Monday, September 28, 2015

Ruth's Rules for Cooking

Rule 1: Be smart! Avoid Pinterest. The kitchen's confusing enough without getting computers involved.

Rule 2: Be prepared! Make a list, shop, come home, unload groceries, spread out items, realize you forgot key ingredients; make a new list, shop, come home, unload groceries, spread out items, realize you forgot still more key ingredients; cry; have a coffee; head back to store. Repeat as needed.

Rule 3: Be considerate! Set off a preemptive fire alarm to alert housemates and neighbors as to what sort of afternoon they might expect.

Rule 4: Be simple! The fewer kitchen tools you have, the less of a mess you'll have at the end. If this means you have to wash and re-use the same pan three times during a single cooking session or use a screw driver to stab open the top of a can, so be it. Just approach the whole situation as a character-building exercise. 

Rule 5: Be careful! Use scissors instead of knives. They cut just as well and lead to fewer sliced fingers.

Rule 6: Be resourceful! Use chopsticks instead of tongs. They're cheaper to keep in ready supply and generally have better grip.

Rule 7: Be efficient! Layer on the tinfoil. Life's too short to scrub pans.

Rule 8: Be safe! Invest in cut-resistant glovesflame-retardant aprons, and a pair of stylish onion-cutting goggles. (Bonus: it's a cooking outfit and a Halloween costume all rolled into one!)

Rule 9: Be decadent! Pile on garlic. Add more onion. Slather on the sauces. Brine everything. Double the cheese. Dip it in chocolate. When in doubt, add butter.

Rule 10: Be circumspect! You never know if your meals are going to work out until it's almost too late; best keep a store-bought lasagna in the freezer, just in case.

Monday, September 21, 2015

How to Star in Your Own Life

Many people dream of fame: imagining what it would be like to star in a movie, a show, or a reality program. Although few will accomplish personal acclaim, many are already well on their way to starring in their own lives.

You could be next. 

How to Star in Your Own Life:

Make a spectacle of yourself. No matter where you go, make an entrance. Dress in bright colors, tease out your hair, and blast your own personal theme music. Make yourself impossible to be missed. Talk fast, laugh loudly, and dance like everybody's watching--because they are. And why wouldn't they? You're a star.

Do what you want. Ignore signs, cut corners, jump lines, and enter through the exit. Drive up the off ramp. Take a thousand items through the express lane. Do what you want. You're the star!

Speak your mind. No matter what you have to say, your opinion is automatically valid. Whether informed or uninformed, you're still a star; therefore your point counts. And don't worry about whose turn it is to talk. If you're a star, it's always your turn.

Be self-absorbed. Remember, life's all about you. Knowing this will make it easy to turn every conversation back to yourself--the only real worthy topic anyway. If you find this habit acts as a conversation killer, don't be alarmed. That just means it's working! Speak your wisdom into the silence.    

Build yourself up. The simplest way to accomplish this, of course, is to talk others down--if you deign to notice them at all. Be sure not only to point out their weaknesses, but also to highlight your own strengths in direct comparison--the more publicly, the better. Once others seem small, you will appear all the more glorious. Revel in the glow. 

Be insular. Above all, keep yourself in a world apart. Proximity to the masses endangers nearly every point on this list. The less you mix with the plebes, the less you're in danger of being influenced by their commonness.  

Finally, if you want to star in your own life, you will need to practice constant vigilance. Guard against the Three C's: Consideration, Companionship, and Compassion. These deadly traits will ruin everything you've worked for, rendering you indistinguishable from any other member of the Great Unwashed. 

So keep your head in the game, and don't let the hate get you down. 

You're a star!

Act like one. 

Monday, September 14, 2015

How to Drive Like a Citizen of the World

If you're going to share the open roads with others (and let's face it, what choice do you have?), then it's important to consider the facts. According to recent statistics, road crashes cost individual countries between 1-2% of their GDP annually. No matter where you're from, that's a lot of dough.

Since we're all in this together, it's best that we all learn not just to be good drivers within our own home cultures but also to drive like citizens of the world.

How to Drive Like a Citizen of the World:

Step One: Crank that diesel. Although U.S. consumption of diesel fuel is expected to peak in 2015, global consumption continues to rise, especially in developing nations. So roll down those windows, breathe in deeply, and enjoy that heavy, oily smell.

Step Two: Pick a lane. Left, right; who cares? There's really no right or wrong on this one (although you try telling that to people in Commonwealth countries). To avoid argument, I say we all adopt a more laissez faire attitude and detach ourselves from the concept of lanes altogether. In many countries, the prevailing thought seems to be that as long as your vehicle is not currently in the process of crashing into another vehicle, you're doing fine.

Step Three: Understand the art of honking. Inside the United States, a honk can mean one of two things, neither of them complementary. Citizens of the world, however, have elevated honking to an art. If you're going to drive like a citizen of the world, you must remember that a honk can mean so much more than just "Get out of my way." It can also say "Passing on the left!" or "Just a reminder that I'm back here!" or "What a beautiful day!" or "Good job avoiding that obstacle!" or "Better slow down: someone just fell off the back!"

Step Four: Make way for chickens. And goats and pigs and entire herds of sheep and potholes bigger than your home town. Make way for bicycles in the street, taxis in the bike lanes, and busses up on the sidewalks. You just never know, so it's best to look alive!

Step Five: When in doubt, gun it. No matter where you're from or where you've been, learning the confidence to drive assertively will help you claim your place as kings and queens of the open roads. Remembering this underlying principle is the crowning achievement of driving like a citizen of the world.

So what are you waiting for? Crank that diesel, slide into traffic, lay one hand on the horn, keep a weather eye open, and push the gas pedal all the way down.

Watch the world's highways roll out in welcome.

Monday, September 7, 2015

How to Lose Weight in Four Easy Steps

Who among us couldn't stand to lose a few pounds--or a few dozen? The good news is that by following these four easy steps, you'll be on your way to a smaller pant size in no time.

How to Lose Weight in Four Easy Steps:

Step One: Eat all the snacks in your house. That way they'll be gone and will no longer pose a temptation. As an added bonus, you'll be headed into this adventure feeling full instead of hungry, meaning that you're less likely to shipwreck your diet.

Step Two: Immediately sit down and make a plan. Don't get up until you have mapped out a full weight-loss regimen. This process may take a while, since you'll have to do a lot of research. Make sure you're sitting somewhere comfortable.

Step Three: Join a gym with a cafe or smoothie bar. Good nutrition is important. Make sure you're getting plenty of it!

Step Four: Save your energy for your workouts. There's a reason it's called working out. It's challenging stuff! That's why between workouts, you should be sure to rest up. Sleep in, lie down with a book, take egregious naps. That way when the time comes to burn out at the gym, you'll have the strength you need to get it done. 

Of course, the last time I needed to lose weight, I had no idea it would be this simple (since I hadn't yet written this post and therefore had no idea where to turn for advice). Instead, I fell back on the old weight-loss two-step: exercising more while eating healthier food. It seemed to work, but what do I know? 

I'm a writer, not a nutritionist. 


Special thanks to Bethany, who helped me brainstorm this post and is also the most long-suffering kickboxing partner ever.