What Does Self-Care Look Like To You?

Self-care seems like a buzzword, but it is an important concept. I think the pandemic has forced us to spend more time with ourselves, and we’ve realized that maybe we weren’t caring for ourselves as well as we should be. And of course for parents, people with demanding jobs, or people with limited resources, self-care is often something set aside.

Self Care GIF.

I feel like I’ve been talking about Instagram a lot on my blog, but some of the stuff I see on there fascinates me. Maybe it’s just the algorithm, but lately I’ve seen a lot of content about self-care. Only I don’t really agree with what I see. Instagram says self-care is making protein smoothies at 6am and writing in a journal and using 14 skincare products on your face at night. I do none of that.

To me, self-care is having hobbies. It’s having a creative outlet. It’s having friends and healthy relationships. It’s learning how to be nice to yourself. It’s doing things that make you happy and not following what others think. It’s having goals. It’s experiencing everything in moderation.

It's Complex gif.

I don’t like how self-care has become an aesthetic online and how it’s all about appearing a certain way (skinny, in cute activewear, and in a clean minimalist apartment). Me going to the curling club twice a week in the winter is self-care to me, but you’ll never see the Insta girlies doing something like that.

Under the aesthetic, there is some truth to what’s on Instagram. Caring for your body, getting fresh air, and being mindful, are all great things that can definitely be a part of good self-care, but just seeing it done over and over in such a rigid and commercialized way just feels gross to me. It feels inauthentic and fake.

Bad Vibes GIF.

Or am I wrong? Is waking up early and taking “hot girl walks” (a term I did not make up) and eating yogurt bowls the key to a better life? Have I been suffering this whole time and never even known?

What does self-care look like to you?

 

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It’s Really Easy To Not Litter, And Yet…

Recently, I was on a train, and as it pulled into a stop, I looked out the window to see a middle-aged woman across the street walking a dog. Then I watched her, in one quick motion, toss what I’m assuming was a poop bag into the bushes as she walked by. She did it so smoothly: no hesitation, no looking around to see if anyone was watching, no breaks in her stride. Just a simple flick and the bag arched out of view. Now, could there perhaps have been a garbage can hidden in the leaves that I just couldn’t see from the train across the street? Maybe. But I have a feeling I just watched the woman litter, and based on how seamlessly she did it, I’d guess that it wasn’t the first time.

Surprised and then disappointed gif.

I know that as far as crimes go, littering is pretty low level, but based on the amount of trash that I see where it’s not supposed to be, it’s clear that a good chunk of people do it. And that’s really sad. It’s so easy to not litter. It’s so easy to not be selfish for a minute. Sure, sometimes there’s no trash receptacle in your immediate area, so sometimes you have to put a candy wrapper in your pocket for a bit or carry around an empty cup for a while, but doing that isn’t hard by any means. Just do it.

It’s even more disappointing when the litter is outside in nature. Whether you’re downtown in big cities or off in the burbs, there’s trash all around. Throwing a straw wrapper on the floor of a mall is still very bad, but at least someone is being paid to pick it up and throw it out eventually. But outside, no one is going to do that, so your trash will just sit there for years. It’s gross. I was recently walking along a somewhat busy road in my city, and there were multiple uncompostable trash items strewn under every tree I passed. Do criminals not do community service anymore? Or was that only a thing in movies?

Where is this litter coming from? gif.

I am proud to say that I, to the best of my knowledge, have never knowingly littered. And I’ve never been in the presence of someone who has purposely and maliciously littered. So I guess it’s just weird to me that not everyone is like this.

We’re right to shake our fists at the big corporations ruining the planet for profit, but perhaps it’s time we also pay attention to what’s going on in our own communities, because if it’s anything like mine, it’s probably pretty nasty when you actually look.

Human beings are a disease gif.

I hope I’m preaching to the choir here, but don’t litter.

That’s all for now.

 

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I Have No Traditions

On Facebook recently I saw some pictures of a trip a friend’s family went on. Every year, they and their other family friends go to the same place, and there are pictures of the kids literally growing up together over the years there. It looks like such a fun tradition that everyone is passionate about.

My family, on the other hand, has nothing. I was thinking about it, and we really have no traditions. We used to have some small traditions. A neighbour used to host New Year’s Eve party and a Labour Day BBQ, but those haven’t happened in years because the kids grew up and got busy. We used to see my mom’s relatives at Christmas, and then go to my paternal grandparents’ sometime in the following days, but both of those changed when we were teens due to shifts in the families. My dad’s university friends and the families get together every summer for a weekend and they were fun, but the offspring don’t usually go anymore. All that still remains is that my mom and I bake cookies near Christmas, and even that isn’t long-standing.

That's Just Sad GIF.

It also doesn’t help that I have no culture. That was something I could never really fully understand when hearing POC talk about their experiences and how much they value culture because I have none of it, yet really didn’t feel like I was missing out. It was all I’ve ever known. I’m half Italian, and we do literally nothing about it except maybe eat pasta more than the average family. On the other side, I’m vaguely and distantly Irish, and that has never once meant anything. So yeah, being White doesn’t help, but the truth is, my family is just boring.

Very Boring gif.

I don’t even have traditions with friends. I am my best friend’s plus one to a Canada Day BBQ her family gets invited to, but that’s about it. I went camping with some friends in July and we said “We should do this again next summer!” so we’ll see if anything comes of that.

As I grow up and do my own thing more and more, it’s kind of sad that I don’t have long-standing, special traditions or events to bring me back and reconnect me to my roots. Should I have a family of my own one day, I have nothing to pass on.

…Yet, at least. Just because I don’t have traditions from childhood and a small circle of unsentimental friends, doesn’t mean new traditions can’t be made as an adult. I am open to suggestions. I’d love to hear what traditions (family or otherwise) you have and love.

New Holiday Tradition GIF.
Me to everyone I know

That’s all for now.

 

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Ranking The Kraft Dinner Mac And Cheese Flavour Boost Packets

Mac and cheese is good, but what if it could be better? I think this is what Kraft thought they were doing when they released 6 flavour boost packets to be added to their boxed macaroni and cheese. I believe these flavor packets were only released here in Canada where we call Kraft’s mac and cheese ‘Kraft Dinner’ (or KD), even if most of us eat it for lunch.

I’m a pretty picky eater, but when my dad found these flavour boosts at a store for less than a dollar, I was excited to try them all, even if the flavours were a little out there: butter chicken, ghost pepper, jalapeno, poutine, buffalo wing, and the most controversial of them all, cotton candy.

When you want to boost your Kraft Dinner - Album on Imgur

The weird thing is that these flavour packets, which are just little pouches of powder, are intended to be added after you make the box of mac and cheese normally. So you’re mixing cheese powder with cotton candy powder, which felt illegal. But I tried all the flavour boosts, two at a time over a few months, and now I wanted to share the results in a ranking because it was fun to try them and I’m sure you’re curious as to how they were.

The Results Are In GIF.

1. Cotton Candy

Yes, really. It didn’t taste like cotton candy to me at all and was just sort of like a different type of sweeter cheese. It made the noodles an aggressive shade of magenta, though, which was weird to eat. But overall, I didn’t mind this at all and could eat a serving of it.

2. Buffalo Wing

I’ve never really had buffalo wing sauce, so I can’t say if it was a good match, but I found this to be fine to eat. It wasn’t super strong and didn’t feel like something weird to have on mac and cheese.

3. Ghost Pepper

I think I have a decently high spice tolerance, so I found this to be spicy, but not uncomfortably so. You definitely felt it in your mouth. But I went in for seconds and think it did a decent job of adding spice to KD.
A Little Bit Spicy GIF.

4. Jalapeno

This was the other somewhat spicy flavoring. Obviously it was not as hot as Ghost Pepper but still had a decent kick. It did have that signature jalapeno taste, so if you like that more than me (as I don’t really care for it too much) you may enjoy this one more.

5. Poutine

Poutine, like cotton candy, did not taste as it should. And I did not like it. Is it completely nasty? No, but I did not want to have any more than the little taster bowl I started with.

6. Butter Chicken

I’ve also never had butter chicken, so I can’t compare with the real thing, but I think this one went way too hard with the tumeric. It was overpowering and just not a pleasant taste for me overall.

Not For Me GIF.

Now, the thing about reading my blog is that you get my opinions, and I am a particular person. As I said, I am a picky eater, so my palate is probably a lot different than a normal person’s. My boyfriend also tried all of these flavour boosts with me, and his ranking is a lot different and may better reflect what you may think.

  1. Poutine
  2. Butter Chicken
  3. Cotton Candy
  4. Ghost Pepper
  5. Buffalo Wing
  6. Jalapeno

One thing we both agreed on was that as fun as these flavour boosts are and how all of them were edible for sure, we both preferred just regular, plain Kraft Dinner above them all. Could Kraft Dinner be better? Sure, but none of these six flavours really wowed us, nor my family, who tried some leftovers as well. Then again, I have a feeling their existence was more for the novelty than for actually improving mac and cheese.

We had fun, we bonded, gif.

If Kraft ever releases new packets, I’ll definitely try them, but you’re certainly not missing out if you’ve yet to try these six.

That’s all for now!

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Apple Shuttered Software And Screwed Me Over

As if I needed another reason to hate Apple. Welcome to my third rant post on this company. While one could argue that I was perhaps being slightly overdramatic in the other two (about the loss of headphone jacks and iTunes ending) and facing problems because I refused to keep up with the times, this time it’s different.

Mad and going to tell you about it gif.

In 2017, I wrote and published a short digital book on Muggle Quidditch, a sport I was playing at the time in university. This was a project I took on for a course I was taking, and my classmates and I were forced to do this using an Apple program called iBooks Author and then upload the book to the Apple store. It was a really neat program: easy to learn, intuitive, and had so many cool features that allowed me to make my book very interactive. I had pop-up bubbles, a built-in multiple choice quiz you could do, embedded videos, and more. I was so proud of this book and spent hours in my school’s computer lab making it perfect.

In early 2020, I updated the book to include newer editions of the rules. But as a PC user, I had to borrow a family friend’s Macbook to get the job done, and it was a hassle. So when news of Quadball came last month, I decided it wasn’t worth the effort to update it again, especially for a free book.

Then I got an email from Apple. There was apparently a broken link in my book, and they’re taking the book down from the store until I could fix it. That kicked me into gear. My boyfriend had access to a local library that has Macs, so we booked the room and plugged in my USB with the file.

Everything Kinda Went Downhill From There GIF.

Here’s where the problems began: iBooks Author doesn’t exist anymore. In 2020, shortly after I had used it last, the software shuttered, and Apple put out documentation directing users to a program called Pages instead. Only guess what? Pages is trash. Pages doesn’t support interactivity. You know, a key feature in my book. All those fun aspects were just error boxes that I couldn’t fix.

So I got in touch with Apple’s customer support. For 31 minutes, I spoke on the phone to two Apple employees, one of whom was a manager of creativity, or something. They both had me screenshare as they poked around for a solution that didn’t exist. And then when the manager admitted defeat, I asked him what I was supposed to do, other than wait for features that should have been implemented two years ago. That’s when he dropped this on me: if the features aren’t there by now, they won’t ever be. AKA my book is dead.

Unless I can find someone in my life who hasn’t updated their Mac in a few years and happened to have iBooks Author on it still. But that has proved impossible in my circles. I’ve called out to everyone I know and everyone my mom knows, and…nothing.

Out Of Options GIF.

My boyfriend, more supportive than I deserve, has pushed me to look into other software, to remake the book on something else and still get it out into the world. But doing that is exhausting. The good software is stupidly expensive. Or doesn’t have the interactive features I want. Or can’t export to a file type I need. I’m stuck hodge-podging my book on a variety of tools that simply pale in comparison to iBooks Author and teaching myself as I go. Thank goodness I’m a digital packrat who hadn’t deleted the book assets from when I was making it in school. So now it’s just a matter of trying to make it work and not look like garbage.

I’m just so mad that Apple did this. I did nothing wrong and I’m losing something that I was proud of. Not to mention the time I’ve put into this book, then and now. I can understand if Apple didn’t want to support iBooks Author any more, but why get rid of it fully? Especially knowing that some key elements of it weren’t going to make the move to Pages? Manager man on the phone said Apple must’ve deemed the interactive features too underutilized and not worth the effort, but I think that’s dumb. And I’m mad. And I imagine there are others out there in a similar boat, and I’m mad for them too.

Anger gif.
Me

Anyway, that’s the story of how I cried in a library a little bit last weekend and how I hope to have news of a new ebook soon. Wish me luck.

 

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