Sunday, July 27, 2014

Week 30 of 52: And that's why it takes me a week to bake something

A few weeks back, I had a moment of classic Andrea misguided optimism laced with creativity. Everyone's favourite Andrea moment, right?! Yes, I got to brainstorming all the innovative ways I could get my carbs in a healthy way yet somehow have it be via a cake-like format. Yeah, I wanted to try something different, something I had never made before (because that always turns out good). For the anal control freak that is me, this is going outside of my comfort zone.

So what will I bake...?

Zucchini Bread! I've never made zucchini bread before and it's got to be healthy (in theory) because it has zucchini in it!

Sounds logical to me!
All this = healthy zucchini bread! For reals!

So on Tuesday I bought a bunch of zucchini at the market, got home and thought, time to make zucchini bread! Wait! How does one make zucchini bread? Yeah, I didn't know, mostly on account of never having made it before. But it's bread so how hard can it be?

Except, I don't really eat bread, and now that I'm training I don't want to eat wheat and I want to eat vegan....so yeah, that actually kind of makes baking bread like the most ridiculous idea ever! But no problem, I eat ridiculous for breakfast!Bring on the zucchini bread making!

What was that about me and my misguided optimism?!

So I ask Google God for some guidance and I get a bunch of very unhealthy recipes sent my way. Not surprising considering the way people eat, but is it helpful? Kind of, in the sense that I will just substitute a bunch of the ingredients for their vegan/gluten free counterparts...and I also don't want to use any refined sugar in the recipe...

Ok, seriously people, this has "shattering nightmare" written all over it.

And as predicted, although I think we can't really call it predicting when it happens all the time, it kind of just is the way things are for me. Best to think of this as a process. I get an idea, I buy a bunch of stuff to support idea without thinking through the logistics of actually following through on the idea and then I get overwhelmed by the idea, then I think about the idea some more, then I get overwhelmed by the idea and this kind of repeats itself for a bit...

Why are you interrupting me? Can't you see I'm blogging over here?

Oh, you want to ask me how that can be my process when I'm such an anal control freak. That is a very good question. Very astute of you actually, and here I thought my blog was only popular with the drunk Russian communist contingent.

Answer: I am an anal control freak who has ADHD! Super fun right?! (Not always)

What does that mean exactly? Well, when I get excited about something, like baking zucchini bread (obvs) I don't want to think about it, I just want to do it!! I figure, in these cases, logistics will just take care of themselves (does that ever happen?!).

Why am I so easy going about this? Well let me first correct you and say, "seemingly" easy going. This isn't really easy going at all, it just looks that way. It actually is just another form of my control issues but with the impulsiveness and compulsiveness of my ADHD driving it! You see, whatever I get my mind set on something, this drive kicks in that will not let me stop until I get what I want. And I end up getting what I want because I will pretty much do anything in my power to accomplish my goals.* And if what I want is something light and fluffy, like zucchini bread, then everyone wins! But if what I want is world domination (take a shot of vodka my Russian comrades!), well that might be seen by some as an example where not everyone wins...?!

Ok, bad example, think of when I wanted to take up soccer, remember that? When I didn't know how to play soccer, and couldn't join a fun soccer league because I felt my performance sucked, so I joined a competitive team so I could get the coaching and learn how to play....I was so dedicated to learning how to play soccer that I would even commute to practice on my bike, which if fucking crazy because I never ride my bike on account of all my "bike trauma" issues, which funny enough weren't issues when I wanted to learn how to play soccer. And I can see, how you may not think this is a good example of my enthusiasm gone wrong, because I'm all goal oriented and getting shit done. But it is, especially when you are so focused on a goal you don't actually know that your body is getting injured in the process. 5 weeks later, I've got a tendon injury and I'm out for the rest of the season...

What did we learn here? Besides that my body can withstand 5 weeks of physical abuse before it breaks down...that my enthusiasm can have some adverse side effects. And yes, I'm working on it, that would be why I'm into that whole daily meditation thing!

Ok, it should become abundantly clear why it takes me a week to bake something, seeing as this blog post just tangent-ed off to I don't know where the fuck!

Back to the post...

So here I am, enthusiastic about zucchini bread, I bought my zucchini, I found a bunch of recipes I can't use but but can possibly adapt...and this would be the moment when things feel a bit overwhelming. As they so often do when my enthusiasm gets ahead of my planning (see long paragraph above for a very detailed description of this).

So I decide to think (read: obsess) about this some more and wait until tomorrow to bake my zucchini bread.

Wednesday happens. Wednesday kind of sucked in terms of getting my shit together. You know those days where you are getting ready to go to work in the morning and you are like, I really should just stay home, this day already feels impossibly hard. But instead you push through thinking whatever crazy fog you are stuck in is just temporary and will wear off as the day moves on. Yeah, the fog just got thicker, turns out I should have stayed home. So instead of beating myself up over this clear lapse in judgement I decide I will be nice to myself by rewarding myself with a run in the rain.

And yes, running in the rain is being nice to myself! I love running and I love not running in the sweltering heat. So yeah, while everyone else was complaining about the rainy fall type day we were having, I was not-so-secretly super stoked to do my run outside!

Ok back to the story...zucchini bread...going to bake zucchini bread. Despite the fact that Wednesday was looking a bit dubious on the productivity front, somewhere during my hill sprints, with my quads burning holes through my skin, and my body being hit with a slight breeze, a breeze just cool enough to freeze my sweat and make me think I may get pneumonia, I decide: I'm making zucchini bread when I get home tonight! Think me yelling at the top of a stupid steep hill, with a fist pump to the air! It was quite a dramatic moment, like Henry V rousing his troops before battle (see clip below & there is a fist pump!). Clearly, I was a little excited about baking zucchini bread at that moment.

Turns out that moment of excitement wasn't really excitement at all, it was just delusional thinking brought on by my carb depleted brain (brains need carbs to work people!). Sure, the carb depletion wasn't as bad as the time I hallucinated dogs running across the road in front of me, but I did think I was seriously going to go home and bake zucchini bread. What can I say, sometimes lack of oxygen, muscle fatigue and low glycogen stores makes one think ridiculous things.

Of course, I get home, freezing. So I need to heat up in a scalding hot shower for like 30 minutes. Then I need to eat some food, watch an episode of my new favourite tv obsession Hemlock Grove. Click this link if you want to see the best werewolf transformation ever! Produced by the lovely Eli Roth. Don't know who that is, watch this clip where Eli plays the Bear Jew in Quentin Tarantino's Inglorious Basterds, possibly one of my favourite scenes ever...and no not because there is biting in it! There isn't actually, just a baseball bat.

And by the time this is all done. So am I. Time for bed. I will make zucchini bread Thursday night.At least I can say that Wednesday night I did decide I would basically use my banana bread recipe and adapt it for zucchini bread...nothing can go wrong with that idea, right?!

Thursday. I'm at work, talking to my co-workers about the awesome zucchini bread I'm going to make when I get home and they are all excited for me because they love zucchini bread. And they start listing off all the ingredients they like in zucchini bread, all stuff I hadn't thought of because I wasn't looking at a zucchini bread recipe I was looking at my fucking delicious banana bread recipe! So yeah I totally forgot about walnuts, nutmeg and cinnamon! What kind of zucchini bread was I planning on making anyways!?

Well I wasn't planning at all, was I! And this is why we plan people! I mean I bought the zucchini on Tuesday and it is already Thursday! And I still haven't figured out the recipe yet or bought all the ingredients to make the zucchini bread!

So I hit the Market after work and pick up all the ingredients I had neglected previously and head home to...well it wasn't to head home and bake zucchini bread. I actually have no idea what happened Thursday night, I think I did some yoga, invented a new vegan dish for dinner...whatever, I will make it Friday then!
One of my many tasty vegan creations!

So Friday happens...I invented another new vegan dish and did over an hour of core and strength training. Probably decided that I had to get to bed early because I wanted to run at 6am on Saturday (avoid the heat!).

So here we are, it is Saturday. Yes, I went for a 6k run at 6am, then I helped my friend move for like over 5 hours and now I am writing this blog post instead of baking zucchini bread.

Clearly I have some blockage over baking this zucchini bread. I think that realization got me baking, because seriously dudes, who the fuck has issues about baking zucchini bread, really?!

Please note that by the time this blog post went live the zucchini bread was in fact baked and consumed.

The proof is in another blog post where I have put the recipe as well. Why, not just put it here? Well, this blog post felt a bit lengthy I guess...

Footnote to Week 30

Footnote to Week 30 because it was just too long of a post to add any more words to it!

Here is the context:

"...whatever I get my mind set on something, this drive kicks in that will not let me stop until I get what I want. And I end up getting what I want because I will pretty much do anything in my power to accomplish my goals.*..."

So what do I mean "I will pretty much do anything in my power to accomplish my goals?" Apparently according to my work profile-which documents the preferences of my work self in  scarily accurate detail and is actually the same profile for my non-work self (yeah I'm fun like that)- "I will stop at nothing to accomplish my goals and will sometimes resort to intimidation and force to achieve them."

Flattering. Well I must point out this is just a preference not how I actually am...but if I could be like this, I would, is all it's saying...yeah, that's still not flattering!

And then there is some stuff about how I should try caring about other human beings and their feelings blah blah blah...back to the blog post people!

Vegan, Gluten and refined sugar free zucchini bread recipe

Yes, this is a recipe for the healthiest zucchini bread I could come up with. The reason it is so healthy is because I'm into my 12-week training for the Victoria half marathon and like to keep my diet as clean (anti-inflammatory) as possible. So if you are not as lucky as me to be in training mode, I have provided the original recipe as well as my adaptations below. So really you can make this recipe as healthy as you would like (just depends on how anal you are feeling).
Pre-baked zucchini bread - looks exactly the same post bake.

All I can say is, if you follow my adaptations fully, just make sure you chill the bread first before consuming. It tastes way better after sitting in the fridge for a few hours. Trust me on this one.

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Zucchini Bread (adapted from allrecipes) – Vegan, Gluten-Free & Refined Sugar Free 

Ingredients (makes 2 loaves)
½ banana + ½ cup of unsweetened applesauce + ½ cup of chia seeds (replaces 3 eggs)
2 cups mashed bananas (replaces 2 cups of white sugar)
1 cup unsweetened applesauce (replaces 1 cup vegetable oil)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups grated zucchini (1 medium zucchini)
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup cacao nibs (replaces 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips)
3 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour (replaces 3 cups all-purpose flour)
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon orange zest (omitted for mine).

Everything all together now!
Directions
  1. Sift together flour, baking powder, soda, salt, and spices.
  2. In a large bowl add egg substitute (replaces: ingredient and instructions: beat eggs until light and fluffy). Add sugar substitute, and continue beating until well blended. Stir in oil substitute, vanilla, zucchini, nuts, cacao nibs and orange zest (omitted in mine). Blend in sifted ingredients. Turn batter into two greased 9 x 5 inch loaf pans.
  3. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 50 minutes, or until bread tests done. Remove loaves from pans, and cool. Chill before slicing.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Week 29 of 52: A story of awkward...

Awkward. A word used to describe me in many of my social interactions with humans. I like to think I'm awkward in a cute and adorable kind of way, like a puppy dog who just doesn't know any better but is so cute so it's ok. Actually, puppies are kind of annoying, they pee everywhere and chew your shoes...never mind. Back to awkward, yes, awkward. The latest story of awkward is pretty fucking ridiculous actually.

I'm not even sure how it happen. It was weird, like I was outside of myself watching me talk, not pick up on social cues, and slowly make my way towards completely inappropriate conversation land. Watching me converse with people is kind of like watching a train before it crashes and while it crashes (all of this in slow motion).

Let me describe it for you: so you see this train careening down the track, and you think no big deal it's just a train. Then you see the stalled school bus up ahead on the tracks. And you see the train pick up speed and you think "ouch, this is going to hurt". Then you notice that the bus is full of children because they can't get off the bus for whatever stupid reason. And you are like "what the fuck is with this train? It is like it's being driven by a drunk conductor because this train is showing a complete disregard for human life at this moment!" And no matter how loud you yell at this conductor to put the fucking breaks on already, he is just too drunk to understand you. And then you realize your efforts to intervene and fix this situation are futile so you might as well grab a bag a popcorn and sit back and watch this shattering nightmare unfold before your eyes. I mean what can you really do to save anyone at this moment? Nothing! So you might as well calm down and stop yelling, eat your popcorn and enjoy the show.

And this is exactly what I think it feels like for people when they have to talk to me.

Anyways, so this is what happened.
Stylish like that, except it wasn't like that at all.

I was talking with a co-worker after she gave me a compliment on the sweater I was wearing. I'm not sure why I didn't just say thanks and walk away but instead, decided to take the compliment as an invitation to keep talking her. Looking back on this moment I wonder if I just kept talking to her because I was hoping she would say more nice things about me. Now I know you are thinking I have some serious "need for validation" issues and I would disagree. I actually just really enjoy hearing people say nice things about me. As it gives me the chance to practice acting modest in the face of a compliment. I never seem to act modest but I intend to do it, so I think that means something positive, right?!

Back to the story. But first, a quick aside: I have to say I was wearing a pretty fucking stylish awesome outfit that day. One of my own random Jacob closet creations, so I was proud of my demonstration of innovation that morning while I was getting dressed. So obviously I will continue talking to someone who recognizes my greatness (duh!).

Yes back to the story, here is how the conversation went down.

Co-worker (C): I love your sweater, it really brings out your eyes.
A: Aren't my eyes awesome? (so not a display of modesty) What color are they right now?
C: (looks confused) they are kind of a light blue grey.
A: My eyes change color based on what i'm wearing.
C: That is pretty awesome. (my co-worker is totally encouraging this conversation btw)
A: I know. They can be blue, green or grey. They are Jason Bourne eyes.
C: What do you mean?
A: You know, Jason Bourne, the spy. He has all those different passports and photos and stuff. It would be very easy for me to have all these different identities.
C: That would be cool. You could be a spy. (basically this is like handing the conductor a 26er of vodka while he is driving the train, what an enabler my co-worker is!)
A: I know right! (said with great enthusiasm) I actually do think I would make a good spy.
C: I think so too. (I have to say when one hears that they would make a good spy of course they are going to keep the conversation going!)
A: It would be really easy for me to move around. I don't have a family, nothing to tie me down. Also, the other plus of having no family is there is really no way to get to me. It's not like you can kidnap and kill my daughter or whatever. I think it would be kind of hard to be a spy and also have kids or a husband for that matter. I don't even know how one could do that actually. (I start pondering the possibilities of how I could do that)
C: right (missed social cue of co-worker looking uncomfortable).
A: I think you would almost have to have a split personality to pull off the whole family and spy thing. That's kind of sociopathic actually. I don't think I could do that. I mean if I wanted to have sex I would just do it James Bond style. But instead of having sex with a bunch of hot ladies, it would be a bunch of hot men. (At this point I notice her uncomfortableness and interpret it as her being interested in me sexually). Oh, I'm sorry, I'm not gay.
C: Ok...that's good to know.
A: I think my acting history would be an asset as well.
C: Yes...but then there would be the whole you having to kill people thing.
A: Oh, I would be ok with that.
C: What?
Sign me up for that job!
A: Killing. I don't think it would be a problem. (Co-worker looks really concerned). Oh, of course I would find it hard to kill the first person. But no doubt it gets easier the more you do it.
C: Andrea?
A: Yeah?
C: TMI.

So yeah, this story of awkward, was brought to you by Andrea. There is no moral to this story. It is just a story. But if I had to come up with a moral for this story, I would still give it no moral just so I could be a defiant asshole about it. However, I will say that perhaps this story illustrates how complimenting people's clothes is a gateway conversation to talking about killing people. So maybe refrain from giving compliments at work unless you are good with finding out that your coworker would be ok if killing people was part of their job description.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Week 28 of 52: How to survive a riot while watching the world cup

Generally I like to avoid the humans when they have formed groups together (more than 2 people) in a confined space (think elevators). Mostly because I don't like people touching me or breathing on me or contaminating the air around me. So imagine everyone's surprise when I decided to go out of my comfort zone and organize a public gathering in which me and some other humans could watch the World Cup 2014 Final together.

What happens when people get together...riots, that's what!
After careful planning (read: after putting all potential viewing locations through the Andrea filter) I narrowed it down to three choices:
1. The Guild - a British style pub where the food is actually good
2. The Royal BC Museum - they had a big projector screen in the lobby showing the games
3. My place - food will be amazing and the game will be streamed courtesy of the CBC (our tax dollars hard at work)

I excluded 3, because that meant I had to have people at my place which means I have to wait until they leave to get away from them.

2 was out because it was a bit too ghetto for the tastes of the group. Apparently I'm moving up in the world as now I hang out with people who can afford televisions.

So The Guild it was. My reasoning was, if a riot were to break out, I really don't want it to be in my living room. That would be way too much to clean up after.

Clearly, this event had shattering nightmare written all over it and yet I kind of still wanted to make it happen, just to see what the outcome would be if you put a couple of Argentina fans in a crowded space of drunken German fans to watch the final game.

Yes, this year I was rooting for Argentina. I blame Messi because he is awesome. Other than that I've got nothing. No real reason to be invested in any of this. Other than of course to annoy the hell out of the real football fans (one of my favourite past times).

This brings us to Andrea's top 3 tips for surviving a riot while watching the World Cup

1. Have an escape plan - as you are seated for the game think to yourself, if a riot were to break out, what is the quickest way out of here? Kind of like when you get on a plane and count the number of rows between you and the emergency exit. When you get in the pub, start counting how many people you are going to have to take out to get to the nearest exit. If you want to avoid as much violence as possible ensure your table is closest to the exit.

2. Order lots of coffee - coffee helps you stay alert, while everyone else is pounding back the alcohol, coffee will give you the advantage. Coffee will help you react quicker so you can effectively block the punches being thrown at your head. Also coffee is hot, it makes an excellent weapon! Just remember if you have to, you can throw coffee in someone's face, this will occupy them for a few seconds so you can slip away unscathed. Just remember, that before using hot coffee as a weapon make sure you can actually get out of the vicinity of that person quickly. You would be surprised how quickly one can recover from having hot coffee thrown in their face and trust me when I say they will be even more pissed off then they were before they had the hot coffee thrown in their face.

 3. Be creative - look around you and you will see that lots of stuff can be used to help you survive. Good examples include: the straw in someone's iced tea, perfect for gouging out an eye; the empty bar stool beside you, throw it through the window in order to distract people so you can get away. Trust me when I say no one likes to get shattered glass in their hair, that stuff is near impossible to get out! Just remember that basically anything will work in a riot. But if you aren't that creative and are worried you might not survive the riot because of your lack of creativity, just make sure you sit near an old person. When the riot breaks out, push the old person into someone and hightail it out of there. You will be ok, as long as you can out run that old person.
The Turks being creative with plastic chairs!

I know these tips may be a bit overwhelming to read so for now maybe the best approach is to not actually get into a riot in the first place. I don't have a lot of advice on how to prevent oneself from  ending up in a riot, seeing as I've been in so many during this lifetime of mine but I can give you this last piece of advice.

If you are going to cheer for the team no one else is cheering for (i.e., Argentina), maybe don't laugh and mock the German fans every time their team misses a shot on goal. Which in this case was a lot of times.

Good examples of things to say if you want to keep poking the bear (FYI bears react badly to being poked repeatedly):

Just because the Germans are kicking the ball in the general direction of the net, does not make it a good shot on goal.

OR

I think the Germans think they are still playing Brazil because they think this shit will work on this team. I'm surprised that the Germans wouldn't know the difference between Argentina and Brazil. I mean yeah sure they are both South American, but that doesn't make them the same. (FYI - the Germans do not have a good reputation when it comes to race relations, so this is funny with a political twist)

OR

Should we start taking shots every time Schweinsteiger takes a dive? Just kidding! No one could afford that bill!

So yeah, if you insist on being hilarious and poking the bear be prepared for that bear to fucking lose its shit and start a fucking riot on your ass.

You're welcome for the tips and remember you may want to bookmark this page, so you can review in 2018.


Sunday, July 6, 2014

Week 27 of 52: So this is the universe where I free the children from their chains of oppression

Apparently I can be a bit of a killjoy. I was called this by my friend Julia, after telling her a story where I asked a "business" owner if they had a business license. Ok, so the business, if you can actually call it that, was some 5 year old girl selling stale lemonade for the exorbitant price of $1.00/dixie cup to anyone walking by her makeshift lemonade stand. Maybe it was a bit overkill but I was feeling sassy after being accosted by the child several times to purchase her allegedly "tasty" tonics. The mother, who was overseeing this whole operation, was a little upset about my question to her daughter.

Mother (M): Did you just ask my daughter if she had a business license? (said in a ridiculously shrill mom voice)
A: Yes, I did.
M: For god's sake, she is a child.
A: First of all, that is a bit offensive to god, and second of all, children are not excused from the law.
M: Actually, I don't think a business license applies to my 5 year-old daughter.
A: Actually, you are right, it applies to you as her guardian.
M: I don't think any of this applies to a child's lemonade stand.
A: That you are overseeing.
M: What?
A: The lemonade stand that you are overseeing and profiting from and not paying taxes on these earnings from.
M: Yes...this is a very offensive conversation.
A: Offensive? That I'm asking your daughter if she is following the law? Ok, that's weird.
M: Look can you just leave you are upsetting my daughter. (daughter is playing in the grass now, having lost total interest in the conversation, clearly she is enjoying her freedom from her child slave labour situation her mom had her involved in). My daughter can sell whatever she wants, no one has to buy it.
A: Ok, by that logic would it be ok for your daughter to sell pot on the street corner?

The conversation kind of ended around this point. Totally confused by the whole upsetness the mere act of me asking about the existence of a buisness license had caused, I came home and called one of my reasonable friends, Julia, and asked her to explain what just happened to me.

J: You asked a 5 year old girl if she had a business license to operate her lemonade stand??!!

Apparently, J was upset too.

A: I think that is a legitimate question.
J: But a 5 year old?!
A: It is never too young for children to learn how the real world works.

And that is when J said it: Andrea you are such a killjoy.

Harsh. Clearly I needed to defend my actions. So I looked up the word in the dictionary:

Killjoy (noun): person who spoils the joy or pleasure of others; spoilsport.

A: So I'm a killjoy because I ruined this girl's pleasure in being a child slave labourer forced by her mother to sell crappy lemonade to strangers on the street?
J: She was just selling lemonade dude. Come on.
A: I would just argue that selling lemonade in this situation under such harsh working conditions would not constitute as an experience of joy.  I think we need to see this more as me freeing child slaves. Like Jesus.
J: Did you just compare yourself to Jesus?
A: Yes, does that make me a killjoy too?
J: No, more offensive really.
She's not even wearing a hair net?!
A: So, what you are saying is that I'm not only a killjoy but an offensive killjoy?!
J: Yes, that is exactly what I'm saying.

Now that we cleared up the terminology. I think I'm kind of ok with this description of me. After all one person's freedom fighter is another person's terrorist. Like Nelson Mandela and Jesus. Yeah, I just compared myself to Nelson Mandela, do you have a problem with that?

Ok, back to the point of the story: one person's freedom fighter (me freeing the child from the chains of oppression placed on her by her tyrant mother) is another person's terrorist (me asking people if they are following the law, I guess that makes me a terrorist in this analogy).

I think it is just simpler if you call me Jesus 2.0.