Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Clean Bathroom in 15 Minutes or Less

To be fair, this excludes the shower.  The shower doesn't always need to be cleaned.  As for the rest of it, each one of the little tasks below should take no more than a minute or two each and there aren't that many of them.

You will need...

1 toilet brush and toilet bowl cleaner
Glass cleaner
A few paper towels or a bathroom sponge (only used in the bathroom)
Disinfectant wipes
Baking soda or Barkeeper's Friend
Swiffer or vacuum
Trash bags
Gloves (I like disposable, non-sterile med exam gloves that are cheap at Costco)

Put on your gloves.  Pour toilet bowl cleaner over the toilet bowl so it has a chance to start.  Dampen a paper towel or sponge and pour a little baking soda or Barkeeper's Friend on it.  Use it to polish the sink and sink area.  Rinse.  Spray a little glass cleaner on a new paper towel and polish the mirror.  This should take 30 seconds to a minute. Pull out a disinfectant wipe and wipe down the light switches, the door handles, and the counter.  Throw it away.

Grab another one and use it to wipe down the toilet handle, the top of the toilet, the toilet lid (both sides) and outside of toilet.  You will probably need one more for the seat (both sides) and rim of toilet.  Toss it.  If there are men in the house, it pays to give extra attention to the whole perimeter of the toilet and the floor around it.  I'm not kidding, check the wall.  If there is stray urine anywhere, the smell really comes out with the steam from the shower and makes it smell like a public restroom...or worse, a bachelor pad!  Use your toilet bowl brush to scrub the toilet bowl.  Flush placing the brush in the stream of clean water.  Swish the brush and give the whole thing one last quick scrub.  Flush again.  Tap the brush handle on the edge of the toilet to shake excess water into the bowl (do this gently unless you want to wear it).  Replace the brush in it's holder.  Remove your gloves inside out and throw them away.

Shake out or replace your rugs and towels.  Vacuum or Swiffer the floor.  (If your floor is actually dirty, wipe it down with one of the disinfectant wipes.  You can do this quickly on your hands and knees or you can attach it to your Swiffer.  Remove the trash bag.  Done.

Awesome Tip of the Day:  When you replace your trash bag, layer two or three.  This is a good idea for the kitchen as well.  If you have a hole in the bag or something especially messy, this avoids spills.  Otherwise, it just means you don't have to put in a new bag as often.


About once a month it's a good idea to run a cloth over the baseboards if you have them.

About the shower...  I personally hate cleaning the shower.  If it's just me, it can be done once a month or less.  If there are other people around, it seems to need to be done all the time.  I avoid needing to clean the shower by not getting it dirty.  This may seem obvious, but it requires a little attention to detail.  I'm in the habit of closing all my bottles after using them and rinsing them for a split second before I replace them.  This avoids the leaky shampoo thing.  Having something that drains (like a shower caddy) to hold all of your bottles/soaps will avoid leaving moldy rings on the edge of your tub.  I try to place as much of my loose hair as possible on the wall in the shower.  When I step out, I just swirl it and throw it in the trash.  I have long hair but my drain very rarely gets clogged and I have no screen.  If I get dirt (now mud) on the shower floor from walking barefoot, I rub it out immediately with my feet.  This gets it out of the texture of my tub before it gets a chance to settle and require scrubbing.  I hate scrubbing.  Last thing is that I splash a little water over the shower wall and curtain at the end of my shower to remove any stray soap suds that had planned to dry there.  These habits are not much different than clicking my seat belt and checking my mirrors before I drive.  They are automatic and they save me a lot of trouble.

When I do clean the shower, I usually clean it the same way I clean the sink, using an old plastic container to rinse the walls if I don't have a removable shower head.

Anyway, time yourself.  You can definitely get this whole task done much faster than you thought if you have a plan and make it happen.  Fifteen minutes or less isn't all that intimidating.

The Healthy Smoothie

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Today's post covers the basics of making smoothies in your own home.  I grew up with a lot of homemade smoothies (licuados) and I absolutely love the way I feel when I'm regularly drinking fruits and berries.


You will need a good blender.  This does not mean that you need an expensive blender, just one that can get through frozen fruit.  A cheap blender will work well in the hands of someone who knows how to make a blender work (more below).  If you live in an expensive area, please do not pay more than $40 for a nice one.  If you can get a good one for $30, you're in the right price range.  Check Craigslist before you shell out for a new one in case someone is selling one for $15-$20.  Once you find a decent blender in your price range, check a place like Amazon that has a high volume of customer reviews to avoid buying a lemon.  The main feature you want in a blender for making smoothies is an "ice crush" button.  You will probably be dealing with frozen fruit, so that's a good idea.  No one ever really uses more than two or three of their ten to twenty available speeds, so don't pay for them.

Once you have a decent blender, you should hang onto it for years to come.  There are two important ideas that extend the life of your blender and make your blending life easier in general.  The first is that you should not try to blend ice or icy things without enough liquid.  If your blender sounds like it's choking, it is.  Be nice.  The second thing is to not leave food or juice in your blender.  This actually works to your advantage anyway, since cleaning the blender is the worst part to any smoothie.  As soon as you pour out the smoothie, rinse your blender immediately.  This makes it easy to actually wash later on.  Try to avoid the temptation of letting it soak as you would a regular glass.  Blenders have little rubber, metal, and otherwise just moving parts that do not like to soak.  If you make this a habit (as they do at many alcohol and juice bars alike) you tend to get a moldy growth in the innards of your blender that is nothing short of disgusting.  Just rinse your blender and place it upside down.  Better yet, take it apart and rinse it while you still have the momentum of making things in the kitchen.


You may not realize it, but many of the places you currently buy smoothies from increase their profit margins by watering down their products with ice and then adding sugar.  They may not be as healthy as they are marketed to look.  I like to use only fruit, juice, and yogurt.  Yogurt tastes good and gives your smoothies a bit of a creamy flavor.  If you do not like yogurt, you do not have to add any.  Frozen fruits give that icy effect if you like it.  If you are very sensitive to sweet things, you may find that you need to water it down a bit with actual ice.  Remember, a little goes a long way.  Add a few cubes and see what happens.  Then, drink it before it melts because when that ice turns to water, it coincidentally tastes like the ice melted and there is water in your smoothie.  Not so good.

Fresh fruits obviously are your best option.  If you happen to have a fruit tree or berry bush handy, you should take advantage of that and maybe freeze some of it for when the fruit is out of season.  I like to also use frozen fruit from Costco.  It's a good price.  Before you purchase a bag, roll it through your hands.  If it feels like the fruit is stuck together, that probably means that it was not refrigerated well while being transported and has melted and refrozen at least once.  Just a thought.

The best fruit juice is just fruit in liquid form.  A lot of juices contain a surprising amount of [not fruit] very high on the ingredient list.  If it's orange juice, the "ingredient list" should read "oranges".  That's just my opinion.  A lot of bottled juices (especially those that are not refrigerated) are "cocktail juices".  This usually means that they contain comparatively little of the fruit juice marketed on the front of the bottle, like blueberry or pomegranate.  They are mostly grape juice because it's cheap.  They are often loaded with sugars, syrups, and/or preservatives as well.  Sometimes you get lucky and find a NSA (no sugar added), healthy bottled juice.  If you can find one on sale, stock up.  I found $4 juices on "manager special 18 hour sale" or something to that effect for $1 a piece at Albertson's one day.  Limit 2?  So I bought two, put them in my car, and returned for two more.  Four for the price of one is what I like to pay.

Pulpy juices taste the best in my opinion.  I love apple juice but it tastes tastes terrible in smoothies, especially ones with berries or tropical fruits.  I like orange juice, carrot juice, pineapple juice, and coconut juice the best.


Blending well starts with filling the blender in the right order.  It really pays to have something soft at the bottom, like bananas, yogurt, soft fruits, etc.  Frozen fruits should go on top.  The blender really needs some liquid to help it blend frozen things and it blends whatever is next to the blades first.  Once you have all of the soft stuff and frozen stuff in there, pour in juice to about the same level.  That should give it a good consistency.

Awesome Tip of the Day:  Everyone makes way more than they need the first time they make a smoothie.  To help you gauge the amount you should be putting into the blender, try a little trick we use at the bar to avoid waste.  Fill the glass you plan to drink out of with the fruits and frozen stuff.  Pour that into the blender.  Add liquid to the same level.

Put the top on the blender.  Use your "ice crush" setting first.  Once the icy ingredients seem manageable, use another blend setting for a good minute to make sure it blends evenly.  Listen for the sound of the blender either choking or running hard without actually blending.  The latter will be somewhat similar to punching the gas peddle in your car while it's in neutral.  If this happens, it is probably not because your blender is inadequate, as most people assume.  If air gets trapped in the mix, the blades run in a bubble while the mix is unaffected.  There are three things you can do about this.  The first is to hold the blender firmly to the motor and shake it a little.  If that doesn't work, try tilting the whole thing at a slight angle for a few seconds.  If that doesn't work, turn off the motor, shake the bubbles to the top, and then start again on a slower speed.  Once you get a good swirl going on a slower speed, transition directly into a higher speed so that it will blend thoroughly.  This should help you avoid the bubbles.  Every so often, you get a frozen strawberry or something legitimately stuck under the blades.  If this happens, turn the whole thing off and remove the blender from the motor/stand.  Use something with a long handle (not your hand) like a butter knife or something unimportant to pry it out of there.  Replace the blender and start again.

To your health!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Furry Pets and Hot Days

We're having a nice heat wave right now in S. California.  Great for me.  Not so great for Osa.  As you may know, German Shepherds have two coats of hair.  That extra undercoat they have is for insulation in cold weather.  On hot days she can really suffer, especially now that she is getting old.

I'm assuming that not everyone has a chance to take their dog to the beach half the day and let them play in the cold ocean.  Probably, most of you have jobs or other matters to attend.  Before you leave your canine pal outside in the heat, please consider that he/she will be there, wherever you leave him/her, until you get back.

Make sure you have a dog house or umbrella or something outside for them to have shade.  Fill up the water bowl before you leave with fresh water.  If you can, fill it half way with ice and the rest with water.  Then, make sure the water bowl is somewhere in the shade.  They really appreciate it.

Awesome Tip of the Day:  What else is all that fur good for?  Absorbing water.  On hot, dry days, I like to chase my dog around with the hose for a few minutes.  It's a fun game for her and good target practice for me.  All that water helps keep her cool until it's time to bring her back in the house.  With this heat, she is dry enough to come in by then.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Guilt Free Apple Oat Cobbler | Recipe

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Today's post is a gluten free fruit cobbler recipe.  These are great for breakfast, afternoon snack, or desert for health conscious guests.

Apple Oat Cobbler

30 minutes, serves 6.

1 cup of oats
2 large apples
Coconut oil (optional)
Walnuts (optional)
Berries or raisins (optional)

Cover the bottom and sides of an eight or nine inch glass pie pan with a thin layer of oats.  You may oil the pan lightly first, but it is not necessary.  Peel and slice the apples and layer them inside the pan.  Feel free to add other fruits if you wish.  This is excellent with peaches.  Sprinkle cinnamon over the top of your apples.  Add chopped walnuts if you wish.  Sprinkle the rest of the oats evenly over everything.  Drizzle honey evenly over that last layer of oats.

Bake the cobbler in the toaster oven.  I suggest trying whatever pizza setting you normally use.  The cobbler is finished when the oats have absorbed the honey and moisture from the fruit enough to stick together like a crumble dough and then lightly brown.  Serve hot.

Awesome Tip of the Day:  Cobblers are traditionally served with vanilla ice cream.  This one tastes great with yogurt.  You can also serve it with hand-beaten whipped cream.  Just pour a half cup of heavy whipping cream into a container with a teaspoon of honey.  Beat it by twisting a whisk in between your palms until it is light and foamy (think starting a fire with two sticks).

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Blurry Line Between Yes and No, Negotiating Consent

The subject of what is and is not "right" to do with/to a person who has had some liquor came up this week in two conversations with two different friends about the same event.  It shows me exactly how unclear the line between yes and no can be.  Here's what happened:

One of mine friend had an extra drink in celebration at a night club.  We later encountered some other friends of mine.  The first friend accepted one of that group to dance with her and was having a good time.  They accompanied us out of the club when the night was over and we walked with them to the car of the person who was to pick them up.  The two friends that had been dancing together were walking together enjoying eachother's company and keeping from getting cold.  As the group was loading into the car, the guy that was dancing with my original friend took a moment to put his hands in places they didn't belong and attempted to steal a kiss before he left.  No luck, but still in my mind he had really crossed the line.  I can safely say this because I know what my first friend's boundaries are.  I can understand the attempt to kiss her.  It was the general forcefulness (pushing her up against a wall) and touching her in uninvited ways that I felt was inappropriate.

The next day, one of my friends from that group asked me about the situation and I responded that [the guy] seemed cool until the end there when he really crossed the line.  This confused the guy that I was talking to, who thought she seemed like she liked it.  I disagreed, but to be sure, I asked my friend about it and she didn't remember too much of that last part, but remembered thwarting the kiss and mentioned being disappointed by the overall grabbing at the end of the night.

This is a common scenario to varying degrees that I feel needs to be honestly explored.  I can't say that inadvertently or purposefully taking advantage of someone who is drunk is unique to men.  It is not.  What I can say is that I find many of the men that I know personally are unclear on what is and is not taking advantage of a woman, especially one who has been drinking.  In effort to shed light on the subject, I offer the following analysis:

It is a strange policy, in my opinion, to find a person's limits by pushing until that person actively resists.  It is even stranger to try to circumvent that resistance once it is received.  It is much easier and much less offensive and legally dangerous to find out through asking or by passive suggestion whether a person wants whatever it is you're offering.  One of the interesting side effects of alcohol in many people is apathy.  As in my friend's case, her attitude was much less, "Awesome, this guy is grabbing me," and much more, "Whatever, we're leaving now."  I can see how someone who is not attentive or doesn't know my friend very well might not notice her passive disapproval.  However, I cannot imagine perceiving her overall stumbling drunken apathy as her "liking it", especially after she still managed to evade the attempted smooching while in such a state.  Regardless, the majority of onlookers assumed that that was the case.

All that said, I cannot speak to the date rapists out there who really are selfish enough to intentionally hurt another person in order to get what they want.  I am not an expert on the subject, but I don't see how trying to reason with such a person would make any sense.  For the rest of you, please consider that the opposite of no should be an enthusiastic yes, not a drunken apathy.  It appears to be common practice to assume that a lack of firm disagreement is encouragement.  It also appears that many are under the impression that agreeing to one thing counts for automatic agreement to other things.  This seems to be the basis of the "that person was asking for it" mentality.  Really, they did not ask for it unless they really *asked* for it.  Furthermore, just because one has consented to something once, it does not mean that they have consented to other instances.

To illustrate my point, I would like all of my readers to imagine meeting a new person in the neighborhood.  Perhaps you've had a good conversation and they appear to be a nice person.  You may feel inclined to introduce that person to other neighbors and maybe even invite that person to a barbecue at your house.  All of this is invited.  So how would you feel if they suddenly entered your house or began eating your food all on their own?  Is it safe to say that you've "asked for it" simply because you've been friendly and invited this person to your house to share your food in the past?  Of course not!  It is your home and you decide when someone shares it and when they do not.  Even though all of your behavior has led that person to believe that they are welcome in your home, they are expected to know that they cannot just enter as they please.  So why is it different in reference to sex?  It isn't.

My point is, for those of you who are good at heart and do not mean anyone any harm, please remember that people's affections, especially those that are sexual in nature, must be constantly evaluated.  Trying to enter into sexual relations with another person is treading delicate ground.  Think of it like driving.  Simply assuming the light is green can have horrible consequences.  Even in the absence of a red light one can still move forward at the wrong time.  In social/sexual situations in which people are consuming alcohol or other drugs, it is much like a defect in the red light signal, like the power being out.  Tread carefully.  Make sure the agreement you get is actually agreement, not just passive acceptance or tolerance.

As it turns out, I am not the only one to feel this way about it.  For further explanation, check out The Opposite of Rape is Not Consent, the Opposite of Rape is Enthusiasm.  While you're at it, read Schrödinger’s Rapist: or a guy’s guide to approaching strange women without being maced.  Both articles offer a good deal of perspective, which is good to have if you're having a hard time getting your mind around a situation.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Ah, Europeans...

About a month and a half ago, I was sitting in my car by the beach at sundown, watching the end of the sunset.  My husband sent me a text message, and while I was reading it I heard some people (two guys and a girl) approaching the car next to me, which was the only other car.  They were speaking what sounds like some Eastern European language that I'm not familiar with, so I didn't really bother to look up.  I just sat their texting back a reply.

By the time I finished my text, I looked out the window to see a surprising sight.  There was a white, naked butt right next to my driver side window.  Surprise!  The girl was dressed standing in the open passenger door of their car while the two guys were bent over, drying off and changing.  Normally, we from California change cleverly inside our towels, but our European tourists don't always bother with such hassles.  They were naked right there in the neighborhood.  (Lucky girl.)

So the guys who's butt was facing me was about half way into his dry pants, while the other, who was in the street behind their car, was still drying off with his towel.  I would have checked to see if there was someone in the next car over before bearing it all, but they didn't think that far ahead.  As a reward, I started my car, which was awesome!  The guy next to me jumped pretty high off one leg, and by the time he landed, his pants were all the way on.  The other guy tried to pull the same trick, but he wasn't dry enough yet.  He got stuck half way, with a towel stuffed part way down his pants, hopping on one leg.  It didn't seem like his bare feet were used to that.  Oh my!

Needless to say, it was a treat for both me and the other girl, who was laughing hysterically through the whole thing.  The two guys laughed after the initial shock wore off.  Even in the dim light, I could see how red their white faces were.  I backed out of my parking spot and said, "Looks nice!" with a big thumbs up, just to rub it in.  I could still hear the girl laughing as I drove off.

I suppose I could have knocked on my window and been nice about it.  I thought about that one.  If my window had been down, I might have given him a little slap.  I know, I'm a mean person.  I also could have just sat there in my car until they left, which they probably never would have noticed.  Nah.

The Basics of Cooking and Kitchens

A basic understanding of cooking and how to handle a kitchen can go a long way in keeping you healthy, saving you money, and impressing your company.  Unfortunately, many people are afraid of the kitchen simply because they're unfamiliar with it.  A person who is inexperienced in the kitchen will often think that there is some special trick to cooking.  There isn't really.  You don't have to be a professional chef to make really good food at home and enjoy it.  This article is written to take some of the mystery out of the kitchen and cooking.  Consider this Cooking and Kitchens 101.


Cooking can be time consuming if you don't know how to plan.  Personally, I advocate cooking in bulk on the weekend or a day off, freezing ready made meals in microwave/freezer safe containers and pulling them out one at a time all week.  You can label them or surprise yourself.  If you're really good with time management, you can leave certain things to cook themselves while you get your weekly housework done.  If in half a day, you have a clean house and all your meals ready, you are awesome!  While everyone else you know is wasting money eating out and trying to fit in housework, you are enjoying your time off with a nice home cooked meal.  Bonus, you can come home from a long day at work and eat a hot meal without having to cook.

It's important to remember that if you're new to cooking, everything will probably take you a lot longer than it otherwise would.  Stick it out.  Soon, you will become more confident and find more efficient ways to do things and learn to multitask.


Non-stick pans are great as long as you take care of them.  Do NOT use anything metal on them, ever.  That includes forks, knives, spoons, metal spatulas, tongs, steel wool, etc.  There is no point to have non-stick pans if you wish to destroy them.  As soon as the Teflon gets scratched and starts to come off, you're eating it every time you cook.  Don't.  Plastic or wooden spatulas work great for everything.

If you like to cook, stainless steel cookware is nice and lasts a long time if you take care of it.  I have some.  They're a good deal more expensive, so remember that it's not worth it if you're not that into cooking.  Whatever you decide to buy, make sure at least a few things have lids.  You should be fine with a medium sized pot or two and two pans, hopefully medium sized or one large.  Little pots and pans are often useless unless you want to cook one small thing frequently.  You can scramble a couple of eggs on the medium pan and it's fine.

Regardless of what kind of cookware you have, do NOT ever run cold water over a hot pan.  The quick temperature change can warp the shape of your pan.  Also, most pans are constructed in layers, especially non-stick pans.  A quick temperature change can start to separate the layers (like remove the Teflon).  Metal utensils and cold water on hot pans are the two major cookware crimes that you must never commit (unless you like to waste money and eat Teflon.

Speaking of hot pans, do not place them on your counter top.  Use something made for putting hot things on.  If you don't have anything like that, just put it back on the stove over a cold burner.


Everyone has a different taste in spices.  Stocking a spice rack is something you shouldn't put too much money into.  Don't buy something unless you need it.  If you do buy it, buy something you will be able to use more than once.  The little individual packets are a rip off.  I'm happy if my spice rack has sea salt, cinnamon, cumin, 21 seasoning, basil, vanilla extract and lemon pepper.  Sometimes I will use a powdered garlic or onion, but I prefer the fresh onion and the pre-minced garlic that comes in a jar and goes in the fridge.  Some people can't live without curry.  Pick out whatever it is that you really like and keep just the basics.

Cutting Boards

They sell these great hard plastic cutting boards that are dishwasher safe.  I suggest getting one for cutting vegetables and one for cutting things like meat and fish or sea food.  Do not cut meat on a wooden cutting board because the meat juice soaks into the wood grain, meaning it's never really clean.  I know some people are really into glass cutting board, but they dull your knives.  Plates do, too.


Knives are expensive, so whatever you buy, take care of them.  Do not cut on top of hard surfaces like metal, ceramic, or glass.  I have a nice set of Henkels that I got for a good price from Costco.  They come with steak knives, which I use.  I bought a minimal set because I mostly use the tomato knife, the bread knife, and the large meat knife.  I honestly am perfectly fine with using a sharp steak knife for all kinds of food jobs.  If you live alone or don't cook very often, all you really need is one medium to large knife for preparing meats, and some good steak knives.  You will use these anyway, but they are great for vegetables and peeling fruits or potatoes if you have nothing else, because they're very sharp and fit in your hand.  Also, they are serrated, so they work well on bread.  The most important thing is that your knives are sharp and straight, and that the handles don't jiggle.  Keep them that way by not using them to pry anything or to cut anything they shouldn't be cutting.


It's your food.  Keep your kitchen clean.  The easiest way to do this is to try not to make a mess and to clean things up as they get dirty.  For example, try to cover things in the microwave so that they don't explode all over the place.  Try not to let things boil over your pot on the stove.  Try not to splash a lot when you stir things.  There is really no point.  Most of the time, you just need to mix the food and keep the bottom from burning.  Because of the high heat, both of these things tend to require scrubbing, which is better avoided.  Along those lines, avoid frying things and letting the oil splatter all over.  Be extra careful not to spill things that need extra sanitation, like milk, chicken juice, fish juice, egg, steak blood, etc.

Once you leave something to cook itself for awhile, use that time to start putting away things you are no longer using and start cleaning up things that were spilled.  If you are getting a lot of dishes dirty, now is the time to get a few out of the way (or start loading the dishwasher) before they start to pile up and look like a task you don't want to tackle.

Wear gloves.  This is a good idea when dealing with special contaminants (like chicken, fish, steak or sea food) and things that just stink a lot (like onions and garlic).  I hate getting these things on my hands because I feel like they're difficult to get off.

Preparing Meals

As mentioned before, I truly advocate cooking on day per week.  Once you're making a mess in the kitchen, you might as well get it all done.  Come up with two or three things you want to eat for the week.  Make sure you're having some kind of vegetables in with your meat.  It's a good idea to make use of those black beans and rice and have one vegetarian option for those lighter days.

For example, let's say you want to have a Stuffed Chicken Alfredo Over Pasta (coming soon) for one option and black beans with rice, vegetables, and corn tortillas for the other option.  Start your black beans first and let them cook while you prepare your chicken.  Put it in the oven and let it cook itself while you clean up the chicken stuff.  Start the rice and then start the vegetables.  While those are cooking, start the pasta.  This way, things will finish cooking around the same time, so you can put them all into meals and freeze them.

Once you put the meals into the containers, let them sit out with the lid skewed (to let out the heat) before you put them in the freezer.  Once they're not hot, freeze them immediately.  Stick one or two in the fridge for today and tomorrow.  When you reheat your meals, you can eat them as is or with a fresh salad.

Freezing ready made meals gives you excellent portion and budget control.

Actual Cooking

The secret to a good steak is to sear both sides on a hot pan right away.  Once you do that, you have the freedom to cook it a little longer without worrying about it getting too dry.  Put whatever you want on it (salt and garlic are a good start), but that one special trick is what makes it stay juicy inside.

You can cook chicken in so many ways.  If you're cooking it on a pan, the steak method works great.  Make sure you cut a slice in the thickest part to check for pinkness if you're not sure.  Raw chicken is not good for you.

Oven chicken is excellent.  Make sure you use some kind of oil or marinade to keep it from drying out.  Cook it with a high temperature so that it happens faster and has less time to dry out.  Make sure it's not so high that the outside burns too fast.  It helps to cover it with aluminum foil at first to help keep the heat in and keep the top from burning.  I suggest a glass Pyrex for easier cleaning.

You cook fish more or less the way you cook chicken.  If the fish comes with the skin still attached, don't worry about it.  Cook it like that in the oven with the skin side down.  Once it's cooked, the skin will separate easily with any spatula.  Fish is ready when you can stick a fork in it, twist it, and have it separate easily (or "flake") along the grain.

You can do anything with rice.  There are different kinds of rice and they're all good.  Most of them cook in more or less the same way.  You can get creative with it and try different spices and vegetables.  Mix in a little wild rice (the black stuff) for a change in texture and flavor.  You can add chopped onions and you don't have to saute them first if you don't want to, they will boil.  Lentil also cooks well in rice.  Arborio rice is an exception.  It is a little more expensive and it's used for making risotto, which is excellent.

There are so many kinds of pasta to experiment with.  Some are standard, some are whole grain, some are rice...  I strongly suggest adding a couple of drops of oil to the water so the pasta doesn't stick together.  If you add oil after it's cooked, you will have to add too much.  I like my pasta slightly undercooked, which is called "al dente".  This gives it a texture you can actually chew.  Sometimes I like fully cooked pasta, depending on what I'm eating it with.

Cooking these varies depending on what exactly it is.  If I want to make a stir fry with zucchini and broccoli, I will have to start the broccoli first because it takes longer to cook.  If not, my zucchini will be soggy by the time the broccoli is ready.  I like to cook my vegetables covered most of the time because the steam helps keep them from drying out, keep them from burning, and cook them faster.  I also like to cook them minimally because I like them a little crunchy.  It's all up to you.


If you're new to cooking, I suggest going online and looking for some nice, free, simple recipes with minimal ingredients.  Don't try to tackle anything too complicated with too many steps.  Too many ingredients can be costly, especially if you're not sure how it's going to turn out.  It's important to remember that recipes are estimations.  I don't measure when I cook for the most part.  I've estimated for my recipes.  Also, cooking times and temperatures vary from stove to stove, oven to oven, altitude to altitude, and desired outcome.  You will learn to feel these things out as you go.  For now, following a recipe is a good way to get some cooking experience.  It's also a good way to find patterns in how certain things are generally cooked.

Don't feel bound by what is written in a recipe.  You are perfectly free to add a little more of this or less of that.  If you like more garlic, add more garlic.  If you don't like pepper, don't add any.  Usually, it doesn't really effect the outcome all that much other than flavor, which is personal taste.  The food will still cook just fine.

The exception is baking, which is usually more of an exact process.  Even then, I usually cut the butter and sugar in half and substitute for something else if I have to.  Most classic baking recipes were invented in cultures that like greasy and sugary food a lot more than I do.  It usually makes me feel weighted and thirsty.  A decent understanding of how recipes and substitutions work gives me the freedom to control what I do and do not put in my body.

So get started!  Choose a day when you have plenty of time.  Find a simple recipe with good instructions.  Read it a couple of times before you start and make sure you understand the process.  Buy your ingredients.  Invite a friend over who is also new to cooking and have fun with it.  It's a nice change of pace from the typical friend activities and it makes prep time and cleanup twice as fast.  As a reward, you both get a home cooked experiment and a new way of bonding.  Many people start cooking this way and find out they really enjoy it.  Maybe you're a chef at heart and don't know it yet.  Happy cooking!

Sweet Tooth Healthy Oatmeal | Recipe

(Click here for more cooking ideas.)

Today's post is about getting away from pre-packaged, pre-sweetened, expensive oatmeal.  It's way better and healthier to buy oats in bulk.  The problem is, they taste bland and boring.  Here's to a tasty, healthy breakfast for those upcoming cold mornings!

Sweet Tooth Healthy Oatmeal

4 minutes, serves 1.

1/2 cup of plain oats
1 cup of juice (preferably no sugar added)
1/4 cup fruit of choice
Cinnamon (optional)
Nuts (optional)

Put the oats in a microwave safe bowl.  Add fruit and cinnamon (optional) and just enough juice to cover the whole thing.  Microwave for about 1.5 to 2 minutes.  Carefully remove the hot bowl from the microwave.  Mix with your spoon.  Add the rest of the juice cold.  The reason for this is that the oatmeal is already cooked and will absorb the juice either way.  Adding the rest of the juice cold will help cool off the oatmeal at the same time so you can eat it right away.  Mix.  Enjoy.

The one I made today had orange juice, dried cranberries, and cinnamon.  It was great.  The orange juice had a lot of pulp, but it made for a pretty nice texture.

Try cinnamon, raisins, apples, and cranberry juice.  Try apple juice, bananas, and cinnamon.  Try blueberries, honey, and apple juice.

Try not to mix milk and juice, especially citrus juice, in your oatmeal.  The milk doesn't like it.  It's okay, but it's pretty weird and it doesn't look too pretty either.  Just don't do it.

Awesome Tip of the Day:  Eating a dairy free breakfast is good for those of you who like to work out in the morning.  Drinking milk and then exercising can make you really sick.  Don't believe me?  Try it.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Break the Cycle of Dating Users

Although I'm writing this with the "user friendly" in mind, it's actually good dating advice for everyone.  Everyone (male, female, young, old...) has the potential to get walked on by someone eventually, but if it happens to you over and over again, the problem is you.  You should definitely look into why that is, but in the meantime, here are some tips to help get you out of the cycle.

You need three basic things to help keep you safe from predatory people.  Attitude, behavior, and observation.  Attitude helps keep you viewing things from an assertive perspective.  Behavior helps keep you from showing signals that are green lights to predators.  Observation is you looking out for red flags.


1. Dating is a hobby.  Remember it well.  Until it becomes a serious relationship, seeing this person is no more to you than going to the gym, fishing, blogging, shopping, whatever it is that you do.  In fact, I would suggest squeezing dates in between these other hobbies and trying not to drop one for dating.  Why?  A nice person will understand that you have a busy life.  A predator will be looking for someone who is either desperate or needy, or disproportionately giving.  A user is looking for someone they can use, simple.

2. A relationship is an investment.  As soon as you start putting this person in front of your life, you are making an investment of time, and emotion.  It should be paying off somehow.  Before you take dating to a relationship, make sure you are getting as much as you're giving.  Also, make sure that what you're getting is what you want.  If it fails these criteria, you need to cut your losses.  You want to be able to look back on a relationship and say, "It was worth it."  If you look back and say, "I'm glad I got out of there," it should never have made it past casual dating.

3. I don't need this.  This applies in so many ways.  You're lonely, so you start dating and meet someone who's "eh, okay".  You're dating someone who's showing some questionably red flags.  You're dating someone who makes you feel bad.  "I don't need this.  I don't need this.  I don't need this."  Then, you walk away.  Users need you to need them.

4. I deserve to get what I want.  Whatever that means to you is fine.  Say it out loud if you have to.  You should definitely never settle for something that isn't really what you want because you feel like you may not be good enough for something better.  You'll never know if you can get something better until you get rid of this other thing and look somewhere else.  There's a reason why this person wants to be with you, so stands to reason someone else will want to be with you.  Maybe that next person is more what you want.  A predator will make you feel like you should put up with them because you're not good enough for something better.  By the way, if you don't know what you want, start with a nice person who cares about you, treats you with respect, and wants you to be happy.  Go from there.


This is mostly a what not to do list.

1. Do not ever let on that you have a history of being a doormat.  There are a few reasons for this.  The first is that a nice person may be put off by this if it comes up too soon in the relationship.  Second, a predatory person is sniffing you for vulnerability.  This is like a zebra showing off his limp to a lion.  Showing that you have a history of being used is irresistible to a user...and, that person will most likely use that to gain your trust.  They will play on your emotion and side with you about how terrible that is, possibly telling you how they know how you feel because the same thing happened to them, blah blah blah.  Since you can't actually trust someone you just met, you're better off not talking about any of that at all.

2. Do not put yourself below the other person.  This is related to the first attitude.  A user will test you for "usability" (you like that word?).  They're mentally checking off a list of things that show you can be used.  Let's call this the "User Friendly" Checklist.  Most people who get used regularly don't even realize they're doing this one.  Ask yourself:  Do you cancel your plans to hang out with this person?  Do you do them favors regularly, like pick something up for them on your way over and then not ask for the money for it?  Do you go places you don't want to go, or do things you don't want to do because it's what they want and then you don't get your turn?  Do you cook or clean for them even though it's inconvenient?  If you said yes, you're putting yourself below the other person.  Accept it.  Stop doing it.

3. Do not tell this person your life story on the first date.  A user will love knowing everything about you right away, because now they will know exactly what to say to you to play to your emotions and experiences.  Be the onion.  Give them your first date layer and that layer only.  Meanwhile, find out more about them.  This is great if they turn out to be a person you want to get to know better.  It will also give you a chance to spot some red flags without having already told them what you want to hear.

4. Do not call when it is unnecessary or inappropriate.  If they say they're going to call you, let them.  If they don't call within a few days, delete their number.  If there was a real excuse for them not to call you, they will find a way to contact you and apologize with a solid explanation.  A good person who does not call you is either not interested or busy.  Calling this person is needy at best, stalking at worst.  A predatory person is hoping to start this game of treated you like you don't matter and having you do all the work to keep coming back.

5. Do not stay with that person if they are mistreating you.  This may sound obvious, but you're probably reading this because it's happened before.  If you have a hard time judging this, you must delegate to someone who truly cares about you, like your best friend or sibling, and take their word for it when they say that person is no good for you.  It is best if you can see it yourself.  Tell that person you're no longer interested and don't answer their phone calls.

Awesome Tip of the Day.  A user hates being left.  Expect to see a lot of emotion when you break up with them because they are genuinely upset about losing what they get out of you.  Don't fall for it.  They will soon find someone to replace you if they don't already have someone in mind.

6.  Do not rebound.  You need a break after going through it with someone.  Furthermore, you need to get the user scent off you before another predator comes along and smells it.  Many users make a career off broken hearts.  Do not hire them.

7.  Do not have "make up" sex.  You can't lower yourself much more than pleasing someone who is mistreating you.  It's a reward for bad behavior and a way to cloud your mind to keep you from the real issue, which is why you're arguing in the first place.  Furthermore, it's habit forming.  Soon, they will be stirring up conflict just to get make up sex from you.  Make up sex is a drama addiction.

8.  Stand up straight.  This is the one "do" to this list.  Practice it.  Being comfortable in your own skin helps weed out some of the users, since they are usually looking for someone insecure with low self-esteem who is lonely and desperate to please.  Practice speaking while you're at it.  If you sound like you're unsure of yourself, use a lot of words like, "umm, I don't know, I guess so" you might sound insecure.  Meanwhile, the predator is thinking, "Insecure?  Check."


This is the red flag section.  If the person you are dating shows one or two of these, you should be highly suspicious.  Three strikes and they're out.  Ask yourself, "Do I need this?"  Go back and read Attitude #3 if you're unsure of the answer.  This is not an exhaustive list. These are just ideas of the kinds of things you should be looking out for.

1.  They make you feel like they're smarter, more capable or better than you are.

2.  They ask favors and they just met you, or ask for things too frequently. As a general rule, you're allowed to do one favor before they start doing things for you in return.

3.  They just need a little help getting back on their feet.

4.  They "lose" their temper.  (Hmm, lost?  I can see it from here.)

5.  They're interested in how much money you make.

6.  They talk about how all their exes were crazy.

7.  They want commitment from you too quickly.

8.  They don't like any of your friends or family and try to keep you away from them.

9.  They're jealous/possessive because they really care about you.

10.  They try to tell you what or what not to wear.

11.  They don't want to introduce you to their friends.

12.  Their friends are shady.

13.  They put you on a pedestal.

14.  They hold things over your head.

15.  They're moody.  Riding their roller coaster is a test to see what you'll put up with.

16.  They try to make you responsible for things that go wrong.

17.  Tries to cover up conflict or bad behavior with sex.

Awesome Tip of the Day #2:  There is a pattern among all user/used relationships that I've seen.  The user starts off mostly "nice", and then becomes more and more abusive, manipulative, or controlling.  They don't do it overnight.  They start by inconveniencing you or being rude or showing some other red flag and seeing how you react.  If you show that you don't notice little red flags, they will wave bigger ones.  This is a way for a user to gain confidence that they can mistreat you without losing your services.  When you get upset, they back off a little.  They're constantly flirting with that boundary, pushing it just a little further each time.  Before long, they're doing things you would have run away from in the beginning and getting you to apologize for them.

Final thought.  I think it's important to know what a predator looks for.  People like to do what requires the least effort and gives the most benefit, period.  Predatory people are no different.  This article was put together from the idea that all predators have a list of desired traits.  To avoid predators, the best thing to do is to not possess those traits.  Here's a story to help illustrate my point: 

Two guys are hiking in the forest until they come across a ferocious bear.  One guy starts running.  The other guy follows, yelling, "What are your doing?  You'll never outrun the bear!"  The second guy yells over his shoulder, "I don't have to outrun the bear.  I only have to outrun you..."
So true.  Although nothing will guarantee your safety, it's best to make sure that you are not the prime target in a roomful of people.  Predators are not typically looking for a challenge.  They usually are looking for the zebra with the broken leg, if you know what I mean.  That said, if you show some assertiveness, show that you know what you want and deserve to get it, and show that have your eyes open for red flags, most predators will simply move on to the next target.  If they see that you fit the profile of what they're looking for, they will start to focus their resources on luring you in and trapping you.  Don't be that person.  If you do get singled out, your fail safe is that you can walk away and not look back as soon as you feel you're in hot water.  If you're already in hot water, here's how you fix that problem fast.

Here's an example of a "User Friendly" Checklist:

1. First impression.  Seems nice/passive/insecure?
2. Low self-esteem?
3. Seems broken-hearted or lonely?
4. History of being used?
5. History of abuse?
6. Seems needy or desperate?
7. Willing to help out or do favors?
8. Sympathetic/sensitive?
9. Seems to feel unattractive or not good enough?
10. Is generous with money (bonus)?
11. Seems to like me a lot/want to please or impress me?
12. Agrees with me or can be pushed/bullied into agreeing with me?
13. Apologizes a lot?
14. Seems easily scared?
15. Likes to help people?
16. Responds to compliments/sweet talk?
17. Believes what I say/seems innocent/naive/trusting?
18. Has someone in their life they bend over backward to take care of?
19. Has someone in their life they bend over backward to take care of who doesn't deserve it?
20. Avoids confrontation?
21. Put up with my attitude?
22. Called me when I didn't call?
23. Forgives quickly after an apology or a few kind words?
24. Easy to turn an argument around on him/her?
25. Will have sex with me when they're mad at me?
26. Tries to save face in public or around family/friends?
27. Gives up personal time to accommodate my schedule?
28.  Lacks supportive, assertive friends?

Number 24 is a special one and I've seen it a thousand times.  I've been on the wrong side of it myself more than once, but I've gotten smarter.  I had a friend who was most of this list, and that person would always be telling me about some conflict or episode of something their partner was doing that was clearly unacceptable.  No two ways about it.  The next day or week, we would be talking and I would here all these "I statements" like, "Well, I'm not perfect either," or "I found out I've been doing it, too," (yeah, right) "I did ___ the other day so I guess they were mad about it."  If this sounds like you, you're in danger.  Repeat after me, "We're not talking about me, we're talking about you."  "We're not talking about that, we're talking about this."  It's good to remember that your faults/mistakes don't cancel out anyone else's, assuming that those faults/mistakes were not conveniently invented just for that purpose.

I truly wish you the best of luck taking charge of your dating experiences and finding greater happiness.  While on your journey, you may find that there are other people in your life that are using you as well.  Get rid of them, too.  I delete phone numbers at least once a year to keep my social life clean.  It's a liberating habit.

Please pass on this article to anyone you think it might help.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Reduction Fruit Paste | Recipe

(Click here for more cooking ideas.)

Today's post is a wonderfully delicious and healthy fruit paste that adds that special something to crepes, pancakes, waffles, toast, ice cream, or whatever you would like to eat it with.  You can store it in the fridge for up to a week and eat it like apple sauce, hot or cold.  The one I made today had guavas from our tree, strawberries, banana and apple juice.  That's just what we had in the house.  You can use pretty much any fruit, berry, or juice combination.

Reduction Fruit Paste

25 minutes, serves 2.

About 8 large strawberries, fresh or frozen
2 medium bananas
5 medium pineapple guavas, halved and scooped
3/4 cup of apple juice, preferably unsweetened

In a medium saucepan, add all the ingredients and let sit covered over medium to low heat until the fruit starts to soften.  If you are using frozen fruit or berries, this may take a little longer.  The reason for the juice is that it keeps the fruit from burning and drying out before it's soft enough to become a paste.  It also adds a little flavor variety.  Fruits that come apart completely, like bananas, guavas, and raspberries, help thicken up the mix.  Once the fruit is soft, uncover the saucepan and reduce the heat to low.  You should see a low boil, but not enough to splash or make a mess.

Use a wooden spatula to start breaking up your fruits and stirring the mix.  As the fruits become softer, the more easily they will break up and it will start to look like lumpy fruit soup.  This is perfect.  You are now beginning the reduction process.  You will now be essentially evaporating the liquid until it the fruity soup condenses into a paste.  Make sure the heat is adjusted so that you are still getting a low boil.  Be sure to occasionally stir the mix so that it cooks evenly.  When you have reached your desired texture (slightly lumpy paste), remove the saucepan from the heat and let it cool.

Fruit paste stores well in the freezer if you wish to double the recipe and keep half for another day.  If you wish to keep some in the fridge for later, a little lemon juice will help it keep.

Awesome Tip of the Day:  Cooking some Happy Pancakes or crepes?  Start the fruit paste while you're making the pancake batter.  It will essentially cook itself as long as you stir it occasionally between pancake flipping.  By the time the pancakes are finished, the paste should be finished and ready to eat.

If you're in a big hurry, you can just nuke some fruit in the microwave and stir.  I prefer the reduction paste because it doesn't make your pancakes soggy or run all over your plate.

Here are some other fruit combinations to try:

Two apples, one shredded, one cubed (for texture).  About 1/2 cup of blueberries. 3/4 cup of orange juice.  Optional, cinnamon and vanilla.  Optional, chopped walnuts.

About 5 large strawberries.  About 3/4 cup of diced pineapples.  One banana. 3/4 cup of coconut water or coconut milk.  Optional, a few slices of mango.

Try peach, pineapple and banana.  Try berries, berries, berries.  Try strawberry guavas (my favorite), pineapple and orange juice.  Get creative, it's hard to mess this one up.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Incurable Cystic Acne? Maybe Not

I wanted to address this topic because I see so many beautiful people walking around with a face full of obviously painful, scarring cystic acne.  It makes me feel bad and I would like to shed some light on the subject for those of you have given your fair share of time and money to a dermatologist who is treating the symptoms and getting little results.  I'm assuming that considering your acne incurable means that you have already tried a good diet and exercise, increased water intake, special cleaning products, antibiotics and other medications to no avail.  If this is you, do not give up hope.  You may be able to clear up your face for free, which is inherently awesome.  Read on.

Although acne in general is often related to hormone changes, and can be treated with things like birth control pills, long term cystic acne may be caused by a reaction to certain ingredients in foods.  I can tell you this because I've seen it in some of the people in my personal life and I've read many a testimonial from people I know indirectly.  The more I read about it, the more I see patterns of information.  If you have already tried everything else, it is time to start experimenting with your diet.

The two most common ingredients people claim to cause their cystic acne are casein (a protein found in milk) and gluten (found in grains like wheat and barley).  This may account for the common belief that junk foods cause acne, since they are typically high in wheat and possibly dairy.  It is not a typical food allergy.  Quite likely, the only notable symptom will be the cystic acne.  There is no guarantee that this is the cause of your acne specifically, but finding out is easy and only requires a little discipline to read food labels and faithfully avoid some thing for a little while.

If you would like to find out if one or both of these ingredients is the cause of your acne, try cutting one or both from your diet for two to three weeks.  You should experience a significant difference within that time frame if it's going to work for you.  For example, try avoiding casein first.  If it works, great.  If it doesn't work, try avoiding gluten next.  If that doesn't work, try removing both casein and gluten from your diet for a couple of weeks and see how that works.  If neither one worked for you, it was worth a try and didn't cost you anything.  Hopefully, it did work and your precious face is on the road to recovery.

Awesome Tip of the Day:  Many people have gluten allergies these days, so it's not difficult to find gluten free foods on the market.  Also, a casein/gluten free diet is a relatively new idea for the treatment of autism, so there is a lot of information on buying and cooking gluten and casein free available online.  You can Google it if you need ideas.

Success!  Now what?  First of all, congratulations.  Now, you may want to find out exactly how sensitive you are.  If you're only mild to moderately sensitive, you may be able to get away with still eating certain foods.  Let's say, for example, casein is the culprit.  Some people report that any casein in their diet at all has their face exploding with painful pustules.  Other people say that certain foods are okay, but that others with a higher concentration of casein will cause a flare up.  Maybe drinking milk isn't enough to have an effect, but protein powders or energy bars can be a cause for panic.  Find out exactly what your body can and can't handle and feed yourself accordingly.

My hope is that the information above will help people all over the world get their faces back.  I know chronic cystic acne can create both physical and social discomfort.  If you know someone who suffers from cystic acne, help them potentially avoid years of facial scarring that, over time, will become permanent.  Please, feel free to share this article.

What Not to do When Feeding a Snake

Awesome Tip of the Day:  Thinking about getting a pet snake?  Remember never to feed your snake inside its cage.  The reason is that your snake will learn that, when it is feeding time, you open the lid and stick your hand in its cage.  See where I'm going with this?  Your snake will learn to bite your hand every time you reach inside its cage.  Not good.  Get a separate feeding box for feeding your snake to avoid this situation altogether.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Handling "Friends with Benefits" Responsibly

I received a request on this topic some a couple of weeks ago, but I had to really think about this one before posting.  I'm presenting here the most general, responsible, safe, and considerate way of handling this situation that I can think of.

The first thing I would like to bring up is the word "friends".  Sure, everyone likes benefits, but friends with benefits are still friends.  You like your friends.  You care about what happens to your friends.  You treat your friends with respect.  I'm purposefully driving distinction between "friends with benefits" and "hookups/booty calls".  If you do not intend to care about how the other person feels or what you do to them, please stay in the realm of casual hookups with other people who are looking for the same thing.  That said, there is no such thing as a "no strings attached" friend with benefits (so get that out of your head) because you both must agree on (and stick to) what kind of friendship and what kinds of benefits are to be exchanged.  You're only in it as long as both people are happy.

I suggest that before you decide to get into any such situation, you really think about what you do and don't want, what you are and are not okay with, what would really upset you, and what would really scare you.  That should leave you little surprise when you do find a friend with benefits and will also help you be more considerate of the other person.  Once you know what these things are, you should remember them and talk about them with your potential new friend.  I know most people would prefer to sweep all of this under the rug, but in effort to be responsible, safe, and considerate, it is better to make sure you are both on the same page.  For example, it is not good to find out down the road that one person thought it was monogamous and the other person is seeing other people.  It's not good if one person thought it was discreet and the other person is talking about it.  You wouldn't want to find out your friend is having unprotected sex with other people the hard way, if you know what I mean.  Be sure to discuss such things early on so that there are no surprises.

So what should you be thinking about?

Emotions.  These are likely to eventually come up on one side or both.  If both people are open to the idea of becoming a more serious relationship in the future (not likely) there is no problem.  However, feelings may eventually arise, most likely only on one side, and the situation is best off terminated before it goes any further.  That should be a pretty solid understanding so as not to drag anyone through anything they don't need.  One good way to keep yourself in check in this area is to keep your eyes open about other people you find attractive.  Flirt with other people.  Keep your options open, even if the rules of your friendship include immediate termination of your current situation if one of you finds another friend.  Being flirtatious with other people can help keep you from getting too attached to any one person.  That said, there is no room for jealousy in a friends with benefits situation.  It is important that you keep in mind that it is not a relationship and you have no hold over the other person.  If they do not agree with the terms you consider important, the benefits should not commence.  If they have already, they should not continue.

Monogamy and Physical Safety.  This is a personal choice that needs to be agreed upon.  For the sake of health, it's a good idea to be clear on rules such as whether the situation is open (it's okay to find other benefits elsewhere) or not.  You should also both really think about what that means and whether one should be using condoms.  I vote yes on that one.  The absolute physically safest way to conduct this business is to have a monogamous friend with benefits, with the explicit understanding that one is to inform the other if they have found other prospects before returning to collect more benefits.  It is important that you trust your friend.  If that's not how you want to do it, just make sure both parties agree.

Time.  It may be good think about how long you would like the situation to go.  If you are moving soon, you might want to mention that.  If you know you can only have such a friend for about three months before you start to get attached, it's a good thing to consider.  If you would like a trial period, that's not a bad idea.  It isn't particularly romantic, but none of it should be or you're really confused.

Level of Involvement.  So how close are you?  Are you just good friends or exes who like to sleep together and know you would be horrible in a relationship?  Do you like eachother but don't have the time or energy for a real relationship?  Are you two people who had a hookup, found out you were good together and would like a regular appointment?  Do you want to do regular friend things together or would you like to just stick to the benefits?  It is really important that both people agree on that last one.  If one person wants a friendship, too, and the other person just wants the benefits, there will be a lot of misread messages.

Accidents.  It's not unheard of for people to become pregnant when they have sex.  What are you going to do?  It takes two to tango, so to speak.  Do you really want to have that disagreement on what the contingency plan is after the fact?  No.  Make sure you're with a like-minded person in that respect.

Termination.  So, how is this going to end?  It is best to make sure that there will be no issues when one person wants to end the situation.  Make sure everyone involved can exit the situation for any reason cleanly, be it because they met someone else, don't feel like doing it anymore, or otherwise.

Why care about all this stuff?  One, the other person is your friend, and a person just like you.  They deserve to be treated with respect.  Two, if you mess it up with one person, chances are other people will hear about it.  A crappy reputation can make it very difficult for you to find more friends with benefits, or friends at all.  Three, you can actually have that person as a regular friend even if it doesn't work out or if one of you meets someone else they'd rather be with.

What do I do if I'm already I'm in a bad situation because I didn't think about all this stuff ahead of time?  Honestly, the best thing to do is just end it before it gets worse.  I'm assuming you already went through and tried to figure out what the problem is.  If it's simple incompatibility of friends with benefits style, end it.  There is no room for desperation here.  You must be more willing to get nothing than to get hurt over it or get it from someone you're hurting.  It's best to approach that person in a nice way, in private (but not at your place) and just tell them that you would like to not continue the situation.  When they ask why, just pick the main reason and avoid making it a big drawn out, dramatic ending.  Keep it nice and civil.  If you're ending it because you found out the other person thinks you're closer than you are, you're best off apologizing for not having discussed it properly early on.  It doesn't matter if you don't think it's your fault.  If it was never discussed and the other person has that impression, it is at least partially your fault.  Take ownership of that, apologize, and end it before it gets worse.

*I had to add this because I was asked.  The answer is no, you should not sleep with that person one last time before you tell them you're ending it.  That applies to regular, romantic relationships as well.  That should be a choice left up to the other person after they already know what's going on.  Try witholding information from your insurance company so as not to discontinue benefits and see what they say when they find out.  I wouldn't suggest suggesting it either.*

If you did your honest best to make it clear to someone that it is over and they for some reason do not believe you, then you have reason to be much more firm and much less personal.  Give that person a week to let it really sink in (in case they're just really hurt) and then read this for inspiration.

I wish you the best of luck in your endeavors.  A good, compatible friend with benefits can be very difficult to find.  If one happens to fall in your lap... just treat that person with respect, whatever you (plural) decide.

Got Blood on Your Favorite Shirt?

It doesn't matter why there's blood on your clothes, you just want it off, right?  If you put your clothes through the wash, assuming the water and detergent will get it out, think again.  The heat from the water and dryer will actually set the stain, leaving you with the eternal brown spot on your favorite shirt.  Bleach damages your clothes.  Expensive stain removers may or may not work.  It's over, right?  Wrong.

Go to any drug, grocery, or ___mart store and buy a bottle of hydrogen peroxide for a buck or two.  Hold the stained spot on your shirt over the sink.  Pour hydrogen peroxide directly over the spot.  Let it foam.  Rub it.  Rinse it out with cold water.  Pour a little more on.  Repeat.  If there is a tiny bit of blood left, chances are the washer will get it out (use cold water).  Check it before you put it in the dryer.  You may want to use gloves if it's not your blood.  Also, the hydrogen peroxide may leave your calluses or skin on your fingertips white.  This is not harmful but it looks weird.  Wash your hands afterward.

Awesome Tip of the Day:  Try to keep the stained area separate from the rest of the shirt while you are trying to wash it out, or it will literally bleed onto other places, leaving you with multiple spots.  No good.

What if I already washed it?  You know, try it.  Sometimes you get lucky with a stain that has already been washed.  If hydrogen peroxide doesn't work, the next thing is Folex.  It's a carpet cleaner that seems to work on all kinds of things and has saved many a favorite shirt.  It is reasonably priced for how great it works on clothing, carpets, and upholstery, but I prefer to use the cheapest stuff that will work.

Yogurt or Banana Happy Pancakes | Recipe

(Click here for more cooking ideas.)

Today's post is a great little recipe for pancakes that are easy to make and delicious.  I hate restaurant pancakes because they are always dry and make me thirsty.  A little yogurt or banana will fix that right up.  See the bottom of the post for tips for those with dietary restrictions.  This recipe may be easily doubled or tripled depending on family size.

Yogurt or Banana Happy Pancakes

20 minutes, serves 2.

1 egg
1 cup of pancake mix
1/2 cup of yogurt, any flavor
1 teaspoon of vanilla (optional)
1/4 cup of milk, coconut milk, rice milk, or soy (juice works in a pinch)
Coconut oil (optional)

Start heating up the pan now over a medium heat.  If the pan is not hot enough, the pancakes won't cook right.  I suggest a non-stick pan to avoid the need for oil.  If you have a pan big enough to cook two pancakes at a time, you will appreciate it.

Beat the egg in with the yogurt, vanilla, and milk with a whisk.  Add the pancake mix.  The mix should be thicker than a very heavy cream, but no so thick that it's lumpy.  It should pour like a slightly runny cake batter.  If the mix is too runny, add a tablespoon more of pancake mix.  If it's too thick, add a splash of milk.  If you do not eat or do not have yogurt, one banana well mashed with a fork will substitute.

If you are using juice, banana, or a fruity yogurt, your pancake mix will be a little stickier and may require that the pan be slightly oiled.  No not drown or fry your pancakes.

Ladle one pancake at a time onto the hot frying pan.  You can roll the pan a little to help spread the batter if you like thinner pancakes.  The pancake is ready to be flipped when the edges look solid and the top has been bubbling and is starting to solidify.  Use a plastic or silicone spatula to gently lift one edge, slip underneath, and flip the pancake over in one motion.  The edge now facing up should be a nice golden brown color.  Let it sit for a minute or so and flip the pancake again to check the other side.  If it is still pale, return it to the fire for another minute or so.

Awesome Tip of the Day:  If you have kids (or if you want to impress your girlfriend or wife) you can make "happy pancakes".  Drip a little pancake batter onto the pan in the shape of a small happy face, two eyes and a mouth.  Let is sit for a couple of seconds and then pour the rest of the ladle over the whole thing.  When you flip this pancake over, it will be one happy pancake.  If you want to get more creative and have time to play, use an old honey bottle to squirt the pancake mix into different shapes or words ("eat me").  Breakfast always makes you smile when it smiles back.

Sometimes the first pancake comes out wrong because the pan is not yet hot enough or because the heat or mixture needs adjustment.  If the pancakes are burning to fast while the inside remains too squishy, turn down the fire and cook them a little longer.  If they are drying out before browning, turn up the fire and cook them a little less.  If the pancakes are too thick or thin, you can adjust them accordingly by adding a tablespoon of either milk or pancake mix.

These pancakes can be a little sweeter than others, requiring less syrup or honey.  You may also want to try a little mashed and possibly heated berries, apples, or bananas on top.  Diced or shredded apples are also great inside the pancakes.

If you have dietary restrictions, there are a number of substitutes that can be made.  If you do not eat dairy, you can trade out the milk and yogurt for any rice, soy, almond or coconut products.  The mashed banana method is a nice option if you don't want to use soy yogurt.  Please keep in mind that substitutions may cause the mix to be thicker or runnier, so adjust accordingly.  If you eat a gluten free diet, Trader Joe's sells a great gluten free pancake mix that tastes wonderful and can take the place of any other pancake mix.

How to Shampoo Just the Roots and Scalp (Scalp Wash)

Many people refer to this as a "scalp wash" or "scalp only wash".  Scalp washing is a great way to get the oily/dirty part of your hair clean without unnecessarily drying out the rest of your hair with shampoo.  There is more than one way to do it, depending on hair length and whether you want the rest of your hair to get wet or not.

Dry Hair Method

This method starts with dry hair.  It is my favorite method because I find it easiest to control shampoo when it goes on dry hair.  Squirt a little shampoo into the palm of your hand.  Rub it evenly between both hands.  Place your fingertips at your hairline and gentle run your fingers along your scalp toward the back of your head, leaving a little shampoo behind along the way.  Repeat this just above your ears and then again at the nape.  Lift the top section of your hair and run one shampooed hand down your hair along the back, trying to squeegee it through.  If your hair is very thick, you may have to make one more part.

Rub your hands together and then start massaging your scalp.  This will get your scalp nice and scrubbed while keeping massaging the shampoo through your roots.  It will actually come to a slight foamy lather without water, especially if your hair is very oily.  Now, if your hair is very long and you don't want to get the rest of it wet.  Rinse your hands and dry them off.  Gather the ends of your hair and lift them up so the shampoo and water will not run down your length when you rinse it out.  I would suggest the dish rinser in the sink or your shower head if it is the detachable kind.  If you are not worried about your hair getting wet and not worried about a little shampoo running down your length (or if your hair is short) just get in the shower and try to rinse it all out as quickly as possible.  I suggest following any shampooing with conditioner, oil, or some type of leave in.

Awesome Tip of the Day:  The Dry Hair Method also helps save water in the shower because you are not wasting time applying shampoo and lathering while the water is needlessly running down the drain.

Wet Hair Method

Many people find that putting shampoo and a little water inside a squirt bottle is a good way to get the shampoo only where you want it while in the shower.  This is also a good way to dilute any cheap shampoo so that it is less harsh on your hair.

Gently squirt the shampoo solution onto the roots and scalp, lather, and rinse.  As above, I suggest some kind of moisturizing conditioner or oil after any shampooing.

For more information on hair care and hair cutting, please see the Hair section of the Table of Contents page.  While you're there, check out the variety of other topics addressed on this blog.

How to Cut Your Own Bangs

There are two basic styles that people typically wear.  The first one is the classic cut that forms an inverted U shape across the forehead.  The second is the side-swept.  There are two ways to do the side-swept.

Section Off Your Bangs

First, you will need to section off the hair you want to cut.  Level your head (look neither up nor down, do not tilt your head).  Grab a comb, pick or use your fingers to section off the front of your hair.  Start at the top, above your forehead, and draw a straight line down to your ear or just in front of your ear.  Repeat on the other side.  This will give you a U or V line part.  Pull all of this hair forward and check the part to make sure it's even.  Gather the rest of your hair in a ponytail, braid, or bun to keep it out of the way.

Classic Bangs

Of the hair you pulled forward for bangs, section off everything that falls between the edges of your eyebrows and leave the sides out of the way.  Comb this section downward and forward with a little water and gather it into a well-combed V in between two fingers at the bridge of your nose.  For a blunt look, snip it off in a straight line here.  Check the length.  You can always cut it a little shorter.  If you want a more uneven/feathered look, point your scissors upward at an angle and snip out bits all along your blunt hem.  This will give you a softer look with a more natural hemline.

Next, trim the sides.  The goal is to create a curved line that helps blend your bangs into the length of your hair.  For blunt bangs, hold your scissor at a downward 45 degree angle and run your scissors down this strip of hair while holding it taught with the other hand.  Repeat on the other side and make sure it's even.  For a more feathered look, use the same snipping technique as above, holding your hair at a 45 degree angle facing upward.

Side-Swept Bangs

You can make this style by simply cutting longer classic bangs.  Instead of cutting them at the bridge of the nose, cut them somewhere between the tip of your nose and your upper lip.  You can also give them a slightly layered look by pulling your hair straight out from your forehead when you cut (measure first).  For more dramatic layering, section off the top half of your bangs and make a second cut that is just a quarter inch or so shorter.  Use the feathering snip technique as before and cut the side pieces the same way as above.  When you part your bangs on the side, they will look like side-swept bangs.

For true side-swept bangs that are actually cut to the side, you may chose to section your hair in a way that includes less of the side to which your bangs will not be swept.  You may then cut at a downward angle or in a slight curve, finishing with a feathering technique if you desire, or not.  This guy has an interesting way of doing it.  Usually, I find expert village videos to be completely useless, but that one was useful.

Shop around YouTube for some visuals.  Stay away from any tutorial that uses a razor comb.  Razor cuts are terrible for your hair.

Awesome Tip of the Day:  When cutting your bangs or hair in general, it is good to remember that wet hair or pulled hair will be shorter once your hair is dry and not pulled.  Estimate your goal length and then add a half inch just in case.  You can always cut more but not less.  If you do mess it up, it will grow back very quickly and you can try it again.

Want to have naturally beautiful, healthy hair on a budget?  Click here.
For detailed instructions on cutting your own layers, click here.
For detailed instructions on how to trim your own hair, click here.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Emotional/Sensitive vs Insensitive People

I was reading a thread yesterday about "prejudice against emotional/sensitive people".  Of course, both sensitive and insensitive people came flooding to this thread and immediately started arguing about absolutely everything.  I read the whole thing after about a week and this was my post:

"I think sensitive and insensitive people have a hard time communicating because they don't see eye to eye. If you go back and read this thread, you can pick out all the sensitive people because they spend a little time in each post empathizing with eachother and making eachother understand that they feel sorry for them and now how they feel. On the other hand, insensitive people are really only reading what people are saying and trying to dismantle any opinions or arguments that seem illogical to them. If you do that to an insensitive person, they respond by arguing. If you do that to a sensitive person, they tend to take it personally or get defensive in an unproductive way. If you want to disagree with a sensitive person, you have to be a lot more gentle and considerate way. That's just they way I see it. I've been reading though this and those are the patterns I'm seeing. It seems like insensitive people are trying to get a handle on the words that are written because they are more likely to mean what they say the way they say it. Sensitive people are trying to read the emotions/intentions behind the words because they are more likely to use their words to display an emotion.
For example, a few pages ago there was an exchange in which an insensitive person stated that they've come across people who cry a lot and use it to manipulate others. A sensitive person was offended because they read into it that all sensitive people were being put into the same category as only doing it to manipulate people. This was ridiculous to me because I am insensitive. I read only what was written and it was written nowhere that all sensitive people were like that. If that insensitive person tries to argue with the sensitive person about the subject, the sensitive person will feel personally attacked (again?) because they are reading a perceived emotion. They probably feel the other person is angry because they're arguing. Sensitive people are more likely to get angry when they argue or argue because they're angry, so they assume the insensitive person is doing the same thing. Meanwhile, the insensitive person is really only making the situation worse by trying to deal with the sensitive person as if they were insensitive. This is all a bit funny to me (albeit frustrating) because sometimes I'm an insensitive jerk. An insensitive person will understand what I mean by that, while a sensitive person would say, "No, you're not a jerk. Why would you say something mean like that about yourself?" as if it were a bad thing and I have low self-esteem.
Do you see where I'm going with this?
The prejudice, like usual, really only has to do with majority and minority. If I'm in a room full of sensitive people, the prejudice is against me, for being rude or mean, whether or not I actually mean any of what I say or do in that manner. I'm too confrontational and argumentative. If a sensitive person is in a room full of people like me, they are unable to listen to what other people say because they read emotions into it and get upset to quickly."

People seemed to think it was a good explanation of what was going on, so I thought I would post it here for general insight on conflicts in communication between sensitive and insensitive people.

...(Edited to add)  After a conversation with my mom (very sensitive) about this situation, I realized that there is one thing I failed to address.  I realized about half way through our conversation of her getting upset with me and hating everything I said, that she equates being insensitive to being an a**hole.  I would like to submit that these are not the same (although the result may be similar).  After a few remarks that I don't care to repeat, it suddenly dawned on me that, despite my explanation, she was still operating under the assumption that one who is insensitive does not care about other people's feelings.  In other words, insensitive = mean.  This is far from the truth.  As mentioned before, a person who is insensitive simply doesn't read all of the emotions that one who is sensitive reads.  It would be like saying someone who is color blind just has poor taste.  Not necessarily true.  One who is color blind just does not perceive things visually the same way.  Those of us who are insensitive simply do not perceive all of the emotional meanings in the same way that a sensitive person would.  There is no mal intent.  An insensitive person will certainly care if they realize they are upsetting someone.  It's just less likely that they will notice and they are much harder to convince.  They have to be convinced usually with reason and evidence.  Statements like, "Come on, you know what you did/said," or "You know how it feels when someones says/does..." will not get the point across.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Dealing with Jealousy and Possessiveness and Insecurity in Relationships

Jealousy is a very complicated emotion.  Sometimes it is a direct result of a legitimate perception of things that are happening.  For example, I have felt true jealousy a very few times in my life.  Each time, it turned out that I really was being cheated on.  The rest of the time, the perception is likely not real or doesn't have to be.

I understand that the acceptance of jealousy and degrees of jealousy can be culture specific, but I do feel that being jealous is unnecessarily stressful.  As mentioned above, I believe that jealousy can be used as an instinct to tell you when something is being taken away from you.  However, if you're jealous all the time, you will be able to get no clear readings from your own emotions.  If you are habitually jealous with your boyfriend or girlfriend, and you would like to stop being jealous, today is the day.

Jealousy in a relationship usually stems from two basic ideas.  The first is that you think other people will be attracted to your partner.  The second is that you think your partner might go for someone else.  Then you worry about it.  You get yourself upset about it.  You start treating your partner as if they're already cheating on you.  The whole thing is a big mess.  So to start with, you need to accept two important facts.

1. Your partner is attractive.  If you find your partner attractive, chances are other people will, too.  That means that if your partner is walking around in public, with or without you, other people will look at them and be attracted to them.  Accept it.  Live with it.

2. You are not the most attractive person in the world.  Even if you're really attractive, someone else will always come along that is more attractive.  There will always be someone who is smarter, funnier, richer, more romantic, more athletic, better dressed, has a cuter smile, is more charming, and yes, better in the bedroom.  Accept it.  Live with it.

This is difficult for some people to deal with, because they are insecure about not being perfect enough to keep their boyfriend, girlfriend, husband or wife while that person is walking around looking good and attracting other people.  They become possessive with their partner because they don't want there to be any opportunities for someone to come along and take that person away.  The reality is that those opportunities always exist.  If your partner is unfaithful, the only thing you can do about it is break up and accept that that person was not faithful.  Better luck next time.

Awesome Tip of the Day:  Having been cheated on does not justify treating the next person as if they are a cheater, nor will it stop them from cheating if that's what they want to do.  You cannot be around someone all day, every day so that there will be no opportunities for them to misbehave.  Who would want to have to babysit their partner anyway?  But showing up at their job, calling all the time, interrogating them after a few hours out with their friends, trying to cut them off from friends and family, listening to their phone calls, and other behavior that indicates suspicion is likely to backfire.  That person is likely to leave you for someone who does not treat them like a bad person.

So then how do you keep someone?  You keep someone by treating them the way they like to be treated, which will vary from person to person.  If they're happy, they'll stay with you.  Sometimes the relationship will work out and sometimes it won't.  If it doesn't, you find someone else.  Most people realize, after a little dating experience and maturity, that they don't have to be with the perfect person.  Happy is happy.  If you can make someone happy, they are likely to forego other opportunities of potential happiness for the happiness they already trust in you.  Think of it this way, if you have an appliance that gets the job done, and you walk by the store and see another one that may be better or may not work for poop, why throw away the one you have on a gamble?  You're happy with what you have, right?  If you lose that one somehow, then you can shop for another one.  When you think of it this way, most likely your partner will not trade you in for someone else because they already know you and they're already happy with you.  It is a gamble for them to wager you for someone else that might be better because they have no experience with that person.  Some people are great until you get to know them better.  Some people are great as friends but definitely not in a relationship.  Your partner knows this.  They're with you because they want to be.  If they really want to leave, they will.  You can't stop them anyway so you might as well not worry about it and focus on both of your happiness.

All that said, jealous behavior patterns can be hard to break.  The important thing to remember that jealousy is all about you, so you are in control.  Your partner doesn't make you jealous.  Other people don't make you jealous.  You do.  Once you start letting things go, you come to realize that everything is still fine, even if you're not constantly controlling everything to make sure that it's fine.  Each success helps reinforce that all the worry is unnecessary and you will come to worry less and less.

Does your partner have a friend that ruffles your feathers?  Let it go.  There is a reason why your partner is not with that person, which may or may not be any of your business.  And who's to say that person is better than you?  There is a reason why your partner is with you.  What if your partner loves you?  Just think, in a sea of people, many of whom wanted to be with your partner, they chose you.  They see beautiful people on the street ever day and don't pursue them.  They don't love them.  They wouldn't trade what they have for them.  They love and trust you.  They know that if someone shows interest in you, you will turn that person down.  They do the same.   I'm sure they've said, "Sorry, I'm taken," to more than one person without ever bothering to tell you about it.

Awesome Tip Number Two:  Don't torture yourself by comparing yourself to other people.  Jealous and insecure people tend to both dread being compared and constantly compare themselves to other people, fearing that everyone else is doing the same.  Also, differences tend to be given a value of "better" or "worse" when it doesn't apply or doesn't matter.  "What does that guy have that I don't have?" is a dangerous question.  That other guy inevitably has something that you don't have or that he has more of.  Don't waste your time getting upset about it when it doesn't really matter.  You know what you have that he doesn't?  Your girlfriend.

Your partner's phone just rang.  Don't answer it.  Don't look at the caller ID.  Leave the room if you have to.  If the call is particularly interesting or important, they will probably tell you about it later.  Later could mean now or next week.  If it's not a notable conversation, they won't bother you with it.  Don't ask.  Just let it go.

Does your partner look hot when he or she goes out with friends?  Guess what?  They're supposed to dress up.  That's part of the fun of going out.  People like to look good whether they're single or taken, young or old.  There is no reason to try to deny them that pleasure.  It has nothing to do with trying to attract other people.  You feel good when you look good.  They feel good when they look good.  On top of that, other people probably find them attractive when they don't dress up.  You do.  Tell them how good they look.  Feel good that that sexy person is yours!  They'll be home before long.  Go do your own thing until then.  Let everything else go.

These are just a few examples of healthy ways to look at certain situations.  Every time you start to feel upset, worried, or angry because you're jealous, try and put yourself in your partner's shoes.  Would you want someone to treat you like they don't trust you?  Before you tell yourself that you really do trust them, just not everyone else in the world, stop.  Your partner is smart enough to look after themselves.  If they're not, you need to find someone else who is.  Treating your partner as if they are too stupid to make good decisions without you will likely drive them away from you.

On that note, nobody likes a ball and chain.  Making your partner feel limited is a good way to lose them.  Making them feel free and happy is a good way to make them want to come home to you every time.  You may find that by being less jealous, controlling, and possessive, your partner feels less and less like they want to get away from you, which will make your relationship more secure.  If you do decide to take control of your jealousy, it is a good idea to get support from your partner and your friends.  Tell your partner to be patient with your during this time, and maybe to be considerate about things that might make you jealous.  For example, "I'm trying to stop worrying about when you go out with your friends.  It would really help me if you could call me when you get there and tell me more or less when you're coming home so that I don't sit here wondering and letting my mind get out of control."  They will probably appreciate this.  Your friends can help you by intervening when you exhibit jealous behavior or say things to suggest that your partner is doing something they should not be.  For example, your partner is late and hasn't called.  You start complaining about it.  Your friends can stop that whole train of thought by offering reasonable explanations for why a person would forget to call, or might be having too much fun to realize what time it is, or reminding you that you didn't call last time you went out.

My final thought on the subject is that jealousy is often a learned behavior.  I know that cultures that watch a lot of soap operas tend to be more jealous.  Also, people who do shady things or hang out with sketchy people are often more suspicious of everyone.  If you are doing things you shouldn't, now is a good time to stop.  (Hint: Two of the guys that had cheated on me had been accusing me of cheating.  I wasn't, but that was my first clue that they were.)  If you do hang around with untrustworthy people, now is a good time to start deleting phone numbers.  This may sound harsh, but there are a couple of reasons.  The first is that untrustworthy means that you should not trust them.  If they'll swindle someone else, they may eventually do it to you if they haven't already.  The second is that you are probably not the only one who can see that they lie/cheat/steal.  That is a big red flag to anyone that you're dating.  It's possible that your significant other will be okay with it.  The downside of that is that, most likely, if they are okay with it it's because they are either unobservant or they are more like your friends than you realize.  In which case, that feeling of jealousy is not an irrational emotion, it's an observation.  Get rid of all of them.

Good luck!