Foodie Friday – I don’t belong in the kitchen

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I don’t belong in the kitchen but you’ll find me in there anyway. I burn toast, under-cook eggs, over-cook pasta, and don’t put enough salt on anything. My go-to meal is avocado toast and scrambled eggs.

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I shouldn’t be allowed to hold sharp knives or peelers (I nearly lost a nail the other day) BUT as a 27-year-old adult, I feel as though I need to learn how to cook. I need to learn how to cook well and fast. My plan is to begin with easy meals and progress very slowly to more intensive ones. I’m not even going to give baking a try – not any time soon.

A few Sunday’s ago I decided to make the easiest soup in the world; a minestrone. Apart from all of the chopping and the peeling of the potatoes it was pretty straightforward.

  1. Heat olive oil in a large pot, throw in chopped onions
  2. Once caramelized, add in chopped carrots and celery – let those cook for a minute
  3. Add in the canned diced tomatoes and beef stock (if you need more broth, add water)
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste
  5. Let that simmer and add in your diced potatoes, chopped zucchini, green beans, and Romano beans
  6. Let this cook until the potatoes, zucchini, and green beans are soft (but not mush)
  7. Add in a bunch of spinach – once that’s wilted you’re ready to eat!

I understand that the above isn’t a recipe and I didn’t provide an ingredient list. It doesn’t have measurements or proper terminology but that’s how I’ve always watched my mom cook. She rarely measures anything and tastes the food as she cooks. She cooks from her heat and that is how I hope to cook some day.

What are your favourite homemade meals? Let me know!

Hungrily yours,

Vanessa xo

Anxiety Update – Back with a Vengeance

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I don’t want to write about this but I should because sometimes a step back means taking a leap forward. I hoped that my previous post about anxiety would be my last. I truly believed that I had gained control over it, that I would never have to deal with the severe heart palpitations, nausea, aches and pains, headaches, and panic attacks again. I didn’t have the slightest inkling that it would come back, that I would need to take my medication again. I believed with every ounce of my being that I wouldn’t sit at my desk and have to feel like I was drowning, gasping for air.

Oh, how wrong I was.

A few weeks ago my mom noticed a change in my attitude and I noticed the small signs of my anxiety coming back. It happened slowly, a few sleepless night, the dread of looming Mondays, and a shorter temper. Then suddenly I was over the edge. I became filled with fear and worries. My anxiety wrapping its arms around me like an old friend. I tried my breathing exercises, repeating my mantras, and working out more but to no avail. After yet another panic attack and a conversation with my husband and mom, I decided it would be best if I went back on my anxiety medication.

What I am now trying to figure out is what my trigger is. Why did it come back?  How come I could keep it at bay for months and then it returns with a vengeance?

Helplessly yours,

Vanessa xo

Foodie Friday – Family Business(es)

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I’ve been surrounded by entrepreneurs and numerous men and woman who have taught me the importance of passion and a good work ethic my entire life. Many of my family and friends have inspired me to dream bigger, work harder, and continue to write lists filled with goals.

Recently two dynamic duos in my family have opened their own food related businesses and I’m using this week’s Foodie Friday to spread the word!

Core Fresh Bar

Core Fresh Bar is a company started by two of my cousins. They create, bake, and sell all natural, vegan, and gluten free treats. Their variety of treats include energy bites, cookies, granola, and the breakfast cookies. I’ve tried their  Brownie Energy Bites and Choco-Coffee cookies. Both are moist, flavorful, and the perfect snack before bed or after a workout. Learn more about Core Fresh Bar and their beliefs here. Let me know if you place an order!

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Mi Meals

Mi Meals was started by my sister and brother-in-law. They are two trained chefs who work in different restaurants but have always wanted to create their own menus and meals together. They have a passion for creating dishes that are delicious and healthy. They’ve wanted to start their own business for years and finally decided to take the plunge! Their meals are for people on the go who don’t have the time or energy to shop, prep, create, and cook their own meals. They have various options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and I’ve tried them all (over the years). You can find them on Instagram – tell them I sent you! 

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Hungrily yours,

Vanessa xo

 

How’s Married Life?

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When family and friends ask me how married life is going, I stand there with a blank look on my face  or stare at my phone with a million thoughts running through my head. Most of these thoughts are works of fiction filled with lust, drama, and romance.

How’s married life? they ask

Oh it’s wonderful! He’s more kind and caring than he’s ever been. He literally cannot keep his hands off me and sends me dirty text messages and brings home bouquets of roses. Only a few months into our marriage and we’ve filled our days with adventure, wine, and music that inspires us to dance.  He spins me around and leaves me breathless.

How’s married life? they ask

Well, it’s nothing like I imagined. It’s like the magician has disappeared and I’m left standing in a reality that I don’t recognize. We’ve let ourselves go and all bets are off. We’re far more gross and weird than we’ve let on and it’s beginning to wear us thin. We don’t go more than a few hours without seeing each other and are constantly getting on each other’s  nerves.

How’s married life? they ask

It’s like having a second full-time job. It’s a lot of work and the work has only just begun. We’re learning how to live together and still stay sane. Some days we want to strangle one another while other days we don’t want to be around anyone else. The hardest part in mixing our two lives into one.

Of course I don’t say any of this out loud. I allow these little stories to flutter around in my head because they seem far more interesting than the current status of my reality. How’s married life? The truth is it’s comfortable. Not much has changed from us dating to us being husband and wife. We have the same arguments, enjoy the same moments, and as much as I wish he was suddenly more weird and gross so I would have something to write about, he isn’t.

How’s married life? It’s wonderful and silly and fun and infuriating and a work-in-progress. What’s married life? It’s different for every couple so it’s difficult to explain.  For us, it’s sweat and farts and morning-breath and smiles and laughter. It’s planning for the future and figuring things out together. It’s comfort and boredom and rare moments  where I still find butterflies in fluttering around in my stomach. 

How’s married life? It’s great!

Happily yours,

Vanessa xo

 

Foodie Friday – Carbs & Cake

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It came to me in a moment of panic. I was sitting at my desk on a Friday afternoon contemplating my next move (something I tweet about regularly) when it hit me. I have been surrounded by food my entire life and nearly every job I’ve had has been connected to the food industry.

I spent ten years as a waitress in the best mom -and-pop pizza shop in Bolton and for the last two years I’ve been a Customer Service Coordinator for a Spanish cured meat and specialty food importer. On My Pen, My Voice I had the pleasure of working with Brand & Buzzing on several projects that had me headed to the city to try out new products or new restaurants.

No matter how hard or fast I run from the food industry I cannot get away.  It seems that I’m only running in circles. Instead of fighting it I’m going to embrace it! Foodie Friday is all about my love of food. Let’s be clear:  I am not a chef, baker or cook. I have absolutely no culinary training but when I taste a dish that has my taste-buds singing or experience wonderful service I have to talk about it. So, let’s talk.

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Last weekend my sister turned 30! In order to make it a little more memorable, myself and her husband planned a dinner for her in the city. After calling around to several restaurants we settled on Terroni on Adelaide. I’d been to Terroni dozens of times and never had a bad experience. They easily accommodate large groups and allow you to bring your own cake (with a $4.00 per person serving fee) and balloons without issue.

What I love about Terroni on Adelaide is their warm and welcoming atmosphere. Espeically their entrance and main dining room. I was a little disappointed when were shuffled upstairs by the hostess and brought into the room where they must have all of their larger groups. It looked like a cafeteria to me and didn’t have the sophisticated and special vibe I was hoping for for my sister’s big day. Thankfully being in a room full of other large groups meant that we could be as loud as we wanted to.

The cafeteria vible was completely forgotten when our appetizers showed up. I have never had a bad meal at any Terroni location and last Saturday did not break that streak. From appetizers to pizza to pasta to their drool-worthy cappuccino, everything I ate was delicious and fresh. The portions are large and quality abundant so you’d better arrive hungry.

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Pappardelle alla Iosa – a homemade spicy sausage, mushrooms, green pea pasta paradise

Perhaps my sister’s favourite part of the evening was the cutting of her cake. A special birthday had to be accompanied by a special cake! I found Nicole from Lipstick Baker on Instagram and after a few brief emails we came up with the perfect cake. A coffee inspired masterpiece made of red velvet cake and the sweetest fondant I’ve ever tasted. The cake didn’t just look fantastic it tasted wonderful too! It was fluffy and moist, yet rich and filling. Check out her Instagram account for some more of her amazing work.

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What’s your favourite restauarant in Toronto?

I’m looking to try somewhere new for my birthday.

Hungrily yours,

Vanessa xo

Tell your ‘Boring’ Stories

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Lena Dunham ❤

In spite of writer’s block and simply not making time to write as often as I should, I still call myself a writer. I believe in stories; that a life is made up of so many chapters, narratives, and essays that it’s difficult to keep track of which part of the book you’re living in.

Last week while speaking with Amanda DiPasquale and Sociphoria we discussed the real truth (not alternative fact) that blogs are dying. When it comes to social media, blogs are secondary to Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat (Facebook is dead to me).  No one wants to read thousand word essays or posts. People want photos, videos, and 200 words or less. I know it’s true but I wish it wasn’t so for  few reasons.

  1. People don’t seek out what I write about
  2. People don’t write what I like to read

Maybe I write too personally. Maybe more things should kept private. Even my fiction is utterly revealing. I understand the desire for privacy. There is so much pressure to share everything that there comes a point where you don’t even feel like you own your life. There also comes a point where you realize that no one cares.

Well, I care.

I care about your stories as much as your outfit; okay I care way more about your stories than what you’re wearing. I care about whatever you have to say in a thousand words or less because while I’m reading them I feel less alone. For those 10 or 15 minutes I have someone to relate to. I am understood. I feel connected to the universe even though I’m staring at a screen. Stories connect us, that’s why I care.

I care because we’re all just stories; good, bad, and boring.

Care-fully yours,

Vanessa xo

Name Change

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What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other word would smell as sweet.

Before Alex placed a ring on my finger I hadn’t given much thought to assuming my his last name.  Alex and I aren’t the most traditional couple so those around me assumed I would keep my maiden name (or they didn’t want to ask me another wedding question that might make me hostile). It wasn’t until a few days after we’d been married that I was 100% certain I wanted to be a Buccella.

I decided to assume my husband’s last name rather than legally change it (so I’m still a Grillone). Why? Well the long and short of it is simple: I wanted to.  Alex and I are starting our own family with just the two of us and I want to share a last name with him. Some women have told me that that’s old-fashioned while others think that taking his name means that I’ve “lost” myself. Either way, their challenging opinions or support don’t faze me.

my body = my choice

my name = my choice

my pen = my voice (sorry, had to do it!)

The only complication is the whole I’m a writer thing, so what happens to my social media links, my website, my future novels? I will publish my novels under my maiden name Grillone because that is how the writing world knows me. My social media channels will have a little bit of both. I am Vanessa Grillone and Vanessa Buccella, so why not have both? For me it’s all about respecting the chapters that came before November 11, as well as, all of the chapters that will come after.

Does taking my husband’s last name make me less of a feminist? No. My husband and I are equal. We believe in equal rights, we both contribute financially to the household, we both clean and take care of one another, and we encourage each other to have dreams and pursure them. We are a team not a hierarchy.

That’s the best part of being a twenty-something Canadian woman in the year 2017 is that I can make these kinds of choices. I can do what is right for me and if need be I have the opportunity to fight for what isn’t.

Forever yours (regardless of my surname),

Vanessa xo

Saying Yes!

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I can see the CN Tower in the distance on my drive to work. For a split second it’s as though I’m headed in the direction of my dreams. I’m headed to a place that is big enough to fit my aspirations. A place where it’s okay to still be figuring it out. A place where my bubble can burst and I will be flooded with new experiences, people, and places.

In the spirit of soaking up new experiences and driving toward my dreams, this week was dubbed “the week in which Vanessa does not cancel on plans made and also does not decline any invitation”. It’s not that I’m a flake per say, but plans always sound so exciting until I actually have to put on a bra and leave the house. This week I did not say no, I did not say maybe, I did not concoct and intense diversion or pray for a snow storm. I simply said yes, got dressed, and went out.

I went out almost every week night. I stayed out late and woke up early. I enjoyed dinner with my new aunts and cousins, watched episodes of Impractical Jokers (which is highly addicting!), went to a new restaurant with my old love/new husband (who put on cologne for the first time in YEARS since it was our first date night in months), hung out with my cousin Ashley, AND even traveled south of Steeles to join in on a podcast with Sociphoria and Amanda DiPasquale (from Be The Next Her). It was amazing to chat with Amanda, Amanda, and Patrick about social media, writing, creativity, the impact of full-time jobs on creative endeavors and much more! I don’t want to say anymore about it but I’ll post a link to Instagram and Twitter once it drops.

After a full week of saying yes I am anything but tired. I’m hopped up on the energy and positivity from the conversations I had with some pretty incredible people. Is this feeling available through intravenous?

Most Assuredly yours,

Vanessa xo

 

Being a Badass

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We are 14 days into the new year and I am 100% focussed on making 2017 work for me. In 2018 I’ll have a mortgage, I will be out of my parents’ basement, and I will finally begin a life with my husband – just the two of us. So 2017 is seemingly one of the last years I will be able to take risks without having to worry so much about monetary obligations.

For the sake of being proactive I purchased a copy of Jen Sincero’s You are a Badass – how to stop doubting your greatness and start living an awesome life. I’ve never purchased a self-help book but I had a feeling it’s just what I needed to push me over the edge toward change and a more meaningful life.

So far I’ve learned that change cannot manifest itself without a positive attitude, gratitude, and hard work. Change begins with your own thoughts. I don’t know about you but my head is a messy place. Contrary to my OCD tendencies, my mind is an unorganized, cluttered, dusty, spiderweb-filled lair full of insecurities and self-doubt. To combat this I’ve started writing down affirmations, dreams, lists, goals, and desires. Whenever I sense a bad thought forming I think of my I want to list.

I want:

  • to travel this year with my husband
  • to write more and join a writing workshop (STARTWRITING.CA)
  • to attend events about books, culture, and art
  • to exude confidence
  • to have more experiences in the city (and get over my fear of driving down there. WHY IS EVERYONE SO MEAN AND CRAZY ON THE ROADS?)
  • to inspire people with my words

I also mumble a little pep talk to really get myself pumped. It’s something like that line from The Help: “You is kind. You is smart. You is important”. This way of thinking is contagious. Suddenly your thoughts become more positive than they’ve ever been. You can’t stop thinking about good stuff. Positivity breeds positivity and before you know it, you have an eerie kind of control over your mind. You let in the light and you nearly forget how stifling it was in the dark.

Let me get something clear here: I’m not sitting back and hoping for miracles. I am getting myself more in tune with what I want and what I know I can achieve. I’m throwing positivity out there in the hope that it will build steam and allow me to do something different. I’m asking the universe for help.

“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” The Alchemist

Positively yours,

Vanessa xo

Hope for a New Year

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2016 was not a bad year; I got married, I became slightly more aware of who I am and who I don’t want to be, I witnessed moments where people exposed their true colours and even exposed some of my own. 2016 was a good year and yet, I am insecure, incomplete, and slightly nauseated.

2016 was exhausting. 

I was busy, so incredibly busy doing nothing. Work was insane (which is good because when they’re busy that means my position is secure), every weekend was a different family or friendly function, and anxiety loomed around every corner. After 365 days of living I don’t feel particularly different one way or another. I have become more vocal, especially about things I don’t care about, but 2016 was rather consistent.

I hope to put 2016 failures out of my mind and look to new people, places, and websites (like Be the Next Her) for inspiration. My hope for 2017 is that 365 days from now I will feel different. I will have made changes, taken risks, inspired someone, or accomplished something.

A good friend of mine told me that the universe is always listening all I have to do is ask for what I want and work hard in the meantime. 

Let’s do this universe. 

Hopefully yours,

Vanessa xo