Tips for Brand New Cooks

Now, let me start by saying I am no Martha Stewart. I’m far from it. There are a few recipes I can rock every time, but there are also a lot of recipes I have messed up and will never try to make again. I’m working on it though. Baby steps. If this sounds familiar here are some, obvious I admit, tips to help you become a better cook.

Do not buy “easy” meals.
If you buy pizza rolls, hot pockets and simple, easy meals, you will make those simple, easy meals. Don’t do it! You are setting yourself up for failure. If those options aren’t available them you cannot utilize them. Be a winner!

Do not buy fast food.
There is almost always a better option than fast food. Yes, is is easier than cooking yourself. However, it is considerably harder on your health, waistline and wallet. The easiest road is not always the best choice.

Do not forget to thaw necessary ingredients.
There is nothing more frustrating than when you plan to make tacos and the meat is still frozen. This is a place where you want that easy road. Do not give yourself an excuse not to make what you planned.

Do not forget to buy necessary ingredients. 
Work smarter, not harder. Have all the ingredients. Don’t make yourself stop mid-recipe to purchase an ingredient you forgot. Don’t throw off your groove!

Do not forget it’s okay to eat leftovers. 
Leftovers are like fast food, except from your own kitchen! Win!

If you are already a good cook. You probably stopped reading already and that’s okay. If you’re like me and you are still figuring things out I hope these tips helped. Good luck to you in all your cooking endeavors!

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Five lessons I have learned since joining roller derby

Well, it’s official. As of yesterday I have been skating for one year. I just celebrated my first derbyversary. Wow. It is hard for me to believe I have already been skating for that long! I still feel like a brand new skater, however, the calendar says otherwise.

It has been a fast year, but it has been a great one. I feel like I still have so much to learn, and I do, but I have also learned SO much and not just on the track. I just wanted to share a few things I learned with you.

1. You should always try new things
It is easy to make excuses. There will be always be a reason not to try something new. Don’t let those reasons stand in the way. I realize it’s different when you have a family to think about and there are a whole slew of valid reasons not to try something new, but if you are at all able, branch out. Step outside your comfort zone because you might just encounter something awesome. Last year I gathered up the courage to attend my first roller derby practice and I am so happy I did. Roller derby is more of a lifestyle than an athletic commitment and I LOVE my new lifestyle.

2. My body is amazing
I realize I am relatively young, but I am still impressed by my body. I regularly force it to take hits and push its limits and it keeps letting me get back up. I found a few new muscles that I never knew I had until they were sore. I feel like I am astill constantly surprised by what my body is capable of.

3. Attitude is everything
It’s harder to learn when you have a bad attitude and, frankly, you aren’t any fun to skate with. For most skaters roller skating is a completely foreign concept and it takes time to learn. You cannot get down on yourself when you a skill or drill doesn’t come easily. Most importantly, don’t compare yourself to others. Unless you have the exact some body type, background, experience and endurance than someone else you will not see the same results. I am 5’12” and I know there are spaces smaller skaters can fit through that will just not work for me and they never will. That being said I probably have longer legs than most shorter skaters and can take advantage of that when they can’t. Just keep smiling and keep skating, the rest will come.

4. Embrace the community
The derby community is so welcoming. The Circus City Derby Dames are a newer league and the support and love we have felt from leagues and officials all over the state is amazing! I love it. I try to say thank you to officials as often as I can and I LOVE getting tips and feedback from experienced skaters. I am honored to be a part of the community.

5. Trust is everything
You cannot successful play roller derby without trusting your team. It is not a sport where you can play “lone wolf” or do everything yourself. You are nothing without your team. Even if you are a jammer, you need your blockers to hold the other jammer back and, if you lucky, help you though the pack. The bonds you will forge with your teammates are priceless. Which is great because gear can be expensive.

I am super excited to see what the next year has in store. It’s crazy to think about what I accomplished in six short months. As I was mentally preparing for our home bout a few weeks ago, I thought back to my first bout. It was in March. I was in one line and I could barely stay up on my skates. I remembering leaving the track that night stoked about the bout and the sport and all the things! Now, looking back, I’m pretty sure the only thing I did that night was clean Beloit’s track. Since then, I learned how to stay on my feet when I block and how much I love jamming. I have learned zip blocking, juking and so much more. Plus, I found a second family.

Bring it on year two! I’m ready!

PHOTO BY BOB GOOD

Removing the Beer Goggles

Perspective is important. For, what was probably, the first time last weekend I went “out” to a bar on a Saturday night and I stayed sober. At first all I could think about was my stomach because it was so full from gorging myself all day, but when that subsided I realized something.

Now before you start judging me, no I am not an alcoholic. I don’t drink super often and I’m not always out on weekends. I was actually pretty lame. I didn’t drink until I hit 21 and because of that had zero tolerance so it took very little for me to start feeling intoxicated. Since college I have virtually stopped drinking and I rarely go out to bars so it’s not that strange for me to experience my first sober night out at 24. So there.

Now that that’s out of the way, let me explain my realization. I’m sort of a grown up. I feel like a large portion of the posts I have written so far explain my shortcomings as a young adult and fail to examine my successes.

As I watched the drunken goofballs out on the dance floor, first I wished I was one of the so I could dully enjoy their dance moves. But then I felt like I was too old for it.

No, I am not saying I don’t enjoy a night out now and then and I don’t condemn anyone for being drunk. I’ve been there and will be again in the future. I have a sleep schedule now though. At 10:30 p.m. when it becomes “primetime” to go out I’m ready for bed. I no longer sleep in past 9 a.m. and I’m okay with it. Things are going okay for me.

I graduated college in four years. I am in my second position in career field. I have a fantastic boyfriend. I discovered my love for roller derby and became a Circus City Derby Dame. I have a 401K. I have paid off my student debt. I’m going to be okay. I’m sort of a grown up.

Don’t dwell on your hardships and failures. Be proud of the things you’ve accomplished. It took a night out without beer googles for me to understand. Don’t make my mistake.

5 Ways I am exactly like my puppy

 

I’ve heard it is common to take on the characteristics and habits of the people you live with. Well, I am pretty positive the same can be said for the animals you live with. In the weeks since we brought Thor home, he has picked up a lot of my habits. Or have I picked up his? Either way, we have a lot in common.

Unlike like me, Thor is not very good at holding still for photos. So I only have pictures of five things we have in common. So those are the similarities I will share with you.

1.  We get distracted really easily

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I will sometimes stop talking in the middle of a sentence. This is not because I am thinking of a way to rephrase what I am saying or anything. More often than not it was because I was thinking of something else or I was talking about something else and I was distracted. Thor is the same way. He will switch toys in the middle of playing tug of war because he walked passed another toy and needs to play with that one instead.

2. We love food

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I love eating. Who doesn’t really? I am almost always looking forward to my next meal or craving something. My life is ruled by food. I get hangry and it comes on fast. If I leave for the weekend I will probably bring some sort of food along in case my host doesn’t like breakfast or I know there will be a long break between meals.

3. Sleep is our favorite thing

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I love sleep. I used to be a champion napper. Now, there aren’t as many opportunities for me to nap, but if I get one I am not about to lose it.  To be quite honest, I pretty jealous that Thor gets to nap whenever he feels like it.

4. I like being comfortable

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Maybe it is because I am tall, but I hate being cramped or uncomfortable. Sometimes that means stretching my legs out by hanging them out a car window. Sometimes that means putting my legs along the top of the couch. Thor gets it, just look at him.

5. I want you to pay attention when I’m telling you something

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One of my biggest pet peeves is when I start telling you something and you stop listening. Just please pay attention to me when I’m talking to you. Thor is the same way. We are working on the training thing, but right now when he wants your attention he barks at you until he gets it.

Do you see what I am talking about? He is clearly my dog. Seriously, we even look alike. We have the same smile. Look:

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Riding Outside the Lines

Everyone wants to leave their mark on the world, and last week I got my chance.

Last weekend I got the incredible opportunity to leave my mark on Wausau, WI. I was one of 20 artists that were chosen to participate in a four-day mural competition. My proposal was to be created on The Glass Hat, a really cool, artsy bar that is actually pretty historic, being established in the late 1800’s. Little to say I was STOKED. I had so many cool ideas to make a really cool mural that would play on the brick of the building and the love of old 1950’s bikes of the owner, all while looking like the thing had been there for years. And although I felt very confident, I mean I painted in college and placed in the city’s annual Chalkfest just two months earlier (read more here), I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

For starters it’s a mural. That thing is there literally until the building becomes too old and collapses or the owner decides they hate it and paints over it…which leads us to the second major freak out…what happens if the owner of The Hat (what us cool kids call The Glass Hat, that’s right I’m cool) doesn’t like it. Neither of these problems really hit me until one in the morning, the night before the competition, after I sent the owner my third design, to none of which she seemed overly excited for. The fear that I may do all this work to have it painted over the next week was REAL.

From that everything just started to seem like the end of the world: I hadn’t bought my paint yet and the contest was literally starting; I couldn’t take off an extended time off of work; people were probably finishing theirs’ day one and I wouldn’t get a chance to start; I was an idiot and signed up for a 5k in the middle of the contest in a city a half an hour away; I had no ladder to even reach the wall I was painting…you get the picture…there was a lot of panicking.

I was in it though. Maybe not “in it to win it,” but I was not bailing no mater how freaked out I was. Before I knew it, it was Thursday—

DAY 1:

Part of me wasn’t even planning on starting on the first day: I didn’t have a ladder, it was suppose to storm, and I wasn’t getting off of work till 5:00pm. Then on my walk to work, at ten in the morning, I saw people working…some looked to be almost half way through. So I decided to put on my big girl pants, find a ladder and get sometime down. Turns out 5ft plus 4ft is not enough to work on an almost 8’x8′ mural; but I somehow got my corners plotted for the piece.

DAY 2:

Come Day 2, I was just determined to get my frame and backwash in. Luckily another of my wonderful friends lent me a second ladder, this one 6 feet tall. Things got a lot easier and I only kinda felt like I was going to die…however not long after starting, a co-worker appeared, made fun of me for being a klutz, and then reappears with a 14 foot ladder. At the end of the day I stepped back feeling confident in my new ladder and accomplishing what I set out to accomplish…and then I looked around. Seeing the murals already finished or coming together from my fellow artists sent me into yet another panic; but the sun was setting and there was a Friday fish-fry calling my name.

DAY 3:

So remember how I said that I signed up for a 5k in the middle of this contest like a crazy person…well I ran it, rocked it (kinda, I finished), and then sped back to Wausau to start my mural at almost 3:00pm. I was so behind all the other artists. Here I was with my box as this just beautiful portrait sits finished to my right and a friggin galaxy is being created on my left. The panic was back and in full force.

Don’t worry though, I had the help and support of my boyfriend to get me through. And by help, he brought be water, carried the ladder, and then sat out in the sun with his Game Boy Advance playing Pokemon literally the entire time…

By the end of the day, I was completely exhausted. Running 3 miles and then climbing a ladder all day in the hot sun isn’t really a fun thing (killed that Weekend Warrior challenge though). I was, however, feeling better about the wall. With the text and base coat down for my subject matter, an early morning of touch-ups and finalizing the background seemed very accomplish-able.21706006_10156587204579392_548567725_o

DAY 4 — FINAL DAY OF CONTEST:

You know all those times you say you are going to get an early start on something and then just don’t? These were not one of those times. HA. In all honesty, day four was just a cake walk. Something just clicked and the piece just fell together.

Somehow, even being behind the ENTIRE WEEKEND, I was one of the artists that actually finished by the 1:00pm deadline. The next two hours the participants got to walk around, see the other murals, and then vote for our favorites. Finally the time came to announce the top three…and I was not one of them, however both pieces on either side of me were which was really cool because both defiantly deserved the awards. To see all of the murals and read more on the event, check out this photo album and story my super cool reporter friend put together: here.

In the end I didn’t care. Yes, it would have been nice to win; but I made something I was really, really happy with, and that the owner was even more happy with than I. I made something that is going to be there forever (well I hope forever). Just a week later, the weekend has already opened up new doors for me through the new, amazing people I met. It has reminded how much I love to paint, and continues to remind me how much I love this community and the opportunities it has given me to push myself to be a better self.

With that: all the days of planning, 3 ladders, 100 dollars in painting supplies, and 16 hours hanging out in alley next to The Glass Hat…here’s the final piece. 21706407_10156587206769392_746601408_o

 

I would also like to take the time to thank all the wonderful, amazing, and inspirational people that made this weekend possible:
  • First and foremost both Gisy and Downtown Wausau’s River District for creating this awesome experience
  • John from Hallman Lindsay’s “Ask an Expert” and everyone from that store who put up with my multiple stop-ins for paint and supplies
  • Lora, Blake, Penny, and Mike for all lending me their ladders…sorry for the one’s I haven’t returned yet…
  • Joey for carrying said ladders; bringing me food, water, soda, coffee; putting up with all my craziness; and getting sunburned just to cheer me on
  • Everyone who helped out during the event to provide entertainment, make sure we are fed, and offer their buildings to be painted…you all rock.
  • Everyone who came by to say hello and check out the event, especially those who donated (and voted for me…kidding)
  • Finally all the artists who donated their time to such a cool and unforgettable experience
  • Also to all of you that took the time to read my story 🙂

Never stop
RIDING OUTSIDE THE LINES.

20 Thoughts Every Twentysomething has on a daily basis

I had chili for lunch today and now I feel like I gained thirty pounds. I don’t regret it, but man do I wish this waistline was more forgiving. It really wouldn’t hurt for me to get back on track with my workouts either. There are a lot of things I need to get under control. Do you ever feel that way? If you’re thinking yes, here are a few other thoughts you might have on a daily basis.

  1. I’m fat.
  2. Where will I be a year from now?
  3.  I like my job…right?
  4. Is that a stretch mark?
  5. Tomorrow I’m going to start eating healthier. For real.
  6. Seriously another one?! Who’s engaged now?
  7. I’m tired.
  8. Her hair is perfect. I hate her.
  9. Maybe I should run away and travel for awhile.
  10. I wonder if my boyfriend will propose this year. Hopefully not.
  11. Oh my god! What if my boyfriend proposes this year?! Am I ready for marriage?!
  12. I’m really tired.
  13. There is no way I will ever be responsible enough to be in charge of another human.
  14. I’m definitely fat.
  15. Could I BE any more stressed?
  16. Does he/she still like me? Why don’t we talk as much anymore?
  17. I should wear that one outfit again, I look hot in that.
  18. Wouldn’t it be cool if I could cook?
  19. I did a killer workout today. I probably lost like 10 pounds.
  20. Do I have to go to work tomorrow? I wonder how many vacation days I have left…

I feel like I could keep going, but in the interest of time, and keeping your interest, I’ll stop. You’re not alone with these thoughts. We’re all there. Every day.

Thanks for reading!