Thursday, September 22, 2011

Ana's Awesome Double Chocolate Cookies

It's 12:48 am. I'm watching my fifth 'Friends' rerun of the night when I give up on the idea of sleep... I think to myself, "Well, if I'm not gonna sleep, I might as well have a yummy treat."
The only sweet thing left in the house is half a bag of semisweet chocolate chips. What to do?

The only thing you can do when sleep deprived and craving sweets, invent a cookie! What followed was a frenzy of activity that can only be described as divine intervention.

Without a recipe to speak of, I began mixing ingredients into a bowl. Granted, I've made many cookies in the past, and have a general knowledge of the basic necessary ingredients and proportions thereof, so maybe I was just working from experience.

The result was a deliciously gooey chocolate chocolate chip cookie. A perfect cross between a brownie and a cookie. It was soft and fudgy, but crisp on the outside. Awesome.

The recipe goes as follows:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1 stick of butter
1/2 cup (perhaps a teensy bit more) sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 egg
1 cup flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 a bag of semisweet chocolate chips (like 6oz? trust your judgement)

In large bowl, microwave the stick of butter for about 45 seconds or until it's semi-melted. Add the sugar and vanilla extract and mix. Add the egg and stir until mixed. In a separate bowl add the rest of the ingredients and stir until combined. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and stir with a spoon or flexible spatula until combined (don't over mix). Fold in the chocolate chips.

Roll little balls of dough in your hand, about 1" diameter, and place on cookie sheet. Flatten slightly with hand. Bake for 8-10 minutes. You'll know they're done when they puff up and the tops look kind of dry. Careful, they're easy to over-bake. Let them cool for a minute and enjoy!

In case you were wondering... after my wonderful cookie adventure I ended up staying up until about 3:30 am.. turns out sugar doesn't really help you get to sleep.. who knew?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Quarter-Life Crisis, Anyone?

There are times when I feel as if my life is nothing but one futile attempt after another at having some sort of  a 'real' life. Do you ever feel that way, or is it just me?

Upon further examination, the logical voice in my head (who I rarely listen to) told me this is simply because I'm in that "in-between" time... The time between college and career... The time between single and married... between being a young woman and a mother...

A feeling of disbelief followed this train of thought. My life is happening right now. It's always happening, every moment.. the idea that I'm somehow suspended in limbo for a few years after college seems unrealistic. Further, to think that my life doesn't really 'begin' til I have a career and am married with kids enrages me.

How come a life is only of value if we accomplish certain things? Who decided this? So my life won't really be worth living until I find some dude to marry and pop out a few kids? Until I choose some company to work for? Now I'm angry and confused.

Don't I matter just a little bit? Is my life not of value in itself? I have to go achieve some stuff in order to matter?

Maybe this quest for a 'real' life is nothing but a big fat illusion. Some fabricated notion to mask the fact that we're just afraid. Afraid to live our actual lives, full of uncertainty, and joy and sadness, and unbearable pain at times. Full of anticipation of things that may never come. Where our parents are insane and our boyfriends (or lack thereof) disappoint us. Where we disappoint ourselves sometimes. Basically, where nothing is perfect.

If we focus on chasing this 'perfect' life, this 'real' life, then we don't have to accept the life we do have. With all its imperfections and confusion.. where nothing is set in stone, and there's nothing we can do about it.

I think I found my answer. Accept your actual life. It may not be perfect, but at least it's real. It's happening right now! And even though things may suck at this moment, the beauty of it is, it could change any minute now... All you can do is put yourself out there and hope for the best.. Try.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Open Letter Against Kale



Dear Kale,

You are the worst tasting vegetable I've ever had. Please, stop existing. Not only did you stink up my entire apartment while I was cooking you, but you activated my gag reflex the second I put you in my mouth. Even after all this, I forced myself to eat you, because you're "good for me"... and was consequently burdened with kale-tasting burps for the rest of the day.

I ask you this, how can something that tastes so bad be good for me? Does it not stand to reason that if my body so violently rejects something, then I probably shouldn't eat it?

I follow that line of inquiry with this: If fat is bad for me, why does anything cooked in it taste so good? Are our taste buds plotting against us?

I blame myself, for believing that vegan lady on TV who said kale was delicious.. "Mmmm", she said, as she placed a giant spoonful in her mouth... LIAR! How do you live with yourself?

Shame on you kale, shame on you... and shame on all of you who pretend it's a delicious snack.

Sincerely,
Ana Lugo

Monday, August 22, 2011

Excerpt from a Work-In-Progress

I once had a friend who couldn’t cry. Or at least that’s what she said. She would say, “You’re so lucky you can cry… I couldn’t cry if I wanted to.”

Yes, she could, but she decided as a child that crying was bad. She was taught to be “strong”, to show no emotion. As a result she promptly stuffed all her feelings in her gut and refused to ever look at them again. She would only feel things occasionally, when her gut would overflow. It would normally come out in angry bursts and then suddenly stop, as if nothing happened. This is how she spent her life, in a constant struggle to keep her gut from spilling all over the place. This was her decision, and her decision alone. She got what she wanted, a life without sadness.

The trouble is, once you shut the door to one emotion, you shut the door to all emotions. I know this from personal experience. I spent my life avoiding my feelings of sadness, but as a result I was unable to feel happiness or love. Emotions are who we are. They are our compass. Emotions are how we know right from wrong, how we distinguish good people from bad people, and how we decide what to do.

Did you ever meet someone, and on the outside they seemed like a perfectly nice person, but something inside you felt wrong about them? That’s your emotional body perceiving something your conscious mind cannot. If you live your life ignoring your emotional body, how will you know anything for sure?

You won't. Just like I didn’t. As a result I spent my life making mistake after mistake, becoming more and more miserable with each passing year. I felt as if I was willingly banging my head against a brick wall. I didn’t know why, but I couldn’t stop.

Do you ever wonder why nothing in your life ever goes right? It’s because you’re not listening to yourself. You’re ignoring your emotional body and making choices based on flawed data. No wonder you’re upset. Your inner self is screaming at you and you won’t listen. You won’t listen because if you do, you’ll have to feel the sadness you’ve tried so hard to avoid. But there’s no other way, your feelings will stay deep inside you until you acknowledge, and learn from them.

So next time you feel the rush of tears coming your way, cry. Don’t push it down, don’t laugh it off, don’t pretend it’s not happening and don’t try to control it. Honor your feelings and cry your eyes out. I mean deliberate, gasping for air, snot-dripping-down-your-nose bawling. You will feel like a million bucks afterward.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Amazing Household Uses for Baking Soda!

So I've been trying to find ways to simultaneously be earth-friendly and save a little money. I have found a new partner on this quest: Baking Soda!
Growing up baking soda was just that little orange box in the back of the fridge.. I never paid any attention to it, I didn't even know you could use it to bake with (my mother was a strictly boxed cake mix kind of gal). I had no idea it could be so useful in so many freakin' ways!
 

Deodorant

Just dust a little under your arms and you're good to go. I have to admit I was skeptical of this, but I tried it and it kept me fresh all day long. It can be a little irritating to some people, so you could mix it with some corn starch to dilute its potency.

Body Powder

Mix 6 parts corn starch with 1 part baking soda. Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil (or even a spritz of your perfume) shake up and voila! You have a talc-free, super cheap body powder for those humid summer days.
Incidentally, I used to spend like $8 on Burt's Bees all natural body powder. I still had a little left and after looking at the container, guess what the first two ingredients are... yes! Corn starch and baking soda! Why waste your money on Burt's Bees when you can make your own?

Shampoo

Let me be clear, baking soda alone is not a substitute for shampoo. What I do is I keep a little container of it in the shower. I pour a little bit in my palm (about a teaspoon) and mix it in with my shampoo.  As you lather, the baking soda absorbs all the oil and residue from your scalp, leaving your hair squeaky clean. I use it when I have lots of product in my hair, it feels awesome.

Mouthwash/toothpaste

If you want to save on mouthwash, mix a teaspoon of baking soda with water. Swish around and spit. Your mouth will be instantly clean and refreshed without the burning of alcohol.
For toothpaste all you have to do is dip the bristles of your toothbrush in the baking soda and brush as usual. It doesn't taste very good, but it gets the job done beautifully! It gives your teeth sort of a polished feeling, and I swear, they're whiter!

Bath

Pour some in your hot bath to relax your muscles and soften your skin.

There's lots of other uses for baking soda. You can use it to clean and deodorize any room in your house. You can mop with it, clean the tub with it, clean your coffee maker with it... The possibilities are endless.  For more info and ideas go to the arm and hammer website,  click here.

Do you have any uses for baking soda? Let me know, I'm always looking for new ideas!