Farmer’s Market Adventures ($20), Late October

If you love farmer’s markets, the best thing you can do is go to a variety of them. This week I went to the one in the Oak Park neighborhood in Sacramento. It’s a small, intimiate gathering. Nothing like the gigantic and rather hectic one in Downtown Sacramento. If you’ve never been to the one in downtown Sac, I’d liken it to any farmer’s market that happens in a large city. Lots of people, there’s a huge chance you’ll trip over a stroller, and tight parking spaces.

I like the one in Oak Park because of the small-town feel it has and the rich culture and diversity in the area. It reminds me of my hometown.

This week, I spent $20. A lot more than what I usually allow myself to spend, but I got a treat this time.

 

Brussels sprouts 1 lb. bag ($3.50) , plums 2.5 lb. bag ($5), and cherry tomatoes, 1 basket (1.50).

Brussels Sprouts, Plums, Cherry Tomatoes

I couldn’t resist the cherry tomatoes this week. They’re great on everything from salads, to an omelet or just eaten by itself. I’m a sucker for cherry tomatoes because it still has that tomato taste with a slight kick of sweetness.

The brussels sprouts were a must. There’s always a bag in my refrigerator. It’s great with steamed white rice and chicken for dinner.

When I buy fruit every week, I tend to go for lots of the same kind, and this time they were plums. It’s cheaper to buy in bulk in this case. This batch is really firm, so they’re great to put in a small plastic bag and throw into a backpack and head off for a busy day at school.

 

Spinach Bolani and artichoke spread from “Bolani East and West Gourmet Afghan Food” from Concord, CA.4 servings, $10 

Bolani is delicious, vegan Afgani food. I would recommend checking this out if you have not before. The artichoke  spread along with the spinach Bolani was great. There are many different kinds of Bolani, including pumpkin, and many different flavors of spread.

 

& Just for kicks, here’s my favorite brussels sprouts recipe, in the event you were looking for new ways to try it.

What you’ll need:

Brussels sprouts,  garlic, salt, pepper, olive oil, water

1. Wash your brussels sprouts and cut them in half. 

2. Bring water in a sauce pan to a boil and place them in the pan, flat side down. This will help the sprouts soften before you sauté them.  The amount of water you’ll need depends on how many brussels sprouts you make. I always measure by eye, but I make sure the water isn’t over flowing. If the sprouts are floating around the sauce pan, that’s too much water. You only need water to soften the brussels sprouts, not to cook them all the way.

3. After letting them soften, add two tablespoons of olive oil. Remember to add the oil before the water steams completely out. Otherwise, the oil hitting the small remnants of water in a hot sauce pan will cause the oil and water to start popping everywhere.

4. Add chopped garlic, salt, and pepper to taste. Let simmer until the flat side down is browed.

5. Flip each brussels sprout on it’s rounded side, let brown.

6. Remove from pan, enjoy.

To read an article I’ve written about the Oak Park farmers market, click here.

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! Nope. It’s just Candy Corn Oreos *sweet!*

In classic Oreo style, a new flavor was introduced this week just in time for Halloween. No, it’s not pumpkin flavor, or even some type of candy bar and Oreo hybrid like “fun sized Snicker Oreo” or “party sized Kit-Kat Oreo”.

It’s candy corn.

Though it’s a bit anti-climactic and leaves folks wondering why, of all candy, they would pick the one most people rarely eat.

Candy corn is the Halloween candy that inevitably lands at the bottom of the trick-or-treat candy bag that no child ever eats, and evidently is popular in the elementary school classroom for arts and crafts projects.

It’s also the candy that always seems to be floating around by itself without a wrapper, perhaps getting warm in someones pocket or clammy is someones hand.

But, the cookie version is surprisingly not too bad.

They look distinctly different than a regular Oreo. The yellow and orange cream filling is between two vanilla cookies. When the package is first opened, the aroma of intense sweet vanilla is prevalent and mouth watering.

The cookie itself tastes less like candy corn and more like the sweet vanilla smell that escapes the bag when first opened, which is what saves this cookie from being disgusting.

Nabisco comes out with many speciality or limited edition products. With so many to

choose from it’s hard to try them all, especially if consumers are trying to hold on to a shred of a balanced diet in the process.

But these ones are a definite try. They’re available in Target stores for under five bucks.

So the next time you scoff at a loose candy corn at the bottom of your trick-or-treat candy bag, remember the Oreo imitations are much better.

Notes:

The limitlesson here? It’s always fun to try out something new. I love Oreos, but I don’t ever buy them because I don’t want to over indulge. Instead, I scope them out at my friend’s or family’s houses and have one or two and call it a night. Unfortunately, their stash gets stale after a while because I’m the only one who eats em’! But, its okay to indulge. If you buy a box of these, share them with your friends and have a milk and Oreo party! 

 

Farmer’s Market Adventures: Late August 2012, $16

 

 

 

 

 

Going to the farmer’s market on Saturday mornings have become a ritual for me. I’m able to pick up the fruits and vegetables I’ll be eating for about two weeks on this one day. I make sure not to go over my $20 max and I end up leaving with some great organic eats and saving serious money too. Farmer’s markets are a great time to try out fruits and vegetables that you’ve never tried or heard of. The farmers themselves are usually happy to share some great ways to prepare their goods.

Cucumbers, heirloom tomatoes, avocados, pears, red onions, garlic, rainbow Swiss chard

This week’s spoils were $16.90, a little more than my previous visit but as long as I stay under $20, I’m okay. This week I focused on fruits and vegetables that remain firm even when ripe. Since the semester starts soon, I needed to purchase produce that can handle being in my backpack for a few hours without getting bruised, soft, and soggy. The pears and nectarines will be good for that. This week, instead of buying bok choy I went with cucumbers. They’re more versatile, can be used with a variety of meals or eaten alone, and can be eaten raw. The heirloom tomatoes were rather ripe and soft, but I love the sweet taste of this cultivar so I went with these, instead of your common shady lady variety. The red onions and garlic were a must, they’re a great addition to any meal cooked on a skillet. The rainbow Swiss chard caught my eye and I had to try it! Look at those stems!

During my last visit, I bought 2 cucumbers for $1. These are from a different farmer and they’re a bit more ripe, so I can understand why. I usually slice these up and enjoy it with tuna salad and saltine crackers. $1

Nectarines of various cultivars are abundant this season. I bought nectarines of the yellow/gold variety last time, let’s see how these compare. $3.25

I had no idea how to prepare Swiss chard when I bought them. After a quick Google search I was delighted to learn that they cook as easily as spinach does, but the colorful stems must be cooked longer. I don’t think they taste as colorful as they appear but I thought it was worth a try. $2.50

I remember being 7 and bringing a pear to school. I forgot about it in my backpack for 3 or 4 days. It wasn’t pretty. But I’m looking to make new memories with pears now.$2.40

They were rather ripe when I bought them but I couldn’t resist. Next to cherry tomatoes, heirlooms are the best. $2.50

Last time I only purchased 1 from this farmer, with the intention of trying it out first. Now, I love haas avocados. $3.75

I love to add onions and garlic with scrambled eggs. Delicious. I purchased 3 onions, 1 isn’t pictured. All of this was $1.50

Does anyone know any good Swiss chard recipes? Please share below! What are some of your farmer’s market experiences.

The ‘you’ in high school knew more than you thought

In my senior year, my physics teacher made us write a letter to our future selves. I mean this quite literally. We wrote the advice we would give ourselves in five years, wrote down the names of a few good friends, and sealed the envelope. She promised to mail it to our home addresses in five years. It will be 5 years in May 2013.

My first and favorite guitar, 2008

Greenday is still one of my favorite bands. Photo taken in 2007.

I don’t remember what I wrote. But I do remember that at 18 I was fearless– within that stereotypical high school framework, that is. Also, one of the people I named as a good friend is now my boyfriend. But anyway, by stereotypical framework I mean there was an acceptable way to dress, an acceptable way to wear ones’ hair, and even acceptable ways to think and view the world. None of which I paid attention to.

The person who I was then is no longer the one I am now. Life experiences change who we are. Some ways that I’ve changed? I think about things before they come flying out of my mouth, my teenage dreams evolved into goals, some of which, like getting a degree, moving away from home, becoming a freelance writer, are now full fledged attainable goals or perhaps achievements already. My world view has expanded immensely, and I am a deeper critical thinker. I’ve explored religion and spirituality on a different level. I discovered I have been a feminist all along. I’ve explored love at new heights. And, I even dress differently–to name a few. I just grew up.

Though I’m an adult now, there are a few things that my 18 year old alter ego called Nes used to do that I aspire to hold on to or even bring back into my current consciousness. I always thought that the older we get, the wiser we get, but the me in high school actually already knew a lot about life.

1. Dance like no one is watching, sing like no one is listening, speak your mind like you’re brilliant. Man, if only you could hear half of the $#!t that came out of my mouth back then! My most memorable moment was reading a scathing poem at a poetry slam (and later at a local poetry cafe) about my former employer. People thought it was so ‘sick’, and I felt pretty awesome about outing them. Looking back, it wasn’t the best decision because I basically ousted myself from ever working there again. Not that it matters since I hated it anyway, but I’m not a fan of burning bridges. I do want to summon some of that fearlessness today though. I can’t think of how many times I’ve hushed myself in my Journalism/Women’s Studies classes because I didn’t want to cause an uproar or didn’t want to argue, even if I thought my perspective was valid. Limitlesson 1: Never speaking your mind makes your thoughts and ideas remain stagnant! What use are they then?

2. You’re probably going to fail, but do it anyway. I never thought I could teach myself how to play the guitar. I never thought I would make it into Journalism school.  I never thought I would move out of my home town. I never thought I could lose weight (I used to be obese from childhood to about age 15–no joke–and I lost about 100 lbs. Then lost 15 more pounds after high school). I never thought I would ever fall in love. I did all of those, even though I thought, in a very silly way, none would ever happen. But, I have had some setbacks. I was not able to go to Journalism school right out of college. I still have not published a book or work on filmmaking. I have not written as many short stories or poems as I have hoped (yet). Point being, sometimes you fail, sometimes you don’t, there no real way of telling so just do it anyway. Limitlesson 2: What’s the worst you can lose?

3. Wear a clown suit. Dare people to laugh. Okay, maybe not a clown suit per se, but wear what you want, listen to the music that you want, be into quirky things. I used to bleach my hair then dye it red (I now know that’s never a good idea for my hair type..oh well..), wore band t-shirts, had awkward piercings, weird jeans, busted shoes, listened to all sorts of music, wrote odd poetry. I didn’t care what people thought of it because it made me happy–truly happy, not just in that weird artsy-fartsy kid kind of way. Though my fashion and music choices have evolved, I do admire Nes for just doing what she felt like. Limitlesson 3: Just do YOUWhat else matters besides that?

Yes, still pretty silly in 2012

Me enjoying my new specs and favorite floral scarf in 2012.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In closing, I know my list is rather simplistic, but after seeing a few old high school pictures while raiding a friend’s Facebook photo album and putting on “Taking Back Sunday” radio on Pandora, it brought me right back to high school. It reminded me of a few little things I will never forget about myself, things that made me smile.

We all have fond high school memories of ourselves. Please share yours below!

3 things everyone can take away from being broke in college

Everyone has a “broke in college” story. The concept of being broke in college transcends time, unfortunately. All students come from a variety of life experiences that would make some more broke than others. Some people have financial support from family, others don’t. Others qualify for financial aid, lots of folks do not. Mostly every student has a loan. Which is only money you have to pay back later. With those, you’re double broke. I firmly dislike having little or no money, but after conceptualizing the matter a bit, there’s actually a lot that can be taken away from the *temporary* situation.

1. Waiting makes it sweeter. Remember being a kid and wanting that ONE TOY and begging every family member for it once you got tired of asking your parents? For me it was an Easy Bake Oven. And as far as Hasbro goes,  it was probably really good

Literally the contents of my wallet

gendered advertizing. Dunno why I wasn’t going for the Lincoln Logs. I wish I did looking back in hindsight. But, in any case, when I did eventually get that Easy Bake Oven. Man oh man, I used it until the thing stopped working. I baked every type of delicious flour based confection known to humanity. I know that if I got it right when I wanted it, instead of years later, I wouldn’t have appreciated it as much. I would have grown tired of it. When I waited for it, I realized I really wanted it. When I realized I really waited it, there was nothing that could stop me from getting it. When I got it, I appreciated it. My life was better because of it.
OK, I know it was just an Easy Bake Oven, BUT, I use this simplistic analogy to help get me though times when I particularly hate being broke or want out of a particular life situation. For example, when I realized I wanted to explore photography as a teen, I used the same $99 point-and-shoot Kodak camera for years and took college level photography class before I actually got a DSLR. Another example–I worked tons of odd jobs in high school and at the start of college–as a smoothie maker, a make-up counter “beauty specialist”, a Halloween costume “aficionado”,  and even a fry cook– before I landed a job at the non-profit I wanted to work at so badly. And another example–I’ve known since kindergarten I wanted to go to college. I waited 12 years and switched my major many times within those years before I actually had the privilege of getting here. Once I got here, I maintained a 3.8 GPA and never missed a college class I honestly didn’t have to. I’m also active on campus, and I transferred from a community college to a university (far away from home, mind you) to save thousands of dollars (I’m a stressed out college student..I’ll save that for another blog,).  Limitlesson 1: Wait for it, live without it for a while, and appreciate it when it finally arrives. Easier said than done, I know. Can you think of moments in your own life where waiting made the end result better?

2. Lack of funds makes you creative, efficient. Can’t afford to get your car oil changed? Have a friend teach you how he or she does it (I don’t know how to do this yet, but my boyfriend does). Can’t ever afford to eat out now-a-days? Learn to cook. Don’t know how to cook? Connect with friends, co-workers, family–make a day out of it, build community, learn the tricks of the cooking trade from the skilled ones in your life. Love getting facials, eyebrow waxing, mani/pedis? Learn to do it yourself! (If

In 3rd grade someone told me that Otter Pops only cost 2 cents if you buy them separately. Obviously a lie. But if it were true, I could buy a ton of those.

anyone wants their fingernails painted by a lightweight pro, hit me up, for real!). Want to save gas, or not buy a parking pass at school? Walk. Carpool. Bike. Bus. Scooter. Rollerblade. Skateboard. Want to save money on meals? Cook it yourself, hit up local farmers markets, share your food with your broke friends and vice versa (and build community and contribute to it, too). Wanna watch a movie but the theaters are too damn expensive? Rent one for free from the library. Too much free time without the excess dough? Read a book, write a blog (he he..), volunteer in the community, watch that one movie you haven’t seen yet (or the one you love over and over again), call a loved one, text a friend, bake a cake (in your 90′s Easy Bake!!!), finish that book you were writing (or thinking about writing), veg out on cool YouTube programming (may I recommend The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl or DeanLeysen?), discover cool websites (StumbleUpon, this cool list on About.com, TED, or RadioLab?). Work-out, lift weights. Explore podcasts on iTunes. Start of Vblog. Do yoga and meditate (my favorite!). LAUGH! SMILE! There’s tons of stuff to do.

Oh, don’t have an internet connection? Go to a Library. Visit a Friend’s house. There’s also your parents house. Limitlesson 2: Build connections, have fun and focus on

3.The important things in life. I found that when I’m not worrying about buying things or going to expensive places, I can focus on the present moment. For those of you who haven’t read Eckhart Tolle, the present moment is a pretty cool place to be. It helps you focus, it helps you appreciate life. It reminds you of reality. Remember that feeling the Easy Bake Oven gave me before I even really knew how to even read? That feeling of pure childlike bliss that wasn’t tainted by want, or vanity, or worry, or non forgiveness? That’s the place I want to be. That’s the state of mind I want to be in when his *temporary* broke situation is finally in the past, after I finish this B.A. in Journalism and B.S. in Women’s Studies. By then I think I would have learned the real value of a dollar. Limitlesson 3: What the heck really matters to you? Find out!

Maybe we can all learn something from being broke. Being broke isn’t specific to being in college. Imagine being in financial hardships when entire people rely on you, when your way of life is threatened, or when there’s no where else to turn. Some have been through these, others have not. I’m not going to pretend to have the answers. But, sometimes taking a step back, breathing, looking at the larger picture, and taking it day by day helps a lot. For now.

 
Vanessa

College Cooking 101: The Avomelet

I’ve learned a lot about cooking while being in college. Because I’m on a limited budget, I make sure that:

A. I buy raw fruits, vegetables, and grains because it’s cheaper that way and I learn how to cut, cook, and prepare it. The lessons don’t end in the classroom folks. Plus, buying foods that are pre-made like dinners in the frozen food isle are often high in salt and have preservatives.

B. I have a supply of raw fruits and veggies to make meals more versatile.  I can adjust recipes based on the foods I currently have. Sometimes it’s hard to always have the exact same ingredients all the time.

C: When I cook, I try to keep the fruits and veggies in their original state if possible. I’ve read in many publications that eating fruits and veggies raw helps preserve all the good-for-you stuff.

Using some of the ingredients I bought from the farmers market last week, I’ve created my favorite breakfast concoction, The Avomelet. Now, I’m no cook. But I do try and make meals that will satisfy me, that’s nutritious, that gets me the most bang for my buck, is easy and fast to make, and is interchangeable so that each recipe will work no matter what ingredients I might have in the fridge that day.

The Avomelet

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 10 minutes

2 eggs
1/2 avocado
1/3 tomato
1/5 onion
palm full of cheese
salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, onion powder to taste.

You’ll notice I have interesting ways of measuring things. Since I have your average college student kitchen, I literally only have the basics: forks, spoons, knives (you get the picture). So, I measure everything by eye. But, have fun with this recipe. I did. You can interchange the tomato and onion with whatever you want. Mushrooms? Green onion? Pineapple? Some folks might not like the raw onion in the omelet because of its strong taste. I just had an onion in the fridge and wanted to use it. And the seasonings? Swap out red pepper flakes and onion powder with your favorite if you like.

1. Scramble your eggs with salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and onion powder. Set aside.

2. Chop the onions and tomatoes, set aside.


3. Slice the avocado in half. Wrap up the unused half and refrigerate.

4. Peel the avocado half and slice vertically, set aside.


5. Pre-heat a non-stick pan with canola oil. Pour the scrambled eggs.

6. Don’t mix it, let it cook like a pancake. Let it cook long enough for the top half to begin to cook, too.

7. Add the onions, tomatoes, and cheese.


8. Fold it in half and let it cook for a few minutes more.


9. Remove it from the pan and place on plate. Add avocado on top. Enjoy.

Turkey bacon anyone?

Any cool egg recipes to share, please comment below!

 

 

Farmer’s Market Adventures: Late July 2012, $13

Strawberries. They're so delicious when they're in season. From a Bay Area farmers market in 2010.

Strawberries. They’re so delicious when they’re in season. From a Bay Area farmers market in 2010.

Sometimes farmer’s markets can get a bad rap. I’ve heard people complain about how expensive organic produce can be. I remember taking a trip down to Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco a year and a half ago on a Saturday afternoon.While on my way back onto the ferry, I was lured into a small farmers market just a short walk away from the dock. The fruit looked, for lack of a better descriptive phrase, damn good. I’m a sucker for any fruit that is bright in color. Peaches? I’m there. Apples? I’m there. Strawberries? I’m SO there. It was a hot day, I was slightly hungry and fruit sounded good. I don’t remember how much I paid exactly, but for a few pieces of fruit I think it was $7 or $8. My memory is foggy now that a year has passed. But I do remember how shocked I was.

After that experience I started frequenting the local farmers market back home with my mother every Saturday. That’s when I learned how to start shopping smart. I like to think that I’m a pretty good deal spotter now, but I’m probably not as skilled as my mom (How many of you can relate to having a deal spotting, sale finding momma? Haha). But in any case, I found that the produce at that farmer’s market was cheaper than one one in San Francisco. I suspect that since Fisherman’s Wharf gets a lot of foot traffic and is a tourist spot (and, I should mention there probably wasn’t fruit that fresh and delicious for miles), prices may have been rather high.
Once I started shopping and cooking on my own, I developed a taste for the produce that I liked to eat. Lucky for me, once I moved out and currently attend university, I found a farmers market not too far away from where I live with great deals. I’m talkin’, under $20 deals that will feed you for more than two weeks (well, I suspect it’ll last me that long, based upon past experiences). I’m no farmers market/organic produce aficionado, but I believe I’m quickly becoming one. I’m no cook either, but every time I buy something new, I learn new ways to prepare it.

Why I enjoy the markets so much

One reason why I love to buy organic produce at the farmers market is because I, like many people, don’t sit well knowing that most of the time non organic produce can contain chemicals that are bad for ones health later on down the road. Also, buying from farmer’s markets supports local farmers, of course.

Among other things? I love the energy that comes from them. I’m usually there early in the morning when the air is crisp (back in the Bay Area it was rather crisp and cold, haha). Everyone is in a spectacular mood, and evidently,  buying spectacular produce. It’s also a cultural experience. Every market is different than the last, but at some there are musicians performing lovely

Heirloom tomatoes! My favorite next to your average cherry tomato. From a Bay Area farmers market in 2010.

Heirloom tomatoes! My favorite next to your average cherry tomato. From a Bay Area farmers market in 2010.

music and vendors selling more than just “produce”, i.e. flowers, organic eggs, bread, artwork, books, hand-made jewelry, for example. You can’t get that at a supermarket. Back home vendors also sold kettle corn and fantastic BBQ lunches right out of a lovely food truck. Local organizations also took the liberty to lobby for their causes, some community members sat at tables encouraging people to register to vote, and others came to help raise funds for community projects.  It’s also spectacular way to build community and a way to meet other folks who love organic produce, too. Where ever a farmers market is, the stores and shops near by also get business too, a lovely bonus for small business owners. It’s also great talking to farmers who are very knowledgeable in the foods that they sell. I remember my mom choppin’ it up with the organic egg guy (have you ever tried salted egg with rice and diced tomatoes seasoned with salt and pepper? So good). I always enjoyed talking to the cabbage lady. She always told interesting stories about the night before when she prepared it for her own family and the way she cooked it, too.

For my mom, it’s a way for her to find organic Filipino vegetables and foods that can’t be found fresh (if at all) at local supermarkets. As for myself, I learn to try new fruits and vegetables—as the farmers will only provide what’s in season, naturally. Today I bought Chinese Broccoli, or Kai-Lan. Since I love leafy green vegetables like spinach and bok choy (which I also bought today), I want to give it a try. I’ll let you guys now how I prepare it and how it turns out!

What I bought today

The lovely assortment of colors makes me hungry just looking at it.

The lovely assortment of colors makes me hungry just looking at it!

For $13: A head of baby bok-choy, romaine lettuce, cucumbers, nectarines, peaches, avocado.

For $13: chinese broccoli, baby bok choy, romaine lettuce, cucumbers, nectarines, peaches, avocado.

1 single avocado for $1.50 Avocado. Fairly priced, I think. This would be the first time I've ever bought one! The nice women who sold it to me reccomended that I try it as follows: 1 toasted piece of bread of my choosing, spread mayo, add diced tomatoes, and 1 sliced avocado. I think I'll try that! She also suggested I try it over my eggs.

1 single avocado for $1.50. Fairly priced, I think. This would be the first time I’ve ever bought one! The nice women who sold it to me recommended that I try it as follows: 1 toasted piece of bread of my choosing, spread on mayo to taste, add diced tomatoes, and 1 sliced avocado. I think I’ll try that! She also suggested I try it over my eggs.

1 head of baby bok-choy for $2. I saw another farmer had it for $1.50 later on. I love to simmer them with sesame oil and chopped onions with salt, pepper, and onion powder.

Baby bok-choy. I love to simmer them with sesame oil and chopped onions with salt, pepper, and onion powder.

1 head of baby bok choy for $2. I saw another farmer had it for $1.50 later on. I love to simmer them with sesame oil and chopped onions with salt, pepper, and onion powder.

Your average cucumbers. 2 for $1. My grandmother used to love to prepare this: Mix a little vinegar, olive oil, soy sauce, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Slice the cumbers (thin, but not too thin), let them soak for a few seconds. Then enjoy. Ahh, the memories.

Your average cucumbers. 2 for $1. My grandmother used to love to prepare this: Mix a little vinegar, olive oil, soy sauce, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Slice the cucumbers (thin, but not too thin), let them soak for a few seconds. Then enjoy. Ahh, the memories.

Nectarines. 5 of these were $2.50. I used to call nectarines non-fuzzy peaches as a kid. Haha.

Nectarines. 5 of these were $2.50. I used to call nectarines non-fuzzy peaches as a kid. Haha.

Ahh. Fuzzy Peaches. 5 of these for $2.50. I wish I remembered how easily brused they can get.

Ahh. Fuzzy Peaches. 5 of these for $2.50. I wish I remembered how easily bruised they can get.

Chinese Broccoli, $2. I've read simmering them in sesame oil and oyster sauces is the preferred way to enjoy them. I can't wait to try it!

Chinese Broccoli, $2. I’ve read simmering them in sesame oil and oyster sauce is the preferred way to enjoy them. I can’t wait to try it!

Romaine Lettuce. $1.50. I needed a break from spinach salad this week.

Romaine Lettuce. $1.50. I needed a break from spinach salad this week.

Say that again!

                                                                                          Say that again!

But I want to know your farmer’s market experiences. What are some produce that grows naturally in your area? How do you cook it? What else goes on at your farmer’s market besides, well, produce selling?


Hey, all contents of this blog post are my original work. Thanks for not reproducing it without my permission.

“Fit On A Budget Series”: Does P90X work well for college kids?

For those who don’t already know, P90X is a 90 day work-out program that can be completed at home. It’s gained notoriety through its many infomercials and widely publicized success stories. For anyone who wants to get fit quickly, the program is very tempting, as Beach Body markets this program as one that will get you ripped quickly. According to the many success stories that can be found online, it appears that most obtain desirable results after just 90 days of use.

This program can be very convenient for many people. But, would P90X work well for the average college student? Each student has many factors to consider that some, perhaps adult home owners with full-time jobs– wouldn’t have to consider. In this blog I attempt to outline these differences and present some pros and cons to help you decided if P90X is right for you.

I believe P90x may work for the average college student. But it depends on the college student of course! Read the important factors below that I based on my own experiences that I believe others should consider as well.

“The 5 important factors to consider”

1. Do you have a large enough workout space? This one can be a toughie if you live in a small dorm or if you live in a house/apartment with many people and share a room.

You’ll need a place to:

a) kick and punch in every direction (Kenpo X, Cardio X)
b) “swing kick” over a chair (Plyometrics, Cardio X)
c) lean against a wall  (Legs and Back, Shoulders and Arms)
d) lay out yoga mat (Yoga X, Core Synergistics, Ab Ripper X, Cardio X, X Stretch)
e) do push-ups (Chest and Back, Chest Shoulders, & Triceps)
f) do pull-ups (Chest and Back, Legs and Back, Back and Biceps)
g) store a weight set or resistance bands (all)

2. Is it conducive to your budget to purchase the P90X system and equipment?

Most college students are on a strict budget that includes money for books, school supplies, food, and clothing–basically, the essentials. Know that this workout system comes with some upfront costs.

a) The P90X system goes for 3 payments of $39.95 on beachbody.com (I purchased mines from Amazon.com).
b) The average weight set can be relatively cheap to quite pricey depending on the brand and weight (I borrowed a set).
c) The pull-up bar can range anywhere between $19.95 to upwards or $40.
d) Resistance bands (if you chose to use these INSTEAD of the pull-up bar and weights, it can be quite affordable! The DVDs allow for reasonable accommodations for this method).

Keep in mind that once you pay for all of this up front, it’s yours for life. You’ll always have a set of weights, a DVD program to use, and a pull-up bar. As the product advertises, it’s your own “personal” gym. If you decide a gym membership isn’t really your thing, you’ll always have this at your disposal.

3. Can you make the time commitment? For a busy college student, setting aside an hour and a half a day can literally be the difference between making it to class on time, finishing a paper, or a restful night’s sleep. But, I would say daily exercise is necessary for everyone anyway. So, whether or not the P90X method is best for you, setting time aside for your health is always a good idea.

4. Can you commit to healthy eating habits? The DVD series comes with nutrition guide. I chose not to follow the nutrition guide, but rather go by the USDA’s My Plate (formerly the food pyramid). There’s nothing like wasting a ton of time and money on a program being stunted by an unhealthy lifestyle. “Healthy eating habits” will mean different things to different people. Make sure you keep in mind healthy eating is paramount for this series.

5. Can you commit 90 days? The program is designed to go for 90 days, so you may as well commit to it for that long! There are plenty of other DVDs on the market that can satisfy your needs if a 90 commitment is not right for you. If you’re paying full price for P90X and all of the expenses it comes with, make it worth the money you spent.

The bottom line: Based upon my experience with the program,  it did help me become more fit. I did not loose tons of weight or gained insane amounts of muscle (I’m still in the day 70-80 range, though. Not done yet!). It worked for my tight college student budget because I considered it an investment–I shelled out the money upfront knowing that I was going to stay committed and use it for life. Sure, I’m still paying some of it off, but I’m doing it knowing that I’m using it for everything it’s worth. It’s convenient for me because I can do my workout at home and  I don’t need to pay a gym membership every month. If I’m studying in my room all day, I can take a quick break to workout, shower, then get right back on schedule.

The limitlesson I got from this experience is that choosing to get fit isn’t about how it makes you “look” on the outside, but how healthy you’re getting on the inside. I didn’t go into this wanting to look like the incredibly ripped people on the DVD cover. I went into this knowing that at the end of the 90 days, I would be 90 days more healthy, and that’s all I wanted. The only expectation I had was that I wanted to start a workout program that would get me excited about being active again, which is what it did for me. I think that getting past the idea of “working out to get hot” and working towards “working out for a longer and healthier life” is beneficial. Working out and being healthy isn’t about instant gratification or wanting quick results. It’s a journey! Once we get to that point, it will be less about finding that “perfect workout program” and more about making lifestyle changes that make us stronger, healthier, and happier.

Vanessa

Coming soon- My P90X story

Dealing with adult acne in college

Film, Miss Representation---an analysis of how the media effects women today.

Film, Miss Representation—an analysis of how the media effects women today.

There’s no other way to phrase it. Acne sucks. If you’re like me, you’ve had acne since you were a tween and still struggle with it now as an adult. My life since I graduated from high school in 2008 has been consumed with the idea of “controlling” break-outs, rather than appreciating my skin!

I’ve always felt that being in college meant that I am now a “grown up” and dealing with pimples was something teenagers only had to deal with. Of course, I was mistaken. Most medical articles about acne will state that people of varying ages deal with acne.

Now, I’m all about loving and accepting one’s self! It took me a while to accept this idea– I was critical of my physical appearance for a long time (which shouldn’t be much of a surprise for any girl growing up today). Many blame the media (movies, TV, ads) for the distorted perception women have about physical appearances.  There’s no doubt that seeing expertly made-up and Photoshopped folks on TV and in magazines growing up may take a toll on one’s psyche. What adds to this conundrum is seeing ads and commercials claiming that the answer to getting rid of those pesky red bumps is through over the counter medications. No only are we obsessed with looking like an unattainable ideal… we learn that we can get it through spending our money.

Now that I’ve experienced acne through my teenage years and now my adult years, I’ve come to learn a lot from it! Believe it or not…positive things!

Jean Killbourn's"Killing Us Softly"---A film on the damaging effects of ads on women.

Jean Killbourn’s”Killing Us Softly”—A film on the damaging effects of ads on women.

I was told early on that acne was bad because it’s “unsightly”. But, I want to challenge that notion. I believe that coining acne as bad within that framework can lead to skin complexes in young people–as it did for me. From what I’ve learned from dealing with this for so long is that paying attention to acne is important because it may be an indicator that something is going awry within the body. After scaling the internet and reading just about every article about the topic, one common thread that I’ve seen though out is the over production of sebum in the skin can cause acne when it is combined with dead skin cells and bacteria. It has nothing to do with eating too much chocolate or perhaps not washing your face enough or with the right products. Other sources claim that hormone imbalances may cause acne outbreaks too. To keep it short and sweet, the “causes” may be endless–and many of the causes seem to be literally out of the control of the person.

Whatever the cause, I’ve learned a few limitlessons though this experience.

1. There’s no point obsessing over it! You sort of get to a point where you realize that it’s difficult to pin point the exact reason WHY they’re there in the first place, especially after you’ve tried every product in the acne isle at Target AND saw a physician about it. As long as your staying positive, following Dr.’s orders, staying hopeful, and doing something about it, in time it’ll get better.

a) But if you must obsess… (as I do sometimes), there is a trick that I’ve learned to help make it less noticeable. I get my breakouts along my jawline and my checks. Being that I sport curly large hair, wearing my hair down and around my face makes them not noticeable at all. When I used to get them on my forehead as a teenager, I rocked bangs. I’ve read that having hair on or around the face region might contribute to acne, but for me it has not. Concealing it isn’t a testament to how I feel its “ugly” or “unsightly”. It simply helps me focus on LIFE more so that I’m not focused on…pimples! But, I do long for the day when I can rock a ponytail again!

2. Acne doesn’t define who you are as a person. Try this: make a list of all the things you are. When I did this, I wrote:

Nowhere on this list did I include “acne sufferer…”. That would just be silly wouldn’t it? I sort of giggle when I even think about it. After internalizing who I AM and stopped feeling sad about a temporary condition, I felt better about it. And, at the same time, I felt like people noticed it LESS when I thought about it LESS. Funny how that works, huh?

3. Do try to figure out what causes it for you. I’ve read that acne can be a very “individualized” condition. Something that works for one person may not work for another! I forget where I read this, but I really do believe it. While, for example, my sister can wash her face with regular bar soap and water twice a day, I can almost guarantee that if I did the same I’d be a pizza face by the next week.

After really observing myself for the past 3 months, I noticed some patterns.

a) Working up a sweat at least 6 times a week helps! (doing aerobic exercise, lifting weights. And might I say, it helps you stay fit, too!)

b) Do see a Dr. Using prescription strength medication can work wonders once Oxy and Neturogena stop working on their own. I found that using over the counter products with prescription strength makes a difference. Dr.’s can also assess what kind of acne you have and address it accordingly.

c) I avoid milk. After reading report after report about how milk, specifically skim milk, can cause acne flair ups, I finally tried cutting it out of my diet. Low and behold, my acne cleared up something FIERCE afterwards.

d) I go easy on my make-up. I realized that most of the time I used make-up (mainly foundation) was to cover up the acne. Even though I used products that “doesn’t clog pores” I almost always got a new pimple. I use it sparingly now.

e) I make sure I eat healthy. Many sources will tell you that what you eat may not have a strong correlation with the occurrence of acne. I believe this, because I don’t think having a piece of chocolate or a slice of pizza will do anyone any harm.

However, I do believe that acne may also occur if one leads an unhealthy lifestyle overall. As a teenager, I never really paid attention to if I was eating enough fruits and vegetables. I probably didn’t pay attention to if I was enjoying a balanced diet or not. Now that I do, I’ve noticed that the overall health of my skin (including the acne) has gotten better. Not only that, but I feel so much healthier and better as a whole, too. A great starting point for me was the USDA’s My Plate.

4. Be patient with the scars. I still struggle with this one. I feel so proud of myself when the pimples go away, and it feels very annoying when there’s a dark mark left over afterwards. I’ve read that it takes a while for them to fade, but they eventually do. (Once I get to the point to where the flareup’s are gone and completely under control, I’ll consider using a gentle make-up from time to time to help them blend into my complexion a bit more sometimes).

5. Use sunscreen. I was advised by a physician that using sunscreen is not only healthy for the skin but helps with the fading away of scars. (It worked for me!)

At the end of the day, it’s not about how it makes you “look”, its about figuring out why it’s happening, and making sure that you are healthy inside and out. I’ll keep everyone updated on my progress! Good luck!

Vanessa
also–some articles to come:

Staying fit on a budget: The pros and cons of the P90X method,Healthy dinners for 2 with less than a handful of ingredients, The perfect healthy trail mix to keep hunger at bay that you can make at home.

Health: Skin products that work, Acne updates

Why start a blog?

The idea of blogging is nothing new to me! I’ve been blogging for a long time. My first blog ever was when Xanga happened (and then ceased to happen.. haha). Ever since then I’ve always had this inkling to continue writing online.

So why start another blog? Since I had a major life change (moving away from my hometown at 21, transferring to a university from a small-town community college, and well, growing up), I started having the feeling like I wanted to share some of the lessons that I’ve learned thus far.

My perspective? I’m a regular girl from the SF Bay Area that recently moved out to Sacramento. I come from a muti-cultural background and I’m passionate about writing, current events, and how to live a fruitful and enlightened existence (If you can’t already tell, I’m a Journalism major).

Among the stuff I’ll be talking about? Cooking, technology, health, self acceptance,  beauty, apartment living, politics, relationships, and spirituality. Of course, I’m not the authority on any of these matters. But, I’ll be reflecting on them from the perspectives of, well, myself.

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My name is Vanessa, and I’m going to share my life experiences and its limitlessons.