September Challenge announcement

Maybe I should change the name of this to my 30 day challenge blog*, since it’s the only reason why I write blogs anymore. I’m starting a new 30 day challenge, and this feels different and like a real challenge. Let me explain:

Yesterday I had what ended up being a fairly heavy therapy session as once it was over, the weight of the message still burdened me, even hours later. It was a welcome guest, this burden, because although it was uncomfortable and a little sad, I needed it to be able to see the history of it’s affect.

After therapy, I decided to go to another therapy. Nail therapy. I got a mani/pedi in an attempt to do some self care and to assist with this new path I’m on of taking care of myself, reconnecting with parts of myself that I’ve neglected which absolutely includes my feminine side. My toes are bright red and my nails, purple glitter.

When I told the nail tech which number for my nail color, she goes to the wall of colors and picked it out, she turned in almost disbelief and goes “purple glitter?” I nodded, gleefully, she gave me an alright let’s do it, kind of nod. She’s my gal.

After my nails I ran another errand or two and then headed home, to write. I couldn’t really get in the game of writing so I decided to lay on the couch for a little bit with the puppy. He’s still so young that he wants to bite and nibble everything, so it was a nice respite from that when he just nestled in to my arms and face as I suffocated in his beautiful fur. I had been so surprised that my half Great Pyrenees hadn’t been shedding as much and then I realized, I just hadn’t been wearing black clothes. I found the shedded hair.

I wanted to watch something easy, with low commitment and low brain engagement. Somehow I landed on The Great British Bake Off. I. Was. Riveted.

First and foremost the difference between the show and what would be its American counterpart is that people were not shitty. I think that’s the main difference really. They don’t tear each other down, there’s no rooting for failure. It’s just like a group of people honestly doing their best. It’s pretty encouraging and inspiring actually.

I think it’s important to just mention, that I don’t necessarily think the people on the American shows are shitty, just the editors and producers that try to create drama. For some reason they think that’s what is needed to get us to tune in. Spoiler alert TV people, I’ll watch Top Chef just to see beautiful Padma and watch cooks, cook. It doesn’t have to be much more than that. Like in the current edition of Queer Eye. The first season or two they were like “are you uncomfortable with gays because here we are” then they realized it doesn’t have to be about that and it can just be 5 teammates helping one person. Then it became magical.

Back to the baking show, obviously I spent the rest of the night watching it. I think one of the things that impressed me very much about the show is that the contestants know what some of the challenges are beforehand and they get to practice. They don’t know exactly what all of the challenges are but it seems like they get a booklet of things they “should” know, like skills and can tackle those at will, at home, before the show.

Then they give the contestants recipes that they’ve never made before. For instance, in this season there was an old fashioned victorian something cake. I don’t think they all quite knew what it was, or more importantly could visualize it in their heads. Then they must use tricks and skills in the kitchen they may have never had to use before. Some of the contestants just absolutely failed in one aspect or another, but who could blame them? They did an excellent job guessing and basically powering through by using the knowledge they do have and basically fumbling towards the finish line.

Again, I thought it was terrifically inspiring. This all plays in to my 30 day challenge… I’m gonna do a baking challenge. But in general, it’s a cooking challenge.

Without getting too much in to the specifics of the therapy session, or my compressed trauma (lol) I am going to reassess my relationship with food. So for 30 days, I’m only going to eat food that I prepare. This may be a very easy challenge for some people, for me it’s not. I think of food as a treat, I think getting to eat out is a treat and therefore I reward myself with a treat when I’ve had a bad day – or a good day.

I live in a small town and my next month is pretty open as far as commitments and things to do so it should be a reasonable ask that I’m always close enough to home to cook, instead of stopping for food. Now the thing is, is there aren’t really any rules about what I can or can’t cook. Essentially, if I’m having a bad day and want to eat junk food, I can eat it – I just have to cook it.

If I want a whole cake, I have to make, decorate and eat the whole cake. That will never happen. Every time I bake a cake I’m too sick from sneaking licks of batter or frosting to actually eat a piece of the cake. But, the point is not to limit what I eat, the point is to observe what I eat.

This also goes for iced lattes as well. I have to say, I’ve impressed myself by cutting back significantly in the past few months on drinking coffees out. I purchased a Nespresso machine with frother and let me tell you, it’s a game changer. Starbucks pails in comparison. There are 2 other local coffee spots here that I enjoy but I can put that on hiatus for a month. This challenge actually requires some planning, which is not something that comes to me naturally and which is usually incorporated into my challenges.

The other parts of my challenge are just as fun – I’m going to limit TV watching to one day per week. Now, football season is starting so I couldn’t take it out completely. I am going to watch the Steelers every week. Then, if I want to continue watching TV that day I can, no judgement.

I pretty much always watch TV at night and I really don’t like it. There’s something in my brain – probably from childhood, since we watched TV in the evening – that says it’s time to sit down and watch TV for a few hours and then go to sleep. It’s an addiction. The addiction isn’t the screen, it’s the stories. You know the feeling when you watch a show or a movie and you’re just completely taken for a ride, you live in their world for however long the run time isand then once it’s over there is this sense of loss? Like where did my friends go, where did the relief go of living in someone else’s life. I don’t want that feeling anymore.

I don’t want to watch TV looking for the dopamine hit. I don’t feel good about myself when I do that. My ex used to play video games all the time. He drove me insane with them because he would be so proud of himself if he did X, Y or Z. I would be in the living room, laying on the couch watching TV and he’d come out and beg me to come watch him plow corn in his farming simulation game. Most of the time I said no because seriously, how fucking boring, sometimes I would because I just wanted to hang out.

He would constantly talk about how he’d make such a good farmer and how farming was so easy. I would try to tell him that it’s a video game and a lot different and easier than being an actual farmer. He would tell me I was wrong. He would then tell tall tales of how he could fly planes because he used to have a flight simulator game. I would shake my head thinking these are not real accomplishments. He sat in a dark room most nights basking in the rays from the television. I remember thinking, as I laid on the couch, doing the same thing that this was no life. Sometimes it feels like I’m living a simulation of life.

During covid, I found myself doing it again but I had put a stop to it and after getting my first dog spent most nights at the dog park and rarely had time for TV. Now I notice it again. Sometimes it’s totally worth it. I went on vacation in July and when I got back home I was completely depleted from social interaction and just needed a few days, alone in relative silence and on the couch. I found the series Yellowstone, and binged watched that over the weekend. It was such a wild ride. I loved it, it’s a crazy show, almost like a soap opera but at the time it was exactly what I needed and I loved every lazy minute of binge watching that show.

I’ve been wanting to duplicate that feeling ever since. The addiction – the hunt for that dopamine, for that dissociation, for the cool, refreshing dip in someone else’s pool. Which has turned in to me watching TV most nights. I don’t like going to sleep early. I like staying up late, I always have, but that means I watch almost 5 hours of TV per day. That’s if I start around 8 or 9, sometimes I start earlier. 7 nights a week that’s 35 hours of TV watching, that’s almost a full time job. So gross. (I mean, unless someone wants to pay me then it’ll be respectable, right?)

The Steelers play on the 11th, 18th, 22nd (Thursday) and the 2nd of October. Those are the only days I’m going to allow myself to watch television. I want to start reading, listening to music or making crafts at night. My brain comes alive in the middle of the night and I wonder if it’s because I always just sit there numbing it out for so long until finally it’s like “ughhhhhh, let’s goooooo.”

I still have to figure out the exact parts of my kitchen challenge. But I’m thinking for the first 4 weeks I’ll do it Great British Bake Off style, where I’ll have a theme. I’m planning to start on Monday, September 5th because I need a few days to think and to get ready. Here’s what I’m thinking:

Week 1: Bread

Week 2: Italian

Week 3: Patisserie

Week 4: Pastry

I don’t have a group of friends or co-workers so I don’t want to bake cakes because I’ll just have to throw them away. I’d like to work on things I’ve never made before and skills I’ve never had to use before. I’m really wanting to learn pastry and crusts and stuff. I will make an amendment now that Youtube does not count as watching TV. I recently learned how to replace the brake lights in my car via Youtube and am sure I will need it for cooking/baking stuff as well.

I would also LOVE to incorporate cooking challenges. I am a pretty basic cook, I’ve gotten a lot better recently. I notice the thing about me is that I always looks for the easiest way to do things, so I really want to dive in and cook things where you can’t take short cuts.

This is why I’m writing this blog, actually. I’m looking for recommendations for recipes that a beginner cook can tackle to gain skill and confidence in the kitchen. Like homemade pasta – how hard can it be? *laughs nervously*

You can also choose to sponsor a meal, like those boxes, by donating at the bottom of the home page or through the menu section. There is also a place to send comments directly, which you can use to send recipes or ideas or feedback.

In addition I was debating cutting out social media entirely for the month, I’ve gotten a lot better about not mindlessly scrolling instagram these past 2 weeks. I put a timer on it and it helps stay conscious of the time I give to the site. The thing is, time is really the most valuable commodity we have and I’ve recently realized how much I give away to things that don’t serve me. I’m not a better person for watching TV, scrolling Insta, laying on the couch. Sure there are times when all of that stuff is not only acceptable but down right needed.

For instance when I got back from my vacation and needed to recharge on the couch for a couple days. If I were to come down with the flu in the next month, you can believe I’m gonna buy canned soup and watch Disney movies until I’m well again. Those times are not the issue, the issue for me is I feel caught in a holding pattern. Stuck in a maze I’ve created. I’ve gotten out of the maze before, I’ve travelled the world, I’ve lived out of my comfort zone for years on end. I just got too comfortable again. Which is completely normal. However, like I used to say – time to pop that bubble. Life happens on the outskirts of your comfort zone. Let’s go there.

*I did actually change the name of my blog, and the look.

It’s now (what TMZ is now calling my dogs) and the title of my blog is now “Adventures of the Untoward” it’s fairly fitting, considering.

One more thing – I always encourage people to join me in the 30 day challenges, rarely does anyone accept. That’s fine, whatever. HOWEVER now I have these 4 mini challenges of baking in each week (so NOT a daily challenge) that, I think, would be fairly easy to participate alongside. DO YOU WANT TO BAKE WITH ME????

Ok, last thing. I made a wishlist of stuff on Amazon. The cooking stuff I’ll probably end up buying (I’ve been dreaming about a dutch oven for bread for a year, I don’t know why I don’t just order it myself). The puppy stuff is just for fun. You can believe there will be lots of puppy stuff in the next month. Any and all advice is welcome. I’m doing my best to train him but I didn’t train his big sister and that’s biting me in the booty now.

Alright team, let me know who’s up for a weekly baking challenge! The theme of each week is negotiable!

One thought on “September Challenge announcement

  1. Green chicken enchiladas- my specialty !
    I cook the chicken breast in the green sauce in a crockpot .
    Remove chicken for sauce and shred then mix in sour cream .
    Warm tortillas before handling (we’ve been using spinach wraps
    Add pepper-jack cheese sauce from croc , olives (if you like ) roll em up out more suave and cheese over top . Bake (it’s sort of like baking ) for 15 minutes at 400 or longer for crispy. Delicious! Also great left overs ! So much better the next day !

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