessed

I am turning 29 pretty soon (TOMORROW!).

29 feels older, not old, but definitely older.

I don’t know what it is but I don’t feel as frenetic as before. I know I would like to change certain things about my behavior/personality but I know that it will take time. I know I’ve got to work on my career but again, time, luck and a little/a lot of hard work, should get me there. I know I want to continue to cultivate the relationships I have with friends and family but I also know that time will change the nature of these relationships and that’s okay too.

So this year, I have a few birthday resolutions but it’s with an in-breath and an out-breath that I genuinely know that these are aspirations for the next year and yeah I’ll probably do them all. But I should be kind to myself in the process. Can you tell I’ve been doing yoga?

So let’s look at last year’s birthday resolutions and I’ve gotta say I did it all except the volunteering bit. Which is pretty shit. But you know at least I can sleep now and I’m quite bendy – which takes me into my resolutions for this year.

1. Build on my YOGA practice

One of my resolutions last year was to start doing yoga regularly and I cannot tell you how CRAZY different my body and mind are before and after I started. It’s not like I’ve suddenly turned into a crazy hot yogi (not that I would mind looking like her) but I’m much stronger physically, sitting-at-the-computer-related pain is a thing of the past and I’m much more positive about my body image. I haven’t achieved a state of zen either but I am able to sleep better and I can let stuff go. If you know me – you know that’s crazy. So, maybe yoga didn’t take away my anxiety but it helps me channel it or deal with it better. Whatever it is, yoga has changed my life and I want to keep building on my practice and making it a daily part of my life.

2. Curb excessive-ness

I wrote a post last week about how I wanted to let go of excessive shopping this coming year and I realized it’s more than that. I want to let go of excessive-ness and it’s not that I want to go minimalist either – coz that sure as hell didn’t work for me. Instead, this next year I want to work on a) curbing the amount of superfluous shopping I do b) curbing the amount of excessive eating I do and c) curbing the amount of over-exercising that I do. Superfluous shopping is hard on my wallet, my sanity and the planet. Excessive eating, especially when it’s fried or unhealthy food is just well, unnecessary. And over-exercising has led me to feel terrible and also look terrible from exhaustion. It’s time I took a breath and was more mindful about what I buy, eat and do.

3. Focus more time AND energy on the blog

I love this blog. I haven’t made money from it but it has enriched my soul and it has been an outlet when I desperately needed one. I love how it has changed the way I view food. I love that it’s brought me closer to people both through the Cooking with column and also just through readership feedback. And I love that it helps me clear my mind. I think it’s time that I devote a little bit more time to the content, look and feel and more than anything else, the pictures that I curate for this blog. Photography isn’t something I’m particularly good at but I know that if I get a decent camera and work on it I can do better. And in this visual day and age, that’s going to count for a lot.

So there you have it – three resolutions for my last year as a twenty-something year old. Wish me luck!

Costly Coping Mechanism

Thoughts

Processed with VSCOcam with m5 preset
I have a confession to make.

When I get stressed out, or bored or feel like my life is out-of-control – I shop.

I go out and buy new clothes. I shop for food in grocery stores, specialty grocery stores, on health food sites online. I stock up on body care and make-up.

And how do I justify it? I tell myself, I need a wardrobe revamp or that my parents always told me to eat well or that I need those lotions ANYWAY.

I’m never in debt (though there was that one time in college my Dad was pretty understanding…) but I don’t like that it’s something I turn to, to feel in control, or better or distracted. It’s not sustainable (both personally and for the planet) and it’s unnecessary,

As my next birthday draws closer I’m starting to think about how I want my next year to unfold, what habits I want to discard and who I really want to be.

For the most part I am happy with the way I have evolved over the years. For instance:
– I now embrace the fact that I love writing
– Being nice is not a priority
– I’m more comfortable in my skin than before
– And because of the above, my diet is more about health and less about being thin
– I am able to negotiate with the demons in my mind so they don’t take over

So, if I have been able to achieve all of the above – maybe it’s time to take on the one bad habit I have never been able to kick – because I never wanted to address it.

Stop shopping superfluously. Hmm.

Can I stop AFTER my birthday?

Moments of Absolute Clarity

Thoughts, Wisdom

Like a beam from the sky!

Like a beam from the sky!

80% of the time I walk around with about a billion things on my mind.

It’s either work or friends or that next thing I have to do or, or, or…

So when something is really bothering me, I try to find a billion solutions.

I talk to my friends about it.
I talk to myself about it.
I blog about it.
I go see a counselor about it.
I Google my Astrology sign.
I Google somemore.

In the middle of me trying to solve, or resolve, whatever is bothering me, I sometimes fill my head up with so much noise that I don’t ever really find the answer or the peace I am seeking.

And then if I ever find myself about to walk somewhere, a perfect time for reflection, I choose to plug in my earphones and listen to whatever playlist is striking my fancy (right now it’s Latin Dance – yeah you know it’s good) and dance myself to my next destination.

There is little time for me to really just think about observe a situation and come up with any sort of realization. And when trying to address something, I analyze all reason out of it.

But luckily it seems like my mind has figured out a way to help me out.

When I’m half-awake at night stumbling to the bathroom for a middle of the night pee (All you small-bladdered people do this – don’t lie), sometimes I find I am struck by these BLINDING epiphanies about whatever is bothering me.

I kid you not, halfway from my room to the john the voice in my head will go from “Oh, why is there SO much light” to suddenly “How could you have worried about that inane thing, when in reality you’re being ridiculous and need to just take it easy.”

Funnily enough most of my midnight conversations to myself involve telling myself to chill out. And then my other self tells my clarity self, “Yes, yes I know, now let me pee and sleep, I’m very tired.”

In the morning I’m usually struck by this feeling like I’ve spoken to a fairy godmother or something and that they’ve told me something really important.

I guess I’m lucky – to have a fairy godmother AKA myself – who’s got my back. Maybe I just need to trust myself, a little bit more and Google, a little bit less.

Got my mind on my mind

Thoughts, Wisdom

2015-04-26 19.01.16

“We are all, as Byron put it, differently organized. We each move within the restraints of our temperament and live up only partially to its possibilities.” – Kay Redfield Jamison

I suffer from what I like to call an unquiet mind. Which is also, coincidentally, the title of the book from which the quote above is taken.

It is an affliction that renders me unable to:

  • interact with people without assessing their (and my) ulterior motives
  • make a decision without obsessing about the effect about my future (this includes whether or not I eat a chocolate-almond croissant for breakfast)
  • watch any movie without analyzing why and who it was made for (as as result I can never actually tell you if a movie was “good or not” because IT’S ALL RELATIVE)
  • exist in this moment – here and now

So everyday, I go round and round and round. Interaction after interaction, moment after moment, is felt, processed, and imprinted.

There are times when this feeling of living inside my head is all-consuming and there are times when it’s closer to the surface, manageable, even.

This past month I spent a lot of time living in my head. My loved ones, tolerated this, because see: Love.

When I surfaced from this period of self-absorption and indulgence and sent the, “I’ve sorry I’ve been a douchebag,” message to my closest friends, I realized that everyone around me was also dealing with their own restlessness and disquiet. Their own demons.

And it hit me that sometimes the key to finding peace might not come from within. I think it might lie in realizing that you are not alone and also that someone else might need you.

That simple act of empathy and then if you can find it within yourself, grace and kindness, might free you.

And if that doesn’t work there’s always chocolate.

Weekend Meal Prep YOUCANDO

Baking, Cooking, Thoughts, Wisdom
Prepping for prep

Prepping for prep

Every weekend I set aside about two to three hours, to plan how I’m going to take over the world.

No seriously, because the only way that I can take over the world is if I eat well-balanced, nutritious food that will then give me enough energy to take over the world. Right?

But more seriously this is my post about meal prepping on weekends. I got into meal prepping for two simple reasons 1) Shutterbean and 2) IHAVENOTIME.

Let me explain.

1) Shutterbean is this fantastic blog written by Tracy who cooks these wonderfully healthy and varied meals not just for her blog, but also for her family (her husband and son). And she achieves this by being organized and prepping the ingredients and pre-cooking certain items on the weekend. Check out her awe/jealousy-inspiring meal prep grams here, here and here.

2) IHAVENOTIME. I know, I have a choice in life, I can stop saying I’m so busy and sit down and smell the roses… but guess what? I don’t want to do that. I want to run and go to yoga and hang out with my friends and go to work and read and do my laundry and read a book and get 8 hours of sleep AND eat somewhat healthily. SO. That means being a little organized and getting some stuff prepped over the weekend.

I don’t prep like Tracy, since I don’t have a family, but what I do is that I have a simple rule. I try not to eat more than one meal out a day, so if I’m eating dinner out I’ll pack a lunch for work, if not I’ll eat the dinner for the week.

I hard-boil 5 eggs for breakfast and make either a muesli or granola every two weeks which I enjoy with greek yogurt. That is my breakfast all week – minus the one day I get my chocolate almond croissant from Tiong Bahru Bakery.

I prep a salad for the week by buying spinach leaves or romaine (they keep fresh for about three days), grill vegetables (usually a combo of carrots, beets, peppers, etc), grill chicken, make a salad dressing (loving this one right now) and cook 1/2 cup of dried quinoa (about 5 meals worth for me). That lasts me for about five meals and mid-week I usually re-do the whole process.

This takes me about 2 to 3 hours, with plenty of time in between to dance around my apartment or do more laundry.

Totally doable right? And I’m not advocating an oat and salad filled existence.

Make whatever the hell you want.

Mel, my apartment mate, preps awesome tofu-veggie pasta salads every weekend.

Another good friend puts together protein and fish and fruit every night for her BYOL.

Just think about eating and living intentionally. Because – it’s kind of awesome.

Peanut Butter Soba Salad with Chicken

Cooking

All DA goodness

All DA goodness

It seems like everyone I meet is on the salad bandwagon.

What did you make for dinner Preetha?

Oh I threw together a selection of greens, smoked mackerel and topped it with chili flakes.

Random person I just met – what did you have for dinner last night?

Oh I pan-fried some salmon and had it with a salad leaves and pumpkin leaves with a cranberry dressing.

The hell?

When did we all turn into this health conscious zombies?

To be honest I think I’m just saying this because I’m not the special one anymore.

I mean last year, I was feeling like this smug asshole, who was all – I’m clearly the one who has her life figured out because I eat quinoa and protein and healthy oils and #eatsocleansodamnclean.

Then I visited Preetha in the UK and realized, girlfriend has been doing the same all day errday, and doesn’t make a big deal out of it.

So I guess what I’m trying to say is, everybody is basically eating healthy. We should all be patting ourselves on the back. And if you don’t here’s my bid to convince you to do so.

Naked salad! Oh no!

Naked salad! Oh no!

The issue with eating healthy or not eating healthy, it seems, is that people perceive that it takes a decent amount of effort.

And that is true, buying your dinner is an infinitely easier exercise than figuring out what you want to cook, shopping for the ingredients, cutting/cleaning/preparing the components and then eating. I mean where does one get the time? I’ll tell you when, it’s that time you’re spending watching another show you don’t need to watch, having a drink you don’t need to have or just following everysingleGODDAMNLINKONFACEBOOKYOUCANSEE.

Excuse me while I get off my high horse. The thing is, when you make food that is good for you and that tastes good, you automatically feel, well, good. This is evidenced by the crazy amount of energy I have, the fact that my skin is clearer when I eat like this (adult-acne sufferers rejoice!) and that I can push harder at work and exercise.

So a week ago, I made this Peanut Butter Soba Salad with Chicken and ate it for dinners. I ate it for lunches when I knew I would be eating out.

Maybe I even got a little sick of it. But it tasted good, was healthier than other stuff I could eat and I prepped it on the weekend so it took minimal time on weekdays.

Think about it, food is your fuel – don’t you want to upgrade to premium?

Next week I promise to explain HOW I prep the food.