I’m Moving!

By August of this year, I will have moved 4 times in the last year, in and out of the dorm, a temporary place for the summer, and then my first year-long lease on a house with some girlfriends. I thought that I might as well through in another move while I was at it. So Cats Can’t Cook is moving to a new website with a new name and domain.
I began Cats Can’t Cook about 4 years ago, during my junior year of high school for a year-long blogging assignment. It was my favorite  memory of junior year. My teacher was incredibly encouraging during the whole process and I figured that I would keep up with it after that year. And I hardly did. I posted only a couple of times between the end of the year and the time I left for college. It’s now been over a year since I last posted a recipe.
I love all that Cats Can’t Cook was and is. It’s a time capsule from one year of high school. It was a chance to try to learn some basics of cooking. It was a place for me to focus my creative energy on food and writing, and a little photography as well. But it’s time for me to move on.
I’m entering my third year of college in August and I know that I should be doing way more writing than I currently am. And I finally have regular unrestricted access to a kitchen and supplies. So in order to get back to one of my favorite things I’ve ever done, I’m relaunching my food-blogging career over at Christi Eats.
I’m still writing in my casual style, but I have changed some things, so I’ve changed my blog. Eating habits have changed, grocery stores (I will forever love Hy-Vee) have changed, and living situations have changed. But I am still me, and I will still make great food, just posting in a different location.
Also, there’s a giant cat elephant in the room that I chose to ignore the entire time I was blogging: there is another food blog (also hosted on WordPress) that was called Cats Can’t Cook. I have no clue how I missed this when creating my site, but I did. I found it probably halfway through the year when I started to get into SEO stuff and that blog came up. I was too deep into the assignment to change, and then later I didn’t care enough to create something new. I feel like it’s not appropriate for me to continue blogging with this name when someone else was using the name first. So while I’m moving, I decided that leaving the name behind was the right thing to do. Jess (yeah, I stalked her blog to find her name), if you’re reading this: your cats are so cute and I’m sorry about stealing your blog name. It’s yours and you can have all the social media account names now.
I will not delete Cats Can’t Cook. I know that Dr. Ayers still has it linked on his blog, and has been used as an example for educators and students. Also, it truly chronicles my junior year of high school (as odd as it was) and I can’t imagine erasing that.
I will be gradually shifting my social media over to the new branding, but it may take a while. So links to Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram on this page will all eventually be leading to the new blog.
I hope that you will join me over at Christi Eats. I have some exciting stuff to share with you! See you on the other side.
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Where Have I Been?

Lots of places, but mostly not here. And by here I mean the blog, and my home town, and my own home. But this is okay, because I am growing up and becoming an adult person and that’s important. But I lot has happened since the end of my junior year, and all that you’ve seen is that I took accutane…

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Candy bar at my graduation party.

There’s been a lot more. Senior year was filled with happiness: I was a drum major, I took loads of AP classes, I chose where to go to college (I’m there now!), I went to prom, I graduated, and we held a party.

Then in the summer I died my hair pink, I went to camp, I learned to kick box, I went to Kings Island, and I packed for college. And let me just tell you, this first semester at school has been crazy busy, but crazy fun. I moved in a few days early for the honors program, I played paint twister with the girls on my hall, I made enchiladas for hall dinner, the hall tried our hand at synchronized swimming, I went to Zumba classes, I missed my cat and my kitchen, I     met an orange cat that was rather sweet, I ate a lot of Chick-fil-A, I went to classes, I got mail, I signed up to go to Uganda in May, I made new friends, painted my face like a deer for Halloween, passed all my tests, survived finals, and made it home in mostly one piece.

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Trying to mix enchilada filling in a plastic bowl with a small fork. Such is dorm life.

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Making enchiladas somewhat successfully.

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They made it into the oven. I count it as success. My hall mates liked them too, so that’s a plus.

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Orange campus cat.

But through all of the activities in which I participated, and all the events I attended, I did not blog about any of them. I did not make food and chronicle the process nor the outcome, and I felt like something was missing. My time was well invested in the activities I was doing, but I did not have a good source of stress relief nor did I have an activity that was just for me and my own satisfaction (apart from Netflix).

And that’s why I am back at it. I am planning on taking things a little more serious that I did a couple of years ago. Now it’s not for a grade, now it’s for me. And kind of for you, because I like you, and I’m glad that you like the blog.

My Acne Journey

After not blogging for a year, there have been a lot of recipes and events that I really would like to write about, but one thing in particular really stands out, and that is my skin. This is not a food post, there are not cat pictures here, and this is going to be way more open, honest, and revealing that I have ever been on here.

If we start at the beginning of my acne journey we are in elementary school, fourth grade. I remember one of my friends commenting on a pimple I had say something along the lines of, “Congrats, you have your first pimple!” I know that it wasn’t malicious, but it stung enough that it stuck out in my mind for eight years. Ever since that moment I have been insecure about my skin, I wore makeup in middle school, I didn’t in high school because I was scared it would look cakey and people would talk about me behind my back. I use snapchat, but otherwise I avoided taking selfies because I did not want my skin in its acne-consumed state to be immortalized. My skin was always an issue for me, but things have started to change and I really want to share my progress.

In eighth grade I began going to a dermatologist, before that I had tried to use drug store products to clear my acne, to no avail. At the derm I was prescribed some antibiotics, which actually ended up hurting my stomach more than anything. This is was my skin looked like the summer after eighth grade. (Just a note about these photos, they are old or from an iPhone camera, not the best quality, sorry.)IMG_0003IMG_0002

After the antibiotics didn’t work, we tried BC and various topical treatments. Some of which actually progressed me forward.. Most, however, did not provide the results that I was desiring and left me with the painful (and really hard to treat) cystic acne. The time came when I was so frustrated with the state of my skin, in its non-progression, that I decided to talk to the derm about accutane, a harsh medicine that restricts oil production and can sometimes permanently clear acne. Accutane, the brand name (it isn’t sold anymore because of generic competitors) of isotretinoin, is extremely harsh stuff. It can cause disastrous birth defects if a female patient becomes pregnant while on it, as well as causing super dry skin and joint pain for most patients. Understandably both my parents and I were very cautious about going down the isotretinoin road. We ended up making the decision to talk to the derm about it, and a couple months later I was taking isotretinoin.

My skin went from having painful cystic acne like this (pardon the creepy eye):IMG_0008

To having less like this:IMG_0009

And finally to having nearly no visible cyctic acne, but still scarring, and pink hair:   IMG_0004

And finally what my skin looks like today:IMG_0005 IMG_0006

I know that my skin is still a ways off from being perfect, I may even go another month on the isotretinoin to make sure everything is gone for good. I still have scarring to deal with, but I don’t fear taking pictures because of my skin anymore. My skin has come leaps and bounds, and I am happy. I am grateful for the dermatologist and the office for being so understanding and supportive as well as being informative.

I wanted to share this journey, but in a way that I could give context about where I was coming from and why it’s been so hard and exciting to overcome. I’ll be back to food blogging one of these days, maybe.

Summer is Crazy

The worst part, and maybe the only bad part (in my opinion), of summer is the lack of organization and structure. Every single week throws something new at me, even if I am working two weeks in a row, I will be doing different things each week with a different schedule. Not to mention if I am not working I have other things to do, and again these things vary on a daily basis, even if it’s the same activity.

Because of this lack of structure I have become disconnected with the blog and been focusing more on maintaining my sanity and enjoying the time I have to read (even if it cuts into sleep). However I really want to change that. In order to do so, I will probably expand my range of topics that I focus on, more towards a lifestyle blog. I will still talk about food, but in addition to food and cooking, I will talk about books, beauty products, and experiences that I encounter while living out the rest of my summer.

I really enjoy makeup and beauty stuff, and I am getting more into skincare (the more my skin clears up the more excited I get about rubbing chemicals into it (oh, wait)), especially when it comes to sunscreen. I now have a  Birchbox subscription and am super excited about that, but at the same time I want to focus down my makeup collection to the tried and true holy grail items, so you can watch me struggle through that.

In addition to the makeup stuff I have more time to read books and articles about random stuff online, so I want to talk about that. I have several books sitting in the drawer next to my bed and I can’t wait to read them, but I have to finish the one I’m on before I can start the others. I am frustrated about this. I hope I can finish my current book (That Hideous Strength, oh man, I am in love with C.S. Lewis, guys) by the end of the week so I can move onto some other reads. I enjoy reading a lot and want to share my excitement with others, so hopefully you can enjoy it too.

And finally I get to do some really neat stuff this summer, like going to Colorado on a High Adventure. I cannot wait to talk about the stuff that I see and do, and maybe even food that I eat. I want to talk about it without feeling guilty because it isn’t about food.

I guess that’s why I am telling you this, not because I think that other people on the internet have no interest in what I want to talk about, but because I think people do. I want to say that even though there are more cupcakes and other fine foods to come, there will be a lot more variety than before. Also I won’t have a weekly word count to live up to so post lengths will vary. WOO-HOO FREEDOM!

Why Blogs are the Future

As I have been cooking and following recipes more this year than ever before, I have realized something.

Cookbooks are going to die.

Not like all of a sudden they will all simultaneously combust or something, but rather over time the internet will be the main source of recipes. The videos and pictures that can be found online cover so much more of the process than you find in any cookbook (other than those published by food bloggers like Ree). You can follow along step by step with the pictures on your laptop next to your stove, or even on your smart phone or tablet.

Techniques that people regularly struggle with are also addressed on blogs and other cooking websites. If there isn’t a specific post about how to pit an avocado, they’ll tell you how to do it in their post about guacamole. Also, these people have made mistakes while pitting avocados and will tell you what you really need to make sure that you avoid while you do it yourself.

These writers or bloggers have already made mistakes with the recipes that they are posting, and they have done their best to fix these problems. You can trust these recipes that they post, they have made them and you see the pictures of them. If they don’t like how it turned out, either they won’t post it or they will tell you about it in their post. Trust me, I’m one of them. Comments are also really good in this aspect, too. If someone made this recipe on their own and it turned out like a hockey puck and it was meant to be soup, they’ll say so and probably say why it was so awful (these people may be terrible at cooking, but hey, if they took their time to comment, you should probably at least think about it). I really think this is one of the biggest pros of food blogging because I can trust a recipe I pull off of The Brown Eyed Baker’s blog and make it and know that it will turn out because she knows what she’s doing and her cupcakes always turn out.

Finally, the number of food blogs and websites that are out there are too numerous to count. And they are almost all free to anyone on the web. A few do cost, and it does cost money to have internet access, but you don’t have to buy a whole cookbook for that one ethnic meal you really want to try, but you probably won’t ever make anything else from the book.

Maybe it’s my generation, we think the internet is the entire future, but with all the information out there, it probably is. Blogs are important, especially with food. We can learn so much so quickly and teach ourselves to love food while not stressing. Everything is on our own time, and we can reach whatever level of skill we want depending on how much reading and learning we are willing to do.

Go forth, support other food bloggers, and enjoy the new-found love of food because of the internet.

Music is the Light in The Dark that We Call School

Maybe I don’t dislike school as I make it seem, I like reading about the past and writing about things that interest me, and I even occasionally get a kick out of doing math and physics, but right now, I get really bored. I haven’t always had this problem, but my early onset senoiritis (I’m a junior, now you know the joke…) is really bugging me right now, and I have to find solutions to the problem so that I can get through the day without zoning out in all of my classes.

The main thing that helps is having music playing when I write something on the computer or do worksheets, not writing essays or big projects, but blog posts and simple things that I can do in one sitting. Pandora is great, but so is my iPod. I think that the monotony of computer work can really wear us down. Point in case: last thursday third through fifth hour we were sitting in front of computers and expected to write essays or blogs. Normally I like having a lot of time to work on what I need to get done, but to be honest, with the head ache that I had I really could not manage to get anything done by the end of fifth hour. I know that with music the situation would have been better, but I forgot my ear buds that day and so that wasn’t even remotely an option.

Also band and choir really keep me sane. I am in the top band, and the top core choir, so there is much expected of us, but at the same time we get to sing and play really neat music (Eric Whitacre, anyone?!?) and have a lot of fun while doing it. Having two periods of relaxing music really helps me. Band is the first hour of school, but I have an early math class that meets before then, but in general, band is the best way to start the day, with my friends around me and my horn in my hands. And we have choir every other day fourth period, so on choir days it breaks the day up and gives a nice burst of music in the middle of the horribly boring day.

My point is that music is super important to me, even in school, it helps a lot. It really keeps me sane, it’s not just a hobby but it’s a love of mine.

Let’s Face the Issues

Most of you that know me in real life know that my skin is not the best. Actually, my skin is really sensitive and acne-prone. [Wait, why am I talking about this on a food blog? Just be patient please.] Because of all the ance medications that I use, my face gets super dry, which is really not cool because my skin gets  dry in the winter anyway. I have figured out some ways of combatting this dry face, though, and I would like to share my tricks with you.

  • Keep lip balm on you at all times. In your backpack, in your purse, in your pocket, on your nightstand, next to your sink, in the kitchen, in your nail polish basket, next to your computer, and have a couple of tubes of back up in the cupboard incase you lose one of these or they run out. As a horn player, this is really important, a cracked lip can make you go mad… Keep your lips moisturized. I like to use Hurraw Balm (I found it on a rafting trip a couple of years back and bought a couple of tubes, used it up, then ordered more this fall. I will  make a special post about it, but I gave one away to a tuba friend and converted him to the stuff. It’s good balm, go get some.), it’s my favorite type of bam and yeah…
  • Don’t touch your face. If it’s dry, it will get red whenever something changes in the environment, you don’t need it to get red because you didn’t have the neck muscles to hold your head up in class… And don’t scratch it, even if it itches, heaven forbid you have scratch marks on your face in school! I speak from experience here, I have rested my cheek on my hand while watching TED talks and ended up with a red blotchy spot, and I have scratched and itch on my cheek and it looked like Freyja had attacked me.
  • If it hurts, don’t do it. Don’t scrub you face too hard, don’t use a face wash that makes you cringe, don’t use scrubs that make you bleed. Obviously some prescriptions are going to cause a little discomfort, but if they hurt you, you should talk to your doctor. No pain no gain does not apply here.
  • Use a real lotion, one that is meant to mosturize not smell good. This is pretty simple, the smelly ones aren’t as effective, and when you are dry you want to fix it for a while, not two minutes.
  • Back to the first point: Lip balm can go on more than your lips. Obviously the manufactures made it for the skin on your lips, but iff your nose is chapped, it’s okay to use some there. Also, if you have really dry knuckles and one cracks, lip balm can help cover it and moisturize it until it heals. I love lip balm incase you haven’t noticed.ConfessionBear

These are just a few of the tricks that I use, the ones that probably come up multiple times a day, and I have more. These can apply to you even if you skin isn’t caused because of treatments.

I just hope you don’t get too flaky.