Live Like a Native: Burning the Roast

Is it just me or does moving in with your significant other make you feel crazy? Motivations and desires I never thought I had have surfaced from some remote place inside me. Among these invasive new thoughts was the sudden need to “provide” for my SO. This overwhelming need to make like June Cleaver and become the homemaker that my mother was growing up suddenly interrupted the way I’d done my adult life since forever.  I wanted, needed, to follow the example my mom set of a modern career woman who balanced children, husband, home, and career all at once. She made it look so easy! So, as my first step into this “Super June” provider role, I made it my duty (without my SO actually saying anything about it) to plan and cook dinner regularly. Actually executing this self-inflicted responsibility, however, was a pipe dream. Conveniently forgetting the times my mom burnt the bread or opted for fast food, my master plan to create healthy and delicious meals quickly became more than I bargained for.

When cooking for one, researching and executing recipes was a selfish act – I could eat all of the kale, brussels sprouts, (ice cream) and sweet potatoes I wanted! But when it came time to add the tastes of my SO into the exercise of meal planning, it got complicated. He’s meat and pasta and I’m fish and quinoa, so the thought of making meals that satisfied us both completely freaked me out. While I tried at first to cater mainly to his needs, I struggled to find meals that both of us enjoyed. I quickly broke down under the pressure I’d created in my head for the type of live-in girlfriend I thought my SO expected. Somehow, even in an age when women have overcome so many stereotypes, I simply couldn’t quite get past the June Cleaver mentality.

It got worse with the dreaded roast incident. Slow cooking meals always looked so easy! Pop all of your ingredients in to the pot and put it on low for hours until everything is cooked to perfection. Simple, right? I’d used a slow cooker before (often with my mom nearby), so when my SO suggested preparing a roast I quickly said yes with little thought, thankful we found a meal we both liked. Little did I know that there was actually a strategy to slow cooking. I just cut everything up and dumped it in. What I didn’t realize is that vegetables typically go on the bottom with the meat layered on top. Not until my SO taste-tested hours later, biting into a basically raw potato, did I realized that I’d royally messed up.

Needless to say the roast tasted like at tire and the vegetables were hopeless. Internally I was freaking out, letting my June Cleaver perfectionism eat away at my thoughts even while my SO sweetly ate the disaster of a meal saying, “it’s really not that bad”. It was that bad. I could no longer stand the pressure I’d been putting on myself and broke down in front of him, frustrated I couldn’t be the dinner provider I’d envisioned. But what came out of this dangerous food-driven path I’d taken myself down was a lesson I’m forever grateful for.

When I broke down, explaining what I *thought* I was supposed to be for my SO he quickly put those thoughts to rest. He didn’t expect me to be any version of June Cleaver – he loved to cook and we could make meals together without having some elaborate plan. We could even run up to the grocery store right before we cooked dinner instead of constantly meal planning – what a concept!

I realize I got lucky here, not every person loves to cook. But the point is that I’d created this world of expectation without even thinking about discussing it with my SO. Instead of living in this self-inflicted pain of perfectionism, I simply needed to talk it out with him. Coming to this understanding has since made cooking dinner less of a chore and more of a fun activity. I’ve even managed to help along his tolerance for brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes. While burning the roast was a minor mistake in the long run, it forced me to actually communicate with my SO instead of just internalizing all my crazy thoughts and burying myself in my own expectations. So if you’re like me and moving in with your SO made you a bit crazy, maybe talking it out is the perfect way to get out of your own way and kick June back to the decade she belongs in.

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Nearly Native’s Guide to Getting Gifts for Friends (Under $50)

It’s that time of year again – time for holiday jingles on repeat, fancy parties with flashy clothes, peppermint-flavored everything, and eating your weight in cookies, pie, and cake. The holiday season is great for gathering with friends and family to reflect on everything you’re grateful for, but it also brings the high expectations and excitement of gift-giving. While some are willing to spend a pretty penny for those special people in their lives, those of us who are ballin’ in a budget at the “white elephant” party or when giving gifts to friends might feel that spending over $50 is pretty silly. You don’t have to make like Oprah and give everyone a car this year! Show your friends you care without emptying your wallet with our list of gift ideas under $50:

  1. Portable wine chiller for the wine-o that loves convenience (and a way to conceal their wine in public)
  2. Coffee Mug to keep your favorite person caffeinated with all kinds of colorful options (since we all don’t already have a million of them)
  3. Tech Gloves for everyone because of the perpetual battle of touchscreen vs. winter gloves
  4. Extra long USB cord for the person who doesn’t know what they’re missing because you’re not tethered to your plug with a walking distance of one foot anymore
  5. Playing cards for the gambler that loves customization
  6. Popcorn popper for the snack lover because microwave popcorn is so 2016
  7. Water Bottle for that annoyingly healthy athlete type that needs water to stay cold or warm or whatever
  8. Spill-proof wine glass for the friend that gets tipsy and tends to spill
  9. Desk Calendar for the decorative 9 to 5 types
  10. Portable Hammock for the champion napper who can literally sleep anywhere

Live Like a Native: The Spice Rack

We didn’t meet in high school. We didn’t even meet in college. We met as adults – with fully independent lives, including separate homes and styles we’d never had to compromise before. The trend of meeting your significant other at an older age, after you’ve started to build your life, is not uncommon these days. Of course there are immediate benefits here – you “know yourself” better, you’re (probably) not living at home under the watchful eyes of your parents, and you’ve (probably) got a steady job that lets you pay for meals nicer than the dollar menu. But what happens when you decide to incorporate another person into your comfortable, routine-filled life?

Taking the big leap into cohabitation means many things, but first let’s talk about the obstacle that is combining all of the crap you’ve both collected over the years of your established adulthood. As my manfriend and I were both living out our adult lives when we met, we had the obvious essentials for your basic rooms in a home: living room, kitchen, bathroom, bedroom. This meant that we had TWO of everything.  Of course, there were minor conveniences like using my candles in the bathroom and easily choosing his couches over the futon that I pretended was a couch through my many apartment moves prior (bye futon, see ya never). For the most part, combining our things went smoothly with our formula of comparing our duplicates and donating or tossing the older or more deteriorated pieces, but my anxiety loomed overhead – this was going way too well. There had to be something we’d disagree on, right? Obviously.

So what was it that stopped our move-in progress in its tracks? The seemingly useful, yet clearly controversial (for us, at least) spice rack. No joke. We both had a strange attachment to our spice racks. Mine was in pristine condition, with a chrome finish and round shape that fit perfectly in any kitchen (or so I thought, of course). His was hand-built out of wood (he’s a carpenter by trade) and expanded along the back of the counter for more than a foot. It impractically took up too much space in my opinion, but mine impractically had spices that are never used on a daily basis like “Savory” and “Herbs de Provence”. I reluctantly agree – I literally never used those spices. But I held my position that my spice rack was pretty and his was too big. What could we possibly do? Our mutual stubbornness finally took hold after days of compromise over other pieces throughout the home. Why the spice rack? WHY NOW!

We proceeded to debate our points for well over half an hour, both of us holding our ground, neither giving any room for the other to win. So how could we possibly solve this endless circular discussion when we knew neither of us would budge? Eventually we decided to keep both, as we had enough counter space to do so and we agree that eventually we’d have to totally adjust the spices altogether, perhaps moving them to a dedicated cabinet instead. So really no one won, what was the point?

This first move-in disagreement was a wake up call for me. The time of getting everything my way was over, giving way to a time where considering the opinions of someone I loved was crucial for cohabitation. It wasn’t all about me anymore and that was okay because I wanted it to be about us. Sure, this disagreement was ridiculous and certainly not the last, but it made me feel comfortable that we wouldn’t agree on everything always and that didn’t mean I needed to give up my feelings for his. It meant that hearing someone else’s voice in your decisions is just a part of starting a new chapter of 24/7 life with another person. Remembering that it’s not all about you, that’s the point.

Yep, I got all that from a spice rack and you can bet I make it a point to use spices from mine as much as I can even if his does have the salt and pepper. 🙂

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