My Go-to Dinners Part 1: Fried Rice

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This series is mainly for Alyssa, who by the end of living with her for one summer, had both me and my boyfriend terrified for her health. Seriously, we actually went out and bought her some easy to make meals that were at least mildly healthier than Spaghetti-Os and Ramen. Sorry, Alyssa, but hopefully this series can help you learn to cook healthier meals even if it does take a little extra work. I’m going to try to do this once a month. I’ll share some really easy meals with you guys that can be made from whatever you have in the fridge. Assuming you have healthy things in there. It’s taken me a long time to get to this point, so maybe these posts will help you get to cooking healthy meals all the time a lot quicker than it took me.

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I’m hoping this will also teach you how to shop for yourselves too, telling you what I think you should always have on hand and how you can use those items. Some of this stuff might seem a little weird, but I either use pretty much everything in this recipe elsewhere. I’ll let you know why I think you should have some of the weird stuff on hand.

So, here we go.

Easy Go-To Fried Rice

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 1 1/2 cups Brown Rice, cooked – Always have brown rice on hand. It’s so filling and a great source of protein.
  • 2 cups Chopped Vegetables – Whatever you have on hand is fine. This particular version I made used carrots, red pepper, and. I put onion in pretty much everything I make. In the past, I’ve also used peas, green onion, kale, spinach, and those frozen stir fry veggies. Seriously, anything goes.
  • 1 medium Onion – This is separate from the veggies because it needs to be in there, and you should always have onions on hand.
  • 2 cloves Garlic – I just keep a few cloves handy for pretty much anything I make. Garlic is another ingredient that just goes with everything.
  • 2 TBSP Vegetable Oil or Olive Oil – The secret to keeping food from sticking.
  • 1 egg
  • Soy Sauce
  • Optional: Some form of protein. I use tofu cooked with this method, but you can use chicken or pork if you like.

Okay, here’s where we get to the weird stuff…

  • 2 TBSP Hoisin Sauce – I pretty much only use this for fried rice, but it can be found in the Asian food section of pretty much any grocery store, and it’s a condiment so it lasts a while.
  • Rice Vinegar – If you do even a small amount of Asian food cooking, this is a must, it really helps bring out the flavor.
  • 1 tsp. Cumin – I use cumin for pretty much everything. A little chili powder, garlic salt, oregano, and cumin is all you need for quick taco seasoning. It’s great with Asian dishes too.
  • 1/2 tsp. Ginger – I only use ginger for recipes like this, but it’s another good spice to have on hand
  • Chopped Cilantro – Cilantro is pretty much the cheapest herb you can buy and goes great with a lot of different foods. If you don’t use it all, it’s not a big deal because I think the 60 cents was money well spent for even one meal.
  • Lime Wedges – I’ve kind of learned to always have a few limes on hand. It might seem weird, but it’s really great to have for pretty much any Asian or Mexican dish. A little lime juice over a burrito, awesome. 

Okay, my justification for just always having these items is over. Now it’s time to make some fried rice.

    1. The rice to fry is day-old rice. It’s difficult to have the forethought to actually cook the rice the night before, but it’s well worth it. That thirsty, dried out rice really soaks up all of the flavors and ends up with a great texture. If you really want fried rice for dinner the same night, make sure to cook the rice ASAP. At the very least, you don’t want to even think about anything else until that rice is fully cooked. Once it’s done, take the lid off your pot or rice cooker, and let that steam out. Stir it around occasionally so the rice dries out evenly. It won’t be as good, but you won’t end up with a pile of mush either.
    2. If you want a protein, marinate it for 10 or so minutes in a little soy sauce and rice vinegar before cooking. Thoroughly cook your protein before adding it to the rice.
    3. Next, take the biggest frying pan  you have, or a wok, and heat up your oil over medium heat while you chop up your onion and mince your garlic.
    4. Once the oil has thinned out and can easily flow throughout your pan, add a little rice vinegar and then throw in your onion and garlic and saute, stirring occasionally until the onions are slightly transparent.
    5. Add the rest of the veggies and stir.
    6. Now, add your Hoisin Sauce, Cumin, and Ginger and make sure all of the veggies are well coated. Sprinkle with a little salt or soy sauce and saute for about 5 minutes.

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  1. Once the veggies are cooked crack your egg into a small dish and beat it until it’s scrambled. Then, push your veggies aside and pour the egg right in the pan. Stir the egg constantly, trying to get as few veggies in the mix as possible. You want scrambled eggs that can be stirred in later.
  2. Once the egg is fully cooked, stir everything together so the egg is evenly distributed.
  3. Now, add your rice and protein and stir constantly until everything is nice and combined and the rice and protein have had time to absorb some of the sauce. If you like the taste of the Hoisin sauce, add another tablespoon or so to the mix.
  4. To serve, add your rice to a bowl, sprinkle with a little cilantro and squeeze a lime wedge on top.

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I’m so Tired of Being Afraid

Hey guys,

Sorry about this post. It’s going to be melancholy and not very fun. Honestly, this might not be the right place for it, but it’s something I want to say and I’m not really sure where else to say it, so here it goes.

As you may or may not know a boy from my home college, Linfield, was stabbed several times Saturday night for apparently no reason and passed away later from the wounds. If you’d like to read more about it there’s a lot of articles floating around but I’ll just link one here: http://www.oregonlive.com/pacific-northwest-news/index.ssf/2014/11/linfield_college_football_play.html

The victims name was Parker Moore. I didn’t know him well, but I did know him. He sat in front of me in my econ class last spring and although I never really talked to him, I would occasionally eavesdrop on his conversations and he seemed like an average, good-hearted guy. He played football and was a residence advisor. He had a lot of friends and wasn’t very good at accounting. He deserved so much better than he got. My heart goes out entirely to his family and friends and to my Linfield community at home. Linfield is such a small school that when something like this happens it touches everyone and although I’m not there right now, my thoughts are with my home at Linfield and with all the people I love who I know are impacted by this.

When I learned the news yesterday I felt very distant from it. I just had a casual conversation about it because I honestly wasn’t quite sure of the situation or the circumstance. I glanced at the email and figured it was another scare that Linfield was sending out that wouldn’t hold up. I didn’t think it would have real consequences. I didn’t really acknowledge that it was real. It wasn’t until I attached a face to the name I was reading on the screen that the news hit me. It hit hard.

I was sitting in my room just looking at the screen and looking at pictures from home and then not really looking at anything. I couldn’t help thinking that I knew who this was, that this was just a random tragedy, and that this boy deserved so much more in life. Mostly, I couldn’t help but thinking how afraid I was.

Tragedies have been too common lately. Earlier this year the school our uncle Lynn teaches at had a shooting and though he didn’t get hurt, my heart was beating so fast when I heard the news it took hours to calm myself down. Now, a boy from my school gets stabbed across the street from campus. A place I used to walk by everyday to get to my apartment and the world just seems to come crumbling down around me and I am so afraid. I am afraid for the people I love. I am afraid for the people I know. I am afraid for everyone at home and the world around them and it’s hard. It’s hard because I’m over here and I feel distant from all of it and I tell my friends here about it and they look at me with big, sympathetic eyes and ask me if I’m okay and I want to tell them that this sort of thing doesn’t normally happen, that this sort of thing isn’t common place, but I don’t know if that’s true anymore and it’s making me feel so powerless.

I’m afraid because the world isn’t as pure to me as it once was. I’m afraid because things like this are starting to make me lose faith in the world around me. I’m afraid because Parker Moore should have lived a long life and he didn’t get to and it’s absolutely terrifying. I’m afraid because things like this keep happening and no one seems to be doing anything about it.

I know fear doesn’t actually help anything. I know that the only thing we can really do from this point is move forward. That me being afraid for people at home doesn’t mean bad things won’t happen to them and that in reality, I have no control over the safety of the people I love, but that doesn’t help. I want to feel some sense of control. I want to know that the world is a just and fair place and that bad things shouldn’t happen to good people and when they do, we reevaluate what’s happening. When bad things happen we should try to fix them, but that doesn’t feel like the truth.

It feels like when tragedies strike we look at them and say that the world is unfair and move forward. The problem is, sometime I don’t want to move forward. Sometimes it’s impossible to move forward because instead of hope I’m left with fear. The truth is, we’re all afraid and that’s why it’s so hard to move on.

We’re afraid of our government so we refuse to give up guns, despite the fact that mentally ill kids use them to harm other people. We’re afraid of each other to the point where it’s getting hard to lend a helping hand. We’re afraid of the world around us so we shut ourselves away from the news and make ourselves deaf to the tragedies that we can stay disconnected from. We’re so afraid of each other and the world that it’s getting impossible to solve problems when it’s so obvious to everyone that something needs to be done. That something should be done.

But nothing is going to happen. Nothing is going to solve this problem.

And I am so tired of being afraid.

Information On: Alki Apartment

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Sorry I’ve been MIA (again). Last week was full of packing and now that we’re moved in, we don’t have WIFI until Monday. So I’m working with what I’ve got!

The apartment is wonderful. It’s small, but that’s how city living goes, and the view absolutely makes up for it. They refinished our bathroom for us, so it looks brand new. Our neighbors are friendly (well, all of them but the lady who lives downstairs and screamed profanities at us when we dropped some shelves on the floor. It happens, okay?!)

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The move in process has been a little rough. While they were refinishing our tub, our drain broke and we had to postpone our move-in to Tuesday, so we’ve only been there for three nights. Seeing as we moved in on a weeknight and we both work all day, our place is still a bit of a mess. We got Wednesday off to do all the big stuff, but ended up spending the day figuring out my bus route, being stuck in West Seattle in the freezing cold (which was actually kind of fun – I’ll explain in a minute), then grocery shopping. By the time all that was finished, Lee had to head to his other job and I was alone to do what I wanted to the place for the rest of the day. I set up the kitchen, which took forever because Lee brought so many gadgets for the kitchen that DO NOT FIT ANYWHERE, set up the bathroom, got most of the living room organized, hung some art, set up the kitchen table area, and watched a movie on our tiny temporary TV.

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While Lee and I were stuck sort of in the middle of nowhere in West Seattle, we finally (25 minutes and a box of grape Swishers purchase from a mini mart later) caught a bus that took us on a round-about route to our apartment. It was a tiny bus with super cushy seats. A little girl with a polka-dot scarf and white sunglasses got on with her mom and chatted with the bus driver like he was her best friend. The bus wound up and down neighborhood streets, then into the heart of our new city. We saw where everything was, all the people rushing to buy their lunches on their lunch breaks, where the nearest pizza joints were, where to get Christmas gifts and drinks and groceries, and the mountains and the ocean from way up high. After weaving through West Seattle, the bus finally took us past a Safeway and turned onto the street that leads down to the water, the road I would be taking to get to and from civilization outside of our little beach town. I love that road. It’s residential but not. It’s quiet and leads you from the serenity of living by the water to the practicality and excitement of a small, patriotic city. I am so excited to be where we are.

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Our apartment is a little cold. We’re afraid to turn on the heat for more than an hour because we’ve never had to pay an electric bill before, and being by the water cools things down very fast.

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The best thing about living on Alki is the road that takes you there from the West Seattle Bridge. You take an exit and turn right, pass a little bicycle shop next to an art supplies store, a few small apartment complexes, a gas station, then out your passenger window is the entire city of Seattle across a calm body of water, and at night it’s all lit up with container ships anchored in the middle. You can see the Ferris wheel and it’s all lit up too. It’s incredible. It’s also one of the sights I saw on my first date with Lee in the city, almost exactly a year ago. In fact, we met a year ago yesterday. Our one year is on the 30th.

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I have plans for the apartment. An area we want to turn into a tiny studio (basically a desk with room on the walls to make art, a sort of inspirational spot for Lee to write). Macrame hangings, because that’s something I really want to get into, but I need internet first so I can look up tutorials. We want to find room (somewhere…) in the apartment for a vintage piece of furniture dedicated to our music-related stuff: speakers, a record player, records, an amp, my SONOS speaker, etc. We need room for a Christmas tree. I’ll need to do some shopping for those decorations – or Joselyn could just give me some from her large and growing quantity of homemade things? We’re already hosting a dinner for Lee’s friend and his girlfriend (maybe I’ll finally make a friend up here?) His sister Jess is staying with us the night before Thanksgiving. My friends Lauren and Megan are coming up on the sixth for a Secret Santa gift exchange. There’s already lots of excitement happening at our little sanctuary. I’m excited to make it a real home. And to set up our dresser so our room is less of a laundry basket and more of a living space.

I’ll try to wrap things up. I’m in a good place now. Living with Lee’s parents was incredibly rough and seriously tried our relationship, but we’re already finding ourselves again. West Seattle seems a great place to “start over.” Oh, and I hope you liked the pictures of our apartment during move in. Here are some more current images of the living room and dining area, although obviously not entirely finished yet.

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How Much is Too Much Crafting?

Tree Stocking Holder

Guys, I think I’ve bitten off more than I can chew in the DIY department. I decided to make all of my Christmas gifts this year. In addition to that horrible mistake, I’m also trying to come up with awesome crafts for my work blog. I made the mistake of not hiring any new bloggers and just deciding to create more of my own posts. Now, in the middle of the holiday craft rush, I’m trying to create these amazing holiday crafts for an email and just the blog in general, and I’m trying to create stuff that is gift worthy.

As a result, my house has been taken over by crafts and Christmas. Seriously, who already has stockings hanging? Me, because I had to make stockings for work, and even made stocking holders. And to get the pictures looking good, I had to decorate my mantel. I have a winter wonderland mantel right now, and it’s not even officially winter.

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I think the bane of my existence, though has to be these stupid ornaments I’m working on for my (hopefully) last holiday project this month. Do you see that disaster on my kitchen table right now? Those suckers have been drying for 2 days now, and I tried to get everything done yesterday, but they still weren’t dry when I was working with them. I’ve ruined 2 pairs of pants, a sweatshirt, and have paint in my hair from these guys. I also dropped an ornament on the floor, and the inside wasn’t dry so in addition to the glass all over my floor, there was also wet paint. It was a fun night.

DIY Marbled Ornaments

I think the majority of the torture is over now. Alyssa’s gift is done (I started it in August, so you’d better like it) I’m working on Mom’s gift now, and I would like to thank you, Lacey, for giving me an extra month to work on yours. I’m actually having some fun with the gift making, but I feel super weird about already having Christmas stuff up. There’s no point in taking it down, though, and I happen to love Christmas decorations. I’m hoping since I’m getting all of this horrible crafting stuff over with before it’s even officially Christmas, maybe I’ll be chock full of the Christmas Spirit by the time it’s actually okay to celebrate.

So, that’s what’s up with the late posts and why I might possibly be a Grinch come December. I hope you guys like your gifts, probably not as cool as something I could buy, but you’ll all know that blood, sweat, tears, and Kirby fur went into them. All in the name of love.

A Weekend in Edinburgh: Feelin’ that Scottish Pride

DSC_0134Hello you two. This past week has been absolutely insane with traveling and I’m honestly still very exhausted. Perhaps I’ll write about the other adventures later, but for now, we talk about Scotland.

Scotland was a very good trip. Once again, a rough start seeing as we left for the train at 6am on November first, meaning the night after Halloween and well, I’m not just going to stay in on Halloween… so… let’s just say I was working on just a few hours of sleep and almost fell asleep while brushing my hair, but I made it on the train so that’s what really counts.

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Once we arrived to Scotland and got situated in our surprisingly nice hostel (Edinburgh backpackers) we learned a very valuable lesson. Ask the person at reception what to do. Not only was the girl who checked us in super knowledgeable about the city, she actually took out a map and wrote down where she thought fun things were, what places we should eat, and most importantly, what all of the free activities were. This led us to our very first walking tour (which was in fact free minus tips) and a really fun and event filled trip.

Our walking tour was an interesting and fun way to get to know Edinburgh. We stopped at different sights, heard stories about locals, and were treated to an interesting afternoon walking around a beautiful place with less beautiful stories. Edinburgh has some pretty gruesome history (we learned even more about this when we went on a Ghost Tour later, also free, also awesome) but hearing about it from people passionate about their town is a great way to learn.

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Our next day in Edinburgh we climbed Arthur’s Seat which is a hill on the edge of the old town which offers beautiful views of the entire city and parts of the North Sea. That is where the first picture from this post was taken and where I want to go back to. That was probably the highlight of my trip, even though none of us were properly dressed for it. Notice Molly went up rugged terrain in a dress and knee-high boots. What a trooper.

DSC_0172 DSC_0060Edinburgh is an old city and accordingly, it is so interesting and aesthetically pleasing to look at. Another brilliant thing about Edinburgh, it’s rich in Harry Potter history. We stopped by the Elephant Room, where J.K. Rowling wrote the second – fourth books, for some lunch, and went on a Harry Potter walking tour where we saw the school that inspired Hogwarts, Tom Riddell’s grave (she changed the spelling for the anagram), a grave for a horrible poet who had the last name McGonagal, and saw the stretch of road that may have been the inspiration for Diagon Alley (Victoria Street). It helped that our tour guide was one of the most adorkable people I’ve ever met, but regardless that was another highlight of the trip. A fun note about The Elephant Room, J.K. Rowling wrote graffiti in the wall of the women’s restroom and now the entire thing is covered in Harry Potter quotes, notes from fans, and words of inspiration.

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Edinburgh was definitely worth the trip and taught us a lot on how to travel. Ask people who know and do free things. Learn about the place you’re at and the stories that come with it. It will make traveling a lot more interesting and the places you’re in have more meaning. If you guys have any more tips for me, just let me know!

Peanut Butter & Chocolate Lava Mug Cake

Lava Mug Cake

Sorry for not posting on Saturday everyone! I’ve been really busy lately, and not in a fun way. More in a “why is there suddenly so much stuff to clean” way. Plus, I waited until the last minute to make my Halloween costume, which meant all of my free time was spent creating a costume I had to explain to everyone I saw.

Aaaannyway, on top of all of the stuff I’ve had to do lately, I have developed quite a sweet tooth. It’s weird, because I will normally choose savory over sweet in a heartbeat. These past few weeks, though, I’ve been craving chocolate like nobody’s business. Last week, I needed chocolate chip cookies, to the point where I got home from work and immediately took the butter out of the fridge to soften.

Peanut Butter Lava Mug Cake

I don’t need a bunch of cookies all the time, though, sometimes I just want a super quick way to satisfy that craving with one serving, and mug cake is totally the answer. I’m not a huge cake fan, but lava cake always does the trick. It’s like a brownie with hot fudge poured over it. Add some peanut butter, and that sweet tooth won’t know what hit it. Here’s the recipe to make your own:

Peanut Butter & Chocolate Lava Mug Cake

Ingredients

Ingredients

  • 2 TBSP Butter, Melted
  • 2 TBSP Water
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 TBSP Cocoa Powder (I love the special dark for this)
  • 4 TBSP Sugar
  • 4 TBSP All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 1/2 TBSP Peanut Butter (I’d recommend creamy for this, but crunchy was all I had)

Steps

  1. You can melt the butter right in your mug, then add your water, vanilla and salt, whisk together.
  2. Add your cocoa powder and whisk until smooth
  3. Then, add your sugar one tablespoon at a time, whisking in between until smooth.
  4. Finally, add your flour, in the same way as your sugar, and whisk well. You should have something resembling cake batter at this time.
  5. Drop your peanut butter off a spoon right in the center of the batter, and press it down a little so the sides of the drop are covered by the batter.
  6. Microwave for 50-60 seconds, right around 55 seconds was perfect for my microwave, the peanut butter melts, the sides become a nice, moist cake, and there is still a little molten chocolate.
  7. Let it sit for a couple of minutes. Your lava cake will be lava hot right out of the microwave.
  8. I also recommend keeping a glass of milk nearby. You’ll need it.

An American going to School in England: What to Expect

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“Hi, my name is Lacey.”

That’s all it takes before someone knows I’m not from England. Every time I introduce myself I’m instantly asked two things. One, being “Lucy?” the other being “Where are you from?” Apparently, the name Lacey is not popular in England. In fact, it’s so unpopular that I always have to introduce myself twice. Once the fact that my name is Lacey not Lucy is confirmed, people usually remember someone named Lacey being on a reality T.V. show. Which I have also realized is true, I have a reality show girl participant name. That’s fine though.

The question “Where are you from?” has also been an interesting one. Instantly when I speak people can tell I’m not from England. The accent is a dead give away and despite the fact that I’ve been here for a month and a half, I really can’t do an English accent to save my life. But the actual question has been interesting because one, people are scared to ask if I’m from the States, and two, it’s difficult to know if they know exactly where Oregon or Washington are. Usually when telling people where I’m from I’ll say “I’m from Oregon, in America.” Which, then based on their lack of acknowledgement I’ll follow with “It’s above California” or “It’s on the West coast.” What I’ve found really interesting about this question is the fear people have that I’ll be offended if they assume I’m from America and I end up being from Canada. Apparently that’s an issue, Canadians don’t like to be confused with Americans, who knew?

Anyways, now that I’ve been here for a considerable amount of time I thought I’d do a post about some things I’ve learned about being an American in England. There have been some ups and downs, but these are things that have really stuck out as far as being foreign goes.

1. I don’t know how to speak English:

Upon hearing that I’m an American student taking English courses most people have replied with “But you don’t even speak proper English, isn’t like learning  a second language?” I usually reply with something equally sassy, but the truth is there have been quite a few struggles dealing with language. Sometimes words are hard. Talking about school is hard. Here they don’t have majors, their college was part of high school (which is not called high school) and they have no idea what a sophomore, junior, or senior is. Here’s an example of just a random conversation that became a struggle:

“You know, you really should have worn soccer cleats… I mean football cleats? Or football trainers? Or… football shoes?”

“There called football boots.”

This is just one example. There have been many many instances when I realized that I don’t know how to speak English.

2. England is expensive:

I knew coming here that the exchange rate was going to be rough. 1.7 dollars is 1 pound and that has not been a pleasant thing. Basically, everything is priced the same as in the states (a burger is 7-8 pounds a candy bar is a quid) but that price goes up when you’re using American dollars to pay for it. Not only that, but you have to pay for everything here. There are hundreds of societies for students to join, which is great, what’s less great is that they all cost money. Want to be on a sports team? That’s going to be fourteen pounds, plus you need to buy a gym membership so you can come to training, plus you need to pay sixty pounds for kit, plus tournament fees, plus transportation fees to get to the tournament. The school literally has tickets for clubs and events every night, but you need to pay for all of it. Lets just say my wallet is hurting a lot more than it should responsibly be hurting and I’m going to blame England rather than myself for that problem.

3. Public transportation is the best thing to exist ever.

The public transportation in England is amazing. You can get anywhere on a bus and the train tickets are actually decently priced. Traveling is a lot easier when you can get to the train station from a bus that picks you up directly from your school. Not to mention that the actually university is a far walk from the town center, but the bus comes by every five minutes, so it’s not even an issue. It makes me feel like an adult using the bus system correctly and it makes me wish we had a better system in America.

4. The classes are entirely different, and I don’t know if I like it.

I actually only have classes two days a week. Tuesday and Friday are the only days I actually attend school, but it doesn’t feel that way. There is so much independent study and as an English student, I am doing so much reading. The first week of classes my Victorian Literature class announced we were reading Great Expectations and expected to be done by that time next week. It’s a new novel every week, a new play every week, and a few of Shakespeare’s history plays thrown in for good measure. My entire grade in the class is determined by one thing at the end. For two classes this is an essay, for the other two it’s a test. I’m terrified of this, but I’m also really enjoying what I’m studying. Let’s just say it’s been interesting.

5. British people are really nice.

I’m surprised how much I actually love living in a dorm hall again, but the people in my corridor have all proven to be fantastic people. We play hall wide games of Monopoly, do pub quizzes, and just in general, hang out a lot. I really love the feeling of someone just knocking on my door and saying “we’re going out now” and your plans for the night changing from watching Netflix to going to a bar. I’ve made some friends here and it’s going to be hard to leave.

 

Okay, I apologize for the amount of text that was that post, but if you made it through, may I commend you on your perseverance. I’m looking forward to the rest of my time here and hopefully next week I’ll be back with some great stories from Scotland. Until then, cheers and other British words.

 

My Imminent Tiny Kitchen

Good news, y’all:

Lee and I got an apartment!

I hope I’m not jinxing it – we haven’t signed the lease yet or anything. But we have it! It’s ours!

It’s great. It’s on the beach, ocean view, top floor, all hardwoods and a really cool wood panel on one of the walls. The only problem: the kitchen is very, very small. It’s L-shaped, with the fridge at the entrance, the sink next to it, and an empty counter space. That makes the long part of the L, then at the bend there’s a second counter space, and the stove/oven is next to it. That’s it. That’s my entire kitchen.

Honestly, I’m not much of a cook, so this shouldn’t bother me much. But it bothers me quite a bit. The apartment was too cheap and too perfect to turn up, but the kitchen will take some strategizing to make it fully functional.

I’ve been looking at a lot of blog posts and little tips for making a small kitchen easier to deal with. This is what I came up with:

6 small space living ideas to create more space, bedroom ideas, foyer, kitchen design, living room ideas

I love the idea of using a mirror to make a space bigger. Obviously, this is an old technique, but it’s really smart! My kitchen has a wall facing the side with counter space/the sink with a big hole in the middle (what Lacey and I called the “portal” in our kitchen at Linfield, because it had one too). That wall would sport a mirror spectacularly. Plus, it will look cute next to the cactus display we’re going to put in the portal (we have to get cacti because I killed all the succulents Lacey and I had).

From blog hometalk.com 

Lee and I bought some pretty plates and glasses, which would look really nice on some shelves we could put on the other side of that empty wall, next to the stove. (The kitchen in this picture is actually around the same size as mine!)

From blog freckleschick.blogspot.com

Organize by pegboard, a la Julia Child.

Genius! I love peg boards. They’re so versatile, and they look great. Of course, I’d have to figure out where one would fit…

The rest of the tiny kitchen hacks: http://www.buzzfeed.com/twopoodles/lifehacks-for-your-tiny-kitchen

Use an over-the-sink cutting board to temporarily expand your counter space.

I definitely need to invest in an over the counter cutting board. We already bought an expandable and retractable drying rack (no dishwasher! Eek!), I believe this is the next step into tiny kitchen mastery.

The insides of cabinets are also great places to put hooks for rags, gloves, and pot holders.

I obviously must use every bit of space I have, with hooks, baskets, command strips and boxes, etc.

Put shelves inside of your shelves.

Shelves inside shelves? Who knew.

And lastly:

If you have the space, a kitchen cart can serve multiple purposes.

A KITCHEN CART. I might do something super tacky and move my fridge outside of the kitchen and invest in a kitchen cart for counter/storage space instead, if I can find somewhere sensible to put my fridge. We have a closet right outside the kitchen, so I’m thinking we could take the door off and put a curtain or some beads in there instead, and store the fridge in there. Might keep us from overeating at night as well! As long as it’s not too tacky, it could be very helpful!

By next Wednesday…well, I still won’t be in the apartment. Move in day is the seventh. I’ll make sure to dedicate a post to our new space the week after!

York: Why you need to go

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Grandparents are the best. Although I’m missing my own grandparents and family, Molly’s family has been gracious, kind, and so unbelievable generous enough to allow me to be absorbed into their family whilst coming to visit Molly at school. This week, on Wednesday and Thursday (because who even goes to school anyways) Molly grandfather and grandmother took the two of us on a trip to York, also known as my new favorite place, or, my future home.

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York has a certain quality to it. It’s definitely a city where tourism is prominent, but it doesn’t feel like that’s what the city is all about. It has a feeling of being small and homey and a place that I would like to get to know while also having a lot to do. It’s funny, because I don’t think I’m alone in this feeling. Every person who I told I was going to York simply said “oh York is lovely” and I couldn’t agree more. Lovely is the perfect word to describe York. Whether you’re walking up the Shambles, which is home to the most independent shops in the UK, walking through the minister which is huge, beautiful, and I could spend hours in, or walking around the town, there’s just a feeling of peacefulness. It’s like letting all of your stress out in a breath. York is calming, York is gorgeous, York is lovely.

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One of the best things about York is the minister. As you can see from the picture above, it is huge. The detail on the outside is impressive and is really only topped by the beauty of the inside. It even rivals West Minster, because although it doesn’t have the same history as West Minster, it has a slightly more welcoming feel. When we got inside the organ was playing and while looking around we were treated to beautiful music. We went down into the basement area to the sort of museum part of the building and when we came back up the organ had stopped, but the choir was performing instead. It was honestly kind of a spiritual experience. When walking around the minister and looking at the stained glass windows and the ceilings and listening to the choir, it’s hard not to believe there is something bigger than yourself. Like, I’m not religious, but I really want to go to a service in York Minister. Looking around there’s just a feeling of hope and optimism.

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I would say the true heroes of the trip were Molly’s grandparents. They are so sweet and generous and instantly made me feel like part of the family. We stayed at a lovely bed and breakfast (if you’re looking for a place to stay, 23 St. Mary’s place is highly recommended by me) and they treated us to so many things. If you ever get the chance to go to York, go to Betty’s tea room. We went for lunch and not only was the tea and meal delicious, it just felt like an experience that you need to have if you go to England. Although I didn’t know what was in York, I can confidently say it’s one of my new favorite places. I’m determined to go back and get to know the city even better. Alright, that’s all for now. I’m in Scotland this coming weekend and won’t leave til Monday (so very excited) so unless I get my act together and put a post together before then, I’m probably going to be a bit late with it. See you later sisters!

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Cooking School

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I’ve been trying to save up money lately, so I’ve had to scrimp on a lot of things. I used to be a take-out master. It seemed like we would order in or eat out at least twice a week. And we definitely didn’t have health in mind when deciding where to eat. I’ve had so many burritos from the local Mexican drive-thru. The greasiest sandwiches were always my favorite. I could eat my weight in the deep fried tofu that comes with Pad Thai.

Now that I’m trying to save money and eat healthier by cooking my own food, I’ve decided to have a little fun along the way.

I discovered this online cooking school by The Kitchn’s Cooking School and have been having so much fun with the challenges. In addition, it’s helped me be a little more adventurous with my cooking. I can now successfully poach an egg, made my own spatzle from scratch, I made some hollandaise sauce, and I made a vegetable pot pie from scratch.

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I definitely recommend at least going through the lessons. Each weekday presents a new food or technique and teaches you what you need to know to be successful. It even has recommended recipes if you need a little inspiration.

Alyssa, this goes double for you. I know from living with you that you tend to rely on boxed meals, ramen, and cheap restaurants when you’re responsible for your meals. Looking through these lessons can really help you build your confidence in the kitchen and make cooking fun instead of a chore. Do it!!